Yes, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” But…

Coming out of our basement laundry room last week, a baby sparrow sped by me, running in fear with his wing dragging on the pavement. “Poor thing!”, I thought, but as I climbed the stairs my heart recited that song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and, I wondered, as “He watches over me”, what does the Lord want me to do about this sparrow apparently in His view?

I plopped down my laundry and realized, I could not leave that injured bird there, unable to fly, amid possible rat attacks and other terrors. I contacted the Wild Bird Fund downtown, known for their devoted care for injured birds of all kinds. “Try and catch him and bring him to us!” Ok, I thought, how hard can that be?

I returned to the trash area where my super was putzing around. “Hey,” I said with gloved hands, “I’m just looking for a little injured bird…” He immediately engaged in this search and within seconds we were chasing the poor thing in and out of every corner and cranny. “Got him!” I announced with delight. I had never held a bird and he was precious!

Time for me to scurry down to the Wild Bird Fund!

I contacted them in a day, two days…surely the baby bird would soon fly to Central Park! Finally, this week, I received the report…

I am very sorry to tell you that the house sparrow you brought to us was too injured to recover. The main problem was to do with his wing, as you suspected; his left radius and ulna were nearly severed, his humerus was very swollen, and his right elbow was fractured. While we can treat some wing injuries, these ones were not survivable. Fractures in birds that are close to the joint, such as the elbow, do not heal well. As the bone calluses, it fuses the bone and the joint together, leading to permanent paralysis, so that the bird is unable to move his wing. This means he could never fly again, and in turn could never return to the wild. Because his prognosis was extremely poor, we made the decision to humanely euthanize him and prevent further suffering.
I know this is not the outcome you were hoping for, but please know that by bringing him to us, you saved him from a great deal of future distress and discomfort. In cases like this, the kindest and most humane thing we can do is allow the bird to pass in peace and without pain.” 

What? That tiny bird had all that?

You’re right, Care Team, that was not the outcome I was hoping for! Lord, Your eye was upon him, You put this baby in my hand and…why?

I thought of the greater ‘whys’ charged up to heaven, filled with grief from untimely death and loss. Brethren who seem to be at the peak of their ministry, raising their family, a joy to parents…dreams crushed. My brother’s death was such a loss, leading me to question and challenge God. One of our beloved pastors often tells of the grievous late night knock, “We’re sorry to inform you…there was an accident…” Burying their only daughter, he cried out, “Why!”

God is not fragile. He can take our anguish and anger – the honest cry from His children and, moreover, He will answer that cry.

I couldn’t possibly see the sparrow’s pervasive injuries uncovered by diligent diagnostic care and medical equipment. Neither can I see into the spiritual realm of God’s view and providence. He is undoubtedly sovereign and certainly owns us, we belong to Him. Then why untimely death of His beloveds? Why, when the ‘outcome is not what we hoped for’ but what we actually dreaded most?

At 38 yrs old, a husband and a father to two toddlers, my brother Paul was at the peak of his faith. He bravely suffered through harrowing medical treatments and admitted towards the end, “I have no regrets. Having cancer brought me closer to the Lord in so many ways – I would not have known Him so deeply without it.” Paul’s faith was a testimony to doctors and patients in oncology – and to us as well.

“I know full well that my life is in the hands of the Lord. He has the keys to the car, and I am going along for His ride…” Paul Stepanian

Pastor Ben Crandall shared similarly from the pulpit, “At 25, my daughter was full of faith, had her whole life ahead of her. I cried out over her grave, why, why did You take her from us!” The pastor shared what he later received from the Lord, ‘I saw her spiritual future and took her before she fell’.

Long ago I jotted this quote in my Bible,

“The believer’s life on earth is his only arena for change and fruitfulness…the nature of eternity is changeless. Therefore, the time to become like Jesus, being conformed to His likeness, is during this earthly Christian experience of trial and faith.” “You and I will never be any closer to Christ, throughout eternity, than we are when He comes. That’s the point of Judgment.” (Dr. Lovett)

The nature of eternity is changeless…” We see untimely death as missing 30, 40 or 50 years of life – God sees our lives entering into eternity in the likeness His Son – enjoying His close presence forever.

God does not spell out everything like the Wild Bird Fund. But our faith need be strong enough to stand upon His word and His sovereignty and trust Him when ‘the outcome is not what we hoped for’. Those devoted to my little sparrow assured –

I know this is not the outcome you were hoping for, but please know that by bringing him to us, you saved him from a great deal of future distress and discomfort

Doctors determine outcomes through X-rays, CAT scans and tests. God sees through everything, and into eternity.

