The God Who is For You

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.

Why?

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)brave.JPG


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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tribute to Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel_qureshi_bio_(1)

Christian Apologist Nabeel Qureshi passed away on September 16th, 2017, at the age of 34.

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,

Amen.

IMPORTANT NEWS! Maryam: The Story of Redemption & Restoration

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:9-10, NIV)

Jesus has a passion for every single person (John 3:16). He desires that all of them come to know Him as their Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:9). Christ’s deep Love is for each and every individual person, no matter who they are, what they have been through, or what they have done.

Over two years ago, 276 young women were kidnapped, in the dead of night, by Boko Haram. Though it sparked a worldwide campaign, called #BringBackOurGirls, it has not been until recent months that 24 young women were freed/escaped Boko Haram captivity. This is one of the amazing, precious young women, dearly loved by Jesus, to be freed.

But, while there is rejoicing over her physical release, there is even greater rejoicing, in heaven, over those who have been spiritually freed.

Please pray for Maryam, that she would know Christ, and would be completely and totally freed, by knowing Christ as her Lord and Savior.

Christ does not just care about numbers; in fact, Christ does not look at the outer shell, at all. He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He Loves You, personally, and passionately.

To learn more about the God who Loves YOU personally, please click here.


Important News:

It has been announced, with great, amazing, unspeakable joy, that one more Chibok schoolgirl has been freed!

chibok-girl-maryam-ali-maiyanga

Maryam Ali Maiyanga, and her 10-month-old, Ali, after being freed from Boko Haram captivity (source).

Maryam Ali Maiyanga has been found, and freed, by the Nigerian government, on Saturday, November 5th, 2016!

Troops found Maryam, and her 10 month-old son, Ali, as they were screened after escaping Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, in Pulka, Borno State with help from the Nigerian military. Though the Chibok girls were the most high-profile case of Boko Haram’s kidnappings, Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds– maybe even thousands– of men, women, and children from their homes, keeping them under lock and guard for years. Many, seemingly including Maryam, are either already muslim, or have converted to Islam in Boko Haram captivity– which may be out of fear, or brainwashing.

Maryam’s 10-month-old son, Ali, was claimed to have been fathered by a Boko Haram commander, whom she was either “married off” to, or coerced into having sex with. The child looks well, and will no doubt receive medical care, along with Maryam, from the Nigerian government.

Some of facts may seem horrific… but, while the trauma caused by these events remains, Maryam is physically freeand that is a cause for celebration.

While this is an amazing, joyous event, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10, NIV). If there is rejoicing over this young woman’s physical freedom, think of the rejoicing over her spiritual freedom, as she comes to Christ!

Jesus has freed many, both physically and spiritually, from the clutches of Boko Haram, and islam. Jesus is in the business of redemption, and restoration!!! Praise Him!!!

There is still much to be done. This young girl, along with countless others, still has much healing to experience. But, let’s praise Jesus for all He has done, is doing, and will do, in the hearts of captives, refugees, Boko Haram members, and the Nigerian military.

Please pray  that Maryam would come to know Jesus, and receive true healing!



Please join me in prayer:

Dear Jesus,

I praise You, that each and every person on this Earth, right now, matters deeply to you– not to mention those who have passed away, and those who you know are still to be born (Psalm 116:15; 139).

Jesus, we thank You for Your amazing, amazing Love. Thank You for looking at all of us, and declaring us worthy to die for, so that we might be with you, forever.

Dear Jesus, You know Maryam Ali Maiyanga . You saw her, being formed in her mother’s womb, before she was even born. You foresaw every day of her life.

You knew she would be kidnapped, taken, from her family, her loved ones, and her home, to experience the immense bondage perpetrated by Boko Haram.
But Jesus, we know that You are bigger than even the most wicked, deplorable evil. We know that Your Love, shown to us in Yourself on the cross, can break into even the hardest, evil, darkest heart– or the most wounded, broken, confused of hearts– and bring them to truly know You.

