Good News: God’s Perfect Love casts out fear!
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
(John 10:10-15, NIV)
Do you understand how Loved you are by God? How invested He is in you? How into you He is?
As a single lady, these word from Tom Ewing about John 10 hit my heart, hard. God has thoughts about us… and they are thoughts full of a future and a hope for us, from the One who gladly laid down His life for us. The God of this Universe THINKS ABOUT US AND FEELS FOR US!
Perhaps you have needed to hear this too. You may feel unloved, unworthy of Love, unnoticed. Know this: YOU ARE NOTICED! Jesus is into you, invested in you as His Creation! Just as He saw that the biblical Leah was unloved and honored her (Genesis 29), He sees you exactly as you are, exactly how you feel. Allow Him to show you that you can trust Him!
You are Loved by Jesus. His Love can be trusted. May you rest in the arms of your Savior today… because His Love will not let you go. ❤
Love, Your Sister in Christ,
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus Loves you so much that He gave His life for you. Learn more about this amazing God, and His Love, here.
Please pray for…
Thank you for your prayers!!!
It was 11:00 pm at night. I had gone to a friend’s bonfire… almost another state away. I had left at 9 pm, but as I was driving down the rocky road down to the main highway, I found that the highway had been completely closed off due to a fatal accident and I had to turn back around.
Driving back to my friend’s house, I was suddenly filled with fear and anxiety. I called my parents, telling them about the situation. I didn’t want to stay overnight at my friend’s house, but with so much distance between me and my home, I thought I didn’t have a choice.
As I texted my parents about my anxiety, my mother called me. Although they were a good 60 miles away from me, they decided—at 11:00 at night!—that they would come and get me. It took them a good hour and a half to get to my friend’s house, and we finally got home at 2 am. My feelings of anxiety in the face of an unsure situation were calmed by the love my parents showed me, coming to get me when it was more than out of their way. Continue reading
“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.”
(Psalm 86:15-16, NIV)
There is no compassion like our God’s.
Since I last wrote a post, much has happened all over the world, and especially in West Africa. In the past week alone, many major tragedies have occurred.
In Cameroon: On the morning of December 29th, 2017, two women suicide bombers set out to do major, irreversible damage to a community of people. Upon seeing these two women, people of Kordo of the Kolofata subdivision in Cameroon cornered the women, causing them to set off their explosive devices prematurely. Only the two young women suicide bombers were killed. On the previous night, December 28th, 2017, not very far away from Kordo, another attack occurred, killing one innocent person in the Mayo-Moskota subdivision, bordering Nigeria (source).
As if this was not enough, Moussa Ramat, the ex-mayor of Fotokol, Cameroon, was acquitted on charges of secretly helping Boko Haram. Ramat was a part of “several negotiations” with Boko Haram that led to the freedom of Boko Haram captives. Because there was little evidence linking Moussa Ramat to the charges that he was helping Boko Haram, he was deemed not guilty (source). This is all in view of recent news that a journalist from France was also freed from prison, acquitted on charges that he spoke to Boko Haram without passing on the information to the government. Only Jesus alone knows the full truth of these whole investigations (source).
In Nigeria: On Christmas Day, around 11 p.m., gunmen snuck into the Kamale community in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State. As people celebrated the birth of Christ, these assailants shot sporadically into the homes of those in the Kamale community, killing at least four people and injuring many others (source). The survivors climbed up nearby mountains and “scampered away,” one survivor, Micheal Zira, said (source).
In Molai, Nigeria, Boko Haram also attacked the Molai General Hospital (source). Shooting everywhere as they entered Molai, at least one woman and numerous young men assaulted those belonging to the hospital. Three people were burned to death. Two brand new jeeps were also stolen from the Hospital (source).
In the USA: A partner in a Law Firm, located in Long Beach, California, shot and killed two of his colleagues, before committing suicide himself. Employees in the entire law firm ran out as the gun shots sounded, screaming, “They’re shooting inside” (source).