His eye was on the sparrow. But more than ‘His eye’ is upon us – His life is within us and He orders our steps as a sovereign Father in heaven. Whether our ‘wing is broken’ or our heart is broken or ‘the outcome is not what we hoped for’, we can trust the Lord to walk us through, and with a view of eternity.

Lunching in Bollywood – Again!

Admittedly, I really enjoy my Bollywood lunch breaks in fact, I actually find myself in conversations doing the head ‘bobble’. While it may take a week to finish a film, I have two that I must share, both produced by Aamir Kahn, both starring an endearing teen actress, Zaira Wasim.

In 2017, ‘The Secret Superstar’ casts Zaira as a talented young school girl, Insia, who sings her own songs and plays the guitar. Aamir Kahn often presents pressing social issues into story plots and here we find domestic violence and female oppression. Under her father’s rule, Insia secretly creates and performs online. I won’t tell you the rest, it is an uplifting family movie which you may want to see. “Nachdi Phira” is a beautiful love song that Insia sings. It’s hardly possible not to like this song!

The year before “Secret Superstar”, 2016, Kahn starred Zaira Wasim in his blockbuster film, ‘Dangal’. The movie dramatically portrays the real life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an aspiring wrestler whose life lost all joy after abandoning athletics, never reaching his highest goal – the Olympics. Resigned to live a hard working life supporting his wife and two daughters, one day everything changes – determination grips his heart to train his daughters for greatness. Kahn captures the cultural beauty of family commitments, village life, and the challenges of confronting social barriers. ‘Dangal’ ranks in the top 20 of India’s highest grossing films – it is surprisingly engaging, amusing, and suspenseful. Not one boring moment! I will not tell you what happens!

dangal girls training

What really impressed me….

I was intrigued by this award winning teen Zaira Wasim and looked at her real life situation. What I found really surprised me. At the pinnacle of success in 2019, at only 18 years old, she announced a total resignation from acting and entertainment. She pleaded with fans to remove all photos and videos of her, dismantled social media accounts, and scrubbed what was not copyrighted from the internet. Zaira shared her heart and elaborated to those who loved and followed her, in part:

“5 years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped into Bollywood, it opened doors of massive popularity for me…though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.…This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applaud my way, but…” Zaira describes how fame and accolades derailed her faith and devotion to Allah and added, “I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan” (her inner peace).

“I continued to put myself in a vulnerable position where it was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, imaan and my relationship with Allah…”

“My sincere advice to everyone is that no amount of success, fame, authority or wealth is worth trading or losing your peace or the light of your ‘imaan’…Success is the accomplishment of the purpose of our creation. We have forgotten the purpose we were created for as we ignorantly continue to pass through our lives; deceiving our consciences…”

zaira pose III

“Though I may fit here perfectly, I don’t belong here…”

I immediately wondered, how many Christians would give up wealth, popularity, and notoriety for their faith? How many Christian leaders secretly covet the spotlight and accolades of their venue and beyond? Do we boast about having a ‘Grammy Award winning’ choir? Doesn’t every mega church now thrive on celebritieson talented, famed, ‘worship performances’?

I had to search my own heart, do I turn away from everything that would interfere or diminish my relationship with my Savior? Am I willing to follow Him, away from everything in this world, to obey His call and declare to unbelievers that Jesus is worth forsaking all? How much do we care about others’ opinions and approval?

We too may “fit here perfectly” but we don’t belong here. I pray that we, as God’s people, can uproot and guard our hearts from this world. Only separated can we hope to be a beacon that lights the way for others to enter into God’s Kingdom.

I am moved by this young now former actress. Her conscience was pressed and her heart ached to be right before ‘Allah’. She guarded her faith and ‘relationship’ with ‘God’. I pray her diligence takes her further, compels her toward deep and living truths, and leads her to her only Savior, Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy to forsake all.

God Doesn’t Need a Yard Sale

This past weekend we took off for the country, Amish country actually, to enjoy some activities and relaxation. I reviewed churches in the area, hoping to find brethren to join in worship and grounded scriptural preaching. One church seemed very conservative and doctrinally sound. I called them and learned that their worship is not flashy or entertaining but prepared to exalt God. They are a large congregation, with two services to accommodate hundreds of attendees.

I also learned from their website that one of their families had incurred a great loss. Their barn, with all their animals, had burned down. The church website posted a ‘Yard Sale’ to address the great need to build a new barn. People could donate things to sell. I myself do not have a yard but know enough about yard sales – they are a source of extra income, not a windfall. Perhaps this is just a ministry’s kind gesture. Surely the Body will rise up to the need of the members!

