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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Urgent Prayer Request: Please pray for Leah Sharibu.

As the only girl who was not released out of 110 young “Dapchi girls,” Leah Sharibu is still in Boko Haram captivity as of today, March 27th (source).

Her father, Sharibu Nathan, got the news that she was to be released on Saturday, but has since been waiting for her freedom (source). Both the media and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, wrongly informed the public of Leah Sharibu’s freedom, and later Idris defended his statement, explaining that the media misquoted him about the “Dapchi girls” (source).

At age 15, Leah is being held simply because she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus. Boko Haram members ordered her to recite the Islamic profession of faith, but she told them she didn’t know how to recite it, and that she was not brought up Muslim. Boko Haram said they would free her when she learned, and recited, the profession of faith (source).

USA Today reported that her father said this about her persecution: “My daughter is alive, but they wouldn’t release her because she is a Christian.” Alapade Agoro, chairman of a party in opposition to President Buhari’s political party, boldly insinuated that the

BRINGBACKLEAH

A picture of Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother (on the left) and Leah. Photo credits: Kemi Filani blog

current Nigerian government and President had a bias toward helping Muslim girls (but had no real, true evidence to back up his claim). “It is obvious that the federal government negotiated to get the other (Muslim) Dapchi students released,” He said. “It has now become a crime to be a Christian in Nigeria,” USA Today reported (source).

 

Some may ask, “Why in the world would this young woman not just renounce her religion if it meant sparing her from pain and great potential harm?” This is a valid question. Most people would (and actually do) try to avoid suffering at any cost.

 

Could God have willed Leah to go through this extra time of pain? Is it God’s Will that Leah would suffer and be without her family & loved ones, in order to stay true to Him?

Many proponents and teachers of the Prosperity Gospel would say no. But the Bible says differently.

When trying to figure out the will of God in our lives, Christ brings guidance through the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
(New International Version)

The pattern of this world says to that you’ve got to climb your way to the top. It tells you to be a good person, but to ultimately bite back in this Dog-eat-dog world.
It tells you to run away from all types of suffering and inconvenience, no matter what that means for anyone else. “Don’t feel like it? Don’t worry– what really matters is honoring yourself first.” It tells us to pursue passion, even at the expense of honor, as Elizabeth Elliot writes. It tells us to inflate our egos with knowledge, to wield power only full of human force, and to build our kingdoms made of sand as high as possible before the waves of death wash it all away.

This world tells us to follow our hearts. But again, the Bible says differently. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV).

Society tells us that if the majority of people agree to it and/or is doing it, that must mean it’s okay/true/acceptable.
But Jesus, in His great Love for us, says, “No, my child. Listen to and follow me.” Even when it means you are following Him, seemingly alone.

Leah, in the face of being completely alone, has not conformed to the pattern of this world. She has not held to the belief that lying to get out of suffering was the way to go. She, as a Believer, did not back down from her simple belief in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. And she found out His Will: “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God,” and “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12-13, ESV). Acts 14:22 does not say that going through trials is the way we are saved, but simply that trials are bound to happen in our walks with Christ. As much as it hurts– and pains our Heavenly Father– trials and persecution are valuable, and are apart of our lives as Believers in a fallen world.

Nathan Sharibu also told reporters, “…They told her they would release her if she converted, but she said she will never become a muslim. I am very sad, but I am also overjoyed because my daughter did not renounce Christ” (source).

Please, let’s pray, pray, pray for this beautiful daughter, sister, friend, and most importantly, Daughter of the King, as she experiences this horror. May Jesus show Himself faithful on her behalf!

This post is dedicated to all those who are currently suffering persecution of any kind. May Jesus strengthen you, encourage you, and faithfully lead and guide you down paths for His namesake. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

In our deepest, darkest suffering, the testimony of still holding on to Christ and proclaiming that He is good, even in our pain, can be nothing short of shocking to the world.

Perhaps you have somehow found yourself on this page, reading this blog post, and wondering, “Why would a 15 year old girl choose to remain so faithful to Jesus?”

Friend, let me tell you the truth, today: It is because Jesus is God, He is Risen and reigning, and is lovingly interested in and involved in every detail of our lives. To learn more about this living, intimate God, here.


Please pray (find the prayer sheet, here)…

  • for Leah. Please pray that she is protected by Jesus and His angels, and would continue to put her faith, trust, and hope in Christ as she experiences whatever she is experiencing.
  • That others would come to know of this, and would know more of what is happening in Northern Nigeria.
  • That the remaining Chibok girls would be released, in Jesus’ timing.

