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I wonder

I wonder.

I wonder what would change if we Christians decided to follow the example of our persecuted brothers and sisters and do “prayer walks” around our towns or cities.

Just walk around our home turf praying for the people who live here, the people who are lost here, the people who run our towns, the people who run the seedier sides of our towns, and everyone else. Without necessarily knowing their names or even who lives in a certain house or works in a certain building. Just quietly walking around and praying.

I have read to many amazing stories from other countries to believe that nothing would happen.

Would you be willing to try it? It wouldn’t require saying a word. No street preaching, no door to door witnessing, just talking to God silently about our home turf and the people who live here.

I wonder if opportunities would start opening to talk to people about Jesus, if we did. I wonder if the churches would start to see some revival.

Just some thoughts I had today.

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great light

the persecuted church and us

I am reading a book about the persecuted church right now (that i will be writing a review for in about a month, when it is released) and I can’t help but wonder if we are the ones missing out. The more stories I hear about believers in places like Somalia, Iran, Iraq and other places where believers are severely persecuted, the more it seems that things happen there that do not happen here. It seems that Jesus appearing in dreams is a common thing there and can often be one of the first things that leads to a person learning who he even is and deciding to follow him.

As I read yet another story of this I can’t help but feel a longing to know what that is like. I don’t want to sound ignorant of the struggles and dangers these people face on a daily basis, many even end up as martyrs or seeing friends or family die as martyrs. It isn’t a life anyone would ask for and I am so very thankful for the freedom we have here to worship without fear. At the same time I can’t help but think about a few things:

I can’t help but think of the churches in Revelation that John writes to. The only like churches that aren’t rebuked are the ones who are suffering great persecution. They don’t have time for “Sunday morning faith” or “lukewarm Christianity”. When it is life and death your faith is either everything to you or you don’t bother. Their faith is strong, it is tested and true. They know they will hear “well done good and faithful servant” when they see Jesus face to face.

I can’t help but think that we are missing out of what the church really is. Over there the church is a family a very real representation of the body. They don’t bicker over music styles or preaching styles or what colour to paint the building. They don’t fight over all the stupid things we fight over in churches here.
We live in a tiny town and this week Caleb and I counted, we have six churches in our tiny, one stop light town. Six! Most don’t even teach the truth at all. Six churches and yet our area is the drug and alcohol capital of our entire province, almost anyone you ask will say they are “Christian” but most have no idea what that means. We are overrun by churches and we are missing out big time on what the church really is.

I can’t help but be a little bit jealous that I have never had Jesus appear to me in a dream. I have then luxury of owning more Bibles than I can could carry at one time and have so much access to truth that there is really no reason for Him to. It is an awesome privilege to have so much but because of that I think i miss out on the longing for more, the feeling of treasuring something so valuable, you risk your life to even own and read it.
Within arms reach at this very moment I have three Bibles and that isn’t including the online or app versions that are on the IPad I am typing on. If one got lost I could grab another, if my house burned down I could buy a new one at one of many stores nearby. I can’t even fathom how they feel holding that precious book you risked your life to get or to borrow one from someone else to fill you hunger because you can’t get your own but are desperate to read it.

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There is one name all of us know, in a sea of unknown persecuted Christians about the world. There is one name that almost all North Americans know, Saeed, put in prison for his faith in one of the worst prisons in Iran – in mortal danger every day. He is a face and a name amid so many unknowns. He is a daily reminder of all the others whose names we don’t know, whose faces we don’t see on Facebook and Twitter. We can pray for him, for others like him whose names we don’t know. We can pray for his family and their families. We can help them bear the burden through prayers.

Something else cool, if you want something a bit more tangible as well you can send a Christmas card or just a card of encouragement to Saeed at the prison. it is a small thing, postage might cost you a couple bucks depending on where you mail it from but it is something you can do to help bear the burdens others face for Christ. (Please read the rules on the Facebook group to assure Saeed’s safety when you write)

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Buying Samir | Book Review

I have been waiting with much anticipation ever since reading the last couple of pages of Capturing Jasmina a few month ago, but in the business of autumn I didn’t realize how quickly time was going by and suddenly the sequel was already released! I had a moment of “OH MY GOODNESS! SO EXCITED!!” then I calmed down enough to start reading.

If you read the last book (or read the review of it that I wrote) you know that that it is the story of a young girl and her brother who are sold to human traffickers by their father, Jasmina ends up escaping later but her brother, Samir, does not.

