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IF YOU NEVER WORRY, DON’T READ THIS

worry

Dear Friends,

I hope all of you have had a great start to this new year. Praise God in everything, especially if all is well in your world right now. However, if you happen to be in the midst of a difficult time, you may be facing  2016 with  a sense of dread or uncertainty of what this new year holds. If you are, you are not alone. Given my last several months of 2015, I have at times wished time to stand still, so I don’t have to plunge back into the reality of what may lie ahead.

And yet the reality is that life does  go on, whether it happens to be pleasant or not…and while I don’t know what 2016 will bring, I knew I had to write to share an insight that God has been  bringing to my mind over and over:

Take one day at a time.

Simple, and yet so much easier said than done, at least for me.

Jesus addressed the issue with worry in the Sermon on the Mountain in Matthew 6:25-27, and Matthew 6:34, saying:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

He goes on to add: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”(Matthew 6:34)

What does it mean to worry? Well, when we worry, we are essentially saying we don’t trust God, because He already told us not to.  While in this context, Jesus was referring to worry about the daily provision of life (worry about having enough food, clothing, and shelter), which was a common concern in that day. However, I believe we can apply the principle to our trials and concerns today.

Worry is like assuming the responsibility of catching all the snowflakes of tomorrow’s blizzard, and never once stopping to consider that the sun may come out and the blizzard may never even materialize.

I’m reminded to reflect on God’s faithfulness as demonstrated in His word. He Himself sustained the children of Israel with manna from heaven, just enough for that day and that day only, (Exodus 16). He is the same God today, yesterday, and forever. Just like they could look back and see how He sustained them on a day-to-day basis, can’t we as His children also look back and see how much He has already brought us through?

I’m not gonna lie. From the beginning looking forward, 2016 looks daunting to me. Yet it is my prayer for myself and anyone reading this that we can look back at this time next year and notice that God has  brought us through the good times and the bad. May we see that many things we fret about often have a way of working themselves out, that there is more stress in the “what-ifs” of each tomorrow than the tomorrow itself.

In the next few days I want to focus on Philippians 4:6-7, which tells us how to pray in times of trouble. We can go to the Lord with our needs, but also balance it with a thankful attitude. And the outcome?  He will supply us with an unexplainable peace when we do:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

May this next year be a year of unwavering trust in Him, that we may grow in faith and finish strong.

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It’s good to plan and prepare for tomorrow, but where do you think the line is drawn between planning and worry?

Do you tend to over-think and fret? Do you have a testimony to share about how you have overcome this struggle through prayer and God’s word?

To pray specific scriptures concerning worry, check out this list from “Room to Breathe”.

 

 

 

 

WHEN LIFE HAS NOT TURNED OUT AS YOU PLANNED

LIFEDo you believe that whenever God closes a door, He opens a window?

That is, do you believe that when we come upon a dead end in life, that it’s because there’s always a better opportunity around the corner?

I wish it was that simple, but we all know that there have been many times when crawling out of the only open window meant being caught outside in the cold, harsh world. You want to kick that slammed door back open, or at least crawl back through the window where it’s warm and cozy and just start over.

But to no fault of your own, you can’t. The door is shut, that ship has sailed.

It could be a job loss, a break-up, a misunderstanding, a disappointment, anything.

It could be losing something that you cherished and thanked God for every day, something that you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that He gave you. So you cry out:

Lord, why did you take it away?

What if you knew from an early age that God set a purpose for you, only to find yourself on a roller coaster ride of extreme ups and downs, none of which made any sense?

