Prayers for the Week – Persecuted Christians

Persecution

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,but now they have no excuse for their sin.23Whoever hates me hates my Father also.24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ~ John 15:18-27 (ESV)

My friends, welcome to this somber Prayers for the Week post.  Today, we are going to be praying for persecuted Christians across the world — but also in our own back yard.  Let me share with you some things that have happened recently, and how the chain of events is showing me very clearly just how persecuted we are.

On April 19th, our daughter Sophie was confirmed in our church, along with 39 of her fellow Confirmands.  That was the day that Sophie publicly acknowledged that she is a Christian, a child of God, and that she loves Jesus with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength!  As much as we don’t care to think about it, the day that this happens is the day that Sophie and all her classmates are in the crosshairs of those that persecute Christians.  Those people, whoever they are, don’t realize this, or if they do realize it, they don’t care, but they are pawns in the service of Satan, the evil Prince of Darkness.

On April 27th, I started a new Bible reading program, called the Bible in 90 Days.  This program guides you through reading the Bible cover to cover, from Genesis 1:1 all the way through Revelation 22:21 — in just 90 days.  Each day the reading is harder and harder, and the distractions are greater and greater.  Each day I find reasons to fall behind, to put it off for a day, and the temptation to put it aside for good is very great.  My friends, this is another case of persecuted Christians.  The battlefield for Christians, my friends, is not a physical battle — it is a Spiritual battle.  Read what Ephesians 6:12 tells us:

12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The battle to get me to stop reading the Bible is the Devil’s attempt to take away the greatest weapon I have — the Truth contained in the Word of God!

But the battle ramped up much higher this past Friday.

I came home from work to see both Cindy and Sophie in tears.  During school, Sophie had been called names, slapped, accused of physically harming another student, and was subjected to emotional distress to an incredible degree by some at school.  Now, Sophie is not completely without fault — she reacted when she shouldn’t have, and in essence poured gasoline on a lit fire, but she did not provoke this altercation, she did not do the things that the other student claims she did, and she was with a friend, at least we believe him to be a friend, and we trust that he will tell the truth.  However, this has happened often enough that we are looking at an uncertain future, we do not feel that Sophie is safe at school, despite the wonderful teachers that exist there, and we are not certain that we will allow Sophie to continue going to school there.  It seems like this happens just way to often, and Sophie, with her Aspergers syndrome, she just has trouble at times with the social interactions that are needed in Middle School and beyond.

Just like that, Sophie’s path is uncertain, her road towards her future is murkier, and we are not sure what path it will take.  However, here is what we do know:

  1. We know that God is with us, and He will lead us on the path that we are to take.
  2. We know that the easy road is not the way to go, that this road leads to destruction.  The gate to take is the narrow gate.
  3. Lastly, we know these two things:  One, we know that God has plans to prosper us, not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.  We also know that in this world, we will have troubles, but as Jesus tells us, do not worry!  Jesus has overcome the world!

My friends, please pray for us, pray for Sophie, Cindy, and myself, for our Peace, our Comfort, our Strength to make the tough choices that must be made.  Most of all, pray for Sophie’s future, that God would show her the path that she needs to take, and that He would lead her on that path.

These days, most often we hear about the Christian persecution overseas — in Iran, Syria, Egypt, and at the hands of ISIS.  Don’t forget, though, that the battleground isn’t all that far away — the battleground is in our own back yards, and it just got a whole lot closer.  Pray for persecuted Christians across the world, please, and tell us what we can do to pray for you as well.  Now, to close, please pray the prayer that Jesus taught His Disciples to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.

False Prophets

Prayers for the Week – Beware False Prophets!

False Prophets

Image courtesy and ©Darrell Creswell

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week Post. All week I’ve been hearing and seeing things from professed Christians and preachers of Christ that are just leaving me shaking my head and wondering to myself whether or not their priorities are in order. So this week I’m sharing with you my thoughts about False Prophets, with Scripture pointing the way.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ~ Jesus (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, andythe deceit of their own minds. ~ Jeremiah 14:14 (ESV)

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~ Jesus (Matthew 24:24 ESV)

My friends, I have struggled with the words to write this week.  On the one hand, I feel like there is a lot of information that Christians need to be careful of, but on the other hand, some of what I’m about to write about may not be received well by some of you, so I’m nervous.  However, as Jesus told us, the Truth shall set you free (So Jesus said to those who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32), and so, I am going to plough ahead, despite my misgivings.

