Thoughts on ‘Blessings’

I love the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. Several new connections (or thoughts) jumped out at me when I was re-listening to it recently.

“We pray for peace,…”

Israel and the Middle East is the first thing that comes to mind. So many lives lost on both sides. So much hatred. Because of my multi-cultural friend circle, I get to hear about it from both perspectives. The hatred is what really hit me.

Recently, a family friend and history buff visited and gave us a thirty minute condensed summary of the history of this war. Mind you, this is only the tip of the iceberg regarding this issue. I need to do more research on the topic, but for now I’ll recap what the best history teacher I know said. (Don’t quote me, I did not take notes (unfortunately) —this is simply what stood out to me).

Prior to WWII, many Jewish people started to feel the tension growing in Europe. So many of them began searching for somewhere to live and call their own. The Jews did not have a country of their own at that point. They were a spread out people group. What they did have, however, was money—in the form of family silver, heirlooms, etc. But they did not want riches. They wanted land to call their home. Several Jews came into modern day Israel (called Palestine back then). They offered to pay the Palestinians two or three times the amount their land was worth. Thinking the Jews were stupid to give so much money for the land, they happily agreed.

Gradually, the population in Palestine became more Jewish. At this point Britain said, “No more Jews are welcome to Palestine.” (Britain was in charge of that area at that point).

With nowhere else to go, the Jews continued in. Then the problems started. The Palestinians, who had fairly and enthusiastically sold their land, realized something. “We have no home now.” The other countries surrounding them did not take kindly to their Arab brothers’ plight. So they decided to go back to Palestine and buy back the land from the Jews.

I can only guess what the Jews were thinking at this point. “Wait a second… you sold us this land happily. This is our home. Now you want to buy it back again?! No way!!”

After the Jews refused to sell their land, the Palestinians decided to take matters into their own hands—or rather, their own weapons.

And that, my friends, is the five minute story of why Israel and her surrounding Middle Eastern countries hate each other (save Egypt—because they traded peace for the Sinai Peninsula) and fight over the land. Both sides have killed, and neither is innocent. But, I found this little glimpse of history to be quite enlightening on the whole topic.

“We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. …”

I think about persecuted Christians around the globe. Compared to what they face every single day, we really have nothing to complain about here in the US. Yes, we have a huge national debt, businesses are being forced to provide birth control & abortion pills to their workers, and free speech is limited in many cases (unless you agree with what’s politically correct), but… we can still worship freely together with other believers on Sunday (or any other day of the week) without fearing imprisonment, fines, or beatings. We can own a Bible and not even think twice about it, when our brothers and sisters in North Korea face execution if a Bible is found in their possession.

We have so much to be thankful for, and no matter what you think of the recent political choices, we have the most religious freedoms anywhere in the world (though they are under heavy fire).

Join me in praying for Christians all around the world to hold fast to the word of God and to never lose sight of the reason we run run this race.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

“All the while, You hear each spoken need.”

God knows what we need, and He always hears us.  Even if we don’t get an immediate answer—He hears.

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalm 121:3-4

“What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?”

This reminds me of B.J. Higgins.  When this vibrant young teen, on fire for God, contracted an infection on the mission field, he used his six week opportunity to unite Christians and witness to everyone he came in contact with.  His parents knew God was near, but through this ordeal they learned to trust Him entirely—having to give God their only son.  B.J. died from the infection, but God took the seemingly hopeless and terrible situation to bring many souls nearer to Himself.

“A greater thirst, this world can’t satisfy.”

I like to play games—especially computer games.  What I have found (and sometimes forget and have to re-learn), is that no matter how good you get and no matter how long you play, it does not satisfy.  Ever.  I always want something more—the games may give a fake brief sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but it does not last.  And then I am left looking for something better.  Or rather, someone better.

Things of this world will never fully satisfy.  Only a personal relationship with our creator can fill that void.

I hope you were able to take something from my insights, or just enjoy hearing the song again (or for the first time).  What thoughts strike you when you hear these lyrics?

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

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Love Costs Everything

     With my mother I watched the documentary “Love Costs Everything“.  It was very hard to watch.  I cried at one point.  I’ve read many biographies and autobiographies of persecuted Christians — but seeing real people be beaten, hit, kicked, and killed really brings it home.  These men, women, and children risk everything — their livelihood, their home, their family and their life for Christ.  And I can’t even bring myself to witness to friends — when I risk nothing??  There is something wrong with that, there is something wrong with me.  *Brothers and *sisters are suffering and dying daily to spread the saving knowledge of a relationship with Jesus to the world.  What am I doing??  Wasting my life in front of a computer screen.  Instead of preparing myself for God’s call I’ve spent my time all for “me” and what makes me happy.

