Psalm 42: 4 Things to Do when Your Heart is Downcast

How are you feeling today? Have you ever just had a time where your heart was full of fear, distress, or worry?

King David had this happen, too, and you’re not alone– 18.1% of people in the United States alone suffer from anxiety and depression (which is 40 million adults a year!). This is a real illness and disease, and people everywhere are trying to get rid of it.  Continue reading

What Brings Me Peace

Tonight, I watched a special from Netflix on the shroud of Turin. It was fascinating; whether or not it was Jesus, I am unsure, but the person’s body who were imprinted on the cloth went through an evil, painful death full of shed blood, bruising, and unimaginable scarring.

Naturally, it reminded me of how Jesus died. Like the Old Testament testifies to, Christ went through the worst pain imaginable. Our Lord suffered thorns stabbing through His head into His Skull, causing blood to spurt down into His Hair. His back was full of lashings, tearing open His Skin to show the bone and muscle underneath. His Body was blackened and bruised, so marred that one could not tell it was Him (Isaiah 52:4). Most of all, His death caused Him to be temporarily separated from God the Father (Mark 15:34).

Our God went through literally excruciating pain (the word excruciating comes from the word crucifixion1). The pain He went through was unbelievable; and the most crazy thing about it? He didn’t have to. Christ, at any time, could have “called down many legions of angels” and avoided the pain He experienced, but He didn’t (Matthew 26:53)!

best

So why did He go through such pain? For you and for me. He died that we might live! And this is why I am writing what I am writing tonight. In light of really understanding what Jesus did, one thing becomes clear: Jesus Loves me. And because of this, I can trust Him.

As I struggle with many things, such as why there is so much suffering going on around the world, I know that I can place my full and entire trust on Jesus Christ. Because He died such a death so that I may live with Him forever, I can trust Him in this life. It shows me that He will hold nothing back when it comes to what is for my best and His glory… and knowing that truth is what fills me with Peace.

peace

 


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus died for all of mankind, but you may be asking, “What for?” Learn more about why Jesus died, and what it means for you and for me, here.


Please pray for…

  • Those who do not yet know Jesus. May His Love become very real to them, and may they give over their lives to Him as Lord and Savior.

Thank You for your prayers!!!

1  http://abhakhetarpal.in/blog/origin-of-the-english-word-excruciating

 

The Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal: Putting Your Faith in Jesus Alone

I am horrified. As most of you know, thousands of men, women and children have recently reported that hundreds of priests and catholic clergy members have sexually abused them as children, leaving these victims of such heinous crimes reeling and forever scarred by their experiences.

I don’t need to expound upon why this makes me ashamed to be a Christian. While I am not a Catholic, I also know that it is not only Catholic priests who have traumatized those that they should have shepherded and protected. There have been stories of physical abuse in Christian camps for gay youth. Adultery and sexual abuse found with Christian men advocating for family values. Many stories of abuse have come up in many different denominations; in some denominations in the south, the practice of older men “courting” minors is accepted as perfectly fine. Over and over again, men (and women) who were held in positions of trust took advantage of their position, subjecting people whom Jesus Loves to unthinkable horrors.

This grieves my heart for obvious reasons. People get their impressions of who Jesus Christ is based upon His followers. It has been said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ,” and in this instance, it could not be more true. People have failed to show the watching world who Jesus Christ really is.

Humans have failed. But friends, readers, I want to remind us all of one thing: While humans have completely and utterly failed at loving others, Jesus Christ never has. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, coming to be the perfect mediator between us and God the Father. Jesus experienced the brokenness of this world and every temptation we have ever faced, while also providing His Sacrifice, “gaining eternal redemption for all who come to God through Him” (source).

Anyone who has put their faith and hope in a religion will be disappointed at some point. Anyone who puts their faith and hope in a priest, or a pastor, or a community leader, will come to realize that even those put in such high positions can fail miserably. It is faith and hope put in Jesus Christ alone that will never disappoint. As we view these diabolical stories of abuse unfold, I pray that it gives us all a reality check, reminding us to put our faith not in religiousness or even a man such as the Pope, but rather putting our trust in Jesus Christ alone.

alone

These stories are evil. They anger us and make us feel ashamed. But may we re-look at where our Hope is at—and draw close to Jesus, not farther away from Him. He is the only High Priest who will never, ever disappoint—and He is has done all that is needed for us to be saved.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­Do you know Jesus?

