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Archive for the ‘identity in Christ’ Category

It has been 5 years since I regularly photographed, edited, and ‘published’ landscapes and architectural beauties.  But I can very clearly recall thinking others were very regularly over-saturating and liberally moving the sharpness meter.  I looked at photos–and I can recall thinking this of my now-husbands’ iPhone photos and edits while we were dating–and saw ‘this person doesn’t think God did well enough, they need to make more of it.”  Blades of grass were over-defined, valleys were too bright, trees showed the details of way too many leaves visible to the naked eye.

I got glasses this week.  My dad is an optometrist (across the country) AND I finally got glasses…this week.  And I learned: “Everyone else didn’t have a fake perspective, my eyes were limited to see the wonders of God’s creation, captured in the photography of others.”  I had muted God’s wondrous touch for years.

Many of us, at this point, are aware–whether from sermons, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, other readings, The Shack, relational interactions and observations, or by other personal life experiences–that we regularly perceive God through our own life experiences.  Most times we hear it as: “It is difficult for someone to call God Abba if they have/had a bad, harmful, or abusive earthly dad.”  God isn’t only a judge and discipliner, yet, for someone with a strict, physically abusive, unfair, unjust father, who was possibly ‘the town drunk’ or the guy who appeared all together to the neighbors and then behind closed doors took his own life hurts out on his wife and/or children, the image of God as anything but an unloving, disciplining, enraged, wrathful God is difficult to trust.

So, how do we clean up our viewpoint to see clearly, through our own life experiences, at the same time, withholding from judging and perceiving life through the measurement (expectations) of others and God living up/down to our own experiences (comfort)? 

Depending on where you are, the same picture looks different.

Depending on your eye sight, you’ll see through other’s glasses with ease or perhaps a splitting head ache, and may see life clearly or it may appear murky.  Either way, for you, it is a different experience than it is for the person whose prescription you’ve just tried.  We look through life, differently.  Each of us through our own lenses.  All trying to see the same things.

I always seek to see the other, yet I always find one picture in this image.  Do you see both?

There is one thing to say about taking one another’s perspectives as we approach decision-making and conflict resolution in the best interest of a friendship, marriage, or something happening in society. But rather than follow that stream of thought, I want to focus on the ‘false self’ and ‘true self.’

In his fourth decade of life, Peter Scazzero figured out how to be emotionally aware before God.  His books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality/ Leader/ Church (and Woman, written by his wife, Geri), all focus on the foundational understanding that we are formed by the expectations placed on us, that we become who others want us to be to benefit them, to benefit the family or community from their perspective, and to benefit ‘us’ from their perspective.   In essence, we allow man to mold and shape what God has created. 

Can you remind me who is the clay Maker AND clay Shaper?

“Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7).

“O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (Jeremiah 18:6).

I want to look into any picture or mirror at myself and to see that in what should be me, there is an authentic illustration of who God has created me, purposed me, and molded me to be in His presence for His glory.

Scazzero petitions that we must begin peeling back the layers, as if we were an onion, removing the masks of ‘false self’ built up by expectations, generational sins, and societal norms, and begin revealing the nature of who God intended for us to be.  Only from the core person are we truly effective for God’s work.

“I truly believe the greatest gift we can give the world is our true self living in loving union with God.” || Peter Scazzero

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver” that as a silversmith sees his own reflection in the material after working it, and refining it for some time, You will see Your reflection in me, in us (Psalm 66:10).  O God, I hope that I do not limit your desires of Kingdom work through me.  Might I be an open vessel, available, willing, and dedicated to Your good purposes.  Might I experience life as You have hoped for me, so that I may be able to reach the people You have molded me to be effective with in Your Kingdom work.  Disciples make disciples.  I must not be mute.  I must have joy in me to celebrate the advancement of Your Gospel news to all the world.  I must have peace in me to trust in Your faithfulness, Your presence, Your shelter.  Savior, I am clean, and I am clean because of You.  Thank You, Lord.  My life is better cared for in Your hands, I relinquish control, and I ask for discernment and resilience to withhold from the temptation that says ‘praise and criticism shape you.’  I know this to be true of the world, but You have promised me much greater than the world.  I have eternal life in and with YOU. There is no greater reward worthy of my service, worthy of my submission.  I live only by Your breath that is within me.  You have purposed me from the beginning, and I hope now, to be resilient to seek out, to discern, and to live according to Your good intentions for the life I have left before joining You in heaven.  And I ask this of You today: Continue to draw me closer to You.  That I may, in my love for You, grow in the discipline to read, to know, and to live from Your Word according to Scripture, the life of Jesus Christ, and the presence of Your Holy Spirit in me.   Thank You for such a follow-up gift, Lord Jesus, for sending Your Advocate upon Your departure, so that we may have life–without a moment apart from You. Amen.