Dear Jesus, I pray in Your Name that You would release Maryam from any and all bondage that she is left in. Dear Jesus, please show Maryam that true freedom is found in YOU– and that she only needs to accept Your free gift of Salvation to experience true healing, breakthrough, and a personal relationship with You, God Himself.

Jesus, we pray over the army commander that fathered Maryam’s child. If he is still alive, and wherever he is, please break through his heart, and show him what truly pleasing you looks like: loving you, and loving others. I pray for new, eternal life even for this man, and for all members of Boko Haram.

Jesus, I also pray over Maryam’s son, Ali. 
Dear Jesus, I pray that, though this little boy was born under horrific circumstances, You would restore and redeem his life, to bring you glory and praise. Please bring this young, little guy to you, and show him, and everyone around, that he is not only identified by his past or even this tragic state of affairs– or even by the fact that his father’s blood flows through his veins– but that his identity lies in and by YOU, and the fact that we are all COMPLETELY new creations in You, with Your blood flowing through our spiritual veins, when we accept You into our lives and hearts, as Lord and Savior.

Please, dear Jesus, show Yourself in this situation to Maryam, and to everyone, around her. I thank You for this, Father God. 

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.

Please continue praying for Maryam, her family, and her story. Please also pray for the Nigerian military, and for their continued success!

Thank you!

Victory in Christ Alone

“Down in the valley, when waters rise, I am still believing hope is alive. All through the struggle, and darkest day, I will remember the empty grave.”
(“Remember” by Passion)

On June 26th, 2016, the Nigerian army was proud to declare that approximately 5,000  men, women, and children, who had previously been held in Boko Haram captivity have been rescued by the Nigerian military.

In an operation they call “Lafiye Dole,” 15 towns and villages were raided by the Nigerian military, killing 10 militants, and one civilian.

In just a couple of days, 5,000 people have been released, from brutal bondage– in a victory that could have only been won by the Hand and Favor of God.

The Nigerian military recognizes this. On July 6th, 2016, while celebrating “Army Day,” Army chief, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, proclaimed that “God has given Nigeria victory over Boko Haram” (source). During a Christian, inter-denominational church service held for the event, the Army chief claimed that another, muslim service was had– both events purposing to “acknowledge the supremacy of God,” and to celebrate that “Victory comes from God” (source).

While this sentiment is true– in that God, YHWH, does reign supreme, and does give victory to whomever He chooses– it is important to ask which God gives such victory.

With the term “God” being so generic, it can be easy to see, and believe, that all references to “God” speak of the same God, no matter the faith or religion. But this is simply not true. The First of the Ten Commandments says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Deteronomy 5:6-7, NIV). This is because, in all reality, there is no other God but the LORD, YHWH; all other gods are completely dead, and completely worthless.

In the Old Testament, there were many foreign, false “gods” that were completely futile; and while many people don’t worship physical idols, today, the same idea is true: YHWH is the One, True, Triune, Living God– “apart from me [the LORD] there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11).

It is of incredible importance to understand that God is triune– three in one– when asking who gives victory. Being the One, True, Triune God, YHWH is known as three separate, completely equal, co-eternal (existing eternally, together) Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As this article explains, these three Persons are distinct “centers of self-consciousness,” yet are one Being: YHWH (also written Yahweh). As revealed all throughout scripture, God the Son is Jesus Christ, who came as the Maschiach (Hebrew for Messiah), to be the Ultimate Sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin, as emphatically stated in Romans 8:3. Jesus is YHWH, the One and Only True God– there is no other God besides Him (John 14:6; John 10:30).

On the other hand, all other “gods” are not gods at all. Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Honestly, all other belief systems– including the main one that fuels Boko Haram’s fire, islam– are false, workings of the enemy to distract one from Christ. Used to “steal, kill, and destroy,” just as stated in John 10:10, all other gods, such as allah, parade as the Truth, but really rob a person of Freedom, Joy, and most crucially, the eternal Salvation of having a relationship with Jesus.

