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.
Sometimes I wonder, “What would I have done if I were serving a local church as a pastor during the time of the holocaust?”
ISIS has created a new holocaust. It is my turn to pastor in the midst of extreme wickedness. No longer is it “What would I have done, but what am I doing?”
First, I am confronting my sense of helplessness. “This isn’t a problem I can solve. It is for others to deal with.”
Second, I am challenging my wishful thinking. “Surely, ISIS will stop the absurd attraction to horrific violence.”
Third, I am resisting a tendency to profile. “He looks like he could be a Muslim extremist.”
Fourth, I am seeking to trust God at a deeper level. “God, you and your world don’t make sense to me right now.”
Fifth, I refuse to be paralyzed by what I can’t do, so I am doing what I can do.
I am the furthest thing from an End Times, Last Days, or eschatological scholar. I never can figure out what the imagery really means. Making things worse, I am never sure the scholars have it right because they never seem to agree with each other. This leaves me with the personal responsibility to do what I can.
I can look to the Bible for time tested and Holy Spirit inspired insight.
I can seek God’s intervention through prayer.
I can lift up my voice against the great darkness and proclaim the Light.
I can become informed.
I can grow in love.
Maybe you noticed in this blog post the large number of times I have used the personal pronoun, I. This is intentional. From my perspective, God will hold me accountable not for what nations could do but for what I can do. I have personal responsibility to fight my part of the fight.
I believe the Church is a collection of people in transformative conversations and relationships with God and each other. When your life hurts your Christian relationships should be safe, supportive, and enduring. This lesson is written for all who hurt, especially those in the Persecuted Church.
To totally say Y.E.S. to God is to be born into the most supportive, safe, and solid family in the universe.
Totally Yielded – Fully Engaged – Living Sacrifice
God has established the guidelines by which two or more Y.E.S.’s relate to oneanother.
The one anothers of the Bible are, in essence, the specific actions and attitudes of God’s love between followers of Jesus.
Today we are focusing our attention on a specific time in one’s life in which two or more Y.E.S.’s relate to one another in the times when life hurts.
Psalm 55:6 – Life is so painful you wish you could flyaway.
Job 2:9 – Life hurts so much that your family encourages you to curse God and die.
John 1:11 – The deep pain of finding your own and they receive you not.
John 11:35 – There is so much misunderstanding, confusion, death, and pain around you that all it seems you can do is cry.
Matthew 27:46 – It is so tough that it feels like God has forsaken you.
Jesus expresses this experience in a powerful way in John 16:33. The word Jesus chose that is translated tribulation is thlípsis – pressure (what constricts or rubs together), a narrow place that “hems someone in”; especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, “without options”). http://biblehub.com/greek/2347.htm
Being a place for you when life hurts includes making the commitment that “we are in this together.”
“Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them.”Hebrews 13:3
You are “in it” and need someone with whom you are in this together.
Your friend is “in it” and needs you to be in this together with them.
Your friend needs support as they are in it together with another.
Psalm 23 shows us that presence communicates, “I am here for you and we are in this together.”
1 Timothy 2:1 shows us a type of prayer (intercession) that communicates, “I am here for you and we are in this together.”
Intercession is prayer (by you) as an intervention at the intersection of God and your friend that enables your friend to hit the bull’seye of God’s will.
MCA Church Life Group Home Work
Looking back on your notes from this week’s teaching was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged, or confused you?
Listen – My Story
The teaching pastor listed five biblical examples of pains one may experience in life. Have you experienced any of these?
Was there a moment in your life when someone’s presence and their prayers significantly helped you?
Learn – Dig Deeper
Please read John 3:30. In the terms of Y.E.S., what is John the Baptist declaring?
Do you see a difference between John the Baptist in John 3:30 and Paul in Galatians 2:20?
Please read John 9:1-12. Why do Jesus’ disciples ask such a senseless and cruel question?
Was there more than one blind person in this narrative? Why are people still asking such questions when others are in a season of life’s hurts?
Pastor Kent presented “presence” as a significant help to others when life hurts. To be fully present is powerful. When your life is hurting can you tell if the other person is fully present? How?
Is Jesus fully present for you and me in Matthew 26:36-46? Why or why not?
