Saturday, August 16, 2014

Scarcity of Words

Aaron Marshall, a young man of depth and passion, describes himself as "student-humanitarian-activist".  A new, and long awaited, post is up on his blog today. 

Thirty-six words long. 

The entire post was thirty six words long. 

I sometimes have sentences longer than that, but the scarcity of words is intriguing. Much was said, so here's my go: 

Be still. Listen. 


Rejoice. Always rejoice. 

Excitement in the Boat, part 26: The Big Mistake

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. (Luke 8:34-37 NASB)

We look now at the most heartbreaking part of the story. When the demons went into the pigs, the pigs started running and quickly ran straight off a cliff into the sea. The herd was lost and those pig herders were likely in big trouble with their boss.  Their only defense was an unbelievable tale about a traveling preacher and a naked wild man. Who was going to believe that?  Nevertheless, those pig herders rushed around, telling everyone they saw about what had happened. 

Their story was so compelling that the people went out to the tombs to see for themselves.  Because the pigs were gone, the only evidence was the former demon-controlled man, now fully dressed, fully sane, and soaking up the words of Jesus, seated at His feet. These were likely the same people who had been part of the effort to restrain him. When they saw him fully restored, it frightened them to death. 

Eye witnesses confirmed what they had seen and the story chilled them to the bone. They were in the presence of something they did not understand. About the only thing they did understand was that an entire herd of pigs had run off the cliff into the sea and somehow Jesus was involved. The loss of the pigs was an economic loss to their owners and probably resulted in job loss for all the pig herders. It was a blow to the community as well as the owner. 

If they had stopped long enough to ask what Jesus wanted to show them, what new plan He had for them, which direction they should go, things would likely have been different. Instead, in the midst of an amazing miracle of grace, redemption, and restoration, on a day filled with miracles, an entire town and the surrounding community allowed their fear and uncertainty to lead them into the biggest mistake they would ever make. 

"You need to leave and don't come back," they told Jesus in no uncertain terms. And He did. 

What could be more tragic than to respond to confusing, uncertain, and difficult times by rejecting the One who has it all firmly under control? 

Are you in the midst of hard times? Have you suffered losses? Are there circumstances you don't understand?  It is easy to respond with fear, our only objective to put distance between us and those circumstances. We would do well to be still, sit at the feet of Jesus along with the newly healed, and listen. Dear ones, the time for rejecting is done. Be still. Know that He is God. Fear not. Embrace His plan. 

Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:
Link to last night's Friday Night With Friends post:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Night with Friends: Prayers for the Potcake by Dr. Christy Lee

Tilla came into my life at the beginning of living and teaching in Nassau, The Bahamas, in October of 2009 after a mugging incident had taken place in my own yard.  I was told that “potcakes” (a Bahamian mix breed named for the crusty cake of rice that forms at the bottom of a pot of rice) were wonderful guard dogs, fiercely loyal to their yards, and exactly what I needed to protect me from further incidents.  Thus, after years of being a “cat” lady I found myself the owner of Tilla - about 10 months old, beautiful, but very unsocialized by “American” standards of pet ownership.


Over the next weeks and months this animal and I forged ahead in learning about love and relationships while I continued to learn about the ways and culture of this beautiful island country I was calling home.  She learned to be touched, to take treats from my hand, to sit, lay down, walk on a leash, receive belly rubs, and, after about 8 months, finally set foot inside the house for the first time.  As she learned about being a pet, I learned the amazingness of unconditional love that I had heard about from dog owners all my life.  Her fierce devotion to me and those I loved became apparent as she would dutiful bark her head off at any suspicious cars or people in or around our yard.  She would lie in the driveway in the evenings or night waiting to get me safely inside the house, where she would lick my toes and stretch herself out on the cool tile to snore away until morning.


After five years of amazing island life, Tilla and I have journeyed to the USA together this past May via a chartered flight to Ft Lauderdale, a stay at doggie day care in Disney World, a long van ride with Uncle Terry to Mississippi, a summer stay at Granny and Pop’s house in Starkville this summer, a visit to our cousins in Knoxville, TN, and, not quite two weeks ago, to our new home in southwest Virginia.  Tilla has been a champ – civilized, loving and still fiercely protective of any potential threat around me or our family.  


Last Monday, Tilla went missing from our yard in Virginia.  I am fairly certain she was stolen out of our yard, as I’m hearing more and more incidents of “dog”napping for ransom money occurring in this region.  I’m convinced this is what has happened.  I’m amazed at the far reaching kindness that has been bestowed upon me this week as friends and strangers are rallying on the search for Tilla.


