Honestly

“I love the way that your heart breaks/ over every injustice and deadly fate/ praying it all will be new/ and living like it all depends on you.”
— “Again” by Flyleaf

Friends,
As difficult as it is to say, I must be honest: I have lacked zeal, passion, and care for the 113 Chibok girls– not to mention the countless other kidnapping victims– still in captivity. I have gone through the motions; I have let routine get in the way of Loving others.

I write this with tears in my eyes. I went back to the start; the start of this blog, and the start of every prayer prayed for the Chibok girls, Nigeria, and it’s people at large.

What did I find? I found Nehemiah 1:1-11.

A prayer to God the Father, from a broken and wrecked individual, for the broken and wrecked, beloved people in his life. A humble prayer, coming from a man whose very heart of hearts had been broken. A man who saw the injustice, and decided, with Jesus as His Guide, to do something about it.

This blog was birthed in August of 2014, for this very reason: broken and wrecked for the 276 Chibok schoolgirls who had been kidnapped, and their community, Jesus put a fire in my heart to do something about it: Let others know, and encourage others to pray.

Over time, though, what started out as a passionate love for these young women, and their situation, became a polished religious activity I did “so that Jesus would be pleased with me.”

I fell into bondage. I lost all the Joy and Life that writing this blog originally gave me.
This has happened a couple  many times since the blog was started. The legalism and bondage got so bad, that now my family is weary of me writing on this blog, at all. They don’t want to see me in fear and legalism again.

I may continue to struggle with this.
And if it all gets to be too much, I will need to take a break, turn around,
and return back to my first Love: Jesus.

But friends, it is really in my heart to keep pressing on, to keep praying for each one of these 276 young women, their families, and everyone affected.

So, please pray. Please pray for me, that I would “not become weary in doing good,” and not turn this into a game of a works-based relationship with God.

Because there is still much to be done. And breakthrough for these people– those victimized and crushed by Boko Haram– is right around the corner.
There are still 113 young Chibok women who have not tasted freedom, yet.
And there are 163 young Chibok women still reeling from their loss.
There is much to pray for, and much to be done, in this nation. In this city.

And out of a Love that could only come from Jesus Himself, I will press on, in compassionate action, for these young women. Will you join me? ❤
_______________________

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Forgive me for turning this beautiful, amazing thing that You have done in and through me into a dead, stale pile of ‘good works.’
I know that NONE of my own ‘goodness’ can save me from the sinner I am.
Jesus,
I pray, with all of my heart, that this would not be about me. Not about perfection, or striving, or numbers and times and bad religiosity. Remove this pharisee-like heart for the Chibok schoolgirls, and replace it with a burning passion to see their freedom.

Dear Jesus,
As long as this blog stays centered upon You, please bless it. Bless those who pray and wrestle in prayer with me. Give us hearts that break for what breaks Yours!
Let us not stop until each one of these captive, beautiful human beings are saved.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”



Do you know Jesus?

No, really. Do you know Jesus? personally?
You may smirk at this question. You may mock it. But it will be the most important question you ever answer.
Learn more about who Jesus is, here.

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Being Truly Blessed: Uncovering the Lies of the Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria

Many in this world– dare I include Christians– believe that one is more blessed when they have more influence, material goods, money, and power. If this is true, then those currently suffering a lack of their basic necessities must lack Christ, right?

Wrong. While sin can end in bad circumstances, as I look at “prosperity doctrine” churches, especially ones in which health and wealth are equated with “more faith,” my heart is broken. Why? Because those who believe in and follow these doctrines are not grasping the fact that Jesus had no health, wealth and prosperity on this Earth. In fact, Jesus is described in Isaiah 53 in this way:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. …He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:3,7,9, NIV)

Yes, it is true that “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5); and yes, Jesus took on the wrath of God for our sin, so that we would not have to. And don’t get me wrong; to be prosperous and happy in this life is not necessarily bad, in and of itself (1 Timothy 6:17).