The number one thing that we as Christians need to do, in my opinion, is to make sure that everything that we do is done for the Glory of God.  Many of us have good intentions when it comes to how we should fulfill this commandment, if you will, but we all need to make sure we remember to put everything to God before implementing our plan of action.

My friends, I am by no means an expert in theology — far from it, in fact!  From my own experience, though, what I know is how easy it is for Satan to whisper in our ears, whispers of how great we are, and how great our ministry is, and that it will be okay to get that fancy house, or that fancy car, oh, and yes, you don’t really think that God created the world, do you?  Well, when Satan focuses his attention on you, it’s extremely important that we have the full armor of God on so that we can combat the evil one.  My worry is that so many follow False Preachers that they may not realize when something is wrong with those that lead them.  That’s a prayer right there, and I’ll include it below too.

Prayer Requests and Praises…

  • Yesterday was the anniversary of my Uncle Bob’s passing.  My dad looked up to his older brother a lot, and wrote this poem in honor of him.
    Bob remembered
    Though you’ve been gone for just over a year,
    I think of you often, perhaps shedding a tear;
    Your memory haunts me still,
    I suppose it always will,
    Wait! Is that your voice I hear? What did you say my Brother?
    Take this path? Maybe another?
    Can you still show me the way,
    Direct my efforts even today?
    Am I still too much of a bother?
     Ah, relax my mentor, my friend!

    I know you reached your journey’s end;
    You were indeed extraordinary,
    Your resolve never varied,
    We’ll paddle the Connecticut once again!
    His little brother, Joe
    September 6, 2014

    Please give praise to God for my Uncle Bob — he is, even in passing, a great man, and give praise also for my Dad.  Also, please pray that my Dad and all of Uncle Bob’s friends and family have Peace in their hearts, and that the anniversary of Uncle Bob’s passing isn’t too difficult for them.
  • Please pray for my cousin Brenda — her dad has had a massive stroke, and they have made the decision to take him off of life support. Things are really tough for their whole family. Please pray for their Peace, Comfort, Strength, and Faith that God has things in control and that He will take care of them. Thank you everyone.
  • Please pray for Peace, Comfort, and Strength for my friend Kelly, as she and her family say goodbye to their Grandpa. Please pray for all of them in their sorrow this day, and celebrate his ascension to Heaven. Thank you everyone.
  • We’ve been praying for my friend Sheila’s friend Kitty.  Please continue to pray.  Earlier in the week we learned that she had a stroke, and had blood clots in her lungs.  With our prayers, though, she has gotten better, but has not been able to walk for several weeks.  It is believed that this has contributed to the blood clots.  Please pray for her to keep getting better to the point that she can get up and start walking again.
  • Please pray for the Joel and Victoria Olsteen — some days ago Victoria was recorded during a sermon talking about how we really are going to church not to please God, but rather, to please ourselves.  The video is all over the Internet, so I won’t link to it here, but please pray for the Olsteens.  Pray that they are the Christian family we all want them to be, pray that they pray to God daily, that they call on Jesus, and that they realize that their words were totally contradictory to what God calls on us to do.  Pray that they would realize that the responsibility that they have towards those that follow them and their message is incredibly important, and that the words they speak should not be their words, but God’s.
  • Please also pray for the Christian Musician Gungor.  In 2012, he stated on his blog that he didn’t find that God created the world in 6 days.  Also, he went further to say that Jesus could have been wrong about Adam and Noah.
    “I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago,” he wrote. “I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up.”
    Please pray that his words wouldn’t lead any of our young Christians — who are being assaulted daily by lies and deceit just from the world — into further being pulled away from studying God’s Word and accepting it as the literal Truth.

