Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Envelope Day

In a very profound way, today is a day that has been set aside to bring attention to the abortion issue. It is a day that represents the death of over 50,000,000 innocent babies that were never given the opportunity to see life, to play, to work, to love, or to offer their talents and gifts to this world. It is a reminder to our President that life is precious, that it begins at conception, and that each life is worthy to be counted as a valuable asset to our nation.

As the red envelopes travel across America, I pray that the hearts of those who handle them, those who see them, will rise up, and with one voice loudly proclaim that it is time to bring this deplorable practice to an end. I pray for conviction and repentance for our country's leaders and courts and that they would yield to our Almighty God and His will in this.

Join me.

In Christ,


Monday, March 30, 2009

"I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of your saints."

Psalm 52:8,9

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Two Covenants

“’This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”
Hebrews 8:10-13 (NIV)

wo covenants given; each as distinctly apart from the other, yet each are binding the one to the other to create a divine plan of salvation for mankind. Because God is Truth and cannot lie, and because He is faithful to His Word, His Word is eternally binding and cannot be breached.

The first covenant was the covenant of the law and was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 19 - 23). Its purpose was designed to make us aware of God’s sovereignty and perfection, and to instill in our hearts His morality and ethics. But from the first man Adam who fell from grace and placed all men in the precarious position of being unable to keep it, men who walk today’s earth have also been in constant violation of the laws God established. No amount of works or deeds can erase the sins we bear. Like a cancer, they have permeated our souls and corrupted us. Where does that leave us in the great scheme of eternity, knowing that we continue to sin against a just God who demands that eternal penalties be paid for our disobedience?

Enter the second covenant, Jesus Christ; wholly perfect, wholly divine, wholly God, Who replaced the first covenant. Man was lost. Heaven’s gates had been closed to him. God had turned His face from that which He had created. But, through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary, the only One able to perform a work of salvation, came forgiveness and salvation. To those who would believe on Him and the punishment He bore for their sins, acceptance by God and life eternal would be restored.

Jesus did the will of His Father. In Him was all perfection and holiness. God’s grace was poured out upon the world and made available to all who would accept His Son. Forgiveness is just a breath away from those who have tired of their own feeble attempts to secure salvation, who have come to know they are sinners in need of a Savior. Sweet, divine, and unconditional forgiveness is available through the Second Covenant, Jesus Christ.

All it takes is one breath and it’s yours for eternity.

  1. God is faithful to His promise. Read Exodus 20.
  2. In verse 20, what is the purpose of the law that was given?
  3. Read chapter 32. Man quickly forgets what God expects from him. Are we able to keep the entire law and not break one of its articles?
  4. Because God is just and requires that penalties be paid for our disobedience, where does that leave us?

Just a quick note!

Hi everyone - we are glad you are back! And a very hearty "welcome" to the newcomers from the United Kingdom and the Philipines that have visited our blog. We hope you return often!

I just wanted to write a quick note and let you know we are feverishly working on new posts and to not give up on us. Some of us are Moms with kids on Spring Break, others work or have other pressing things keeping them busy. We're trying hard not to disappoint you and promise fresh reading in the days to come.

In the meantime, please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or just a thought. We would absolutely love to hear from you.

May the Lord's blessings be on all of you!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Blurred Line Of Distinction

“And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Malachi 3:18 (NIV)

To the person looking in, America’s Christian churches are bulging at the seams. Mega-churches are springing up across the nation, churches with an attendance of 30,000-plus in their congregations. On any given day one can find on his television set masses filling the pews, all appearing eager to hear the Word of God from finely dressed and groomed Pastors with gleaming white teeth and winning smiles. But what one sees on the outside is not necessarily what resides on the inside.

The line of “distinction” has become blurred. It is often cited in our media that approximately 80 percent of Americans are professing Christians. If one believed the number to be accurate, crime in the United States would be almost non-existent. There would be little hunger, poverty, or homelessness. Abortion would not be tolerated, divorce would be rare, and our nation’s laws would remain established upon the foundation God laid before us. Recently, I read a study that dramatically decreased this number to below 5 percent. Astounding as this seems, when the questions of what it meant to truly claim this title were asked, the number of Christians narrowed tragically. In other words, when our feet are put to the fire, we miserably fail the test.

There is a vast difference between being a mere “hearer” of the Word of God and putting it into practice. Application is a required factor (James 1:22-27). Anyone can claim a title and not genuinely own it. For example, if I said I was an accomplished pianist worthy of notoriety, yet never sat down and practiced the scales and etudes and studied the Masters necessary to meet this claim, the proof would be glaringly obvious the first time I performed. What I perceived myself to be would crumble around my feet and all I would be left with would be humiliation and shame. I would be forced into re-examining myself and taking another hard and long look at the image in the mirror and the label I am attempting to wear.

