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syrophoenician She is arrested in her approaches to Christ by the information that He will not see anyone. She is denied His presence, and then [finally] in His presence is treated with seeming indifference, with the chill of silence and unconcern. She presses and approaches, the pressure and approach are repulsed by the stern and crushing statement that He is not sent to her kith or kind, that she is reprobated from His mission and power. She is humiliated by being called a dog.

Yet, she accepts all, overcomes all, wins all by her humble, dauntless, invincible importunity. The Son of God, pleased, surprised, overpowered by her unconquerable importunity, says to her: “O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”

Jesus Christ surrenders Himself to the importunity of a great faith.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?”

By illustrating in a parable, Jesus Christ puts ability to importune as one of the elements of prayer, one of the main conditions of prayer. The prayer [and fervent effort] of the Syrophoenician woman is an exhibition of the matchless power of importunity, of a conflict more real and involving more of vital energy, endurance, and all the higher elements than was ever illustrated in the conflicts of Isthmia or Olympia.

praying

There is neither encouragement nor room in the Bible religion for feeble desires, listless efforts, lazy attitudes; all must be strenuous, urgent, ardent. Inflamed desires, impassioned, unwearied insistence delight Heaven. God would have His children incorrigibly in earnest and persistently bold in their efforts. Heaven is too busy to listen to half-hearted prayers or to respond to pop-calls.

In the end, the [prayer] closet is not an asylum for the indolent and worthless Christian. It is not a nursery where none but babes belong. It is the battlefield of the Church… Importunity, it may be repeated, is a condition of prayer. We are to press the matter, not with vain repetitions, but with urgent repetitions. We repeat, not to count the times, but to gain the prayer.

“Men ought always to prayer, and not to faint…” -Jesus

When was the last time you were on your face in your own prayer closet? Interceding for souls, or simply adoring Him?

jailWhen were you on your knees as the “persistent friend” for those imprisoned for their faith in Christ?

widow

Pleading for the widow?

orphan The orphan?

IsraelIsrael?

The voiceless?

Quotes taken from the book, “Purpose In Prayer”.
By: E.M. Bounds

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Reflect first that a Church exists.

What a wonder this is!

earth

It is perhaps the greatest miracle of all ages that God has a Church in the world… Always a Church!

When the full force of the Pagan Emperors came like a thundering avalanche upon her, she shook off the stupendous load as a man shaketh the flakes of snow from his garment, and she lived on uninjured.

When papal Rome vented its malice yet more fuioursly and ingenuously; when cruel murderers hunted the saints among the Alps, or worried them in the low country; when Albigenses and Waldenses poured out their blood in rivers, and dyed the snow with crimson, she lived still…

photo

…and never was in healthier state than when she was immersed in her own gore.

When after a partial reformation in this country, the pretenders to religion determined that the truly spiritual should be harried out of the land, God’s Church did not sleep or suspend her career of life or service.

Let the covenant signed in blood witness to the vigour of the persecuted saints.

Hearken to her psalm amidst the brown heath-clad hills of Scotland, and her prayer in the secret conventicles of England.

Hear ye the voice of Cargil and Cameron thundering among the mountains against a false king and an apostate people; hear ye the testimony of Bunyan and his compeers who would sooner rot in dungeons than bow the knee to Baal.

bunyan

Ask me, “Where is the Church?” and I can find her at any and every period from the day when first in the upper room the Holy Ghost came down even until now. In one unbroken line our apostolic succession runs; not through the Church of Rome; not from the superstitious hands of priest-made popes, or king-created bishops (what a varnished lie is the apostolic succession of those who boast so proudly of it!), but through the blood of good men and true, who never forsook the testimony of Jesus; through the loins of true pastors, laborious evangelists, faithful martyrs, and honourable men of God…

…we trace our pedigree up to the fishermen of Galilee and glory that we perpetuate by God’s grace that true and faithful Church of the living God, in whom Christ did abide and will abide until the world’s crash.

The chief wonder is that she abides perfect.

Not one of God’s elect has gone back…

Not one of the blood-bought has denied the faith…

Not one single soul which ever was effectually called can be made to deny Christ, even though his flesh should be pulled from his bones by hot pincers, or his tormented body flung to the jaws of wild beasts.

