Lately, it has been hard to stay positive on this blog in the midst of so many prayer needs and tragedies. But that does not mean that there is no hope or peace to be found. Continue reading
“This is God’s Word on the subject: ‘As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.’”
(Jeremiah 29:11, MSG)
Today, our pastor brought up this verse in the Message form of the Bible when preaching against sex trafficking. I had heard this verse a thousand times before, but today, the MSG version spoke to me in a whole new way. Continue reading
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…
- The men, women and children being directly affected by sharing their stories of abuse. I cannot imagine the pain and PTSD they are experiencing. May they come to know Christ if they do not already, and may He continue to heal them as only He can.
- The clergy members involved in this. May they be brought to justice, and to know Christ.
- The judicial system. May it not fail those who rely on it for justice.
- Christians everywhere—that they would come closer to Jesus, and not farther away from Him.
Thank you for your prayers!
It was dark outside. My dog, a small Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, trembled as the sounds of thunder and pounding rain shook the house and lightning flashed across the sky from our windows. Little Toby was afraid, and I did all I could to help him settle down. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how journalist Ahmed Salkida claimed that only 15 Chibok schoolgirls were still alive.
It is with much joy and relief that I now report that his figures were wrong! According to Salkida himself, at least 15 other Chibok schoolgirls are alive—though Salkida said 5 of them were “permanently embedded in the doctrines and teaching programmes of the sect” and wished not to return home.
The new reports from Salkida are dark; but I am filled with a mixture of joy and hope, in knowing that not even this journalist can see and report the truth of what Jesus is doing.
Let’s continue to ask Christ to do what only He can do! May there be even more Chibok girls, and may they have hearts that yearn to come home!
Meet the God who Loves these young ladies, and is in control, here.
“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’”
(Isaiah 43:1-2, NIV)
Sometimes, one can’t help but feel both helpless and hopeless. In such a world where the weak get pummeled and marginalized, one can’t help but feel defeated.
No one seems to care about their condition; and many who do seem to care are only “caring” to see what could be in it for them. Even when society yearns to dish out justice, it can take years to do. Such a thing is happening now, as the International Criminal Court has been going through their preliminary investigation—the first in a sequence of many, many steps toward true Justice for those suffering in Northern Nigeria. According to Forbes, this investigation has been going on for over seven years—all the while, the victims of both Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen wait for the justice and closure they obviously deserve. In the face of such deferment, it becomes more than easy for the heart to grow sick and discouraged (Proverbs 13:12).
All the while, Boko Haram is still up and running—now, many reports have said that they are actually administering territories and imposing taxes in different areas of Yobe in Borno State. In a time where the innocent people of Northern Nigeria should be gaining victory and ground over Boko Haram, they still remain harassed and oppressed, feeling hopeless about their situation.
In the midst of such pain, oppression, and deferment of hope, it’s easy to think that it is somehow related to God’s wrath in our lives. Reading Psalms 5-6, we find the Psalmist, David, in very similar straits. In the beginnings of both Psalm 5 and 6, David pours out his heart to God.
“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
(Psalm 5:1-3, NIV)
“Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?”
(Psalm 6:1-5, NIV)
One thing that is beautiful about the Bible is this: Is does not lie, or candy-coat, human suffering. David, as he writes these Psalms, is probably in incredibly dire straits; and he does not keep what is weighing on him from God. Even in his suffering, David knew that he could go to God for anything and everything he was suffering.
As David speaks of his suffering—both his emotional cries for help, and the bodily suffering he is going through in Psalm 6—he seems to turn and look to God. In Psalm 5, as the verses progress, David—as has been discussed many times on this blog as of late—remembers the truth of who God really is. With this meditation in mind, King David comes out victorious, even in his worst days, every single time.
Because David, looking at who God is and all He had done for David, knows without a doubt that Christ is for Him, not against Him—no matter what happens, just as Romans 8 says.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us.”
(Romans 8:31, NLT)
We can see David’s confidence in God’s Love as he continues speaking in Psalms 5 and 6:
“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”
(Psalm 5:12, NIV)
“Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.”
(Psalm 6:8-10, NIV)
This is the key to coming out of any situation strong: not evaluating our lives and relationship with Christ with our feelings, but rather standing upon the Truth of scripture, and allowing Christ to give us His perspective on our situations.
No matter how alone you may feel, God has not ran away from you in your time of need. I want to pay specia attention to those who feel this way, today, and I want to fill your heart and mind with an encouraging, biblical truth, that will stand even when everything else in your life says otherwise: No matter how painful, or how distant God seems, lean upon the truth of scripture: God yearns to meet with us, wherever we are at, and fill us with the Love and Truth that only He can give us.
It is a matter of either believing or disbelieving in these things that changes one’s whole perspective.
Whether that would be conviction, comfort, rebuke, or reassurance, Jesus wants us to pour out our hearts to Him—and to trust Him with our lives, no matter the situation. It is this precious, intimate fellowship we can have with Jesus that makes such times worth it all.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, know that no matter how dark the way is around you, your Good Shepherd has not gone anywhere– and He is for you, not against you.
Our God is a helper to the helpless, a God who humbles and destroys those who are against Him and His people (Psalm 72:12). He is a God who is near to His children who are “going through it”; He will not leave or forsake those going through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 43; Psalm 23:4).
May the God who is sovereign over the lack of justice in Northern Nigeria be the helper of those innocent people who call out to Him for the safety, justice, and closure they need. He is good; He will never let those who trust in Him be brought to shame.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28, ESV)
Do you know Jesus?
I know that many of those who are reading today can scoff at the idea of Jesus being there for them. For many people, this is an area wrought with bad memories of feeling desolated and alone, crying out to a God who never seemed to “pick up the phone” when they called out to Him.
I understand that memories like this can feel like a knife in the back. But, being very careful not to downplay the suffering you have experienced, I want to interject with a compassionate, yet challenging truth for you to believe: God proved His perfect, unfailing Love for us when Jesus died on the cross for our sin.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
(1 John 4:10, NIV)
The immense pain and anguish Jesus Christ went through was done so that you, whoever you are, would have the only way to personally know God, Himself. Learn more about the truth concerning this God who truly does love you, here.
Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet here)…
- Those in Northern Nigeria who are still awaiting Justice to be done. Pray that they would put their ultimate Hope in Christ and Christ alone. Pray that Justice would be done, soon.
- The Chibok girls—both found and freed, and not found/freed. Please pray that they, and even their captors, would come to know Christ, as well. You can find some of their names and pictures, here.
- Those currently being oppressed by Boko Haram in Borno State. Pray that the Nigerian military would be able to stifle them once and for all.
Thank you for your prayers!!!
Twenty-one. Twenty-one people, no longer on this earth. It was reported Monday that because of Boko Haram violence, twenty-one people lost their lives1. Whether shot, or blown up by a landmine, these are people who will never see the light of day on earth, ever again. Continue reading