The Preciousness of the Cross

Suppose you fell into a hole. It was hole that you thought you could jump across, but sadly, you jumped as high as you could’ve—and failed.

Or suppose you stole from a judge. You knew it was wrong, but didn’t care—and, because of your stealing, you now belong on death row.

Both of these things are your fault. It was your fault for not thinking through jumping over a hole in the ground—and it was your fault for stealing when you knew full well what the consequences were. You ultimately can blame no one else for where you are, right now.

But then, He arrives on the scene. As you scream for help at the bottom of the hole, He peeks His head in, and finds you in dire need. Similarly, for all intensive purposes, pretend the judge that you stole from was able to be the judge in your hearing.

This guy, this stranger—He has a lot to do, and is very busy. But He makes the time to help you out of this pit you fell into. The judge who you stole from calls you “guilty” but does much more than that. He gets down from his seat, and says that instead, He will be prosecuted for your crime. He is guilty, while you go scot-free.

It’s true, these analogies are incomplete. But many would say that this kind of behavior is amazing. Reckless, even. Yet, this is the Love, Grace, and Goodness we have been offered by God, through Christ Jesus alone.

As I was writing my “Gratitude for Freedom” post, one thought came into my mind: I do not regularly view the sacrifice Jesus made for me as the incredibly precious thing that it is. A lot of the time, I either refuse Jesus’ Grace and Mercy out of pride or shame (weirdly enough), or I take it in, and abuse it. It is sadly very easy to swing from either legalism or abusing the grace Jesus has given us.

The only way to not swing to these two unhealthy extremes? To continually view the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and His Work on the Cross, as precious. To remember what He has done for us in its full array.

To stop looking at ourselves and the world, but rather, fixing our eyes and hearts upon Jesus: what He has done, what He is doing today, and what He will eventually do, at the end of this world as we know it. When we remember that our spiritual life and freedom are not at all free– but rather, that they cost the God of the Universe everything– it will cause us to respond not in pride or fear, but pure Love for our Savior and what He has done for us.

Our God is One that delights in His children delighting in Him. I pray that we would be able to enjoy our relationships with Jesus, continually drawing closer to Him, and relying on Him alone.

May we remember and keep His work done on the cross for us at the forefront of our minds—because it is His Work done for us, and not our own work done, that matters at the end.


Do you know Jesus?

Learn more about Jesus, His Work done on the cross, and why it all matters, here.


­­­­­­­­­­Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this blog post, here):

  • The Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu. May they come home soon; you can find their names and pictures, here.
  • That those who know Jesus would rest in Him and His finished work. May we not leave His side for anything at all—it’s the best place to be. ❤

Thank you for your prayers and support!

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The Key to Resilience

“They snapped our photos and told us not to return to school, but I came back because I want to learn,” said Maryam, when asked about returning back to her school after being abducted by Boko Haram as a part of the “Dapchi schoolgirl kidnapping.”1

According to Maryam, Boko Haram took pictures of each and every girl they abducted, threatening to show up at their school and kill them if they returned to school.1 After having their pictures taken, Boko Haram members unusually dropped off all but one girl in their town. (In other situations, such as the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping, this happened to none of the girls.)

What these girls have gone through is complete and utter hell. But even on the “outside” of captivity, life proves incredibly tough for these women, and others who have escaped or been freed from Boko Haram. Amnesty International has reported that Nigerian troops have perpetrated “vile abuse” on the women they have helped liberate and rescue; some women have been reported trading sex for food, while it has been reported that other women have been insulted and called “Boko Haram wives.”2 This kind of treatment is abhorrent.

Yet, the remarkable thing about these young women is how they, though they are victims, choose not to bow down to fear, current trials, or past tragedy. While there is much to fear—Boko Haram’s threats to kill them if they return to school are real—many students are not letting it keep them from doing what it is they want to do.LEARN.jpg

Though they carry around mental, emotional, and physical wounds, these girls do not let their fears of the future or the pain of the past define them. They resiliently press on.

How to Go On

But that does not mean that these girls are immune to fear. It can be easy to see these girls as tough and unbreakable; and that kind of tenacity is definitely seen in these beautiful young women. However, it is important to note that they are still human. Many of the girls, coming back to the school they were abducted from, were nervous, staying together in groups as they walk around campus, as All Africa reports.

It is important to see how these girls have found the strength to do such fearless things. Many girls cling to Jesus; they also cling to each other.

And as I am writing this, one thing becomes clear:

They need Christ, and they need each other.

Isn’t it the same with us? In conquering any fear, the key is knowing that we are not alone in that fear. That we have God, who Loves and Protects us as Sovereign over all; and we have each other to rely upon. This is how Christ created us.

With such faith in Christ first of all, and with a supportive community second, no one can get in these girls’ way. As Maryam so powerfully said, “I want Western education to improve my future. I came back to this school because I don’t want to change my environment. I have already started school here and I want to finish here.”through.jpg

Through everything from Boko Haram captivity, to the oppression of evil soldiers and people in authority, the Love, Compassion, and Strength of Jesus Christ will see them through. May Christ deal with those who trample upon his precious creation; and may we find resilience and strength in Jesus and in each other, too.