But why does the fact that Jesus healed us of our sin problem, bearing our sin and shame, automatically turn into a feeling of entitlement over material possessions and earthly prosperity? At the heart of it all, Jesus gave the standard for those who would be apart of His Kingdom, in the Sermon on the Mount.

Just like us, the disciples had their own idea of what it would be like to follow Jesus: Jesus would set up his physical, earthly reign on the earth, and bring justice to all Israel. They thought Jesus would appoint men– themselves, the 12 disciples– to rule in high positions, in this earthly kingdom. This can be seen in Matthew 20, when the mother of James and John asked Jesus to put her sons in the highest ranking positions in the land, right next to Him. The disciples expected fame, money, and power for following Jesus, up until the point of the Sermon on the Mount.

Expecting this kind of prosperity, the 12 disciples must have been completely shocked when they heard what Jesus said during the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3-10, NIV)

The end of the Sermon on the Mount says, “the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as the teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29, NIV). I can only imagine the shock and amazement of the disciples and the people listening.

Instead of cursing others as the Pentateuch and Talmud described, Jesus was blessing (“Sermon on the Mount,” Jen Wilkin). Instead of praising the religious leaders and their lifestyle, Jesus blessed those who knew they had no righteousness in and of themselves, and needed a Savior: those “poor in spirit.” Instead of creating an earthly reign in His first coming, where His disciples would be given earthly power and blessing, Jesus revealed that those who are without self-righteousness, grieved over their sin, seeking out God, and wanting His Will– not their own– would have the Kingdom of Heaven. Not to mention being persecuted for righteousness’ (Jesus’) sake!

This idea of prosperity on Earth reminds me of a lot of the church doctrine in southern Nigeria, today. (To be fair, I have never been to Nigeria; I only know what I observe from news articles and church advertisements seen online.) In fact, it reminds me of the whole world, and the way it works: the better you look, the more fame and power you have= the better you must be blessed by God. I have even heard someone say that “God has left Africa,” because of how corrupt the state of affairs are, there.

But here, Jesus is saying something precious to His disciples. Blessed are those who know they need me. Blessed are those who submit themselves to My Will for their lives, though it may very well cause pain. Blessed are those persecuted because they love and follow me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus blesses all people (Matthew 5:45). But what Jesus is saying here, is that in reality, those who are truly blessed are the cast out, the ugly, the needy, and the broken.
Blessed are the underdogs. (Luke 18:35-43)
Blessed are those who are saddened by their sin. (Luke 18:12-14)
Blessed are those who are desperate for Jesus to intervene. (Matthew 5:9-10)

Why? Because these are the people who run to Jesus, and are blessed by the Salvation, Fellowship, Comfort, Joy, Purpose, and Transformation that only He can give.

In reality, Jesus has given us far more than anything this world can give: Eternal Life.

Friends, Jesus has NOT left Africa.
As millions of children have been orphaned,
As countless men, women and children have been left homeless,
and as numerous soldiers, militia men, and vigilantes fight a weary, seemingly never-ending battle against Boko Haram,
Jesus has NOT abandoned those who have called upon His Name.

And friend, even if you are in a horrific situation, He has not left or abandoned you, either.

As we watch the world continually get worse and worse, let us remember this truth: that Jesus’ blessing doesn’t just come from the fair-weather, prosperous times in life.
Perhaps, the greatest blessing of all comes when we are down on our knees, seeking Him desperately. May we find Him in both places.



Do you know Jesus?

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
(Isaiah 53:3, New Living Translation)

It is true: many people have become Christians because they believed their lives would grow extremely prosperous, in an earthly kind of way.

Perhaps you are a person who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ. Looking at the western church today, it would be hard to look at the words of Isaiah 53:3 and believe that this is what Jesus Christ is truly described as. The church today is chalk full of hypocrites, and I will be the first to admit that at many times, I have not been a person who rightly represents Jesus Christ.

But, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I challenge you: Look past the church at large; look past the hypocrites. Go straight to the source of Real Truth– The Bible. I suggest starting in the book of John.

If you have never known Jesus, or heard about why He is so important, read more, here.



Please pray with me…
“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for continuing to Love us, despite the fact that we so often miss the mark. Forgive us for trying to seek pleasure and money as the fulfillment that only You can provide. Forgive us for so often feeling entitled to having things go our way, when in reality, You have blessed us with far more than anything we could want on Earth.

Dear Jesus,
Please help us to be grateful for every good and beautiful thing You bring our way.
Please bless those who are seeking You with more of You; change our desires to Yours, dear Jesus.
Please help us to thoroughly enjoy everything You have put in our lives, but don’t let them become idols.

Dear Lord Jesus,
We pray for those in Northern Nigeria who are struggling greatly. Please, bring these people to know You. Please do not let them believe these lies, and remind & strengthen them with the Fact that You are WITH those who call upon You, always.

Let us draw near to You, dear Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen.”

Thank you for your prayers. ❤

St. Philips’ Church Shooting

Injustice. It is everywhere, in the huge and in the small. Sunday morning, it visited a church in Southeast Nigeria.

Imagine. Your closely known brothers and sisters in Jesus meet with you like they do every Sunday, at your local church.

These are people that you hopefully do life with. People you worship Christ with. People who wrestle with the difficult things with you.
People you eat with, cry with, and laugh with. People you love.

And then– gunmen enter the building that houses the Church. Men, looking for one person, barge in, and kill these people. People you love. The sanctuary becomes a place of violence; a place of joy quickly becomes a place of bloodshed, a place where you lost those closest to you.

This Sunday morning, August 6th, 2017, St. Philips Catholic Church was attacked by men who are in the drug-trafficking business of southeast Nigeria. 11 churchgoers were killed when these men started shooting randomly inside the church, in pursuit of someone they thought was in the church building. He was not there (source).

Today, it was not just St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra state that suffered damage. It was not torn down architecture; it was a group of people, united in Christ– the true meaning of “the Church”– that passed away, and are now in the presence of their Lord and Savior.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, Jesus gives, through the writer of Hebrews, a very encouragingsnippet command– not one to be dreaded, or merely “checked off a list,” but joyfully done.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV)

Today, the concept of church is too often seen as a corporation, or somewhere one goes to only on special holidays. But Christ had a very different design for the worldwide Church: it is His bride, and it is meant to be a safe place– a place where much of the process of discipleship and sanctification takes place, as Christ-followers seek to do life together, pursuing Christ all the more.

Though this is not always what happens, it is the goal. Like the early church of Antioch in Acts 11, the church is not just a building or a money-making system… it is a group of Believers in Christ, the One, True, Living God, living lives of Love and generosity to bless those around them (Galatians 6:10). During the famine in Jerusalem, the church of Antioch– the first church of gentile believers– generously gave of their own money to help the church in Judea, after a church member in Antioch named Agabus prophesied that there would be a famine in Jerusalem (you can read more about it here). Christ’s Love had so welled up in their hearts that their entire lives were changed; it was no longer about what one could gain from the church, but how one could generously give to those in need in the Church.

snippet2

In this, two beautiful truths are found: We, as Christians, need consistent time with one another; and that the church is not supposed to look like the world, but the Church is supposed to love the world, as Christ did.

It is with all of this in mind, and an extremely heavy heart, that I write about what happened in Southeast Nigeria, Sunday. A group of men and women who believed in Christ were killed on Sunday, together. And it is with care, yet firm encouragement, that I write to my brothers and sisters in Christ: Do not forsake the fellowship of the saints.

You may have been scarred by the church.
You may have never been in a church where you felt like you belonged, and were loved.
You may be of the persuasion that you can walk this walk, alone, without a church body to love and help you (and visa versa).

