A Prayer for the 90 + kidnapped Christians of Syria

My heart weeps as I write this today….

The poet William Arthur Ward said:

I will do more than belong…I will participate.

I will do more than care…I will help.

I will do more than believe…I will practice.

I will do more than be fair…I will be kind.

I will do more than forgive…I will forget.

I will do more than dream…I will work.

I will do more than teach…I will inspire.

I will do more than learn…I will enrich.

I will do more than give…I will serve.

I will do more than live…I will grow.

I will do more than suffer…I will triumph. 

We can’t do whatever is easiest and still reach our goals. We must do more. We must do “whatever it takes.”

Ah, that we would be people of faith with such passion for the glory of God and His kingdom that we would be compelled by Christ’s love in all diligence. William Arthur Ward’s statements are all tenets of our faith propelling us go beyond all that is expected or asked of us into the miraculous realm of God.

Yesterday more that 90 Assyrian Christian men, women, and children were kidnapped from their Syrian village by militant terrorists. They have been drawn into a horrific situation beyond our imaginations or our understanding. And yet, many of them are already crying out, “ We are Ready to Meet Jesus today.” In spite of the torture, the molestations, the beatings and the beheadings, many of them have already stated that they will not compromise. And most of the parents have trained their children to do the same. In war torn countries, like Syria, parents actually practice daily with their children, repeating the actual words they will say in the event of capture. This is what Christian mothers and fathers have to train their children to do in Syria. While we are teaching our children to ride a bike, tie their shoes and bake a cake, they are teaching their children how to face torture and death. They are ready to go beyond expectations and beyond all earthly demands. They are ready to die for their beliefs. Ready to die for love of Jesus.

What about you? Have you died to self and laid down your life for Jesus. Time is shorter than we believe. Have you made a decision to give your life for Him? Will this be the day you will be asked to give your physical life as well? We don’t know what life holds for each of us, nor the time frame, but we do know that we will all leave this life one day. May we all be prepared to meet Jesus. May we all be captivated by His great love and His demonstration of that great love as He died for us. Beaten, humiliated, tortured and mutilated, He laid down His life for each of us. As much as we try to avoid and deny it, suffering is part of our legacy. It’s engrained in our lineage.

Today let us cry out for the 90 + kidnapped Christians of Syria who face unspeakable tortures and possible martyrdom this day. May they be set free my Lord! May Christians rise up around the world in great prayer, pleading and crying out in unison, to the only real power that can intervene and set them free, Jesus Christ our Lord. And if they be martyred this day,  may they be strengthened beyond all measure. Embrace them my Lord and wrap them in your Spirit that they may find you in the midst of incomparable pain and suffering. May they do more than suffer, let them triumph!

“And they overcame him( Satan)by the blood of The Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives unto death.”(Revelation 12:11)

A Naive Paulette

As a young girl of 19 years old, I identified quickly with the boldness and fire of the apostle Paul. My childhood had been wrought with fear and great pain. Reading stories of Paul strengthened me and propelled me. I wanted to be like him, to have His great strength and His boldness in my life. Paul became the mentor for my life, and I began to pray daily to become a “Paulette”. I wanted so much to be a woman of vitality, bold, and mighty for the glory of God. I prayed daily, “Lord please make me a Paulette”. I continued those prayers for many years. But somehow amidst those desires and my naiveté, I seemed to overlook in my Bible readings the great cost of His strength and His mission.

Paul spells out the true story behind his success:

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was [stoned], three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own [countrymen], in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Co 11:23-28 NIV).

Most of us have a vague notion when we accept Christ, that someday we will have to make sacrifices. But for many, that price will have to be paid sooner than we realize. Not expecting that, many of us become discouraged and disheartened. We have a tendency to rationalize and to devalue ourselves and the work that we do. When our dreams don’t unfold in the time frame or manner we think they should, some of us table our dreams, putting them on hold. Others have abandoned them entirely. Reflect for a moment…Years from now, standing before our Father in heaven, will we be weeping and saying, “Father, forgive me for wasting so many of your gifts, I should have done so much more for the glory of your kingdom.”?

