There has been another one.
Another shooting. Another event where there was loss of life– 13 lives, to be exact. Continue reading
There has been another one.
Another shooting. Another event where there was loss of life– 13 lives, to be exact. Continue reading
It’s that time of year again. Comical ghosts and witches hang from people’s trees, and corn mazes are celebrating Halloween by putting scary components into it.
Who knew that fear could make such money! Billions upon billions of dollars are spent a year to make us jump and scream, as we watch movies and videos that fuel our deepest nightmares. Why such an odd relationship with fear? We love it, but we hate it.
In the real world—past everything Halloween has to offer—there is much to be afraid of. Fearof.net reports the top 100 phobia’s list, with arachnophobia (fear of spiders) coming up first. Outside of our personal phobias, we fear death, destruction, and rejection. What are we to do, as Christians, when the pangs of fear come and anxiety causes us complete distress?
Psalm 56:3 gives us the antidote for ANY fear we might be facing.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3, ESV)
You may be saying, “Annalee, you don’t understand the amount or complexity of my anxiety. This just seems like an easy answer, a band aid to put on my problems. I need much more than this!” Friend, I want to encourage and be honest with you: I know the problem of anxiety well. I have been dealing with social anxiety and emetophobia, the fear of throwing up, for a little over 5 months now. At any time, my thoughts turn towards a plethora of anxiety-inducing thoughts, including the fear of throwing up in front of people, and the idea of throwing up itself. It has caused me extreme distress, not only mentally, but emotionally and physically, too. As if this were not enough, I am taking a Public Speaking class where these fears seem to have a much higher chance in my brain of actually happening!
Today, on the eve of having to give a group presentation, I want to say that I, too, know what you are going through—and that Jesus wants to give us truths to hold on to when the enemy and our own minds try to lie to us. I encourage you to place these verses in your arsenal when attacked by the enemy with fear!
In the panic of anxiety, remember who you are, and whose you are. Your Father in Heaven is faithful; Jesus will never leave your side, and the Holy Spirit is your Helper (Deuteronomy 7:9; Matthew 28:20; John 14:26). Things get scary, and terrifying even, I know. But Christ has gotten you this far, hasn’t He? May God comfort and still our racing hearts as He reminds us that 1) He is with us, and 2) He will help us, just as He always has.
Do you know Jesus?
“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20, ESV)
These were some of Jesus’ last words before He ascended up to heaven. He promised this one very profound thing, because He knew it is what people need most: First, His Salvation, and two, the knowledge of His near Presence.
Where are you at today with Jesus? Is He a myth to you? Are you confused about why He came and died in the first place? Learn more about Jesus here.
Please pray for…
Thank you for your prayers.
I am horrified. As most of you know, thousands of men, women and children have recently reported that hundreds of priests and catholic clergy members have sexually abused them as children, leaving these victims of such heinous crimes reeling and forever scarred by their experiences.
I don’t need to expound upon why this makes me ashamed to be a Christian. While I am not a Catholic, I also know that it is not only Catholic priests who have traumatized those that they should have shepherded and protected. There have been stories of physical abuse in Christian camps for gay youth. Adultery and sexual abuse found with Christian men advocating for family values. Many stories of abuse have come up in many different denominations; in some denominations in the south, the practice of older men “courting” minors is accepted as perfectly fine. Over and over again, men (and women) who were held in positions of trust took advantage of their position, subjecting people whom Jesus Loves to unthinkable horrors.
This grieves my heart for obvious reasons. People get their impressions of who Jesus Christ is based upon His followers. It has been said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ,” and in this instance, it could not be more true. People have failed to show the watching world who Jesus Christ really is.
Humans have failed. But friends, readers, I want to remind us all of one thing: While humans have completely and utterly failed at loving others, Jesus Christ never has. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, coming to be the perfect mediator between us and God the Father. Jesus experienced the brokenness of this world and every temptation we have ever faced, while also providing His Sacrifice, “gaining eternal redemption for all who come to God through Him” (source).