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I have called this the mightiest washing I have experienced since baptism.

For a week I laid in bed, fearing the return of the intestinal infection I fought for nearly two years.  My body wasn’t a temple of God, it became the physical presence of my enemy.

It has nearly been a year now, since God taught me the freedom in not fearing death.  I see persecution as a reality of being a Christian.

 Jesus warned us of the initial “birth pains” as His Truth becomes known across borders.  He said, “then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9).

I know martyrdom to be a selfless sacrifice: the laying down of one’s physical life in complete devotion to honoring the name of God.  No prideful matter.  Martyrdom is not something I aspire to experience, but know that if God calls me to the front-lines, I am willing, as I have already laid my life down at the altar of Christ.

But there I was: unable to eat, canceling meetings, missing classes, letting a knocked door go unanswered, laying in bed.  I feared illness.  How is it one does not fear death, and yet fears sickness? Still unfathomable to me, but it was my reality.

On the forth day, I sent the honest truth to a friend.  “How are you feeling today?” she asked, to which I wrote, “honestly this puts me back to fearing the 2 year sickness I thought I was over.” Back to, really? I don’t want to go back to anything.  No regrets.  And yet, here I was putting myself back into one of the worst feelings I have ever felt.

The fifth day, I ate. I woke up and sat up.  God invited me to see the sun and delivered a beautiful sky.  As I sat with Him in the park, thunder clouds rolled in.

Meditating on Psalm 119, I received my first warning of the coming storm.  My adoring Father, I reach up to You as Your child.  The rain drop landed on my prayer journal, and I heard a still voice, “Stay. I will be your shelter, your calm in the storm. I will wash you clean.”

A showering, a joyous occasion, an exploration of His creation, just 2 weeks prior.

A showering, a joyous occasion, an exploration of His creation, just 2 weeks prior.

The winds shook branches loose, and I remained still.  The rain poured down on me, greater than any shower waters I’ve felt before.

I am redeemed!

Thank You for this rain.  A cleansing of my foolish steps these past days.  How joyful You are to have Your daughter captivated once more…Though the world around me may be frantic, You remain my calmness in the storm, I am clean.

And so, I continue to pray, “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.  I have chosen to be faithful… I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding” (Psalm 119:29-32).

May we each praise God saying, You are the complete authority over this life You have created, oh God. For each of us, I pray we remain devoted to the path which Christ continues to light before us.  May we each be the person He has created us to be, and be intentionally humble in our walks as we glorify God through everything we do.  In our waking and in our sleep, may every breath truly be His and for His glory.

Sunday, my pastor shared a testimony of a member in our church, a blind man.  He shared, with joyous laughter: I am envious at times.  This man will see the face of Jesus before any other.  The first time the lame will walk, is running to Jesus.  The first time the mute will speak, is singing praise to Jesus.

Lord, You are our Light.  God with authority over all that is, has been, and will be, we entrust our safety in You.  We know safety to be much more than physical un-harm, but rather a shelter, a lamp that won’t grow weary.  We know, Jesus, that You are with us always.  We thank You, that there is purpose in our breath, and ask for assurance as we step out.  May our lives be before You, glorifying Your name as You please. Humbly, we are on our knees.  Abba, with arms up as Your children, waiting upon Your call.  Lead us.  Discipline us, Father.  Teach us Your will.  Enlighten our path.  Walk with us, Jesus.  We thank you.  We delight in You.  Thank you for the rains, the washing of our sins.  Jesus all we are is indebted to You, and yet we have freedom.  Freely we scream praises to Your name. Amen.