My friends, please pray these prayers with me, as well as praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed by Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespassers,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory,
Forever and ever. Amen.

When the World Grieves

A Tearful Mickey Mouse – hand drawn by 11 year old Sophie.

On Friday, December 14th, 2012, the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, was struck with a grief so intense, it has shaken a nation — even a world — to it’s core.  On that morning, as you all likely know by now, a gunman came into Sandy Hook Elementary School and ended the lives of innocent lives.

As a parent of an eleven year old, that news hit home.  Part of me was thinking “How could this happen?” while another part of me was thinking “This was a movie scene, right?  It didn’t really happen, did it?”  Well, you all know that it did happen, and it is in the aftermath of such a tragedy that we struggle mightily to deal with the grief, and to try to explain to our children when they hear about it why such a thing could happen.  When the world grieves, what, as a parent, can you do?

I thought long and hard this weekend about whether or not to write a post — so much so that I haven’t posted anything since Friday to the site.  In the end, though, I decided that, perhaps, if I did write about it, someone, somewhere that is grieving right now might take comfort in knowing that this little blogger and his family are thinking of them.

When tragedy strikes such as this, more then anything it brings me back to my Bible, and it is a reaffirmation of what Jesus tells us in John 16:33:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

No one right now is going through as much hurt as those families who have lost loved ones.  But they have one thing going for them, as sad as it is for them to comprehend right now — their loved ones are in the arms of Jesus right now, and while they are left behind, Jesus has not forgotten them, and He is giving them the strength they need right now to get through this, as well as bringing his Peace upon them.

it is far too easy to ask why in cases like this. It is really easy to be angry with God for allowing this to happen, and that is probably happening right now.  I don’t pretend to have the answers about why this has happened, and I don’t think that we will ever really know why this happened.  What I do know, though, is that our God is a loving God, that Jesus has won, even though it may not seem like it is so right now.  It is really easy to let our grief lead us down a road that takes us into sin through anger, and if this is happening to you right now, please, PLEASE, get down on your knees right now, clasp your hands together, and pray to God to give you the Peace you need — the Peace that only Jesus can provide — so that you won’t give in to your anger and do something that could cause more grief.  If you have sinned as a result of your anger, do the same thing — but first ask God to forgive you for your sin.  He will forgive you.  He always forgives those who ask forgiveness with a humble heart.

The grief won’t go away anytime soon, I’m afraid.  I know that it may seem like you want it to go away, that you want to just forget what has happened, but that isn’t what you should be doing, I believe.  Forgetting the grief, blocking it away, will not allow you to heal, and that wouldn’t help.  It is tough, but love always is, and saying goodbye, especially to your children, spouses, or other loved ones is never easy.  Life will go on, though, although I won’t claim that it will be any better for a while, if ever.  Your loved one is still gone, after all.

I doubt that this has been helpful to any of you, but maybe I’m wrong.  If this has helped you deal with your grief, then my objective was met.  At the very least, please know that the entire nation, but especially Newtown, Connecticut, is in my prayers, and in the prayers of my family.  God Bless Us, and God Bless the USA.

Friendship Friday: Grandma!

Grandma

Sophie with her Nana, 2006.

Friendship Friday: Grandma

Welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday!  Last week we focused on my Grandpa, and this week we focus on his bride of nearly 68 years, my Grandma!

My Grandma was born Edna Atwood near Waterbury, Connecticut, and was one of the children of a local vet in the area.  Since the area she lived in was mostly farming, she learned to ride horses early on.

My Grandma would grow up to become an O.R. nurse — and a pretty good one at that from what I understand.  Back in those days, when a patient was in the hospital, they hired their own nurses to take care of them, and my Grandpa’s father, who needed to have gallbladder surgery, hired her to help take care of him after his surgery (my Grandma had also been in on the actual surgery.)

It was during this time that my Grandpa met my Grandma, and began a romance that would last for a lifetime.

