Satan’s Schemes: Reblogging “The MET Gala: Catholic Imagination” from BeautyBeyondBones

Today, the story of Nehemiah going up against opposition has been on my mind. Haven’t ever read Nehemiah? It is the story of a man who, after living in exile and being servant to Artexerxes, is called by God to go and rebuild the wall that was torn down in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1-2). Reading Nehemiah 4 and 6, we can see that Nehemiah’s opponents tried mocking him, ridiculing him, and even threatening him with being in trouble with those in power; in the same way, the enemy likes to do the same thing to us.

This post by fellow blogger, BeautyBeyondBones, brought this idea of ridicule and spiritual opposition to reality. The enemy, especially in these last days, wants to distract us, ridicule us, and mock Believers in our day to day lives, trying to steer us away from the narrow path Christ has for us to walk. For, “we are not ignorant of (satan’s) devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV)!

But more than anything, friends, my heart breaks as I realize that these popular, powerful, materially “rich” people do not know and have a relationship with the God who died for them: our Lord, Jesus Christ. As they make a mockery out of Jesus, they “forget” and refute that He went through the mockery and humiliation of the cross because He is the only way to the Father.

As they believe that their lives are better off without Him, they are sliding down a slippery, easily-ridden, broad slope, dare I say it: to hell. We must pray for them, their souls, and  their salvation!

If you are a seeker of Truth, I invite you to learn more about the One who is the Truth: Jesus Christ. You can do so by clicking on “Do You Know Jesus?” at the top of this blog page.

Thank you for reading!

One of the perks of living in NYC is that I’m literally in the cultural hub of the world. And I’m not saying that arrogantly, or with any snooty tone. 1,796 more words

via The MET Gala: Catholic Imagination — BeautyBeyondBones

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A New “Chibok Schoolgirls” Supherhero: The Power of Story

On September 6th, 2017, it was reported in an article by All Africa that Marvel created a new superhero. What makes this superhero so special? The female superhero is inspired by the Chibok girls!

Her name is Ngozi, and the comic she will be starring in as the first superhero in a real-life African country (Nigeria) will be called “Blessing In Disguise.” Her creator, a Nigerian-American bestselling writer named Nnedi Okorafor, stated that “it was an important decision” that she based the superhero on the Chibok girls. According to All Africa, Okorafor said, “They [the Chibok girls] were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives… and their story of perseverance is so powerful” (All Africa, “[Chibok girls]” mine).

Indeed, it is. To this date, 106 of the Chibok girls have either escaped or been rescued by the Nigerian government; 113 still remain. The story of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped sparked international outrage, and an outpouring of protest and prayer.

Now, almost three and a half years later, details about the freed Chibok girls’ experiences in bondage are coming out. One of the perhaps most shocking details is that the Chibok school girls kept diaries, that they passed around to each other to complete, in which they claim that their kidnapping was actually just a failed robbery. In these journals, stories of beatings, Koranic lessons, near-death experiences, and rampant abuse were told “in passable English and less-coherent Hausa,” according to Reuters. Though incredibly dark events transpired, the girls gave nicknames to their captors, keeping their spirits high.

Thinking about and praying for the Chibok girls, we are blessed beyond words to be seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises to free and restore these young women– and are amazed at how Jesus has, so compassionately, finally given the public world insight into what these girls went through.

This news– the news about the comic, and about the girls’ journals– highlights the beauty, and necessity, of telling our stories. It reminds one of those who went off and told their stories after Jesus had healed them– or of Nehemiah, in the Bible, and his chronicling of how God called him to restore the gates of Israel.

It is no secret that the Bible tells the stories of people; but only a few books of the Bible are told autobiographically, or as a memoir. At the start of the book, we find Nehemiah, a Cupbearer to the King of Persia, hearing about the destruction of Jerusalem’s gates, walls, and truly, people (Nehemiah 1). Nehemiah is so moved to sorrow over this news that he cries, fasts, and prays to God for days. After four months of being in prayer to God about what to do next, Nehemiah is able to speak with the King of Persia about his distress over Jerusalem and it’s walls– and, by the grace of God, is given permission to travel down to Jersualem. He is not only given permission to go down to Jerusalem to do this thing– he is given the letters from the King that are needed to supply him with resources, and the permission to pass through foreign countries to get to Judah!