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Forewarning, this is the message on my heart this morning, but it is one of personal (very female perspective) conviction: sexual immorality.

The story:

I wanted to scream at this lady.

For years I have avoided doctors to the best of my ability.  I attempted to shake off any illnesses or injuries with natural home remedies, prayer, and rest before resorting to visiting the doctor.

I now think, part of that is the “You are 18 (at the time of this event, 22), you must visit the ObGyn for your Pap Smear.”  The first time, I didn’t know what it was, so I asked. “Yuck, no thank you!” A childish answer, I understand, but valid for me at the time.

With illnesses and surgeries, I continued getting the question, then the request, and finally the heavily recommendation to go in for my annual (actually my first) check.

No thank you.

I moved again, and the doctor required it of me.  I was not looking forward to it, at all.  If ever I had feared something it was this.  I asked my roommates to pray with me, to clear my mind of worries and negative reflections I had developed towards myself due to this upcoming exam.

Some back story….

While on my tour of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, I learned of the beheading of wives–royal brides–who did not bleed while consummating a marriage.

Muslim brides are also often executed for appearing “not virgin” on their wedding night.

And so for 6 years I have believed the value of offering virginity, in some cultures, to be life or death.

And the story continues…

My roommates knew how I valued the history I had learned and my desire to uphold the gift for my future husband.  They prayed with me and I drove to the doctors.

After an initial try, the lady went to get another (larger) tool.  My eyes were not having it, so I spoke up.  I was bewildered and unhinged by what came out of her mouth:

“Go home, make a warm bath, get comfortable…” Explicit, she was.  She advised me to masturbate.  To take my own virginity.  All for the sake of a medical exam.

No ma’am! As she went to get something, I changed and dashed out of that office as a gazelle runs from a lion.  Only here, she was not going to get me.

I was embraced.  God knew the conviction of my heart.

As I read this morning,

“So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery.  He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter.  He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.  So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words.  Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path.  For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims.  Her house is the road to the grave.  Her bedroom is the den of death” (Proverbs 7:21-27).

I understand this is a story of a woman’s husband who is out-of-town, an adulteress who seduces men away from their wives.  I am not that woman, and I am not that man, nor either of their spouses.  But I am convicted.

In a world where David Platt’s Counter Culture is given subtitles of “Same-Sex Marriage…Sex Slavery…Abortion,” and “Pornography,” where rights and laws are being advocated for the freedom of all peoples in a self-gratification-seeking, individualistic society, this scripture holds much more application.

I am that man, or rather one of the many men (verse 26).

Seduced by worldly possessions, pleasures, lustful thoughts and images.  They are too near to us at any given moment.  We shall not be ashamed to be as we are. FullSizeRender-1

If sexual abuse is a part of your testimony, your history, know that I am with you and am praying with you, for you.  Abba is a gracious Father, Jesus has called you His Bride and veils you with purity, with newness of life.  You are sacred to Him.

He is Righteous King, Prince of Peace, and He wore the crown of thorns.  His blood shed, so ours does not.  Our crown: He calls us daughters, princesses, gems.  We are precious.

Wear the crown.  Accept the veil, the washing, the purification.
Today is Good Friday.  Christ has suffered so that we shall have life with Him.
Whether we bleed, we endure persecution.  From family, friends, co-workers, doctors, strangers, teachers, and political extremists.
Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and I pray each of us continues through our day knowing and trusting in what Jesus has taught us, what God has inspired and written to us in His Book.
May we stand firm in the Truth, rooted deep in the compassion of Christ, serving friends and foes alike, humble to wash their feet and humble in receiving good gifts and acts of service.  May God’s blessings be richer than gold.  May the words spoken, be as sweet as honey–not for the tempting of man, but for the praising of Christ Jesus.  His name is power, and divine He is.  Forever and ever, Amen.

