July 24, 2014

Vermont FastForward Prayer Guide

Dec 10   -   Craig and Deb Bensen
Downloadable Resources

Introduction

Transcription of a word for Vermont, Cindy Jacobs (given 9/7/12 at USRPN conference in Plymouth, MA)

The Lord would say over Vermont, “I am getting ready to do a shifting and shaking that all the political pundits are gonna be amazed at,” says the Lord! The Lord says, “Indeed you will have your 10,000 (intercessors in the state) because I’m coming with an anointing of revival, reformation and transformation,” says God.

“I am getting ready to awaken the sleeping giant of the church in Vermont! When I awaken Vermont,” says God, “Vermont will begin to be a treasure unto Me, for,” God says, “I’m getting ready to unlock the anointing of Cyrus. There is a Cyrus in Vermont that knows how to heal the economy of this nation,” says God.

And the Lord says to those who are for life, pro-Biblical definition of marriage, “I want you to believe there will be a day you will be the head and not the tail. I am gonna turn you around as well. I’m gonna turn Vermont right side up,” says the Lord.

Vermont Week of Prayer

Contending for the 7 Mountains of Life in the Green Mountain State

General prayer points:

1. Prayer for recognition of (and Kingdom connection with) current and emerging leadership on each mountain.

2. Prayer for Kingdom networks to develop on each mountain.

3. Prayer for divine calling to be given to youth for assignment to specific mountains.


MONDAY: The Family

The marriage covenant has been a major arena of contention in Vermont. First through divorce and then in 2000, through the historic re-definition of marriage to include the union of same-sex couples for the first time anywhere, this has been both a political and spiritual battle zone of great intensity. This small state became the gateway into the nation for civil unions, recently changed to full marriage, through a strategy of out-of-state groups and money together with the VT Supreme Court ordering such legislation enacted. The voters were never allowed to vote on this issue. [1]

Abortions are legal in Vermont, with no restrictions at any stage of pregnancy, and few occur in hospitals. Planned Parenthood of VT is responsible for nearly 90% of all abortions, and it is legal to perform them on girls under the age of 18 without parental knowledge or consent. Between 1972-2005, 85,000 unborn babies were aborted in the state, according to statistics from Vermont Right To Life, a very strong advocacy organization for the unborn. Vermont has been termed by some to be the most “abortion safe” state in the nation (not safe, obviously, for the unborn!).

This state has at times also led the nation in rates of alcoholism and incest.

There are many groups in the state contending for the welfare of children, single mothers, families, battered women, foster children, those with disabilities, those who are homeless or who lack adequate food and shelter. While these are all doing critically important work, most do not include Biblical spiritual counsel or encouragement.

Another extremely important area of contended legislation that has been brought for debate for the past few years, but not yet presented for legislative vote, is that of physician-assisted suicide. Often given more euphemistic names by those supporting it, such as “death with dignity”, this battle concerns end-of-life care for those suffering from terminal diseases and whose conditions make their quality of life seem not worth living. It would legalize a physician “helping” a patient to end their life. [ii]

But from a Biblical perspective, this is the logical continuation of abortion: Life, at both the beginning and the end, is judged according to pragmatic values such as convenience, preference, and cost-effectiveness (though not overtly). “Compassion” is the term frequently used to justify passing this law, yet it is often the first step toward requiring some people to end their own lives, for a variety of reasons thought to be acceptable. The battle here is clearly over whose view of the value of life will prevail.

As elsewhere in the country, Vermont has a problem with illicit drug use and trafficking, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy.

Prayer Points for Family:

1) That the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman be restored; that the redefinition of marriage and gender confusion end; that we would experience the strengthening of marriages and fewer divorces, which often result in single-parent households and poverty, as well as broken lives. Over 54% of marriages (nationally) end in divorce.

2) For restoration of Godly fathers and mothers who demonstrate Father God’s love and righteousness in their families. That we would see the healing of issues leading to substance addictions, emotional and sexual abuse and family breakdown.