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All that the enemy has done has been of no avail against the Church. The old rock has been

washed,

and washed,

and washed again by stormy waves,

and submerged a thousand times in the floods of tempest, but even her angles and corners abide unaltered and unalterable.

rocks

We may say of the Lords’s tabernacle, not one of the stakes thereof has been removed, nor one of her cords been broken. The house of the Lord from foundation to pinnacle is perfect still: “The rain descended and floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house and it fell not”; nay, nor a single stone of it, “for it was founded upon a rock”.

C.H. Spurgeon
The Forgotten Spurgeon, pgs. 31-32

Hard Lessons

thankful

Hard to believe I haven’t written in over a year on Afflicted4Christ. Time sure does go by in a hurry; and my, how many things have changed. To let y’all know, our family is doing wonderful, all praise to His Holy Name. My husband has been restored health-wise and has a new job, we now have a new home, my children love their homeschool and co-op, and everything we have can only be attributed to Jesus. We have so much to be thankful for, it’s hard to put into words.

With that being said, a few months back I did have some heath issues and some other things I won’t mention here, that put me into a place where I had to discontinue being an area representative with Voice of the Martyrs. It sounds like a bummer on the surface, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter because I will *never* not be a voice for the persecuted. I will labor to pray for them, work for them and remember them always, whether or not I am an official rep.

I never stop because I am commanded to do these things as written in Heb. 13:3 (actually, we are *all* commanded to. So please, be informed about their plight and what they risk for demonstrating their faith in Jesus Christ in hostile/restricted countries so you can pray for them more precisely. The VOM monthly newsletter is still free, so sign up!). arrest

Now that things have settled a bit, I promise to write more, inform better, ask for prayer, bring attention to, and endeavor to help the Body of Christ that is “hard pressed”. I believe that one of the ways we can help them, is to relate to them based on 1 Cor. 12:26, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it;”,  and 1 Pet. 5:9, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

If we don’t experience to some degree of persecution by Godly living in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12) now, how can we really interceed for them? This is where we must pray always (1 Thess. 5:17), study (2 Tim. 2:15), prove our faith and obedience to the Gospel (Rom. 15:18-19, 16:19) and be Spirit taught (1 John 2:27). I think this is very, very important.

Anyhow, I’m pretty sure I have said this before, and that is how God teaches me things all the time. Some are big lessons, some are small. I really love that about Him; that He holds on to me, that He protects me- even from myself. However, this one was big enough for me to heed the call to publish it in order to encourage others and give to them a blessing (even though it was painful on my end).

Much to my dismay (and I do have to catch myself on this, because it is SIN), I confess that I tend to “mentally criticize” the brethren; the brethren I am commanded to love, and to think no ill of, as written in 1 Cor. 13:5:

“[Love] doth not behave itself unseemly… [Love] thinketh no evil.” love

(hint, hint: there is no “unless” written there. For example, “I can’t do this with my friend/sister/brother/husband/wife because they really hurt me, or they gossiped about me, or they lied to me, etc.” God doesn’t say, “Love them and think no evil, UNLESS they have hurt you in some way.” NO!).

If we are to think no evil of them in any way, then mentally criticizing them is sin (let alone publically, yikes!). We should be blameless in every way (Phil. 2:15) praying for them, or if need be (due to some type of sin on their own) gently restore them, lest we ourselves are tempted (Gal. 6:1).

For the most part, I’m simply talking about having a critical spirit; which I find myself having at times. Praise God for His sanctification process, though. Praise Him that He continually conforms us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29), praise Him that He is the Master Teacher (John 17:26), and Praise Him for His chastisement that yields the peaceable fruit of what?? Righteousness!(Heb. 12:11) These are amazing gifts, are they not?

Speaking of gifts, that is the root of this whole article. The gifts God uses to conform us, to chastize us, to teach us. Amazing ones; and no, I don’t mean the spiritual gifts of 1 Cor. 12, oh no. These are super special. So, without further ado, drumroll please… they are the gifts of:

humiliation

weeping, and

death.

Yes, you read that right; humiliation… weeping… and death. And, this is the part where you scream: SAY WHAT?! Are you crazy??

