The Noble Soldier

This post is dedicated to the four American green berets that lost their lives fighting terror in Tongo Tongo, Niger, along with the countless men and women who give their lives every day in the military.

On October 4th, 2017, four soldiers from the United States were killed in a fire fight between US/Nigerien soldiers and ISIS. In the firefight, one soldier named Sargent La David Johnson, was separated from the rest of the team. After the fight had ended, it took an extra 48 hours to find his body, to bring it back to Dover Air Force Base on October 7th.

This sad, sad news reminds me that it is not only civilians that are suffering in this insurgency, that has now spread to most of the Middle East and Africa. Be it Boko Haram, or ISIS (they are one in the same– Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015), this insurgency is killing hundreds of innocent soldiers, soldiers who have given their lives so that Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are vanquished.

These men and women are not just numbers and statistics. Behind every fallen soldier is a mother left without a son; a man left without his best friend; and a wife or husband left without their spouse. Millions– millions of people outside of those directly attacked by Boko Haram– have lost their fighting loved ones to Boko Haram. Continue reading

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How to Kill a Giant

 

Guillaime_Courtois_-_David_and_Goliath_-_Google_Art_Project

It seems to be now or never. On July 21st, Tukur Buratai, the chief of Nigeria’s Army Staff, commanded the Nigerian military to do all that it can to defeat the leader of Boko Haram, Abubukar Shekau, in forty days. According to the article, Buratai said that “The Boko Haram leader must be captured dead or alive within 40 days,” and that Major Attahiru, a general in the Nigerian military, was commanded to “employ every weapon available in his arsenal to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria” (source).

Such huge news comes in wake of the Nigerian police arresting five Boko Haram gunmen on the outskirts of the city of Kano, Nigeria. A gunfight broke out between the Nigerian soldiers and Boko Haram members, one of which was a 20-year-old from Niger. Home-made explosives were also thrown, and the islamic gunmen injured 3 policemen. The islamic gunmen have been put in jail.

Amidst all of the violence, a voice of Hope was found in one internally displaced people’s camp. Africa News reported that Nigerian musician Innocent Idibia, known as 2Face Idibia or 2Baba, visited an internally displaced people’s camp, to meet the refugees and support their cause. 2Baba stated his mission well: “I’m trying to raise more awareness so that many people will come to donate many things and to make life easier for them. I’m going to tell Nigerians that their brothers and sisters are suffering and they need to help.”

2Baba has donated donated to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, through his “2Face Foundation” recently, and has also created a song called “Hold My Hand,” advocating for refugees (which can be heard, here).

In reality, Nigeria seems to have gone farther than it ever has before in defeating Boko Haram, breaking down physical strongholds and maintaining order and safety within Nigerian communities. Praise Jesus! In this fight to stop Boko Haram, Nigeria is facing one of it’s biggest “giants” yet: Abubakar Shekau, and the ideology that fuels him.

Killing the Giants

In a sermon heard recently, the story found in 1 Samuel 17, David and Goliath, was discussed. In the biblical account, the Philistines are coming against Israel, and tout their biggest soldier, Goliath, to fill Israel with fear.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels… Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.'”
(1 Samuel 17:4-5, 8-9, NIV)

Goliath was “six cubits and a span”– about 9 feet tall! As the Israelites looked up at this giant in their midst, and heard his taunting and challenge to them, one cannot imagine the absolute terror they felt (1 Samuel 17:11).

All of us have “Goliaths” in our lives; all of us, at one point or another, will need to face them. Everyone knows that David killed Goliath “with a sling and a stone” (1 Samuel 17:50). Where did David get such power and confidence?

Confidence in Christ

David’s war-cry toward Goliath tells it all.

David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.'”
(1 Samuel 17:45-47, NIV)

Listen to the above passage, friends. David was not fighting by Himself, or of His own accord; Christ was preparing David for this day. David knew that Goliath had gone against his God, and David had experienced victory over the predators that were out to get his sheep before (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

But Christ did not only prepare David for this day; He was with David as David faced Goliath. David did not put faith in man’s ability to defeat a giant so tall; it was through his victory over lions and bears that David realized true victory comes from the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47). From start to finish, it was not David who killed Goliath by Himself, but Yahweh, Jesus, who worked in and through David to bring Himself glory. It was closely walking with God that brought David victory over the giant that faced him, and knowing that it was God who would deliver Goliath into his hands.

Clinging to Christ, believing in who God said He is, David ran out to meet Goliath– and the rest is history.  The lesson? As we delight ourselves in the Lord, we can run out to meet any “giant” coming against us with full confidence that Christ will do what He said He would do: give us the victory.

As the Nigerian military comes against Boko Haram, and most prominently, Abubukar Shekau, may they come to, and rely upon, Christ for the victory. After all, it is found in Him alone.



Do you know Jesus?

“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:8, NIV)

David lived a loooong time before Jesus Christ ever came to earth; in fact, Jesus is the “Son of David,” coming approximately 26 generations after David came (Matthew 1). But Jesus was no ordinary man.

Although he was the Son of Man, Jesus was God Incarnate: God in human flesh. And, like David saved the Israelites, saved all those who believe on Him by killing the “ultimate giant”: the law of sin and death.

