The following is a post written by my husband, Max.
Sunday November 2, 2014 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
What is Christian Persecution?
This topic may feel distant to many of us Western Christians. In 2013, I first got an understanding of what Christian persecution was when I read the book Tortured for Christ authored by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs Ministry. If you are interested in receiving a complimentary copy of this book, you can get more information here. Richard Wurmbrand showed radical obedience to the Gospel in Romania despite the horrific persecution and torture that he both experienced and witnessed while spending more than ten years in prison. His life is a beautiful testimony of the Gospel and what it means to love.
The definition of Christian persecution from about.com is:
Persecution is the act of harassing, oppressing, or killing people because of their difference from society. Christians are persecuted because their belief in Jesus Christ as Savior does not conform to the godlessness of a sinful world.”
Christians around the world are persecuted every day. According an article on Christianity Today, some 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith since AD 22. “Is there a global war on Christians?” Michael Austin asks. “That question is asked in this issue and judging from the number of deaths and torture in recent years, my conclusion is, yes – and the casualties are staggering. […] Sadly, the names of Christ’s heroes and their inspired stories go largely unspoken today and their cause goes unreported in the popular press.” Voice of the Martyrs’s Rou Stults adds that there is not enough awareness in the Western Church: “Many Christians in the West either deny or are ignorant of it, but persecution is part of present reality.”
Why are Christians facing persecution?
They are suffering persecution and dying for living lives that honor Jesus and being a witness to the Gospel, as we were commissioned by Jesus:
He (Jesus) told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. 19 Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Spiritual warfare is active and real – and it is warring against Jesus’ Great Commission. We must remember this is a spiritual war and continue to love all, including those who persecute Christians.
For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.” – Ephesians 6:12
How should Christians respond?
Don’t put your head in the sand. Stand up with your brothers and sisters in Christ that are being persecuted and losing their lives for the Gospel. We can serve them through words of encouragement, prayer, time, and financial support.
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” – Hebrews 13:3
This powerful list of 10 ways to pray for our persecuted family in Christ is from the Voice of the Martyrs Ministry:
- Pray that the persecuted believers will sense God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5)
- Pray that they will feel connected to the greater Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:20, 26)
- Pray that they will experience God’s comfort when their family members are killed, injured or imprisoned for their witness (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
- Pray that they will have more opportunities to share the Gospel (Colossians 4:3)
- Pray for their boldness to make Christ known (Philippians 1:14)
- Pray that they will forgive and love their persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
- Pray that their ministries activities will remain undetected by authorities or others who wish to silence them (Acts 9:25)
- Pray that they will rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41)
- Pray that they will be refreshed through God’s Word and grow in their faith (Ephesians 6:17)
- Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayers of fellow believers (Jude 20-25)
Join with brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for persecuted Christians, and more urgently, for their mission, the spread of the Gospel.
If you need help getting started, I encourage you to start by earnestly and reverently praying. As the introductory video “What can you do in 5 minutes?” shows, a start could be as simple as praying for the persecuted church for 5 minutes once a week. Let us join together in prayer on Sunday, November 2, 2014 and continue thereafter.
Plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers to help you, for the harvest is so plentiful and the workers so few.” – Luke 10:2
- Book: Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
- Simulcast: Open Doors International Day of Prayer Sign up
- PDF: Scriptures Related to Persecution
- PDF: Infographic: Evangelization through martyrdom (AD 22 – 2000)
- Facts about Persecuted Christians
- Open Doors: Take action
- Voice of the Martyrs: Get involved
1. It’s not about looks.
You are not defined by wearing all of the hottest trends, having the cutest hairstyle, or sporting the latest popular shoes. You are not defined by your outer self. God wants you to shine from the inside by sharing your heart! God says it’s what’s on the inside that counts. People will try to tell you that it’s important to stand out by making yourself unique, when they are only making themselves more like each other. A gentle and quiet spirit speaks volumes over striving for acceptable outward appearances any day.
