Many Sauls

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The terrorist, perched upon his horse,
Was suited in haughty pride;
He stayed by vigilantly and mocked
Innocent victims as they died.

These priceless martyrs are jewels in God’s crown,
Children of the day;
We know them as People of the Cross,
Those who’ve chosen “The Way.”

They stood for the truth of Jesus Christ,
Forgiveness and for peace;
The dark one struck them down with intentional force,
delivering their final release.

His resolve was strong,
Educated from birth;
Religion was his god
And his fundamental worth.

Until the day,
As he traveled Damascus Road,
A bright light took him down
And all around him glowed.

His ears were opened to the beholding voice.
“Why do you persecute Me?”
(What are you doing?  Where are you going?
And this your misguided choice?)

“Who are you?”, he pleaded,
Astonished and afraid;
“I am Jesus,” He answered
“The One whom you degrade.”

Immediate surrender
Overcame his blinded heart;
By grace he became a vessel for Jesus,
Holy and set apart.

Thank God for the testimony of my brother,
The apostle known as “Paul”;
It stirs me to pray whole heartedly
for the world’s modern day Sauls.

“Sauls” trapped by hideous terror
In their own deluded minds;
Immersed in evil thinking,
Hearts and souls bound and confined.

Unless the Spirit of Truth is received,
Hearts softened and spirits set free,
Many Sauls will suffer weeping and gnashing of teeth,
The Lake of Fire consuming for all eternity.

The persecutor and the persecuted,
both are made in God’s image and loved
By the One who judges justly
And sends rain down on both from above.

So, let us pray for the “Pauls”, my Sisters,
Then pray for the “Sauls”, as well,
That God, in His infinite mercy,
Might deliver many souls from hell.

“Bless those who persecute you:  bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14

by Dana Lange

People of the Cross

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“Pray without ceasing.”  I Thessalonians 5:17

 

Editors Note:  The following poem and background story were received Monday morning and the ministry team has been praying for God’s leading as to when and how we would publish the article.  As this is being written, there are reports that ninety more Christians, this time Assyrian men, women and children, have been kidnapped by ISIS.  WE are the people of the Cross.  WE may not be on the frontline of the physical battle, but WE can be effective in the spiritual battle that is being waged.  Please put your Orange on and Pray…Pray…Pray.  May we stand firm in our faith and act on God’s Word as He gives us direction. 

I have been heavily burdened by the recent martyrdom of the twenty one Christians and others persecuted in the world for our faith and I have often chastised myself for not being “out loud” about my witness to a lost world.

I saw a picture of the young men before they were killed and it broke my heart.  Young men, like my sons, dressed in those horrible orange jumpsuits.  There was resolve on their faces, a bravery I have not possessed.  An urgent need to identify with them arose in me, along with the commanding desire to pray for those who are like them, brothers and sisters in Christ who are still suffering awful things, even death, at the hand of evil in our world today.

So, I began to think, what if all “people of the Cross” the world over wore an orange bracelet or ribbon to signify our solidarity with them and also as a constant reminder to pray?  I didn’t have an orange ribbon, but I did have an orange bracelet.  I placed it on my wrist and I now wear it to honor these brave and courageous men, women and children of God.

The Color of Courage

Was it a man or a woman,
Garbed in a robe of black,
That issued the jumpsuit of terror
And quickly turned their back?

People of the Cross decided to stand
Firm in their faith on that day.
Eyes fixed on Jesus, their Savior,
They followed Him all the way.

He knew the path they were taking;
He had been on that road before.
He knew it would lead to glory
On a far and distant shore.

Pray that the blood of these martyrs
Will bring many people to Him
Knowing that Christ has the victory
And over all evil will win.

Orange is the “Color of Courage”
Issued only to people who stand
In faith, completely devoted
Trusting His all-knowing Hand.