Buying Samir begins with Jasmina searching for her brother to free him but what she finds is not at all what she expected. Instead of needing help Samir has joined the traffickers. In her naive attempt to buy his freedom she ends up in some very dangerous situations again herself.

This book wasn’t what I expected it to be but that was part of what made it great. It was full of suspense and twists and more insight into this enormous issue of human trafficking.

Buying Samir, like Capturing Jasmina, is a young adult book and is great for even preteen girls. Although it deals more with the trafficking of women it doesn’t go into enough detail as to be inappropriate for young girls to read, rather it has just enough to teach girls to have caution when meeting people, even on places like Facebook, because they aren’t always what they say they are. I highly recommend this sequel! There is still time to get both as Christmas presents. If you don’t have a young girl in your life don’t let that deter you from reading it yourself, it is a fantastic book for adult women as well! (boys/men would probably enjoy it too)

I think maybe there will be a third book too…? I hope so! I am really enjoying this series and would love to see more books following the story of Jasmina and her friends.

Thanks Kimberly for another fantastic book!

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* I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it, however these are my honest opinions and I would never recommend a book that I didn’t really want to recommend. 

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Re:Vision | Book Review

I’ve got a guest post/book review for you today from my husband, Caleb. :) If you have never met my husband he is an extremely intelligent nerd individual who loves to study just about anything. He spends his spare time reading Theology books, teaching himself Greek (or whatever language he happens to be into at the moment), and reading anything he can get his hands on. When he saw this book (and another that he will review soon) on the list of books requesting review he was very interested and offered to read it and write a review on it. Without further ado:

Re:Vision is a book that explores the state of the local church in America. With churches all over the country closing their doors by the hundreds pastors and church leaders are taking a hard look at what it takes to breath new life into a church that has long since hit its peak and is now beginning the slow and painful slide towards irrelevance. Re:Vision is the findings of a journey on what it takes to turn around a declining church.
First, I appreciated the honest look at the American church that is presented in the first chapters. The authors established the fundamental problem in the mind of the reader and then set about to address the issues as they saw them.

A good part of the premise of the book is that pastors need to be aware of themselves in how they are wired in personality and gifting. Research into hundreds of pastors included personality profiles and track record as either a turnaround or non-turnaround pastor was compiled and the results were shared throughout the majority of the book. If you are numbers person and love statistics, then this book is right up your alley. If not, one could find some portions of the book a bit dry as pages of data and numbers come at you. Rather than techniques and practices to help grow your church, this book argues that some people are simply wired to be someone who can lead a church to new peaks. While not saying that it is impossible for some people to successfully turnaround a declining church, it is strongly recommend that anyone considering tackling the task take a good look at themselves and take stock in who they are and in what areas they are gifted.

I thought that it would have been interesting to see the results of this study portrayed over a larger field. The geographical range of churches and pastors surveyed seemed a bit small and it would have been interesting to see if churches in various parts of the globe respond differently to leaders with different leadership styles and personalities. It was briefly mentioned that a in some cases Canadian churches seemed to deviate from what is normal for certain areas of America. I would have loved to follow that rabbit trail and see how the various cultures respond to the various personalities exhibited by their leaders.

Overall Re:Vision is a good read to start you thinking about what being a leader of a church demands of you in the way of skills and personality.

 

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Caleb blogs at  To Know Truth. He is a Venezuelan MK and a lifelong student of the Word. He is a Production Supervisor for an IceCream plant which isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. :) He leads a worship team, helps with Youth and is  a great husband and father. 

* I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it, however these are my honest opinions and I would never recommend a book that I didn’t really want to recommend.

loss

The world feels like it should stop turning at least for a couple of minutes. When a wife, mother, sister, friends, coworker or neighbour passes away it seems unfair that the world keep moving.

Just a few feet away a husband is mourning his wife, a so and daughter are mourning their mother, but here everything seems normal. The kids are playing in the tub, making the same childish jokes they always make oblivious to the pain so close to them.

My heart breaks for them, sitting only 15 feet from where I now sit facing the worst thing they could have imagined. Feeling the weigh of etern ity without the hope that we have. It isn’t the same when a believer dies, when that happens there is grief and sorrow but also such hope, knowing they are in the presence of God where there is no more pain or sadness. When a person didn’t believe it is only sorrow, such sorrow.

Please join me and keep this dear family in your prayers.

Life is so short, take every opportunity to share with those around you who don’t know Jesus. One day it will be too late.