As inspired and led by the Holy Spirit, Nehemiah told his story of how God used him to rebuild the walls– and restore Judah’s people (read the book of Nehemiah online to see just how.). More than this, the Holy Spirit gave the readers of this Old Testament book a biblical account of God’s love for Israel, passion for restoration, and complete faithfulness.

While the stories we tell of our own lives are not Holy Scripture by any means, they too can be testaments of Jesus’ work and movement in our lives… of how what once was dead can be made alive, and the beautiful lessons learned along the way.

As this comic is being made, and the lives of some of the Chibok girls are being restored, there are countless hundreds– maybe even thousands– in Northern Nigeria who still have no voice. Held captive by Boko Haram– and then, when physically free, held captive by the PTSD and trauma they have experienced– still have little to no voice to express the pain they have gone through. Children, even babies, continue to be used as bombs for Boko Haram; and women continue to escape captivity, only to find that they are pregnant with their captor’s child. Little boys are made into child soldiers; little girls are “married off,” suffering horrific sexual abuse. Even the freed Chibok girls are struggling with finding their voice; so much so that they are trying to kill themselves to protest what their words are afraid to convey.

BringBackOurGirls

 

They continue to be oppressed.
They continue to be silenced.

Friends, this is why this blog exists. To give voice to those in this insurgency who have no voice. Until they are able to tell their own stories, this blog will continue to tell them– with the prayer to Jesus that the stories and lives of these people intersect with His Story, the grandest story of them all: the Gospel.

The power of telling our own life stories– of how they intersect with Jesus and His transforming work in our lives– is great.

So, friends, as we read the Chibok girls’ stories as they spring up like flowers in the springtime, let us not forget to continue to tell the stories of those with no voice. For many, it is the difference between action and inaction— even life and death.

Tell your own story. Tell the stories of the voiceless. May they ring out as Francis J. Crosby wrote in the praise song, “Blessed Assurance”:

“This is my story; this is my song / praising my Savior, all the day long.”

For in Him, our true story is found. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

The entire Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of one main thing: The first and second coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ; and the Gospel: How Jesus died for our sins.

Perhaps you have never heard this true story, before.
Perhaps you have heard it until your ears have bled and your eyes have rolled with disdain.
Maybe you have heard it happily, but are unsure on if it is true– and what that could mean for you.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are at in life, the Gospel is the grandest, most true story ever toldbut it is not just a story. At it’s core, the reason for why this story is so powerful is that it is God’s Story for mankind.

If you know the Maker of this story, your life will change forever. But if you don’t know the Maker of this Story, it will stay just that– a story.

Meet the Maker of this Story– and realize what He has done for you, so that You can know Him, personally– here.



Pray with me…

Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the greatest story ever told– Your Word. 
Thank You for wanting to not only create us, but communicate with us; thank You for making a way for us to be with You, by dying on the cross for our sin.

Dear Jesus,
We thank You for the new comic coming out, having been inspired by the Chibok girls!!! Jesus, Your Word in Zephaniah 3:15-17 says, “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.‘” Jesus, thank You for doing this very thing in our midst, as 163 Chibok girls have escaped or been rescued!!! You have done amazing things, Jesus; we are filled with Joy (Psalm 126:3). 

But, dear Jesus,
There are still many, many people still missing. We pray that You would unleash Your power in their lives; we pray, most of all, that they would know You, personally. 
Please bring the Chibok girls– and so many others– back to their homes.
Please stop this evil that is Boko Haram, that is Jihad, and that ultimately, is our sinful nature mixed with satan’s schemes. 

Please heal those who are broken and wounded. Please bring Lugwa Sanda to You, dear Jesus, and show her that You are the only One worth living for.

Please avenge the helpless and destitute. 

But until You come back, Lord Jesus, please use us to be Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your heart to this dying, sick, broken, lost world. Please use us to heal, to restore, to bring justice, and to bring voices to the voiceless.

Give us Kingdom mindsets, that hallow and glorify Your Name.