My heart recalled the days of Times Square Church, where the Holy Spirit pressed forth through the pulpit. The greatest joy was seeing His redemptive work as drug addicts, prostitutes, the broken and despairing were called to repentance and new life. Broadway actors found their way to the Truth, tourists dropped in and found something of Life to bring back home. I often invited ex-convicts whom I supervised.

Serving the Lord was a great honor, as was providing for His servants. There was never a time of ‘convincing’, ‘cajoling’, or pressuring the Body. The Holy Spirit would move hearts without hesitation. Once, for example, a beloved pastor known to our church, was in need. He was a pastor in Siberia, serving God amongst many drug addicts, alcoholics, and impoverished. Pastor Dave Wilkerson came to the pulpit and said, “We learned that the church in Siberia needs a new roof, if anyone feels led to contribute.” Bob and I were not prepared at that moment to give but would surely bring an offering later. Too late! Before the service was over, the need was met. Bob and I were actually disappointed, we missed the honor of providing for a beloved servant.

Before our trip I went to the bank to get some checks. This time, we would be prepared for the Lord to call upon us!

We arrived as the worship service started. It was a large, modern sanctuary for a congregation of about one thousand. The songs did indeed exalt the Lord, one I had never heard bowed my heart and teared my eyes…

However, when I opened my eyes and looked around, everyone else was singing like statues. Ok.

Sermon outlines were available and, when a pastor rose to preach a message, it was clear he would be preaching on persecution. He followed the outline and the scriptures therein however, the sword seemed dull and the waters stagnant, my mind wandered and Bob fell asleep in his chair. Ok.

I was still thinking of the ‘Smith’ family, living next to the ashes of their barn. Was there room at the pulpit for the Holy Spirit’s plea?

Although there were happy events and fellowships happening, there was no plea – perhaps this family were not really members? After the service we left the sanctuary and went to a big counter called INFORMATION. A woman greeted us and, learning that we were visitors, began reaching for ‘welcome’ brochures and information. I asked about the ‘Smith’ family barn…

“I saw that the ‘Smith’ family’s barn burned down recently. Are they members of your church?”

“Oh yes!”

“It sounds like a tremendous loss, esp with their farm animals and equipment…”

“Yes, they’re farmers, it’s their livelihood, a terrible loss…”

“Oh. I noticed that the church is having a Yard Sale next week. But I also read online that they need $150,000 to build a new barn. It doesn’t seem that a Yard Sale could possibly meet that need….is it just a stereo type or is it true that the Amish do ‘barn raising’ in one day for each other?”

“No, it’s true, they do. But we’re not Amish”, with that she slowly shuffled the ‘Welcome’ brochures away from us and mumbled, “If you want any more information, you’ll have to call the church office.”

“Oh, ok. thank you.”, I smiled on a cheery note, “By the way, I’m Lisa, this is my husband Bob”

She stared back in silence. No name given, welcome appeared rescinded!

Bob and I were baffled, “She didn’t want to give us her name.” “I know, and she pushed aside the brochures, out of our reach!” We didn’t plan to ‘raise the whole barn’ but wanted to partake in the Lord’s work for brethren in need. But was the Lord working?

What happened to the Holy Spirit? To the kinship of brethren? Do we believe the words we sing, that God “holds the oceans in His hands”, that He is “full of wondrous deeds”? If the Amish, working in the flesh, can gather and build a barn for their community in one day, what might the Holy Spirit do if the Body of Christ cries out to Him and believes?

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13

Surely the Lord calls upon His brethren, irresistibly moving their hearts to give with joy. The Holy Spirit can call various strangers to a church with open hearts to give. Great need is God’s opportunity to display His faithfulness and His life in our midst!

There’s no scriptural call to bring your unwanted possessions before the Lord. God needs no Yard Sale. All He needs is a faithful believing heart, even with a few fish and loaves, to demonstrate that He is our Father, He will provide, and He will never fail us. That’s where His testimony shines in the world!

‘Ingenuity’, ‘digital marketing’, ‘fundraising ideas’ and ‘fun small groups’ are good for social affairs, not supernatural affairs. Are our plans God-led plans? If so, they will not fail – He’s in charge and His purposes will prevail.

May we as a people hunger for and call upon God, depending upon Him, that we may be a God-led people that fulfill His will and glorify Him as we pass through this world.

Lunching in Bollywood

Pastor David Wilkerson often spoke of God’s move upon him to rid his home of television. He considered it the turning point of his spiritual life. Similarly, Joseph Allen Ramirez, blogger of Complicated Politics (https://complicatedpoliticsblog.wordpress.com/) recently posted on May 7th a 10 year anniversary of being TV free. I applaud and esteem such believers who choose to “guard their heart” from useless worldly programs that most often offend God.