3) For a Biblical view of the value of human life, whether unborn, elderly, disabled or healthy. That the abortion industry and its lies would be dismantled and a spirit of adoption increased so that all children will have loving homes.

4) That drug and alcohol addictions, with associated problems of hopelessness, law-breaking, violence and other destructive behaviors be overcome through sustained prayer and God-empowered strategies to bring forth God-intended destinies in the lives of all Vermonters.

5) That youth would be encouraged by positive mentoring toward healthy attitudes and behaviors, including sexual abstinence before marriage and avoidance of drugs. That we would see the strengthening of Christian youth’s influence among their peers and for encouragement of their Kingdom destinies on each of the seven Mountains.


TUESDAY: Government

Vermont voters, especially in the more urban areas, tend left of center, as do the state’s political parties in general. The more rural areas tend to be more conservative. Overall, a liberal GOP has 30% of the vote, Democrats have 35%, Progressives (Socialists) have 10% and the non-aligned Independents have the remaining 25%. [iii]

Many elected officials are proud to be from the bluest of the blue states—-the most liberal state of the liberal Northeast—-according to polls.[iv] Some legislation actually gets a boost because it has a cutting-edge, first-in-the-nation status (gay civil unions, strict environmental laws, etc.). More conservative viewpoints are often marginalized and discounted through negative labeling, often in the media. Our federal officials include Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is on the Judiciary (as Chairman) and Appropriations Committees, as well as the only modern Socialist in the Senate, Bernie Sanders. Leahy is counted by some to be the 4th most powerful Senator in office. [v]

Currently the most influential special interest groups in the state are Planned Parenthood, the VT Chapter of the National Education Association, the ACLU, the VT Public Interest Research Group (Ralph Nader), AARP and the Chamber of Commerce (left of center and socially liberal). Vermont’s 2013-14 Legislature is strongly controlled by the left with a Democrat/Progressive to Republican ratio of 104-46 in the House and 24-6 in the Senate. Where the prior GOP Governor Jim Douglas and his veto offered some pause to the radical legislation which many office holders wanted to enact, the current Governor, Peter Shumlin, has very liberal views which align with their agenda.


Prayer Points for Government:

1) That Kingdom-minded leaders would be raised up and set into offices at all levels of VT government.

2) That Vermont’s anointing for nation-leading action might manifest the righteousness and justice of the Kingdom.

3)  That Vermont’s “ecclesia” will recognize its call and continue to grow into its Kingdom mantle.


WEDNESDAY: Education

Since the founding of the Vermont Republic in 1777, education has been a constitutionally delineated privilege and responsibility of the citizenry. In 1996 Vermont’s Supreme Court reinterpreted this requirement to mandate a statewide property tax and removed the funding of education from the local districts. The political effects of this decision are still being felt. The statewide property tax provided a steady stream of funding to the public educational system with no accountability to the voters. Since 1996 Vermont’s student population has declined by 11% while the cost of their education has quadrupled. Vermont boasts the lowest student-teacher ratio in the nation, 11.3. [vi]

Vermont is currently debating ways to streamline the delivery of education to the communities and thus lower costs. Most of the choices involve greater state control, greater influence from the VT NEA union and the elimination of school choice options. Meanwhile, alternative education has a strong presence in the state - Christian schools, parochial schools, new age schools, boarding schools, academies, home schooling, etc.

There are 20 colleges and universities operating in the state, including art, culinary and law schools. Several of these institutions have strong appeal for international students who will be emerging leaders in their own nations.

Prayer Points for Education:

1) That Kingdom-minded teachers, staff and administrators would be raised up and set in place throughout Vermont’s educational system.

2) For the revelation and implementation of new models and strategies to deliver quality education to Vermont’s students at an affordable cost.

3) For the protection of Vermont’s long heritage of “school choice” options for local communities.

4) For the establishment of Kingdom principles and values as the core of Vermont’s educational philosophy.


THURSDAY: Business

Despite the Vermont Life magazine image of bucolic VT, there are two real Vermonts. One has the face of rural-suburban prosperity on the Northwest around the Burlington area. The other face is an Appalachian-type poverty throughout the rest of the state that is broken only by the ski & resort towns where service economies rely on tourist dollars and out-of-state second home buyers. A popular bumper sticker in rural VT is “Moonlight in Vermont - Or Starve”.