In Colorado, on the morning of December 31st, 2017, one Colorado deputy was shot and killed, and six others were wounded, four being police men and two being civilians. The shooting happened after responding to a domestic violence call close to Denver. It is reported that it was an “ambush style” shooting (source). The officer who passed away was 29-year-old Zackari Parrish.
Egypt: Though not in West Africa, I found it important to report that, tragically, 9 Coptic Christians were killed in the city of Cairo, Egypt.
On Friday, December 29th, 2017, assailants reportedly a part of Boko Haram went into a store owned by a Coptic Christian, killing his two sons. Shortly after, the assailants tried to get into The Coptic Orthodox Church, in Mar Mina, a part of a small suburb within Cairo called Helwan. While the assailants intended to throw an explosive device into the church, they were unable to get through the line of security officers surrounding the church’s entrance. The shoot out killed one security officer and six worshippers, inside (source).
As I write this, I become aware of the fact that 22 people have died– and that those around them have been forever changed by their deaths.
Tens of hundreds of people have been suddenly, and violently, immersed into a state of grief so deep that they may consider death themselves.
In one moment, their loved one was alive. Worshiping Christ, or working, or celebrating Christmas with those around them… and then they were gone.
Many, many people, due to terrorism, have been plunged into a world that suddenly doesn’t make sense. For those who were innocently taken by terrorism, the words of one person, who knew one of the partners killed in the Law Firm shooting in Long Beach, California, sum it up quite well. “He certainly didn’t deserve this.”
“He certainly didn’t deserve this.“
What are we to do, when suddenly, we are submerged into a life that no longer makes sense– a life that is filled with grief, loss, and pain?
I understand that me, a young person safe within the confines of her own home, holding a laptop, free to worship Jesus– I have no idea of how it feels to lose someone I love so much to something as evil as terrorism. I have little to no room to preach to those who have been struck by such a dark and evil blow.
No cliche or common Christian saying can mend a heart so broken.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
(1 Peter 4:12-19, NIV)
The people Peter was writing to were overwhelmed by the trials and persecution they were going through. But Peter encourages them to rejoice.
How can one rejoice, when everyone around them is gone?
Christ does not call us to rejoice because of the suffering. That is insane. But He does call us to rejoice throughout the trial, because of the fact that we draw closer to Christ in the suffering, becoming partners with Christ in it (1 Peter 4:13).
There are people to blame in these tragedies. Boko Haram. Evil, greedy men with guns and bombs and other weapons. Some of our problems are even self-inflicted. But, what about when pain has no one person or thing to blame? While pondering such questions, I happened upon an essay article written by David Weiss– a Christian man diagnosed with schizophrenia, who has undergone immense pain and suffering. His essay, “God of the Schizophrenic,” offered some insight: “Even when we cannot grasp the sources of our misfortunes, we can strive to learn the right lessons.”
“Pain is a powerful drug. It altered my perception and was an indelible part of my reality,” Weiss states. So many of those plunged into the world of grief, fear, and immense loss know what He is saying, all too well.
But his words about lessons is true:
We can get bitter, or get better.
We can turn away from Jesus, or run to Him, with all of our anger and questions and tears.
And perhaps, it is in running to Him, we will find something bigger than the answers we seek, as David Weiss did:
“I have finally met the God I had heard about but never truly experienced. A God who heals. A God who loves. …A God who manifests his genius by salvaging good from the evil in our lives.”
Let me ask you this: Is having every answer going to make you feel less bitter about your suffering? Does knowing the specifics and story of a crime scene make it less sad?
Right now, amidst the clamoring voices demanding change because of these tragedies– and rightly so– the deepest need of those suffering in a world that makes no sense is not having answers, but being Loved. Love that will never fail; Love that will save and restore them. Love that will comfort and hide away those in their distress.
As those around the world this week are suffering from these horrific tragedies, I pray that Jesus would surround them in a real way with His Comfort and Love, both supernaturally and through His People.
If you are not a Christian, please know that the only Love that will never fail is Jesus Christ’s Love. Come to Him during this time.
