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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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There are 7 images in this post that are quite large. Please wait for them to load as they contain the entire blog post. Thank you for your patience!!

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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

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Reporting from Persecution Blog on 11/7:

There is still time to get your church involved for this years International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which is this Sunday, November 13th.

The Voice of the Martyrs, as well as other ministries dedicated to helping the persecuted church, will be joining together with thousands of Christians on Sunday to pray and remember the suffering of our beloved family in Christ.

Please join us and please tell your friends.  May the Lord bless you as you remember those who are in chains.

Click HERE to view blog source.

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The question is…

But which one? For those who still believe He exists at all, there seems to be a growing consensus that He simply goes by many names, but all religions are worshiping the same Person. Erase the lines between us and let’s find our common ground. Jump into the circle and we will pat each other on the back.

The Bible does speak of one world, under God – but in slightly different terms, which would explain why we have to tweak our message a little to get invited to those circle parties. Those who refuse to tweak are labeled in a derogatory fashion, but they don’t fall under the protection politically correct speech. Nor can you find them listed in sensitivity training curriculum, so call them what you wish.

The distinction (and there is a big one) between Christianity and all other religions, is Jesus Christ. Others may have moral teachings, the Golden Rule, and many other admirable qualities, but they don’t have the God who became Man, offering total forgiveness and reconciliation. This claim provoked hatred toward Christ from the very beginning. Israel and her sacred writings told of His coming, her temple worship pictured His work, and she was called by God to be the family of His birth. Yet, most of Israel refused to tolerate this “God” claim when He arrived, and what now is called Judaism, still does. Islam will accept Him as a prophet, but this is as far as they allow. Our faiths cannot be blended together. Our New Testament scriptures proclaim…

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phillipians 2:8-11

In the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, there is an inscription:

“O you People of the Book, overstep not bounds in your religion, and of God speak only the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and his Word which he conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from him. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not Three. It will be better for you. God is only one God. Far be it from his glory that he should have a son.”

The elemental truth which has invited wrath since the day Jesus declared, I AM, still a point of contention with many it seems. A significant percentage of the Hebrew Roots Movement is teaching this very same message – that Jesus is only “the Word” (made equal with Torah) – a man through whom the Spirit spoke the same Torah Moses heard. In order to appease the Judaism they wish to join hands with, they succumb to denying that Jesus was God in the flesh, or said anything new.

While I understand the hard struggle of understanding and accepting that God is expressed in the Person of Jesus Christ, Christianity as a faith has wrestled with and firmly established this. Jesus declared it Himself. If we are required to compromise this truth to make our faith acceptable to others, we should be honest and call ourselves by another name. Christians don’t just believe IN Jesus. I hope we believe Him.

Apparently many Muslims understand the incompatibility of our faiths, as the drastic increase in Christian persecution continues. Two Christian families were murdered in their homes in Egypt just over a week ago. I say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” They, like Paul before his conversion, believe they are doing God a favor. They are zealous and sincere, and following the fundamentals of Islam. Like a few Christians, some Muslims take their book seriously.

Christians in these countries need our prayers and support as they reach out to their friends and neighbors. To truly love a Muslim, a religious Jew, or any person in the world, we need to tell them the truth in love, not abandon it in order to patronize them.

An underground Christian from Bahrain was asked how he reaches out to Muslims. He said, “We love them. We help them when they are in need. We invite them into our homes to eat.” This opens their ears for the gospel. Another man who reaches many Muslims in the U.S. and around the world starts with Jesus and just reads the Gospel of Luke with them. He says it’s amazing how the real Jesus is revealed to them through this book. Yet another asks them if he can simply pray for them, and they seldom ever refuse. This is powerful. A wonderful collection of stories of Muslims coming to Christ are found in the book, Iran: Desperate for God.

Chosen People Ministries is distributing copies of Isaiah 53 on college campuses, finding many Jewish students have never laid eyes on this Messianic passage. This chapter so clearly depicts our crucified Jesus that one Jewish person who heard it read out loud accused the reader of teaching from the New Testament.

We have one sector of the Church screaming hate toward terrorists and Islamic states, along with undeniably racist undertones. Anti-Semitic sentiment is also on the rise worldwide as many take sides in the Middle East conflicts. But do we we extend the hand of spiritual fellowship to make up for this bigotry? Why do we always end up driving in ditches? We can’t find the Narrow Way, because we are not even ON the road.