The state’s largest employers include the state government, IBM, the Burlington-based Medical Center, the University of Vermont and various ski areas.[vii]  Chief industries include government, tourism, manufacturing (defense & high tech), agriculture (dairy maple), trade, finance, insurance and real estate.

Environmentalists have a major influence on development throughout the state, and Vermont is a pioneer and leader in the concept of “socially responsible” businesses - a category that emphasizes green, clean, sustainable practices but also supports left-of-center social values.[viii] The more traditional business community finds that such attitudes, combined with high taxes on businesses, result in Vermont being a difficult state in which to grow. Forbes’ surveys of state business friendliness and tax burdens as well as the Vermont Chamber of Commerce confirm this view.[ix]

Vermont-based companies with national profiles include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Burton Snowboards, Seventh Generation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Vermont Teddy Bear, Cabot Cheese, Bruegger’s Bagels and Orvis.

Prayer Points for Business:

1) For the founding and growth of companies in all regions of the state that can offer well-paying jobs, thus helping reduce poverty and the out-migration of the state’s youth.

2) For the emergence of Kingdom minded leaders and companies who will become as famous for their Kingdom-based success as our “socially responsible” businesses now are.

3) For the revelation and implementation of new business models, strategies, products and inventions on which to build Kingdom companies. For wealth to be transfered into the hands of those advancing the Kingdom.


FRIDAY: Church/Religion

According to a recent Gallup survey, Vermont is on the top of the list for “least churched” or “least religious” states and regions in the United States.[x] The most generous statistics available would consider 60% of the state to be “unchurched” or “non-religious”. The “churched” part of the population would be roughly 20% Roman Catholic, 10% Evangelical Protestants, 9% Mainline Protestants and 1% other faiths. A generous interpretation would see 1 in 10 Vermonters as having an active personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A more realistic view might be 1 in 20.

History holds some clues to this “unchurched” status. Vermont’s early Northern settlers were often those who wished to be rid of the church as they had experienced it in Connecticut and Massachusetts. (Ethan and Ira Allen were of this mind.) Even in 1800 when a funeral was held in Burlington, the story is told that no one could be found who knew the Lord’s Prayer. Nevertheless, churches did get planted all over the state as other settlers arrived with more Biblical beliefs. Religious fervors and wars scarred the church in Vermont. The animosity engendered by the Anti-Masonic wars of the 1830s drove many from the church while leaving many congregations in the hands of pro-Masonic leadership. When William Miller led tens of thousands to expect the Lord’s return in 1844, many were left deeply disillusioned, as they had sold their homes and readied themselves for that event which, of course, did not occur. The second Great Awakening in New England had little direct expression in Vermont, perhaps in part due to these distractions.

Spiritualism was another active influence in parts of Vermont in the 19th century, and even today there are at least two spiritualist “churches” listed online in the state. The Eddy Brothers of Chittenden, best known in the 1870s, claimed that their psychic abilities could be traced back to the Salem witch trials.[xi] Séances and other psychic activities were regular phenomena there and elsewhere around the state, including at Queen City Park in Burlington.[xii]

Though there was a move of God that impacted many in VT in the 1880s, it was not long-lived, nor necessarily welcomed by some church leaders at that time. During the 1890s through 1930s, the pulpits of the state were, as was much of New England, captured by the doctrines of universalism, Unitarianism and “higher criticism” of the Scriptures because Boston’s seminaries were training disciples of such “Modern Christian Thought” for the Protestant ministry.[xiii]

The post-WWII migration of “outsiders” to Vermont brought in an influx of non-mainline churches and denominations to the state. In the 1950s a Boston University socio-religious inventory of the state used 4 categories for congregations: Roman Catholic, Congregational, Methodist and Other. The “Other” category was for Episcopal, Jewish, Unitarian, Evangelical, Pentecostal, etc. and contained less than 5% of the state’s religious congregations. But fifty years later, it was the Congregational and Methodist segments that accounted for less than 5% each. Alternative religions, including New Age, seem to attract followers easily in Vermont, especially among the younger generations. [xiv]