So wear proudly the “Color of Courage”
While evil has its way
And pray for our brothers and sisters
Who are dying in faith every day…

 WHO ARE DYING IN FAITH EVERY DAY.

by Darla J. Lewis, retired missionary to Ethiopia

 
  
                                                                                                      
                                                                              
 
 
                                                                              
 
                                                                            
                                                                              

A Drum and Two Coins

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I have no gift to bring fit for a King.  I never will.  So why even offer Him anything.  This question has been playing on repeat in my mind lately.

I have been listening to the song “Little Drummer Boy” on repeat, too.  (And if you must know, my Christmas tree is still up. Merry Valentine’s Day!)
We all have a drum.  Question is: Are we playing it for our King? Are we playing our best for him? Or are we not even interested in dusting it off?
Lately I’ve felt that my “drum” is sitting under a pile of dirty dishes, mountains of laundry, sick kiddos, an avalanche of adoption paperwork and pets I forget to feed.  To be honest, trying to dig out that drum would take too much effort.  And even if I did, I guarantee, it may sound more like a War Drum then one of honor and praise.
I have no gift to bring fit for a King.  The fact that I can’t even make the effort to play a simple song of praise to him, is proof of that.
But what is my “drum”?  My spiritual gifts? My talents? Maybe.
When we focus on the gifts God has given us, and consider using them for His Kingdom, it is easy to scrutinize the “gift”.  It is easy to point the finger back at God when we feel we have nothing of worth to give him. After all, HE made us.  He could have given me a more beautiful voice… He could’ve given me the mind of an Einstein…or perhaps the leadership of a Lincoln.
But no, He just gave me this drum….this old, out of tune, imperfect drum, swallowed up by the mundane details of everyday life.  It is easy to look at the “wise men” around us who are bringing Him their finest gifts, and feel defeated:
I am just a Mom.  I am sort of a writer.  I am simply just not as “gifted” as THAT person.  So I’ll kind of play my drum…if it’s all God has given me.
But…when we judge the drum, whatever it may look like in our life…we are judging God.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his…”Psalm 100:3
When we think of our ability to bring a gift worthy of a King in terms of our talents, we will only half heartedly be able to play a song for Him. And when we half heartedly play our drum for Him, we miss Jesus.
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
God will ask us to give out of our “poverty” at some point in our lives. Maybe it will be sickness, a broken heart, exhaustion or literal financial strain.  We will have moments where we could say to God, “I’ve got nothing to offer you right now. Even if I did, it would be two small coins because that is all YOU have given me!”
We blame our King because we forget who our King is.
When we come to him among the rich and say, “This is all I have…”, our King says, “That is all I want.”
Are we like the widow who gives all we have?  Sometimes all we feel we have is bitterness and anger. We look at our drum of a life and think, “You expect me to do wonders for your kingdom with this mess?”  No. But Jesus can do wonders for His kingdom with that mess.  We must start lifting that entire drum up to Him if we want the beat to change…”she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
When I was in college, I saved up to buy a set of Conga Drums.  I had to save up because they were not cheap!  There was a season that I played them every day…then every week…then….well, never.  Sometimes I wonder if those drums were worth the cost?
The drum is not only our talents. The drum is our livesWe must recognize, they were bought at a great cost. They were bought with the blood of Christ.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8
Was it really worth the sacrifice? Did God make a poor judgment call when he ransomed our lives?  The value of the drum is set by the price paid. We best not miss the crazy love that has been poured out for us.  When we sit on our drum, complain about it’s usefulness, and question it’s ability to make a beautiful sound, we are spitting on the cross.  God Almighty sacrificed His son because He saw enormous value in saving us for His orchestra. 
If the creator of the universe sees value in the condition of our lives, we better start to change our perspective.  Will we remain silent and miss our purpose?
The drum is my life: The only gift worthy of a King. If that consists of fatigue, my marriage, my kid’s snotty noses and piles of paper work…then let me learn to put in my “two very small copper coins” with a thankful heart…a THANKFUL heart…because I know my King.  My King saved me for a reason.
Let me have the courage to bring my little drum among the wise men and ask with a humble heart, “Shall I play for you?”
I guarantee the song I play to my King will not always be lovely.
But my King is lovely. My King is full of grace. He gave me this life.
He fashioned my drum. He is listening.  As long as I am playing my drum only for Him…
He is smiling…
Smiling at me and my drum.
by Jenna Masters

Kindness Matters

 

Heart Bible

The beginning of a new year is always a time for reflection. What will I do different this year? What will I be more intentional about this year? How and where is God leading me? Here is what God is showing me.