No! I’m not crazy, and I’ll be happy to explain. But, before I begin, let me say that what I find when I have a critical spirit, is that it almost becomes like a direct challenge to the Lord. The reason I know is because this sort of thing has happened to me in the past. I don’t like to speak for the Lord, but it’s almost like He says, “Oh yeah? You want to criticize how this person should be feeling, or how they are acting, or what they are saying, huh? Well, let’s just see how YOU get “graded” when I hand you your test!”

testThe heart of the matter is that THEY may fail their test, but that has nothing to do with you, and should give you zero reason to fail YOURS. When we are being tested, we aren’t always aware of it. That is, until after the test is over and the Lord gently whispers to your heart and brings with it a stern conviction. You then have this “Aha!” moment and realize (with pain, I might add) that you were wrong. It is then, that the puzzle pieces slowly begin falling into place when you mentally backtrack all those little (or seemingly big) events that bring you to where you are and put you in the place of questioning of whether or not you passed or failed.

teacherWell, backtrack with me a bit, OK? Let’s go back… oh, about 3 months or so. I got roped, dragged, talked into, pleaded with, pushed into, asked to teach drama class at our co-op this fall. Never taught a class a day in my life. Surprisingly enough, I came to enjoy it a bit as I like telling people how to act (surprise, surprise!). I had prayed often for this class, God had given me all the tools and resources to put on a wonderful play about a magnificent missionary named Malla Moe. Malla Moe was one of the greatest missionaries to Africa (if you get a hold of the book titled same as her name, I *highly* recommend it). She had many converts, and amazingly enough even had a Gospel wagon, just like me!

playMany hours, much labor, money out of pocket, energy and fuel were all put into this. The kids worked hard at memorizing their lines, and for middle school age children, this was a doozy! We had costumes, makeup, props and sets. Over approximately 14 weeks we prepared and prayed. But, there was always something nagging in the back of my mind and I discovered that it was what I had written in my journal from Sept. 10th:

“First day of co-op! Girls love it, I love it. Teaching is new for me… not sure I’m cut out for it 😦 I desperately need God’s grace. I know it won’t be, or get any easier. I’m waiting for the day I’m in tears. I’m not trying to be negative, I just know *me*. Lord, please help me.”

About a day or so before the play, I remembered this and thought, I guess I was wrong! No tears or sadness, just busy-ness. You know how it is, running, running, rushing. No time for real reflection. Many quiet-alone-prayer times with the Lord praying about other things; sometimes the seasons of life are just like that, I suppose. We may forget and be too busy with the daily things of life, but God doesn’t forget to take us under His wing and He doesn’t get too busy to teach us, let alone chastize us if we need it! Time is not the same to Him as it is to us, which we all know very well, but forget a lot.

So, here is where the lesson comes in: I mentally critized someone for being insensitive and unsympathetic. It does not matter who, as we are all prone in someway or another to be this way at any give time. The “test” was how “I” reacted to their behavior. I mean, we can’t control how other people behave EVER. All we can control is ourselves, and how WE react, right? So, by my reaction and critical mind, God delicately orchestrated events that put me right in the exact spot where I had the choice to either, A.) be insensitive and unsympathic myself, or B.) be senstive and sympathic. But, this is the kicker! If I chose B, I had to choose it *despite* the fact that I severly, severly, severly DISAGREED with the situation (here comes that little word, “unless”. God tells us to be sensitive and sympathetic no.matter.what. there is NO unless). What was it?

phoneOn the day of the play, I got a call from one of the members of the leadership team. She expressed heavy concern that putting dark cover-up makeup on our “African” actors would be considered offensive to the black congregation members who might come to see our production. I was so taken back, you would not believe it. A million or so thoughts raced through my head all at the same time, here are some of them:

 

 

  • How can this be? On the very day of the play?!
  • How is it possible that they could be offended? These are children!
  • We are portraying noble, honorable, Christ-fearing African people who were saved by the preaching of Malla Moe.
  • This isn’t a comedy show! This is serious!
  • This is awful news! All the time writing, driving, working, teaching, yelling, pushing, directing and now we can’t have actors look like Africans?! It won’t make any sense!
  • Nobody will “get” that they are supposed to be black people. How, how, how!
  • I would have NEVER chosen to do this play! All the time devoted… for nothing!
  • Oh… WHY ME?!

 

sad

Are you getting this? All the “I’s”, all the “ME’s”, woe is me routine? Well, you guessed it. I cried all the way to co-op that day. Had to buy pop for the kids at CVS, red soggy eyes and running nose and everything. I was a mess. I really was upset. I just couldn’t believe it!