“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
(Hebrews 7:26-27, ESV)

Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven in order to save humankind from the sin they had committed themselves. We were helpless; Jesus came in and saved the day.

Learn more about Jesus Christ, what He did, and how He has saved those who believe in Him, here.


Please pray for…

  • The men, women and children being directly affected by sharing their stories of abuse. I cannot imagine the pain and PTSD they are experiencing. May they come to know Christ if they do not already, and may He continue to heal them as only He can.
  • The clergy members involved in this. May they be brought to justice, and to know Christ.
  • The judicial system. May it not fail those who rely on it for justice.
  • Christians everywhere—that they would come closer to Jesus, and not farther away from Him.

Thank you for your prayers!

He Wins the War: Hope for the Weary

Over a month ago– on February 5th, 2018—two people were burnt alive in Alau-Kofa village, which is in close proximity to Borno state’s capitol of Maiduguri. This horrific information has come just as the military has said that Boko Haram has been defeated1.

“Saying they have been completely defeated is pushing it too far,” Major General Nicholas Rogers has said concerning the fight against Boko Haram1.The government and military has said much, but things and events have said otherwise, to the anger of those fighting for the Chibok girls—and now, also for the Dapchi girls.

Just yesterday, March 13th, people at the center of the #BringBackOurGirls movement declared that the Nigerian government has 7 days to find and free the 110 “Dapchi” girls, or face “a lawsuit on the grounds of criminal negligence.”2 Obviously, the world is demanding the truth, and real action.

But what if those things never come? What if, for all our striving and demands, our actions and best laid plans, these girls are not freed in our time frame, and Boko Haram continues to at least look like they are definitely winning the war? These are hard, pressing times. Times where the Nigerian military does not want to perform aerial attacks, for fear of killing the very girls people are demanding they save. They are weary of trying to find and apprehend Abubukar Shekau, leader of one faction of Boko Haram, because he is using these precious people as human shields1.

Human. Shields.
Innocent young women and men, their lives put on the line so that these wicked people can live, and continue to do evil.

As I was thinking about this—about how horrific and unjust it all is—one thought came to mind: Jesus knows exactly what these people are going through.

You see, as far-fetched as it all sounds, Jesus was our human shield.

For sinful people who were indifferent or hateful towards Him, “…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus took the blow we, evil sinners, deserved. He took upon Himself the wrath of God, so that we—the ones who have brought it on in the first place—could live3.

Jesus did all of this—only, He didn’t do it because He was forced to, as these innocent people are being made to. He did it of His own free will, choosing to completely obey His Heavenly Father.

I might get hate because of this; I know how racy it made be to compare a normal, everyday person to the leader of such an evil terrorist organization as Boko Haram. But answer me this: Is there such a thing as “big sins” and “small sins,”—that is, is there sins that are more damning than others?

Not just according to us, and not according to society—not even to Christian culture. But biblically?

There is one sin that can never be forgiven, and that is to reject Jesus Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior. But other than that, while sins that vary and differ based upon their consequences and who they hurt, I believe James 2:10 says, “If you have committed one sin you are guilty of all.” All sins are equally heinous, as John Piper has said4.

Bottom line: Jesus knows exactly how these hostages feel.
He knows exactly how every outraged mother, father, brother, son, daughter, and sister feels. How the incredibly frustrated, discouraged, angered members of Bring Back Our Girls feels.
He knows my discouragement—and yours, too.

He sees the bloodshed, the tears, the dirt and sin. He hears the cries, the screams; the silence of brokenness.

He hears your sighs, listens to every prayer. Yet, nothing has seemed to change—for the better, at least.

Friend, as everything seems to be getting worse, I have one final question for you: Do you trust the God, who took on the wrath and anger of God the Father upon Himself, to save and free you? Do you trust that He is good, and has good for you, even in this pain?

Look to Calvary, and know two things: Jesus Loves you. And He is in control.

 

As sin abounds, hearts continue to break, and demands are made in this sometimes hellacious world, I encourage you to look to Calvary amidst your much-needed prayers, demands, and actions. I encourage you to remember, no matter how it all ends up: satan may be “winning battles,” but Jesus has won the war.

