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Pastor Andrew Brunson

Pastor Andrew Brunson, now known by many as the Forgotten American in Turkey, is a member of my family. I remember the first time I saw him as a tiny baby. At that time I was still in high school. I never expected to marry his uncle. His parents were on their way to the mission field and stopped to see the family and share what they would be doing. Andrew became the first of seven children. His parents came home about once a year to see the family and drum up support. In that respect I watched him grow up. He loved to ask questions about biblical things.

With the hustle and bustle of friends and relatives when they were home, I didn’t have opportunity to get to know him well then. As time went on, his grandparents died and his family stayed at my house when they came. He still liked to discuss the Bible and ask us questions about the new pastor at our church.

We saw the family in late summer after the coup. Looking back, everyone that came to be with them that summer wanted to say “Come back home,” but none did. I doubt Andrew and Norine would have left Turkey at that time. They were sold out to the people there and to sharing Jesus with them. Whatever you, the reader, believes about Christianity, please know Andrew never went to Turkey to destroy it. He went to make a positive difference. Ironically, he made a difference, but not the way he expected. If you are a Christian, please pray for Andrew and his family. If not, be aware that Andrew would never get involved in a terrorist organization. His one and only goal is to share Jesus with those who want to hear.

“And it shall turn to you as a testimony.” Luke 21: 8-19

In the sixties a preschool age girl repeatedly endured the horrors of ritual abuse that left her with about seventy personalities. She is now integrated. She is happily married and has adult children.

On October 12, 1972 my husband’s F-4 Phantom plane was shot down over North Vietnam. He became a number in the Hanoi Hilton. For that, I am grateful. He could have been killed, but instead he came home. Now we have two grown children and two precious grandchildren.

In October of 2016 Pastor Andrew Brunson was taken prisoner by Turkey, the country where he had lived for 23 years, preached, and raised his children. Until last week, he had no idea what the charges are. He was indicted, and his court date is April 16. The prosecutor is demanding a life sentence. The crime, Christianization.

What do these people have in common? First, they have been through a horrendous ordeal. Second, they survived to give their testimony. To be sure, Andrew’s testimony is still in progress, but he knows whatever happens, God will guide him.

Andrew’s mother posted on Facebook last night, Read Luke 12-18. So I did. I will post it here, so you won’t have to look it up.

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasions for testimony. Therefore settle in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, and relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name sake. But not a hair on your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your soul.”

His mother added, God has heard all your prayers. But maybe God has a greater plan in this trial. He is not where he is by accident.

Let’s add to our prayers that the Holy Spirit will speak mightily through Andrew’s mouth; that JESUS WILL BE MADE KNOWN AND GOD GLORIFIED through Andrew’s testimony; that Andrew will have great peace and authority to speak the truth in love; that he will have his feet firmly planted on the rock of God’s faithfulness; and that all of us will see past this short life through eternal eyes, knowing it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. This is an unparalleled opportunity for any army of prayer warriors to join Andrew in glorifying Jesus.

She added, “Please send this out so others who feel discouraged over the turn of events will know how to pray and not give up.”

This morning I read in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.

“For we do not want you to be ignorant brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia; that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired, even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that he will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us by many.”

Hundreds, if not thousands all over the world have prayed fervently for Andrew. Many prayed for my husband. Until recently no one prayed for the little girl.

My husband gives his testimony of how God helped him through his time in Hanoi to anyone who asks. The little girl has given permission for me to write her story in a book that will come out soon. For her safety, she has not given permission for her identity to be revealed.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/03/20/us-pastor-faces-35-years-in-jail-in-turkey-for-terror-links.html

Andrew’s testimony is in limbo at the moment, but soon he will have the opportunity to witness to everyone in the room where he will be tried.

Please pray for Andrew and his family.

How Much Time Do You Really Have?

Can the end of time be near? I am not a scientist or a prophet, but I read the Bible and books on prophesy. I heard that during both World Wars people expected Jesus to return at any moment. I would have thought so, too, if I knew the Nazis murdered eleven million Jews. Do you understand how significant that event became? Many times through-out history, Jewish people have been the target of hate and murder, but they still exist. What does that tell you? It tells me God loves them, and even though most didn’t accept His Son, He still loves them and has a plan for them. That’s the kind of God He is. He is a God of love.