In the car, after CVS it was like the Lord kept whispering to me over and over; it was this:

PRAISE ME.

Just, praise me. I didn’t understand. Well, that’s wrong, I DO understand. God is worthy of all our praise at every moment of every day, no matter what. He is constantly working on our behalf, is He not? Constantly interceeding.

PRAISE ME.

So, in my shaking, wobbly voice, I told Him that I would praise Him. I wiped my snotty nose and running eyes and praised Him again.

PRAISE ME.

praiseI get to the co-op, and bless her heart, the leadership lady saw right away that I had been crying, came over immediately and hugged me (that made me start crying all over again!). She was concerned that I was mad at her, and that wasn’t the case AT ALL. I wasn’t mad at her, I was just upset at the whole situation. I simply couldn’t see or believe that something this important would be offensive to anyone, no matter what skin color they may be (this transcends all of that!).

And, it was this that she told me, and I firmly believe this is exactly what God wanted her to say because it was exactly what I needed to hear:

She said, “Our intentions are always good. In our hearts, we *never* want to offend anybody. Unfortunately, people can not see our hearts, or our intentions. They can only see how we act and what we say. I personally know the black congregants in this church, and some are very close friends. I can tell you, because I know them, that the minute any child steps out onto that stage with darker cover-up on their face they will immediately be offended. And, this is what will happen, they will *immediately* shut down to the TRUE nature of the play and that is, the power of the Gospel message. The only thing offensive that we cannot help, is the offense of the Cross. What we can control is offending others through our own ignorance, such as the need for sensitivity when it comes to theatrical black makeup on white actors. Does that make sense? Because of the long history, only in theatre, of whites portraying African-American’s in “black face”, this is a very, very, VERY sensitive subject. And, we don’t want any African-American’s who may come tonite get up and leave over this, and miss out on hearing what’s truly important. Because I know them, I know they would leave.”

This of course, is not word for word, but it’s pretty close. It’s the first three sentences of what she said that really stick out. Only God knows our hearts, people do not. Every single Christian believes their hearts to be good, and our intentions are very RARELY bent on doing evil. ESPECIALLY, when it comes to trying to present the Gospel through the medium of theatre! For those in Christ, that is our cry, that they might hear and be converted! That’s why we do what we do!

raceLong (very long) story short, it took some time and some meditation and some prayer and some reflection and some humility and some crying to see that she was right.

The humility came when I was humiliated for realizing how SELFISH I had been. It siezed upon me like a dark, cold blanket. The lesson for this was that I needed to be self-LESS. Let me put it in contrast; we can be selfish IF:

We put in a lot of time into something.

We’ve paid a lot of money.

Worked really hard.

Respect is owed to us for all our work, time and money.

We’ve sacrificed much.

NO!!!

We are to be self-LESS even if we have done all those things and more! We are to be self-LESS even when it hurts, even if it hurts A LOT. I wasn’t allowed to be selfish even though I had done all those things.

The weeping came when I realized my feelings had been injured. I “felt” that no matter what, because of the content of the play, my feelings were somehow superior to the black congregants who might come to the play. Because of all that I had done, therefore, I was allowed to feel the way I felt.

NO!!!

A right, and proper attitude would have been to understand that if the Gospel presentation was going to be injured in ANY WAY over something as trivial as makeup, then *immediately* I should have been willing to drop whatever I needed to to work around it. But, this is another catch. A lot of times, things are VERY, VERY, VERY trivial, yet we are willing to forsake what’s truly important because of our ego’s. We are many times “too ready” to cause our brethren to “stumble” over something as trivial as wine and meat (Rom. 14) because of how we “feel”.

Death was actually the realization of having died TO myself (and you too):

dead

“I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20)

“For ye are dead, and your life hidden with Christ in God…” (Col. 3:3)

“Now if we be dead with Christ, ” (Rom. 6:8)

“For if we be dead with Him [Christ],” (2 Tim. 2:11)

And, there’s many more. We must MORTIFY the members of our bodies which are on the earth which creates in us fornication, uncleaness, inordinate affection, evil desires, etc. (Col. 3:5) and, we are commanded to CRUCIFY the old man (Rom. 6:6) and our flesh (Gal. 5:24). Is any of that easy? I think not. We are incredibly selfish people and are very in love with our opinions and how things *ought* to be.