And like it or not, America represents Christianity to many in the Middle East and around the world. America – in all our secular humanist glory, which knows no more shame or boundaries of decency and honesty – the “Christian Nation”. If the Church in America were a shining contrast to America as a whole, we might find cause for hope, but sadly, we blend in rather well. (More to come on that subject). Rather than compromise our faith, maybe we should live it. That might not be so offensive to our Muslim neighbors, but even if it is, I’m sure it would be less offensive to God, the One we should truly fear.

Most religions of the world have a tragic history somewhere of forcing people to convert, or forbidding adherents to leave, in the name of their God – Christians included. This is inexcusable in any context. This is genuine intolerance. Now Christians are considered intolerant simply for inviting people to a salvation in the One who claimed to be THE Way the Truth and the Life. Because our message does not accept all gods on equal terms, we are highly offensive, backward, and to many – dangerous. But Jesus told us to expect this. Why are we shocked? Any attempt to compromise this truth to appease the wrath of man is cowardly and dishonest. He is the one who said,

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26

Yet some of our most respected Christian leaders affirm their belief that God will save “good people” apart from faith in Jesus. I’m sure the missionaries, martyrs, and the underground churches would like to know this so they don’t have to keep sacrificing themselves to reach the lost. God will save them anyway. God calls His elect I believe, one way or another. He will send the message somehow. He said the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few. He commanded his disciples to go into all the world and teach all nations.

But if we do argue for Jesus being the only way, and sit back and don’t share Him, or hold the rope for someone who is, this may be more tragic than the fantasy of thinking it’s not necessary to tell them. I leave you with these words…

Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 5:21-24 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

1 John 2:22-26 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us–eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

A wonderfully written article that I had to share; re-posted from 8thDayForLife’s blog found HERE.

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1. If you believe the Bible to be the perfect Word of God, free from error, completely true, absolutely living and able to transform lives, you are a fool. If you believe the Bible to be just an ordinary book with a lot of black and red writing, old stories about dead people and whales, you must be wise indeed.
 
2. If you believe that a man, named Jesus Christ, died at the hands of the Jews and the Roman government all the while claiming to be the Son of God, who claimed to be equal with God, who claimed to be God Himself, who claimed to have created the Heavens and the earth and every living creature in it, and believe what He said, you are a fool. If you believe Him to be just a good man, a very influential man, but not God Himself, then you are wise indeed.
 
3. If you believe that the Good News of the Gospel has the power to change people, that it gives people the ability to say no to sin, that it is able to take away their desires to ruin their bodies from smoking or drinking, that it gives them the power to stop lying, stealing, cheating, sex sin, lust, and that it implants a desire to be Holy like God, to be more loving and patient and more like Jesus Himself, that it gives the power to say, Hallelujah! those sins are taken away, I AM a new creature, and not like my old self, not like I used to be, then you are a fool. If you believe that you can still live how you want, that there is no need to change, that you should embrace all the endearing qualities that make you who you are, that you should stand for your right to assert your sinful lifestyle because its “love” to you, or welcome all the things that are unwholesome to God, then you are wise indeed.
 
4. If you share this Good News with others, this new life you can have by coming to a crucified Lord that was hung up on a jag of wood, in order that He give you the power to live right, to go from a sinner to a saint, to renounce sin and pursue holiness and purity and have wonderful peace and contentment doing it through His power, if you’ve been accused of converting people to a religion, or if you love going to church to hear about The One who died yet now is alive this very day at the right hand of the Father, you are a fool. Or, if you believe that followers of Jesus are using a dead man as a crutch in life, then you are wise indeed.
  
5. If you look back in the scriptures at the prophets, the apostles or the early church disciples and read about their lives, if you read about their shameful deaths at the hands of lions, being beheaded, ignited and burned on poles, crucified upside down, watching their loved ones die because they won’t renounce their love for this Jesus of Nazareth, if you read all these stories and envy them, consider them heroes of the faith, if you desire to seal your testimony just like them with your very own blood, you are a fool. Or, if you believe that you should live your best life now, live the American dream, look out for #1, live in prosperity, safety, conformity to the Jones’, or laboring to enter a cushy retirement fund, then you are wise indeed.
 
6. If you have nothing to offer society but a desire to see people saved, nothing to offer but a prayer for their salvation, nothing to offer but an ardent warning regarding eternal punishment and torment in Hell, or nothing to offer but God’s unspeakable gift that lies in His Son, then you are a fool. Or, if you are extremely productive, work everyday of your life and have no compassion on those looking for a “free ride” or your perception of that mentality, then you are wise indeed.
 