Why do I believe the end is coming soon? If global warming is true, then why has Boston had record-breaking snowfalls? Is that global warming? Maybe it is. Maybe the weather changes are part of the birth pangs recorded in the Bible. Why have there been many more storms through-out the world lately. What about the increase in earthquakes and floods? Why have mountains blown their tops, so to speak. Birth pangs? A thought worth considering. A century ago people rarely traveled more that about fifty miles from their homes. Now a trip across the world takes less time than it might have taken our ancestors to travel fifty miles. Birth pangs of the end of time as we know it? It could be. At least think about it. Consider the present times and then consider what the Bible says:

Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn against the faith and betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to the nations, and then the end will come…For then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened….

“At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the earth to the other.”

I believe Jesus Christ came to earth in the body of a man and the spirit of God. As promised throughout the Old Testament, Jesus signified the perfect Lamb, the only one who could sacrifice for the sins of believers. If a friend gave you a gift card for your favorite restaurant, wouldn’t you spend it? The death of Jesus became your gift card for eternal life. You can accept that truth, ask his forgiveness, and join his spiritual family or you can choose not to. For your sake, I ask that you read the Gospel of John so you will understand the truth. You can’t work your way to heaven. If you could, Jesus would not have been sacrificed on the cross. Your faith in his gift saves you, not works.

Is this true? Will you be ready? Are you willing to take the risk? What stops you?

If this blog has brought you closer to a decision to become a member of God’s family or if you have any questions, please comment.

Parenting: Law vs. Grace. Which is Right?

For the most part, our sense of morality comes from our religion, or you could say our belief system. In general, for the western civilization the historical source for morality comes from the law given to Moses by God and the philosophy of grace, which comes from Jesus in the New Testament.

Christianity teaches grace. No other religion does that. Yet, even Christians need to obey the law. So how do you decide when to punish your child and when to allow grace?

Trying to develop a parenting strategy based on those two concepts can lead to confusion. Remember the good law protects us. So teach your children to stay away from fire and not cross the street alone to protect them. If they disobey, make the consequences severe enough to prevent any re-occurrence. Along with consequences give them love and teaching about the dangers of what they did. In those situations, law trumps grace.

On the other hand, children disobey by actions that don’t cause immediate harm, such as back talk, unkindness to a friend, or refusal to clean their rooms. In that kind of situation, don’t miss an occasional opportunity to show grace.

You can say something like this, “You have disobeyed me by your back talk. The way you talked to me showed disrespect. I should punish you, but this time I won’t. I will give you grace. Grace is a gift we don’t deserve. Even though you deserve to be in time out, I will give you love instead. Jesus does that. He took the punishment we deserve and gave us love and forgiveness. Next time it happens, you will go to time out. This time I am helping you understand more about Jesus.”

Don’t Be a Shame Sponge

Don't let your self feel like this poor sponge.

Don’t let yourself feel like this poor sponge.

Did you experience physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse as a child? If so, you may feel a deep shame that makes it hard for you to believe you are as worthy as other people. It may even make it difficult for you to feel loved. Abuse is a direct attack on a person’s dignity. You had no way of knowing that, so you may have become a “shame sponge.” Did you soak up the dirt and shame that belongs to the abuser? If the person who hurt you was a family member, you may have added shame upon shame. After all, the family member who abused you may also be the one who took care of you. You needed the abuser in order to live. It created a confusing double bind. You couldn’t see the abuser as bad, so you saw yourself as bad. Even if the abuser was not a family member, the loss of dignity may have caused you to feel shame. Of course, there were other strong emotions, too. We will discuss those on another post.

The shameful feelings come from the lies planted in your mind and spirit, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by the abuser. Truthfully, no one is perfect, but you are not worse than others simply because of abuse. Even if you know that, you may not feel it. The perpetrator, however, should feel shame for hurting you, an innocent child. Changing the thought patterns and feelings developed in childhood requires some soul-searching work. If you haven’t received counseling, I recommend it. You can also help yourself by changing the messages you give yourself. Say, “Self, you are just as valuable and worthy as everyone else. The person who hurt you is the one who deserves the shame.” Telling yourself one time is not enough. You need to do it every time those old feelings stir your soul. It may feel like hard work, but it is worth it.