Anyone who has put their faith and hope in a religion will be disappointed at some point. Anyone who puts their faith and hope in a priest, or a pastor, or a community leader, will come to realize that even those put in such high positions can fail miserably. It is faith and hope put in Jesus Christ alone that will never disappoint. As we view these diabolical stories of abuse unfold, I pray that it gives us all a reality check, reminding us to put our faith not in religiousness or even a man such as the Pope, but rather putting our trust in Jesus Christ alone.
These stories are evil. They anger us and make us feel ashamed. But may we re-look at where our Hope is at—and draw close to Jesus, not farther away from Him. He is the only High Priest who will never, ever disappoint—and He is has done all that is needed for us to be saved.
Do you know Jesus?
“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
(Hebrews 7:26-27, ESV)
Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven in order to save humankind from the sin they had committed themselves. We were helpless; Jesus came in and saved the day.
Learn more about Jesus Christ, what He did, and how He has saved those who believe in Him, here.
Please pray for…
Thank you for your prayers!
Today, early this morning, Reverend Billy Graham passed away to be with Jesus, the One who he had preached about for forty plus years.
As we pray for his family, loved ones, and those who are grieving Him– and anyone else today– I just wanted to say this: Jesus is so good. Because, as I was reading in my devotional today, I read about how Jesus says of Himself, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life– the One who believes in Me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26, NIV). If you’d like, you can read this incredibly beautiful passage of scripture in John 11 here.
I read about how diagnoses, divorces, pain, and even death do not have the final word– only Jesus does.
About how, even if we don’t see any fruit from the anguished prayers we’ve been praying for days, months, and years on this side of heaven, that we can still trust Jesus to be faithful to His Promises.
That idea is scary, and heart-wrenching. That everything we have labored for may never actually be seen by us; and that Jesus could answer those prayers in the way we desperately hope He wouldn’t of.
It is hard to look at Jesus Christ and say, “Jesus, I trust that You are Good,” in times like these. It seems insane, even.
But in these incredibly hard moments, we can cling to Truth: Jesus IS the Resurrection, and the Life. And because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins that put Him there, those who believe on Him and His sacrifice “will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in [Him] will never die.” Jesus will continue to be faithful to His Promises to you, even if nothing looks like it. You can trust Him, even with your eternal soul, just as the Reverend Billy Graham– and millions both before and after Him– have. Do so, today. ❤
This post is in tribute to the God who saved, led, and used Billy Graham in such a powerful way, to bring others to Himself. May He continue to raise up people to bring others to Him!
Jesus, at the end of what He says in John 11:26, asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” I pose this question to you, today. Read more about this faithful God– this God who gives eternal life, and never breaks His Promises to us, and why He died on the cross for you– here.
In the past two blog posts, “The Noble Soldier” and “The Army with the Afterlife in Mind,” I have been discussing the concept of how the military here on earth– especially the militaries fighting ISIS and radical islamic terrorism– are very much like “The Lord’s Army,” all Christ Followers who are seeking to glorify Christ and fight evil, darkness, sin, and oppression by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But through writing these posts, one thing came to the forefront of my mind: with what does the Christian soldier fight with, in the battle against darkness? I felt it important to 1) address the reality and importance of the enemy’s schemes in our lives, and 2) express what the Bible says about how we fight back.
Many Christians today, especially in the West, see their discipleship to Christ as something they do on Sundays, or whenever they meet for church. Because Christianity can be, as of now, openly practiced in the United States of America, many Christians do not take their walk with Christ seriously. They see their walks in this life as more of a playground, instead of a battleground. (This is not, of course, stating that to have fun and enjoy life is sinful, or unwise– everything has been given to us by Jesus for our enjoyment, 1 Timothy 6:17).
But, nothing could be further from the truth. Without using scare tactics to freak out Christians about the enemy, the truth is that there is an enemy of our souls.
Here is what the Bible says about the enemy of our souls, satan.