He wins. May that carry you through. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
(Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

On all accounts—from how people viewed Jesus, to the actual pain and suffering God put upon Him, Jesus suffered the worst pain of any person, ever. But why?

Isaiah 53 goes on to say, “By His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “How?” You might ask?

These are two HUGE questions; and while I am only a human being, I would love to help you find and understand the answers. Read more about these questions, here.


Please pray for (you can get prayer sheets, here):

  • Wisdom for the Nigerian government, as they work on freeing the “Chibok” and “Dapchi” girls. President Buhari wants to negotiate with Boko Haram for the girls’ release; please pray that he would turn to Christ, and would be led of Him.
  • The “Chibok girls.” Pray that Christ brings them home soon.
  • The “Dapchi girls.” Pray that the government listens to activists, and works to bring them home, soon, too.
  • Those praying and protesting for these girls’ release; that they, we, would trust in Jesus alone, and would allow Him to strengthen us.
  • That Boko Haram would be crushed, and all “human shields” set free.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

1 https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/boko-haram-kills-two-as-military-says-group-defeated-20180205

2 http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/14/nigerian-gov-t-given-7-days-to-bring-back-chibok-dapchi-girls-or-face-charges//

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-cup-consumed-for-us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/are-all-sins-equal-before-god

 

The Resurrection & The Life

Today, early this morning, Reverend Billy Graham passed away to be with Jesus, the One who he had preached about for forty plus years.
As we pray for his family, loved ones, and those who are grieving Him– and anyone else today– I just wanted to say this: Jesus is so good. Because, as I was reading in my devotional today, I read about how Jesus says of Himself, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life– the One who believes in Me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26, NIV). If you’d like, you can read this incredibly beautiful passage of scripture in John 11 here.

I read about how diagnoses, divorces, pain, and even death do not have the final word– only Jesus does.

About how, even if we don’t see any fruit from the anguished prayers we’ve been praying for days, months, and years on this side of heaven, that we can still trust Jesus to be faithful to His Promises. 

That idea is scary, and heart-wrenching. That everything we have labored for may never actually be seen by us; and that Jesus could answer those prayers in the way we desperately hope He wouldn’t of. 

It is hard to look at Jesus Christ and say, “Jesus, I trust that You are Good,” in times like these. It seems insane, even.

But in these incredibly hard moments, we can cling to Truth: Jesus IS the Resurrection, and the Life. And because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins that put Him there, those who believe on Him and His sacrifice “will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in [Him] will never die.” Jesus will continue to be faithful to His Promises to you, even if nothing looks like it. You can trust Him, even with your eternal soul, just as the Reverend Billy Graham– and millions both before and after Him– have. Do so, today.

This post is in tribute to the God who saved, led, and used Billy Graham in such a powerful way, to bring others to Himself. May He continue to raise up people to bring others to Him!

 

Jesus, at the end of what He says in John 11:26, asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” I pose this question to you, today. Read more about this faithful God– this God who gives eternal life, and never breaks His Promises to us, and why He died on the cross for you– here.

 

Thankful For You

Friends,
When I started this blog, over 3 years ago, I never would have imagined the journey Jesus would take me on.

I also wouldn’t have imagined the beautiful people I have met along the way. You all know who you are. 🙂

I just wanted to say a quick, but honest “Thank You,” and I wanted to sit and really thank Jesus for each and every person He has blessed me with– including the 276 Chibok girls who were, and still are, the reason for this blog in the first place.

3 years ago, Jesus simply led me to all of this, through a community of women praying for each other (you can read more about that story, here). Jesus opened my eyes to a group of women in Northern Nigeria who were in the spotlight at that time, known as “the Chibok girls.” Though I have never met these young women, they have become an amazing part of my life; Jesus has given me a Love for them that I could not have ever gained on my own.

And you. Through your constant support, comments, and prayers, mountains have moved. Chains have been broken. Eyes and hearts have been opened, including mine. And I can honestly say that I am BEYOND blessed to know each and every one of the people who read this blog, and who pray for everything spoken of, as much as one can.

So, Jesus, Thank You.
And Friends, Thank you!