Please come soon, Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

Godly Sorrow and A Call to Fix the Walls

“‘I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.'”
(Job 19:25, NIV)

Over the past week, 3 suicide bombings and 2 mass shootings have accosted various communities in Northern Nigeria. These attacks have caused the deaths of over 200 people, from all different walks of life. On Sunday, July 5th, one tragedy in Potiskum, Nigeria, grieved the lives of those both near and far: one suicide bomber took the lives of 4 men and women within Redeemer Christian Church, including the church’s pastor, and a mother with her two children. To hear of such deep, profound grief leaves one in tears; yet, we do not need to grieve “as those who have no hope,” apart from Jesus.

In the place of our grief, we can truly do what Christ wants us to do: Come to Him. With weary, bereaved souls, we can run to our Father, pouring our hearts out, knowing that He bends down as an attentive, loving, compassionate Father to listen (Psalm 116:2). More than anything, coming to Christ can be crucial– not only for comfort, but to pray for– and actively help– those whose situations broke our hearts in the first place. Coming to Christ in our grief then becomes not only about us, but about those whom God has put on our hearts and minds. This is true of many people within the bible, in both Old and New Testaments, but it is especially true of Nehemiah.

The Bad News
Nehemiah knew grief. In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah enjoyed a comfortable life as a “cupbearer of the King” in Susa, modern day Iran (Nehemiah 1:11). When Nehemiah spoke with a few men from Judah, he was struck with extremely grievous news:

“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.”
(Nehemiah 1:3a).

Going on, almost as if to express the spiritual and emotional brokenness of the people in a physical way, the men told Nehemiah that “the wall of Jerusalem [was] broken down, and its gates [had been] burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3b). At this time, the idea that those in Israel were in great trouble and disgrace– along with the picture of Israel having no wall, no fortress, against any outside enemies, brought Nehemiah very low. So low, in fact, that he “sat down and wept,” and “for some days, mourned and fasted” (Nehemiah 1:4). Nehemiah felt more than sympathy for his fellow Israelites– he felt a real, tangible connection to them, one that drove him to unyielding sorrow.

Godly Grief
Nehemiah’s grief was almost unbearably real, and it led him to God.
This type of Godly sorrow is spoken about in 2 Corinthians 7, as Paul endeavors to discern and explain the difference between that which gives us life and which does not: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). The grief that Nehemiah felt was healthy and full of Love, leading him to seek Israel’s best interest, not His own. Coming before the Lord, Nehemiah was drawn to more than just grief: he was drawn to the very heart of our LORD Jesus Christ.

The Value of Confession
In what is a beautiful, earnest, authentic model of prayer, Nehemiah was genuine before God, holding nothing back in his seeking of the LORD:

Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”
(Nehemiah 1:5-9)

Here, Nehemiah is broken and honest before the Lord. Unafraid of confessing his and his family’s wrongs before Christ, he confronts the things that have separated his people from the LORD, drawing them to the place of brokenness they are in. As he is facing the fact that their sin has led them to their current, “disgraced” state, Nehemiah also asks the Lord to remember his “covenant of Love” with Israel, found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 29, which perfectly describes what Nehemiah and Israel are now going through. It is obvious that in confessing, Nehemiah faced the reality of what had gone on, and was willing to humble himself so, in turn, God would use him to help Israel confess. In a place of humbleness and surrender, Nehemiah was in the perfect spot to be used by the Lord for Israel.

A Call to Action
Nehemiah, in prayer, closes by “reminding” the Lord that “They (the Israelites) are your servants and your people” (Nehemiah 1:10). As he seeks the Lord in facing the situation at hand, Nehemiah does not stand guilty over the past, nor disheartened over the present circumstance. His prayer, in seeking the Lord, moves toward what must be done now. The Lord, in Nehemiah’s humbleness, wants to use his brokenness for leading Israel to restoration.

