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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

Posts categorized Martyrdom

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How Close is the Persecution?

MCA Church LOVES Burkina Faso, its land, villages, cities, tribes, and people.  With each passing day of increased persecution and martyrdom, I am asked, “How close are the murderous radicals to our churches, outreaches, schools and various other ministry facilities and people?”

In the small likelihood the terrorist murderers are searching the internet, I will not identify our ministries, facilities and people.

Burkina Faso is the size of Colorado and just over five Burkina Faso land masses would fit into Alaska.  It is the seventy-fourth largest country on earth today.

Burkina Faso was so named by the hugely popular former President, the late Thomas Sankara.  Burkina is a Moore word (the language of the Mossi people) and Faso is a Diouala word (the language of the Diouala people).

Burkina means “men of integrity.”  Faso carries the meaning of “the fatherland.”  Burkina Faso is therefore the land of the people of integrity or the land of upright people or the land of honest people.  Without a doubt, Burkina Faso is properly named.  Living there are amazing men and women of kindness, grace and love.

This is, in fact, what the murderous terrorists hate.  They don’t want Muslims, Christians and animists to love each other and show common human peace to one another.

In a small country, just larger than Oregon, any violence and persecution isn’t far away.

One of our larger ministries is only thirty miles from one of the recent attacks.  This large group of wonderful folks have no way of defending themselves, should hatred focus its eyes on them.  “Lord, have mercy.”

Our schools are open and teaching students and all of our congregations are holding their weekend worship gatherings.  With a couple of our ministries being very well known, our people there could be a prime target of the terrorists.

HOWEVER, we Burkinabé are the Apple of His Eye, subjects of His love, recipients of His grace and are covered by His protection.  Nothing gets through to us unless it passes the protective hedge of our covering in Christ.

 

Posted on 29th May 2019 in Burkina Faso, Martyrdom, Persecuted Christians  •  Comments are off for this post
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Just Plain Nuts!

This dude says to me, “Whoever wins the election, God will be glorified.”

What kind of theological perspective is that? Trying to do theology many times people become crazy folks, out of touch with simple logic and truth.

He might as well of said, “Praise God for Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and American slavery.”

The “God will be glorified” crowd, in essence, have a God who is in total control of a closed system (The whole closed system thing died long ago).  Therefore, this controlling and causative God is responsible for EVERYTHING that happens everywhere, all the time.  “It’s God’s sovereignty,” they proclaim.

Yep.  They believe the sovereignty of God indicates that God intentionally and purposefully raised up Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and American slavery.  God intended for the masses to be murdered and our black brothers enslaved, they believe.  God, in fact wants babies aborted, children to have incurable cancer, and other children to starve.  After all, in His sovereignty, God predetermines all things.

Just plain nuts.

I nearly fell out of my seat one day when one of these famous “Greater Glory for God” preachers said, “Christians should never help the non-elect poor.  When you help the non-elect poor, you are fighting the judgement of God on their lives.”

Just plain nuts!

God, you see, needs greater glory and He needs it so desperately that He turns to causing evil in order to get this greater glory.  If your kid contracts an incurable disease, you can rest in the fact that God designed, intended, and planned for this because He needs greater glory.

Knowing that this is craziness for any decent human being to believe, they throw down their “trump” card (Bwahaha), “It is for His greater glory.”  “It is a mystery how God causes evil for His glory.”  They say.

Just plain nuts!

This crowd actually defines God as the One and Only Sinner!  How?  In a closed system in which God alone is the first and only cause, He alone has responsibility for sin.

He is responsible for your election and salvation.  If you aren’t elect, you are toast because it is a matter of intentional thought and determination by God.  Your non-Christian Karma has been set by God.  If, on the other hand, you are elect (I’m never quite sure what measure of pride enables this crowd to assume they are elect?) no amount of evil action on your part is a deal breaker with God, because He too uses evil for His purposes.

Just plain nuts!

Many folks in this crowd are very dear friends of mine.  “Kent, I’ll never know why God foreordained my son’s drowning death at such a young age.”  “I don’t know why God wanted me to have this cancer.” “Why do you think God intended me to have this painful divorce?”