As I guest write for my cousin Leanna, I want to share the biggest lesson I have learned from Tilla and that is the Power of Love.  As she was given the chance, her doggie heart grew and gave huge amounts of Love in the best ways she knew how.  I know God loves the furry people, and I know He places them in our lives to serve as Angels to protect, love, and serve us where so often humans can fail.  Perhaps you, too, have experienced the unconditional love of on of God's most precious creatures and man's best friend. If so, please join me in praying Prayers for this Potcake, that she find her way safely home.  


NOTE:  Tilla received her name from the piece of accompanying music performed by C Force (I’m playing piano) and composed by Bahamian colleague Christian Justilien.  It’s written in a style of Bahamian music called “goombay.”  Tilla knows it’s her theme song and it fits her personality perfectly.

Excitement in the boat, part 25: The Problem of the Pigs

Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission.And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. (Luke 8:32, 33 NASB)

In the preceding verses, we saw the destructive hold the demons had on the man. Though the enemy of our soul can be quite deceptive, yet he is ever bent on absolute destruction. We must understand this without confusion. It is Christ, and Christ alone, whose goal is freedom and abundant life. The goal of the devil is destruction and death.  

The power and the heart of Jesus are clearly demonstrated in the restoration of the possessed man. Loosed from that Legion of demons, he was free to operate from a sound mind and a heart of love for his Redeemer.  No longer was he controlled by the power of darkness, compelled to wander, naked and alone, in the tombs. 

The intent and action of the enemy is clearly highlighted by the problem of the swine. Those demons desired to possess, control, and destroy. What we do not seem to understand is that this legion of demons would find a new target. They would possess someone or some thing. They would find a new object for their terrorism. Their desired goal would be a human, of course, but, in the presence of Jesus, that was not open to them. The pigs were their next best host. In allowing the demons to enter the pigs, Jesus prevented them from entering one (or a legion) of the townspeople. 

His ways are not our ways, as is so clearly demonstrated here in the matter of the pigs. The pigs were lost, and it was a real, and significant, blow to their owner. The herdsmen were upset, and it is understandable. It is likely that none of the townspeople ever realized that, in losing the pigs, they had been spared much torment and grief. 

We have that same difficulty, don't we? Because our vision is finite, we cannot know what the future would have held if not for the intervention of God. It is a common response of mankind to view difficult circumstances with a jaundiced eye, disparaging hard times and resenting the trouble they bring. If we had a glimpse of that which those hard times spared us, we might not be so quick to complain. We might, in fact, embrace our trials with thanksgiving, just as we have been commanded. 

Though we will never know, this side of eternity, what we have been spared, we would do well to thank God for His mercy in choosing freedom for us and sacrificing "the swine" (those things that bring temporary loss, yet in that loss bring protection from something worse).  We do well to thank Him, even when we do not understand. 

As you pray today, thank God for all the things we have been spared by the circumstances God has allowed, regardless of their difficulty. 
Link to last night's post:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Excitement in the boat, part 24: avoiding the abhorrent

They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. (Luke 8:31-32 NASB)

The legion of demons was not at all stupid. It was apparent to them that the Son of God had arrived, and He was in charge. They knew they were about to be thrown out, with no coming back. They had been commanded to leave the man before, but had always returned stronger and more numerous. There would be none of that this time.  They knew that for sure. 

Demons exist, at least in part, to torment mankind. They have rejected the service of Almighty God and have ended up serving the evil one. It seems that, in leaving the man, the demons had two options. They could go back to the pit of hell or find another being to possess. This should be significant to us, but I have never heard anyone mention this next point. Hell is a horrible place. It is so dreadful that even the Legion of demons begged Jesus not to send them back there! 

If demons abhor the possibility of going to hell, we should, too. If demons abhor the possibility of going to hell, we should be filled with such concern for those we love (as well as a lost and perishing world) that we pray non-stop that they would find a saving relationship with our Lord. 

In a time when the forces of evil have been so romanticized as to seem attractive, we need to reconsider the difference between light and darkness, good and evil. We need look no further than the naked, raging man in the tombs to see that we want no part of that darkness, and we should live accordingly. 

