“Raising Up Kings”: The Importance of Godly Establishment

Nigeria has been the home of both much establishment and much destruction in the last few weeks. While not more than a month ago, Nigeria was experiencing exciting victories over Boko Haram, Nigeria’s war on terror has seemingly took a disparaging turn. The damage has been heartbreaking: in the past two weeks alone, over 200 men, women, and children have been killed in acts of terror. Yet, it is in the face of such sorrowful, grievous events that a call for action and resolve was not only made, but acted upon. This action resulted in monumental change in the leadership that will be fighting against– and, prayerfully, ending– the Boko Haram insurgency. In what might be called one of Buhari’s boldest acts as President so far, the president fired every service chief officer that served under Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

While this complete turnover of power was not completely unexpected, the change confirmed one important Truth: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:20-21a). If this were not an example of one reign ending and another being established, a person would be incredibly hard-pressed to find one. Fortunately, there are many examples– two prime examples– of this Truth all throughout God’s Word. One example, in particular, comes to mind: King David, and His being established, as King of Israel. 

Establishing King David
David’s story of being crowned and anointed king is one full of tumultuous ups and downs, to say the least. Anointed as Israel’s King by Samuel in Samuel 16, it took 5 perilous years for God’s choosing to become a reality in Israel. Tracked and hunted down by King Saul (the king of Israel at the time), David was constantly running for his life– and, profoundly, clinging to the Love, mercy, power, and promises of Jesus through it all. In the end, the LORD’s purposes stood: In 2 Samuel 5, David was finally crowned king, much to his, and Israel’s, joy and relief.
Jesus’ establishment of David as king– and the blessings that came with it– did not stop there, though. After being crowned king by Israel, King David had matters of business that he tended to, almost immediately. In Samuel 5:6-25, the newly crowned King David went out to war to conquer both Jerusalem and the Philistines, all while having his mighty men around him. God granted King David favor in both battles; before long, Jerusalem was famously known as “the City of David” (2 Samuel 5:9).

The “Secret” to Success
Many may wonder, “Why was King David so successful, and so favored?” There is much to glean from both Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11 concerning this question. In 1 Chronicles 11, Chiefs of David’s mighty men (and the mighty men themselves) are described as “…men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel” (1 Chronicles 11:10). Desperate and broken in their own ways, the men David was surrounded by were not all “chosen” by David; in fact, Jesus drew these men to David in times of his greatest need, and were later trained in warfare by David (as told in 1 Samuel 22:1-2). The account of David’s Mighty Men speaks of more than just the importance of having a great leader; it speaks of the importance of having Godly, God-given, great community.

As Proverbs 13:20 dictates, the men David was surrounded by affected his reign– and his life– incredibly. Yet, while the “Mighty Men” in David’s life helped in his success, God’s anointing of– and personal relationship with– David was the real reason David succeeded as He did. It was not David’s skill nor the amount of men David had behind him in war; it was David’s close relationship with Jesus that guaranteed victory. David affirmed this himself in Psalm 20:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
(Psalm 20:7)

Known as “a man after God’s own Heart” (Acts 13:22), David, though sinful, was a man who truly loved and honored the LORD; and, therefore, lived honoring and glorifying Jesus (Psalm 18:1; Psalm 86:12). This love relationship with Jesus brought David the Lord’s favor, mercy, and comfort, even in David’s failures (Psalm 3:3). The mere fact that God chose David as King, and promised to bless his offspring and family line, guaranteed a success no one could take away. Yet, this relationship was about more than God’s blessings, whether here or hereafter. Knowing Jesus personally did more than give David victory and blessing; it was his victory and blessing. This profound, breathtaking Truth is what David meant when He said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1). Having the Lord on his side– more than that, knowing Jesus on a real, intimate level– gave David all He could ever want or need. “And David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him” (1 Chronicles 11:9).