However, as a retiree, I often schedule an hour lunch break and watch an hour of a movie while eating. A love toward India grew through years in a ministry and my travel there. The ministry has since tragically imploded. Although these films, produced by Aamir Kahn are not Christian, they stir my heart with love and prayer for India. Aamir Kahn is perhaps the most celebrated actor/producer in India today, his movies capture the culture, faith, hardships, and social ills of the Indian people. Music and dance are often woven in seamlessly within a meaty story plot.

laagan pic

Kahn’s first release as a producer was Lagaan in 2001, a highly acclaimed, widely popular film which was nominated for an Academy Award. It is set within a rural Indian village, late 1800’s, with the oppression of British rule. While the story is lodged around a high stakes Cricket game, it is surprisingly enthralling.

What impressed me….

Faith brings light and life to the despair of these villagers and, in one moving scene, they cry out to their adorned Hindu god. It is striking to see hundreds of villagers gather, tearfully bowed, with open arms to heaven singing:

“Oh god, Oh saviorWe have no one but you

Ease our troubles lord, we have no one but you

you alone are our sole support, you alone are our guardian,

you have filled the moon with light, the sun shines only because of you…

Oh lord, if not you, who would preserve this life?

Oh savior, we have no one but you

If you would hear us, Oh lord we make this plea

grant the suffering courage, to the weak grant your protection so they may live in peace

you are the lord of the universe, listen to this plea, when the path is dark, give us the boon of light

Oh savior, we have no one but you…”

The solemn prayer and worshipful outpour really impressed me. Yes, Hindu temples are ominous and idolatrous. But the question to my own heart is, does my reverence and worship of the One true God exceed the worship of idols?

Jesus warned that our “righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law”. Shouldn’t our worship and reverence exceed that given to idols? Does it?

The weakest part of American Christianity is its most celebrated – worldly ‘worship’, levity and lightness, and utter familiarity with God. The lost religious world, seeing Christianity through that lens, now rejects the marketing of God and the well funded entourages that work the crowd.

Yes, this song is part of a movie, but also a believable representation. Hindu gods are revered and worshiped with sacrifices and adulation. Do they know that Christians are called to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices”? Do we ever appear to “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling”?

Many love to sing, “I am a Friend of God!” but how often do we exalt Him as a “consuming fire” who “lives in unapproachable light”? The Apostle John, probably Jesus’ closest ‘friend’, “fell at His feet as though dead”.

Perhaps our hearts will stir to pray for our Indian brethren, that their light will cast the truth upon the hearts around them. May the Lord water every seed planted there.

Let not “the rocks cry out” nor idols receive the hearts of man. I admonish myself, knowing that “…the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”, and pray that my worship of the one true God, our only Savior, grow in holiness worthy for a coming Judge and King.

.

God’s Appointed Leader

There is a great American divide arising. Democrats, Republicans and all those falling into such camps are arming themselves with as much clout, money, and free flowing power to manipulate prevailing culture. The fortitude of this divide will surely unravel the nation. Predicted, if not premeditated, calamities are coming to fruition. The elected leader of a world power came to office as a weak, infirm, elderly man. Personal security cannot hide President Biden’s frailty…

biden falling

This is no indictment against frail elderly.  They should be esteemed and cared for in every way, not propped up for political puppetry.  After only three months we are seeing the façade crumbling.  What and who will rise up to the forefront will inflame national division and stir implosion.

If God appoints leaders, and He does, and God appointed Joe Biden, what is God’s call to His body in the USA?  Why is God exposing our national weakness, frailty, and utter folly?  

The greatest interest of Almighty God is His people on the earth.  Through them He determines to be glorified and exalted.  Towards this the Lord can orchestrate events and circumstances to separate His people from this world.  Perhaps it is not hard for believers who live under Communism, Islam, or dictatorship to ‘separate themselves from the world’.  But Christian Americans have interwoven themselves through church, civic duties, and charitable initiatives to their nation.  Our light however, is not casting out the darkness, the darkness is dimming our light.  

Dare we read the scriptures in this manner….

Do not love the United States or anything in the United States.  If anyone love the United States, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the United States – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – come not from the Father but from the United States.  The United States and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.  (I John 2:15 & 16, modified)

Is the USA in the world or isn’t it?

The devil is happy to see the people of God clamoring after a man made constitution, vying for their rights in a condemned world, and diluting their faith with ‘right minded’ unbelievers. That is no threat at all to the powers of darkness! But let the body of Christ fully trust in God’s unchanging word and separate themselves unto God. Then will we, individually and together, be enlivened by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel to both sides of the American divide.