We are called to be the light in a dark and lonely world. Is our light a warm, welcoming glow? If it were, perhaps it would be more attractive to those who have been held captive in the darkness for far too long. Dear ones, let's be sure we live in such a way that it is obvious we believe the faith we claim. Only then will we draw others to the Lord we say we love. 
Link to last night's post:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Excitement in the boat, part 23: Empty Space

Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. (Luke 8:30-31 NLT)

Legion. Any way you define that, it's a large number. The Roman military organization was built on a precise and very interesting system that is too detailed for this post. Suffice it to say that a legion, including both soldiers and the ancillary troops needed to support them, consisted of just under 6,000 men. Imagine, then, a legion of demons! 

You may be wondering how someone ends up with 6,000 demons inside, wrestling for control. Jesus' explanation for this is recorded in Matthew's gospel. 

 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45 NLT)

An evil spirit torments a person and then leaves, either because the tormented person or someone else commands it to leave. The tormented one feels great relief but does nothing to fill the void left in his heart and mind. The evil spirit, always seeking more territory, finds seven more evil spirits, invites them to join him, and returns. Finding the void left by his leaving still empty, he moves back in with all his evil companions. The next time there is a struggle to banish these spirits, eight spirits leave and return to the unfilled void with seven new companions each. Suddenly, there are not eight demons but 64. [(1+7) x 8=64] it doesn't take long to have a legion of evil spirits, does it?

There is one key factor in the leaving and returning process, and that is unfilled space. The evil spirits can return because the space they left remains empty. What then can protect the tormented one from further torment? Filling the heart-space with something more powerful is the only hope. Jesus. Only Jesus. 

When we are freed from those things that oppress us, whether it be a recurring sin or an evil spirit, the only way to stay completely free is to fill our hearts with Christ, flood our minds with the truth of Scripture, and immerse ourselves in the relationship only God can provide. 

Have you struggled with something over and over again? Perhaps the problem is empty space. Maybe what is needed is a filling of that space with all that our Lord offers us. What Jesus promised was true freedom, and it is available today. Choose freedom. 

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NASB)

Link to last night's post is here:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

The Wonder Girls Take a Walk

Martha Stewart's Living magazine for September 2014 included an article entitled "Wish You Were (Still) Here" by Monica M. Willis. The topic was dogs missing their owners and the recommendation was, among other things, to exercise your dog. "Panting-tired" should be the goal. Since I'm still trying to get 10,000 steps in per day, and I'm chronically short, I have to finish up after dinner most days. 

I looked at the dogs and said, "Let's go, girls. We've got nearly 5,000 steps to get done." You may not believe this, but Maggie the Wonder Dog and Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy live with me, and they knew exactly what I was talking about. (I admit it crossed my mind that 5,000 steps might also equal panting-tired, and I was eager to see, but I did not tell the dogs!) 

We headed out and started walking. After  we hit the 7,500 steps point, Mamie was panting-tired and had to take a little break. 

It wasn't long before she rejoined Maggie and me and was off again. About the 8,000 steps point, Maggie hit panting-tired and stopped for a break. 

The instant they got tired, down they went, stretched out and resting. In just a few minutes, they were up and going happily along again. Frankly, that is not my way. I prefer to go wide open until I collapse and need resuscitation. (Well, very nearly) I hate to admit it, but my way may not work all that well. I'm pretty sure the Wonder Girls way is decidedly better. 

Tonight, Maggie and Mamie were slowing down and clearly tired by 8,250 steps, so I said, "Let's take a break, girls. I don't have to get 10,000 steps tonight."  Everyone headed inside, had a drink of water and rested. 

Now here is where you are just gonna have to believe me. I was resting in my big green chair when Maggie the Wonder Dog started scratching on my leg, trying to get me to follow her. It turned out she wanted to go for a walk.  I guess she wanted to be sure I got that last 1,750 steps. Off we went. I finished my 10,000 steps, Wonder Dog and her Apprentice Wonder Puppy both got "panting-tired", and all three of us were as happy as could be!

We could take a lesson from these little Wonder Dogs. There is something amazing about the divine plan of physical labor and rest. We need both to be healthy.  If the Wonder Girls are any example, that holy combination will not only make us healthy, it will leave us happy, energized, and sleeping like a baby, as well.  

In the words of Maggie and Mamie, "Woof! Woof!" Get started and get going! 

You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? ... God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 MSG)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Stepping Stone

Jesus told us we'd have trouble, and He was right. I wrote that recently, but today it's been on my mind all day. The news I've heard today has ranged from runaway children to uncertain job prospects to businesses in trouble to marital stresses to physical illness, and a plethora of trouble in between. It's sometimes overwhelming and hard to have a wise word in the midst of such circumstances. 