But friends, I am here to tell you the Truth of the matter: I do not want to disregard the fact that you may have been hurt or jaded by your church experiences. But though you may be extremely scarred, and though you may have been tossed aside by some in the Church, you cannot walk this walk alone. You need deep fellowship with Christ, and with other Christians.snippet three

For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20, NIV). Brothers and sisters in Jesus, we need each other. I pray, as I pray for these brothers and sisters in Southeast Nigeria, that you– and everyone else reading– would come to know Christ, and would come to know the joy of being in fellowship with one another.

As this body of believers is suffering the deep loss of their loved ones, may they be our loved ones too. Our Jesus never promised a life without the pain of injustice (John 16:33)– but he did promise us fellowship with Himself, and command that we do life with the people He has given us. May we receive His gift of other believers, gladly; and may we pray for, and mourn with, those in Southeast Nigeria who have lost these loved ones.

“…so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. …Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
(Romans 12:5, 15, NIV)



Do you know Jesus?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33, NIV)

Perhaps one of the most beautiful things in this life is relationships with other human beings; but, without a doubt, the most wonderful thing in this life is having a personal relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You may be thinking, “A person can have a relationship with God, without having Jesus in the picture.” But, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14:6. NIV).

Jesus came to earth, as God-in-human-flesh, to provide sinful mankind with the one way to know God the Father personally. Learn more about Jesus, and why He came to earth to fulfill this mission, by going here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the people You have put in our lives, near and far from us. Thank You for the Church at large. Thank You for Loving us, and helping us to love others.

Dear Jesus,
We pray in Your Name over all things that have happened in Southeast Nigeria, at St. Philip’s Catholic Church. Please hold the members of this church body close to Your Heart; please comfort them, and guide them as they grieve.

We pray for an end to the violence and destruction in Nigeria– and know that it can only come through all people coming to know You. Without You, Jesus, there is no Peace– please help us to share Your Gospel, and please bring us all closer to You.

Thank You for each person who knows You, Lord– please bring back the Chibok girls, as well as the thousands of others who are still in captivity. Please move mightily in their midst.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

Thank you for your prayers!!!

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! 🙂

Not Against Flesh and Blood: Praying for Boko Haram Members

On the evening of Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, bomb blasts went off in the Golori area, near Mamanti, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. These bombs were attached to two men: members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Whether by force or choice, these people were killed instantly by the blast, killing two others with them, and injuring six (source).

While Maiduguri, and Northeastern Nigeria, for that matter, has seen a definite decrease in suicide bombings as of late, the fact that they are still going on– even if they only come to injure one other person– shows that the deceptive ideology of Boko Haram, and, heartbreakingly, of muslims everywhere, is far from being extinguished.

These men, women, and children either make the choice, or are coerced into such self-and-mass destruction. They are usually viewed by non-Boko Haram (BH) members as evil, contemptible, and worthy of their fate. While these people have torn apart the lives of countless innocent people around them, and are extremely evil, it is very important for discerning Believers to also see their true state. These sad, cowardly, disgusting individuals, at their core, are being pitifully– and fatally– deceived by the enemy, by the world, and by themselves. The amount of spiritual deception, darkness, and desperation these people are under is cause for immense, fervent prayer.

Judgment & Mercy

The statement made above is not to be said lightly, without remembering the absolute chaos and murder they have committed. “Don’t these people deserve what they have been ‘dishing out’?” many would ask. Yes, they completely do; that is the Just answer. But, when seen from Christ’s point of view, it becomes clearly evident that while these people need firm judgment, Christ actually longs to give them Mercy.

“‘Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 ‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live‘” (Ezekiel 18:31-32, NASB). In the midst of fair and upright judgment against the Israelites, God’s cry for their repentance is clear: while they deserved the wrath coming upon them, Christ’s heart for them was to be saved by turning away from their evil ways, and turning towards Him. These profoundly urgent words are the very Words of God, and show His very heart for mankind, even today.

