Coming to Know Christ at Ramadan

One pastor once said that to truly give Jesus’ way, it takes spiritual discernment to know what the real underlying need is. So it is with what is happening in this season of Ramadan, currently being heavily observed in the unstable region of Northern Nigeria. This article, by the Premium Times, says that the Yobe State government has been giving out food to muslims observing Ramadan, a time of fasting, where one does not eat the whole entire day, but is able to eat after the sun goes down (source).

In a statement made by Ali Abubukar, the chair of the state’s committee on Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Boko Haram victims, Abubukar said that “The supply will bring succour and alleviate the dire need of the people, which is food” (source). While Abubukar is correct in that physical hunger is a real, dire need for those in Northern Nigeria, the truth is, those celebrating Ramadan have an even deeper, more dire, spiritual hunger: a hunger for the Truth– the Truth that is only found in Jesus Christ.

During the time of Ramadan (about a month), many muslims will fast from food and will fight against their own sins, such as swearing and lying. They do this to spend more time in intense prayer, commanded to attend five different prayer times per day. Many times, the Qur’an is read before their meal time in the evening. This time is meant to spur on more religious devotion for muslims, and while it may do just that, Ramadan (or IT TAKES THEM FARTHER AWAY FROM HIManyone’s own works), apart from Christ, does not get anyone closer to the real, Living God.

In fact, it takes them farther away from Him– or from finding Him, rather. 

Obedience, Not Sacrifice

This idea– of giving sacrifice, i.e., doing religious works instead of obeying Christ, the Living God, is found in the story of Samuel 15. In the story, King Samuel was commanded by God to kill ALL of the Amalekites, including women and children, as well as every animal belonging to them.

While this seems like a horrible, heartless order, it can be understood when one realizes how evil the Amalekites actually were. Since the time the Israelites had become a people group, liberated from Egypt, the Amalekites– known by many as “The Plunderers”– attacked those Israelites that were “lagging behind,” which were most likely the women and children (source). They attacked the Israelites many times, mercilessly causing much pain and anguish for many people. With this in mind, Christ commanding that the Amalekites be annihilated was for good reason.

But, sadly, King Saul did not completely obey Christ concerning some of His most important instructions– and disobeyed Christ completely, in Samuel 13:5-14, when he burnt sacrifices Samuel was meant to burn. In Samuel 15, Saul did not annihilate all of the Amalekites; instead, he only killed “everything that was despised and weak” (1 Samuel 15:9).

This major sin not only caused more years of pain for Israel, but it cost King Saul his kingdom. Full of pride, King Saul tried to justify his sin; but in the end, he knew he was wrong, and almost flippantly asked Samuel to forgive his sin, so that he could go back and worship the LORD (1 Samuel 15:25). But by then, it was too late. His kingdom was obeyingripped away from him, all because he chose to disobey, justifying it with sacrifice.

Relationship, Not Regulation

But Ramadan is all about obedience, one might say. Sure, it is, but one of the main things that can be learned from this passage in Samuel 15 is that God is not some dead or distant Deity that can be appeased with some sacrifice. He is a relational God, a God who is indeed Living– and wants His children to obey Him. It was Jesus Himself who said,

“If you love me, keep my commands.”
(John 14:15, NIV)

The fact that Christ wants us to obey Him, as one obeys a Loving Father, shows His Followers that they are not just following a dead religion– one only of sacrifice and works– but are following a very Real and Living God; one of Love, desiring a Personal Relationship with all people, as evidenced by what John described Jesus doing in John 1:10-13).

Faith, Not Works

This is not to say that Christians fasting and praying are a bad practice– in fact, they are wonderful for drawing near to Christ (Matthew 6). But let one thing be clear: People are not saved by obedience to Christ; they are saved by Grace, through Faith, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). All one must do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for their sin, receiving His gift of salvation, and entering into the personal relationship that He offers. This God is real: salvation2unfathomably more real than any god that demands mere obedience and a set of works-based self-righteousness to approach them with for salvation, or even a chance at salvation.

This Ramadan, one thing is true: God does not want mere obedience, or a set of rules and standards to be met, as is found in islam. He wants a real, personal relationship with those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. As believers in this amazing God, let us pray that those practicing Ramadan in Northern Nigeria, and all other religions, would find Christ, and that He would “succour and alleviate the dire need of the people,” which is truly the need of Him.

If you are a muslim– or are any sort of religion/belief system, but have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, the Only One who can save you from your sins– come to Him today. Let Him set you free, as you draw close to Him: not by your own works, but by His Work for you, on the cross.

It is Jesus whom we truly hunger and thirst after, even if we do not realize it. Let’s come to Him, as we are, today. 🔹 



Do you know Jesus?

“Who is this Jesus?” one might ask. Some see Him as a revered Prophet; some see Him as a fool, the butt of all their jokes. But I encourage you, whether you know personally or not, to ask yourself that question.