We were discussing troubles this morning and my nurse summed up the situation nicely. "Well, the Lord delivered Jonah out of that whale, and He got Daniel out of that lion's den, and this ain't nothing but a stepping stone." I'm not sure I've ever heard truer words spoken. 

We serve the Great I AM and He can handle whatever comes our way. He has a plan, He knows what it is, and His plan is for good and not evil. That plan of His is about the future, so we don't have to be afraid. It may not look like we expected, but it won't surprise God. In fact, He recommends we be still until He tells us to move. No matter what happens, we do not need to be afraid, because God is our safe place, and He is always ready and willing to help us in time of need. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

“Be still, and know that I am God! ...” (Psalms 46:10 NLT)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. (Psalms 46:1-2 NLT)

If you are faced with trouble and there seems to be no way through, take heart! The One in charge of the entire universe is available to help you, and all you have to do is ask. After all, that trouble is really just a stepping stone in disguise. 

Excitement in the boat, part 22: What Kind of Free?

For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. (Luke 8:29 NLT)

We see here that the evil spirit had such control of the man (actually spirits, as he had many spirits in him) that they could take control of him. Because he had become so demon-controlled that he was considered completely out of control and a danger to himself and others, there had been considerable effort made toward subduing him. At times, he had been under guard, both chained and shackled. Unbelievably, he was able to break the chains, escape from the guards, and run into the wilderness. Finally, it appears, those trying to subdue him gave up and allowed him to run wild among the tombs. 

In a way, the demons helped set him free from those bonds. He was free from chains and shackles and guards.  He was free to run wild and naked in the tombs. But what kind of freedom is that? He had no comfort, no love, no relationships.  He was at the mercy of the demons. 

Then Jesus came to set him free. When Jesus came, the power of those evil spirits was broken and he could be free indeed. No more tombs, no more nakedness, no more hunger and isolation. He was free to live the life he was created to have, and free to resume society and the comforts of community. He was free indeed. 

Which freedom do you suppose he preferred? Of course, the freedom only Jesus gave. That freedom came with a new Master, but One who loved him and had only good plans for him, and it was the freedom he chose to keep. 

We do have a choice about freedom, you know. We can reject the freedom that Christ offers and cling to the appearance of freedom the world offers. In so doing, we may shed some "shackles" on our behavior choices, but what we lose is so much more precious, so much more costly.  

What freedom do we choose?  What freedom do our loved ones choose?  Pray today for hearts that seek the true freedom that only Christ can bring. 
Link to last night's blog:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Life: Gaining and Losing it

Life. It seems such a huge subject but two things happened today that have been cause for considerable pondering on the topic. 

First, a patient came in for follow up. She had a tremendous improvement with treatment and was ecstatic. "I feel like you've given me my life back!" she said. 

Later this evening, an alert on my phone indicated that Robin Williams, an actor and gifted commedian, had died. My first thought was, "Wow. 63 seems young for a fatal heart attack!"  When I looked at the alert article, however, I found that he had committed suicide with the cause of death as asphyxia. He very likely hung himself. 

The two events triggered a long line of pondering on the idea of losing and regaining our lives. In every life, there are good times and bad times. Jesus said we would have trouble, and He was right.  There are some troubles, however, that seem so severe and last so very long that it seems as if we have "lost our life". What we mean, of course, is that the lifestyle we prefer has been changed to one we don't like quite as well. 

When I fractured my hand a while back, I had those horrid Frankenstein pins and that cast for so long, I felt like I had lost my life, and I was one whiny baby. I hadn't lost my life at all. What actually happened is that I gained tremendous insight into the difficulty of compliance with doctor's orders and a better understanding of how to help patients comply! The very thing that seemed like losing my life actually enhanced it. 

What is it, then, that drives someone to such despair that they would take their own life? A suicide such as Mr. Williams was not a sudden, impulsive act, nor was it an accident. It was deliberate. No one will ever know all the thoughts that went through his head at the time of death nor all the factors that led to his tragic decision.  Every death by suicide is a heartbreaking reminder that we can feel alone though we live in the spotlight, and feel as if we have nothing to live for though we own everything our heart has desired. 

The question, then, becomes one of "What makes a life?" If it's not lifestyle, fame, or possessions, what is it? Jesus had a very simple answer.  "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus IS life, and He is the one who makes a life. 