Praying for Boko Haram Members

How are Believers even to begin praying for enemies like Boko Haram, when they have done so much damage, and continue, almost hellbound, in their ways? It is vital that one recognizes the spiritual warfare going on, spurring BH members on in their violence. Ephesians 6 is very clear about the warfare happening for every soul: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12, NIV).

With this in mind, the best fighting is truly done on our knees, in prayer for BH members. Here are some key prayer points to consider, when praying for Boko Haram members. Whether some are common sense or are points you may have not considered yet, it is always good to be reminded of such things.

  1. For the terrorists of Boko Haram to become saved. While this point may seem redundant, it is all too important to leave out.Again, this is not written lightly, or without realizing the complete and utter horror these men have caused. The members of Boko Haram definitely deserve God’s complete wrath, including going to hell.
    But, biblically speaking– and this is said with the utmost care– we are all deserving of God’s wrath, no matter how “good” or “bad” one is. Ephesians 2:1-5 addresses this hard-to-swallow truth.As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 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 2:1-5, NIV)At one time, all Believers– even the most zealous, “good,” law-abiding Believers– deserved the wrath of God, including going to hell. No matter how “good” one is in their own eyes, they need Christ as their Lord and Savior; there is no other way. At the core, the members of BH have never experienced the Love of God, His Forgiveness, or the Freedom He brings. Despite their evil, without being saved, these people– these souls– have no chance at a future spent with the One, True, God of the Universe, who Loves them perfectly and dearly.

    Which brings up a second important aspect of praying for BH Members:

  2. For the BH terrorists (and truly, terrorists all over the world) to realize how much Jesus, the One, True, Living God, LOVES them. 1 John 4:10 declares God’s Love for people, perfectly:

    “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    (1 John 4:10, NIV)

    It’s incredibly important to realize that Christ was pursuing us, His people, long before His people ever started desiring and accepting, much less pursuing, Him. This throws the concept of works-based religion, including Islam, out of the window. Religion tells the adherent to “do,” so that God might accept them as “Holy” or “Righteous” enough; but, “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NIV). When Christ died, He did everything needed for Believers to come to God, being completely saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is nothing one must do– or cannot do, for that matter– to gain this salvation. All they must do is accept the gift of what Jesus did on the cross.Experiencing, and realizing, the Love, Grace, and Goodness of God, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior, is the only thing that can truly transform people, even BH members.

  3. For Christians in and around Northern Nigeria to stand for Christ, and to be a light in the darkness.

    For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!‘”
    (Romans 10:12-15, NIV)

    Christ has called us “the light of the world,” “a town on a hill,” and a “light” that must be put on a stand (Matthew 5:14-16). In such spiritual darkness as the kind that has been fueling Boko Haram, Christians have the One, True, Living God living within them, and can fight back against the darkness through prayer, outreach, and bringing people to Christ. Without being overly focused on spiritual warfare, whenever one tries to be a light in the darkness, there is inevitably “pushback.” The terror, complete desolation, and isolation so many Christian Nigerians are facing (especially those who are refugees) are leaving them vulnerable to any attack, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Now, more than ever, those who are Christ’s “soldiers” must put on their spiritual armor, and gather together against the enemy.This is no more true than for those who are closest to BH members: BH captives. Just as Christ, through Paul, brought a guard to Himself while Paul was in prison (Acts 16:22-35), encamped in captivity, with BH members as their guards, Christian Nigerians may be given opportunities by Christ to show their faith in Christ. They are able to testify of Jesus’ Power, Love, Grace, and Mercy– things that some BH members may have never heard of before. Even in suffering, our brothers and sisters can be a bright light, empowered by the Holy Spirit to clash with the darkness around them.