Jesus asked His Disciples this question about Himself.

“‘But what about you?’ he (Jesus) asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it'”
(Matthew 16:15-18, NIV, “(Jesus)” mine)

Peter replied that Jesus is the Messiah– The Leader or Savior of the Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 10:12), and He was right. Read more about, and meet with, this promised Messiah, here.


Please pray for…

Those currently practicing islam. Pray that even now, especially in the wake of the various islamic terrorist attacks happening all over the world, that muslims would come to know Jesus Christ.

That Ramadan would be a time where many muslims become saved. It is a time of heightened spiritual awareness; please pray that Jesus would call to these people during Ramadan, and that they would come to Him. ❤

That Christians would not be afraid of loving and telling others about the Gospel, worldwide, but especially in places with many muslims, such as Northern Nigeria and the Middle East.

That those experiencing hunger and thirst in Northern Nigeria would be fed– and would come to know Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the process.

There are still 113 Chibok girls left to be freed, as Ramadan has started. Please pray for these young women, that they would be de-brainwashed or de-radicalized, and would be freed physically– but also in every sense of the word.

Thank you so much for your prayers. To all Americans, have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂

“Walk Humbly with Their God”: Pursuing Christ in Justice, Mercy, and Humility

In the middle of a dusty, bare land, Nigerian troops of the 7 Division Strike Group Team B have found something unconscionable.

In Jadda, a town in Northern Nigeria, a “pit” has been found containing countless human bodies, used as if it were a receptacle for common trash, by Boko Haram.

It is not an open grave, so that those who have lost their loved ones to Boko Haram can recover, and lay, their loved ones’ dead bodies to rest; no. Instead, it is a pit with a small opening, big enough only to “dispose of” the precious bodies of people who were known and loved by someone. To the living– to their mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters– their bodies are lost, never to be recovered.

It is stories like this that make a person sick to their stomach over the injustice of it all. If there is a “Loving God,” where is He, when things like this happen?  Where is the Justice? Looking at such desolate news stories, it is hard to believe that God is moving; and, for some, that He is even real.

Yet, Christ is here. And He wants to move in and through these circumstances, for His Glory, to those whose blood “cries out from the ground” to Him (Genesis 4:10). And while Christ can do this however He so wills, He loves using people– especially His people, Believers– to accomplish His Purposes.

Because of this, it becomes crucial that Bible-Believing Christians seek to “Act justly, love Mercy, and walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8).

Act Justly

In Micah 6, Christ (through Micah) is proclaiming very heavy charges against the Israelites, His Chosen People.

“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2 “Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. 3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. …6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
(Micah 6:1-4, 6-7, NIV)

Micah 6 goes on to tell of the different injustices the Israelites were doing: from stealing (v. 10), to creating dishonest weight scales (v. 11), and lying (v. 12), the Israelites had succumbed to dealing treacherously with one another in pursuit of ill-gotten gain.

While many today see these things as “little sins,” such as white lies, stealing something of little value from a store, or over-charging for something one knows costs less, they are just as big as murder to Christ (Micah 7:2). These “little,” “justified” sins the Israelites committed seemed harmless enough; but, over time, they led to evil, mass corruption: “The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains. Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets. 3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire—they all conspire together” (Micah 7:2-3, NIV).

It is in this context that Jesus lays out what pleases Him: it is not overly complicated, taxing, or burdensome– and it isn’t “…thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil” (Micah 6:6-7). He wants His Chosen People to act fairly and honestly. By failing to obey God in this, the Israelites idolized greed and pride, and failed to pursue Justice for others.

Love Mercy

 

While the Israelites failed to show Justice in their own dealings, they completely forgot about the needs of others, causing them to become heartless. In refusing to submit to God, who is Love, they rejected any thought of sacrificial Love for others.

It is one thing to “act justly,” and it is another to “love Mercy.” Mercy, by definition, is to show Love, or kindness, to those who can offer nothing back. This is especially true of those who don’t deserve mercy, whatsoever. Christ, who is God, modeled Mercy perfectly, as is described in Romans 5: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). When we held nothing of value to Christ– even hating Him, and nailing Him to the cross with our sin– He was more than merciful to us. He, who did not deserve any punishment whatsoever, took on our punishment. There is no truer form of Mercy.

In Luke 7, Jesus highlights Mercy well. “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47, NIV). Mercy, just like Justice, is not shown so that one is forgiven; it is shown in light of Christ’s Kindness, and accepting His forgiveness. Believers, in light of being so forgiven, are able to show this same Mercy to others; so that, when walking with Christ, one is not only able to “act justly,” but to also Love those who don’t.