On those days when we are despairing because of one change or another in the circumstances of our lives, we would do well to remember that, if we have Jesus, we have all the Life we need. 

Excitement in the boat, part 21: the battle

Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me." (Luke 8:28 NASB)

As we have seen previously, the demon threw the man to the ground and cried out to Jesus, "What business do we have with each other?" Indeed. What possible business could a vile demon have with the Son of God? The only business could be a breaking of the hold the demon had on the poor man in the tombs, and that was exactly what Jesus planned to do. When the demon saw that Jesus had arrived, he knew his time of domination was short and that his power would soon be gone, and it was. 

For the believer, the demons of hell may not possess us, but the enemy of our soul can certainly gain a stronghold of sin and lies that allows him power in our lives. The question we must answer is why. Why would we cede territory in our lives to the evil one? Why would we allow ourselves to be overcome with evil and controlled by our thirst for sin when Jesus has all the power that is required to break its hold on us?
In times of temptation, we have only to ask Our Lord for help, and He, who stands ready to come to our aid, will help us overcome temptation. When we have believed a lie so long that it has become a stronghold, allowing the enemy control of our lives in that area, we have only to call out to God and He will replace the lies with truth and fill that void with His Spirit. 

If we can be set free from sin's hold on us, if we can be freed from the enemy's attack, why aren't we? Why don't we have victory every time? Ephesians 6 tells us that we are to put on every piece of spiritual armor in order to overcome the evil one. 

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:13 NLT)

The armor of God is a topic for another time, but there are two pieces of armor that are vital, yet often neglected. The shield that protects us from the fiery darts of the enemy is the shield of faith. When we hold our shield in place, those fiery darts bounce right off, yet many of us allow our faith to wobble to such a degree that we are constantly exposed and at risk. We must hold firm to our faith without wavering if we hope to be protected in times of trouble.   

The only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit. We can make tremendous headway and gain victory with this sword, but many of us are ill-equipped to use it. Our sword is the Word of God. When we know Scripture from time spent studying it and living it, we will have it ready and available when it is needed to combat the lies of the enemy.

The best part is that knowing the Word of God in such a way that we can use it as a sword against the evil one also allows us to better use it as a bolster for our shield. It expands the shield and becomes a protection for us. Attacks may come, but the Word of God will be not only our sword but also our shield, for it is the foundation of our faith. 

Pray today that God will fill our hearts and that of our loved ones with His Word and His truth to such a degree that our faith will be expanded and our arms will be strengthened and equipped to do battle with the evil one. 
Link to last night's post is here:
The terrorist prayer focus for this week is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his organization, ISIS.  Only a few thousand soldiers, they aim to spread their radical extremism throughout the world.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lessons from the battlefield #1: Warrior Positions

2 Samuel 11:1

King David was one of the most amazing men who ever lived.  He was handsome and strong.  Although he was a fierce warrior, he wrote some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.  He also made one big mess of his life when he sinned with Bathsheba.  

How could someone described as a man after God’s own heart wind up in such a dreadful series of events?  The answer lies in the last five words of verse 1. 

“But David stayed at Jerusalem.”

When he should have been taking care of business, he was taking it easy, and he became an easy prey for temptation.  It might have seemed as if he was making a prudent choice by sending others to fight.  After all, he was Israel’s beloved king and had to be protected at all costs.  He found, however, that the safest place for a warrior is not relaxing on the rooftop.  The safest place for a warrior is in the midst of the battle – the midst of God’s battle.  

Are you weary?  Do you feel as if you’d rather “relax on the rooftop” than wade into the heat of spiritual warfare?  Don’t give up and don’t despair.  The safest place you can be is right where God has called you to be. There is no doubt that most of us will experience battles and difficulties in our Christian walk.  There will undoubtedly be times when we feel like turning aside from the struggle.  When discouragement threatens, remember we are not fighting alone.  As David faced Goliath, he spoke the truth that sustained him in all his battles.  “The battle is the Lord’s.” (1 Samuel 17:47) 

Our job is to engage in armed battle with the only weapon we need – the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, but remember, this battle we are fighting belongs to Him. Our Lord is able to handle every difficulty we face, including every tremendous struggle we encounter, so take heart.  Regardless of how fierce the fighting, the battle belongs to the Lord, and He is able to deliver. 