My word for 2014 was “Joy”. Being mindful of this word throughout this past year consistently brought my thoughts back to the fact that true joy is only found in the Lord. It is in the daily walking with my Savior that I am consistently able to live His joy in my life. I found that not only did He meet my needs in every circumstance [both the happy and the challenging], but the very presence of His love for me became known to me in a deeper way. He carried me above all my circumstances. My joys were greater joys because He was with me and my heartaches were not carried alone, but rather embraced within His love and His will for me.

This Christmas I experienced the Gift of Baby Jesus, come to save the world, in a more beautiful way because Jesus is the greatest Joy we can ever experience in life. No greater love can ever be found but that God loved us so much and desired our restored relationship with Him that He made the way for our return to Him. Joy! Joy! Sweet joy! It is only found in Him and I found myself reluctant to leave Christmas behind.

But there is now a new year and so I must look forward to what is ahead for me. Where does God want to take me this year for He is always about “growing us up” more in Him, isn’t He? What will He open my eyes to next? What does He want me to be intentional about?

What do I want for this New Year? First, I do want to grow more “in Christ” this year. I also want to share His joy with others. My word for this New Year was found the day after Christmas and is actually two words. I saw them behind the register of a favorite store of mine. I don’t even remember what they were written on, but the impact of them spoke to my heart. What were these two words? “Kindness Matters” were the words that seemed to take root in my heart.

I have always known that kindness was important and I have tried to be kind to those around me. But this was different. Kindness is not only for the sake of being polite. Kindness is not for the express purpose of having kindness returned. Kindness is the setting aside of yourself for the purpose of blessing another. It begins with my thoughts, which turn into my words, and finally become my actions. I want God to show me what His kindness is to look like as He works through my life. Just like “Joy”, “Kindness” is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Joy was for me on a personal level—to fill my soul up with His joy. Kindness is to be given away. With a heart full of joy, kindness overflows. Where would God work His kindnesses in and through my life if I leaned into Him to hear His voice; if I was intentional about showing His kindness? How could I make a difference for His kingdom if I were diligent in kindness? Kindness encompasses so many things that I can’t even begin to imagine what new ways God will show me where HIS “kindness matters”!

As I think on this, I am reminded that kindness for others begins with having God’s heart for others. New eyes to see into another’s heart are required. Prayer is required. We “see” people all the time, but we don’t know what they are going through. Not even close friends always share their greatest sorrows or hurts with each other.

What about the person who sits next to us in church? Will God open the door for us to give a word of encouragement to one of His hurting children? We can’t change situations; but we can pray and we can speak of God’s love, strength, care, and His presence in their situation. We know that God sees and knows every heart that is aching and in need of knowing He is aware of what they are going through! He knows and He cares and I know He can “set up” divine appointments. I know because He set one before me opening the door this very morning in Church calling me to share His love, encouragement, and kindness to one of His children. I don’t know who was blessed more—the person or me. Blessings happen when you are in the midst of being “moved” by God and they are treasured moments.

Will you join me this year in extending God’s kindness as He prompts your spirit? Will you pray God opens your eyes, too, to see those who could use a kind word or an act of kindness? Will this be your word, too, for 2015? Together we can be His light and point others to the One who is kind above all others…loving, caring, and ready to lighten the burdens of hearts that are turned to Him. Our words and our actions can be a “godly hug” to a hurting soul! Kindness matters more than we will ever know this side of heaven!

“She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”Colossians 3:12

By Pat Tingwall

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