Your body is simply a vessel carrying the more important spirit inside.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – 1 Peter 3:3-4
The world focuses on appearance; hair, make-up, clothes, skin tone, the entire body. They will nit-pick it to the very core. And yet, God looks past those things and straight to your heart. He knows who you really are despite what others may think. And even despite what you may think even about yourself.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16
Your value is completely unrelated to appearance. Period.
2. It’s a temple.
After accepting Jesus Christ, your body is where the Holy Spirit lives. He wants you to take good care of His temple. This means eating healthy, getting proper exercise and rest, and abstaining from physical sin.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Our bodies are already God’s, but offering them fully over to Him as a sacrifice is the ultimate worship to our Creator.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
3. It’s made just like God’s.
You weren’t made to be just like Selena Gomez or Madonna. You were made in the very image of our amazing Creator. You are so important that God made you with Himself in mind. That’s a pretty awesome blessing! He gave you similar characteristics and the ability to reflect His greatness. You aren’t called to absorb the world’s influences and then reflect that. Your body is a vessel for showing the world God’s character.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground. – Genesis 1: 26-27
4. It’s perfect the way it is.
You were made so perfectly precise the way you are. He put more thought than you can ever imagine into every detail of your body. He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head. Praise God for making you so uniquely you!
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
Comparison can be a terrible thing when it comes to accepting yourself. The images on TV, in magazines, and all over the internet are nothing but visual representations of physical appearance. They try to set a standard for you that this world wants you to live by. Do NOT fall for this false idea of who you need to be. God made you exactly how He wanted you to be. There is no need to try to be anyone else.
You will always be beautiful to God. He knows and loves you more than anyone else. After all, he DIED for YOU!
5. God cares about your body.
We’ve recognized that the most important part of our being is what is inside, yet we are also called to take good physical care of our bodies. Not because of looks, but because we have to be healthy to carry out the work on earth that God has called us to. It’s obvious that physical fitness is of some importance to God to be mentioned in the scriptures. He wants us to keep our body healthy both physically and spiritually.
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8
He wants you to enjoy things that you can put into your body, yet…
Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. – Ecclesiastes 3:13
Everything in moderation.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. – Philippians 4:5
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Our bodies belong to God and they were made for a purpose: to worship Him.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. – Romans 12:1
And I finally I want to pray this prayer from Ephesians over my girls so that they understand God’s love and how powerful that it truly is. Pray this over your daughters too!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21
The following is a guest post written by my dear friend, Amy Ford.
Have you ever found yourself doing nothing you always thought you would do?
You know, that list you made in your freshman year of college with all the things you’d accomplish by twenty-five, by thirty: the charming husband, the master’s degree, the Mediterranean cruise, the book, the baby, the office, the perfect dress size? Have you ever looked at that list which so succinctly quantified success in your eyes and felt like a deflated balloon?
Have you ever found yourself doing everything you never thought you would do?
This is the other list: the mental one. It is full of the judgments and vows we put on ourselves when observing the rest of the world. “I’ll never be that kind of wife/mother/employee/woman.” “I could never live that life.” “I cannot take that kind of risk.”
Whoever first vocalized the adage, “The surest way to make God laugh is to tell Him what you’re going to do (or what you’re not going to do),” was, quite possibly, the wisest person ever.
Okay, I do like to exaggerate, but grant me some poetic license.
This proverb, dear readers, is the story of my adult life. And there are days, honestly, when I look at my life and wonder what my role is and what I am supposed to be doing. Am I doing everything the Lord wants? How do I advance the Kingdom when life and motherhood leave me in survival mode? Behind the endless cracker crumbs and diaper changes and recitations of Pat the Bunny, did I lose the person I thought I was?
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9, NIV
In the swirl, I do not feel chosen, nor royal, holy, or even special. But I do know that I have been called out of darkness into wonderful light, and for that, I have a purpose: to declare the praises of him who called me.
In a worship meeting, as this verse marched through my mind, I remembered the priests of my childhood Catholic church walking down the aisle, like a bride, carrying a silver pot of incense, swinging from a chain. The fragrance permeated the sanctuary. Even if you could not see the priest, you could smell the incense.
