Tag Archives: freedom

#MissionsMonday My Prayer for Paris

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There is so much that could be said today particularly in light of recent news. I’ve been asked my opinion several times since Friday on the attacks in Paris and why that takes the limelight over other radical Islamic Attacks. People have asked if I’m mad that Paris got more attention than the attack in Garissa Kenya in April this year. I’ve also seen many posts of opinions out there and using Paris Attacks as a platform to say this or that. I have to be honest with you and say I don’t have the right answer. What I can say is that people are hurting right now and lives across the globe are being taken at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists. 147 people died in Garissa Kenya in April at the hands of Al Shabaab which yes is close to the number killed in Paris (although wounded count is higher in Paris). I was grieved then and I changed my Facebook picture to a flag of Kenya with a scripture as I also did in 2013 for the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. I was close to terrorism bombings and killings last summer while in Kenya that never made the news.  In January 2,000+ died in west Africa at the hands of Boko Haram while 12 died in Paris. I wrote about that then to hopefully being attention to what other countries were facing. In Indonesia in recent weeks, 8,000 Christians have been displaced at the hands of jihadists there and threats of imams. ISIS’ attack both in parts of the Middle East this week and Paris have killed numerous lives from many countries and religions, including Muslims. The news reel goes on and on across the globe of devastations even unrelated to terrorism and persecution. We have every opportunity to be informed if we want to be.

Charge To Christians

I saw a few posts by Christians saying statements like “there’s nothing you or I can do about ISIS” or biased posts about the French and many posts about other scenarios like I mentioned above. While I may not have the most eloquent phrases to say to contradict these statements, I must say I disagree with some of it. If you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, there IS something that you can do. You can pray. And by that I don’t mean just cute words, but truly carry the heart of God to pray His will over the lost, the hurting, and yes, even the radical jihadists. Because without Christ, even the “best” of people will spend eternity in suffering far worse than anything we could imagine. God is moving across the globe as a result of prayer and actions to obey Him. Lives are being changed and we can partner with Him wherever we are. If you as a believer have biased or prejudices against certain people groups like the French or Muslims, I encourage you to let God heal that area of your heart. His will is that NONE should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. Lastly, we are to “mourn with those who mourn” and France is mourning right now. Yes so is Lebanon and many others, so let’s stand with them too. If you want to pray for more than just Paris, go for it! There’s never an end to praying for the nations, but let’s not decide France’s pain is any less or shouldn’t be recognized. That country needs Jesus like anywhere else and here’s why.

The Real Paris

When I was in Paris for the first time this summer, I was blown away and not just by the beauty of the city. We had a couple of days to explore, but did ministry as well in a place I’d long been burdened for. I must have met people from at least 30 countries. I met people from all over in West Africa, Romania, Russia, Czech Republic, and Bangladesh to name a few. There were language barriers for some who don’t speak French and many were doing things like selling packages nuts in the subway to provide for their families in this strange new place like a man named Luten. My heart broke that all I could do was smile at him and buy a 2nd bag of salted almonds from him. I wanted to encourage, bring life and hope through Jesus, but he spoke such limited French. Paris is home to over 18 million people and is one of the largest urban centers in the world. My heart broke as I was there in a place where I’ve never seen such diversity and backgrounds before. All the French or Parisians we met were so kind and hospitable. Many were beyond gracious with me and my limited french vocabulary and celebrated my attempts to speak their language all the while assuming Stephen was European and I, clearly American haha. I can’t speak for all French people as I can’t for all Americans either, but I can speak God’s heart and it’s that He loves them all. It’s not just a place of fancy architecture, rich sophisticated people and a romantic tourist destination. It’s a city where people from all over have gathered and I stand with France and I grieve with them in their loss. A massive city filled with the nations is now gripped in terror and fear. My prayer for Paris is that they’d be healed and set free from fear and become a city full of the light of Christ and a place of worship for the nations.

Yes Paris hit more media attention, because it’s a “1st world country” and as bad as it sounds to admit, it wasn’t just terrorism somewhere “over there” where specifically the average American can’t relate to. It’s in our backyard so to speak, an ally, and it shook more people here in the USA. Many people have taken vacations there and strolled through Paris’ lovely streets. It was a place they could imagine themselves sitting at that cafe sipping an evening coffee with friends or attending a concert (maybe not death metal…). It’s different than the college in Kenya and very different from the awful Attacks in Lebanon. Is it right that those are often brushed aside and overlooked? No, absolutely not, but as we’ve clearly demonstrated in the USA, we’d rather discuss the color of a dress or coffee cups as our headlines. I say that with ALL the possible love in my heart for my country. But really, that’s what sells and that’s what grabs attention, not talking about (blank) far away country.

The Encouraging News

I’m encouraged in the fact that despite some criticism, the trending hashtag was #prayforParis. It doesn’t bother me one bit that people are praying for Paris. I’m thrilled that many people who maybe haven’t prayed in years or posted anything about prayer on social media jumped right in to unite in prayer. If praying for the nations and the world at large begins by praying for Paris, let it be so! If this attack then begins to open people’s eyes and hearts to search out what’s really taking place in the world then great! I don’t see any harm in everyone uniting around Paris and praying.