President Muhammadu Buhari, though muslim, has been “established by God” (Romans 13:1) to rule over Nigeria. While this may be for reasons yet unknown, we know that it is ultimately for God’s purposes; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). While this may remain a difficult situation, one thing is clear: President Muhammadu Buhari is simply a man– a man who is completely separated from God, in his sin. Because of this, whether Buhari chooses a wise, sound committee or not is irrelevant; He must know Christ. The future of the nation– more importantly, the future of his soul– depends on it.


Do you know Jesus?

“He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:9-12, NIV)

There’s no doubt about it: David loved God with all of his heart (Psalm 73:25-26). But as much as David loved God, it could not compare with God’s Love for him. God’s Love for David was perfect– though David lived under the Mosaic Covenant Law, God was “the lifter of [David’s] head,” faithful to “bend down his ear” to listen to David’s prayer (Psalm 3:3; 116:2).

Yet, while David’s reign was blessed and ordained by God, there was One far greater who would come. David himself prophesied of this in Psalm 110:1, NIV:

“The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” 

While God’s Love is perfect, so is His sense of justice. Because of this, God’s “coming King,” called the “Messiah” by Israel’s prophets, would come to die for the sins of mankind, and would usher in a new kingdom– “the Kingdom of God.” Through Him, a new covenant would be made– and God would “forgive [His People’s] wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). In the ultimate show of God’s Perfect Justice and Love, this man would die for mankind, reconciling those who believed on Him to God, forever (Genesis 3:15c).

This Messiah-King has come, and his name is Jesus Christ. Meet Him– and understand our need for Him– here.



As believers, we are called to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks… for all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (2 Timothy 2:1-2, NIV). In light of this, may we pray for our leaders, wherever we may live.

Pray, of course, for Muhammadu Buhari. Pray that the Lord would strip him of all that keeps him from Jesus; pray that he would be desperate to know God, and Jesus, personally. Pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to him, and would move powerfully. Pray that He would come to know who Jesus is in a personal, Saving relationship; pray that when and as he finds Jesus, he would not be afraid to profess Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. Pray that, as Jesus works in and through him, he would lead the country to know Christ, and would be used by Jesus greatly in all he does.

Pray for his family: his wife, Aisha Buhari, and his children. Pray that as they go through life, they would come to know Jesus personally– that they would be surrounded by those who love Jesus, and who would be faithful to love and share the gospel with them. Pray that they would not be afraid to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, either.

Pray that Muhammadu Buhari would be surrounded by men and women who believe in and know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Pray these men and women would be quick to sharing the gospel with Buhari; may not a second be lost in taking opportunities to show Buhari the love, grace, and gospel of Christ Jesus.

Pray for Buhari’s new cabinet, especially. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14). Pray these advisors would know Christ– and pray that, as they would know Him, they would honor Him as Lord and Savior in all their conduct and counsel. May they “Live such good lives among [him, the pagan(s)] that… [he] may see [their] good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (2 Peter 2:12). Pray that they would glorify God for all to see.

Pray for the men and women Buhari is now leading. Pray that there would be a revival within the Church in Nigeria; pray that those who voted for and believe(d) in Buhari for change would, instead, believe and put all their hope in Christ. Pray that, as this revival touches all believers in Nigeria, they would reach out to their Nigerian, muslim neighbors (all neighbors, truly)– and would share Jesus’ Love, goodness, and grace with all those who do not know Christ’s love and salvation personally.

Pray for the Nigerian military. Pray that they would break the strongholds of Boko Haram. Pray that they would smite Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks; pray that, in and under Christ, they would have victory.

Pray for those who are currently under captivity; pray that they would know Christ as their Lord and Savior, being spiritually freed from the bondage of sin. Pray that they would be physically freed, soon.

Pray that, in this nation, “…every knee [would] bow to [Christ], and every tongue [would] confess to God” (Romans 14:11). May they know Him as God and King– for, when Christ is made King of our lives, true salvation is found.