If you stand in the box labeled ‘wise’, in accordance with the above 6 points, then in the world, you are a wise human being. You are smart, hip and cool. You are relevant. You are a lover and a pursuer of knowledge. There is absolutely no need for you to be embarrassed about anything! You will die and your funeral will be a showcase encapsulating a supreme speciman of life. People and loved ones will mourn their loss for a great and special person who has passed away. Be honest, haven’t you ever wondered how your funeral will look, what people will say about you, how your legacy will live on or how you will be remembered?
 
I think about my death more than you know. I pray that at least one person will be sad that I have passed, and I know based on scripture that in the eyes of God, precious in His sight are the death of His saints. In the Bible, many of His saints were put to death some amongst a cheering crowd. People rejoiced when Christians were killed, and many times there was no one to mourn them. And, if there were, they wouldn’t want to be found out- they wouldn’t want to endure the same penalty for being a follower of Jesus so they grieved in silence. Even today, there are Christians who are killed in secret. No one mourns their death. The five missionaries to the Auca Indians in the 1950’s who were speared to death were buried in a tiny grave in Ecuador somewhere. “The most beautiful little cemetery in the whole world.”, was the quote from one of the wives. The world doesn’t recognize or otherwise wouldn’t know about great sacrifices as these for the cause of Christ, but God does. It is precious to Him! 
 
When your life is over, will your life be precious to God? Will He say to you, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord.” Or, will He tell you to depart because He never knew you. What is more foolish? Living a life precious to YOU and in the end suffer for eternity, or live a life precious to God and be open to suffering for His cause now, and in the end for eternity live in the joy of the Lord?

This is what the persecuted church fights for. This is the message they speak. It is what they lay their lives down for in order that a special Someone be lifted up. In America, we can speak these truths and the worst that can happen to us is that we aren’t liked all that much. Maybe we’re even avoided. But in other countries were hostilities ring high against a “Western religion”, the persecuted church has to walk a very tight line or suffer for it. This message is so important, so crucial, so powerful, it’s even worth dying for. It’s a foolish message, a message no one can really understand until they come to the understanding that the eternal consequences for NOT believing it are too much to bear.

Last night, my eight year old astounded me. It was a pure example of God’s heart and I don’t say that lightly. It was as we laid in bed together watching the news. It was late, we were both tired and although I hardly watch the news, there was nothing else on to see, so we got stuck with Nightline. The reporter was in Egypt chronicling the riots and protests going on there. There was even a sticky spot that the reporter, who was a female, almost got into as she was interviewing whatever people she could in the crowd. In one clip, she was asking questions to a large group of Egyptian men, who quickly displayed their anger when one of them started telling her to get out of there. I don’t think she knew exactly what he was talking about until he said, “We hate Americans. We hate you. You must go NOW.” After a slow dawning of realization, the reporter immediately started to walk away- but not before this group really showed their anger and hostility which eventually lead to the newscrew car being damaged with rocks and fists.

In my mind, I was wondering why someone would have so much anger for a country he’s probably never been to, rationalizing that he probably doesn’t even know any Americans in real life and, most likely believes every negative thing he hears about America, case closed. Yet all the while I was thinking this, I was looking over at my beautiful little girl (she didn’t know I was watching her) and wondered if this man if given the chance to simply look upon her in her sweet innocence, would still have hate in his heart for her; an American. I considered the possibility that he still might have hatred even looking at her, and at that consideration, the mama bear side of my brain came out and I was instantly angry about it. So, to come up off it, I quickly changed the channel and suppressed the thought until it was gone.

After about 5 minutes (seemed longer than it was), and I had stopped thinking about the news, my daughter quietly said, “I love them.” Since I put the issue out of my mind, she caught me off guard and I genuinely didn’t know who she was talking about. So I quickly asked, “Who are you talking about?!” Not sure if she had dozed off or was talking in her sleep or what, I just wasn’t sure who ‘them’ was until she said the men on the news who hate us. Immediately guilt flooded my heart, she was right. What a Godly heart of great price she expressed! I said, “You are so right. What a Godly Spirit you have to love those who hate us.”

What was so eloquently expressed by an eight year old, through very little effort I’m sure on her part, convicted me and put me in reverential awe of God Almighty. It made me meditate upon the amount of love God has for us considering the truth of how He loved us first, even when we were His enemies. Even when we hated Him, He STILL sent His Son to die for us. He offered the peace agreement to us when we were still engaged, and continue to wage war upon Him. His astounding gift that we, as followers of Jesus labor to bestow to others, even at the cost of our lives, even when the danger is high and the odds are so very against us.