Much of Vermont’s Christian community today may be characterized as active, vital and connected. In face of secular disdain, benign neglect and political adversity, Christians in Vermont are learning to reach across denominational barriers for prayer, worship and common causes. The Pro-Life movement and the Christian resistance to “same sex marriage” both have demonstrated a practical and effective Kingdom mindset among many Vermont Christians. The concept of impacting, or transforming, the common culture (the 7 Mountains) has helped many to overcome old lines of division in order to advance the Kingdom of God beyond the limits of a single congregation or denomination. The necessity of contending for our state in unity is well expressed in two words: AS ONE! As the “One New Man”!

The last 30 years have many points of cooperative efforts and ministries. The Billy Graham Crusade in 1982 was one launching point. Since then cooperative ministries have arisen to deal with the homeless, prison ministry, halfway houses, children’s ministries, adoption, troubled teens and problem pregnancy. Key to this has been the commitment of leadership to work and pray together. Networks of pastors and leaders exist throughout the state all characterized by an increasing unity of Kingdom-mindedness.


Prayer Points for the Church:

1) For the protection, equipping, awakening and renewing of the Church in Vermont, both Catholic and Protestant. For true repentance from legalistic religion and fear of man, turning with a Bridal heart of first love for the Lord, as the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15, Jew and Gentile in the unity of the Spirit.

2) For all of Vermont’s believers to know their call, occupy their place and exercise their authority within their spheres of influence, in unity of heart and Spirit with the Lord and with one another.

3) For the emergence of the next generation of leaders and for them to have a strong, positive relationship with the current generation of leaders experiencing Godly mentoring and multi-generational unity of heart for the Kingdom of God.

4) For the revelation and implementation of new models and strategies to build the Church and advance the Kingdom in Vermont. For old mindsets to give way to Kingdom mindsets, seeing not just revival as the goal, but transformation of the seven Mountains in our state, aligning with the purposes of God.


SATURDAY: Media

Vermont is an isolated media market, with a population of 621,000 and no major city to anchor it. Most of its reporters are on their way to or from larger markets, rather than remaining throughout their career. There seems to be little sense of accountability.

The largest radio network in the state is Vermont Public Radio, the local NPR affiliate. Both it and the public TV affiliate are popular in VT, and tend to be in agreement with the overall liberal values and views of their supporters. There is also a Christian radio network, based in the Burlington area, with its broadcasts relayed throughout the state.

The state’s largest newspaper (Burlington Free Press) lists a circulation of 48,042 daily and 56,295 on Sundays.

The press corps leans heavily to the left politically. This bias was seen strongly in 2009’s “gay marriage” coverage as the state legislature determined to change VT civil unions to full marriage status. Only one daily paper in the state favored traditional marriage, while all the rest cheered for the “historic passage of civil rights legislation”.[xv]

Fortunately for Vermont’s citizens, the expansion of internet news sources plus the presence of cable news offers ways for more accurate reporting to come into their homes. And there has been a recent increase of known believers in the press corps which offers some hope for a re-balancing of coverage in the future.


Prayer Points for the Media:

1) For the emergence of Kingdom minded leaders and reporters in all of the media areas in Vermont.

2) For the revelation and implementation of new media models and strategies that are Kingdom-based.

3) For the Spirit of Truth to become the spirit of the men and women working in Vermont’s media marketplaces.

4) For Christians to intercede for media strategically and persistently. For repentance from just “fault-finding”.


SUNDAY:  Arts and Entertainment

Vermont has always attracted highly creative people who find its natural beauty, relaxed social environment and often-liberal political views to be a mix they appreciate. Whether through painting, music, handcrafts, sculpting and pottery, fabrics and fibers, photography, film, theater or writing, creativity flourishes here in both individual and public expressions. The Vermont Arts Council, Northern VT Artists Association and Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury are among the groups that promote the arts in various forms.