  4. In all, for the Holy Spirit to move these people to come to know Jesus.

    Passages like Revelation 19, John 14, and John 16 clearly describe who the Holy Spirit is, and what He does. “…Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus‘” (Revelation 19:10, NIV). John 14 describes the Holy Spirit as the God who “teaches everything and helps [us] to remember everything that Jesus said,” while John 16 says He will convict the world of sin, and lead Believers into all Truth, telling them what He has heard (from the Father, as read in John 16:8, 13). He will tell us what is yet to come; and, most importantly, will “glorify me [Jesus] because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:14).
    Knowing the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it becomes clear that without being empowered by Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal significance (John 15). This is completely true when sharing the Gospel. Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). While Believers may plant the seed in a BH member’s heart, only the Holy Spirit can lead that person to a Saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would be stirring in their hearts and minds, as we speak!

 

Conclusion

There are countless things that need to be prayed for, when it comes to Boko Haram, including its destruction. But, as we look at the individual, darkened souls that make up Boko Haram, their need for Salvation and Transformation becomes clear. Whatever it takes– be it their physical surrender, or even their deaths– may these men, women, and children come to realize their need for Christ, and accept His gift of Salvation, readily.



Do you know Jesus?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.‘”
(John 8:12, NIV)

It goes without question, that this entire world is incredibly dark. Whether or not terrorists are ravaging the world you live in, there is always a spiritual battle going on, for the souls of those who don’t know Christ (Ephesians 6:12).

For centuries, men had been living in darkness, trying to follow the rules and regulations set forth by God, through Moses, perfectly. Through all of our trying, we only become all the more cold in the process, as seen by the Pharisees (Matthew 23). But these rules and regulations were not evil in and of themselves; rather, they were a shadow of the One to come, who would fulfill them all. In the end, the Law shed light on the fact that mankind needed One to do what they could not: obey the law perfectly, and save them from the sin they had committed.

Think about the properties and power of sunlight. Jesus, being God Himself, claimed to be “the Light of the world”– and promised that those who followed Him would not only have light to shine on their life path, but the light to feed, save, guide, heal, and warm them.

Jesus, the Light of the World, has come on the scene. Learn more about, and accept the Only Light of the World, here.


Please be praying with me…

Dear Father God,
We praise You, and we thank You, for who You are.
Thank You for coming down from heaven, into our dark world, and for considering us of so much value that You would die for our sins.

Father God,
We pray over the men, women, and children both held captive by, and actively in, Boko Haram. Even now, Father God, we pray that Your Gospel and Your Salvation would come to the souls of those in Boko Haram. Your Love is Stronger than even the worst hate or sin; Father, we pray that they would accept Your Salvation, and would become free to love You, and love others.

Father God,
We know they don’t deserve it– none of us truly do. But, King Jesus, we pray that You would let these people experience how much You Love them. Through their hardened, darkened hearts and minds, please shine the Light of Your Love, and transform them as only You can do. We pray that they would accept Your Forgiveness, and would be humbled to accept Your Gospel.

Father,
We also pray for our brothers and sisters in Northern Nigeria. We cannot fathom the hurt, the pain, and the terror they must feel. But Father God, we surround them, and come around them, and ask that You would strengthen Your people. Please be their Strength, their Refuge, and their Comfort. Please help them to stand, Oh Father God, together, against the enemy, and please give them opportunities to show even the horrible members of Boko Haram Your Love, in whatever form You will. Please give them the Boldness to do so. Thank You, Father God.

Father God,
Please pour Your Spirit out afresh on Your People in this country, and on all of Your People, all around the world. Please stir the hearts of those in Boko Haram, and show them their deep-seated need to know, and be saved, by You.
Holy Spirit, please help all of us to plant the seeds of Your Gospel– and trust that ultimately, YOU will make them to grow, not us.

Father God,
Please continue to hold, and help, those who have been so wounded by Boko Haram. As refugees, victims, and captives, please bring them spiritual freedom, in You, and show them that You alone are all they need.

We thank You for all of this, Father God!

In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Amen.

Free to Dance: The Importance of Sharing the Gospel

On the Sunday morning of October 16th, 2016, 21 of the original kidnapped school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, celebrated their freedom during a church service in the capital of Abuja.