It is important to note that not everything bad that happens in our lives is directly from satan’s scheming; much of the time, it is also our sin and it’s consequences, or the result of living in a broken world, one riddled by sin (1 Peter 4:15; Romans 8:19-23).
But, every good soldier must have a good understanding of the enemy they are fighting. The Bible says:
Think about that last point. satan prowls around– not as the Lion (as in the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ), but like a lion, a false and cowardly imitation of Christ. Cowardly as he is, satan prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
The definition of “devour” is “to consume destructively.” This definition provides a wake-up call for Believers: You have an enemy that, though he cannot touch your salvation, wants to destroy your life, your testimony to Christ, and your walk with Christ.
With such a formidable enemy ready to attack us, what can the Christian do to defend themselves, as well as to attack the enemy?
Ephesians 6 is full of scripture about spiritual warfare, but James 4:7 uncovers one powerful way a Christian can cause satan to literally run away.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
(James 4:7, NIV)
It’s simple, yet it involves us humbling ourselves before Christ, and doing His Will (therefore rejecting the devil). When we do this, the enemy has no other choice than to flee from us!
It is in this humble submission to our Loving Jesus that Ephesians 6 encourages us to stand firm and strong against the enemy.
Ephesians 6 starts out this way: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth‘” (Ephesians 6:1-3). What is the common thread here? Submission! In submitting to those who are higher up and/or leading you, your relationship and spiritual life flourishes.
Diving into Ephesians 6:10, submitting to Christ and to those He has placed over your life, Paul discusses the many different ways a Believer can stay strong against the enemy’s attacks, discussed below (I am using this Bible Study guide as my main resource for this portion of the Blogpost.):
Make no joke; our enemy is a formidable one. But, with submitting to Christ; putting on Jesus as our Righteousness and Truth; resting in His Salvation and Gospel; and growing in Faith in Him and zeal for Him, nothing the enemy does can keep us from walking in Christ’s victory.
As important to our spiritual walk as the clothes a soldier wears on a daily basis, I pray that we would put on our spiritual armor. May we walk close to Jesus, our Commander, in the midst of this fight. For, unlike an earthly commander, Jesus is with us– always.
Do you know Jesus?
Are you wounded, today?
Has the fight of life you are in seemingly decimated you?
Even when we are too weak to stand, Jesus is right there, ready and waiting to lift us up, and strengthen us, just as David said in Psalm 3: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3).
In these times, we can call to Jesus for Refuge, and rest under His Loving Care (1 Peter 5:7). Because Jesus is not just our military Commander, barking out orders; He is our Loving Father, deeply interested in every detail of our lives (Psalm 37:23).
Learn about this Powerful, Loving, God– Jesus Christ– and just how much He Loves you, here.
Please pray for…
Thank you for all of your prayers and support!
I am very, very sad to report that Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian apologist and Ex-Muslim who came to Christ, passed away of stage 4 stomach cancer yesterday, Saturday, September 16th, 2017. He was 34 years old.
Nabeel was taught the Q’uran early on in his life. He was a Muslim apologist, until Christ placed a man named David Wood into his life.
As David and Nabeel discussed, argued over, and debated Islam and Christianity, Nabeel quickly realized that Islam did not stack up. Jesus also came to Nabeel in three seperate dreams, according to CBN News. He went on to write Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, No God But One: Allah or Jesus?, and Answering Jihad.
This amazing man of God shared his grim diagnosis of stage four stomach cancer on August 30th, 2016 on his Facebook page. All throughout his long battle with stomach cancer, Nabeel never gave up on Jesus– and firmly believed that Jesus was able to, and even at times believed He would, do a miracle and cure Nabeel. Fellow Christians and fans of Nabeel prayed hard for a miraculous healing here on Earth, but our merciful, loving God wanted to heal him another way, through death. He is now totally healed in the arms of Jesus.
While we are grieving, and we don’t understand, I firmly believe Jesus is GOOD. Tears pour from my eyes as I never ever wanted to write something like this, but like Nabeel, and ultimately like Jesus as He hung on that cross dying for our sin, I will trust the Sovereign Hand of God the Father, even now.