As a child learning to play the piano, I was often told “practice makes perfect.” This should also be applied to our Christian walk. God sees into our hearts and knows what lies there. He Who created us intimately knows what lurks in the dark corners and often spills into our lives. What others perceive us to be is not necessarily what we are for our talk is rarely our walk. We stand in unison in our churches, hands raised, faces posed in piety, our voices raised in praise and worship, then listen with apparent intensity to the message that is given. But, unfortunately the majority walks out the door and leave behind what they pretended to absorb. We abandon God on the altar of our worship. We push Him back where we think He belongs and rush back into the world, only willing to give to Him a couple hours of our time and consideration until the next Sunday comes along and we sadly repeat the pattern we’ve created.

Charles H. Spurgeon, the renowned 19th century British Pastor, wrote: “The tendency in these days is to break down the holy barrier and to make the distinction between the church and the world merely nominal. Christians no longer keep a strict watch over their attitudes and actions, questionable literature is read everywhere, frivolous pastimes are commonly indulged, and a general laxity threatens to deprive the Lord’s own people of the sacred singularity that separates them from sinners.” (Evening By Evening, pg. 241)

God deserves so much more from us. He is Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Redeemer and Saviour. His love for His children extends beyond all boundaries. And in spite of our continued unfaithfulness to Him, He never forsakes us. Rather, God continues to pursue us with an intensity that belies our own halfhearted and feeble devotion, for His desire is that we accept and embrace the greatest gift He could give us - His Son, Jesus Christ. He also desires that when we do, we seek after His righteousness and submit not just part of our hearts, but all we are humanly capable of giving to Him.

It is time the “distinction between the righteous and the wicked” is made evident. If we are going to profess our devotion to God and assume the title “Christian,” then we must also live it. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.” Become “doers”, serving our Lord in the manner He deserves and let it be known to all men that our God is worthy to be exalted above all things. We must proclaim His Truth to a dying world and re-draw the line of “distinction”. God's honor and His glory is on that line.

So, to the bulging churches, I encourage them to return to their First Love, our Almighty and Holy God. May His Truth ring from the rafters and pierce our hearts. May we leave each Sunday with His Word embedded there and pray it will carry us through the week to the following Sunday. May we all stand boldly in the face of persecution and hatred and convey His love for all sinners. And may we demonstrate that we have drawn a line of “distinction”, separating us from the world and all that is in it.

“Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty…“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:7(b), 10 (NIV)

Copyright 2007 Karen L. Brahs

Sunday, March 22, 2009

There are some new additions to the blog that might interest you. Because of the fascination a couple of us have with end times prophecy and the final re-establishment of the Jewish people in their homeland in 1948, I have added links to a few of the most prominent prophecy experts we know of. You can find them in the side-bar under the title "End Times Prophecy". I also would like to highly recommend watching "The Hal Lindsey Report", which you can view on his website. Also, for those who closely watch the events transpiring in Israel over the so-called "Peace" agreement and the attempt to divide Jerusalem, there are several Israeli newspapers for your perusal. You can find them under "Up-To-Date News From Israel and the Middle East", which is also in the side-bar. Posts and comments to both new additions can be found under the Label, "Israel and the Middle East".

I have also added the Label, "Christian Social Issues", and a few websites that specifically address them. If you have one to recommend, let us know!

As we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us all continue to pray for our nation, the nation and people of Israel, and for God's will in all that is being played out before us.

In Christ,


Saturday, March 21, 2009


“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

ave you ever heard one or two, or perhaps a flock of geese flying overhead, their voices calling back and forth to each other, offering direction, instruction, or perhaps encouragement? As the seasons pass, they take to the currents above the earth, soaring high above the clouds, for their instinct knows when it is time to move on, either from the approaching cold of winter, or back to their nesting grounds and the bounties of summer. Their courses rarely change, their flight pattern wonderfully engrained in their very being. When I hear their voices, I, too, am encouraged and given direction, for I know their arrival or departure means that a season is not far behind them.

One cold spring day, I heard the distant approach of these heralds of the seasons and decided to make a closer inspection of them. Driving down to the lake bed where they were congregating, I was at first awestruck by their vast numbers. The geese seemed to cover the ground in an ever-moving ocean of gray, their heads bobbing and their voices filling the air with constant honking. I watched with amazement as they stepped aside to
make room for the other geese that seemed to pour from the sky in an endless wave, sounding their calls of encouragement until the last goose fell gracefully among them. I marveled at how far they must have traveled and how grateful they must have been to at last be where their weary wings had carried them.