While other news might have been brushed aside, maybe eyes will be open and ready to pray for other places and situations. Maybe hearts will unite around other calls to prayer. Maybe hardened hearts will be more open to partnering with God’s heart for prayer. I sure hope so because the world needs more light in this dark hour. Maybe the next time radical Islamic Attacks wipe out innocent people or persecute Christians, the church at large will stop and pray and be vigilant to stand in prayer. Maybe it’ll be such a culture that we’ll all change our Facebook pictures to a globe with the prayer emoji 🙏🌍 instead of arguing about it ;-) I don’t know, but I do know prayer is needed and it is the means by which God shares His heart with us to reach a very hurting world with the hope of Jesus Christ.

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**I’m a work in progress on prayer and partnering with God’s heart for the nations. I have so much to learn, but a practical tip I use and would encourage you to do is to buy a world map. I have a large laminated one I bought for $10 at Mardel. Place it on your wall or print a 8&1/2″ x 11″ paper for your desk or bathroom mirror. Begin to ask God’s heart over certain regions or countries or cities. Listen and joy down prayer points. Look up scriptures on prayer and the nations. Ask God what your part to play is in the Great Commission. God may lay a nation or a city or even a people group on your heart that you’d never expected. Even if an event is overlooked by man, it is never overlooked by God.

5 Reasons Why Jesus Isn’t Like All Christians

5 REASONS WHY JESUS ISN'T LIKE ALL CHRISTIANS

I have a great primary care doctor.

When I deal with her directly, I am always treated well, have great advice and assistance.
However, when I deal with her staff it’s an entirely different story.

They often don’t follow through or follow-up with what the Dr. has asked them to do.
They usually aren’t knowledgable to answer my questions.

And on my last visit, the nurse was literally YELLING at the front desk people about something in front of all of us in the lobby.

Had I no knowledge that this doctor was truly excellent and kind, I wouldn’t stick around.

Sometimes I feel that what happens with my doctor’s office staff happens with Christians.
Those who are supposed to represent Him aren’t always portraying a correct picture to the world.

Now before I go any further, I want to say I am a huge fan of the Church, Jesus’ Bride, in all of her components, world-wide, cross-denominationally. I cheer her on because she truly is the heart of Jesus Christ and the means of which He uses to share His love and truth.

It’s just that sometimes she misses the memo.

Sometimes she loses sight of her first love.

She is clearly in the midst of her own transformation of glory and sometimes looks like a mess.

While the Church as a whole is demonstrating that Jesus is alive and moving in the hearts of His people, there are some places that are pretty messy.

The reality is that people are imperfect, BUT they are the means by which Jesus left His message to be spread throughout the world.

People, His Church, are His #1 plan. There is no “Plan B”.

These people who were left to spread the good news were people from all walks of life. Some were liars, some were former tax-collectors, while others had just denied Christ at His time of death. They were then entrusted to tell the entire world that Jesus loves then and died for them and that they too can be forgiven of their sins.

Wow! Quite daunting for sinners saved only by grace.

And so the story goes with a lot of believers today. Some are discipled well and know Jesus rightly and live a life in surrender to Him.

Other Christians are “babies” in the Lord and make a lot of big mistakes (oh do I have stories from my life…!!!)

What we ALL have in common as Christians is that none of us will ever truly be perfect.

So long as the world looks exclusively to Christians and not to Christ for their relationship with Him, they’ll always find reasons to not accept Christ.

What a Christian’s life has the ability to produce is the fruit of the spirit, a deep love for Jesus, compassion for people, and a passion to share His message of salvation and redemption to a lost and hurting world.

Let’s take a look at a few areas that show why Jesus isn’t like all Christians;

1. JESUS EMBRACED WHAT THE FATHER SAID OVER HIM.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 

When we make Jesus the Lord of our lives and invite His Holy Spirit to come live inside of us, we are welcoming the true creation that we were designed to be to take over us.

When Jesus was being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Bible says that the Heavens opened, a dove descended upon Jesus and the Father spoke ,“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

Jesus heard the affirmation of His Father saying;

1. You are mine. You are my son

2. I love you

3. I am well pleased with you.

Jesus went from that place to the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and he was tested by the devil.

Because Jesus knew what the TRUTH was of His identity and what the Father thought about Him, he was able to stand against the lies the enemy brought.

Many people believe that Jesus died for their sins and they have made Him the Lord of their lives, but they haven’t accepted the identity of Heaven and they still embrace the lies and accusations of the enemy as their identity.

This produces a lot of broken examples of who Christ really is and dilutes the power of His identity to transform people’s lives.

We must know that there is a greater hope in Jesus to embrace the love and affirmation of the Father and walk into a new life in Him.