To assume that God’s sovereignty requires causation is, in my understanding, a HUGE insult to the true character and sovereignty of God.  To suggest that God’s heart includes the causation of evil is preposterous heresy.

“Haven’t you read Romans 13:1, you bozo pastor?” They ask.  Much to their amazement, I have actually glanced at Romans a time or two.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Paul simply points out that all true authority is His.  He has shared a small portion of His authority with systems of governance in man-made authority “blocks.”

If Putin has authority in the man-made governance system called Russia, that authority is from God.  If Bashar al-Assad has authority in the man-made governance system called Syria, that authority is from God.

In NO WAY is Paul suggesting that governing authorities are always pleasing to God and that their decisions are part of God’s sovereign rule on the earth.  In Paul’s mind, any authority that is rightfully in the stewardship of a person or government, is authority instituted by God.  When you fight true authority, you fight God.

I’m fairly sure that Rome was a miserable place in which to be a Christian. Names like Caligula and Nero come to mind.  Yuck!  Scum of the earth type leaders.  And these were the people governing our brothers and sisters to whom Paul was writing.

Paul, in my view, was saying, “Rome is a man-made space with borders drawn by human beings.  Inside that man-made space called Rome there is the need for governance and authority.  The governance and authority established there was established by God.”

Paul is NOT saying, “Nero was God’s choice to lead Rome.”  He is saying, “God has established governance and authority in Rome and Nero has come to power.”

If Rome had been open to an election, I am thoroughly convinced Paul would have said, “Nero has seized governance and authority.  Vote the bum out.  #NeverNero.”

God’s sovereignty often flows through human choices.

God being glorified is not the issue at hand.  The I Am will be just fine.

It matters who wins national elections.  #Electionsmatter

To live otherwise is Just Plain Nuts.

 

 

 

 

Posted on 27th October 2016 in Glocal, Martyrdom, Politics  •  Comments are off for this post
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Straighten up – Look up!

day-of-the-lord-639x380

I just have a feeling in my gut.

Can’t really say that I am a scholar on the last days, end times, prophecy, Revelation, or eschatological events.

However, I am the world’s leading expert on that sense I sometimes get in the pit of my stomach.  Since much of creation is circular, East and West must meet somewhere.  What may be viewed as opposites can actually be in perfect agreement.  This is the reality rolling around in my soul.

Malachi said that a very strange “day” would come upon the earth and all living people.  This “day,” is unlike any other because it is best identified by opposites.  It is the “Great day of the Lord” and at the same time it is the “Dreadful day of the Lord.”

At the core of my being I am aware that a very dreadful “day” has come. Although I want to say that the worst is behind us, I know it isn’t.  Darkness will increase. Death will increase.  It will look like all is lost.

Surely, the Christians in the Middle East can shout “This is a dreadful day!”

With the past, present and future moving into the consummation of God’s revelation, today must also be identified as a great day.

One would think that the more “dreadful” increases the less “great” there can be. Sort of like the more rocks there are in the glass, the less water the glass can hold. This is not an accurate take on the great and dreadful day of the Lord.  In fact, the more “dreadful” increases, the more “great” increases too.  Both are growing at an exponential rate.

Is it going to get more dreadful or great?  YES.  Both will increase with mind-boggling speed.

Reading the news reconfirms this feeling in my soul.  On every hand there are extremely dreadful things happening virtually every day.  It is wise to feel the dread.

Yet everywhere I look I see the great hand of God at work in ways that inspire awe. Today is truly, in every way, the great day of the Lord.  It is wise to feel the greatness.

Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Our response on this great and dreadful day of the Lord is to straighten up and raise our heads because God’s redemption for us is drawing very near.

I have this feeling in my gut that our redemption is nearer now than it has ever been.

(Graphic from www.jewelsofjudaism.com)

 

Posted on 8th October 2015 in Discipleship, Evangelism, Fasting and Prayer, Fit for the Journey, Health, Martyrdom, Simple LIfe, Spiritual Growth  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Jesus, the Lamb of God

21 ORANGE copyWe have now completed the #ORANGE21 remembrance movement.  Twenty-one days of praying for the families of each Egyptian martyred in Libya is motivation to love more deeply and live more fully.  Every day is a gift from God and is called ‘the present.’

