Tag Archives: thoughts

prayers for the persecuted

I recently read the testimony of a believer who experienced tremendous persecution.

He was beaten for being a Christian and nearly lost his life. He’s experienced what it means to suffer for Christ. I can’t even imagine.

Platt’s book, “Radical,” that I’ve referenced several times, encourages us to pray for the entire world as part of radical experiment in the next year.

I’d like to encourage you to pray for the persecuted believers around the world. Pray for the men and women in India and Bangladesh who take lashes for Jesus. Pray for Christians in Iraq, in the Middle East who die for their Savior. Pray for brothers and sisters in the most populated country on earth who meet underground.

These men and women don’t pray for the persecution to stop. They pray for strength and faith to stand strong. As you pray, pray that the Lord would be their comfort, and that He’d grant them faith and grace to withstand.

The Bible never promises being a Christian will be easy, and these believers aren’t putting their trust in Christ to be comfortable.

Stephen, the first martyr, didn’t have to give the speech he did, standing up to the authorities. He stood up for what he believed, even if it meant stoning. His last words were a prayer for his attackers, that they’d find forgiveness.

In the testimony of the believer I mentioned earlier, the believer said God has provided for all of his needs. He continues to pray in the midst of the storm.

How easily I complain about the minutest things. It’s a reality check to read testimonies of persecution, especially after I’ve just complained about something as small as someone who did something annoying to me.

I had an awesome Thanksgiving season this year. I was able to celebrate four times. And what I’ve realized, through Bible reading, personal experience and reading testimonies of believers, is that I think giving thanks, thanksgiving, is a crucial part of withstanding persecution. I don’t mean in the “Thanksgiving,” the American holiday sort of way, I mean in everything, giving thanks to the Lord. We have no right to demand anything from God. He is the Creator of all, who am I to demand an answer?

Giving thanks also takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it on God. When we’re giving thanks, we’re less likely to dwell on our pain.

Prayer also takes the focus off of ourselves. When we pray, we are, or should be, looking upward to Chris. In praying for the world, we are praying for others and not ourselves. We take a step away from self-absorption. The Bible tells us to pray for others. It also tells us to go and tell others about Him.

I have so much to learn. I look at the faith of believers throughout Asia who’ve been beaten, imprisoned or tortured, and I’m inspired and amazed. They’ve experienced so much, relied on the Lord and their faith is exuberant and unfaltering.

So now, if you would, take a moment and pray for the persecuted church.

2 Comments

Filed under Life

Grace

Grace, she became my mother.

Jimmy Needham’s song, “Moving to Zion” has a line that resonates within me. “Grace, she became my mother.”

Grace is my mother. And my grandmother.

My mom’s name is Grace Lyn. My grandmother’s name is Grace. If I have a girl, I want Grace to be a part of her name.

Grace is my heritage–in my earthly family and my heavenly family.

If there’s a theme, a thread or trace of an element in my life, it’s grace. Through Grace and Rudolph, my mom came into the world. Through Grace Lyn and Jim, I came into the world. Through God’s grace, I am His child.

Reading Andy Stanley’s book, “The Grace of God,” and listening to Jimmy Needham’s song, I am reminded of how crucial grace is in all of our lives.

“Grace is bigger than compassion or forgiveness,” Stanley writes. “Grace is the offer of exactly of exactly what we do not deserve.”

Sometimes I forget this. I try to earn grace, but grace can’t be earned.

“It is the knowledge of what we do not deserve that allows us to receive grace for what it is. Unmerited. Unearned. Undeserved. For that reason, grace can only be experienced by those who acknowledge they are undeserving,” Stanley writes.

Stanley says grace is understood best when viewed within the context of relationships. I agree.

In his book, Stanley outlines grace throughout the Old and New Testament. It’s part of our heritage as God’s children.

Stanley’s book reminded of me the ways my parents showed me grace throughout my growing up years, mirroring what our Heavenly Father does.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

I love that grace is the undercurrent in my life.

How is grace playing out in your lives?

Thomas Nelsons’ Booksneeze program provided me with Stanley’s book. My opinions are my own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Life

Big Brother

“While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.” Matthew 28:11-15 [ESV]

As I read the Easter story this weekend this section stood out to me. To this day people believe Jesus’ body was whisked away by His disciples. The lie that started so long ago is still widely accepted as truth today.

Can you imagine being the guards? They carried the secret of what really happened that night to their graves. Perhaps they lay awake in the wee hours of warm Jerusalem summer nights thinking about what happened. They felt the earth shake. They saw the sealed tomb open. They remember falling to the earth–frozen like corpses and Katy’s Custard. (Katy’s is a frozen custard business in Waco, TX)

Either the disciples are demi gods or truly Jesus is the Son of God, they thought. (Or at least I’d wager they thought that)

I just finished reading “1984” by George Orwell. My mind made the connection between Matthew 28:11-15 and the words Orwell coined, ‘Party’ and ‘Big Brother.’

Perhaps the guards in the Bible are like Party intellectuals, the Jewish leaders are like the ‘Thought Police’ and the practice of ‘doublethink’ is the perpetuated lie about Christ. Hear me out.

In “1984,” the Party rewrites history–shaping it to suit the Party’s purposes. The book goes into great detail about the mutability of the past. Lies are purported as truth. History is rewritten and records are altered. And, thankfully for us, records have not been destroyed of what really happened with Jesus’ body. In this case, the truth can only be ignored, not rewritten.

Orwell writes:

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory belief’s in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.”

Doublethink is to tell intentional lies and then genuinely believe in them. It’s forgetting inconvenient facts. That’s what Jewish officials did.

“The essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty,” Orwell writes.

However, this lie, that Jesus was spirited away, is not believed by everyone. There are Party members who don’t believe the falsehoods of the Party in “1984”  entirely, as Orwell’s character Winston didn’t believe in the Party. And then there are what Orwell calls ‘proles.’ Proles are outside the system, so to speak. Perhaps for the sake of this article I can call Christians proles?

Proles, as Winston writes, are the salvation of humankind. While Christians are not salvation, they do have an answer to how to find salvation.

Jesus still lives despite tries to wipe, stamp, rewrite and explain away what happened when Jesus was resurrected.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

He lives, not just in vague memories, but in actuality. He is risen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life