Do you know Jesus?

God made us to know Him, and to know eachother. Unfortunately, when Adam and Eve both chose to partake of the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the problem of sin entered this world.

Sin keeps us from knowing God, and from the true community we were meant to be a part of and enjoy. Yet, Jesus was the remedy to our sickness.

Learn more about Jesus, and how He came to fix this problem of sin, here.


Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for the blog post, here):

  • The Chibok & Dapchi Girls. As these girls continue to go through hell on earth, please pray that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and would trust Him to heal and restore their lives. Find their names and pictures, here.
  • These people have gone through unspeakable, horrific things. Things that deserve Justice. May Christ bring them Justice both on earth and in the life to come.
  • The Nigerian military. The news that such revolting acts have been done by those in the Nigerian military shows that Justice needs to be served, and that the military must be changed!

Thank You for your prayers!!!

 

1 http://allafrica.com/stories/201805220171.html

2 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/23/charity-accuses-nigerian-troops-abusing-boko-haram-wives/

 

A Prayer Guide for Christians Facing Islamist Extremists | From Voice of the Martyrs

An email came into my inbox this morning, regarding how we can all be praying for those facing Islamist Extremism like Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. I thought the prayer guide that is attached would be very resourceful to those who want to know how to pray for the Chibok girls and those in Nigeria, as a whole!

You can find the prayer guide, here.

Enjoy, and thank you for all of your prayers!

For the Santa Fe Highschool Shooting (Poem & Prayer)

On May 18th, 2018, ten people were killed when a man roamed the hallways of Santa Fe Highschool with his father’s guns, as well as pipe bombs and other warlike weapons.

It is no secret that school violence, from the kidnapping of those like the Chibok girls, to the shootings of various schools all across America, is becoming more prevalent than ever before. The truth is, Christ said there would be “earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places,” before He came back.

That is not to say that it is Jesus’ fault. They are acting in a direction completely opposing Christ and all He stands for. Without Him, all of us are capable of such extreme evil.

This is gut-wrenching, and should never happen again. As Christ comes soon, so the pains of this world will get even worse… but that fact, does not cure the pain.

Knowing that Jesus is coming soon is an encouragement. More than anything, it is my desire to honor and love those affected by this shooting by praying for them. Because of this, I have written a poem, and at the end I added a short prayer for those hurt. Will you agree with me in prayer, and like this post if you are actively praying to Jesus on their behalf?

The poem starts below. ­ Continue reading

Our First Love: Part II

In Part One of this post, we spoke about the end times, how Jesus will come back, what happens when He comes back, and, finally, why whether or not we have lost our First Love for Jesus matters.

I have realized that I have lost my First Love for Jesus… the fire that once burned in me to love Jesus Christ, and the Chibok girls He made, is now much less bright. This is important because of what Jesus warned the church in Ephesus about:

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
(Revelation 2:5, NIV)

Christ warns the church in Ephesus that their lampstand will be removed from its place—that, if they do not turn back to Him as their First Love, their effectiveness as a church will be removed.

Like the Church in Ephesus, our First Love for Jesus has a crucial impact on the effectiveness of our lives for Christ.

Any of us are just as susceptible to losing our First Love for Jesus. How can this Love be lost?

I know that, at least for me, my First Love for Christ wanes when I lose sight of the gift of salvation He has given me. When I feel or think as though I need to rely on my own works to save me, any service I am led to do for Christ loses its fervor, and feels more like a burden. Without keeping in mind that Jesus does not need me, but rather has given me all I need to spend eternity with Him, any form of ministry or good works becomes merely being busy and legalistic—loveless.

This is not the only way to lose your First Love for Christ. Have you become a person who knows everything there is to know about Christ, but have lost your fervor for Him in the process? Are you seeking and worshipping other people or things instead of Him? Anything from idolatry to apathy can cause us the light that once burned within us for Christ to be nearly extinguished. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to search our hearts and ask Jesus the question, “How did I get to this place? What has caused my First Love to burn out?” As you ask these questions, I am sure that He will make your heart’s condition—and the reason for it—clear.

Consider, Repent, Repeat

No matter how you got to losing your First Love for Christ, Revelation 2:5 also speaks of how to return back. This is what it says:

  1. “Consider how far you have fallen!” Revelation 2:5 speaks about remembering where you once were with Christ. Do you remember the precious closeness you once had with Him? The sweetness and profoundness of realizing that He died for you, spurring a deep gratefulness and profound zealousness in your heart? Think back—consider—how it was when you had your First Love with Jesus, and all of the things you did as a byproduct of that sweet Love.

 

  1. “Repent.” It is not enough to merely remembering your First Love with Jesus… you must make the choice, no matter how you might feel, to repent—“turn around”—and stop walking the way you have been walking. Has your heart been worshipping someone or something else than Christ? Put that idolatry away forever. Whatever is keeping you from burning with zeal for Jesus needs to be done completely away with.
    If you feel as though the things you need to put down are too significant, remember the significant sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you, on the cross.
    Pray that Jesus would help you to put down whatever keeps you from Him; He will be faithful to honor and help you in your request! Asking for help from trusted, Godly Christians of the same gender can also help you to find victory over what you’re dealing with, as well.