According to the late Art Katz, from his book Apostolic Foundations, “…there is something about the nature of nationhood that encourages patriotism, which is an idolatrous preoccupation with one’s nation.”

Satan loves patriotism. It justifies a defendable self-righteousness and deceives even matured Christians. Gaining the attention of ‘important people’ in ‘high position’ is an irresistible allurement to Christian leadership. And still, Satan is happy, for neither Jesus nor His apostles ever jockeyed up the social or political ladder. Every rung on that ladder requires compromise and with each step we lose God’s presence until we reach ICHOBAD.

Through our nation’s division and discord, God is exposing the idolatry of patriotism. Rallying to maintain prosperity, moral ideals, and our constitutional rights makes it impossible to “pick up our cross and follow Christ”. The crucial message of the Gospel becomes little more than a generic message of God’s love instead of proclaiming Christ’s return as Judge and King and calling for repentance.

We are a nation now led by folly, frailty and a crumbling façade. Reprobate minds will lead us further into darkness. May this grip our hearts toward God, may we wait upon Him daily. He may not lead us into powerful political arenas or exciting rallies but to the ordinary, the broken, and those who hunger as the Good Shepherd seeks out His lost sheep.

“Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me.” Psalm 119:133

The Purpose of Pharaoh – I Mean Biden

exodus II

Much of America continues to lament, if not protest, the election of Joe Biden. Was it fair? Was it rigged? Was there fraud? (What? Fraud in politics? Shocking!) But in how much up stir should the believer in Christ partake, might not sovereign God have a purpose in raising and establishing leaders and kings? He says He does in Daniel 2:21,

“He changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings”.

An elementary view of the Hebrews in Genesis into Exodus finds that, following a severe famine, God brought the sons of Jacob into Egypt where they enjoyed prosperity and the best of that land. God providentially brought Joseph into Egypt ahead them and raised up this godly young man to be a powerful leader. God established Joseph and blessed His people through his reign.

Generations later, an oppressive and cruel Pharaoh arose over Egypt and the Lord declares that He Himself raised him to power. Why? Through this despot sovereign God would display His powerful attributes over demon gods and in doing so, set His people free.

But the bigger picture may be missed here. God raised up Joseph through divine providence to be a reigning power in Egypt and through him the people of God were gathered there. They enjoyed the best of the land, prosperity and safety. Life was good for many generations. Why leave Goshen? Who wants a nebulous ‘promised land’ or ‘deliverance’ from a good life?

Raising up a despot that would oppress and enslave was a formidable catalyst for a heart cry to God. And became the fire needed to ignite their hearts to separate and flee.

With all the American clamor and protests about elections, fraud, economic and legislative fears, have we become so attached to Goshen that we have lost sight of the Promised Land, eternity in God’s coming Kingdom? Have we any cry for our Deliverer to “save us from our sins” and “rescue us from the dominion of darkness”? Or do we just want deliverance from leftist socialist intrusion into our prosperous and enjoyable life?

Many Christians are praying for God to remove people from office, install others, and abolish immorality. Was it at all possible for the Hebrews to pray away Pharaoh? Could we imagine praying away the Antichrist? A pastor’s wife, who had asked me to pray for a election overturn, replied to my objections, “It’s only prayer, what harm will it do?”

Are we rubbing a genie bottle or approaching the King? Aren’t we compelled to pray in His will, to align with His heart? There is a harm in trivializing prayer and the holiness of Whom we beseech. Moreover, if we are occupied with the thoughts, desires, and will of our own heart and the things of this world, what true burdens are we neglecting of the Lord’s heart?

The Lord says nowhere, “make yourselves at home in this world”. He says live like strangers, foreigners, and aliens. For the most part, those folks can’t even vote. Without an oppressive Pharaoh, perhaps the Hebrews would still be in Egypt. What will charge us toward our Deliverer and turn our hearts away from the things of this world to our promised land?

Campaigning for righteousness, morality, and prosperity seems very good and unifying but it is not the Gospel. Morality marches seem virtuous, even invigorating but are always ecumenical. The true Gospel is unpopular, and our true strength does not come from improving the world but separating from it.

Whomever is inaugurated in January, let us draw nearer to our King. As the world spins faster to its demise, let us not miss one call, not one divine assignment or appointment. I pray we not settle for improving or upgrading this already condemned world but set our heart on things above, that the Lord might lead and fulfill His purposes through our imperfect yet willing vessels.

Missing God’s call because of ‘good causes’ would be the worst fraud of all.

However difficult to receive, if it be God’s will, let ‘Pharaoh’ step up and lead. God reveals His great power with the backdrop of darkness.