I am a Christian. I believe shame came into the world through Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God and hid in the garden to hide the shame they felt because they had no clothes. Fig leaves didn’t cover their shame. They needed more to cover their naked bodies. God confronted them and out of love covered them with animal skins. With the law of Moses, God began the practice of sacrificing lambs and other animals for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) Finally, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God came to earth as a baby. He showed people how to live, and He died for our sins. He took our shame. Anyone who accepts the gift of His sacrifice and follows Him will have eternal life in heaven. Even it you don’t believe in God, the shame you felt and may still feel doesn’t from the abuse belongs to the one who abused you, not you.

Teaching Children about God

What spiritual messages do you want your child to hear?

Infants                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You need to answer that question almost as soon as the precious bundle of joy comes into the world. Why? Consider this. From birth to age two children learn more about the world than at any other age. They learn whether the world is safe or scary and hurtful. Right after birth they may think, What is that bright light and why am I hanging upside down?  They need tender touch and soft words to feel secure. Infants who don’t feel loved will have a difficult time learning to trust.

Age Two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Around the age of two their world view takes a quantum leap. They seem to change overnight. They may think, My mommy will give me an apple when I ask for one. Two-year-old children believe everything they hear and see. They have no way to know if the messages they receive are true.  They begin to understand they have choices. The word “No” sometimes gets them in trouble and sometimes helps them feel as if they have some power. They think concretely, so be sure you explain spiritual words, such as God and heaven. My two and a half-year-old son came into the room one Sunday morning as I was getting his sister ready for church. He said, “That man on TV said God is a Holy Ghost. God isn’t a ghost, is He?”

Preschool                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As children approach the preschool years, they think for themselves more and more. They open their hearts to new ideas about spiritual issues as their spongy minds seek to understand the world they live in. They learn from many sources: their families, their friends, their teachers, and even television. Truth and lies vie for their attention. They still think concretely, yet they start to learn and love the traditions of the religion practiced by their parents. Preschoolers may not remember exact things that happened to them, but parents can help till the fallow ground of their spiritual beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. At age four, my son said, “I am going to dig a big hole and push the devil into it.”

Elementary Children                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Children as young as six can make religious decisions that will impact their entire lives, including where they will spend eternity. Spiritual beliefs and decisions made in the early elementary years tend to stand firm. Josh McDowell said on Point of View radio, “If you don’t reach a child for Jesus before the age of twelve, you have only a four percent chance of reaching him (her.)” My children both accepted Jesus as their Savior at age six.

What spiritual messages do you want your child to hear? What are you doing to make sure your children are hearing the truth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Tidings of Convicting Rain

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 010It started out as a short morning walk down the green belt near my house. I didn’t know deep conviction was going to rain on my heart before I got home. I walk on this green belt several times a week and usually speak to the neighbors I pass. Sometimes it is a simple hello to a runner and sometimes I stop to admire an adorable child or a cute puppy. I might warn those I pass if I see a snake on the trail. That day I saw a rabbit and told the person behind me to look for it. I like to start a conversation if I am not in hurry.

At the end of the tree-lined trail I could see the black western sky. It reminded me of the color of the sky in Memphis the day the so-called Hurricane Elvis came out of nowhere. Even the local news stations missed the warnings. It tore a path of trees and power lines down the center of Memphis and many homes were without electricity for weeks. The wind was so strong the window panes in our house rattled. No one should be out in that kind of weather, so I warned the  people I passed on my way back home.

As I rounded the corner and passed the little playground by the lake, a guilt storm hit me. I find it so easy to tell others to look for a cute rabbit or a half-hidden deer, but not so easy to tell them to look for Jesus. I find it so easy to warn them about a coming storm, but not so easy to tell them accepting Jesus protects from the storms ahead. These thoughts convicted me, but I still fall back into old habits. I need to form new habits of sharing the good news every chance I get.

How about you? What convicts you?

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 006

Precious Prayer

Česky: Kříže - symbol utrpení Ježíše Krista a ...

Česky: Kříže – symbol utrpení Ježíše Krista a jeho ukřižování (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heavenly Father, sovereign God.  We come before you on bended knee, mindful that you are the God of all creation, worthy of all praise & all glory.

Father, it must break your heart to see how far our nation has fallen in to sin.  Forgive us, Lord.  I pray that we as a nation would fall on our knees in repentance.  I pray for revival and I pray it would begin today

I pray for that any lost person that may not even know what they are seeking, they just know there’s an emptiness inside that they cannot fill.  Holy Spirit, speak to that one person today so that they might come to know the joy of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I know many Christians are dealing with difficult issues; personal, health, financial.  Lord, reach out to each of us in our needs.  Bring healing to those with physical needs.  Bring resolution to struggling families and broken lives.  Provide opportunities of employment for those in financial need.  Wrap your arms around us and let us feel the warmth and love of your embrace.