I have heard a lot of stories about my childhood from my Grandma, perhaps my favorite one was the time — when they lived in Buffalo, NY — when my Grandma bought me a hotdog with ketchup, and told me to make sure I held onto that hot dog really tight.  Well, I held it so tight that the hot dog shot out of the bun onto the floor!

My Grandma and Grandpa are a blessing in my life, even now, despite the fact that they have both been called to Heaven.  My Grandpa used to make my Grandma so angry!  He told us the story once that her family was wealthy — so wealthy that they had servants!  The true story is that my Grandma’s mom passed away really young, and my Grandma — who was the oldest if I remember correctly — had to keep the house because of that.  In order to help them out, they did have a lady who came by to help with the housekeeping, but it wasn’t at all like they had servants!

My Grandpa was a little like me — or rather, I’m a little like him.  Both of us are guilty of not having a whole lot of smarts at times!  I remember the time my Grandma told us the story about Grandpa ticking her off about something.  Grandma could be devious at times, so she let it lie for a while, then later on she suggested that they go for a horseback ride.  By this time my Grandma was an old pro at riding a horse, but Grandpa wasn’t as good.  When Grandma and Grandpa got on their horses, Grandma took off on her horse, and Grandpa’s followed nearly as quickly!  My Grandpa learned a valuable lesson that day — but he also forgot it on more then one occasion over the years also! :)

Sophie was born when my Grandma was 87 years old, and it was extremely important to Cindy that we bring Sophie down to Florida to meet Grandma and Grandpa as early as we could.  As a result, little Sophie took her first trip to Florida at the tender age of 7 weeks old.  We had already planned on staying at a hotel, so we checked in first and settled in before coming over.  I remember as we were heading to my Grandma’s house that it started pouring rain!  Grandma knew we were on our way because we called first, and when we got there, Grandma was waiting in the garage with the door open, umbrella at hand, waiting to help Cindy and Sophie get into the house.

My Grandpa was also like me in that he was both an old softie, and a hopeless romantic at times!  I’ll never forget one time when we were visiting, Grandpa came in from the garden, red rose in hand, which he proceeded to give my Grandma.  She said, “Ah, Dad.” (They called each other Mom and Dad) and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  When she saw me watching them, she blushed and looked at me and said “Yes, we still do that!”

My Grandma was the rock of our family, especially after they retired.  Grandpa was stricken with pancreatic cancer — and survived it — but he also had macular degeneration and hearing loss, so he wasn’t able to drive anymore.  My Grandma did all the driving when it was just the two of them, she had the greater energy, and she did her crossword puzzles.  They watched their baseball games on TV together, and they did all of these things together.

In the end, though, it was my Grandma who would end up having the frailer body.  Grandma passed away in March 2007, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.  After she passed away, Grandpa moved to Virginia with Mom and Dad.  I’m going to close with two pictures from after Grandma passed away.  In the first you have my Grandpa and Mom, Father and Daughter, doing what they did best — taking care of one another.  In the second picture you have a family picture in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Florida.

Grandma

Grandpa and Mom, holding hands, after Grandma’s Memorial Service.

 

Grandma

Dad, Uncle Roger, Stephanie, Aunt Sadie, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bob, Aunt Bette

At the end of this long post, I urge you all, if you still have your Grandparents in your life, to take a moment, pick up the phone, and give them a call and tell them you love them.  Or, if they are close enough, go over and visit with them.  All of my Grandparents are now in Heaven, and I miss them.  Looking at the pictures in this post, the memories return anew, and I found myself wiping tears from my eyes that I thought had all been shed.  I never realized in the picture of my Mom and Grandpa just how prophetic that picture was.  Grandpa looked after Mom and helped her to learn to walk and talk again, and now, in his later years, my Mom was there for him, taking him by the hand, helping him when needed, and yes, getting aggravated by him as much as my Grandma was at times.

Remember, take a moment, give them a call or stop by and see them.  You are blessed to have them, just as those of us that have lost our Grandparents were blessed to have them.  Never take them for granted, any of our family members.

This series is the brainchild of my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  To take a look at who she is featuring this week in her post, just click on the image below!  Thanks for stopping by!