If you are a Christian, run to the One who promises to weep with you, comfort you, hide you away, and never leave your side, in the midst of the darkness.
You may (or may not) ever get any answers in this life. But His Love will see you through. And perhaps, that is all we really need.
This blog post is in tribute to the 5 deputies wounded in Colorado’s recent shooting, which took place Sunday morning. One of those deputies, 29 year old Zackari Parrish, passed away in the shooting. Parrish is said to have been a Godly man, going to a church in Littleton.
Please pray for all those who have been affected, including the deceased deputy’s loved ones.
Do you know Jesus?
I understand how trite all of this might feel, as you go through so much pain that no one’s input could change it, one bit.
I don’t want to make your pain seem less than it is, at all. Instead, I want to point you to the One who knows it fully. David Weiss says in his essay on suffering through Schizophrenia, “If God isn’t up there in heaven watching and waiting for me to screw up—if instead he weeps when I weep and celebrates when I take just one step toward a new and better life—then who am I to judge others harshly?”
Christianity differs from every other religion in this: That God descended into humanity, lived a completely perfect life, and died for the sins of those who rejected and killed him– for the sins of all mankind. No other religion offers complete salvation by mere faith in a God who loved us enough to meet us where we are at, in all of our pain and darkness, and be called Emmanuel: “God with us.”
If you are hurting today and seeking God, know that He wants to meet you where you are– and save you from going to hell.
Learn more about this amazing, Loving God, here.
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
(Hebrews 13:3, NIV)
Please pray for…
Thank you for your prayers.
(This started being written on the morning of Monday, November 6th.)
It is Monday morning, and all I can do right now is sit here and cry.
Cry over and about the shooting that happened in Sutherland Springs, Texas, at the First Baptist Church.
The 26 victims who passed away ranged in ages from 5-72 years old, according to CNN. Approximately 20 other people were wounded. There is practically no one who was not affected in some way, shape or form by the shooting, in such a small town as Sutherland Springs.
The regular pastor was away with his wife, and a visiting pastor came to preach at the church. He passed away in the shooting; as did the regular pastor’s 14-year-old daughter.
Among the dead were eight people, apart of the same family, spanning across three generations and including a pregnant woman and her three children (source).
No one in the church left unharmed.
I sit here crying, not just because of the sheer horror of all of this, but because these congregants came to this church on a Sunday morning, to worship Jesus and to fellowship with one another. Because it struck deep, and held some of the same similarities to my own church.
There was a visiting pastor at the church I visited, yesterday. There were about 50-70 congregants in the service. The regular pastor and his wife were in a different city, guest-pastoring there.
As we lifted up holy hands and sang together in worship, and as chuckled with each other through the funny parts of the service, the Pastor taught us one thing: God is Love; and Love is the highest form of warfare.
It is patient. It is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
The kind of Love Jesus has for us is Agape Love. This kind of Love is sacred, and selfless. Loving without ever expecting Love in return. This kind of Love is not a cuddly, warm, fuzzy feeling. Neither is it only an impulse. It is an action. It is a choice, to be made daily.
It wages war on the self, or as the Bible calls it, “the flesh,” which wants self-gratification at any cost to those around itself. It wages war on the enemy, satan, and on his schemes to steal, kill, and destroy others through sin, deceit and spiritual attacks. Without this type of love, knowing everything in the world, having the greatest amount of faith, and doing even the most extremely selfless things, amounts to… well… nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Jesus wins the war; Jesus, God, is Love, as 1 John 4:8 states (again, not the warm, fuzzy, super-tolerant ‘Love’; but the life-changing, transforming, in-your-face bold and beautiful kind of Love, that does not delight in evil or sin, but delights in the truth.). And, because Jesus is Love, Love will always win.
Over the apathy. Over the self-centeredness. Over the hurt, the pain, the anger and insult and tragedy. The horror. Love never fails.
Friends, Beloved, if we must get something right, let’s get Love right. Especially between our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Matthew 5, and 1 John 4, say:
“‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says,”You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.'”