Think you have problems? Take a look at the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob, as told in Genesis 37, 39 – 47. Here’s how all the highs and lows of his life played out:

  • As a boy, he was his father’s favorite (high)
  • He was hated by his brothers for it, and sold into slavery (low)
  • After being delivered from slavery, (high)
  • He rose to prominence in Potiphar’s (an officer of Pharaoh) palace (high)
  • Then, he was wrongfully accused of rape (low)
  • As a result, he was thrown into prison for years (low)
  • In prison, he interpreted a fellow prisoner’s dream. After getting out of prison, this prisoner (a butler), promised to speak well of Joseph to get him out, too. (high)
  • Yet Joseph was forgotten, and left in jail (low)
  • Years later, the butler finally remembered Joseph. Joseph was taken out of prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. (high)
  • From there, Joseph was elevated in rank right next to Pharaoh himself.  (high)
  • This put him in a position to forgive his brothers and save them from a famine in their land. (high)

If you ask me, that doesn’t look like an easy life of one progressive step of success to another, and for such a godly guy, you’d think life would be easier. Yet in the end, Joseph life came full circle. He looked back on it and the pieces finally made sense. It must have been such a soothing balm to his heart as he realized God’s hand in everything the whole time.

So back to that slammed door.  Do I believe that God can open a window of greater opportunity?

Yes, He certainly can.

And He can use that slammed door, (that one that feels like it’s slammed right on our heart till we can’t breathe, yeah that one), as a blessing to immediately bring us to a bigger, better circumstance.

Or…He can bring about the good in your life through a series of shut and open doors. Either way, His love is cast upon His children to the point of no denial in the end.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, if you are His child, know this. He is FOR you and not against you. I’m glad to know that, so I hang on for what’s ahead. Sure, I pray for blessing. Who doesn’t? Yet in hope, there must be submission to His authority in this not-so-perfect world.  We can make our plans, but it is the Lord’s purpose that presides.

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 Have you had a circumstance happen that left you absolutely baffled? Has someone handed you a raw deal? Have you come through it to see God’s ultimate purpose? I look forward to hearing your stories!

 

 

 

RADICAL ISLAM: A CONTRAST OF REACTIONS

I’ll admit that this post hasn’t been easy for me to write. Let’s just say that I don’t want to hide behind the language of “Christianize” when more truthfully, I’m beyond outraged at the terror and killing put upon Christians (or anyone for that matter) in the name of Radical Islam. I’m equally incensed at the insanity of a government that sits idly by while this is happening.

Here’s the thing. As a Christian, I’ve read the book of Revelation and the signs of the end times. Let’s note the signs, shall we? God’s word has already predicted the coming persecution (check). We should expect to see wars and rumors of wars. (check). We’ll see the opposition against Israel (yep, just this week), and we know that all will accelerate in tribulation until Christ’s return. So if we know all of this is to come to pass, why are we so angry? When is it anger, and when is it righteous indignation?

Another question: If we know that our brothers and sisters are being killed and persecuted across this globe, how are we to live, work, play, and just go about our lives as they suffer? What is it with this “joy” we’re supposed to possess?

Those who are stronger than me will answer that anger is righteous indignation when we are angry with things that anger God…yet this is tempered with a constructive means to help those who suffer, to pray fervently for justice, and for God’s name and glory to be known. Although we know there is and will be persecution, there’s never a time when we are not called to pray for God’s will to be done. Of this I am sure…God works through the prayers of His own.

Here is my only hope, and to this I cling exclusively: Whatever happens is the outworking of the purposeful plan of the sovereign, creator God. Job confessed: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted”. (Job 42:2)

Jesus knew this as He stood before Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, before His crucifixion. Pilate threatened to send Jesus to the cross, which was well within his jurisdiction and power in an earthly sense. (John 19:10). Yet Jesus wasn’t surprised or fearful. He told Pilate that whatever power he had was given to him from above. (John 19:11)

This tells me that whatever powers that exist in our government or in this world are subordinate to God’s power. We see what seems hopeless but we must remember that His vengeance WILL come as He has promised. (Ezekiel 25:17). That doesn’t mean that I believe we as a nation shouldn’t retaliate. By all means, we need to WAKE UP and defend against this evil and defend ourselves. However, what I am saying from a spiritual point of view is that (although unseen), there is an undercurrent of His purposes and comfort to His people until He ends the suffering once and for all. I have Christian family in Egypt, and as I’ve shared in a previous post, we don’t necessarily see how God is moving behind the scenes. It’s just that it’s hard to see His purpose in the midst of anguish. We get impatient, we cry out “how long, O God!”, and for good reason.