     Let me tell you something, it is not fulfilling.  Sure there are fun moments.  But the empty pleasures of this world leave me empty and trick me into thinking that “if only                  ” (you fill in the blank: more games, more money, more friends, etc.) I would be truly happy, content, and fulfilled.  It’s a lie.  I’ve found that living for myself only returns discontentment, anger, selfishness, grumpiness, rudeness — the list goes on and on.  Just ask any of my siblings.  As hard and saddening as this is to say, I have not been the good example that I should be for them.  In fact the only times I’ve been the kind, loving, tender older sister I should have been were the times when I was serving the Lord — and thus serving others rather than myself.

     In Awana this year our theme is: 1 Corinthians 13.  Best known as the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 — besides defining true love — basically states that you can know everything, give all your money to the poor, and even die for a cause.  BUT without love it is worth NOTHING.  If I cannot love those around me (family, etc.) how can I think of loving others?  Love needs to start with my own family.  God has placed each one of them in my life for a reason.  I need to be Christ to those in contact with me.

     I’ve felt and feel a strong call in my life towards missions.  I do not yet know where the Lord will place me, but I know that He has called me to be a light and to share and show His love to others.  Perhaps my calling will be in a country where Christians are persecuted.  Perhaps not.  Only He knows.  Either way, Soli Deo Gloria!  (Glory to God alone!)  If I go into missions for my own name or glory I will fail.  In Christ alone.  “He must become greater, I must become less.” — John 3:30 (NIV)

Forsaking
All
I
Take
Him

Love costs everything.

Love is worth it.

Pray for the persecuted church.

~

Because He Lives 

by Bill and Gloria Gaither

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

~
Doer of Your Word
by Bob Kauflin
I looked in the mirror of Your word knowing I’d see
A clear reflection of what You saw in me
You gently showed me the state my heart was in
And how the world had deceived me again
Went away determined to take the narrow path
But in a moment my foolish ways were back
It’s elementary there must be something wrong
And I’m starting to realize this can’t go on
Doer of Your word
Never ever forget the truth I’ve learned
Doer of Your word
I wanna be a doer of Your word
It’s not the first time its happened won’t be the last
I think I’m finally mature but just a little too fast
I close my Bible convinced I’m really changed
But I’m not any different ’til I obey
I wanna be a doer of Your word
Doer of Your word
Never forget the truth I’ve learned
Doer of Your word
I wanna be a doer of Your word
What does it mean to call You Lord of my life
If I ignore the things You say
Help me remember that my greatest delight
Is following Your commands
And give me strength to stand and be a doer of Your word
Doer of Your word
Never forget the truth I’ve learned
Doer of Your word
I wanna be a doer of Your word
~
*I can’t name their names here because many of them are still in danger,
but here are some of their stories:
~
A teenage girl in Iraq was told that if she did not marry a specific terrorist man, she would be killed.  She left her family and now lives under the care of the church for her families safety.  Pray for boldness, strength and encouragement as she continues to stand for her faith.  Also pray for her oppressors.
~
A young traveling pastor in India and his wife were assaulted by Hindu men while traveling to a church service one morning.  His wife was killed, and he was severely injured (they thought he was dead).  Pray for him as he morns for his wife and as he serves the church.  Also pray for the men involved in the killing.
~
In Iraq a group of Muslims attacked (shot and bombed) a large church, killing over 15 men, women, and children.  Because of this, one man fled to France to seek asylum and also because of his many wounds.  Pray for his wife and sister who are still in the country and are in danger because of their faith.  Also for him to have wisdom as to what his best course of action is during this uncertain time.
~
A woman and her two children lost their husband/father when FARC guerrillas killed him for preaching the gospel of Christ to a small community in Columbia.  They continue to serve the community, and the son plans to become a pastor.  Pray for the salvation of the guerrillas who killed the pastor.  Also that the family would have continued boldness and passion for the gospel.
~
A horrible slaughter of Christians within the village of Orissa, India has left many dead, wounded, and homeless.  Pray for their healing and encouragement after coming out of this nightmare.  Also for new opportunities and protection for these families.