It is the Salvation, won by what Jesus did on the cross, that truly sets men free. This freedom was not cheap; rather, it cost Christ everything. As Isaiah 53 so famously states,

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus Christ bore our sin, and our shame, on that cross. Bloodied, bruised, and buried, He was punished, so that we might live free: spiritually, in the truest way possible.

But He did not remain that way. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead, declaring Victory over death itself (1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!

…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). If Christ has set us free, in the clearest and best way, possible, there is absolutely nothing stopping Him from setting us free in every other way. Whether physically, spiritually, or mentally, Jesus can give us Victory over whatever enemy we are facing. Many people are either extremely skeptical about this, or they believe that this freeing, from bondage, only happens in a certain manner. Neither extreme is infallible: While there is power, in the Name of Jesus, to break every chain, Christ can employ whatever means He desires to break those chains.

Whether through miracle, men, or medicine, it is the Name and Sacrifice of Jesus, that gives victory. As Romans 8 celebrates, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Army Chief Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, you’re right: God has given us the victory, in Jesus Christ, both now, and– for those who place their trust in His Victory– forevermore. May we give Him, and Him alone, the glory.


***This blog post is dedicated to Laura Chord,
a beautiful young woman with a passion for Christ, who was– and is– a testament and role model to countless others, of victorious living, in Jesus.
On May 3rd, 2016, this amazing young woman suddenly left this world, and passed into the Presence of the King of her Heart, finishing her race victoriously.
Please pray for her family, best friend, and loved ones, as they continue to grieve the loss of this “star in the dark world” (Philippians 2:15). Thank you. ***



 Do you know Jesus?

Jesus once said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40, NIV). 

For one reason or another, many people have rejected Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Here is a personal question, for you, the reader: Have you come to Christ to have the “abundant life” He gives, as John 10:10 states?

If you have not, why? Is it for lack of knowledge about Him, or that you don’t feel you need Him?

Learn more about Jesus– and why He came to die, in the first place– here.


Please pray for…

– The families, and loved ones, of the remaining 218 young women, in Boko Haram captivity. Please pray that they would find their victory, and hope, in Christ.

– The families of the victims of Boko Haram.

– The men, women, and children, who have been newly freed from Boko Haram: for their spiritual freedom in Christ, and for their mental and emotional freedom, from suffering such trauma.

– The protection, and continued favor, of Nigeria’s military, as they continue to rout out Boko Haram.

– That Christ would redeem all things in this terrible insurgency, and Christ would use this horrible tragedy to bring others to Him.

– For the continued Strength, Comfort, and Peace of those who are grieving Laura.

No matter the trial, or darkest day, there is Victory found in no other than Jesus Christ! 

I praise Jesus, and thank you for your continued prayers! 🙂

Saved to Serve

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”
(Revelation 7:9, ESV)

It is no secret that Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria, has been completely ravaged by Boko Haram’s insurgency. It has been a long 7 years since the islamic sect turned violent, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing 2.6 million from their homes. Although the majority of those killed or displaced are from Northern Nigeria, Nigeria has not been the only country deeply affected by Boko Haram.

In 2015 alone, the countries of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger have sustained more than 50 bombings, suicide attacks, and raids. In two of the attacks in Niger alone, the towns of Wogom and Diffa saw at least 100 homes go up in flames, killing 26 people and wounding many others [1]. In January of 2015, an estimated 400 people were savagely murdered in “door-to-door gun and knife attacks” by Boko Haram in Fotokol, Cameroon (source). Yet, these attacks are not the end of what Boko Haram has put these nations through; the three countries have also provided shelter, food and water to 200,000 Nigerian refugees, running from Boko Haram’s attacks in their own towns– in which 100,000 displaced people have fled to Cameroon alone (source). While it is clear that Nigeria has had its own trying time because of the Boko Haram insurgency, the people of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad have suffered horrifically at the hands of Boko Haram (also known as ISWAP: Islamic State’s Western Africa Province) as well. While these countries may be outside of this blog’s focus on Nigeria, they– and their people– are certainly not outside of Christ’s focus, and are in dire need of prayer and support.