That’s the cost of a God-given dream.

Father, you have given us dreams to complete. Please intervene on our behalf. We stand in the authority that you have given us and denounce spirits of discouragement, pain and doubt. We boldly stand and declare that we will not abandon the dreams that you have implanted within us by your spirit. We thank you for dreams and visions that propel us for your Kingdom glory. May we rise above our fears, our inadequacies and the surpassing cost.  May we continue to run the race and finish strong according to your promises and in your great might and your strength. In your name we pray. Amen

What You Tolerate Dominates!

Don’t Win the Battle and Lose the War!

Setting boundaries within families can be one of the most difficult things to do. We are bound to these people for a lifetime and frequently interpret that as a no-choice position if we want to honor Christ. Lack of boundaries wreaks havoc in a home. Growing up with an abusive mother was quite the adventure at my house; the cliché “roller-coaster”,  a hysterical adventure ride that often times threw me right off the tracks of my life. Moving and compromising my boundaries became the pattern of my youth. Arguments, threats and unrealistic expectations were daily occurrences. Years later, after I left home, the Lord generously began to reteach me in terms of His precious boundaries for my life.

One of the first things He taught me is that setting boundaries is not about making threats. It is about giving choices and then consequences for the poor decisions that are made, much like we do with our parenting skills. So don’t feel guilty enforcing or witnessing consequences. Guilt leads to compromise. We cannot be in a healthy relationship without appropriate boundaries. Setting personal boundaries are like identifying the gates in our invisible fence lines which protects the heart and soul inside our bodies. Our personal boundaries are God’s boundaries for us, for our protection. We need to maintain boundaries in order to freely grow and expand in our relationship with Christ and also in our ability to minister effectively to others. Boundaries are tools of protection. They set appropriate limits both externally and internally. Externally, they can provide protective limits on others who treat us poorly or in an aggressive manner. Internally, they can protect us from unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves which could unwittingly hinder our walk with Christ.  Many people look at boundaries as walls, but rather, when we establish healthy boundaries, they provide a way to distinguish what we choose to let in and what we choose to let out. They form flexible gates, not stationary walls. It is important to learn about setting healthy boundaries so we can make decisions about what is and what isn’t permissible in our relationships. It really doesn’t matter how elaborate the fencing or how eloquent our statements are, if we don’t honor ourselves enough to draw the boundary line and stick to it consistently. 

Often we grow weary in holding our ground, especially when old patterns draw us back to unhealthy behaviors. We must keep our eye on the mark…this is a spiritual war to tear down strongholds of pride, rebellion and narcissism. Winning a battle in a relationship means little if we lose the spiritual war. “Winning a battle but losing the war”describes a poor strategy that wins or settles for a lesser objective, but overlooks and loses the truly intended objective.  Occasionally I would win a small battle with my mother and she would become a little responsive and for a time peaceful. Believing that the battle was won and not wanting to upset her further, I would begin to compromise my boundaries once again in order to maintain a semblance of peace in the household. Walking on eggshells was my way of life. The more I yielded, the more she consumed, and pretty soon the situation was progressively worse than before. It was a vicious cycle and, at the time, I had no clue how to altar it or how to escape from it.

Godly relationships give honor one to another. It is just as important for the other person to learn how to be with you and what the guidelines are for the relationship. If there are old patterns, it may take some time to convince others that you are serious about sticking to your boundaries. Improving our ability to set boundaries can, at times, be both painful and difficult. It requires consistency, perseverance, much prayer, and the support of others. Setting appropriate boundaries is an ability we can all learn through God’s direction. Below are some practical steps in learning to set boundaries:

1. Be honest about your anger when others violate your boundaries. First of all be honest with yourself and with God.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” Pouting or the “silent treatment” is anger as well. Manipulating people through any form of anger is not God-honoring. People who have difficulty setting boundaries are often angry because they feel like others are wielding power over them. They do not realize that they themselves have unwittingly relinquished that power. 