Thank you for your prayers!!! May Leah be taken care of!

When in Persecution

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’”
(Exodus 3:7, NIV)

In the year of 2017, 215 million Christians experienced “high, very high, or extreme persecution.”1 Open Doors, an international organization documenting cases of persecution and advocating for persecuted Christians, stated in their 2017 report that now, more than ever, Christians are being heinously persecuted in places such as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Sadly, the news gets worse. Pakistan, a country that is mainly Muslim, has risen above “even… Northern Nigeria” in terms of violence toward Christians. There was a 62% increase in the murder of Christians in Nigeria, and now, there is even a broader range of places where Christian persecution takes place—now reaching even to some places in Mexico and Columbia.

There have been high profile cases of Christian persecution, many of which have been written about on this blog (such as the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini). A well-known persecuted Christian, Asia Bibi, is living in prison, sentenced to death, for refusing to renounce her belief in Jesus; the Pope met with her daughter, Eisham, and Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, on February 24th to honor persecuted Christians worldwide. The pope also met with freed Christian Chibok girl, Rebecca Bitrus, during the day to honor persecuted Christians.

Around the world, on a daily basis, regular people like you and I are having to sacrifice greatly—sometimes their own lives—for the name of Jesus. They love Him with all their hearts, and have suffered horrific things for the love of Him.

Similarities between the Oppressed Hebrews & The Early Church

Reading Exodus 1-3, these precious, yet persecuted people have come to mind. The Israelites—a people who started with only the family of Jacob, about 70 people total (Exodus 1:5), were a blessing to the Egyptians, with God using Joseph to warn Egypt of a great famine, saving the lives of millions of people all over the area (read more about this in Genesis 41). The Pharaoh at the time knew that “the gods” were with Joseph (when of course it was truly YHWH with Joseph, only YHWH is God), and made him second in command over all of Egypt; but Exodus 1 says that “…a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt” (Exodus 1:8, NIV). During this time, the 70 people who belong to Israel’s family exploded “greatly.” This huge amount of people was a real threat to Pharaoh—and so, he made them slaves, oppressing them and cruelly causing them to work incredibly hard, hoping it would hinder their population growth. The Israelites did nothing wrong to Egypt, and even blessed Egypt (through Joseph)—and yet, Egypt forgot how they had been blessed, and treated them cruelly instead.

But Pharoah’s cruel idea did not thwart God’s good, Sovereign plan. Instead of hindering the Hebrew’s population growth, their population growth grew even more rapidly! At this, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill every boy that was born; but they did not bow underneath the extreme pressure of Pharoah (Exodus 1:15-16). Instead, “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17, NIV).

As many of you readers know, the Israelites only grew in the face of oppression—and were more and more cruelly oppressed, because of it—at this point, for 350-400 years2 (Exodus 1:22- Exodus 6). In fact, the Israelites had been so horrifically oppressed that their cry was heard by God, and He was deeply concerned for them (Exodus 2:24-25).

Many know the story from here. God saves Moses through Moses’ mother, sending him down the river in a basket made of papyrus; and he is adopted by the Pharoah’s daughter. He kills someone and flees to the land of Midian for 40 years; and God speaks to him through the burning bush, asking him to go back to Egypt and deliver God’s people, the Israelites, from their suffering.

But what does ANY of this have to do with the Persecuted Church? It can be seen as a vivid picture of the worldwide Church, and the suffering that is happening within it, today. Let me show you what I mean:

  • The worldwide Christian Church, like the Israelites, are people chosen by God—a people that started with a small population (1 Peter 2:9; Acts)
  • The early church, and the church in general, was and is extremely persecuted—yet it did not stop faith in Jesus Christ from spreading, “multiplying” Believers3 (Acts 11:19-21)
  • Those in the early Church refused to stop speaking of Jesus and the Gospel, even under heavy political pressure (Acts 5:17-33)
  • Because the early Church was from God, it could not be hindered, just like the Israelites (Acts 5:34-39)
  • A “mixed congregation” left Egypt with the Israelites; this can be somewhat applied to how Gentiles came to know Christ (Exodus 12:37-38; Acts 28:28)

The worldwide Church today—Jews and Gentiles alike as the “true Israel” Paul speaks about in Romans 9, especially verse 24, is still thriving in underground/secret fellowships despite increased terrorism and persecution. People continue to come to know Jesus Christ in spite of suffocating political oppression, in countries all around the world. Missionaries and regular, everyday Christians risk their lives, speaking of Jesus and His Gospel despite fierce opposition, disdain, and rejection. And, because even “the gates of Hades will not overcome [the Church],” no one—no matter the amount of persecution, evil, murder, violence, or political/religious/worldly power—will be able to deride or overpower God’s People.