Christ’s Witnesses

In Isaiah 43, Jesus, through Isaiah, says, “‘I will say to the north, Give [them] up, and to the south, Do not withhold;/ bring my sons from afar/ and my daughters from the end of the earth,/ everyone who is called by my name,/ whom I created for my glory,/ whom I formed and made‘” (Isaiah 43:6-7, “them” mine). Although this passage, in context, is clearly speaking about Israel, Gentiles, through the blood of Christ, have become God’s people and children, as well (Galatians 3:26). As on reads further in Isaiah 43, Jesus’ reason for gathering all of His children becomes clear.

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lordand my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lordand apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?‘”
(Isaiah 43:10-13)

The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, in the midst of warfare and displacement, need hope: that there is a God of Justice, watching over the situation, who in the end will mete out perfect Justice on their behalf. More than anything, though, the people of Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and Benin need to hear the Good News: that this God of Justice is also a God of Mercy; and, by the power of Christ’s blood, wants them to receive His gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal Life with Him. Not only does this God want them to have life eternal, with Him; He wants them to have life abundant here, on earth, even in the midst of such desolation. But, as Romans 10:14 points out, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”

Jesus’ Command, Our Delight

The next verses in Romans confirms what is being suggested: that men and women need to be willing to go out, and tell others about Christ (Romans 10: 14b-15). But this concept is more than just a suggestion; it is Jesus’ command to all believers. It is found in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). While following this commandment– just like any other work– will not make you more “righteous,” and will not “get you to heaven” (Salvation is by grace through faith, not works, lest any man should boast [Ephesians 2:8-9]), to truly love Jesus is to obey Him (John 14:15). Christians are called to grow in, and tell others about, Jesus Christ.

While this has not been the Church’s aim (at least in the majority of churches in America), in revival– truly coming back to Christ afresh, or coming to truly know Jesus for the first time ever– Christ’s Love in the heart of the believer should make one both truly compassionate, and zealous for others to come to know Christ, as well. Truly, Jesus wants deep, abiding relationships with His children, so that they might be full to overflowing with His Love. When the heart of a person truly responds to Christ, they exhibit the fruits of His Spirit in their lives: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). As a Christian’s cup “runneth over” with these things, one can’t help but want to pour into others the Good News they have received.

Sharing the Bread of Life

While one can, and should, provide humanitarian relief to those in these countries, Christians should be aiming to fulfill a deeper need: for those they come in contact with to meet “the Bread of Life,” and “Living Water,” Jesus (John 6:35). All over the world, in every tribe, tongue, and nation, Christ is calling out to people to receive what only He can offer: true fulfillment, Perfect Peace, true rest, and divine guidance and insight, among countless other blessings. As His children, filled with His Spirit, we should be calling out, too; if not in those countries, physically, then in prayer, for others who do so. Because, in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, we cannot fathom how badly they need it– need Him.

[1] sources: http://news.yahoo.com/18-killed-boko-haram-attack-southeast-niger-134025219.html and http://news.yahoo.com/boko-haram-jihadists-torch-50-homes-kill-four-153919840.html

***
On January 31st, 2015, Hyeon Soo Lim, a Korean-Canadian and pastor of a church in Toronto, Canada, was arrested by North Korean officials for “subversive plots” against the North Korean government– no doubt for missionary and “religious work” in many parts of North Korea. In December of 2015, he was sentenced to life in a hard labor prison; and although Canada’s government has caught wind of the story, it has done little to nothing to help free Pastor Lim.
Please pray for Pastor Lim, as he goes through this horribly difficult time. Pray that Christ would use him, as He used Paul and the other apostles, even in prison, to share the Gospel and bring others to Christ. Please also pray for his health, well-being, and that He would keep His eyes on Jesus. Of course, pray for His release, in Jesus’ way and timing. 
If you feel led, please also read, sign, and share this petition to Canadian officials, that they would seek negotiations with North Korea to free Pastor Lim. Thank you; Be blessed in Christ. 


Do you know Jesus?