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Last night, as I sat listening to a praise concert composed of the brilliant classical musicians and vocalists from all around the New Orleans area, I found myself stuck on the interactions just two rows ahead of me.  A family of 6.  One father to four beautiful girls.

As his hand lifted high in raising up the name of God, his youngest used her hand to get to know her daddy.

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I just could not keep my eyes off this precious girl.  As he worshiped and led his family, this little gem stroked each part of his face.  As her fingers found their way deeper into his ear, I awaited a swat by his hand.  As she moved his lips as they sang, I awaited his moving his little girl into his wives’ arms.   He never did.  This dad was never annoyed by his little girl.

He continued to worship and she continued to read him.  She’s getting to know her daddy in the best way she knows how.  And he knows that, he accepts that, he delights in that.  In what better light, other than worship, would you rather learn what kind of man your father is?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

How precious a reminder it is for us to use our interests, our knowledge, our skills to get to know our Daddy greater.  Just as this father allowed the hour conversation (by touch), our Father too delights in our encounters with Him as we eagerly learn more about Him and His affections for us.  Jesus will not swat you away.  Rather, as He continues to look up, praising the Father, He will stay with you, fully present and aware of your eagerness to learn. 

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Father, we come before You as Your children.  Sons and Daughters of a righteous King, ruler over all that is and will be.  We delight in who you are.  We know that your complete character, full plan, and infinite knowledge have not been revealed to us, and here we are, eager to learn.  As You please, Jesus, teach us His ways.  Teach us to pray, to praise, and to learn more about our God. We sit before You, our hands reaching out, we’re curious creatures, just as You made us.  We thank you for the light that shines down on us both in the day and in the night.  Continue to be the compass, the lamp unto our feet, Jesus, as we seek to know you more intimately in each of our days. 

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I remember hearing once that “what you admire most in others, is often times what you most aspire to be.”

When we perceive an individual as outspoken, wise, kind, near-perfect in expressing childlike faith, I would argue we often fail to see the rest of the human that is before our eyes.

Everyone has their flaws.  I am not recommending we see each other only for our weaknesses, but rather, when we see someone is a brilliant evangelist, a humble servant, or a welcoming host, that we look through the window, instead of the reflection in the mirror.  Each of these attributes is a display of Christ within the human.

Christ is the perfect image, and as we draw nearer to Him, we become more like Him.  As we begin this year, perhaps fasting the first 21 days, let us separate ourselves from the worldly tendencies and connect with God through prayer.

In spending more time in His Word, becoming more familiar with the whole being of Christ, Abba Father, and the Holy Spirit that resides within, we are able to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on (our) own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), because it is the Spirit within who affirms the knowledge and speaks the Truth into life as we serve the Lord, our dear God.

So as John Piper spoke, may you too see yourself looking through the mirror.  Don’t be caught up in the mishaps of yesterday or even the last 10 minutes.  But if you catch yourself looking at your reflection, ask God to move your eyes to see deeper.  May you see through your “Jesus glasses,” as a dear sister spoke over me just this morning.

If you would like to be more outspoken, wise, kind, or better at expressing your childlike faith, ask the Spirit to teach you.  In recognizing the Spirit in them, ask the Spirit in you to move.  Start the climb, and don’t look back.  It may be intelligent to bring help along the way and ask your sisters or brothers to encourage you, to keep you accountable in your growth.

Jesus, our Good Teacher, I thank you for going before us.  For living a life of devotion to our Father God.  I thank you that your parting has left us, each, with the presence of God residing within us.  May this be a year of growth.  I place before you all that I am, and ask you to mold me into Your likeness. May I learn to depend on you and not my own ability.  May I be kinder to those who beg for help, to my neighbors, to the cashiers, and to my family. May my heart be inclined to pray for the missionaries as they continue to work despite persecution.  May I too learn to speak boldly of Your merciful love and grace.  Make yourself known through my life.  May your light shine brightly through each and every one of us.

Amen.

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August 13, 2014

The woman was convinced.  She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  They she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.  So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves…So they hid from the LORD God among the trees…Then the LORD God asked the woman, ‘What have you done?’ ‘The serpent deceived me,’ she replied. ‘That’s why I ate it.”