(Matthew 5:21-26, NIV)
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. … We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
(1 John 4:19-21, NIV)
That last passage, in 1 John 4, is super convicting, because the word “to hate” in the greek can also mean “love less,” or “esteem less.” In other words, if you do not care more for, and esteem your brothers and sisters in Christ as more than you do for yourself, you cannot truly Love God.
Harsh words, I know.
But in the wake of this horrific, horrific tragedy, I believe they must be said.
Because life is too short to not live a life of Real Love: for God and for others.
As 1 Peter 4 puts it, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:7-8, NIV).
There is a town in deep distress, right now. And many are right; people need to change. But please, let’s hold off on the politics and the scrutiny, if only for a day. Because wherever you stand on the political spectrum, if you are a true Believer in Jesus Christ, you know that politics cannot truly save people; only Jesus Christ truly can.
Instead of politicizing this tragedy right now, or making it about another gun law gone wrong, let us just sit. And cry, with them, and for them, as they face the most pressing loss they may have ever encountered. Let us love our hurting, reeling brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs, Texas, right now, in the form of prayer, and of anything else we can give.
And let’s get Love right. Because truly, throughout all of our lives, He will win in the end.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
(Romans 12:15, NIV)
Do you know Jesus?
“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine (Matthew 18:12-13).
I couldn’t earn it,
I don’t deserve it,
Still You give Yourself away;
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!”
(Reckless Love, Bethel Music ft. Steffany Gretzinger)
Though this is just a song, it expresses the kind of Love Jesus has for us. 1 John 4:9-10 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Jesus, God the Son, gave His Life, and God the Father gave His Son, so that we might have a chance to be with God forever. Learn more about this reckless Love– and what Jesus has done for you, in His Reckless Love– here.
I love you, friends. Thank you for your prayers and support.
A little child, probably around 3 years of age, drinks from a tin cup, held up by their mother. On their head, a plastic IV nodule is attached, so that nurses can transfer fluids into their frail, young body.
In a region that normally holds 60,000 people, approximately 140,000 Nigerian refugees have flooded in, fighting and running from Boko Haram. Without much space to hold them, many refugees stand in lines for aid and food, while others, not unlike the child described in the paragraph above, lie motionless, starving to death in makeshift medical camps.
In a shocking, heartbreaking news article made by The Guardian Nigeria, it has been reported that nearly 2.6 million Nigerians have been displaced– driven from their homes– since the insurgency began (source).
There is news that is even more disturbing: Although severely under-reported, there have been more refugees in the past nine months in Monguno than have been detained in all of Europe (source). What does this mean? It means that thousands– quite possibly millions– of people have been forgotten– left behind, out of sight, out of mind, for months, with aid only coming to help most recently.
But while shocking statistics abound on the amount of displaced people in Northern Nigeria without a home or food this season, they all come down to this: There is a massive amount of people, who, for one reason or another, have largely gone unheard in their suffering. These people are starving for food; but so much more, for love, and for feeling like– and actually knowing– that they matter.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
(1 John 4:9-10, KJV)
During this time of the season, at least in the United States, there is MUCH to do: family to see, food to eat, celebrations to be had, houses to clean and decorate– it is easy for one to lose sight of the world around them, with so much hustling and bustling.
With Thanksgiving just ended, many have reflected upon the gifts they are thankful for. And, as Christmas is starting to be in the air (at least, on the radios, and in stores), one starts to think about the reason for the season, the reason why Christ-followers all around the world truly celebrate: Jesus Christ’s birth. While this too can easily be forgotten amidst the presents, tinsel, and Black Friday Christmas deals, the story of Christ coming to earth is the ultimate narrative– a narrative that this world is, whether they know it or not, dying to hear.
The message of John 4– and the message of the nativity– is simple: God gave. While the Christian will usually think of Christ coming to earth when thinking of the birth of Christ, it is a beautiful thing to ponder the fact that He was sent: that God the Father gave his only begotten son, and what a sacrifice this truly was. As one thinks of Christ, who “was there in the beginning” (as evidenced by John 1:1-3), and saw the whole world formed, fallen, and in chaos and despair, it is a marvel that He would come to that dark, disgusting, painful world, to die.