I have to believe that as He promises His judgment in end, He also gives those who are persecuted a special grace:

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”(1 Peter 4:14)

This is the witness of Christ followers throughout the ages. It is what shows the truth from a lie and displays a testimony that shines in a dark world. Maybe the joy that we are told to live out is not a cart-wheeling bliss but a peace in His presence.

I believe that those 21 Egyptian Christians’ deaths, or any other persecution of God’s children were not, and will not be in vain, but will serve to strengthen the church. I wanted to end with a video that you may or may not have already seen; it’s an amazing reaction from a man who lost two brothers in those beheadings. It’s a clip of an Egyptian TV interview in which he expresses an astonishing reaction by praying for the murderers. He prays that their eyes would be opened and that they would come to repentance.

 

One final note: May we never forget that our financial support is an extension of our deep concern for the persecuted church. Let’s give generously; I believe our gifts go a long way. Here are some worthy relief organizations, (click for the links to their websites):

Samaritan’s Purse 

Open Doors International

Voice of the Martyrs

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Maybe you can relate to the struggles associated with our response as Christians to this growing evil. Would you have further insight from prayer or scripture?

 

DISCOVERING THE BENEFITS OF WEAKNESS

weakness“Just before he was murdered a few years ago, designer Gianni Versace was asked about his religious opinions. He replied, ‘I believe in God, but I’m not the kind of religious person who goes to church, who believes in the fairy tale of Jesus born in the stable with the donkey. That’s not—I’m not stupid. I can’t believe that God, with all the power that he has, had to have himself born in a stable. It wouldn’t have been comfortable!’ …

But that is exactly the kind of God we do know and worship. He gave up his comfort in order to gain eternal glory. To miss that is to miss the point. Likewise, God has purposed for all those areas of your life where you experience pain and suffering to be the very places where he displays his sufficiency and so brings glory to Himself. And not just so you can see it, but so that the people around you can see it.” – Mark Dever, “The Message of the New Testament, Promises Kept”, P.204.

Dear Friends, I wanted to share this quote and message that our pastor gave last Sunday, because it addresses the problem of suffering. It seems that this subject more than any other raises up doubt in a god that seems to stand at an uncaring distance. I, myself have been guilty of losing perspective of who I know God to be when I suffer. What brings me back? I have no argument against the cross. We can’t say that God doesn’t know pain, or grief, or suffering, or discomfort (as Versace discredited), because He offered  the ultimate sacrifice, that is, He didn’t even spare His own Son from the cross in order to demonstrate His love for us, so that we can be reconciled back to Him.

But God has also made good of our weaknesses and suffering. Taken from Dever’s quote, the main idea here is  “not just so you can see it, [His  sufficiency and glory], but so that the people around you can see it”. How? Taken from (mostly) our pastor’s words, there are four ways:

1) Our weakness leads to deeper ministry to others.

Have you ever lived through a crisis that later put you in a position to help someone else going through the same thing? How many of us have turned to a friend who could say “I know exactly how you feel” because they have been there themselves? Sooner or later,  there will come a time when we will all have the opportunity to give and receive  needed comfort and support in difficult times

2) Our weakness leads to greater glory

The Apostle Paul once stated that not many of us are wise by human standards, nor influential, nor of noble birth. (1 Corinthians 1:26). In fact, he compared all of us as “jars of clay”, meaning  that we  are all ordinary, fallible human beings, living imperfect lives.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Treasure in earthen vessels

We are “jars of clay” for a reason…that is, so that we can show God’s greatness in bringing us through. In our ordinary, earth-muddy weakness, it is obvious that He is the only One that can and has brought us through. If we were ornate, display- only type vessels, all the attention would be on us, and not to God. However, when we are honest in our sufferings, we point towards God for His provision, and He gets the credit and all the glory.