The Purpose of Pharaoh – I Mean Biden

exodus II

Much of America continues to lament, if not protest, the election of Joe Biden. Was it fair? Was it rigged? Was there fraud? (What? Fraud in politics? Shocking!) But in how much up stir should the believer in Christ partake, might not sovereign God have a purpose in raising and establishing leaders and kings? He says He does in Daniel 2:21,

“He changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings”.

An elementary view of the Hebrews in Genesis into Exodus finds that, following a severe famine, God brought the sons of Jacob into Egypt where they enjoyed prosperity and the best of that land. God providentially brought Joseph into Egypt ahead them and raised up this godly young man to be a powerful leader. God established Joseph and blessed His people through his reign.

Generations later, an oppressive and cruel Pharaoh arose over Egypt and the Lord declares that He Himself raised him to power. Why? Through this despot sovereign God would display His powerful attributes over demon gods and in doing so, set His people free.

But the bigger picture may be missed here. God raised up Joseph through divine providence to be a reigning power in Egypt and through him the people of God were gathered there. They enjoyed the best of the land, prosperity and safety. Life was good for many generations. Why leave Goshen? Who wants a nebulous ‘promised land’ or ‘deliverance’ from a good life?

Raising up a despot that would oppress and enslave was a formidable catalyst for a heart cry to God. And became the fire needed to ignite their hearts to separate and flee.

With all the American clamor and protests about elections, fraud, economic and legislative fears, have we become so attached to Goshen that we have lost sight of the Promised Land, eternity in God’s coming Kingdom? Have we any cry for our Deliverer to “save us from our sins” and “rescue us from the dominion of darkness”? Or do we just want deliverance from leftist socialist intrusion into our prosperous and enjoyable life?

Many Christians are praying for God to remove people from office, install others, and abolish immorality. Was it at all possible for the Hebrews to pray away Pharaoh? Could we imagine praying away the Antichrist? A pastor’s wife, who had asked me to pray for a election overturn, replied to my objections, “It’s only prayer, what harm will it do?”

Are we rubbing a genie bottle or approaching the King? Aren’t we compelled to pray in His will, to align with His heart? There is a harm in trivializing prayer and the holiness of Whom we beseech. Moreover, if we are occupied with the thoughts, desires, and will of our own heart and the things of this world, what true burdens are we neglecting of the Lord’s heart?

The Lord says nowhere, “make yourselves at home in this world”. He says live like strangers, foreigners, and aliens. For the most part, those folks can’t even vote. Without an oppressive Pharaoh, perhaps the Hebrews would still be in Egypt. What will charge us toward our Deliverer and turn our hearts away from the things of this world to our promised land?

Campaigning for righteousness, morality, and prosperity seems very good and unifying but it is not the Gospel. Morality marches seem virtuous, even invigorating but are always ecumenical. The true Gospel is unpopular, and our true strength does not come from improving the world but separating from it.

Whomever is inaugurated in January, let us draw nearer to our King. As the world spins faster to its demise, let us not miss one call, not one divine assignment or appointment. I pray we not settle for improving or upgrading this already condemned world but set our heart on things above, that the Lord might lead and fulfill His purposes through our imperfect yet willing vessels.

Missing God’s call because of ‘good causes’ would be the worst fraud of all.

However difficult to receive, if it be God’s will, let ‘Pharaoh’ step up and lead. God reveals His great power with the backdrop of darkness.

Death, Devastation, and God

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Those close to the plight of Armenians in Karabakh deeply lament with yesterday’s surrender, 11/9/2020 at 5pm EST. There is plenty to grieve. The onslaught of radical Islam jars open the storehouse of anguish in every Armenian.

War crimes and terrorism launched against Karabakh – Artsakh for Armenians – ignited and unified hearts around the globe. Campaigns, rallies, protests, and prayer meetings rang through every country with desperate cries for intervention, justice, mercy and outright miracles.

Miracles needed indeed for a small volunteer army against the military wealth of Turkey and Azerbaijan and the endless supply of hired mercenaries from numerous Islamic countries. I beseeched God, day and night, fasting and crying out the battle cries of David for Armenia…

‘Rescue them O Lord, from evil men; protect them from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day…Keep them O Lord from the hands of the wicked…Hear O Lord, our cry for mercy. O Sovereign Lord, our strong deliverer, who shields our head in the day of battle, do not grant the wicked their desires…do not let their plans succeed…

But zeal and faith were not enough to overcome the vast enemy nor the inner battles of raging COVID, dysentery, and growing despair amongst the soldiers that fought without a break.