Prayer is also a significant help to others when life hurts. One type of prayer for others is intercession. Intercession is praying as if you were fully present in the situation with your friend.
Consider Genesis 18:20-33. Was Abraham interceding before the Lord? Was his conversation with the Lord effective? Did the Lord change in response to Abraham’s presentation of his case?
Live – Taking It Home
Does your life hurt right now? Are you comfortable letting your life group know so that they can be fully present and intercede for you?
Will you mindfully be fully present for someone you love this week?
Lift – Prayers
Please pray for those in your Life Group.
Please pray each day for seven days for the Persecuted Church.
To navigate the deep waters of life and Christian faith, “Whatever It Takes” is a truth that we need worked into the foundation of our beings.
I had been in prayer for several months, “Lord, you know MCA Church is ALL IN! We are fully into your call on our lives, the spreading of the Gospel to the nations, living holy before you, and walking Biblical lives in the Spirit. What is our next step? It seems that there is far more in you, but what does one add to being ALL IN?
It seems that God began to unveil to me a clearer revelation of the ALL IN truth. I began to realize the one can be ALL IN without going ALL OUT.
I can be ALL IN for the salvation of my neighbors without doing Whatever It Takes to point them to Christ.
I can be ALL IN for personal Christian maturity without doing Whatever It Takes to grow to my full potential in Christ.
I can be ALL IN for meeting the needs of the homeless and hungry without doing Whatever It Takes to meet their needs.
I can be ALL IN on weekend worship without doing Whatever It Takes to truly worship each weekend.
I can be ALL IN as a husband and father without doing Whatever It Takes to be a Christ-like husband and father.
I can be ALL IN on reaching my full potential in Christ without doing Whatever It Takes to do so.
I was immediately moved at the core of my being. “Lord, we will become a church that is both ALL IN and going ALL OUT. We will do WHATEVER IT TAKES!”
Are you ALL IN on the salvation of your family members? Are you doing Whatever It Takes?
Are you ALL IN on your personal health? Are you doing Whatever It Takes?
Are you ALL IN on breaking that addiction? Are you doing Whatever It Takes?
Are you ALL IN on hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant? Are you doing Whatever It Takes?
The challenge is that ALL IN is cheap but Whatever It Takes costs everything. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his classic work “The Cost of Discipleship” said it this way,
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession….Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Throughout my life, music and lyrics have powerfully been the voice of God to me. Five or six songs literally called me to become the Christian man I intend to be.
It was during my high school years that I was struggling with the “Who am I” questions of life. As a disciple of Jesus, just how far would I go? Am I willing to take up my cross daily, for the rest of my life, and follow Christ? Am I willing to pay the price?
At this point in my life, I heard the following song. Don’t miss the call of the song simply because it is a 1970’s look and sound.
MCA Church, God is calling us to be ALL IN and to do Whatever It Takes.
Jesus is more than A Man: He is Head of the Church
In Christianity there are two very different emphases upon the ministry of Jesus. The first highlights an individual experience while the other is all about the establishment of the Church.
MCA Church has leaned toward a strong emphasis upon a personal “relationship with Jesus.” To this must be added a strong emphasis upon Jesus’ priority for the Church.
From my perspective, to be saved is to become part of the Body of Christ, which is His Church.
Consider insights from Ephesians 1:22, 23.
Jesus is appointed the Head over everything for the Church
All things are under His feet
The church is his body
In today’s primary text, Ephesians 5:25, we see Jesus’ love for the church and that he “gave himself up for her.”
On Good Friday’s cross we Jesus in the final stage of giving birth to the Church.
As Adam slept (Genesis 2:21) God formed from his side, Eve.
As Jesus “slept” (death) God formed from his side, the Church.
John 19:34 reveals that Jesus’ water and blood flowed out for the birth of the Church.
The water and the blood of Jesus are the foundations of the two ordinances of our church. The water from Jesus’ heart represents water baptism and the blood from Jesus’ veins represents The Lord’s Supper.
Water Baptism and Holy Communion make at least three powerful statements, past, present, and future.
Water Baptism Past
I have chosen Jesus as Lord and I have decided for Baptism.
Water Baptism Present
I identify with Jesus in every respect.
Water Baptism Future
I will be faithful.