The verse in Revelations 7, mentioned at the beginning of this post, is an incredibly powerful look at the future glory all believers will experience. Verse 10 describes something incredibly wonderful, and powerful:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!‘”
(Revelation 7:9-10, NIV)

 This description may sound odd or hard to understand, but truly, Jesus is the Lamb the great multitude is worshiping. 

2,000 years ago, Jesus, God in human flesh, came into the world to save mankind from sin’s power and eternal damnation– separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Why do we need saving, you might ask? We were all born, because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God, with an innate sin nature; that is, our nature was poisoned by sin, making us evil from birth (Genesis 3:6; Psalm 51:5). God, being a God of Justice, could not let any sin go unpunished; therefore, mankind deserved to die for their sin (Ezekiel 18:20).

For centuries, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, paid for their own sin by the blood of birds, lambs, goats, and bulls, especially on “the Day of Atonement” (Leviticus 16). While this covered the sin of the people, God’s way, it did not remove the sin (Hebrews 10:4). “[But] God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Although Jesus was perfectly sinless, “humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross,” becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Hebrews 7:27). But He did not stay dead! No, He rose again, three days later (1 Corinthians 15:4). In doing so, he has forgiven the sins of any person who believes that He is God, and died for their sins– giving them the free gift of Eternal Life in heaven, with Him (Romans 6:23).

Jesus’ free gift to all mankind must be received to forgive and save a person, though.  The bible says we must “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” and “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). 

Do you want Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, to forgive and save you of your sin? If so, you can say a simple prayer to Jesus right now, like this one:

“Dear Jesus, I believe that You are God, and that You died on the cross for my sin. I believe You rose three days later, forever conquering sin and death, and gave the free gift of Eternal Life with You to all who believe. Lord Jesus, I have sinned against You in word and deed; and I need You to save me from my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, come into my life and be my Lord and Savior– and help me to live for You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

If you have truly and sincerely asked Jesus into your heart and life as Lord and Savior, congratulations!!! You have made the best, most important decision of your entire life– both for here, and after. The Bible says you are now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)! If you would like to tell me of what Christ has done in your life, and/or of your new decision, please click here!

Be truly blessed in your walk with Jesus! 🙂




Please pray for…
– The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger– 
both those displaced and citizens in the country.
Those in Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) camps. Please pray that these men and women would hear the Gospel while in these places. Please also pray for their physical needs, and that they would be kept from harm and abuse.
– The governments of these countries. That their leaders would come to know Jesus Christ.
– Men and women all across the globe, especially in these nations, to rise up to spread the Gospel in these traumatized areas. Pray they would experience this call of Christ on their lives, and would be given all they need to answer it, including bravery.
– Pastors and other church leaders in these areas. Pray that these brave men would be upheld and strengthened to minister to those Christ has entrusted them with.
– Muslims and other nonbelievers in these areas. Pray they would come to know Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would have the blindfolds taken off their eyes, in a real way.
These countries’ militaries. Pray that members would come to know Christ, and that Christ would give them favor as they continue to fight Boko Haram alongside Nigeria.
– Boko Haram members. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV). Please pray that these deceived people would know Jesus– and that the Boko Haram insurgency that they’re apart of would be annihilated.
The Chibok girls of Borno, Nigeria. Please pray that they are located, and rescued, very soon! As you are led, please read, sign, and share this petition, asking President Buhari to locate, and officially report, the whereabouts of the Chibok girls by the second anniversary of their kidnapping, April 14th, 2016.

Thank you for your prayers, and Jesus bless you. Let us not stop sharing Jesus with others until the whole world knows!

“To Forgive our Debtors”: Praying against Boko Haram, but for its Members

It was the last place anyone imagined it would happen. And yet, it did: in the middle of an Internally Displaced Peoples Camp in Yola, Nigeria, a bomb was detonated, killing seven children and forever changing the lives of countless others. Once seen as a refuge for upwards of 1,000 displaced people, the Malkohi IDP camp spent all of September 11th, 2015 evacuating people from their “home away from home.”