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
(Nehemiah 1:10-11)

Being led by the Lord, he recognized what he had to do next: ask the King of Susa for permission to go restore Israel. With wisdom and boldness, Nehemiah prayed for Jesus’ favor in doing His will. Reading further, one can see this was graciously granted; following the Lord, Nehemiah helped rebuild Israel’s walls, and helped restore Israel back to Jesus. The Lord, using Nehemiah’s heart, planned for (and brought about!) Israel’s healing. This is a beautiful example of how the Lord uses us– and parallels how the LORD sent Christ to save and heal all of mankind. As James 4:8 proclaims, Nehemiah’s seeking the Lord was not in vain; in drawing near, Jesus redeemed his pain, using it to call Nehemiah to action.

I pray there would be a similar call to action in our hearts. I pray that we, as Jesus’ Bride, would be moved to grief and true compassion for things happening to those around us– both near and very intimate, as well as far-off and foreign. I pray that as His people, we would take the “stories” we hear– the real-life events of others– to heart and to prayer, realizing our need for Jesus, and allowing that He would change and use us in the process. May grief lead us to the Father’s arms– for, that’s where the healing starts.


Do you know Jesus?

 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)

Have you ever prayed to God? More than not, most people have, in some way, shape, or form. Yet, sadly, many people’s understanding of who God is keeps them from seeking a real relationship with Him.

It’s true– full of compassion, Jesus always “turn[s] his ear” to those who cry out to, trust, and believe in Him (Psalm 116:2). Jesus, from the very beginning, was about relationship: both with others, and with God. More than this, He claimed to be the only way to having a real, true relationship with God– not by works or religion, but trusting in Him alone as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). Learn about Jesus’ great sacrifice for us to be in relationship with God– and the prayer of confession that creates that relationship– here.



For a printable, pdf version of these prayer requests, please click this link

Please pray, just as Nehemiah prayed, that Christ would hear the prayers of His people– all over the world, but especially in Nigeria. Pray that our brothers and sisters in Nigeria would run to the Lord during these times of distress. Pray that the Lord’s hand of protection and safety would be upon all of Northern Nigeria, and that He would give them rest from war. 

Pray for Jesus’ hand of protection over our brothers and sisters during the next few days, weeks, and seasons. Pray that our fellow churches and villages would be kept from the harm of the Boko Haram. Pray that The Lord would change Muhammadu Buhari from the inside out. Pray he would know Jesus as His Lord and Savior. Pray that as this happens, Jesus would give him the wisdom, decisiveness, and courage to make the right decisions pertaining to Boko Haram and rebuilding the nation. Pray that the Nigerian military, government, and Nigeria’s CJTF (Civilian Joint Task Force) would be strengthened against Boko Haram’s future plots. Pray these men and women would have courage, skill and wisdom to defeat Boko Haram.

Pray that those affected by Boko Haram violence would come to know the healing power of Jesus as Savior and Lord. Pray that these men and women would be very aware of Jesus’ Presence in their lives. Pray that the Lord would use this horrible, wicked thing for His good. Pray that while “[The enemy] intended to harm [them], …God [would intend] it for good to accomplish what [will] now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). “…For [He is] the Lord, [their] healer.” Exodus 15:26.

Pray that those who are grieving their Loved Ones– and that the whole church– would come together in Christ to uphold, Love on, and strengthen each other in the Lord in such a crisis as this. Pray that muslims would be reached and touched by the Lord Jesus, as well as every other cult, pagan, and non-believer alike. 

Pray that the enemy– Boko Haram, but more so, satan– and their (his) tactics would be bound up in Jesus’ name. Pray that he would not be able to decimate these people, but that as Jesus’ church, they would stand victorious, as Job 19:25 so confidently declares.

Pray for how you can be of help/get involved. The world is getting darker, and soon, Jesus will be back– so be praying about Jesus would have your light shine, whether it’d be in/for Nigeria or something/someplace else. Pray also, as so many countries are facing persecution, that Jesus would come come near to those being persecuted, and would strengthen and embolden them, so that they might be like bright stars in the dark world they find themselves in, bringing many to Christ (Daniel 12:3).

Pray that the Lord would give us, in less conflicting areas, a soft and sensitive heart for hurting people all over the world. Pray that we would be near to the Lord’s broken people, in prayer and practicality. Pray, in a world of soundbites and selfies, that we might be Nehemiahs– compassionate and passionate for Christ.