An End to the Suffering

But what about the exodus? The Israelites got freedom from their oppression; but what about the Persecuted Church? Revelation 6:9 speaks of these horrifically persecuted Christians—and Jesus’ comforting promise to them.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been
(Revelation 6:9-11, NIV)

Ultimately, Jesus will rescue those who are being persecuted—either through death and entering heaven, or through the rapture. “Just a little longer,” Jesus says to those who have been killed for their faith, as they wait for Justice. It will all be made right in His time.

As you and I pray for those who are suffering persecution of any kind, right now, let us thank our Jesus that we are able to worship Him together in freedom (if we are able to do so). And let’s also remember this: that Jesus wins out, every time. That no pain is wasted; and that Jesus is Sovereign. God came through before– He will come through, again.

This post is dedicated to those Christians currently suffering in Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria. Please pray for them—and for the kidnapped Christian Chibok girls, still living in muslim captivity.


Do you know Jesus?

Most people know Moses as the one who God used to deliver the Israelites from their disgusting bondage to the Egyptians. But, most people might not know that Moses never entered into the Promised Land, Himself (Numbers 20:12). A man named Joshua did.

Though it might sound confusing, Joshua is a “type” of Christ: that is to say, he foretold of the Messiah to come, who would liberate the people and carry them into their Promised Land, a land of freedom, faith, and complete life transformation from the oppression the Israelites were under.

The Jewish people expected a King to overthrow the oppression of Rome from them. But He had much more in mind. Read more about Jesus Christ—and why He is THE Messiah—here.



Please pray for (Print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here)

  • Those who are being persecuted for their faith, right now. Click here to get a good understanding of which countries have the most persecution, here.
  • For those who have family members and loved ones die from persecution. Pray that Jesus would comfort and strengthen their hearts, after losing those they love so much.
  • Those who are currently in prison for their faith, and their families & loved ones. Pray that Jesus would carry them through; that they would not be ashamed of the Gospel, and that He would set them free from prison, be that His Will, soon.
  • The country of the United States of America. We have, in our luxury, forgotten how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to believe in Jesus Christ—and worship Him openly—however and wherever we would like. May we have boldness to continue to worship Jesus and share His Gospel.
  • For the Chibok girls (and all other kidnapped people from Boko Haram). Pray they would become free, very soon.
  • For all Believers– including ourselves!– that we would be full of the Holy Spirit, bold, and loving as we share the Gospel!!! That we would be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in that.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/january/top-50-countries-christian-persecution-world-watch-list.html

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/articles_exodus.html

https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/a-look-at-the-early-church-11629559.html

 

Finding Refuge: Why We Never Have to Be Afraid

On August 16th, 2017, an article came out that changed much of how people will view Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the Chibok school girls. It is now known that many of the Chibok school girls came together and helped document their time in captivity, together, in Koranic school books they were given by Boko Haram. In it, one humongous revelation was revealed: Boko Haram did not originally come to Chibok Secondary School to kidnap the Chibok girls, but they instead came to steal machine-making supplies (source). It was when they could not find these machine-making materials that they decided to kidnap the Chibok girls—making their kidnap, not a pre-meditated ploy created by a “brilliant” Boko Haram, but rather purely accidental (source).

During their three-year enslavement to Boko Haram, the Chibok girls had a “staunch belief that they would one day go home” (source). Apart from these revelations being proof that the Chibok girls never gave up Hope, it is also a shocking narrative about all of the horrific cruelty they went through. Those who did not convert to Islam were threatened with decapitation, while some of the girls were beaten.

There is one shocking story that sticks out. Naomi Adamu, one of the writers of the journals, claimed that one day, Boko Haram (BH) members brought out jerrycans, supposedly full of petrol, and told those who did not convert to Islam that they would be doused with the petrol and burned. When the girls became terrified, the BH members “cracked into laughter,” as the girls realized there was nothing but water in the jerrycans (source).