Why, then, is there an #ORANGE21 post on day twenty-two?

For twenty-one days I have honored men who have died for their Christian faith.  Today, Good Friday, I honor the Man, Jesus, who died, not for his faith, but for mine.

Jesus isn’t a martyr, He is the Sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could meet the requirements for my redemption.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

There is no distance His sacrifice can’t reach, no depth it can’t plum, no height beyond it’s reach, and no one beyond His embrace.

Come to the Lamb.

Posted on 4th April 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Matthew Ayariga

matthewMATTHEW AYARIGA, of Ghana was the only foreigner in this select group of Egyptian believers.  Young, single and unemployed, like so many sub Saharan Africans, he went north to try to make a living.  But things didn’t turn out as he had hoped—in January 2015 he was arrested while in route to Ghana via Tripoli, Libya, and fell into the hands of ISIS.

As I sit here in my office in Granada, Spain, packing my bags for yet another ministry trip (to Amsterdam), I think of the inequity of my life as compared to Matthew’s:  he had to travel (who knows how?) from Ghana to Libya, some 1750 miles—about the same driving distance as from Anchorage to Prince George, BC; I fly most places of any distance. I have had the privilege of education, all the way to a Master’s degree; I don’t know what education Matthew had, but given his work situation, is was likely minimal. He had to deal with police, beaurocracy in a country that is practically a failed state, with no support from his home country; wherever I go I have at the very least the security of my American passport, and all that that entails. When he left Ghana, his whereabouts were unknown to his family and friends, until that fateful day on the news; I enjoy continuous, uninterrupted communication through several different means.  And yet, we are both on a journey.  “…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Heb. 11:10

I don’t know how strong Matthew’s faith was—was he a new believer? did he grow up in the church?  Was heAPRIL 2ND copy on-fire for Jesus?  Or was his a last-minute, not-deny-my-Lord recommitment?  We will likely never know

But either way, he joined in his fellow believers in laying down his life—likely, not understanding much of what was happening given that he probably didn’t know Arabic. A foreign land….a foreign language…a foreign culture.  And that is where his earthly journey finished. An unlikely but glorious finish to an unnoticed life.

‘Jesus…be close to Matthew’s family and friends as they assimilate his death; for the many who follow his footsteps…illegal, risky, facing hunger and thirst, just in order to work:  may his fate be pondered, may his faith be multiplied, and may your eternal purposes for the life, and death, of Matthew, be fulfilled. Help me in my own journey Lord, especially in the surprises, to be faithful. Ya Rabbi Yasou,” (‘My Lord Jesus’) Amen.

Posted on 3rd April 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Sameh Salah Faruq

The murder of Sameh Salah Faruq generates with in me a guttural longing for the resurrection of the dead.  Everything in me desires that these past twenty days of gruesome death be transformed from gory to glory.  I know my Redeemer lives and I long for Him to take action.  Right the wrongs.   Destroy evil.  Kill death once and for all.

Until then my responsibility is ………………………… patience.  Man, this is hard for me.  I don’t want “in three days I will rise again.”  I want resurrection now.  Unlike Jesus in Gethsemane, I pray, “Not thy will but mine be done.”  Crazy, I know.

Patience is the tamed version of long-suffering.  I don’t want suffering.  Definitely no suffering for a long time.  Loooooong-suuuufffferrring is anti-American.  Doesn’t line up with popular U.S. theology.  Pain can’t be good for the Christian. King’s kids don’t suffer.  Or so they say.

A fellow I know verbally excoriated my leader for “Thinking that God may be at work in the midst of one’s disease. God NEVER redeems disease.  All disease was healed on the cross with Christ.”  Another friend of mine insists that all disease is from poor nutrition.  “God’s food is the answer to all disease.  Why don’t Christians understand that healing is in eating the correct foods?”

These folks seem to think that God has promised us “three score and ten” (seventy) years.  BUMMER!  God couldn’t pull that one off for His own Son.  Jesus died thirty-seven years short of that time line.