The Lord’s Table (Holy Communion) Past
A table of the historical reality of Jesus’ sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25
The Lord’s Table (Holy Communion) Present
A table of accountability. 1 Corinthians 11:18-22, 29
The Lord’s Table (Holy Communion) Future
A table of prophecy. Matthew 26:29
Today, as you move to the crosses to pray, please consider the following:
Give thanks for your water baptism.
If you have not been water baptized and would like to be, please write your first name and contact information and place on the cross.
Please collect the bread and cup of communion and return to your seat for a collective celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Today I received a photograph that has troubled my mind significantly. What evil lurks in the hearts of mankind? How could Cain murder Abel? Why are humans so frequently diabolical to one another? Yes, I know of the atrocities of history, but it seems that in 2012 everyone should be decent, kind, and humane.
Islamic radicals locked a building full of Christians in their church building, added an fuel source, and burned them all to death. The photo is of their martyred bodies lying in the church-yard.
There is no doubt that I have not prayed for the persecuted church as I ought. Our sisters and brothers are in grave danger throughout the world and their deepest desire is for people like you and me to pray for them.
I am giving thought to posting the photo. I wonder if posting would stir other Christians to increased intercession? Would others be moved to action? Could we move governments to intervene? Or, would it simply give a stage for the darkness, wickedness, and hatred against Jesus and his followers.
Usually, after my family goes to sleep, I take some time to read, pray, think, meditate, and consider. Although I am not much into what the media calls “news,” I have been noticing many events that gain most of the world’s attention.
These events, in some way, intersect with God’s promise to Abraham: “All the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” As Great Commandment Christians, we too are interested in taking Jesus into all the world and seeing all peoples in all nations blessed by Him. We are part of fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham.
My attention continues to be drawn away from my “Abrahamic calling” and into the details of the world event. More than I am interested in Japan’s nuclear radiation problems, I should be strategizing about how the nuclear challenge may open the door for me to bless the Japanese with the love of Jesus through acts of kindness and the sharing of the Gospel.
Was the raid that killed Osama bin Laden just or righteous is a question of some importance, but seeing Islamic folks come to personal faith in Jesus is of total importance.
With this in mind, the most important activity of one’s global influence for Jesus is prayer. Prayer sanctifies the sacrifice.
Without prayer a glass of water, “in Jesus’ name,” is simply a glass of water with His name on it. With prayer, a glass of water in His name can be transformative and tremendous.
In some ways we are far removed from Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. By prayer we can be closely involved in seeing the Gospel powerfully proclaimed, folks turning to Jesus for salvation, with the result being God’s promise to Abraham continues to be fulfilled through us.
Today I am praying for the totality of Christian witness in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, Syria, Egypt, and other nations. May all those who risk their lives for identifying with Jesus be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. May God’s promise to Abraham be continually fulfilled in our generation.
A bold follower of Jesus Christ was assassinated in Pakistan a couple of days ago. With great devotion to our Lord, he proclaimed that he would be faithful to the call of God even in the face of death threats from the Taliban, Sharia Law proponents, and Al Qaeda. These wicked, God-less, and violent types have threatened the work of Jesus for 2000 years.
But God’s Truth marches on.
Please, on behalf of all Christians on the planet now, in the past, and in the future, view this short video of the now martyred Shahbaz Bhatti.
Last night we conversed about the Christian’s responsibility to use or relinquish power based upon which response furthers the Kingdom of our Lord. Should you maintain your power base, you do so from a heart of love that offers service to God and people. Should you relinquish power, you do so with the same attitude.
“Lord, how do I use my power base to further your Kingdom? Please keep me from using power to establish my kingdom or any other kingdom but yours!”
If you have a couple of minutes, please read this article about persecution in Pakistan. Ask yourself this question, “What should I do with the power I have to love and serve?”
What happens in part of the world effects the whole world.
Five ounces of poison in an aquarium impacts the entire life cycle of the aquarium, not just one portion of the aquarium. Every living organism in the aquarium should be exceedingly interested in the health of its water.
The world is the same. The immoral abuse of Christians, imprisonment of pastor’s wives, and the ransacking of Church facilities in China, should be a serious matter of prayer for Christians everywhere.
Direct your browser here to read an update on China’s crackdown on the Linfen Fushan Church.
This kind of nonsense will be here soon, if we don’t unite to defeat it.