The extent of Boko Haram’s terrorism has not stopped there. In Kolofata, Cameroon, 9 people were left dead after three suicide bombers detonated their explosives. Being near to a market, the suicide bombings terrorized possibly hundreds of people, causing them to live in the fear and anxiety that Boko Haram’s surprise attacks can bring. Yet, Though Boko Haram’s attacks continue to bring terror and grief to Nigeria and its surrounding nations, there is cause for hope: since the beginning of 2015, the Nigerian army, as well as the 8,700 strong multinational army, made up of forces from Nigeria and surrounding countries, have pushed Boko Haram out of many of their strongholds, including much of the Sambisa Forest. It was reported that “scores of Boko Haram militants” have surrendered, in what Vanguard newspaper reported as “mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues” as they gave up their guns and traded them for cuffs. These men are men who have raped and terrorized hundreds, if not thousands of innocent women and children– men whose hands have killed, plundered, and kidnapped– and they now lie bound, shaking with terror and dread themselves.

Praying for Those Behind the Flag

The men behind the black, militant flag of Boko Haram have caused the deep sorrow, grief, and heavy darkness that has marred millions in Nigeria for the past five years. Radicalized by Muslim imams (teachers), these men have been brainwashed, sometimes from an early age, to believe that heaven can be obtained by shedding the blood of “infidels” (nonbelievers)– and sometimes, even their own blood. Suicide bombers, perhaps one of the saddest parts of Islam, can be any age or gender, and are usually young or easily manipulated. These pitiful souls are told that their “martyrdom” will ensure them a place in “Jannah,” the islamic version of heaven. Others are completely coerced; told that they will be murdered if they don’t become a suicide bomber, they have little to no choice but to follow their cowardly leaders/oppressors’ commands. Recently, many suicide bombers have been girls as young as 10 years old— one of the most vulnerable people groups involved in this horrific insurgency. Old or young, male or female, these brainwashed bombers and their leaders are in need of more than just arrest; they are in deep need of prayer.

The dark spiritual climate of being apart of such a demonic operation as Boko Haram can easily anger a person, causing them to ask Jesus for His divine Justice– and this is not wrong. They want those who have severely injured them to pay for it; when the perpetrator does not, they feel wronged and are embittered all the more. However, Jesus wants His followers to do things differently. 

The Courage to Forgive

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, who wrote almost half of the New Testament, was once a terrorist and persecutor of Christians– until Jesus changed His life (read Acts 7-9 for his story). Though Boko Haram is a ruthless and truly satanic terrorist organization, it is full of men and women who do not know the Love of Jesus Christ. In response to the evil so many have had to endure, Jesus calls His disciples to do something most would find completely impossible. As illogical as it may sound, Jesus has called those who follow Him to forgive their perpetrators, as seen in a passage called “the Lord’s Prayer.”

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.”
(Matthew 6: 9-10, 12, NIV)

In light of the horrific acts Boko Haram has perpetrated in and around Nigeria, Jesus’ command here can seem nothing short of deeply insulting. Yet, Jesus’ words speak of great Truth: forgiving others affects a person’s fellowship with Him. To know what it truly is to forgive, one must look at the cross.

Forgiveness in Light of the Cross

The truth is, forgiveness is not merely “overlooking” an offense or calling what happened “okay.” God did not merely “overlook” or call our sin “okay”; in fact, He hates sin, and as a God of Justice, gave mankind what our willful decision to disobey Him was: death, and eternal separation from Him. Yet, He is a God of forgiveness and mercy, taking no pleasure “in the death of the wicked,” but wanting them to “turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 18:23, NIV). Therefore, He did what only a supremely Merciful and Just God could do: take upon Himself our sin and its consequential curse, by dying on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). In this way, He was able to forgive those who believe on Him for the sin that separated them from Him. Truly, forgiveness is looking at the sin for all it is, and choosing to not let it control a victim or what they think of those who wronged them. It is only in forgiveness that a person is set free to truly Love those who have hated them.

