Archive for February, 2012


            This morning brings news that Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s execution order may have been issued by Iranian officials. Pastor Youcef has been illegally held in prison in Iran since 2009 for refusing to recant his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. How would you handle this injustice if it were your husband, your father, or yourself?

Our Congress is considering a resolution condemning Iran’s human rights violations and calling for Pastor Youcef’s release.

Whether this is more saber-rattling on the part of Iran or not, it is clear this pastor’s position grows more perilous with each day that passes as does Iran’s  loud threats to Israel and America. Russia also issued a stern warning to Israel today that they better not launch a preemptive attack on Iran.

I read the 70th Psalm today and felt compelled to write asking you to pray this psalm on behalf of Pastor Youcef. The Word of God is powerful for the breaking down of strongholds.

In the course of leading GriefShare I suggest to those grieving, “When you don’t have the words or understanding of what or how to pray – speak the Word back to God. Personalize it and offer God His own words.”

Remember in Acts, Chapter 12, Peter was imprisoned and the church met to pray for his release? God sent His angel to release Peter from jail and he went to the prayer meeting. Those praying for him wouldn’t believe God answered their prayers and wouldn’t let him in. They surmised it was Peter’s angel.

God always answers the prayers of His people. Lest we be smug, thinking it couldn’t happen to us – not here in America. At any given moment we are a breath away from persecution. Is this prophecy being fulfilled? I don’t know. But I know we are called to pray.

Praying this psalm back to God could sound something like this but you pray as God leads you:

“O Lord God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, hurry to deliver Pastor Youcef. Please hurry to help him. Let those be ashamed and humiliated who seek his life. Let them be turned back and dishonored who delight in his hurt.

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You. And let those who love Your salvation say continually ‘Let God be magnified.’

But Lord,  Pastor Youcef is afflicted and needy today. Please hurry to him, O God. You are his only help and deliverer. Lord, do not delay. Please deliver him.”

May God bless you for your faithfulness to pray.

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                                   THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

I flopped down on the couch this morning, my mood as gray and heavy as the stormy sky. This week has been filled with problems—serious, heart-wrenching family problems. I’ve been reading through the Book of Psalms and today was the 66th Psalm which began:

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious.  Say to God, “How awesome are Thy works!”

Shouting joyfully to God had not been my plan this morning. My words and thoughts would have been classified—whining and murmuring. I read the psalm over again and, remembering several other psalms, knew this wasn’t a suggestion. My mind shouted all right—How? How can I be joyful about anything today, God? You know my heart is breaking.

But the words on the page didn’t change.

Then my mind asked—Why? Why is this imperative statement repeated over and over throughout the psalms?

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.”  Psalm 100:4

O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things.” Psalm 98:1

Shout for joy to God our strength; shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.” Psalm 81:1

I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”   Psalm 34:1

That still, small voice in my soul whispered “because to come any other way says, you don’t trust Me.” I sucked a deep breath and heard, “Oh ye of little faith. In all of your sixty-nine-years have I provided for you, protected you, and proven that I am at work in all things in your life? In all of your trials, sorrows, or problems have I ever left you alone?”

I lowered my head, “I’m so sorry, Lord. Yes, You are always faithful. Please forgive me and I will offer You the sacrifice of my praise.”

A bubbling of joy gurgled deep in my soul and shattered the shroud of gloom that had consumed my heart. I reread the words of Psalm 66 and agreed with God that He was indeed an awesome, magnificent, and mighty God. Throughout the morning I sang “What a Mighty God We Serve.” His peace filled my heart because I chose to obey His Word.

The essence of His joy changed my thoughts and feelings all day. Have the problems vanished? No, they haven’t. But in those quiet moments this morning, I gave them to Jesus. They are too heavy for me to bear.

How about you? Are there burdens suffocating your joy? Wringing the last particle of endurance from your spirit? Burdens you need to relinquish to Him? He’s ready to listen and to act when you come  singing the glory of His name. Offering Him the sacrifice of your praise. Trusting His faithfulness to work all things together for your good and His glory, when you belong to Him.

That doesn’t mean all things are good. Joseph spent twenty years in prison. I’m sure those prison bars didn’t seem good. But God was at work. Even when Joseph didn’t see or understand what He was doing.  Read the account of Joseph’s life in Genesis 37-50. And remember, God hasn’t written the final line of your story yet. You can trust Him because He never fails.

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Snakes. Venomous snakes. Thousands of them. Pulsating. Writhing. Hissing. Surrounding me. Mouths gaping and fangs exposed. Their strikes are imminent. My heart throbs, my breaths shallow and painful. I wait for death.

Until a voice shouts—“Look up and live!”

How would you react? Would you rip your eyes from the disaster swirling at your feet on a chance you’d survive?

That’s exactly what God called His people to do in Numbers 21:1-9. They had complained against Moses and the provision of the manna God provided for them to eat. God sent judgment in the form of fiery serpents and many Israelites died.

The people cried out from the middle of the increasing body count and confessed their sin of  speaking against the Lord and against Moses. They asked Moses to intercede with the Lord to remove the serpents. Moses petitioned and God answered.

However, God didn’t wave His arm and make the serpents vanish. He didn’t tell them to form a committee on snake extermination, nor did He send them to Poison Control for an anti-venom injection. No. He provided a way of escape.

God instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it on a standard in the midst of the people. The Lord said those who were bitten could look to the bronze serpent and live. But each one of them had to choose—accept God’s only provision or reject it.

Noxious deceptions speak against God everyday. We’ve grown accustomed to, even comfortable with the hissing of the serpent’s lies, giving them pet names like “right to choose” or “alternate life style” or “entitlement.” These perversions bare their fangs and inject the poison of duplicity into our families, our churches, and, our children are the ultimate target and their prize.

The issues of today? Snakes that speak against God, as we sit mesmerized by their lies. Our eyes riveted and our minds sedated with fear, unable to discern the eternal consequences of living alongside these thrashing snares.

Have addictions, anger, adultery or any of the long list of the serpent’s lies painted a bulls eye on your backside?

God still offers life. He shouts—“Look to the cross! Trust Jesus to heal you.” But we remain apathetic and prideful, listening to the whispers of dissimulation rather than looking to and choosing the only way—God’s mercy and grace—paid for by the blood of The Lamb.

The power to break sin’s evil, hypnotic stranglehold comes through the blood of Jesus and the Word of God. That power is given again and again when I repent and consider the legacy I am leaving to my children and return to walk in obedience to the Word.

I must seek God’s truth. I must know His truth. I must love His truth. And I must be so rooted and grounded in the Word of God that at the first ping of evil, a dissonant chord will chime in my heart and I will make the choice to agree with and obey Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.


“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did  not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (John 3:14-17 NAS).

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