Radical Obedience: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and ISIS

I've had terrorists on my mind. That's partly because I'm editing my first novel and it's filled with terrorists. It might also be because I've been jumping to conclusions and seeing terrorists where there were none.

All that terrorist thinking has reminded me of the time when I selected a terrorist of the week and asked you to pray for them.  It was July 6, 2014 and our terrorist of the week was Nasir al-Wuhayshi. He was the general manager of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and one of the most dangerous men in the world.  

His stated goal was to "destroy the cross. The bearer of the cross is America."

I use the past tense because he was killed in a drone attack in Yemen on June 12, 2015. He was 38 years old.  He left behind a legacy of death and destruction. 

I wept when he died, but not because I was sorry his reign of terror had come to an end. I wept because I had prayed for him to come to a saving knowledge of the Great I AM, but he never did. He died as he lived. A bitter and murderous man.

He had a choice and he made it, but I still grieve the lost potential of a man redeemed and transformed by the blood of Jesus. 

Stranger things have happened. Consider the Apostle Paul. 

My first terrorist for whom I prayed was Ayman al-Zawahiri.  He is Egyptian and was trained as a surgeon. He practiced medicine for a while, but now, he is a full-time terrorist. One of his wives and two of his children were killed by a U.S. bomb in Afghanistan. Their loss fueled his anger, but he was a terrorist before they died and eventually became the head of Al-Qaeda. He was instrumental in helping the ISIS expand and merge with other terrorist organizations to become ISIL. 

As a physician, one who is trained to preserve life, it is unthinkable that one of my colleagues would dedicate himself to the murderous atrocities of ISIL, but al-Zawahiri knows no bounds. 

Assassination. Kidnapping and torture. Bombings. He is responsible for the death of untold numbers of people.

Law enforcement officials around the world have tried and failed to stop him. 

Only God can bring this man to his knees. 

Only God can stop him.

Jesus said, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44 nasb) 

Ayman al-Zawahiri is one of those enemies for whom we are to pray and to love. With the command of Jesus in mind, I'm choosing to pray for him. I'm choosing to ask God to bring him to repentance and salvation. Whether it is through a dream or a vision or the testimony of a believer, I pray this evil man will be transformed. 

He's not the only terrorist for whom we need to pray, but he is the leader of a large group of terrorists. Imagine the impact his salvation could make. 

Praying for our enemies. As disciples, it's not optional. We have it to do. 

There's no better place to start than praying for Ayman al-Zawahiri. 

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, 
but with God all things are possible." 
(Matthew 19:26 niv)

photo from Wikipedia

Kathy McKinsey wrote a beautiful article for Friday Night with Friends, New Beginning. If you haven't read it yet, you can click here. You can read more by Kathy at her blog. Our next Friday Night with Friends guest blog will post at 6 pm this Friday night. You don't want to miss it!

Excitement in the boat, part 20: the Position Before the King

Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me."  (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) (Luke 8:28, 29 KJV)

This tormented man, controlled by demonic forces, approached Jesus who, according to verse 29, took one look at the man, recognized the demonic possession, and commanded the unclean spirit to come out. As a rebellious, unclean spirit is prone to do, the spirit wanted to whine, beg, and argue before Him. 

The Holiness of God, however, could not be disregarded and, in a show of respect and subjugation, the man, in His presence, fell face-down on the ground at Jesus' feet. The demon had such control of the man that it was likely the demon that directed this move of apparent humility. It was not, however, that the demon intended the position to be an act of worship.  Instead, it was an act of manipulation, a groveling before God's Son in order to be spared torment and to get what he wanted. 

One day, every knee will bow before Our King, and at that time, every one of us will praise Him and acknowledge Him as Almighty God. We will all bow, but it will not be this bowing, as the demon-controlled man did. There will be no manipulation, no pleading, only praise and worship before the Lord. 

When we approach God, our tendency is to approach with requests, demands, whining. Perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, we, too, sometimes bend the knee for purposes of manipulation and in order to get what we want rather than purely for worship. We would do well to evaluate the sincerity of our position before God. 

Pray today that we and our loved ones would recognize the holiness and righteousness of God and fall on our faces in worship and gratitude before Him, asking nothing, and giving all our praise and honor to Him. 
Link to last night's post: (it's a new series)
We will have a new terrorist on our list this evening, but for today we are still praying for Hamas, as well as for the peace of Israel. One thing I'm praying for the leaders of Hamas is that now weapon of evil that they can devise will prosper and that, in the failure, they will driven towards doing good for their people.