Let’s storm the heavens to see what Jesus wants to do next in freeing, healing, and restoring these young women, their families, and other victims back to life through a relationship with Himself!
Here’s to all Jesus is going to do– and has already done. ❤

 

Thank you, friends, for your continued support and prayer!!! It is moving mountains, and bringing me wonderful encouragement, joy, and comfort.

 

I love you all!

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
(Psalm 126:3, NIV)

With Love, in Christ,

Annalee Hoover
ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY


Do you know Jesus?

Let’s thank Jesus, most of all, for us even being able to actually know Him.
If you do not currently know Jesus personally, as Your Lord and Savior, I invite you to learn more about, and meet Him, here.

God is in Control: Going through Pain as a part of Christ’s Plan

Four men, arrested and held under the Nigerian military’s control, kneel under the hot, scorching heat of the Northern Nigerian sun. As Boko Haram commanders, caught by the Nigerian military, these four men seem relatively normal. Dressed in “civilian’s clothes,” these men are not touting black flags, rifles, or military wear. Shackled, and side to side, these men are seen for who they really are. Without their frightening front, they seem much less terrifying, and much more mortal. Running into shortages of food, ammo, and fuel, these seemingly horrific men have been reduced somewhat to their cowardly reality: going to such measures as to recruit young men to smuggle them fuel, Boko Haram has been lessening in power, though not without lashing out.

There have been a series of five attacks by Boko Haram on Maiduguri, and their effect has been nothing less than horrific. Killing at least 9 people total, these suicide attacks have happened close to refugee camps, with one holding approximately 16,000 refugees, filled with people who have ran away from their villages, in an attempt to be saved from Boko Haram. One cannot fathom the fear they must feel, knowing that Boko Haram has now “found” them out, and tried to come into their only earthly place of safety.

But, in the chaos of it all, one Truth remains. As described by Amos, one of the fathers of the 21 Chibok girls rescued, “‘”Those selected to be released were done so practically at random. They were called and asked to form a line, and after a number of them were counted, it was stopped, …Fortunately for her (his daughter, Comfort Amos), she was among those released. They were told that the total of girls to be released was 21 and that by the grace of God, the rest would be released later“‘” (source). In all of the “chance,” Christ was present.

In all of the unknown, “chance” things that might have happened, Christ was not only present– He was Sovereign. As Psalm 37 joyfully proclaims, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives” (Isaiah 37:23, NLT). If this is true, then does that mean that Christ cares about, and delights in, even the darkest details? And if God is Love, why do such horrible things, like the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, happen in the first place?

 

While no human can have the full, complete answer to this question, this topic is very much one of the themes of the book of the Bible, Job. 42 chapters long, this epic, true account of one man’s life is centered on God’s Sovereignty, even in the face of suffering. While Christ, many times, does not directly cause something evil to happen, He does, sometimes, let bad things happen– even letting mankind make it’s own decisions–if those decisions are evil, or not.

The book of Job opens with a description of Job: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil” (Job 1:1). Not only was Job “a man of complete integrity,” but verse 2 says, “He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area” (Job 1:3). The father of seven sons and three daughters, Job regularly interceded for, and purified, his children, “For Job said to himself, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts'” (Job 1:5, NLT).

This man– this righteous, holy man– loses everyone and everything. His livestock, his servants, and his children are all taken and/or killed, either by other people, or by natural disaster, and he loses his health, becoming covered from head to toe with painful blisters (Job 1:6-19; 2:7-8). If one person could be put on a billboard for seemingly suffering unjustly, it would be Job.

 

 

Ultimately, though, these trials could never compare to Christ’s suffering. More righteous than Job, Jesus Christ was completely sinless– yet was “…the Lamb who was slaughtered” (Revelation 13:8). Not only does Jesus grieve the loss of His loved ones, like John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13); He grieves temporarily losing His oneness with the Father, as He took on mankind’s sin (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). Mocked, beaten, and bruised, Jesus Christ dies the most horrific, unjust death in the history of all mankind.