Unfortunately, Genesis 3 can be attributed all of our guilt, shame, and suffering.  Because of Eve yearned for what she could not have, we too yearn.  Thankfully, through the life of Jesus, we as believers have Good News. There is victory over death.  “The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam–that is Christ–is a life-giving Spirit…Let me reveal to you a wonderful secret.  We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 51).

In times of defeat, where we feel deceived by the serpent, let us concentrate on the life-giving Spirit.  Mark Driscoll speaks on these verses,

It is interesting, isn’t it? The first Adam forgot who he was, the last Adam didn’t. When Satan came to Jesus, he said, ‘Do no put the Lord your God to the test.’  He went back to the issue of identity.  I know who I am, so I know what to do…The issue of identity comes down to being in Adam or in Christ.  The first Adam turned from the Father in the garden, the last Adam turned toward the Father in a garden…In Adam there is defeat, but in the last Adam, there is victory.  In Adam there is condemnation, but in the last Adam there is salvation…In Adam we are cursed, but in the last Adam we are blessed.

Where is your identity? In times of trial, when battling mental or physical illness, are you in Adam or in Jesus?  Who do you cry out to or who do you blame?

Eve chose to eat from the tree, desiring its’ wisdom.  She was unaware and then her eyes were opened to the shame.  God made it clear then when she told them to not eat from the tree.  Now we have Scripture, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!” (Isaiah 8:19).

“When we choose to sin, we choose to suffer.  And when we break God’s laws, we also break God’s heart,” (Mark Driscoll, “Good News Before Bad Advice”).

I know I fall short, but I do not desire to break God’s heart.  Rather, I’d like to be a recipient of transformation, “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please Him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26).

May we have the strength to obey Him.  Oh wait, my prayer has already been answered.  He promises, For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).

It is true, “According to the path of Good News, Jesus changes who you are and helps you change what you do. Who you are determines what you do.  Jesus says it this way, ‘A good tree bears good fruit,'” (Mark Driscoll).

Therefore, no matter the trial you are in, you have a choice.  A choice to follow the path of deceit or to remain obedient.

“You’re identity precedes your activity…The decisions people make are in light of who they think they are.”

Who do you say you are?

Are you an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you own your physical body or do you yearn for your perfect, heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15)?

Whatever the weight is on your shoulders, know that on the path of Good News, “In Christ you are not just forgiven, you are new.”

Reach out.  Find a Bible.  Call a church.  Become a member of Jesus’ Church.  Wear white, for you are made new.  He treasures you as His bride.

Nothing about Jesus is imperfect. Nothing. God’s love for His people is immeasurable.

Do you accept it?  Can you embrace the identity He has gifted you?

My favorite image will remain,

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

God’s love for Abraham was so abundant that he allowed for a lamb to substitute the offering of his son (Genesis 22).  However, God’s love for His people allowed an everlasting offering.  Where God dismissed Isaac, He replaced all sin by offering His only son.

Jesus Christ gives us new life.  Although it doesn’t always feel physical, know that your burdens are lifted.  That the pain of mental or physical illness is not too heavy for God.

As a follower helped Jesus carry His cross, allow Jesus to help you carry yours.

You belong.  I belong. We belong to a great Family.  Our Father knows discipline, mercy, grace, and love in its’ perfect form.

Brene Brown, Ph.D. and researcher of shame and vulnerability says this quite well, “Belonging is the innate human desire to be apart of something larger than us…True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Allow yourself to be seen. And once you reach that place of vulnerability and Jesus has transformed you, may it not be the imperfections of man that the world views, but rather may you be seen for the example of Christ that you are unto humanity.

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August 12, 2014

Iraqi Christians are being persecuted.

It has been referenced to as a modern-day Holocaust.  The Islamic State is posting images of raped and slaughtered women, beheaded children, and of the hanged men.  They are seeking the world’s attention.  And they have it.