Even being faced with possible imminent death, decapitation threats, and murderous violence on a daily basis, it is awe-inspiring to see that so many of these Christian girls from Northern Nigeria did not flinch in their Hope, nor in their commitment to Jesus Christ. There is one thing to thoughtfully note about the story mentioned above: fear is truly a lie.

in the worst of timesThe Psalms speak about this concept of trusting the Lord, and not giving into fear, many times; one of those times is in Psalm 91.

 

 

 

 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
(Psalm 91:4-13, NIV)

Whether one’s fears are legitimate and real, or irrational, Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid of anything. But how can one, when faced with certain death, like the Chibok girls, come through the valley, fearless?

Psalm 91 gives great insight into this. At the beginning of the Psalm, the writer gives a declaration: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4). In a world where terror and turmoil are so prevalent, God—through the Psalmist—declares that, like a mother hen with her chicks, He longs to cover people with his feathers, and that it is underneath these feathers that people will find real refuge from the threats going on around them. Jesus, in the New Testament, said something similar: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37, NIV). The Truth is this: God, toward the Believer, is not a God of wrath or only of Mighty Power; He is a tender God, longing to lavish His Love upon and protect those who trust in Him alone. fear is a lie

The verses following right after verse 4 show us the outcome of coming to Christ, and trusting Him to be our Refuge. “You will not fear…it [pestilence] will not come near you” (Psalm 91:5-7, NIV). This is a second declaration: Because Christ, in His Tender, Loving-kindness is your Shield, you don’t ever have to be afraid of the things that are threatening to harm you. In trusting Jesus, all dread, worry, and fear is removed.

It is only this mighty, tender Love that Christ, God has for His People that removes all fear (1 John 4:18). As Jesus says in Matthew 23:37, this fear-crushing Love is always available to God’s People, but God will not force people to find refuge in Him. They must decide to do so for themselves.

There is a last declaration in Psalm 91: Those who do decide to run to Jesus for refuge from their fears WILL be victorious over whatever threatens them. As Romans 8:37 gallantly proclaims, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who the truth1loved us.” While, heartbreakingly, for so many, the threat of imminent death for the sake of Jesus does become a reality, it is even in these moments that Christ can make one fearless. Jesus does not guarantee that every circumstance will come out perfectly or without loss… but He does promise that fear does not need to be a part of the equation, and that Perfect Peace and even Joy are attainable by trusting in Him.

In the worst of times, Perfect Peace, Joy, and Comfort is ours to take in Christ. And while we live in this fallen world, there is a greater Hope: that Jesus Christ will one day do away with everything that causes us trauma and turmoil, treading “on the lion and the cobra” (Psalm 91:13).

It is each of these journal entries– documenting pain, loss, and at times, fear—that proves how one can overcome by clinging to Christ’s Love, and never giving up Hope in Him.

satan will come and attack using fear; but, like the Chibok girls who have been rescued, Believers will have the victory in Christ Jesus. As these girls continue to heal, and as some of the other Chibok girls are still not home yet, may Christ be their Refuge and Strength: the One that makes them, in His Love, more than conquerors. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, NIV).


Do you know Jesus?

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
(Psalm 91:13, NIV)

While this verse speaks of eventual victory for the One who trusts in Christ Jesus, it also prophetically speaks of the time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, defeats satan for good—and, how He has already defeated satan, by dying on the cross for our sins.

As the musician David Crowder sings, “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” Without Jesus Christ, there is no true victory over sin and death. Learn more about who Jesus is, what He did, and how He gave all those who believe in Him true victory, here.



Please pray with me…

“Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You for what You did on the cross at Calvary. Thank You for dying on the cross for our sin, so that we can have the Victory, Perfect Peace, Comfort, Joy, and everything else we have in You. Dear Jesus, we pray that You would watch over the Chibok girls that are still in captivity; please bring them to You, and give them the Hope that they will one day be freed, too.

Dear Jesus, please help their family and friends, as they struggle with waiting for their Loved Ones to come out of captivity. Please show them Your Faithfulness. May we run to You for refuge Jesus, and not be afraid, even when everything around us tells us to be.

Dear Jesus, please help the Nigerian army, and the Joint Civilian Task Force, as they continue to fight Boko Haram; give them no fear, and help them to come to know You fully. Please help those in traumatic, terrorist situations to trust in You.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

Thank you for your prayers!!! 🙂