After my daughter said those three words, we took hold of the moment and made intercession in prayer on behalf of the men we saw on the news. We prayed for them to receive the opportunity to hear about God’s Good News in the sending of His Son, that the light of the glorious Gospel would be shone to them and that God would work in their hearts, to be receptive enough to accept this precious gift of salvation provided only through Jesus Christ. It is with this mind that I want to bring up my labors in why I do what I do…

Over the past month, I have worked really hard to put gifts in my shop on Etsy. I really want to put a spotlight on it because every purchase will go to helping the persecuted church. It helps those who are oppressed and afflicted physically and spiritually, it also helps their families when loved ones are in prison, it helps rebuild houses and families that have been torn down by persecutors, and it will help share the Gospel in the toughest nations on earth as it provides literature and Bibles to those who need it. It is with these men I wrote about, who hate Americans that I think about. It is them I want to reach with the Gospel! These are the people that need Jesus Christ more than anyone on earth- the hateful, the broken down and angry, the violent, the afflicted, the hurt. The Gospel turns lions into lambs and I know after reading story after story from brothers and sisters in Christ who beg for our help in countries like Egypt that I can help supply to them the tools they need to reach the people I never will.

After all, our greatest commission is to preach the Gospel to every creature. As a follower of Jesus and a laborer in His love, every single penny goes to benefit others. I do not take anything for myself. Ten percent goes to tithing in my own church that provides support to 25 missionaries every month, and everything else above that will go to VOM. As a stay at home mother, I praise God mightily for the abilities He has given me! He has supplied a way for me to have my own shop, He has supplied the materials in order that I have a product, He supplied the ideas of what to make and He supplied the time and the effort.

God and His unspeakable gift is worth being a fool for! 

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I can’t seem to get the javascript code for a gallery picture of my shop to work, so I have to use a link. Will you click below and take a peek? Help me help them…
 
  
Thank you for your time. I’ll leave with some sweet scripture to ponder…
 
1 Cor. 1:18 – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
 
1 Cor. 1:23 – But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
 
1 Cor. 1:25 – Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men
 
1 Cor. 1:27 – But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
 
1 Cor. 3:18 – Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
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Serving Him, and those who serve Him, 
Joy

 

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Ever have those weeks (or months) where you wrestle with about 50 different projects? I consider them to be like little baby chicks that run all over the place. You think you have a handle on 5 when 3 take off running into the other direction!

So it is with me lately… I’m trying very hard to keep all the baby chicks in the coop. Days seem to fly by, my mind is in a million places, but the good news through it all is that I maintain one focus; a singular direction, the willing of ONE thing. And that is still, and always will be God’s glory.

Right now, for this week, I have determined to corner in all those “baby chicks” into four separate spaces and section them off. I’m working on jelling these million little ideas and projects into four main entities by compartmentalizing (is that a word?!) them all to be more efficient and more glorifying for the ministry God has given me which is serving the persecuted church through VOM. I feel that getting these four avenues clear in my mind and maintaining the right objectives will go a long way to helping me and everybody else. Being a stay at home mom (without a car, I might add, so I covet your prayers!), I have no means of assisting this ministry monetarily which I promised to do right from the very beginning. However God has really blessed me in so many ways by giving me many ideas of how a homebound person really can financially bless the household of faith even when the odds are against them.

So, the four things I’ve been concentrating on are:

  1. Working with my hands and my camera to produce quality items and goods to sell in my Etsy shop
  2. Re-hauling my web site over to focus more on how I’m helping VOM, what I’m doing to assist, making it easy for people to find me
  3. Working to capture more stock photography (I’ve already had two sales!) to sell at Dreamstime, and
  4. This blog – Adding links for here to 1, 2 and 3 (the three above) and adding this blog link to them. I’m also endeavoring to getting more articles/news posted, drafting articles I’m preparing to post, etc.

To sum it up, these are the concentrated four designated to VOM: Blog, Shop, Stock, Site (you can also see these links to the right of this page under, “My Stuff”). I’ve worked oh, so very hard on getting this all worked out! Phew! It’s all I’ve been thinking about- in fact, I can’t rest very well when I have loose ends hanging all over the place.