Sometimes we are simply called to long-suffering while maintaining and growing in the nature and character of our Lord.  On the cross God identified with us in our long-suffering.  Some theologians hold that God is both past, present and future all at the same time.  He is the Great I AM, meaning He never was or will be but is in the eternal state of “am.”  Thereby, Jesus is eternally the Dead Sacrifice for our sin and the Living Savior all at the same time.  Whatever turns out to be the case on the “I Am-ness” of God, I know He understands long-suffering.

Sameh Salah Faruq’s murder reminds me that I have signficant anticipation for resurrection day.

“Even so.  Come Lord Jesus, come.”

APRIL 1[1] copyIn Honor, Respect and Gratitude for Sameh Salah Faruq

Almighty God, thank you for your son, Sameh Salah Faruq.  Like a father whose son is inside a burning building anticipates the extinguishing of the flames by the Fire Department, I wait for you to extinguish the suffering and unnecessary death of your Christian children.

One of my favorite “Sunday Night” songs, as a child, was “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.  Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.  One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase.  So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”

Grant to me grace for long-suffering.

Comfort all who mourn today.

 

Posted on 2nd April 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Malak Farag Abram

Malak Farag Abram’s murder requires me to face the facts.  I don’t watch the news.  Other than sports, I don’t watch television shows (I almost forgot…I watch cooking shows too).

The persecution of Christians isn’t a Hollywood production with actors pretending, special effects appearing to be real, all being shown on a screen that will be blank in one hundred and ten minutes – then we’ll get back to our lives as usual.

This is REAL LIFE!  There is no remote control and I can’t change the channel.

In today’s news I read that the residents of the home village of thirteen of the #ORANGE21 martyrs are violently attacking the grieving families.  The grieving families are only making every effort to keep the tradition of building a church building in honor of the martyrs.  This has been common practice in Christianity for 2,000 years.  The muslim neighbors are saying, “You can’t live and you can’t have a funeral for the deceased either.”  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/03/31/egyptian-copts-attacked-for-seeking-church-dedicated-to-workers-killed-by-isis/?intcmp=populardiscussions

These are not what the western media insists are “radicalized muslims.”  They are simply Muslims.  When I seek to obey the Bible, I am not a radicalized Christian, I am simply Christian.  These Muslims, seeking to fulfill the commands of the Koran, are not radicalized either.  They are simply making every effort to obey their book.

Friends, we can’t change the channel.  This is real deal life.

Malak Farag Abram’s martyrdom calls me to again count the cost of following Jesus.  I have been sent to the nations of the world not as a victorious westerner, but as a lamb into a pack of wolves (Luke 10:3).  The time has come when killing me will seem to them like a service to God (John 16:2).

It is again time to count the cost of discipleship.

march 31 copyIn Honor, Respect and Gratitude for Malak Farag Abram

Almighty God, we thank you for your son, Malak Farag Abram.  His life and death bring me face to face with the realities of the world today.  In your wisdom you are allowing your children to be slaughtered as lambs being torn asunder by wolves.  With this, I can only trust you.  Help me lean not on my own understanding.

I want to say, “That bad movie is over.  Let’s change the channel and get to U.S. Open.” but this isn’t television, and my remote control isn’t in charge.  In your timing, you will make everything new.  Help me to wait in confidence on you, Lord.

The cost of discipleship is greater than a short prayer at the end of a thirty minute television message on prosperity can endure.  Lord, my soul longs for your help in counting the cost of being your son.

Thank you for the tremendous example of your son, Jesus, and your son, Malak Farag Abram.

Comfort all who mourn today.

Posted on 31st March 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Gaber Munir Adly

Gaber Munir Adly’s martyrdom gives insight into the importance of life-long habits, understandings, traditions and the repetition of core truth.

From my childhood my parents encouraged the singing of truth with frequency and repetition.  I think I have sung “There is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb” at least ten thousand times.  It is possible that every cell in my body has been imprinted with this truth.

Gaber’s murder brings to mind several of these deeply held truths that are so easily dissected from daily living:

  • “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.  My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.  The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I can’t feel at home in the world any more.
  • On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye to Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions lie.  I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land, oh, who would come and go with me?  I am bound for the promised land.
  • He’s all I need.  He’s all I need.  Jesus is all I need.
  • I love thee in life.  I will love thee in death.  And praise thee as long as thou lendeth me breath. I’ll say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved thee, my Jesus tis now.”