2. Ask God to help you to be truthful in all things, even in negative truth. Setting boundaries may sometimes rock the boat. Take special note of this scripture…

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”Luke 6:26

3. Cultivate relationships with people who encourage the use of your boundaries, instead of threatening your boundaries. Those closest to you should love your “no” as much as they love your “yes”!

Careful…….. What you Tolerate, Dominates!

Let It Go!

Let It Go       9792442-musical-notes-and-staff

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.” Ps 143:10 NIV

My granddaughter Allyson is an energetic five year old who loves the movie “Frozen”, and especially loves to sing at the “top of her lungs” the movie’s theme song, “Let It Go.” When the movie was first released Allyson sang that song, to the dismay of her parents, again and again and again. She is also the typical five year old, who wants what she wants, when she wants it. When we just couldn’t seem to hit “the replay button” fast enough to suit her, she would bellow “Let it Go”  over and over without the music with a joy and enthusiasm that made us all smile. Let’s just say patience is not a favorite word to a five year old. In fact I believe I’m correct in saying “patience” is not a popular word at any age. When God promises us something and it doesn’t seem to happen in our time frame, it’s so easy to get impatient and start doubting Him right away. Eager to make it happen, we start to take matters into our own hands and can unknowingly detour the plan and even make quite a mess of that plan like Abraham did. God promised Abraham children “as numerous as the stars” (Genesis 22:17 NIV). Tired of waiting He took matters into His on hands and had a child, Ishmael, by his maid servant, Hagar. That’s when Abraham’s troubles really began!  Rivalry between the two wives set off a spiral of events that eventually led to the “letting go” of his son Ishmael. Hagar and her son were literally sent away from their home and forced to fend for themselves. God loved Ishmael and had great plans for him, but Abraham had to “let go” of him in order to fulfill God’s will. It was one of the most painful experiences of Abraham’s life.

So what do we learn from Abraham’s story? First of all, emphatically refuse to allow the Enemy to send anything into your life that will undermine your plans while you are waiting and praying. Secondly, be careful of the advice you receive, even if it is from someone close to you. Fathering Ishmael was advised by Abraham’s wife Sarah. When God speaks directly to you, listen and obey His will above all others. Thirdly, because you are willing to take responsibility for your actions doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for those actions and sometimes even long-lasting ones!  There are things you can give up effortlessly, and other things that will take every ounce of grace within you to release. Letting go of troublesome past experiences may be extremely hard. It is especially difficult to give up something of great attachment or something that reflects you, like a job you love, the house where you live, a friendship or a present relationship. But when you have gone as far as you can with your “Ishmael” and you are ready to see God’s promise fulfilled in your life, you must be willing to ……Let It Go!

The good news is obedience to God is always followed with blessing. When you know God is clear about what you must do, even if it hurts, “ throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1) and eagerly and enthusiastically cry out or even sing at the “top of your lungs”…

Let It Go…Let It Go…Let It Go !   9792442-musical-notes-and-staff

Whining in the Wilderness…A Leanness Of Soul

“He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Ps 106:15 

No one likes a whiner. Does this sound like a familiar pattern for today?

While living as slaves in Egypt for many long years, the Israelites cried out daily, “ Lord deliver us, save us, get us out of here!” While crossing the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land they continued their cries, “ God we are going to die out here! We were better off in Egypt. At least we had all the food we wanted!” So God in His compassion delivered food right to their doorway and fresh manna bread actually fell at their feet. This was a diet so perfect and healthy that the Bible states “ there was not one feeble person among them.”(Psalm 105:37). However, after a short time, they began to cry out again, “ We’re tired of this stuff, we don’t like this manna. Where’s the meat? We want something more than what you’ve blessed us with? We deserve better.” So God once again said okay to their grumbling and wailing. “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” (Nu 11:18-20)

Ouch! Such a lesson! Be careful of what you are asking, because you might very well get it! Covetousness angers God because it is rooted in pride and spills forth in ingratitude. Covetousness is defined as an excessive desire for wealth or possessions, or an excessive desire for anything in our lives that we seek more readily than God. The Bible says “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15.) What a dreadful prospect! He actually sent leanness into their souls.