But as I sat and watched this amazing display of God’s creation, I soon tired of the incessant repetition of their honking voices that filled the air. Closing my eyes and letting my imagination run, I laughed at how the geese sounded like a huge crowd of people, each trying to talk over the top of another and none able to make out a distinguishable word. It was as if they were trying to make their voices heard over the tumult and confusion they found themselves in. Perhaps they had stories to tell; tales of the storms they passed through in their flight, of narrowly escaping the predator’s jaws or a hunter’s gun. Maybe they had been separated from their mates and were calling to each other with words only they understood. Whatever the case, their excitement was solely their own and I couldn’t be a participant in it, only an observer sitting at a safe distance.

Then, as sudden as was their raucous approach, their voices receded to murmurs and faint chirps as each bird settled their bodies onto the warm sandy lake bed. Opening my eyes, I looked out over the sea of geese, noticing an occasional head popping up above the blanket of gray; a sentry with a wary eye keeping watch over the vast gaggle of birds. Their sudden stillness was almost as deafening as was their overwhelming chatter
and excitement, as if a voice, unheard by my human ears, had soothed and calmed them into a well-deserved rest. The same voice that led them away from one season had called them home to another; a voice they were intimately familiar with, a voice they could trust and had faith in to watch over them as they briefly closed their eyes under the warmth of the sun overhead and took their well-earned respite.

I slowly drove away from the lake bed, hoping my departure didn’t disturb the geese. But as I drove the short distance home, I began to contemplate the wonder I had just seen and heard. Thinking upon the sound of that many geese in one place and the droning roar of it reminded me of the cacophony and tumultuous rush of the world and how it overwhelms us. Our nerves are exposed and made raw by the pace that’s demanded of us, the world’s offending noise chasing us even in our sleep. To the majority of humankind, one season blends into another with harsh growls, making one indistinguishable from another. We work, toil, and play, idling through the seasons, making our own sets of rules, and establishing our own boundaries of life. We pile one burden upon another, “yoking” ourselves with debt, dismay, and despair, choosing to ignore the voice that gently calls out promising rest and release from the things our hands have made.

Unlike the geese that follow their Master’s voice, man allows the voices of the world to lead him away into an unfamiliar wilderness where no rest can be found. At first glimpse, the grass may seem greener on the other side; but disappointment and heartbreak are sure to be found there. However, within that wilderness a voice is heard calling you to come and rest on His “lake bed”, to release your burdens of “flight” onto Him, and to close your eyes for a much-needed rest while He stands sentry over you. Jesus Christ’s rest is perfection, a promise of not only present rest, but also rest from our past mistakes as He frees us from the burden of sin. And when our “flight” is over, when we rest our weary wings that the breath of His Word has carried us through our lives, He promises future rest, eternal joy, and peace forevermore.

“Come unto Me…and I will give you rest.” The geese and I heard His voice that day.

Copyright 2006 Karen L. Brahs

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Farmer and His Tractor

Today has been emotional and tiring, and I welcomed the cool evening breeze and a quiet moment to stand alone in the dark and gather my thoughts. I snuggled in my oversized bathrobe, poured myself a cup of coffee, and walked out to the back porch. Only a few stars seemed to be out tonight and due to the darkness, I couldn’t tell if that was because of the clouds or not. The backyard is shallow and just beyond the hot wire that lines our boundaries is a farmer's field. Throughout the winter it has laid there dormant and lifeless; but apparently today has become the new beginning for this vast stretch of ground.

I remember last year meeting the farmer who worked this field for the first time. I'm guessing him to be in his mid to late 60's who owned the most beautiful and well trained black lab I had ever seen. In looking back, it was probably his dog that inspired my family to finally get one of our own. Every day we would watch this farmer tirelessly, day in and day out, work, prepare, work, and cultivate his crop. Not having ever farmed myself, it became an obsession for me to watch him. I had so many questions that even surprised myself. Why am I so interested in what this man is doing? But each time I had the opportunity, I would ask him my "city girl" questions. Why do you work the field back and forth and then diagonally, before you plant it? Why don't you water the entire crop at the same time? Is there anything I can do to help you? Would you like some water? He was always ever so patient with me, but I often wondered if he just wanted to be left alone. I tried to keep my distance as the season went on. I would be pulling weeds, or cleaning ditches, and would try to leave this poor man alone, but then would feel I was being rude.