3) Our weakness leads to a broader outreach

If my greatest testimony is “God made me rich”, then how great is my god, really? However,   everyone acknowledges pain. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, bring up the subject of heartache, loss, illness and death and you’ll find you won’t be at a loss for sympathy.  Maybe that’s why suffering demonstrates a living out of faith like nothing else can. It’s one thing to “talk the talk”, but I guarantee that when someone who claims faith is suffering, people are watching. The question I ask myself is “Will I be faithful?” Will I be able to show that God can be trusted when I am at my weakest?”

And therein is the whole point: Our weakness is a pathway to reflect Jesus’s suffering for us. Just as He reconciled us through weakness, our own weakness is a pathway to bring others to faith.

4) Our weakness leads to deeper hope

Suffering has a way of taking our eyes off of trivial matters, doesn’t it? As our pastor said, “the easier life is, the deeper our roots can dig into our present existence”. Suffering says “do not mistake this for home.” When it strikes, it has a way of averting our attention to a deeper longing for heaven. The glorious thing is that this is an indestructible hope, a promise that guarantees that all the suffering in the world will end for those who are in Christ…and that’s something that cannot be taken away.

I’ve often heard believers say that suffering was the best and worst thing that ever happened to them. What do you suppose they mean by that? Do you have your own testimony? Can you add to the list on this blog concerning the benefits of weakness?

 

 

WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Prayer and HealingWant to ruffle some feathers? Just call a press conference and thank God publicly for your healing. That’s what happened when both Nina Pham and Dr. Kent Brantly expressed gratitude to God and acknowledged the power of prayer for their recent recovery from the Ebola virus.

Apparently some people are upset, even downright hostile because the credit wasn’t given solely to their medical teams, even though they both thanked the doctors and nurses involved in their care. (Click on their names for the videos).

Now I’m no theologian, but I can see misconceptions about the whole subject of prayer and healing (or the lack thereof) scattered across social media like a virus itself. Here are just a couple:

Misconception #1 – Christians believe that all healing is due to prayer alone.

While there are some that hang on to this potentially dangerous theology, there’s nothing in the bible that supports it. In fact, there are many places in the Bible that illustrate using resources and people in healing:

  • Jesus healed the blind man with mud directly to his eyes. (John 9:6-7 )
  • Naaman, who suffered with leprosy, was healed after washing himself 7 times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5).
  • Paul tells Timothy to “drink a little wine” to help his stomach (1 Timothy 5:23)
  • Luke himself was a physician (Colossians 4:14)

Now here’s an important point: While He doesn’t do so as often, I believe that God can and does still heal miraculously, without the help of modern medicine. We’ve all heard of miracle recoveries…now I’m not talking about the out of control, faith healers on TV, but rather the cases that show lasting medical evidence that we see from time to time. Tumors have been known to disappear with no explanation. People who aren’t expected to live six months have been known to live for years, defying the odds.

Even so, God usually chooses to work through man and through natural means in healing. In fact, more often than not, this is God’s way of working His will in general. He gives ordinary (or very gifted) men and women the privilege to be the means of His work.

  • He doesn’t command angels to fly down and sing His praise; He gives musicians and singers the talent to create beautiful music to His glory.
  • He created the weather but decrees the farmer to till the harvest
  • He doesn’t shout from heaven for all to believe, but commissions His own to share the gospel.

And He gives doctors and nurses the special medical skill and wisdom to understand illness and bring patients to health.

Misconception #2 – All healing comes from science and medicine alone.