I had planned all night prayer last night, postponing today’s Bible fellowship with a precious new believer Raquel. With Armenia’s surrender however, all night prayer canceled. Somehow I slept well and awoke with the Lord’s words strongly pressed upon my heart,

“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight…”

I texted Raquel and asked if she wanted to fellowship – “sure!”. I shared with her how the situation turned out in Armenia,

“I am heartbroken for the destruction, bloodshed and death of so many and the rejoicing of evil people”

Raquel replied,

“We can only do what Jesus said, pray and do not give up and trust in the Lord.”

“Evil people will always rejoice in this world because Satan rules this world. Jesus already tells us that many will die in His name. The Armenian Christians that have been slain will be risen again by the Lord when the time has come and we will win this fight and reclaim the Earth that Father God made for us.”

Remarkably, for a new believer, she went on…

“I know you are heartbroken. Our deaths and suffering are inevitable. We all have a date reserved for each one of us to die. Sadly, many of those Armenians have met the last day of their flesh life. Remember though, they will live in eternity and they will no longer suffer. They are already with Jesus. Remember He said to the convicted man who believed in Him, crucified next to Him, that he would be with Him today. And as are the Armenian Christians who died in His name. He has wiped every tear from their eyes….”

I had not considered Armenia’s defeat, losing Karabakh. I had truly believed that the Lord God would move as He did against evil armies like the Moabites, the Ammonites, and Assyrians. One angel, at His command, could change the battle. I was sure, certain that I would travel to Armenia in the spring, hear the church bells ring at Sushi and burst with rejoicing.

I know this world is passing away. Darker days are coming for us all. I had such zealous hope though for the Armenians to stand and prevail after years of massacres, genocide, and persecution.

The Lord did not “strike the enemy with fear, panic and confusion” and sadly, He did not “bring Erdogan to shame.” But soldiers were baptized on the battlefield. Zoom prayer meetings joined me with Armenian believers whom I never met, to cry out for Armenians and pray for the enemy as well.

In my despair, the Lord’s very words gripped my heart with the truth I wasn’t reaching for and uplifted my heart through the new believer I am mentoring.

“My Kingdom is not of this world”

“…pray and do not give up and trust in the Lord.”

Pressing on….

“Overcome Evil With Good” For Real!

Syrian-mercenary-3

Interview with captured mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, 11/4/2020

“He told us we should slaughter, kill all Armenians…Abu Hamsha, as well as the Turkish and Azerbaijani servicemen, were telling us that each of us would receive an extra 100 dollars for beheading an Armenian. They also armed us with long knives. Those of us who were afraid were given some special drugs by the Azeri military, and they stopped feeling fear after taking them. I have personally witnessed how the Azerbaijani armed forces servicemen were giving the drugs to our Syrian guys, the drugs were round tablets, I haven’t tried it myself, but many of our guys did,” the Syrian mercenary said.

Those are the words of hired mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, recruited from the village of Ziyadiya, Syria. The full interview can be viewed here: https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1033852.html?fbclid=IwAR3tM5G5LqtIfRobD1i9_FRbQi27y8BBIEw5QXQ-Ed2G3pmR2u0YhqeRE3Y

The mercenary described in detail how they were approached with a $2000 monthly payment promise and, along with 500 others that day, boarded one of the 10 buses to a civilian airport where they flew on Turkish planes to Azerbaijan.

Upon their destination, they met up with 500 previously recruited Syrian fighters. He noted that the Turkish and Azeri soldiers both had body armor however the Syrian fighters had none. Commanded by both Turkish and Azeri military, they were ordered to proceed in front of Azeri fighters, into Karabakh to capture the village and slaughter all civilians….

“When we approached the Armenian village, we came under fire, and also mortar fire, in this period 15 of us were killed, the operation was a failure and we had to escape into the mountains. When we fled, I wasn’t wounded yet, we were lost, we went by a path until we found the Azerbaijanis who had accompanied us, they took us through some path, but during this the Armenians began shooting at us. I got wounded, I was wounded for 5 days, no one asked me anything, no one was interested in me. After three days, I began moving towards the Armenian positions, the Armenians gestured me from distance telling me I am safe, when I approached them they took me to their position, treated my wounds, gave me food and water. They took me to safety, they didn’t harm me, they helped and treated me well, may God bless them,” the mercenary said.”

(video of interview here: https://en.armradio.am/2020/11/04/second-syrian-mercenary-capture-by-artsakh-forces-interrogated-video/)

Although the Azerbaijani army continues to kill Armenian POW’s, (https://www.kazakhstannews.net/news/266843554/azerbaijani-troops-kill-more-armenian-prisoners-of-war) this is not the first news article of Armenians utilizing desperately needed medical resources on an enemy captive.