Redemption, not Retribution

In the world, this type of reaction to those who so vehemently hate and hurt their victims is unheard of; yet, Christ’s disciples are called to do this very thing. Instead of retribution, Jesus wants redemption; instead of “an eye for an eye,” Jesus calls His followers to respond to hatred and persecution– no matter the depth– with Love (Matthew 5:38-48). This feat of overcoming hurt with blessing is no small one; in fact, it can not be done without Jesus. Without Christ, a person cannot truly forgive and love their persecutors. They may strive to, but it takes Jesus’ Spirit to genuinely change them from the inside out: to see their offenders as the correctly-judged, horrendous, wicked people that they are– but also as people who are ignorantly and pitifully desperate for Jesus. 

Paul was changed by the Power and Love of Christ. His hands persecuted Christ’s people; yet, in Christ’s hands, He became the man He was meant to be. The hands of the members of Boko Haram are stained red; but, in the power of Christ’s forgiveness, they too can be cleaned. As one escapee from the Chibok kidnapping once said, “I forgive Boko Haram for what they have done and I pray God forgives them too.” Oh, how they need it.

The men, women, and children of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin have been victims of grave and disgusting injustice, perpetrated by the hand of Boko Haram, and arrested members have gotten what they deserve. Yet, it is not in their punishment that victims will find healing. Rather, offender and victim can only be healed by looking to the cross– and more importantly, by looking to the One who once hung there. Truly, it is by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b, NIV).


Do you know Jesus? 

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
(John 1:11, NIV)

Though Jesus, God Himself, came to save the very world He created, it did not recognize Him; not only did it not recognize Him; His very people, the Jews, rejected Him– the One they had called “Hosanna!” to only days before.

He was wrongly condemned, flogged, and hung on a cross. Mockingly hailed “King of the Jews” and killed in the most torturous way possible, Jesus had every reason to abandon His mission and retaliate against those who viciously murdered Him. But He didn’t.

No; instead, while hanging on the cross, Christ said some of the most poignant words ever said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV). In perfect Love, Jesus saw those whose sin He became: all of mankind throughout every generation, past, present, and future; and asked the Father to forgive them– knowing that it was through His suffering, death and resurrection alone that such a prayer would be answered (1 John 2:2; Ephesians 1:7-8).

Jesus died for all of mankind: from the religious person to the murderer, no one is outside of Christ’s unfailing Love– or His ability to save. Meet your Forgiver here.



*You may print out this prayer in Google Docs.

Prayer
(pray along, or simply use it as a guide):

Lord Jesus, You alone know the pain and heart of every human being on this planet. You know that apart from You, our hearts are “deceitful above all things and beyond cure,” a thing that no one can truly understand but You (Jeremiah 17:9). Lord King Jesus, we all know that You are the only reason we are able to live; there is nothing we can do (or not do) to spare us from your righteous judgment. It is You alone who chose us; it is You alone who drew us to You by Your Love; and it is You alone who has saved our souls. Whether on this earth, or in eternity, You chose us to Live, and Live abundantly in You (John 10:10; John 15:4). Jesus, we thank You that You died for our Life; we thank You that by Your wounds, we were healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus, we lift up the men and women of Nigeria to You. Only You know the pain and grief in their hearts; not only do You know it, but You have gone through it Yourself (Isaiah 53:4). Lord Jesus, we pray now for those who have been unimaginably hurt. Jesus, You alone know how isolating and unsearchable our grief and suffering can be (Proverbs 14:10), and Jesus, we pray that those who are grieving and hurting emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually would ask you into their hearts, and would be met by You right where they are at. Jesus, as our “Wonderful Counselor” and “God of all Comfort,” we pray that You would indeed comfort and hold Your precious children. Let them find their healing in You; King Jesus, hold their hands and provide them with people who will hold their hands, too. In this moment, Lord Jesus, we pray Your Spirit would be known, felt, and praised by all those hurting in Nigeria, that they might praise You as the God who Heals them (Exodus 15:26).