Surrounded by their loved ones, clad in beautifully vibrant outfits, the 21 Chibok school girls were filmed dancing and singing for joy (the video can be seen here). Living in a state that one never could have dreamed of, this scene of the girls, dancing with a spring in their step, was no doubt a little bit of Heaven seen on Earth.


The Cost of Freedom

The girls’ freedom was not without cost. Freed, in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Government, reportedly cost the Swiss Government millions of dollars, while more reports have claimed that the girls were freed in exchange for four Boko Haram militants. While the exact deal has not yet been confirmed, one knows they were freed, at an incredibly high price.
With 197 young women still in captivity, and at least 83 still held by the faction of Boko Haram these 21 Chibok girls were freed from, freedom still seems far away, though it has now become a possible reality, to the watching world.

Little by little, the promising words of Isaiah 62, are being realized, in the lives of those affected by the Chibok kidnapping. While Isaiah 62, in its original context, was written for the nation of Israel, Christ used the passage for Isaiah 62 Ministry, to quite clearly express the Hope, Joy, Freedom, and Redemption these girls were to experience– even in the midst of the darkness, that was the first weeks after their kidnapping. “The nations will see your righteousness,” it reads,

    World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
    by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—
    a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
    or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” [Hephzibah],
    and “The Bride of God,” [Beulah],
for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
(Isaiah 62:2-5, NLT, emphasis mine)

It is clear to see that, little by little, this joyous redemption is occurring, for the Chibok girls and their families, in huge ways.


Staying In Bondage

But, amidst the celebration, there is still a huge amount of young women actually unwilling to leave Boko Haram. As reported, in this article, over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls do not want to be freed, either out of the fear that they will be stigmatized and harassed by those in their hometowns, or because they have been radicalized by Boko Haram, after being made into their wives.

To hear that these young girls may want to remain in captivity breaks the hearts of those who have waited, and are still waiting, for their release. Yet, it is the sad truth: whether it would be fear, or believing the enemy’s lies, these precious young women are choosing to stay bound, whether they realize it, or not.

In reality, this is very much how many people live their lives. Bound by the enemy, some people refuse to get free, and to receive the freedom that Christ freely gives them. Some may not even realize that they are believing a lie; others may know that they are in bondage, but remain helpless, just the same.

The Wonder of the Gospel

This is the pressing reason of why it is so important to have Christ, and His Gospel, shared. The Gospel is not some cliche, religious word, nor is it just “apart” of Christian faith culture. Instead, the Gospel, which means “good news” in Greek, is THE most important news anyone could hear.

The word “Gospel,” and the Good News of Christ found within it, has been so used in American and Christian culture that it has seemingly lost its power and true meaning– sometimes, sadly, even to those who believe and practice it. But the word “Gospel” itself is derived from the word “euangelos,” meaning “messenger,” “one who brought a message of victory…” (source). The Bible confirms the power of this glorious message in Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Source: BibleScreen.com

Many people would say they know this message of salvation pretty well: that as the all-famous verse, John 3:16, expresses, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” While this verse is very well-known, even to those who don’t believe it, it’s awe and wonder should never be lost.

Slaves to Sin

The Apostle Paul, when explaining the reality of Jesus’ Good News to those in Rome, compared coming to know Christ to being ransomed, as a slave.

21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. …15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.”
(Romans 5:21; 6:15-17, NLT, emphasis mine)

At one time, before one knew Christ, they were held captive by the “law of sin and death”– bound by the sin, that Adam and Eve committed, and to the death of separation from God, that sin created. While mankind tried to become free, through the keeping of the Law of Moses (John 7:19), no amount of obedience and works is enough to break this bondage to sin and death.