In Captivity, in Freedom: The Unfailing Love of God

Countless towns in Northeastern Nigeria are full of men, women and children with empty hands, bruised bodies, and busted, broken hearts. In recent months, approximately 130 towns in Northern Nigeria have been under Boko Haram’s seige, with nearly 1.5 million men and women having been forced to flee (source). While millions have fled Boko Haram, inumberable amounts of people have been forced to stay in these seized towns, due to illness, age, or mere lack of opportunity. Trapped by the intense violence found in their towns, these men and women, paralyzed by fear, undergo the traumatic experiences of being kidnapped, “converted” to Islam and forced into marriage or warfare, with execution as their alternative. Suffering the heartbreak of knowing they will most likely never see their loved ones again, they live, scared and oppressed, learning the ways of an evil worldview– both men and women being trained to kill and be killed in the name of allah. Continue reading

By the Holy Spirit’s Power: Defeating Fear & Boko Haram

They are the many unsung, unseen forces in the Nigerian military. Women– mothers, daughters, respected leaders in Nigerian society– have given their safety and comfort to fight the evil that is the Boko Haram insurgency. Though almost unheard of when speaking about the military, women make up a good amount of the country’s militia and are an active part of the fight against terrorism. Yet, in an attitude of apprehension and even slight panic, Nigeria has decided to remove more than 200 of its women soldiers from the frontlines of Maiduguri city to the country’s capitol, Abuja. Continue reading

The Boko Haram: Finding Unmerited Mercy & Unbelievable Forgiveness

They lied. It was four o’clock in the morning in Baga, Nigeria, and, drowsy from sleep, the men in each household were told to get up and follow Boko Haram members outside so that they “could explain everything.” As 14 shaking men followed the terrorists into the brush, they were told to lie on the ground. What they had hoped for– “an explanation,” anything to acknowledge that they were human beings, too– was all for nought. Continue reading

The Baga Massacre: A Voice for the Voiceless

As of today, January 21st, 18 days have passed since the town of Baga, Nigeria was razed, where 2,000 of it’s innocent men, women, and children were mercilessly massacred. As Boko Haram’s bloodiest raid to date, most of its victims were women, children, and the elderly who could not escape the terrorists’ rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. As people ran, swam, and hid for their lives, thousands upon thousands drowned in nearby Lake Chad, where the body count was so high that soldiers stopped counting.

Continue reading

Giving Back their Names: Getting to the Heart of the Story

After reading horrific news reports surrounding the lives of 219 girls from Chibok, Nigeria– and countless more, from all over both the Northern and Southern regions of Nigeria– I am filled with an angry, bitter grief.

Continue reading

The Nigerian Military: Rest & Strength in Jesus Christ

The Nigerian military has been through much as of late. On January 5th, 2015, it was reported that the Northeastern Nigerian town of Baga was invaded and ransacked by the Boko Haram on Saturday, in which the town’s military base was overran and raided. This base homes a multinational task force for Nigeria and its surrounding countries, and Nigerian soldiers are housed there. This assault left hundreds injured and many dead as men, women and children tried their hardest to escape Boko Haram’s clutches. Continue reading

A Call to Remember

According to CNN, the Boko Haram has kidnapped 185 more women, boys and girls and killed 32 from the town of Gumsuri, Nigeria. This news comes in light of reports that the Boko Haram has been cruelly killing elderly people from the Gwoza area.

There are no words to describe the horror of such reports. There are no words to express the frustration and the disappointment felt by this news. Each new wave of reports heralding such corruption and nightmarish sin can easily cause the observer to lose hope.

