Are you growing concerned?

Are you becoming more aware of the news?  From financial issues, and suffering of those around us, to the world events – horrific news, startling, and possibly very overwhelming.

My husband and i have been a part of the prayer team of our church, and so we find ourselves filtering things through soft and purposeful conversation with God.  Painful bodies, fearful moms, unemployment, disobedient children, struggling marriages, and on and on.   Our needs as people are very great, and our dependence is growing greater and greater on God himself to provide and meet the needs.

But i must tell you that while i know our needs are important they seem to pale in comparison to our brothers and sisters around the world who are giving their lives for their faith in Jesus.

As I stand to sing worship choruses these past Sundays I realize how privileged we are to gather publicly, to give voice to our hearts cry of worshiping our great God without fear of imprisonment, beatings, death.  So as i close my eyes, and lift my heart and my voice to God I find myself lifting those believers around the world to Jesus, and ask for his presence in their lives.

Remembering Al and Eileen – We have friends who are Pakistani nationals, and have lived around the world. They are believers in Jesus.  And these last 10 years their government has not permitted them to leave their nation.  They are surrounded by 99.5% of their fellow citizens who believe in radical Islam, or tribal factions.  They have a life that is constantly one word or one action from death.  Al told us the last time he was visiting in the states that we need to pray for the believers in Pakistan like this:

  • Lord grant them wisdom to know your word, your heart, your spirit
  • Lord grant them favor with their neighbors that those who do not know Jesus might see his love extended through your people in that place.
  • Lord give opportunities to love, help and share your word with those who do not know
  • Strength, courage, boldness, fearlessness, God’s favor.

As the news continues to churn out photos and video of Christians being executed for believing in Jesus I can;t just stand in church and sing a worship chorus.  I am compelled to cry out for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted.  And i am compelled to cry out against the acts of injustice, shocking violence, of global bullying on a massive scale.

The rising tide of hatred and hostility of Christians is joined by the growing antisemitism that is playing out in the world.  Many are saying these are times much like that of pre-WWII, where people were being fed propaganda, believing ideology that was filled with venemous hatred, doctrines of demons.

America is not the same nation it was 5 years, 10 years, 20 years ago.  The news media is whipping up a hostility toward Christianity, our government is embracing poor judgement, and the leadership of our nation is growing sketchy.  Being a Christian is becoming a dangerous decision, with frequent news of charges pressed, court cases, etc for simplly living out our faith.

The winds of change are blowing.  Are we there in prayer, standing firmly asking our Great God and King to meet us, change our hearts, accept our repentance, and heal our land?

I am growing concerned – not of God, because i know he holds everything in his great care, but i am growing concerned that fellow believers seem to have little sensitivity to the great need to pray, to seek God with everything in our souls, and to ask for the needs of our fellow believers that are hurting.

“Father, forgive us for our self focus.  Forgive us for not praying for our rulers, our government, or leaders.  And forgive us for letting your word slide from our lives.  We repent today, and ask you to fill our  hearts and minds with your spirit, your word, your strength.  And we bring our brothers and sisters who are being fiercely persecuted to you.  Please be their strength, glorify yourself in your people, strengthen and embolden your church to stand in the presence of evil, and know your plan is to bring many to salvation.  

We pray for those who are the persecutors… may they come to know they are persecuting your people, and that you know every thought and act.  May you show yourself to them in dreams, visions, and manifest fear in their very souls.  We ask for their salvation, we cry to you to turn your enemies to repentent believers.  In everything may we sense your spirit, your provision, your protection and your love.  And may the world sense this too.  Amen”

Advertisements

Glorious Day!

resur

Resurrection Sunday is here.  And we are the most blessed of all humans, to know the truth of the glorious love of our Savior, the willingness to endure the cruelty of humanity, and to lay his life down to pay for our sin. To be willing to lay aside his powers as God Almighty, and inhabit a tent of flesh, to live among us, and to understand our sorrows.

This is a glorious day. The tomb is still empty, and Jesus stands victorious over death and the grave.

Let us relish this day with great joy. Sing a bit louder, love a bit deeper and worship him with a lot more zeal.

Christ is risen, and our debt of sin is paid.
Christ is risen, and death is defeated.
Hallelujah! He is risen indeed.

Mixed Messages????

Sunday was Easter, Resurrection Sunday, the day the world stops to celebrate the victory of Jesus over death and sin.  And it was a glorious day.  Our church swelled with a blend of regular church goers and those who we never see.  My heart was overflowing with joy for this day, this opportunity to enter into worship with joy and praise.  I still find it so mystifying and marvelous that God himself would take on flesh, dwell among us, learn to understand our struggles and would courageously accept the role of bearing our sin.  My brain cannot wrap itself around that level of wondrous love, and everlasting compassion.

Yes, He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  It is great to say that… to acknowledge victory of Jesus over the power of sin, the power of death and the grave… for he did not remain there.  He is Alive.  Easter has always been my most favorite holidays of the church calendar   Having been raised Russian Orthodox the focus of lent was on holy week…the last supper, the arrest, the trials, the beatings, the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.  While food and celebration occurred, the focus was not on that but on Jesus.  It was all about his greatest sacrifice, of the eternal transaction that would impact the world.

Again I realized how precious it is to say I know Jesus, and talk with him daily.  But i have to tell you about a post I read on Facebook that fixated my attention and startled me awake…. a younger woman i once worked with wrote this Sunday on her page.

“Happy Easter to all the Christians today.  I am so thankful that the Lord was starved, beaten, nailed to a cross and risen on the third day so that I could sin today by stuffing my face with an unGodly amount of food and wine while millions starve.  So Blessed. :)”

I sat there fixated on the screen wondering “Is this how the world understands Resurrection Sunday?”  “Is this what we have become?  A form of sacred mingled with large amounts of the profane?

Two days later i am still praying through those comments, and asking for wisdom to know what to say.  Yes, I think this comment demands a response, and a response that will not further repel her from Christianity.  And that got me to wondering….. What am I telling others about Jesus through how I live my life?  Is my faith strong, and my witness clear? Or is it a muddied situation that leads to these obviously hostile viewpoints?  And how can we gather together to celebrate the single greatest event in history and then discover that so many in our own country have grown unchurched, post christian, cynical of faith, doubters of truth.

This little message was a kind of wake up call.  A reminder that we must live our faith out in our lives in ways that do not look ambiguous or confusing.  Not watering down the gospel, or the power of Christ in our lives in any way, we must take the liberty to share our hope with the world.  And on a personal level I must be asking God for clarity and open doors to speak with those who do not have the hope.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me,that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

– Ephesians 6:18-19

So this is my prayer today… for myself, and for you.  May we, like the early church, turn this world upside down with the message of our Risen Savior and His Great Love For Us through the power of God living in our lives!  May we see many people come to understand the great hope we have, and not misunderstand it so badly.  For the power of the Easter message is a personal invitation to know your God.