In a recent Facebook comment, someone said, “I was in a motorcycle accident, and not once did I pray, but here I am, completely healed”. My response to this is that there is such a thing as common grace, which is the overriding and unbiased grace of God poured out on everyone, whether they are righteous or not. Jesus expressed this when He said that God causes “his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45) and that God “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). The very fact that He does heal at all is cause for praise to Him. The very fact that we have one more day to draw breath is due to His grace. We don’t start with a sense of entitlement and strength, we start first with an understanding that He isn’t obligated to help or heal us, but in His love, He does choose to heal many.

You know, I look around me and I’m amazed at the ingenuity of man. Really, what we’ve been able to do in the areas of science and technology is staggering. It’s so easy to take the credit when we forget that we are the created, not the Creator. God has already created the depths of what we can discover. With as much as we’ve done, we cannot add one iota to a life that is fading–we find that our abilities alone will always have a limit.

Conclusion – God heals as he sees fit

I don’t believe that God and modern medicine are incompatible. God heals as He sees fit. He is sovereign for the outcome. In other words, we do all we know to do medically but God knows the outcome of each illness.

Application

There is a comfort in knowing that life and death aren’t ultimately in our hands. Can you imagine the burden upon us if it was? Caregivers have such a burden upon them as it is, with so many decisions to make for the patient. If you cared for a loved one that passed away, the second-guessing can be overwhelming. This subject came up at a Bible Study I attended this last week. That’s when all kinds of questions came up:

“Should I have tried harder?”

“Should I have pursued another type of treatment?”

“Was there something I could have done differently to extend his/her life?”

Knowing that God is sovereign in healing releases us from any of this anxiety. His word clearly states that there’s an assigned time for each person to die. (Hebrews 9:27). This means that if someone is meant to recover, then God will bring about the circumstances of that healing, whatever that may be. This is in spite of any well-meaning, yet limited wisdom we may have. By the same token, if someone’s time on Earth is up, no human effort can stop that either. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. We can pray continually and care for them to the best of our ability but we can also take comfort in knowing that life and death aren’t ultimately in our hands. Yet another reason to thank God.

Brantly quote

 

Why do you think that some people criticize prayer in healing?

Do you believe God uses man to accomplish His purpose? If so, where’s the balance?

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? (PART 2)

The pressure must have been tremendous. Three young men, bound in chains, had a decision to make. They could either renounce their faith or be put to death within the flames of a blazing furnace…

FireLast week we looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (Daniel 3:1-30). It’s the story of three Jewish young men who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. If you recall, we tried to put ourselves in their sandals while remembering that there are Christians who are living (and dying) under that same kind of persecution today. We asked ourselves what we would say if we found ourselves in a similar situation.

What would you say if you were in any one of these present day scenarios?

  • You are one of these Christians that faced a number of tortures and even death for their faith?

I love Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you O king that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18

They said, “We do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” Just like that. They didn’t protest or preach. They didn’t feel any obligation to explain, apologize, dialogue, or defend themselves or God. The lesson here? Sometimes we are called to speak up, and sometimes we are simply called to quiet resolve. In this case, they knew that any lengthy explanation to King Nebuchadnezzar would be useless. Christ also didn’t say a word as He was lead to the cross, knowing that His death was the will of God.

Notice a very important phrase: “If it be so”, they said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king, But even if He does not…we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image.

Did they show a lack of faith by not “claiming their miracle” as some may profess? No. Did they have a fit loud enough to reach heaven to get God to act on their behalf? No, I don’t see that either.

What I do see is three believers who stood firm in the object of their faith, not in faith itself. There’s a difference. The first is centered on trust in God, the second is centered on man’s ability in himself. Even more so, I see three believers who loved and worshiped God for who He is and not what He does for them. They did not withdraw their love or faith in God based on what happened that day. They believed God could save them, but they did not presume He would. They believed the greater audacity was not standing up to an idol when others fell, but rather to stand up before God and tell Him what to do!