While not all Vermont artists are extremely liberal in their political and environmental views, a great many are and give expression to their views in ways that are unusual. One of the more unique groups combines art and left-leaning political theater, calling itself the Bread and Puppet Theater. It began in NY in 1962 as a protest against the war in Vietnam. Now based in Glover, VT, it continues to portray its radical views around New England, New York and sometimes beyond, using attention-grabbing 10- to 15-feet tall puppets.

Another radical artistic expression from Vermont that has traveled to many nations is called the Ark of Hope (see www.arkofhope.org for description and picture).  Designed and built in Vermont, it is an intentional imitation of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, containing the New Age version of the Ten Commandments, which they call the Earth Charter (www.earthcharter.org), and something called the Temenos Books, created by over 5000 Vermont artists, teachers and students with the purpose of drawing people into deeper commitment to principles in the Earth Charter. For those who love the God of Scripture and His Word, it is a mockery.

However, it may also be seen as the best that humanistic minds can do apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and of the great deception and darkness to which we may all be vulnerable apart from His grace!


Prayer Points for the Arts and Entertainment:

1) That the eyes of those in the arts and entertainment spheres of Vermont who do not know Jesus will be opened to the truth of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done for them, and of their need of His mercy and grace. For those who do know Him, that their light will shine brightly so others will see their good works and give glory to God. “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”(Matthew 6:22-23)

2) That the great gifts of creativity and appreciation of beauty which is apparent in so many of those in arts and entertainment fields be drawn to the beauty of Jesus Christ and their hearts to worship Him as Creator rather than worshipping His creation. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”(Romans 1:25)

3) That Christians become increasingly active in this arena, in building relationships and in demonstrating excellence in expressing their God-given creativity in a variety of ways.

________________________________________

For background information see www.LetVermontVote.org and www.TakeItToThePeople.org .

[ii] See http://www.vtmd.org/physician-assisted-suicide-likely-top-priority-2011

[iii] For specialized VT political data contact www.polidata.com . Political estimates are from research of Craig Bensen, D. Min., www.LetVermontVote.org and www.TakeItToThePeople.org .

[iv] See http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/25/new-poll-identifies-most-liberal-and-conservative-states/ .

[v] See http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=6959dbf2-1de8-4497-b5ac-393cd2a4de9d .

[vi] See http://www.statemaster.com/graph/edu_ele_sec_pup_rat-elementary-secondary-pupil-teacher-ratio .

[vii] See http://www.acinet.org/oview6.asp?soccode=&stfips=50&from=State&id=11&nodeid=12 .

[viii] See “Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility” at http://vbsr.org/ .

[ix] See http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/30/highest-state-taxes-lifestyle-real-estate-state-taxes.html and http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/Tax%20Commission/LCRCC-GBIC%20Tax%20Rankings%2009-2009.pdf

[x] See http://www.gallup.com/poll/114022/state-states-importance-religion.aspx .

[xi] See http://www.spiritualist.tv/spiritualism/history/vol1chapter12.html .

[xii] See http://cdi.uvm.edu/findingaids/collection/mcallister.ead.xml .

[xiii] Listen to Wheaton College’s Interview with Elizabeth Morrell Evans - Collection 279 .

[xiv] Observation from the unpublished research of Craig Bensen, D. Min.

[xv] See http://vtdigger.org/2011/11/24/how-gay-marriage-contributed-to-vermont%E2%80%99s-iconoclastic-brand/ and http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=23217 and http://www.tldm.org/News8/MediaLeansLeft.htm .

Current Elected Officials

For links to information regarding Vermont’s current elected officials, click here.

To download this prayer guide as a PDF document please click on the 2nd downloadable resource below.

Author

Craig and Deb Bensen

Deb and Craig have 35 years of pastoral and leadership experience with the Cambridge United Church (Cambridge, VT)  as well as numerous para-church groups, i.e., National Day of Prayer, Aglow, Vermont Prayer Force, The New England Alliance, Focus Renewal Ministries, Vision New England, and the CMI Radio Network.