Yet, there is a call to stand firm in the fight to bring the Chibok girls, as well as these new kidnappees, back home. Continue reading

Viewing the Statistics: Praying for our Enemies

The statistics are heartbreaking. According to estimations made by the Council on Foreign Relations, approximately 1 million Nigerians have been displaced and robbed of their livelihoods by the terrorist group Boko Haram since November 2013. Not only have millions lost their businesses, farms, and homes, but over 10,000 men, women, and children have lost their lives– callously targeted and slaughtered by the Boko Haram (BH)– because they have refused to take part in their barbaric, demonically evil actions of violence. These statistics have given cause for the BH’s violence to be compared to ISIS’s violence, with only approximately 400 more violent deaths caused by ISIS in the past year.

When reading such statistics, it can be easy to stop there, shocked by the numbers and disturbed by the masses of people lost. It can be easy to study graphs and shake our heads, disconcerted by the sharp increases in violence seen starting in 2014. In the midst of these numbers, though, we must not forget that Christ is a God who knows every one of the people affected, hurt, and killed by the Boko Haram; these people are not just statistics to our Lord, but are fully and intimately known by their Creator. Every person counted in these statistics have names, stories, and loved ones; for every person killed, there are people mourning their loss. Our God is near to every soul robbed of it’s joy, every injured body, and every grieving heart; not only this, but countless men and women who put their trust in our Lord now reside with Him in heaven, emptied of all their temporal pain, full of the eternal joy of Christ.

In sight of eternity, there are many prayers said for those mourning and in loss, while many prayers are being prayed against the members of the Boko Haram. Many have lashed out at the members of the Boko Haram (and ISIS, for their violent acts have caused even more pain), breathing out curses and prayers for their destruction. Yet, it’s important to ask what Christ would do in such a situation– or, to look back on what He did do, as He looked out at the masses cheering for His death. His response was one of pure love.

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” 
(Luke 23:33-34, NASB)

Our Lord did not need to die for us, nor was He truly ever at our mercy. No; instead, Christ gave himself willingly (as seen in John 10:17-18), knowing that only by His wounds all of us would be healed. He looked at those who zealously pounded nails into His hands and feet with nothing but love and forgiveness, asking the Father to forgive all of us, “for [we] did not know what [we were] doing” (John 10:18, “we” and “we were” mine). I say “we” because Jesus also died for all people today, for us; Jesus died for every sin (of every sinner) ever committed (2 Corinthians 5:14). This solid truth means that every bit of evil we’ve ever committed against another– even the sins we commit against ourselves– have nailed Jesus to that tree. The simple, hard to swallow truth is this: Every sin, “big” and “small,” “justified” and “unfair” alike, has not only harmed and killed ourselves or those whom we’ve sinned against, but have actually killed Christ. This truth changes those who believe it at the very core of themselves, forever.

Searching God’s word, those who are changed by Christ’s love find that they must take up Christ’s way of interacting with those who persecute them: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” (Luke 6:29, NIV). This philosophy seems to make no human sense; it speaks of giving our all to the Love of Christ, allowing others to treat us harshly while we respond with going the extra mile to Love our enemy. Not only does it make no human sense, it is not humanly possible without the Lord Himself living in us, as Jesus stated in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV).

Yet, with Christ, all things, including truly Loving our enemy, are possible (Matthew 19:26). With Christ, we have the ability to look at statistics, view the horrendous damage, and respond with humble, loving prayers for our enemies, knowing that Christ died for them too– and we are no better than them, but have also hurt and killed Christ ourselves. For “they do not know what they do” to the souls, hearts, minds, and bodies of those whom they harm and murder; they have not yet discovered that they are only hurting Christ. We must remember that we don’t truly fight against flesh and blood, but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). In short, we are not merely fighting against the members of the Boko Haram; we are fighting against the evil that fuels their violent acts, a spiritual element that these men have no idea they are being devoured by themselves. These men must come to the end of themselves, only so that Christ can welcome them with His nail-scarred hands opened wide, something they need as much as their victims do.