“Walking humbly with your God” seems to be an amazing concept. But, what does walking humbly with our God look like? Paul describes how the walk of a Believer looks, as one who “walks in the Spirit,” in Galatians 5.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
(Galatians 5:16-18, NIV)

This whole “walk” is different from religion. Religion is man’s attempt at “reaching” God; but when one comes to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are given free salvation, from the only One who can give it. Based simply on believing in what Christ has done, this free gift of salvation, “not by works, so that no one can boast,” frees one up to have a personal, Love-based relationship with God (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is where “walking in the Spirit” comes in.

Upon receiving Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior, the Word of God Himself says a supernatural transaction takes place: “…he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us” (2 Corinthians 1:22). Receiving the very Spirit of God, the Believer is equipped to walk with Jesus Himself– which transcends what any man-made religion can do. Perhaps one of the most precious things about having the Holy Spirit within is being able to hear, and be guided by, Jesus’ still, small Voice (1 Kings 19:12).

Being prompted, or “nudged,” by the Holy Spirit, is not a crazy phenomenon. Jesus Christ, God the Son in the Holy Trinity, showed humanity what it is to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God,” as He “walked” with God the Father while on Earth. When we listen to, and act upon, the sound of Jesus’ Voice, He will show us what it looks like to “act justly, love mercy, and walk with [Him]” as well.

More than this, Jesus works in us, and through us, to accomplish this very thing.

In this world, as it only gets colder, darker, and more unjust, we have Hope: “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world” (1 John 4:17). The people of this world– specifically in such a desolate place as Jadda, Nigeria, needs Justice, Mercy, and, most of all, the Great Love of Jesus Christ.

Let us enter the darkness, radiating His Just, Merciful, Humble Light.



Do you know Jesus?

“…we live like Jesus here in this world.”

(1 John 4:17, NLT)

Religion has, for ages, encouraged morality. This is no more true than the religiousness of the Jewish religious leaders, known as Scribes and Pharisees, who made it the point of their lives to do “right,” even down to tithing (giving the church/synogogue) a tenth of their herbs and spices.

But, Jesus once said “…that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20, NIV). No matter how “good” one is, one cannot “exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees”– meaning that, at its core, no one, not even the most “religious” or “spiritual,” can enter heaven. No; it would take One much more to reconcile mankind and God.

It would take God Himself, Jesus Christ, to become our righteousness. Meet the God who gave it all to prove that God is Love, and God is Just, here.


Praise Jesus for… How He is moving to bring Boko Haram members to Justice, to heal and help victims of Boko Haram, and rescue the countless men, women and children who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.

 Please pray for…

The Boko Haram Insurgency. That it would be brought to Justice.
Those affected by the Boko Haram Insurgency. That they would receive Justice.
Those Kidnapped by the Boko Haram Insurgency, especially the Chibok girls. That they would be found, and brought to Justice, too.
That every party would come to know Jesus, His Grace, and His Mercy. We are all in need of Him.

As Amos 5:24 says, “…let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream,” in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

Hope for the Fractured: Unity for Nigeria

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
(Proverbs 13:12, NIV)

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined… How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! …It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
(Matthew 12:25; Psalm 133:1, 3, NIV)

The people of Nigeria– all people, for that matter– were not born to be senselessly, irredeemably fractured. The sight of a broken person, physical or otherwise, either stirs up two things: compassion, if they are an innocent victim of what fractured them, or condescension, if they got themselves into their fractured state. In the case of Nigeria, and especially Northern Nigeria, there is a mix of both. And while there might be confusion and debate surrounding the exact cause(s) of Nigeria’s wounds, one fact is undeniably plain: Nigeria is a nation that is, in many ways, pitted against itself– and in certain danger of falling.

Continue reading

The Boko Haram: Finding Unmerited Mercy & Unbelievable Forgiveness

They lied. It was four o’clock in the morning in Baga, Nigeria, and, drowsy from sleep, the men in each household were told to get up and follow Boko Haram members outside so that they “could explain everything.” As 14 shaking men followed the terrorists into the brush, they were told to lie on the ground. What they had hoped for– “an explanation,” anything to acknowledge that they were human beings, too– was all for nought. Continue reading

Cameroon: The Pain is not Forever

It was reported on December 28th that Boko Haram killed approximately 30 civilians in the town of Mbaljuel, Cameroon Saturday. These innocent men, women, and children were among 4 soldiers attacked on the Waza-Mora highway Friday, which killed one Cameroonian corporal and injured 3 others.

These attacks come in light of the Cameroon military’s counterattacks against the terrorist group, which have killed 53 Boko Haram members and destroyed a training ground for the insurgents. Cameroon’s military is now positioning soldiers in the far North of Cameroon, to guard its borders against Boko Haram.