At first glance these things may not seem much like “gifts”, but indeed they are if they produce a sweet Christ-likeness in our lives. Better yet, may He be fully funtioning and operating in your world simply by using your body as His own! When that happens it will look like: humility, long-suffering, consideration, empathy, sympathy and sensitivity for others no matter how much you’ve toiled and sacrificed.

“Let nothing be done through strife and vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient…” (Phil. 2:3-8a).FEET

Bottom line: we can cling to our opinions, feelings, emotions and rights all day long, but none of that edifies anybody. We *must* lay aside those things even when it’s painful to us in order that we “esteem others better than ourselves”; we do this in the name of Christ and in the name of love for the sake of the Gospel.

HELP

Even in the midst of pain, we esteem others better than ourselves and look to the things of others.

Thanks for reading,

In Christ,

Joy

I had the privilege of sharing Padina’s story on IDOP and it’s a very beautiful and moving testimony. Brings tears to my eyes everytime I watch it. Maybe you could spare 5 minutes to view it and then pray for Padina and her mom? Pray for their strength as they minister to others and share their faith in Jesus at the possible expense of their lives.

You Have No Idea

How good God is to me.

I read an amazing blog post today that I want to share with you. Incredibly enough, my fellow blog sister mentions Jeremiah 9 in the post and happens to be the same verses my pastor preached on just this morning! God ministers to me through people so often and so wonderfully, it brings tears to my eyes.

I greatly feel led to deviate just a bit and share this post because it involves knowing GOD. How do we know Him? Through the Bible? Yes. Creation? Yes. Through prayer and communion with Him? Yes. Walking in His steps? Yes. Some would argue that those are the wrong ways, some wouldn’t. Some would say that I’ve got it all wrong… I don’t know- I don’t think I do. I’m God’s daughter through faith in Christ. My hope is built on nothing less than upon His righteousness, the cleansing from His blood.

I have nothing else.

I am the spiritual begger of Matt. 5:6 and I desperately need HIM and need to know Him. I need these things as only a poor, middle-aged Gentile wife and mother can; I have nothing else to offer but a prayer of Phil. 3:20. That I might KNOW:

  1. Him: Christ,
  2. the power of His resurrection,
  3. what fellowshipping with Him in sufferings is, and
  4. that I am being made conformable (just like) to His death (hopefully a martyr’s crown).

This verse is my 2nd life verse. I pray these four things often. Maybe one day I will join the fellowship of suffering with my beloved persecuted brethen as well… for we know that the Lamb is worthy.

Anyways… (got to get down to it, ’cause y’all know I can go on for DAYS about the Lord) the following post really ministered to me today. I pray it will do the same for  you.

Today I ran across a post on facebook and learned of Knowing Me Ministries in Portland, Oregon.  It caught my eye because…

Continue reading HERE.

Taken from the 8thDayForLife blog.

God bless you all,

In Christ,

Joy

Really Amazed

I find that God amazes me a lot.

Like right now, as I realize that it was not in His timing for me to share my experience with IDOP until now and not beforehand like I wanted to. My plan was to share here on this blog with you all as to what I wanted to speak about at WLMC before actually doing it.

But it was not the Lord’s timing. I never did feel compelled to do that (so I didn’t, obviously). Because at that time, I was asking a lot of questions on certains issues myself, and I thought it would be wise to present these questions to you and then leave it up to prayer. However, I am learning more and more to simply rely on God’s wisdom and timing and not man’s!

I have to mentally slap myself when I daydream about who I can ask about any particular subject. I’ve discovered that I have a bad habit of hashing issues and concerns all out in my mind first, and then wondering who I can ask about it. And this shouldn’t be so; GOD should be my first go-to Person, right? Shouldn’t He be for us all?! For those in Christ, we have His Spirit who will lead us into ALL truth. We have this annointing so that we have no need of asking anyone anything (1 John 2:27).

Interjection alert! Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that the counsel of Godly people such as pastors, teachers and parents are not important! But when we have questions with no plausible answer in sight, either through the Word or other believers (who can many times be varied, or going in different directions), we can only do what Scripture commands, and this is to ask of God who gives wisdom to all men liberally (James 1:5).