Before our internet was turned off a year ago (hard to believe it’s been that long), I had allllllllll kinds of things going on all over the web. My presence was on at least 20 different web sites: myspace, facebook, rapture ready, digg, squidoo, delicious, 2 different photography/modeling sites, the list goes on and on. I really did have a hard time keeping up and sadly it took precedence over so many other way more important things; like prayer, worship, bible study, witnessing, and fellowship. It truly is by God’s grace that He took the time-sucker called the Internet away from me. I desperately needed to get back to the essentials even though I couldn’t see that at the time; but, after a year away now I have. It is right now, more than ever that I need to stick to these essentials and not deviate! The year has not been wasted- I’m prayerfully staying with THE FOUR.

My number one always will be my relationship with Jesus (and I *love* that He cares enough to take away the things I’ve allowed to steal me from Him!). To be sure, nothing will ever fall into place without that. Nothing will ever produce fruit when it’s not attached to the vine and I can do nothing without Him since He is the giver of all life. If my involvement with helping those who suffer for their love of the Lord is truly alive and attached to the vine, much fruit will abound! It will grow and it will bring much glory to my Father in Heaven (John 15) and that’s my goal. I want everyone to understand that everything I do and everything I get doesn’t go to myself. I take nothing for my own benefit. Truth is, I want more than what I could ever attain now…

I’m going for the gold.

I’m going for the treasure that lasts forever.

Mt:6:21- For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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Serving Him,

Joy

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What a fun time Godstock was! I am so thankful that God allowed this event to take place. I’m also thankful for the leadership there who were happy to accommodate VOM by setting up a table (right in the front I might add! 😉 for me. There was a lot work that went into this festival and I anticipate their hard work will pay off to God’s glory, I really believe that. The photo I posted is a little low in quality since it came from my phone, but hopefully you can see it ok…

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Bibles were given out, beautiful music was being played, lots of smiles everywhere. Vendor booths with hand-made crafts, good smelling food (I was downstream as it were and my mouth watered the whole time!), it was really fun. I was able to make quite a few contacts, and a lot of people took newsletters. Some were surprised to even see a ministry like VOM. They did not know that there is a part of the Body of Christ that does not have the freedom to own a Bible openly, or that they do not have the ability to attend a true Bible believing church, therefore having to attend an “underground” house church in secret, or that they could go, or are currently, in prison for the name of Christ.

Some people realized perhaps for the first time how much peace and comfort American/“Western” Christians have in that we are tremendously blessed to worship Jesus Christ freely! This resulted in me hearing the word, “Wow” quite a bit and I was so blessed to be the one to tell them and ask for their prayers.

 I’ll admit that in the beginning of all this, I didn’t really know what I was doing! I worked diligently at maintaining a neat and orderly table and subconsciously prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me the right words as people came along. Of course, He was faithful as He always is and I was thrilled when a few conversations turned to how wonderful it is for Christians here in America to be able to share the Gospel without fear of persecution. For the most part as we all know, this country is in a lot of trouble spiritually, morally, economically, socially and politically. Depending on who you talk to, discussions can get very heated about all that is going on. But that didn’t happen here.

With some people, you could tell by the look in their eyes that they were reasoning within themselves which eventually bubbled over and spilled out into conveying how blessed we are to have the freedom we do! When you take a step back and realize that there are people who actually suffer for the things most of us take for granted, that is a whole different mindset! And it seemed to happen right before my eyes. I got to witness a sudden realization, almost an awakening if you will, and that has never happened to me before. And yes, the awakening came in that little word- Wow.

Sadly, a lot of Christians today are so caught up with what’s going on (and I’m no exception some of the time!) they are neglecting to set their affection on heavenly things. Don’t let the earthy, worldly climate of the nation deter you from your calling. Walk worthy of your vocation as commanded in Ephesians and while you are at it, get an understanding that walking worthy in some places of the world comes at a high price. The point I’m driving at is most of the persecuted church today realize there is nothing in this world worth living for, other than to tell others about Jesus. Because they know this world is not their home, it is not permanent and how we are all strangers and pilgrims looking for a city, a city God has made.