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Isaiah

politics, government and peace

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father.”

Many of us have it memorized, or at least in song form, but as I lay in be last night waiting for sleep to come I couldn’t help but think about what those words mean. Obviously they are for telling the birth of Christ but beyond that. The government shall be upon His shoulders.

I cant help but think of all the messed up things going on in this world every day. The antisemitism by our government (this is the American half of me talking because I believe Canada has been not as bad about this particular issue) probably scares me the most right now, Jews are being treated with racism and hate all over the country and most especially in our universities and government. It is easy to get anxious about the news and the way things are headed much as the Jews who were waiting for their messiah 2000+ years ago were. Things don’t look very hopeful but then there is this reminder from so long ago. The government shall be upon his shoulders. He is ultimately in control! I mean we all know that, but really, he is in control! What a great sense of peace that brings!

He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace…. Oh man, these are awesome things to look forward to! Looking forward to a leader we can call Wonderful Counsellor or Prince of Peace, not just beauce he is God and it is his perfect kingdoms but because finally all the yucky stuff that comes with having flawed humans (at best) serving in our governments will be over!

One day all these politics and lying and scheming  will be over and there will be peace – real peace.

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hope

without hope

My heart is heavy this morning as I get ready to read the advent devotional for today. My beautiful bubbly neighbour left in an ambulance this morning. She has been battling cancer for over a year now. Last year fall she did her first chemo treatment and seemed to be doing well, she even looked amazing bald – really! She seemed, on the outside, to bounce back but a year later she isn’t doing well.

I don’t know them well, we do small talk whenever we see each other, we give each other little baked treats from time to time but I don’t really KNOW them beyond that.

It seems a bit funny considering all of this that this week Advent is about Hope. I don’t know if my neighbour is a believer, I don’t think she is. As a believer there is so much hope in times like this! We know that this body is only temporary, that Heaven is coming and all of our pain and sorrow will be washed away. As a non-believer where is the hope? How do you deal with the pain of this life without that hope? It breaks my heart.

Will you take some time today to pray for them? I don’t want to put them on the spot by mentioning their names but God doesn’t need that, he knows them and he loves them, and they really are lovely people, I couldn’t ask for kinder neighbours. Pray that God would heal her body and most especially that he will make himself known to her and her family so that she can have the hope that we have, the hope that Christmas is all about. Please pray also for opportunities, wisdom and boldness for us to share with them. I have tried in small ways but so far haven’t had any obvious chances.

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three pictures of Jesus for the beginning of Advent

“His eyes were like a flame of fire…his voice was like a roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars…and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (from Revelations 1)

Today was the beginning of Advent, the time we spend preparing our hearts and minds for Christmas and the coming of the Messiah. I’ve just spend some time in Revelations over the past couple weeks so I am entering Advent with this awesome picture of Jesus as he will be one day when we see him, in all his glory and might, judging the nations, the lamb standing as though slain, fierce, beautiful, terrifying and amazing.

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It is a bit of a funny change from that then to move back to the picture of him as a tiny helpless baby, not standing out in any way from any other baby. I spent some time holding my new niece today and I can tell you that although she is gorgeous and miraculous she doesn’t come anywhere close to the description of Jesus from Revelations.

As I read the passages from She Reads Truth for the first day of Advent, I couldn’t help but notice this amazing circle we have in the Bible. The study starts out in Genesis and although it doesn’t mention creation my mind went there and thought of the picture we have of Jesus creating the whole world just by speaking a few words, breathing life into the man he formed from the dust, imagining and creating all the beautiful and crazy looking creatures we have on this planet. When I think about that there is a picture of Jesus that I have in my mind, like an amazing artist, unlike any other, and a miracle worker. 

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Then there is the picture of Jesus as a child, a tiny helpless baby like my new little niece. Spending most of his time sleeping, needing to be changed and fed and bathed, wanting to be held, crying. That picture of Jesus is perhaps the most mind blowing if you compare it with the first and last pictures. Stop for a second and think about this: This is the same Jesus. I know! The one who John described with eyes like flames of fire, a voice like the roar of many waves, holding the stars in his hands, his face is so bright you can’t even look at it. That is the same Jesus who Mary held in her arms while he cried from a tummy ache. The same baby that Joseph probably took and walked around with while Mary tried to get some sleep. Just like any other baby – but nothing like any other baby.  I don’t know about you but that really blows my mind.

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Images from  Christopher Bulle and Berit Watkin