Okay, back on topic- My plan when speaking on behalf of VOM for the persecuted on IDOP was to 1.) establish how VOM ministers to the persecuted, and 2.) speak about my own idea of Jesus’ words in the verse of Matt. 11:12 (I’ll get to the purpose behind this shortly), and the verse says this,

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Well… those two goals of speaking on those topics got a little muddied! I didn’t even touch on the second one at all because any and all compulsion to do so was gone. I was pressed in Spirit more than I can say to simply talk about VOM and all the programs they had available to help our persecuted brethren- that’s it.

And that was totally okay! I had prayed fervently for the past week that anything I said would be God’s words anyway, so I was content with what was said. Besides, WLMC had asked me back on Sunday night to share my testimony along with any further information I might have had on VOM, and it was there that I was able to (in a more intimate setting, which was nice!) talk about what I had wanted to. So God, in His Sovereignty, worked all this in accordance with His will and I’m thrilled about that.

But this is what amazes me: God’s timing in regards to Matt. 11:12. I was going to share here prior to IDOP on this verse, but didn’t; and I was going to share IDOP morning about this verse, but didn’t. Why? Because I believe the Lord wanted to teach me more about this verse before saying anything about it and what’s so cool about it all is that I believe He is using the avenue of VOM to answer my questions about it. Would you be surprised to know that it was VOM who originally posted this verse on Facebook to begin with? It’s really come full circle in a sense. Let me explain, and I’ll do my best to keep it simple and to the point (not my best qualities, though! 😉 )

It comes about in a four-fold set of events I believe were orchestrated by the Lord (Who is constantly teaching me and I love that!). The first was when VOM had posted the Mt. 11:12 verse on Facebook a month or two ago asking for thoughts, and at that time I didn’t think much of it. I’m sure it was mainly due to ignorance on my part, and I ended up dismissing it (but God didn’t!). Fast forward about a month into the second event: I was reading my Jonathan Edwards sermon book and became captivated by a quote in his sermon, “The Example Of The Apostle Paul”. It was there that I was immediately placed front and center into facing Matt. 11:12. The quote says,

Probably there never was a soldier, when he bore his part in storming a city, that acted with greater resolution and violence, as it were forcing his way through all that opposed him, than the apostle Paul in seeking the kingdom of Heaven.

I found that absolutely fascinating! If I can get this straighted out in my head, it means that in Jonathan Edwards words, there was never another man who acted with greater resolution and violence than the Apostle Paul in seeking the Kingdom of Heaven! Call me a hopeless romantic, but that sounds exciting!

So that got me asking some questions. What does this look like? Do we even know? And it was then that God reminded me of the third event.

The third event was the time I visited my dearly loved friend from church who happens to be my partner in the Woman-To-Woman program there (also within this same time period). She brought up an interesting little tidbit that she had heard about the gates of Hell- the relevance being in the “gates” and meditating on the fact that gates don’t move. Now that may sound elementary to some, but this was a new revelation to me! We always seem to think that the gates of Hell are prevailing against us somehow, or that in building Christ’s church they are some kind of menacing force chasing us around. I know that sounds silly because we know they won’t prevail against us, but we’ve (well, I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for me) got this idea that they are something to be feared somehow and that’s not the case at all. The idea is that in the building of Christ’s Body (the church), we storm the enemy camp to set the captive’s free, thus building His church and guess what? The gates of Hell will not stop us from going into enemy territory to rescue the perishing!! They will be pushed and trampled down- they will NOT prevail!

I don’t know about you, but I find this THRILLING. And it completely correlates with my study of North Korea, in the way that VOM helps minister to North Korean defectors. It seems to me, to be a perfect picture of a person who would escape the horrific condition of NK, learn the Gospel, which in turn gives birth to a great burden for souls, and by following Christ to storm the enemy camp to set the captives free, they go back to North Korea. They go back knowing they face suffering, torture and most likely, death. Could this be an accurate parallel to Matt. 11:12?

