Magnify

Philippians 1:20 King James Version (KJV)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Every year my family goes to Winter Jam together. It’s a Christian concert with 10 bands for $10. http://2016.jamtour.com/about  This year we discovered a new band to us, We Are Messengers. We love their music!

The night before Winter Jam we were looking up the unfamiliar bands and artists, that would be performing, on YouTube.  After listening to We Are Messengers’ song I’m On Fire we were excited to see them.  They were one of the opening bands and they were just as good as we had hoped for.  Their music was uplifting and thought provoking.

A worship song is usually performed during intermission, and we knew from experience that we would probably like it.  When We Are Messengers came out, we were ready and my mom videoed the whole song. They sang an acoustic version of their song Magnify.  It was so beautiful.  After they performed, we were able to meet the lead singer Darren Mulligan, and share with him how much we loved Magnify.  He told us that song meant a lot to them.

I posted the video, my mom took, on YouTube.  At the end of the video it looks like I’m pouting.  I’m not, I’m just really focused because this song really spoke to me.

Here’s the link to our video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYOz_7KV-0w

We have been listening to the We Are Messengers’ album constantly for months.  My twin sister gave the CD to her guitar teacher so he could listen to Magnify and teach her how to play it on her guitar.  She’s getting really good at playing it.

My family has gone through so much change in the last year with illness, death, unemployment and moving.  When we went to Winter Jam, we thought my Dad was starting a new job the next week, he had been out of work six months after losing his job.  While we were in line, my Dad called and told my Mom the company he was supposed to start working for had just pulled their offer.  It was only a few days before his start date.

We were surrounded by so many people, it was hard to hear each other and the doors were about to open, so we didn’t get to really talk about until after the concert.  During the concert I felt so overwhelmed.  It felt like the storm we were going through was never going to end.

I was praying during the concert for God to give my family peace and direction.  I asked God to speak to me and give me comfort.

This is the part of the song that really stood out to me:

“My sight is incomplete and I made You look small,

I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long,

realign where my hope is set,

until you’re all that’s left …”

When I heard that it felt like God was telling me not to look at all the problems happening in my life, to just focus on him.

When I heard that I was reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus, not my temporary problems.


Our Homeschool Co-op class put together a book and service club focused on persecution, missions and helping refugees.  Last month we read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of the Voice of the Martyr’s. He spent a total of 14 years in a communist prison, with months of solitary confinement in his homeland Romania.  He was ransomed by the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance and eventually came to the United States.  He didn’t want to leave the church in Romania at first but they told him to go and be a voice for the voiceless.

Our group read Philippians 1:20.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (KJV)

We discussed how that scripture is reflected in Richard Wurmbrand’s life and legacy.  As we looked at the passage in different translations, we noticed that in the King James Version the word for “exalted” is “magnify.”  Magnify means to extol, praise, or glorify.

Christ was magnified in Richard Wurmbrand’s life.

“As communist atheists allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I’d leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.” – Richard Wurmbrand

In Richard Wurmbrand’s life he was arrested, beaten, and tortured for fourteen years, He still followed God even though it led him to prison, he sought God’s will for him while he was there.  In his book he shares how he and fellow Christians would tithe in prison.  They used the little food they received and gave it to the weakest.

“One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us. When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master.” – Richard Wurmbrand in Tortured for Christ.

We all have problems and struggles in our lives, it’s easy to focus all of our time and energy on them. When we focus on our problems and struggles, it’s easy to forget that God has a plan and purpose for the pain and the heartache we feel. Our life here on earth is a moment of our eternal life with God.  The trials we are going through and the pain we feel here is temporary.

We Are Messengers’ song reminds me that when God is magnified in our lives he is greater than everything, from all our hopes and dreams to all of our heartache, problems, and trials.

Fix your thoughts on Jesus.

God Bless,

Shae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

One Church: Modern Persecution – Lesson One

For my homeschool co-op, I put together a class about persecution called “One Church: Modern Persecution.”  I chose the name One Church, because we are one body in Christ.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

I pulled most of the class from this blog.  My mom is helping me with it, I put it together and my mom teaches the class. I’m not teaching it because I am more comfortable writing than speaking.  I have been wanting to do a class on persecution but I am very shy, that is part of the reason why I started a blog.   Last semester, I took a speech class because I want to become more comfortable speaking to a group.

I had been thinking about creating a class for a while but I wasn’t sure where to start.  After I attended Mission ConneXtion, last year, the class began to come together.  I met a lot of great people and organizations, and got many resources I’m using in the class.  I met the Voice of the Martyr’s Area Coordinator for my area.   She shared with me many resources that I’m using in the class.  After talking with her I was really encouraged, and I appreciated the time she spent with me.

The goal of the class is to raise awareness about modern persecution and show other teens ways to get involved and help now.

We began our first class with an activity we found at Open Doors Youth, they are a great resource: http://www.opendoorsyouth.org/do-something/youth-leader-resources/youth-leader-resources/ We set out bowls of bright colored pompom cotton balls (instead of marshmallows), plates, and chop sticks.  The goal was to move as many cotton balls onto their plates with the chop sticks, before the time ran out.  Then we switched to moving dried rice which was more difficult.  Finally, we attempted to build card towers.   It was a great icebreaker and an effective way to demonstrate perseverance.