Would you please be praying for Michelle, Nabeel’s wife, and their daughter who is a toddler, Ayah?
Writing this post right now, I went to look at Nabeel’s YouTube vlogs chronicling his life and struggle with cancer. Christ Jesus– being SO good, SO merciful, and SO present and REAL– led me, through YouTube, to watch this video of Nabeel speaking at IPC Hebron Houston. It was on June 25th, 2017, one of the last times he ever spoke before a congregation. He spoke on exactly what my heart was experiencing as I grieved: the “Why, Jesus? Why would you allow this to happen?” questioning and struggling. It’s about under an hour long; please watch it if you can.
It made me laugh. It made me cry. A lot. But more than anything, it made me, truly now more than ever, want to live my God-given days on this Earth well— all to Jesus’ glory, and close by Jesus’ side.
Please pray for his family, as said before… and for the Muslims who believe this was brought on Nabeel as a curse from “allah” for leaving the Muslim faith. May they doubt their allah, and come to know the Loving, Daily Presence of Jesus.
It blesses me to know that we serve a great God, who both mourns with His children on Earth for their loss, but also is with His children in heaven, the very Believers people in Earth are mourning for (I hope that makes sense.).
The gift of Nabeel’s life has been both given and taken away by Jesus, for what seems like is too soon… But blessed be Jesus’ Name.
We love you, brother Nabeel. See you in Heaven. ❤
Do you know Jesus?
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.“
(1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)
There is no doubt in my mind that many will seek to imitate the faith of my brother, Nabeel Qureshi. But Nabeel was not just a great man, or even a good man. To put it simply, Nabeel Qureshi was a man who sought the Truth– and found Him (John 14:6).
Are you looking for Truth? Do you think that the Truth is relative?
I implore you to read Nabeel Qureshi’s books– and uncover the very rational reasoning for why Jesus IS God, and for why the Gospel IS real. Learn more about this Jesus– and about why He did what He did for you and I– here.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the 34 years You gave to Nabeel– and for the gift Nabeel has been to all who have known and love him. Please hold them and show them Yourself, even in grieving his passing.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
One pastor once said that to truly give Jesus’ way, it takes spiritual discernment to know what the real underlying need is. So it is with what is happening in this season of Ramadan, currently being heavily observed in the unstable region of Northern Nigeria. This article, by the Premium Times, says that the Yobe State government has been giving out food to muslims observing Ramadan, a time of fasting, where one does not eat the whole entire day, but is able to eat after the sun goes down (source).
In a statement made by Ali Abubukar, the chair of the state’s committee on Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Boko Haram victims, Abubukar said that “The supply will bring succour and alleviate the dire need of the people, which is food” (source). While Abubukar is correct in that physical hunger is a real, dire need for those in Northern Nigeria, the truth is, those celebrating Ramadan have an even deeper, more dire, spiritual hunger: a hunger for the Truth– the Truth that is only found in Jesus Christ.
During the time of Ramadan (about a month), many muslims will fast from food and will fight against their own sins, such as swearing and lying. They do this to spend more time in intense prayer, commanded to attend five different prayer times per day. Many times, the Qur’an is read before their meal time in the evening. This time is meant to spur on more religious devotion for muslims, and while it may do just that, Ramadan (or anyone’s own works), apart from Christ, does not get anyone closer to the real, Living God.
In fact, it takes them farther away from Him– or from finding Him, rather.
This idea– of giving sacrifice, i.e., doing religious works instead of obeying Christ, the Living God, is found in the story of Samuel 15. In the story, King Samuel was commanded by God to kill ALL of the Amalekites, including women and children, as well as every animal belonging to them.