Gaber Munir Adly’s beheading for his faith in Jesus and total trust in the cross of Christ forces me to see the gap between my deeply held convictions and my day to day decisions.

Why do I live as if this world is my home?  Why do I say that Jesus is all I need and then pursue so many other things?

MARCH 29 copyIn Honor, Respect and Gratitude for Gaber Munir Adly

Almighty God, thank you for your son, Gaber Munir Adly.  His life and death is much like a microscope that forces me to see the lack of cohesive unity between my convictions and my decisions.

I repent of the separation of faith and life, belief and behavior and doctrine and decision that exists within me.

Create in me a fully integrated, harmonious, and unified being.

Thank you that Gaber’s death brings forth life in me.

Comfort all who mourn today.

 

Posted on 30th March 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#Orange21 – Luqa Najati

MARCH 28 copyJust this week my friend S*’s name has appeared on a list—it is not a list for Grammy award nominations, or for the top 10 fastest growing churches in the states, nor for a latest best-selling book. It is not a list that pleases men.  His name is on ISIS’ list.  A fatwa.  A death sentence edict.

Years ago, he “…was called…out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9  Utilizing his background, his education, his knowledge and language ability, he has sought to be a modern day Harriett Tubman, leading many out of Islam through today’s ‘underground railroad.’  He has shined brightly for Jesus, too brightly according to ISIS—and they have determined it must be extinguished.

24-year-old Luqa Najati, was a newly-married man from the village of Jabali.  He missed the birth of his one and only child, a daughter, while working in Libya. “My son travelled to Libya a year-and-a-half ago, immediately after his marriage – he did not even realise that his wife was pregnant when he left in search of a job,” his father said. “We hadn’t seen him since and now there is this news. His little daughter was born but he never saw her, we only sent her photos to him.” Luqa was not on a mission, he was about taking care of his family.  But his light as well was shining, in an ever-so-humble and unpretentious way as he worked in construction.  Yet nonetheless, it was enough to raise the wrath of ISIS.

How brightly do you and I shine for Jesus?  On a wattage scale would it be 60? 75? 100? 40? Only the Lord knows how to measure those things.  I see a difference in ‘wattage’ though between my friend S* and someone like Luqa—but that doesn’t mean that one is any less effective than the other.  When it comes to darkness….and this, great darkness of ISIS, the contrast between light and darkness is stark. And it’s evil decrees will not tolerate ANY light shining.

“Light of the world, thank you for piercing my darkness, for rescuing me from eternal separation from You.  As this world grows darker still, Jesus I ask you to burn brightly in and through me—whether it reaches scores, or simply a handful, may I burn for you all my days until my candle has reached the end of it’s wick.  Ya Rabbi Yasou,” (‘My Lord Jesus’) Amen.

 

Posted on 30th March 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post
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#ORANGE21 – Ezat Bishri Naseef

ag-Polykarpos-2011The bus driver couldn’t find our destination.  Finally, many a wrong turn and a few right, we disembark.  On this very small building in current Istanbul was an even smaller, almost hidden placard; “This is the site of Polycarp’s martyrdom.”

Ezat Bishri Naseef’s martyrdom confronts me of the tenacity with which martyrs hold to their commitment to Christ.  In the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58 Polycarp is a role model for tenacious immovability.  “Stand firm.  Let nothing move you.”  Paul said.

Consider Polycarp’s stubborn stance:

But again the proconsul said to him, I will cause you to be consumed by fire, seeing you despise the wild beasts, if you will not repent.

But Polycarp said,

The #ORANGE21 martyrs evidenced the “let nothing move you” grit of Polycarp and Paul.

In Honor, Respect and Gratitude of Ezat Bishri Naseef

Almighty God, thank you for your son Ezat Bishri Naseef whose martyrdom reminds me to stand firm.  MayMARCH 27 copy you grant to me the tanacity to let nothing move me from a sure footing upon Jesus, the Bible and Your Church.

Comfort all who mourn today.

 

Posted on 27th March 2015 in #21ORANGE, Martyrdom  •  Comments are off for this post