Lord, over these next several weeks we will be bombarded with election news, polls & campaign ads.  I pray that truth would stand and falsehoods would be swept away.  The issues are not just the economy and foreign policy.  I think our founders would be saddened to see how far we’ve strayed from the principles upon which America was established.  As we approach this upcoming election, I pray that we would elect candidates who support Christian principles. As we enter the polling booth, I pray we will be guided by the Holy Spirit – not by the evil one.  I pray that on election day that we as Christians would stand together and let our voices be heard loud and clear.

Lord, you tell us to pray for our leaders.  I pray for all those in positions of leadership, for wisdom as they carry out the duties of their office, for an attitude of servant leader, not of self gain.  Lord, help them to know your will in the decisions they make and help them to be worthy of the office they hold.

I lift up a special prayer for the men and women of the armed forces of America.  They give so much of themselves and ask for so little in return.  Protect them as they perform their duties both here and in countries around the world.  Guard and provide for their families and give these brave men and women safe return home.  Your word tells us to pray for Israel.  Israel is surrounded by her enemies, and even now is on the brink of war.  Lord, we pray your hedge of protection around the nation of Israel and her people.  We pray against every man and every nation that seeks the destruction of Israel and we pray that you would give Israel victory over her enemies.  In the name of Jesus Christ, bind satan back from these your chosen people.

As we come to the time of offering into our churches, I pray that we would be cheerful givers, for all that we have comes from you.  Bless those who bring into your storehouse their tithes and offerings and make us good stewards of these gifts for the work of your kingdom.  Anoint our pastors as they come to bring your message each Sunday.  Let every word they speak be inspired by you.

We lift our prayers, our praises, and our adoration to you, O Lord, let your Glory come down and fill this place. And we pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord & our Savior. AMEN

Dreams of My Uncle Sam

There are two videos out, one in the theaters and one available on Amazon. The first is entitled, 2012 Obama’s America. The other is Dreams from My Father. Both include videos and other materials that make it appear that Obama is either a Colonialist or a lying Communist. Many of us have no idea what to believe at this jucture of the political scene. In my opinion, that doesn’t matter at all. The words we know straight from his own mouth are enough to send people running to Canada. He shows no interest in God or encouraging others to practice godly behavior. In fact, some of his policies smack God in the face.                                                                           

If you don’t believe me, read from the Old Testament prophets. God used them to warn the Israelites of the coming doom if they didn’t stop worshiping false idols. HMMM! Does America have a false idol? Yes and yes. Some Americans seem to have a blindness to the problems the last four years have created and the changes yet to come if we aren’t careful and prayerful when we vote. I pray for God to remove the scales from their eyes.

There is another yes. Many worship the government. They see the government as their rescuer, their god, to the point they become unable to think or do for themselves. The government doesn’t spend its own money to help others. It steals from other people in the form of taxes. They believe the Robin Hood philosophy that says it is OK to “take from the rich and give to the poor.” It is never OK to steal.

I agree the poor need help. The truly disabled need money, but the able-bodied need help getting a job. Two years of free unemployment handicaps people. They believe they are entitled to support from the government without ever having any responsibility themselves. They would be better off flipping burgers, working hard to rise to a management. Instead they sit at home and complain because the government isn’t giving them enough for a better lifestyle. At the end of two years, where are they? They are less employable than they were when they first lost their jobs.

George Washington, the father of our country, would cringe if he were alive. “Uncle Sam,” if he were a real person, would cry. The dreams of our forefathers were for a country where everyone had equal opportunity to work hard in their chosen profession. They dreamed of a place where family meant a mother and father who loved their children the moment they found out they were expecting.  They dreamed of a place where religion was protected, not attacked. A place where churches worked together to help the down and out. I dream that day will come again.

“Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, who you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up …by causing them to pass through the fire.”  Ezekiel 16:21-22

Do your own research. THINK, PRAY, VOTE. If you haven’t done the first two, don’t do the last. Don’t vote blindly! God is giving us a chance to repent, please know that the whole country, maybe even the world, depends on your vote.