With God we can be satisfied with very little, but without Him there is no satisfaction. There is only leanness of soul; an emptiness, an insatiable longing that can never be filled. Many of us say that God is first place in our lives, but our desires reveal our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. (Luke 6:45) God viewed the hearts of His people and the malnutrition of their souls. Sadly, we often view God, consciously and unconsciously, as positioned only to fill our endless requests and “questionable” desires.

What are you coveting today that has put your life on hold or that you find yourself continually begging God for? The question is: “How lean is your soul?” What will it take for you and for me to come to a settled place in Him where the manna fills and fully satisfies each and every day of our lives?

God is the only true essential for our lives. Nothing can even partially fill His seat.

“Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (Isaiah 55:2)

Oh may our souls delight in the fatness of contentment in Him!

When will our prayers and our voices find rest in crying out daily, “Lord today and every day, You are my ultimate desire. You are more than enough…I just want more of you…”


Be Blessed…

The God of Avoiding Risks

Risk aversion has become one of the major gods of our time. Nowadays, everyone is familiar with the slogan of “Safety first!” and, therefore, we do everything we possibly can to maintain our personal safety and the safety of others as a top priority. Risk aversion, avoiding risks, has even become one of the major factors in our decision-making processes. Throughout the culture, there is big business in selling the numerous products that promise security and safety. Today we have all sorts of safeguards to insure our safety such as alarm systems, identity theft protection programs, and various insurance services for just about anything. I remember the first cell phone that I ever purchased. My husband initiated the purchase as an instrument for my protection. Nowadays, children as young as seven and eight years old are given cell phones as a means of protection.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am by no means suggesting that we not take precautions in our lives, but I am suggesting that we not lose sight of who is in control of our lives. The overriding internal message, which lurks behind the overt message of our need for safety, is FEAR. In effect, we are breeding a society engulfed and entrapped in fear. Of course, the reality is that what we mean by being safe is only what has the feeling of being safe. While there are ways of minimizing our risk, there is no definitive way of eliminating risk. There are only tools and choices that lead us to think and believe we are safe.

However, as underlying fears, both conscious and unconscious, become our focus, those fears grow and multiply hindering greatly the work of the Spirit’s call. Risk aversion becomes a priority measure and moves into a stranglehold position in our lives. Our kingdom imagination to reach for the extraordinary becomes limited and bound to the ordinary. Risk aversion stifles our efforts to seed the gospel and halts our courage to take risks for His kingdom glory.

A major aspect to risk aversion is our desire to control our own lives. This also suggests our aversion to God’s control over our lives by not surrendering our fears and control to Him. The idea that we feel safer the more we are in control is about trusting in ourselves rather than trusting in God. For many the concept of entering a situation and not being in charge is difficult and for others it is overwhelming. That being said, obsession for control is a blatant form of self-idolatry. Personal control is illusory. Only God is in control and He will never give up His control or share it with anyone.

Jesus modeled the life of a risk taker in Matthew 10:32-34They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Amazingly Jesus led the way into critical danger for Himself and for His disciples in order to complete the mission! The purpose outweighed the cost. No cost was too great to complete the Father’s mission.

 So the question to us as believers today is this: Are we prepared to lay down our fears and insatiable need for personal safety as an offering on the altar of God? Are we willing, for the sake of God’s kingdom, to confront danger, realizing our inability to control the outcomes?

And finally, exactly what are these risks?

Risks for the kingdom are not about making random choices for your life. They are about abiding in intimate communion with the Father and obeying His call and His leading regardless of the cost or the risks. These risks are grounded in trust of an omnipotent loving Father to control, direct, and protect us for His glory. There will always be a cost, but that cost is minimal to His purposeful outcome. Psalm 91 is a beautiful psalm of trust in God. More importantly, it is God… the Father’s promises to His people… and of His divine protection. Here the Lord commands His army of Angels to spare no effort in your protection. God, the Father will jealously guard His people throughout their lives.


Father, may we lay down fear and control this day and every day oh Lord,

Purge it from us; root it out, that we may not be hindered in your purposes.

May we be continually grounded in your trust,

Courageous and bold in our stance,

And obedient to the mission.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,