But, God the Father was not absent, or unfair, from the scene of these horrifically painful things. Rather, God the Father was completely in control; and, when the suffering was over, His will had been done: in Job’s suffering, both Job and his friends, who thought they knew how God operated,  experienced a deeper, more real understanding of God’s Sovereignty. At the end of the book of Job, Job stands before God, after God shows Himself to Job and humbles him. Job’s words, though few, are incredibly profound:

“‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 ‘You said, “Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”‘ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.'”
(Job 42:1-6, NIV)

 

Job, now clearly seeing the Unsearchable, Amazing Goodness of Christ, becomes blessed once again: He gains twice as many livestock as before, and he has 10 more children– “Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers” (Job 42:15).  Most of all, they learned that, though Christ’s ways are infinitely higher than mankind’s, He is eternally, and ultimately, good.

On a much grander scale, Christ’s suffering was also apart of God’s plan: “from the beginning of the world,”Christ died, and rose again, for the forgiveness of all sin to those who believe (Revelations 13:8b). From the beginning of the world, Christ was going to be the sacrifice to save us from our sin. While this is an amazing, and, if one confesses, confusing prospect, the one thing it obviously shows is that, while many people would say otherwise, suffering is, at times, the will of God– and He is ultimately good, above it all.

 

Surely, Job and those in his life– could not understand why these tragic events were taking place. Even Job’s wife, during the suffering, advised him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). All seemed out of control, cruel, senseless, and random.

Those who loved Jesus, as He hung on that cross, no doubt, were filled with extreme grief, frustration, and confusion. Their Messiah, their God, their Friend, was dying a death He never deserved, yet foretold many times (such as in Mark 8:31-33). In the middle of this pain, they could have never seen a Good, Loving God’s plan being laid out; but, as Christ says in John 12:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” Though death, suffering, and pain, came salvation and eternal life for billions of Believers.

So it is, with suffering, today. Though Boko Haram seems wild, they, just like the four men under the Nigerian military’s control, are under Christ’s control, whether they believe it or not.

No one can fathom the kind of pain that Nigerian refugees, the loved ones of the Chibok girls, and those hurt by suicide attacks are going through. One can’t see the redemption that is in store, when there is so much grief. While this redemption and insight may not “make everything okay,” knowing that Christ– the All-Knowing, All-Seeing God, who is everywhere at once, and who gave Himself up for us in Love—is Sovereign over all, gives us hope. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). Through it all, Jesus’ Sovereign, Good Hands will make every broken thing beautiful. Stand on that promise.



Do you know Jesus?

And we know that God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
(Romans 8:28-30, NIV)

Romans 8:28 is a passage of Scripture that has given hope and comfort to Believers in Christ for centuries. Through suffering, Christians have clung to this promise: that though it hurts now, Christ will turn “everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

But what about the next two verses? God knew His people in advance… that is a really complex, heavy, mind-blowing thing to read, much less believe.
But, when Christ died for the sins of mankind, as according to God’s plan before the beginning, He still chose to submit to the Father’s will, no matter how fatal, or painful, it might be, modeling how humanity also has a choice. And so, there is a Truth found: that while God knows His people in advanced, they still have the freewill to either refuse or accept Him, as Lord and Savior.

ALL people, Believers and Non-Believers alike, will stand before God one day, to be judged for what they do and do not do (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6). Only Believers will enter into heaven– those who have accepted Christ’s payment for their sin, on their behalf. And no one, at the end of their lives, will be able to tell God that they did not receive an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, taking away their sin and granting them eternal life (Romans 1:20). It will all come down to if they knew and accepted Christ, or rejected Him.

If you have not yet received Christ as your Lord and Savior, “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT).

Learn more about, and accept Jesus’ free gift today, here.



Please pray for…

– The 22 (now 23!) Chibok girls who have been freed from the clutches of Boko Haram. Please pray that they would seek and know Jesus, and that their loved ones would also reach out to Christ for the wisdom, understanding, and truly, all they need to love their newly freed loved ones.

– For the 196 Chibok Girls, who are still in captivity. Please pray that, even in captivity, they would seek Jesus, and would be freed spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically from their bondage to Boko Haram.

– The Refugees who have been terrified by recent suicide bombings. Please pray that they would seek Christ, as their true Refuge.

– The Nigerian military. Please pray that they would seek Christ, for the wisdom, guidance, and resources they need, both spiritually and physically, to defeat Boko Haram.

– Boko Haram. Please pray for it’s members– that those who are Christian captives in their midst would be used powerfully by Christ, to call these men, women, and children, to Himself.

Thank you for your prayers. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (Psalm 37:3, NIV).