While I beseech readers and others to join in fervent prayer to strengthen and undergird Armenians and thwart the enemy’s onslaught, God is doing more. He enabled the Armenians to “overcome evil with good’. In the words of Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii:

“I want to thank Armenians, they helped me, they treated me, they saved my life, we were wrong to have come here, they – the Armenians, are much better that we thought, they treated us, treated us well, may God bless them. I, Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji, am stating that anyone who is planning to go to Azerbaijan should not take that step, because Armenians are very good people, they saved me from death, they helped me. I am urging you all, if they try to deceive you and attempt to lure you with money against this country and Armenians, don’t go, even if you are poor, it is better to stay poor then to go to Azerbaijan and fight for money. The Azerbaijanis call the Armenians infidels, but they themselves are the infidels, we are infidels for coming here and fighting against these good people, I stayed wounded for five days in Azerbaijan and no one helped me, but the Armenians did, they helped me and treated my wounds,” he said.

Thank you Lord!

“Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…”

Please continue to pray!

Cluster Bombs on Karabakh – Pray for Armenia!

cluster bombs

“The use of cluster bombs in any circumstances is banned under international humanitarian law, so their use to attack civilian areas is particularly dangerous and will only lead to further deaths and injuries,” Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty‘s acting head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in the statement.

“Cluster bombs are inherently indiscriminate weapons, and their deployment in residential areas is absolutely appalling and unacceptable,” he said.

https://www.24newshd.tv/06-Oct-2020/amnesty-warns-of-cluster-bomb-use-in-karabakh

On Sunday, 9/27/2020 at 7am most Armenians were preparing for church and family gatherings when struck by surprise military attack from Azerbaijan. Not a random act of aggression, this act of war was strategically calculated from Armenia’s darkest foe, Turkey. President Erdogan’s mission to resurrect the Ottoman Empire takes a big step forward, exerting Turkey’s military strength in the region. Although criticized, they remain virtually unchallenged.

“Turkey bets that the West and Russia will sit idle as Nagorno-Karabakh burns.” Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal 10/6/2020

With world powers preoccupied with pandemics, social uprisings, and chaotic elections, the Azeri – Turkish alliance is forging ahead to claim the cherished Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh – Artsakh.

Bombings destroy Stepanakert….

Turkey’s recent invasion into Syria, aggressively pushing out the Kurdish stronghold against ISIS, provided a devilish resource. Turkish ‘security corporations’ now employ these freed ISIS fighters – mercenaries – to join the attack upon Karabakh. A perfect Islamic coalition of wealth, military strength, and jihadist blood thirst vows to fight on until all Armenians are removed.

Of course, Armenians globally are deeply grieved by these unprovoked acts of war and the real threat of another genocide (From 1915-1922 the Ottoman Turks annihilated 1.5 million Armenians, the first genocide of the 20th century).

While many are mobilizing resources, volunteer soldiers, and humanitarian aid, it is my cry that believers also will join in a spiritual battle through prayer.

As the world once again turns away, may the Lord burden the hearts of believers to press in for the suffering Body of Christ. Armenia claims to be a ‘Christian nation’, although many are nominal and religious. May true believers rise up in faith, may nominal Christians cry out to God with true faith.

Please remember Armenians daily and especially on Friday night, 10/9/2020 starting 8pm as we cry out to the Lord on points such as these:

1. Pray for the Body of Christ in Armenia and especially those in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

* Pray for church leadership – Pastors, elders, deacons – that God will strongly encourage them, and speak clearly to them that they may deliver God’s heart to the people.

* Pray that God strengthen believers, quicken their faith, and ignite a living faith in nominal Christians

2. Pray for soldiers on the frontlines, many of whom are farmers and villagers defending their families, their community, and country.

* May the Holy Spirit bring a spiritual awakening on the battlefield, that God will ignite their hearts to pray, finding their marching orders through Christ.

* Lord, stir up a revival on the battlefield. While bombarded by vast numbers and sophisticated weaponry, draw them to depend upon You and Your leadership, strength, and wisdom.

* Let great testimonies arise from the battle, may the Lord be glorified and honored

3. We pray for the enemy Lord, confound and push them back. Bring their Islamic onslaught to naught. Shake the hearts of these Azeri, Turkish, and ISIS fighters. Raise up a contention in their hearts and thwart their zeal, deflate the spirit of murder, and lead them to godly sorrow.

* Lord, thwart Azeri stock piles of bombs, drones, and missiles.

4. Pray for peace negotiations and conflict resolution.

Lord, even surrounded by enemies, stir up Armenian churches, let them be a light and let Armenians live to glorify You!

“Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.”