Ransomed by Jesus Christ

But at the right time, “when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NIV). Knowing that mankind could not pay its sin debt– even through the grandest of good works or the most detailed keeping of the Law– Christ, God in human form, came down and paid our sin debt for those who believe. In effect, He set all who believe on Him free, from the wages of sin and death– bought and ransomed by God (Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Believers were bought with a price– no longer slaves to sin, and free to do as Christ commands us to. But isn’t that just more drudging, joyless slavery? One can ask. This is the beautiful Truth: No. Instead of “slaving” for salvation– lost, and floundering to be saved by one’s own efforts, those who believe on Christ become the very children of God: “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir” (Galatians 4:7, NLT).

From Slave to Child

What does this mean? It means that a Believer is saved, no matter what they do or don’t do; and, as children of a Loving Father, they can choose to obey their Living Father’s commands, not out of obligation, but out of knowing that His way is best. As His heirs, Believers are given all that Christ has (Ephesians 3:8); the best of which is an unbreakable, eternal, personal, Love relationship with the God who loved us first (1 John 4:19).

For the price of the blood of Christ, Believers have been forever set free, to live in Relationship with Him. This Gospel News is not only some Good News; it is the Only News that can truly set people free. With this in mind, Believers are equipped with the very news that can liberate those still floundering, lost, and enslaved. This freeing News must be shared.

As the world celebrates the freedom of the now 22 Chibok girls, let us also keep those, who have yet to be freed, in prayer. That they, and those in Believer’s lives, would be freed, both physically, and spiritually. After all, only Jesus can break the chains of bondage, and help us to freely dance, just like the Chibok girls. 🔹



Do you know Jesus?

“We love each other because he loved us first.”
(1 John 4:19, NLT)

“What other king leaves a throne? What other king leaves his glory to die?” A popular, profound, worship song asks, as the music plays (hear it here).

This worship song does not ask something easy; nor does it ask, for the sake of finding an answer. Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Why would one, who has done nothing wrong, come to die for the sins of people who rejected Him?
The answer is simple, yet amazing: Because He so loved the world.
On a much more personal level, He died, not just for all of mankind, but for you. You, whoever you are, before you were ever born, were considered worth dying for, by the God who knew and foresaw you, even then.

 Philippians 2 goes on: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, ESV).

Meet the Lord of lords, who left His throne, and died for you, here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear Father God,

You amaze us with Your power, Father. You are beautiful, O Lord, King Jesus. Thank You for hearing our prayers, and for acting upon those prayers, in any way you see fit.

We praise You, that it is Your Heart, that people would be freed, healed, and restored. We praise You, that You know how to best free, heal, and restore people, even if it doesn’t look the way we would sometimes like it to.

Father God, we are so thankful, that you have FREED these 22 young women from CAPTIVITY and BONDAGE!!! You are a GOOD, GOOD FATHER, Father God! We stay in awe of You, Father, and are so thankful for the fact that You are our Savior.

Father God, we just lift these 22 young girls up to You, now. Father God, please continue to make Yourself very real in these young women’s lives… please continue to free them, spiritually, mentally, and physically, of all they have been through. We know that ultimately, this trauma will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and we pray that You would help them at every turn, to grow, heal, and change, always becoming closer to You. Let this tragedy be turned around for Your Glory, and their good, in their lives.

Father God, we also pray for the Chibok girls that are still captive. For whatever reason, Father God, please bring these young women to You– please work and move powerfully, on their behalf, so that they might trust in You, and that even the members of Boko Haram would turn and repent to You. Please save these young girls, spiritually, and physically, however You Will.

Father God, please help the worldwide church– but more specifically, the churches in Northern Nigeria– to continue to point these young girls to You, and to the healing, comfort, and restoration that You provide. Father, please give Your People the resources they need to love, edify, uplift, and just “do life” with these young women.

Please continue to use the people of this world– Believer or not– to set these people free. Let them ALL come to know that You are the author of Salvation, the Giver of Life, and the Lover of our Souls.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Please comment or contact me with any prayer requests you may have, or if you need a listening ear. Jesus Loves You! ❤