But why did God give Jesus to the world? Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, being filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed something beautiful about Jesus (who was in Mary’s womb at the time):
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:68-79, KJV)
God not only saw the darkness– He saw the people “that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). God the Father gave Jesus Christ to this world, because God Loved, and God saw.
God the Father saw those sitting in the darkness; and as He saw them, He heard them. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob,” Exodus 2:24 proclaims; and, just as God heard the cries of the Israelites, suffering from their captivity to the Egyptians, He heard the cries of mankind, suffering under the weight of sin and death. God saw; God heard; and so, full of Perfect Love, God sent.
When thinking of the vast goodness of God– that He would give God the Son, Jesus Christ, to this world, to save them from their sins– it fills the hearts of those who Love Him, with complete and utter Joy. What kind of Love the Father has lavished! Under the wonderful weight of realizing all God the Father has given us, one Truth becomes apparent: Because Jesus heard mankind’s cry for help, it becomes the hearts of those who have accepted Him to hear the cries of those who are still crying out.
However one acts, in reaction to their cries, may differ based on how Christ leads them to act; but one thing is for certain: to hear the cries of those in distress, and not act, is to ignore.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). God so loved the world– and acted. Let us do the same. ❤
Do you know Jesus?
In John 3, Jesus is talking to a man named Nicodemus: a person who, though he was a Pharisee, and “a leader of the People,” could not understand Jesus’ Words. Trying to help Nicodemus understand, Jesus used a story from the Old Testament that would make sense to Him. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, KJV). (Read the story Christ is talking about in Numbers 21.)
The snake bite of death in the lives of mankind– caused by our own sin– just like the Israelites, was cured by Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, at Calvary. Today, Christ’s call is the same. “…for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, KJV).
Are you in need of healing? Physical, emotional, and mental brokenness is only proof of the fact that sin and death are prevalent in this world, and of the true spiritual healing all of humanity needs, by coming to Christ. Read of the God who can heal you– and what He has already done to heal you, spiritually– here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Father God,
You are good! No matter what the situation is like, we cannot thank You enough for sending Your only Son, so that we can know that even in the darkest of times, that You are good to us– and You never change. We thank You that we can say You are good.
We see so much darkness, around us. On the news, and in our very own lives, there is SO MUCH pain.
Father God, I thank You for knowing that pain, in sending Jesus to this broken world, to die for our sin.
Right now, as we have seen the extreme starvation and need for medical intervention in these people’s lives, we pray for the starvation going on at all levels: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I pray for these people, and I pray that You would fill them up. Please help Your People to stand against this darkness, and to “fill” others spiritually, as they share Your Good News. As men and women become desperate for survival, I pray that You would please bring them to Your Throne, so that they can realize that You alone fulfill their every need, and heal their every disease.
I pray that Your People, no mater who they are, would seek You in how to best assist these victims of Boko Haram violence.
Please fill them, Your People, in Northern Nigeria, with ALL they need to share Your Gospel, whether that would be to Boko Haram Members, or to the internally displaced peoples around them. Please, Father God, bring even the disgusting members of Boko Haram to Yourself, and help us to pray for them, as well.
May Your Word go forth in power– and may a revival happen, in these IDP Camps.
We pray for continued relief– and that You would show us how to take action, in love, for these people, however You lead us.
In Jesus’ Name,
If you believe Christ is leading you to give to those currently aiding displaced peoples, this post, dedicated to reputable Christian (and a few non-Christian) nonprofits currently on the ground in crisis areas, is a great place to start looking and praying about giving to. (Most of them do not know they are on this list. They are nonprofits I truly prayed over, investigated, and wrote about, with the belief that they are reputable. No sense of sponsorship has gone on for their place in this post, whatsoever.) It is just a friendly resource I was led to make available to those interested in giving!