While this seems like a horrible, heartless order, it can be understood when one realizes how evil the Amalekites actually were. Since the time the Israelites had become a people group, liberated from Egypt, the Amalekites– known by many as “The Plunderers”– attacked those Israelites that were “lagging behind,” which were most likely the women and children (source). They attacked the Israelites many times, mercilessly causing much pain and anguish for many people. With this in mind, Christ commanding that the Amalekites be annihilated was for good reason.
But, sadly, King Saul did not completely obey Christ concerning some of His most important instructions– and disobeyed Christ completely, in Samuel 13:5-14, when he burnt sacrifices Samuel was meant to burn. In Samuel 15, Saul did not annihilate all of the Amalekites; instead, he only killed “everything that was despised and weak” (1 Samuel 15:9).
This major sin not only caused more years of pain for Israel, but it cost King Saul his kingdom. Full of pride, King Saul tried to justify his sin; but in the end, he knew he was wrong, and almost flippantly asked Samuel to forgive his sin, so that he could go back and worship the LORD (1 Samuel 15:25). But by then, it was too late. His kingdom was ripped away from him, all because he chose to disobey, justifying it with sacrifice.
But Ramadan is all about obedience, one might say. Sure, it is, but one of the main things that can be learned from this passage in Samuel 15 is that God is not some dead or distant Deity that can be appeased with some sacrifice. He is a relational God, a God who is indeed Living– and wants His children to obey Him. It was Jesus Himself who said,
“If you love me, keep my commands.”
(John 14:15, NIV)
The fact that Christ wants us to obey Him, as one obeys a Loving Father, shows His Followers that they are not just following a dead religion– one only of sacrifice and works– but are following a very Real and Living God; one of Love, desiring a Personal Relationship with all people, as evidenced by what John described Jesus doing in John 1:10-13).
This is not to say that Christians fasting and praying are a bad practice– in fact, they are wonderful for drawing near to Christ (Matthew 6). But let one thing be clear: People are not saved by obedience to Christ; they are saved by Grace, through Faith, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). All one must do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for their sin, receiving His gift of salvation, and entering into the personal relationship that He offers. This God is real: unfathomably more real than any god that demands mere obedience and a set of works-based self-righteousness to approach them with for salvation, or even a chance at salvation.
This Ramadan, one thing is true: God does not want mere obedience, or a set of rules and standards to be met, as is found in islam. He wants a real, personal relationship with those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. As believers in this amazing God, let us pray that those practicing Ramadan in Northern Nigeria, and all other religions, would find Christ, and that He would “succour and alleviate the dire need of the people,” which is truly the need of Him.
If you are a muslim– or are any sort of religion/belief system, but have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, the Only One who can save you from your sins– come to Him today. Let Him set you free, as you draw close to Him: not by your own works, but by His Work for you, on the cross.
It is Jesus whom we truly hunger and thirst after, even if we do not realize it. Let’s come to Him, as we are, today. 🔹
Do you know Jesus?
“Who is this Jesus?” one might ask. Some see Him as a revered Prophet; some see Him as a fool, the butt of all their jokes. But I encourage you, whether you know personally or not, to ask yourself that question.
Jesus asked His Disciples this question about Himself.
“‘But what about you?’ he (Jesus) asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it'”
(Matthew 16:15-18, NIV, “(Jesus)” mine)
Please pray for…
– Those currently practicing islam. Pray that even now, especially in the wake of the various islamic terrorist attacks happening all over the world, that muslims would come to know Jesus Christ.
– That Ramadan would be a time where many muslims become saved. It is a time of heightened spiritual awareness; please pray that Jesus would call to these people during Ramadan, and that they would come to Him. ❤
– That Christians would not be afraid of loving and telling others about the Gospel, worldwide, but especially in places with many muslims, such as Northern Nigeria and the Middle East.
– That those experiencing hunger and thirst in Northern Nigeria would be fed– and would come to know Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the process.
– There are still 113 Chibok girls left to be freed, as Ramadan has started. Please pray for these young women, that they would be de-brainwashed or de-radicalized, and would be freed physically– but also in every sense of the word.
Thank you so much for your prayers. To all Americans, have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