2. JESUS’ HEART BEATS FOR PEOPLE.

I know and have met Christians who did not like being around people nor embodied love and compassion for others.

I myself have had bad days where I know I’ve not exemplified Christ in my actions towards others.

Whenever we see Jesus in the scriptures interacting with people, it was obvious that they were the priority.

Sure He rebuked them and challenged them, but it was because He wanted their lives to be changed and transformed.

He poured out His entire life loving and serving others.

He truly is the ultimate example of a servant leader.

All He did was for others including the ultimate sacrifice that He gave of dying for the sins of the world.

When we get to know Jesus and listen to His heart, we see how passionately it beats for others.

When Christians are consumed with themselves and try to preserve their lives, they are ignoring the heart beat of Jesus.

If you’ve been turned off to Jesus because other people haven’t reached out or loved you and shown you truth, please know that is NOT His heart.

Irregardless of how others may act, He is passionately pursuing the hearts of mankind to reveal His truth and love.

He is the ultimate lover of our souls and through His eyes, we can see others rightly and be moved in compassion to bring Christ’s love to them.

3. JESUS BROUGHT HEALING.

Everywhere He went, Jesus was healing people.

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Acts 10:38

While physical healing is incredible, (trust me I know because I am believing for my own body right now) there are definitely other types of healing.

Some need emotional healing and mental healing.

Others have been wounded spiritually and need a fresh touch from Jesus Himself to heal the wounds others created.

When people are hurting and in need of healing, they often feel isolated and alone.

Fear is usually another strong component and they are doubtful that God wants to be near and heal them.

I think of the lepers and how Jesus healed them. The outcasts of society met Jesus face to face and received their healing! WOW!

 Luke 6:6-11 shows us a time where the religious leaders of the day opposed Jesus healing someone because it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Mind you they weren’t Christians but it is a similar reaction some believers might have today.

“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.  But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

What would it look like for Christians to be so moved in the love of Christ to pray for and stand with those around them needing healing? To not be intimidated by what others might think? To not be held back by a legalistic spirit?

If you’re in need of healing in any form, know that Jesus wants to heal you. He wants you healed and whole and it is the other reason He died for you.

He is reaching out His hand to heal and to restore…

4. JESUS WASN’T AFTER BEING POPULAR.

While Jesus called many to come and follow Him, more chose not to follow Him and commit, than those who became disciples.

He didn’t change what He was saying to appease His followers.

He spoke truth and He spoke it plainly.

The only ones who truly followed Jesus to the end, to the place of the cross were the disciple John, Mary Magdalene, and His mother.

If we were evaluated exclusively by how many people followed us to the end of our lives, Jesus certainly wouldn’t be our example. 

I think that if a Christian is not rooted in the truth of Jesus Christ, they will seek popular opinion and strive to maintain followers often at the cost of compromising God’s word and not being bold about the truth of the gospel.

Often when we are seeking to be popular with man, we lose sight of carrying the heart of God TO mankind.

5. JESUS FORGIVES

Forgiveness is a huge area that many people, let alone believers have a hard time grasping.

This message is so powerfully displayed in the new Cinderella movie and I think this is why this blog entry of mine, Cinderella Says the F Word, went viral so quickly.

If anyone had a right to be offended, it was God. Yet He sent His son to die for us.

Then Jesus completely laid down His life with His last breaths crying out, “Father FORGIVE them, for they do not know what they’re doing”.

 There is no greater forgiveness than from the One who created us, the One whom we have all sinned against laying down His life and forgiving us from ALL of our iniquities. 

When we get offended in this life and hold onto bitterness and anger, we aren’t forgiving others the way that we have been forgiven.

There are horrific things that can be said and done and such cruelty in this world.

People across the world are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and it’s an injustice.

Yet, they are forgiven when they make Jesus their Lord. They are eternally with Jesus FORGIVEN from all of their sins.

If we’ve been forgiven of everything, who are we to withhold forgiveness to others?

As people face difficult situations, it is a difficult thing to forgive and release others especially when we don’t understand the forgiveness that has been extended to us.

Bitterness and offense are not becoming on anyone, especially those who are Christians who know the forgiveness of Christ.

Nothing you have done is out of reach of the forgiveness of Christ.

Others might not forgive you and there will be natural consequences of sin in this life. Yet, even in a prison cell, you can be forgiven.

 

My prayer is that whomever you are reading this, that you would know how incredible the love and salvation of Jesus Christ is. That if you are already a Christian, you would accept the identity of Heaven for your life and walk in Christ’s character and nature. That you would grow in maturity continually in your walk with Jesus.
If you aren’t a Christian, I pray that you’d see the truth and the light of Jesus’ life and make that decision today to follow Him even if His church isn’t always perfect. He is perfect and that is enough to follow and begin to love others as well.

Christians are continually being transformed into the image of the One who created them and loved them. Let’s be like Jesus, embracing our cross daily, denying ourselves, and living passionately in love with Him. Our world needs this type of Christian.