Jesus was brave; He created the Only Way to have a personal relationship with God, saving those who believe on Him from eternal separation from the Father. Those who trust in Him are like those spoken about in Jeremiah 17:8. Meet this God-in-Human-Flesh, the one who gave all of humanity salvation, here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear King Jesus,
Thank You for all that You have done, 
and all that You are doing to do. We thank You for the capture of 5 islamic terrorists, and we pray that, as they lie in jail, Father God, that You would help them to come to know You personally, as their Lord and Savior. 
Dear Jesus, 
Thank You for the military men and women who have stomped out Boko Haram– thank You for giving them the victory over Boko Haram. We pray now over the Nigerian police and military, dear Jesus; please protect them, and bring them to know You as their Lord and Savior, so that they may rely on You and trust in You in battle.

Dear Jesus,
We lift up those in Nigerian IDP camps, and those currently helping them. Dear Jesus, please bring an end to Boko Haram, and provide these internally displaced peoples with the food, water, schooling, healthcare, and safety that they need to survive, grow, and flourish. Please continue to show Your People how we can love, support, and pray for those in IDP camps in Northern Nigeria. 

Dear Jesus,
as violence seems to reign supreme in Northern Nigeria, please show Northern Nigeria that, in fact, YOU reign. We all need You, Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
We lastly thank You for each Chibok girl, and every other person who has been abducted by Boko Haram. Please free them soon, Lord Jesus!
Keep us praying for these men, women, and children, dear Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Honest with God

Today, to be honest, I am hurting. I am in pain. I am angry. I am grieved.

“Indifference is no reaction at all.” Today, that quote stood out at church. Studying the story of Jonah, Jonah 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.'” What was Jonah’s response? Anger.

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
(Jonah 1:3, NIV)

Jonah had a reason for his anger. The people of Nineveh were evil– the embodiment of evil, in fact– so much so that “it’s wickedness has come up before [God]” (Jonah 1:1). Jonah’s anger turned into something toxic, as the Pastor commented today (read Chapters 3-4 to see his anger take a turn for the worst). But it brought up the concept of being “real” with God. Of coming to Him with everything– even when “everything” includes screaming at him, and/or crying out in pain.

Honesty with Christ

There are still 113 Chibok girls who are not free. While news reports could be wrong, many say that some of these 113 Chibok girls have said they do not want to come home. This hurts. To know that 113 young women may be so brainwashed, that freedom for

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Rejoice Sanki, one of the 113 Chibok girls who need to be freed.

them looks worse than their bondage, breaks my heart. I pray that it isn’t true… that what keeps these young women from freedom and healing is not their own will.

But it could be true. And it is okay to come to Christ with this pain, anger, frustration, and longing for these remaining Chibok girls to become free.

In fact, in the Psalms, King David regularly cried out to Christ.

 

 

“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. 13 For I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side!’ They conspire against me and plot to take my life.”
(Psalm 31:9-13, NIV)

Not too many have felt what King David felt. Theologians and Bible Readers alike speculate that this Psalm was written as David was narrowly escaping assassination attempts by Israel’s king at the time, King Saul (source). “In distress,” King David was overcome by sorrow and grief, and did not hold back in crying out to Christ about his situation. But he did not stay there.

From Pain to Praise

While crying out to Jesus about his struggles and anguish, King David drew close to Christ; and, it was in this honest encounter recorded in Psalm 31, that King David’s heart, mind, and perspective were transformed by the Lord. This can be seen in verse 14, as King David’s tone changes.

But I trust in you, LordI say, ‘You are my God.’ …Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. 22 In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’
Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. 23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
(Psalm 31:14, 21-24)

It is obvious that as King David ran to Christ for help, he found it. While we do not know if his circumstances really changed for the better, this is the Hope for all people who put their trust in Jesus; He will never let them be put to shame for seeking Him.

There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV). And, when it comes down to the honest truth, even when that joy doesn’t come, the Comfort and Joy of coming to Christ in the pain is our Strength.

113 Chibok girls still remain in bondage. This horrific Truth is cause for much pain, but approaching Christ in this pain makes all the difference. In our pain, may He hear our prayers, and may these precious young women come home soon.

This post is dedicated to the 113 young Chibok girls who are still not freed, as well as those in Mosul, which is modern-day Nineveh.



Do you know Jesus?

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
(Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Some people may see Jesus as some distant, feeling-less deity– yet, as one Pastor has said, He is anything but.

He can be grieved. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37, NIV)

He wept. “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35, NIV)

He sings with Joy. “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

He cares deeply for every detail of the Believer’s life.The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23, NIV)

Jesus is not some distant deity, or a made-up man. He is real, alive, and He deeply loves you. Learn more about who Jesus is, and why He came to earth, here.


Please pray…

For the remaining 113 Chibok girls who are still in bondage. Please pray that what has been said about the remaining girls is not true.

Please pray that if the news reports are true, that Jesus would reach and save these young women. 

Please pray for those in Mosul, Iraq. Iraqi soldiers are trying to push out ISIS. Please pray that they would have Christ’s favor, and that members of ISIS would be defeated– so that they can come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Please pray for Annalee, the writer of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY. Pray that I would continue to be effective in this ministry, by the power of the Holy Spirit– and that I would be faithful in my service to the Lord, even when it hurts. Thank you.

Thank you for your prayers!!!

“Raising Up Kings”: The Importance of Godly Establishment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do you know Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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