Christians are asking, “Why aren’t we doing more?” Politicians understand “We just pulled out and we aren’t about to start another war in Iraq.”  Who is responsible for aiding the victims of this violent rampage?

The Islamic State has marked the Christian homes just as Nazi’s forced Jews to wear yellow stars.

Their command for Christians in Iraq is to convert to Islam, pay a high tax, flee or die.  The ISIS has allowed Christian descendents to choose from the 4 options; whereas, those who abandoned Allah for Jesus are seen by ISIS as apostates and are offered to either return to Islam or be killed.

There is also a difference in faith that it takes for someone facing such threat in making the decision to convert, flee, or die for their beliefs.  Reports show that no families opted to pay a high tax.  This leaves us with thousands of individuals killed since the first IS announcement in June, and thousands of displaced Christian families traveling, seeking refuge across the Middle East.  As for those who chose to return to Islam, let us pray for the sanctity of their minds and the sanctuary for their hearts.

Is it a subconscious value of the physical self over the spiritual self made new in Christ that permits an individual to verbally abandon their relationship with Christ to the community?

May they know and continue to trust in God the Father of Jesus Christ who bore their sins on the cross.  Perhaps in their staying in Mosul, many of the persecutors will come to also know the forgiving grace and adoring love of God.  Let us pray that their hearts have not been deceived, that in publicly proclaiming their return to Allah, that they have not dethroned Jesus as Savior in their lives.

Let us call out.  Let them call out.  Hear our cries, Father.  Watch over your children.  Walk with your lost sheep.  Bring them Home.

The Islamic State terrorist attacks are being broadcasted around the world.  Both religious and secular media sources share the news of this Christian-genocide. To learn more of what is being done and what you can do specifically to aid the persecuted visit The Voice of the Martyrs.

Warning, the footage on both media sites is hard to see.  Surely, as Jesus wept over his city, God is weeping over His sheep.  Let us pray for shepherding.  May they all find their way Home as God has planned for His people.  Delighted both in the Christians who have been raised by Christian families, and the Muslim converts to Christianity; there will be dancing once they’ve returned to His fortress.  Whether it be in this life or in their heavenly body, there will be dancing.


 

I want to also attract attention to the members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  In praying for the persecuted Christians yesterday, I found myself questioning faith.  How far must one be pushed before surrendering their beliefs? However, today, I awoke shattered by my concern for the persecutors.  Let me say this again, I prayed for the persecutors.  One of my favorite people in historical accounts is Paul.  Saul as persecutor, Paul as apostle, Paul as servant, and Paul as persecuted.  The persecutor became the persecuted.

Saul was witness and perhaps led the persecution of Christianity’s first martyr, Stephen (Acts 6:8-8:1).  Paul says “I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13) and yet, now we attribute Paul’s life as Christianity’s greatest evangelist.  Perhaps then, one of these ISIS members can also be transformed.  Perhaps even, God has a plan for salvation for several of their lives.  What part in this transformation can we play?

Let us pray.  Let us surrender our words to God, may He lead us to pray what is in direct correspondence to His will.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.  And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14-15).  For we know that God desires to be glorified, and  this transformation will bring glory to His name.

With the world looking in, a modern-day Saul-to-Paul transformation would bring great attention to the grace of God.  Is this God’s will?  Is this how He pleases to bring honor to His name, to bring witness to His great works?

Lord Jesus, teach us to pray.  May your people in Iraq believe that you are their fortress.  May they take upon themselves the complete Armor of God.  May your Truth be enough.  Satisfy their lips with words of Hope and Salvation.  May their bodies be fueled by the Bread of Life and cleansed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.  May they hear you audibly if they do not have your Word to examine with their eyes.  Remind them of your Truth: “I command you–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Thank you God, for being their Shepherd.  For walking with them.  Thank you for being victorious!  We may not see it yet, but with prayers of expectancy, we know you will gain great victory when you see it best. We pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus. For all these are possible.  Let us raise up Your Name and proclaim this victory yours.  We rebuke Satan’s grasp by the name of Jesus Christ.  He is Savior.  He is Friend.  And we are grateful that He is near to us, always.  Amen.

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