The relative area Boko Haram has been documented operating in. Their sharia law has been instituted in a few northern states in Nigeria. Their base of operations lies in the Northernmost parts of East Nigeria, extending into small pockets of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

The relative area Boko Haram has been documented operating in. Their sharia law has been instituted in a few northern states in Nigeria. Their base of operations lies in the Northernmost parts of East Nigeria, extending into small pockets of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

While the Cameroonian military seems to be doing a much more effective job fighting the Boko Haram than the Nigerian military, this news expresses that surrounding nations– not only Nigeria– are in real danger of being infiltrated and harmed by Boko Haram. News of this slaughter has shocked and saddened many; it is obvious that Cameroon is in need of prayers and support as well.

Continue reading

Day 245: Refusing to Forget

With a heavy, yet hopeful heart, I write today– the 245th day of the 273 Chibok girls’ captivity– that you’d be praying earnestly for the release or escape of these precious girls to come soon.

It’s been 245 days too long that their loved ones have had to go without their beloved daughters, sisters, and friends. It’s time to bring them home. God is working; His promises ring true, no matter what day it is.
Join with me in prayer–

We refuse to let these precious girls be forgotten.

“I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes her the praise of the earth.” 
(Isaiah 62:6-7, NIV)

To keep up to date on the rallies, prayer vigils, and protests happening around the globe for these girls, please follow the “Bring Back Our Girls” facebook and twitter accounts. Never forget the plight of these invaluable young women and girls.

Caught in the Crossfire: Peace for Believers in the Middle of Chaos

Monday, December 1st, it was reported that a police base in Damaturu was attacked by the Boko Haram, being ruthlessly raided and bombed by BH members seeking to make Damaturu apart of its Islamic Caliphate. The men, women and children of Damaturu have left their homes for fear of being bombed or shot at, cowering in the brush with no one to defend them.

While such a nightmare goes on, another attack on the Grand Mosque in Kano, Nigeria killed at least 120 people, after the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, encouraged Nigerians to fight against the Boko Haram. Those who escaped the bomb blasts were shot at by Boko Haram members, some barely escaping with their lives, obtaining second and third degree burns that will take months to really heal.

In such a time, where chaos has become the norm and fear fills the weary hearts and minds of people all over Northern Nigeria, peace is a foreign concept, one almost scoffed at by those who have witnessed such heinous crimes. Young and old alike have spent countless nights awake, frightened by violent sounds of war, ready to flee at any moment. In such a time as this, fear seems to be the only emotion one can feel, and peace seems to be no more than an idealistic daydream.

Yet, in times of such shock, pain, and extreme fear, there is true hope for those in Christ Jesus. Jesus freely gives us peace whenever we may need it, no matter the circumstance:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

As Christ so lovingly promises, He does not give to us as the world gives– with strings attached, temporally or sparingly; Christ’s gifts– among them, His amazing gift of peace to His followers– are 100% sure, eternally abundant, and completely free. Those of His children who are suffering can “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [their] requests to God,” while the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [their] hearts and [their] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV “their” mine). Those who know Christ as their Lord and Savior have unlimited amounts of peace completely available to them as they look to Him for all that they need; because Christ knows what we need, and can fulfill every empty place in our lives, we as believers will never be found wanting any good thing, as stated in Psalm 34:10. His unfailing Love is bigger than any act of evil; in all things, we are “more than conquerors through Him who love[s] us” (Romans 8:37, NIV, “loves” mine). Because of all this, we as believers can “run with perseverance,” as stated in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

But for those who do not know Jesus Christ, peace is far off. For those being attacked in such bombings as the Grand Mosque bombing in Kano, true peace has never been felt and impossible to find. In such dark times, the knowledge that there is no real light for nonbelievers fills me with pain and deep compassion. They need to know the Light. They need to feel His warmth during such times of pain and trial. At a time where nothing in the world makes sense, they need to know that they are incredibly loved and can be made new by the Creator of the Universe– not because they are faithful followers or have done “just the right things,” but “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV). They need to know that He is not unapproachable in times of distress, but is quite the opposite:

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore [we can] draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV, “we can” mine)

At the core of it all, fear is a lie. But for those who don’t know the Truth, peace is nowhere in sight; whether they be Muslim, atheist, or any other religion or creed, those who do not know the Prince of Peace have never and will never know the peace they so need. If that is not a reason for earnest prayer, I don’t know what is.


Because of all of this, please pray for those who do not know Christ in Northern Nigeria. Pray that the Lord, who is the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV), would comfort our fellow brothers and sisters, so that He may use them to share the gospel with those who do not know Him. Pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding would guard our brothers and sisters in Christ; pray also that the Lord would “strengthen [them] and protect [them] from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Pray for the Nigerian military, that the Lord would strengthen them to fight back against the Boko Haram well; pray also for our brothers and sisters in captivity, that the Lord would use them to witness to members of the Boko Haram within the camps.

God is faithful to bring our brothers and sisters peace, no matter the evil they face. Let us praise Him!