Then, the last event comes that ties all this together; the most astounding part that gave me a great amount of confirmation that I’m walking exactly where Jesus is leading me. And it is this: when I had prayed fervently, like I mentioned, about what to speak on for IDOP I really sought the Lord’s face on a message that He would want me to give. And I was content to wait for it until I got it and lo and behold, I did get it! The Lord was faithful (He always is) and He knew that I didn’t want to do my standard speech, He knew that I wanted it to be special (even though this message didn’t get delivered till evening, and even then it wasn’t this in-depth 😉 so one afternoon during prayer time, I got the message (and no, it wasn’t in audible voice! 🙂 ). It came along the lines of a question… that question being what we would do should a close family member such as a child, sibling, parent, etc. were to be put in prison for being a Christian. In other words, if your son or daughter was on a missions trip and they were arrested and imprisoned for sharing Jesus Christ, what lengths would you go to to get them freed? I’m sure most of us would go to *great* lengths, even if that meant going all the way across the globe to do it! And although I went along this track but deviated just a bit on Sunday evening, the sentiment was still the same. If we care this much about our blood relatives, how much more should we care about our spiritual relatives? That was the crux of the matter!

Now go back to storming the the gates of Hell to set the captives free. Let’s go back also to Matt. 11:12 in taking the Kingdom of Heaven by violent force. What does all this mean? Well, here is how the Lord graciously lead me into fulfillment on these truths. We’ll briefly go back even further to July 2010, when I had the priviledge of being part of a teleconference prayer call for the country of North Korea. I remember it so well because the power went out in our neighborhood, and all I could do was sit in the pitch blackness and listen to the other callers and their prayers, it was very intense, but spiritually powerful. During that call I also listened to Eric Foley as he informed us on how we could better pray for the believers in North Korea and it was then that I was really educated on the terrible conditions of the Hermit Kingdom, and my heart was broken.

Fast forward to now… After remembering the conference call and remembering Rev. Foley, I was compelled to do a little google search and to my happiness, found his blog. Would you be surprised to know that he is currently writing a series of articles on, “Ransoming the Captive”? Can I give you a mental image of eye’s popping out of a head? Yah, that would be MY head.

I have been incredibly blessed to read this series. It goes hand in hand with many of the concerns and issues I’ve been rolling around in my head and speaking on to others. I really do believe that this is an answer to prayer. How else could I explain it?

I encourage you to take the time to read each part in this series. I firmly believe that God walked me along this path in order that I share it with you all and encourage you to walk it too.

Here is the hyperlink to Part 1 titled, Jesus’ First Sermon (And Why It Matters) and if you can follow it along to completion, I know you will be blessed. As of today, there are seven parts. I unfortunately don’t know how many there will be in total, but I was so encouraged to read the parts that I did. Can’t wait to read more! I’ll post a little snippet to whet your appetite :). Something that I learned through Rev. Foley’s blog,

If the early church had a website, it would have talked a lot about that kind of ransoming. We know this, because it’s a subject that pops up in many letters and stories and reports by and about the early church.

It was one of the things that amazed people about Christians.

You can see it in Clement’s letter to the church in Corinth, sent around the start of the second century AD. Clement wrote:

We know that many have given themselves up to imprisonment in order to ransom others; many too have delivered themselves into slavery and have fed others with the sale price

(1 Clement 55:2)

Did you catch that? Many. As in, “Many Christians have ransomed others by delivering themselves into slavery.”

And it was hardly a one-time thing: On through the Middle Ages, Christians continued to deliver themselves into slavery in Jesus’ name in order to set others free.

(From Part 2 of the series)

Wow. Hardly a one-time thing. Christians delivering themselves into slavery in order to set others free… Wrap your brain around that for a while. And although we don’t personally know actually Christians held hostage in America, they are held hostage to someone and something that only Jesus Christ can set them free from:

  • Satan (Acts 26:18)
  • Sin (Romans 6:16-18)

But for those who live in hostile/restricted nations, there are more Christians literally held captive today than there have ever been.

As I’ve said before, I’ll say it again, there are no coincidences in a life of servitude to the Most High God! He has graciously lead me on this wonderful journey of truth and I praise Him for that. Remember: Only slaves to Jesus Christ are truly free men!

If you also get a chance after reading Rev. Foley’s series take a peak around his site and absorb all the wonderful work he is doing with the Underground University (I hope to blog on this sometime in the future, so stay tuned!).  Thank you for reading!

SDG!

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Please pray for the believers in North Korea, and thank you for reading. If you are interested in purchasing VOM’s book on NK, please click HERE (its only $7!).

God bless you!

In Christ,

Joy