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Archive for the ‘Persecution’ Category

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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On Wednesday I was posed the question, “What is faith?” Off the top of my head I rambled on, “confident hope in the unseen.”

Today I found myself rejecting several homes via a skype-in real estate tour of properties in Charlotte.  It was difficult to see the houses were not living up to my presupposed expectations.

I had hoped that the houses would deliver a balance of the purpose God gave me for the space along with safety and resale value.  Was it confident hope in the unseen? No. I did not have faith in the houses, I merely hoped they would turn out.

It struck me, hope is suggesting partial assurance in something with or without any evidence.  Whereas faith, is suggesting full assurance and choosing to fully devote oneself to something without any concrete evidence.  How would you distinguish the two?

On my 2-hour drive, where most of my deep thinking occurs on Saturdays, I began to praise God.  Praise you God, that you provided me with a House of Worship.  In the past, I’ve moved and had a place to live but sought out a place to worship regularly for weeks, sometimes months.  This time, I am already deeply challenged to draw closer to God and His Body through the church.

In the same conversation with the dear, mature sister in Christ I mentioned pointed to me as a “Starter,” I also shared about my heart for the persecuted.  Praying not only for the persecuted, but also for the persecutors.  Noting how rich the testimony of an ISIS member-turned-Christian would be in sharing God’s Truth to Muslims around the world.  We see Paul as a free man, confident in the Truths of the Gospel.  However, Paul was a persecutor, turned persecuted.  With confident hope, I too, stand before the world as  a Follower of Jesus.  If my time comes to take a zealous pledge, then let it be known that I love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my body.  That my living breath is a living sacrifice and that in my dying, I will be forevermore in His Presence.

Point is, I love my church.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and as He loves His Church, I too love that He has called me to fellowship here at The Station but to also move and join Uptown.  I pray to always remain faithful in my walking, to speak when he opens my mouth, to listen when my lips can no longer move and my ears hear his tender voice.

Confession, I listened to this sermon on my way home tonight, prayed about what I learned, then started it again.

http://www.uptownchurch.org/sermons/worship-cant-stop-wont-stop/

Are you ready to take the pledge? If not, what is keeping you from having such confidence?

After vowing to God tonight, I asked “who is to keep me accountable?”  With a quick reply,  I thanked God that his provision of an answer could only strengthen my confidence in His provision in the face of persecution.   He is the Great Judge, and I praise Him for ruling in His own favor.  Glory be to God.

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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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