Heb. 11:16 – “But now they [those who put their faith in Jesus] desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

So to those who are: 

Troubled on every side, yet not distressed;

Perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken;

Cast down, but not destroyed;

 

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake…

(The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth, chap. 4, vs. 8-11a)

(Photo taken from VOM's Special Newsletter, 2010)

To those are on the run, cornered in on every side from danger, have lost a spouse, child or parent for the cause of Christ, don’t give up. God says that He is preparing a place for you. I believe Him (truth be told, it doesn’t matter if I believe Him or not, He cannot deny Himself) and I believe that He is your very present help in a time of trouble. We here in the states do not know what you are going through, but we are endeavoring to remember your affliction for His Name. I am laboring to be your voice, I am asking for prayer for you, I am seeking those whose eyes need to be opened to your plight, I am calling out for the Gospel to be furthered in us all. Mostly, in every circumstance I am purely seeking God’s ultimate glory through you, and through us. And none of what I am doing is possible without Him.

My prayers for opportunities have now come in His perfect timing and He is proven over and over again how faithful He is. Although I got impatient at times, I know that everything works out according to His purposes. There were moments where I questioned my involvement with this ministry because it seemed as if nothing would ever happen.

Nevertheless, what I couldn’t get past after much self-examination was my tears. Holding myself up to scripture was what kept me on the journey, the scrutiny of my heart and how I felt about those who were hurting for Jesus told me that I must keep going; to just keep waiting until God opened a door. To put it simply and bluntly, Jesus cares about the persecuted, and so do I. In fact, I care greatly. Actually, He cares more than I ever could and since I knew that I was desiring to carry out His will it means that if I ask anything according to it, He would give me what I asked for. And I praise Him today so much because of how He is answering my prayers for them.

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My utmost goal for you is to consistently and continually stir you up into praying for the persecuted. Your hearts need to grow for those who are hurting for our Lord, as does mine. You have tremendous capacity and ability to help me in this work. Even the basest, yet most powerful way of co-laboring, should be in prayer for them. They are worth your time. JESUS is worth it. Ask Him tonight what His will is for you regarding the persecuted church- He will answer.

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In the future, I’ll probably post less on the meetings and work more on covering stories of current day martyrs and persecution. I have been planning on building up a recommended reading list, so look forward to that sometime soon. But before I go, I want to throw in a couple tips for any other area reps who may be reading this, or are new and don’t have much experience (not that I have much, but everything is a learning experience!). These are just little helpful hints that I learned today.

If you have been allowed to set up at table and display materials for VOM at an outdoor event, here are some tips. 

  • Even if you’ve been assured a table, try to bring an extra table from home anyway. I almost didn’t get one because someone forgot to tell me I needed to bring it! Its just better to have it with you in case of an emergency, that way you are not without.
  • Don’t forget tape and extra pens. Pens for signing up people for newsletters, and tape so you can tape up global maps or posters advertising for action packs.
  • I have found that carrying everything; all the literature, books, newsletters, business cards, table covering in a big suitcase is helpful. You can just open up the case and start laying it out on the table. It’s more organized!
  • This is a biggie: wind can be a problem! Bring paperweights- could be anything heavy that is small and looks presentable, but not too sentimental in the event is flies off the table and breaks!
  • Make a small sign that reads, “FREE” and put it by the newsletters and program information packets. There were vendors there who were selling goods and I felt like people were passing me by because they thought *everything* I had was for sale, which wasn’t true. I constantly felt like I was trying woo people to the table by telling them most of my stuff was free when I could have saved my voice and had more people stop by if I just had a sign.
  • Having a global poster map in plain view was extremely helpful. It gave everyone an immediate view of exactly how many countries are either restricted or hostile. I don’t think many people know just how much of the world is against Christianity, so it was nice to have in plain view and be able to explain.

 

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In closing, I want to leave on this note in the event I’m not able to post again. I say this because no person is promised tomorrow, we’re not even promised another hour. So for those who don’t know Jesus Christ personally; listen to me, this world can dissolve into powder, this world can fall off its axis, this world could burn into vapor, but if you don’t know HIM you have a much bigger problem to worry about than what happens currently in “this world”. And if you’re living for it, you’re a fool! I love you, but you’re caring more about the temporal than the eternal at the detriment of your very soul. Do not trifle with your soul. Literal saving faith is so much more than simple intellectual assent. What I mean by that is anyone can just believe in God, but guess what? So do the demons; in fact, they tremble (looks like they appear to have a leg up on most of us!).

The reality is you can know the Truth, it is within your grasp. There are those who are willing to suffer and die for it its that important… Don’t harden your hearts, but listen closely to what the afflicted for Christ can share with you. Open yourself up enough to know what True Love really is:

 

And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. –Isaiah 32:2

 

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

 

Until the Lord allows the next post-

Yours In Christ,

Joy

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