King Jesus, we pray over those who have been through the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram specifically. We pray, Lord Jesus, that they would run to You for refuge and healing; we pray that as they continue to run to You, You would help and enable them to live out Your will for their lives: to forgive and pray for their persecutors. Jesus, we know that this seems impossible to do, but we also know that NOTHING is impossible with You (Matthew 19:26). Jesus, as our brothers and sisters choose to “forgive their debtors,” we pray You would heal up their broken hearts, that their forgiveness would be true and full, as You have forgiven us. Lord Jesus, bless them for this difficult, but ultimately, right decision to trust and obey You, and set them free from the bondage refusing to forgive can bring, that they might love You and everyone around them– even their persecutors– as You have Loved us.

Jesus, touch the persecutors of our brethren with Your Love. Your apostle Paul hated You, King Jesus, but You never stopped Loving and drawing Him to You. As You changed Saul to Paul by Your Power, we now pray that You would change and bring muslims to You, especially those in Boko Haram. Lord Jesus, use Your people in captivity– and even Your people who will be martyred for You– to share Your Gospel of Love, Salvation, Forgiveness, and Peace with those who are killing, raping, kidnapping, and pillaging them. Jesus, plant seeds in their hearts, and Lord, soften their hearts and minds by Your Power and Love, that those seeds would be sown to all of them coming to You. We pray that You would raise up leaders in Boko Haram’s ranks, to both bring Boko Haram to the dust, and to bring the individuals that are in it to You; Jesus, show us Your Glory and Power in such a way, that all men might know and praise You, especially those farthest away from You right now, keeping and torturing those who love You.

Lastly, King Jesus, we pray You would have Your hand and Your Loving Eye on the hundreds of thousands of people kidnapped/in captivity. King Jesus, we pray that, if it’s Your will, You would show those combating Boko Haram where those who are kidnapped are. Jesus, if it’d be Your will, we pray new details would come forth about where the Chibok girls are; we pray that You would keep them safe, and would grant them not only physical freedom, but spiritual freedom as they all come to know You. Jesus, we pray You would fill your children in captivity with Love, Power, and a Sound Mind, that they might be Your witnesses, captive or free. “Set the captives free,” and encourage the hearts of those in captivity, as You have promised to do– in Your will, Your way, and Your timing (Luke 4:18; Psalm 42). 

Lord Jesus, more than anything, we pray You would bring those who do not know You to You. Let them know that they are chosen by You; remove whatever is in the way, that may be keeping them from You. Lord Jesus, from the “bad” to the “good,” forgive them and show them Yourself– for truly, in our sin, none of us knew what we were doing (Luke 23:34).

We thank You and we praise You for all of this, Lord Jesus. It is in Your Name we pray all of it. Amen.

*You may print out this prayer in Google Docs.

Many Sorrows: Suffering in Light of the Cross

The city of Maiduguri never saw it coming. Even if they did, the city had little to nothing to stop or prevent it from occurring. Friday, July 31st at 6:30 AM, a bomb blast in Maiduguri caused the whole city to shake and stir with panic. Being set off at the densely populated Gamboru marketplace, the suicide bombing killed 8 people, while injuring countless others.

Said to be a woman, this suicide bomber was not suspicious in the slightest; yet, the effect she had on those around her will forever haunt her survivors. For people in Maiduguri (and Northern Nigeria in general), no place is safe anymore. What once used to be a place no one feared going to– and in fact, needed– has now become a place of trauma and horror for everyone who has ever walked its roads. Bloodied or not, the trauma Nigerians have suffered is both painfully real– and much more than skin deep.

The thought that something so horribly devastating could happen within a few seconds seems unfathomable. But, it is surprisingly true for many, if not all, horrific, life-changing experiences: what happens in only a few moments amounts to a lifetime of pain, grief, and sorrow. And while, in many cases, the perpetrator is the only one who suffers from their mistakes, the much more common (and incredibly unjust) reality of it all is that victims are the ones who suffer most. Innocent people are caught in the crossfire– and are forced to live with the repercussions for the rest of their lives. In many ways, this could have been what Jesus meant when He told His disciples that “In this life, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33); though Jesus’ warning is honest, the question still remains: when real tribulation hits, how do we cope? Continue reading