 

  1. “Do the things you did at first.” This part of Revelation 2:5 highlights acting upon the choice of repentance you have made. While we all fail and fall short from time to time, our choices to repent should be followed by practical steps toward Jesus and away from our sin. As David Jeremiah wisely says in his commentary of this passage, “Feelings follow actions, not vice versa. Where the will goes, the heart follows.”1 Think about it: Does a person fall more in love with their significant other just by saying they love them, but never actually going back and doing things that spur on that Love (in a date, for example)? No! Similarly, many people think that repentance will come only when we feel a different way; but, throughout the Word, Jesus connects loving Him—something anyone can say—to the action of obeying Him (John 14:15). No matter how you feel, when you do the things you did at first, you will return to your First Love.

As a new Believer—or a Believer who has once again remembered and turned back to their First Love—the fervency, zeal, and close Love with Jesus is something that nothing can be compared to. And so, I ask you: Where are you at with Jesus? How can you return back to your First Love? After all, no matter how mature you are in your Christian walk, we all need to return in some way, shape, or form to simply loving Jesus. I encourage you today to return back to that simple, beautiful, transformative Love; for there is truly nothing like it.

1 Jeremiah, David. Jeremiah Study Bible: What It Says. What It Means. What It Means for You.Worthy Publishers, 2013.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Do you know Jesus?

The Love of God is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It is precious to know and understand something so simple, and yet so profound: Jesus Loves me, and He proved it by His death on the cross, and resurrection.

If you are wondering today about your worth, or if you feel as if no one loves you, I hope and pray that you would look to the cross, and reflect upon the One who hung on it, for you and for me. Learn more about the amazing, reckless Love of Jesus, here.


Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this post, here):

  • The Chibok girls, and Leah Sharibu. You can find their names and pictures, here.
  • The worldwide Church. We need to pray for revival in these last days!
  • For the church in Nigeria. Please pray that a biblical revival would occur!

Thank you for all your prayers!!! May our Love for Jesus grow, and may He come back, soon.

Our First Love: Part I

A year and eleven days ago, 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls were released. Brought to freedom. Given a new lease on life.

The things happening in this world—in Nigeria, with the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, and all over elsewhere–  are nothing short of fascinating. As seen in this post, prophecies found in various passages of the Bible are coming to pass in a relatively short amount of time. Everyone has said that we are closer than ever to seeing Jesus Christ come back for his bride, the worldwide Church (Believing Christians from all over the world). “This all sounds like a beautiful, great, grand thing,” you might say… but what does any of it really mean? Here are some details about “the end”:

  • 1 Thessalonians 4 says that, upon Christ coming, we will be brought up into the clouds with Him. This is called “the rapture.”
  • After the seven-year tribulation, Jesus will come down to earth, in a way everyone will see and witness. He will set up His earthly kingdom, and reign for 1,000 years (Revelation 1:7; Revelation 20:2-7).
  • It means that satan, and all his cohorts, will ultimately lose. Everything satan has been doing here on earth will come to nothing, as he will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast (the antichrist) and false prophet would be thrown (Revelation 20:10).
  • It means that all pain and anguish will be no more. As we go through the day-to-day pain of a fallen world—such as hearing of the news of the School Shooting at Santa Fe Highschool in Texas— it is vital to understand that it will not last forever, and those who know Christ have eternal life ahead of them (Revelation 21:4; 2 Corinthians 5:8).

As we look at what is happening around us, and how quickly things change, I want to bring one more thing to your mind, as food for thought and soul.

Look for Part 2 of this message, coming very soon! 🙂

In Revelation 2, Jesus says this to the church of Ephesus.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
(Revelation 2:1-6, emphasis mine)

Jesus commended the church in Ephesus for their good deeds, their perseverance, and their hate for perversion of the truth. They stayed true to the Word, and stayed loyal to Christ through many trials. Yet, there was one thing Jesus was grieved by: they had lost their First Love for Him. They had become a loveless church.

Reading this, I recognize that I, too, have lost my First Love for Christ. My question for you, is, “Have you?”

As you think about these things, I pray that they would stir up your hearts to come nearer to Christ than ever before. Wait on Him, friends—He is coming back again!

Tribute:
This series of posts was written right as the news about the Santa Fe highschool shooting was reported. This blog is in tribute to the children who lost their lives in this horrific Shooting. May these hurting people know Jesus’ comfort, Love, and strength.


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus Christ died, just so that we could be with Him, forever and ever. Learn more about who He is, and why He came to earth, here.


Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this blog post, here):

  • For the families, friends, and loved ones of those injured and killed in the Santa Fe School Shooting. May the Church, near and far from the location of the shooting, come together and lift them up to Jesus. May He be seen in a huge way, there.
  • For those who do not know Christ. Whoever they may be, Jesus is coming back soon—and He is the only way to the Father.
  • For the Chibok girls, and Leah Sharibu. You can find their names and pictures, here.
  • For a revival in the worldwide church. Jesus is doing a lot, here; may the Church wake up, and be about His business as we await His return!

Thank you for your prayers!!!