In light of this, please pray that the members of the Boko Haram would see and know the Love of Christ– perhaps, even through those men and women whom they are persecuting. Pray for Abubukar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram, that He would see and understand that He is truly killing Christ; pray His heart would be softened and that He’d hear the gospel in a whole new way, and that He’d know Christ as His Lord and Savior. Pray for those in captivity, that Christ would use them to bring the love and gospel of Christ to those who need Him. Pray for the thousands upon thousands of men and women whom Christ is near to, that they’d feel His comfort and near Presence.

Because truly, these men need to hear the message of Christ just as much as their victims do.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Caught in the Crossfire: Peace for Believers in the Middle of Chaos

Monday, December 1st, it was reported that a police base in Damaturu was attacked by the Boko Haram, being ruthlessly raided and bombed by BH members seeking to make Damaturu apart of its Islamic Caliphate. The men, women and children of Damaturu have left their homes for fear of being bombed or shot at, cowering in the brush with no one to defend them.

While such a nightmare goes on, another attack on the Grand Mosque in Kano, Nigeria killed at least 120 people, after the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, encouraged Nigerians to fight against the Boko Haram. Those who escaped the bomb blasts were shot at by Boko Haram members, some barely escaping with their lives, obtaining second and third degree burns that will take months to really heal.

In such a time, where chaos has become the norm and fear fills the weary hearts and minds of people all over Northern Nigeria, peace is a foreign concept, one almost scoffed at by those who have witnessed such heinous crimes. Young and old alike have spent countless nights awake, frightened by violent sounds of war, ready to flee at any moment. In such a time as this, fear seems to be the only emotion one can feel, and peace seems to be no more than an idealistic daydream.

Yet, in times of such shock, pain, and extreme fear, there is true hope for those in Christ Jesus. Jesus freely gives us peace whenever we may need it, no matter the circumstance:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

As Christ so lovingly promises, He does not give to us as the world gives– with strings attached, temporally or sparingly; Christ’s gifts– among them, His amazing gift of peace to His followers– are 100% sure, eternally abundant, and completely free. Those of His children who are suffering can “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [their] requests to God,” while the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [their] hearts and [their] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV “their” mine). Those who know Christ as their Lord and Savior have unlimited amounts of peace completely available to them as they look to Him for all that they need; because Christ knows what we need, and can fulfill every empty place in our lives, we as believers will never be found wanting any good thing, as stated in Psalm 34:10. His unfailing Love is bigger than any act of evil; in all things, we are “more than conquerors through Him who love[s] us” (Romans 8:37, NIV, “loves” mine). Because of all this, we as believers can “run with perseverance,” as stated in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

But for those who do not know Jesus Christ, peace is far off. For those being attacked in such bombings as the Grand Mosque bombing in Kano, true peace has never been felt and impossible to find. In such dark times, the knowledge that there is no real light for nonbelievers fills me with pain and deep compassion. They need to know the Light. They need to feel His warmth during such times of pain and trial. At a time where nothing in the world makes sense, they need to know that they are incredibly loved and can be made new by the Creator of the Universe– not because they are faithful followers or have done “just the right things,” but “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV). They need to know that He is not unapproachable in times of distress, but is quite the opposite:

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore [we can] draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV, “we can” mine)

At the core of it all, fear is a lie. But for those who don’t know the Truth, peace is nowhere in sight; whether they be Muslim, atheist, or any other religion or creed, those who do not know the Prince of Peace have never and will never know the peace they so need. If that is not a reason for earnest prayer, I don’t know what is.


Because of all of this, please pray for those who do not know Christ in Northern Nigeria. Pray that the Lord, who is the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV), would comfort our fellow brothers and sisters, so that He may use them to share the gospel with those who do not know Him. Pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding would guard our brothers and sisters in Christ; pray also that the Lord would “strengthen [them] and protect [them] from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Pray for the Nigerian military, that the Lord would strengthen them to fight back against the Boko Haram well; pray also for our brothers and sisters in captivity, that the Lord would use them to witness to members of the Boko Haram within the camps.

God is faithful to bring our brothers and sisters peace, no matter the evil they face. Let us praise Him!