I’m sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed for deliverance. Who wouldn’t? They may have begged and pleaded to God to save them. Look at Jesus himself. He cried and pleaded to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, (Matt. 26:36-46). He didn’t stand up and “claim” deliverance from the cross. At the end of the day, He resigned that it not be His will, but the Father’s.

This passage is a clear message that God is not a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wishes.

Dear believer, if they had this attitude about their very lives, why would we “name and claim”, assume and demand of something of God for so much less?

 

 

FROM MY CHRISTIAN COUSIN IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Dear Friends,

 

My cousin Hoda

My cousin Hoda

Today I’d like to share a pretty neat conversation I had with my cousin Hoda, who lives in Egypt. (Sorry the pic is so big ~ major issues with uploading this week! I’m just glad I got it posted at all!).  Anyway, she was in the states on vacation, and (after catching up on her and her family), our talk almost immediately turned to the condition and welfare of Egypt itself. Since the Revolution of 2011, I’ve been keenly aware of the precarious position that my family and many other Christians are living in in that part of the world.

As you may know, Egypt went from bad to worse even after the initial revolution with the “free” election of Mohamed Morsi, who was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He granted himself unlimited power and issued an Islamic-backed constitution. Undoubtedly opposed by Christians and even moderate Muslims, the people rose again and forced this loser to step down by the summer of 2013.

Fast forward to their second-ever-in-history election to their current President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who, in my cousin’s words, is a good guy and finally looks to be a better leader for Egypt. He doesn’t appear to be as aligned with the terrorist groups or the Muslim brotherhood that have reaped such havoc in the country. So far so good.

So, while we may all read the headlines, it’s not every day that we get a glimpse of this situation from an insider’s viewpoint. I gained some wonderful gems of insight from her, a testimony we won’t ever get from the news.

First of all, she said, the outcry for positive change in Egypt was not instigated by the military (as we have been told), but by the power of the people. I bookmarked this in my mind. If a socialist country could band together through the sheer power of their people, how much more can we as American citizens use our power in a democracy?

And then what she said next was an eye-opener. She said, “Margaret, had it not been for the election of Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt would have turned into another Syria or Iraq, [in terms of Radical Islamic dominance and oppression to Christians] within a very short time.

And then she added, “Christians were praying and fasting around the clock, standing in the gap, and I believe that made all the difference”.

I guess when all you do is hear the news reports, you don’t really realize how God moves behind the scenes. As with any trial in life, it’s one thing when you are praying for a situation that you’re not directly involved in and quite another when you are the one experiencing it.

Yet, as I talked to my cousin, I realized that when trials are great, so is strength in Christ.

I could see that this dependence on God’s grace produces a special joy and undeniable zeal for Him. It is a living testimony of His sustenance, a wake-up call to those at ease. There is a certain added vigor, a sensitivity to His Spirit, and a strength that only comes from trial.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

She reminded me of the story of Gideon, the Israeli Army commander who’s story is told in Judges 7. He was chosen to lead the army against the Midianites. Although he only had 300 men against their thousands, God gave him victory by confusing the enemy till they started to fight amongst themselves. Well, she said, “that’s exactly what happened with the Muslims! They started fighting amongst themselves!

Even more than that, according to her testimony, many Muslims themselves turned to Christ during this time. Of those that did, she said they devoured their Bibles word by word…and they wondered why we don’t read it more!

Listening to her, I wondered how many other countless stories God has already weaved in spite of the atrocities of all the fighting in the Middle East.

I don’t believe we’ll understand all the purposes God will bring about from the evil in the world until we’re with Him in eternity, but I do believe He is with each believer in undeniable ways.

Though He has been merciful to His own minority in Egypt and they are relatively stable for now, that doesn’t in any way diminish our own diligence in prayer for all the Middle East as they face what I believe is the greatest evil we know today. The tide is troublesome and disheartening and the enemy is relentless against those who love the Lord. Please keep each in your diligent prayers. Especially now.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39).