We read from Hebrews 13:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10, and Hebrews 11.  We discussed endurance, willpower, persecution, faith, and the difference between the mountain top and the valley. Most importantly, we talked about how God uses ordinary people, who make mistakes and aren’t perfect, to do His will.

From the Open Doors Lesson outline, we watched a movie clip from Lord of the Rings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjm1DRMEyUQ ,Samwise’s speech is strong example of not giving up and it was a unexpected surprise during a serious class.

Next, we shared about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man of great faith who didn’t give up.  We watched this video about his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrNTVrtXPAU

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Pastor who spoke out against Hitler and the persecution of the Jews. His most well known book is “The Cost of Discipleship.”  He tried to organize the Protestant church to take a firm stand against the Nazis.  When that didn’t happen he helped Martin Niemoller form The Confessing Church, their goal was to oppose the German Christian church movement, supported by Nazis. He wanted the church to live out what it said it believed.  I’m reading an excellent biography about him, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.

In 1937, The Confessing Church Seminary was closed by Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi party.  After the seminary was closed, Bonhoeffer traveled throughout Eastern Germany over the next two years, leading private seminaries.  In June 1939 he became concerned he would be asked to take an oath to Hitler, so he left Germany and went to the United States.  He felt guilty for seeking sanctuary there and not having the bravery to live what he preached.  Within a year he returned home to Germany.

Bonhoeffer then served as a messenger to the small German resistance.  He was involved in efforts to help Jews escape to Switzerland, this led to his arrest in April 1943.  Bonhoeffer spent 18 months in Telgel Military prison.  He continued to write while he was imprisoned, a guard smuggle out his writings.  Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo’s high security prison, after the failed bomb plot in July 20, 1944.  Then he was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally Flossenburg concentration camp.  He was then sentenced to death on April 8, 1945, three weeks before the war ended.  It is believed to have been under the direct order of Hitler.  He was hung along with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster who were also conspirators.  Before his execution, Bonhoeffer asked an inmate to give a message to Bishop George Bell of Chichester, “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.”


The camp doctor who witnessed his execution wrote:

“I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer…kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God.  I was most deeply moved by the way this loveable man prayed, so devoted and so certain that God heard his prayer.  At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed.  His death ensued after a few seconds.  In the almost fifty years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly seen a man die so entirely submissive to God.”


We discussed these quotes:

“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.” – Bonhoeffer

“Cheap grace is preaching for forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is Grace without discipleship, Grace without the cross, Grace without Jesus Christ.”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is cheap grace?  What is the cost of discipleship?  We asked them to think about how political Christians should be and to research what the Bible says about it.

Never Again Is Now

There is a story from WWII of a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp, the train passed a church and the cries of the Jews were disrupting the Christians singing, so those Christians sang louder.

Bonhoeffer spoke up for the Jews who were being persecuted.  He took a stand against the evil that was happening and he refused to sing louder, which led to his death.  The train is rolling now.  Will you sing louder or speak up for those who can’t?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31: 8-9 (NIV)

At the end of class we passed out bright red folders we made including these handouts:

World Watch List Map: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/ 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Bio: http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/dietrich-bonhoeffer.html

A list of some of Bonhoeffer’s quotes http://blog.biographyonline.net/2010/12/quotes-dietrich-bonhoeffer.html,

Brother Andrew bio:http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/brother-andrew/ and http://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us/history/brother-andrews-story/

and Project Peal http://www.billionbibles.org/china/project-pearl.html. 

The next class will be about Brother Andrew and his organization Open Doors, China, and Project Pearl. Through this class I’m hoping to inspire other teens to speak up and act for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please subscribe to receive new posts directly to your inbox.

God bless,

Shae

The Train is Rolling

Romans 8:35-39 New International Version (NIV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Miriam is 11, she was forced to leave her home close to Mosul, Iraq when ISIS captured the city in mid 2014.  From Irbil, during Christmas 2014 she did an interview with SAT-7 reporter Essam Nagy.

SAT-7 is a ministry working to broadcast God’s love to churches in the Middle East and North Africa through television.

Miriam tells the reporter that God has provided for them, when he asked her what she meant by that she responded with, “God loved us and wouldn’t let ISIS kill us.”  Then he asked her if she knew how much God loved her and she replied, “Yes, God loves us all, not just me. God loves everybody.”  Miriam’s understanding of God is so beautiful.  Torn from her home and missing the life she knew, she remains focused on God’s faithfulness and love for everybody, even ISIS.  She says she forgives ISIS and prays God will too.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will ever enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 18:1-4 (NIV)

You can see the interview of Miriam’s Story and Song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ige6CcXuMg

Miriam’s faith left a strong impression on me.  She continually goes back to God’s will.  We can be so easily distracted from God’s will for our lives.  We struggle with wanting our way and trying to find the correct path.  Here she is, in a refugee camp, living her faith with trust and finding peace from God. She knows that God will never leave or forsake those who are His children.

Persecution for simply being a Christian is growing. I recently attended a  Voice of the Martyr’s conference. Everyday I read stories and testimonies of Christians who have been imprisoned, tortured, beaten, etc. for being a Christian. Meeting them, hearing them share their testimonies, and being able to talk with them was incredible.

At the conference, a speaker shared a story from World War II of a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp. The Jews were crying in despair for help.  When the train passed a church, the cries of the Jews interrupted the Christians singing, so those Christians sang louder.

Today the train is rolling.  I refuse to sing louder.

 Never Again Is Now.

God bless you,

Shae