We are a priesthood, you and I. Not just your pastor or your husband – you. And if we claim no other calling, we must embrace this one. A priest tends the flame. A priest keeps the fragrance burning. A priest welcomes the presence of the Lord. In fact, he (or she) never leaves His presence.
In my upside-down place of wondering where I fit in, what I should be doing, I, we, must find our place as priests first. My children should see me tending the fire on the altar of praise between the simple walls of my home. My neighbors should sense the sweet perfume as they pass us walking the dog. In my church, in my community, across oceans, and wherever God calls me, I find rest for my soul in my job as priest, and I pray the incense of my life permeates the places I tread, drawing others to Him.
I find that the fragments of identity and purpose fall into place when I focus on a life of praise. I pray that we all embrace this, our calling. If we can do nothing else for God, this is our sufficient destiny! We are chosen ones, holy ones, keepers of the flame and carriers of the Divine presence. We are lifters of praises.
Amy is a writer, Christ-follower, wife, mother, and recovering middle school English teacher. She lives just south of her native Nashville with her husband of eleven years and her two gorgeous and brilliant children (she also wrote this profile herself, in case you couldn’t tell).
Amy has a passion for youth ministry, the arts, and teaching. She looks for the good, noble, lovely, and true in everything — for that is where God’s imprint is found.
Read more from Amy at her personal blog, Epiphany.
Aerosmith’s And I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing is now going through my head. Great…
If you are like me and tend to miss important posts online, then you may want to sign up for the Gathering Grain newsletter!
It’s a simple email that goes out each day compiling all the posts from the day. It’s all in one place! Just pop in your email address below to be added to the list. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you or sell your information!
I’m trying to be more organized these days when it comes to my home. We moved recently and things were quite a mess when it was time to transfer them from one home to another. Hey, we’re learning right? So this time around, I’m pretty serious about trying organize a little better. I am NOT Miss Organization. In fact, if you find something organized in my home it’s usually out of desperation or force. There, I’ve admitted it now we can move on.
That is why I was absolutely ecstatic when we arrived at our new home and the previous owner had put together this fantastically organized binder. I knew that I had to share it with you! I can’t take credit, but I can use the idea to bless others since it has blessed me so much.
Warranties are VERY important. As are the manuals that accompany products that you may have to troubleshoot or just learn how to use. Grab a sturdy binder at the store along with some page protectors and put every bit of knowledge about these items inside it that you can.
Save your warranties!
Saving your warranties is SAVING YOU MONEY! If your product, appliance, etc. stops working, it could be under warranty which means the manufacturer will foot the cost of the fix and not you.
Save your manuals and documentation!
- Directions! Who likes to actually use directions? Most definitely not men. Sometimes they actually do come in handy. Maybe after you’ve tried it the first time and it didn’t work.
- Use it to learn about your product. How it works. When it needs cleaning.
- Information about batteries, bulbs, or other parts necessary for the product.
- Troubleshoot problems. Often times there are codes or red flags that manuals include simply for the consumer to be aware of!
I’m so thankful for this binder y’all. The appliances here are a lot newer than we are used to. There are beeps and codes being thrown almost everyday and I’ve had to reference these many times. Eye opener for home organization and stewarding the organization in our home for sure!
Have you lost your manual? You can download a manual for over 700,000 products at Manuals Online!
WELCOME to Gathering Grain! I’m so glad that you have found your way here. If you’ve followed any of my other blogs before then you’re probably wondering what this gathering grain concept is. So I thought it would be fitting to just explain it to ya in my first post.
The verse above is honestly my biggest inspiration for this blog. I love the story of Joseph from the Bible because I can relate to him and some of his struggles. He showed amazing examples of forgiveness, humility, leadership, and stewardship. As a stay at home mom, stewardship sometimes isn’t easy. But it is something that I want to always be improving on.
Stewardship- responsible management of our God-given resources of time, talent, and treasure.
This blog is not about how I am a perfect steward of the resources given to me by God. It’s not about how you are the perfect steward either. It’s about gathering the grain given to us in abundance. Grain is our money, our household, our relationships, our children, and all the blessings that we gather.