One night I had noticed just before the sun began to set, before he had begun to plant his crop, that he had spent a great deal of time working on his tractor. As the evening passed we paid little attention to him, until it became dark. Once the sun had set and the sky was black, he fired up that tractor, turned on his lights and went to work. First plowing the field from east to west, back and forth, for what seemed like hours. I'm sure it was. That night I had stayed up particularly late, and I noticed from my dining room windows that his lights appeared different. Again, like tonight, I went outside and watched him. He was now plowing diagonally. How long into the night was he going to do this? And why at night? Wasn't it incredibly hard to keep everything as straight as he was, in the dark? Finally I reached a point where I could no longer stay awake and I went to bed.

When I awoke again at 5:30, he was still working! My word, this man had not slept all night and a wave of guilt went over me as I thought about how he had toiled all night while I was just a few yards away sleeping like a baby. And what about his wife? She had spent the entire night without him. Did that make her uneasy to know he was out there alone, and working harder than most men half his age? Within an hour of the day's light beginning to lighten the darkness, he parked his tractor, walked wearily over to his pickup and went home. I fixed breakfast with an entirely different attitude. He had worked at least 9 hours in the cab of that tractor while the world around him slept. I wasn't going to complain about being tired today.

As the weeks wore on and spring and summer came and went, we watched him every day. Once the crops were planted he spent many long days watering his crops, cleaning irrigation ditches of debris and an occasional ball that my kids had kicked into it, and pulling weeds. Yes, pulling weeds. By hand. I had thought, in a field this size, that was something of the past. Apparently I was wrong. He, his wife, and another helper would walk the entire field throughout the season, pulling weeds by hand. One hot summer afternoon out of pure guilt, I offered to help them. He informed me that he couldn’t pay me for my help, and so I tried to explain that I wasn’t offering to help for the pay, I simply wanted to help. Still he refused to allow me to do so. Without paying me, he said, it just wouldn’t be right. There was something about the way he said it that made me realize if I pushed the issue, I would insult him. He had an accent, from where I’m not certain, but I had a pretty good feeling that wherever that accent came from was the same place he acquired his pride. And I respected that.

By the time the season was over, he had raised two separate and different crops out of that field. In a distant kind of way he became a part of our family. His dog was always playing with the kids, and he always welcomed fresh baked cookies and iced tea when I offered it. I felt a sense of sadness when his last crop was harvested and the field was plowed one final time before winter. I knew it would be a few months before we saw him again, for his house didn’t sit on this same piece of ground. And on that day of his final plowing of the year, I sat and watched him again. I wondered if the world knew or understood the long, tiring hours these men put in for us? I thought about his wife and the amount of time alone she spent during the season. I thought about the afternoons I had watched them working together under the blistering sun because they couldn’t pay, nor would they hire, the cheap and sometimes illegal help around here. I wondered if there was ever going to come a day when the farmer, the true old-fashioned farmer, became extinct. And I wondered why he did it. Was it handed down to him from generations before? Was he carrying on what his fathers before him had done all of their lives? He seemed to like the work he did and so I could only guess that whatever his reasons were, he was happy with them. And at that very moment I wanted the world to appreciate him and his work as much as I did. I sent up a prayer for him and his success. I hoped that the next season would be as fruitful and that people would show their appreciation for the food they have on their table.

Tonight, as I sipped my coffee on the back porch and let the spring breeze blow through my hair, I heard it again. That familiar sound of a good friend and his tractor.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Red Envelope Project

It is still not too late for everyone to become involved in the Red Envelope Project. The idea was created by a woman named Chris Otto whose aim is to send as many empty red envelopes addressed to President Obama with a clear message on the back regarding the importance of life. The deadline is March 31st, when all the envelopes will be mailed in unison and hopefully delivered enmasse to the White House. She is praying for 50,000,000 envelopes to be mailed, which represents the approximate number of lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade.

For more information, including what is to be written on the back of the envelope, go to :

Join me and others in this worthy cause. The unborn can't speak for themselves. It is up to us to do it for them.

In Christ,


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Persecuted Church: Iraq - Part 2

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:10-12

How beautiful are these words. Spoken by our Lord Who suffered for our sake the ultimate persecution, they are intended to bring us comfort amidst increasing hatred. There are many brothers and sisters around the world who daily face what Jesus warned would come. But in spite of it, they "rejoice" and are "glad" because they know that, regardless of what the world may bring upon them, they have a far greater "reward" awaiting them. They boldly and fearlessly continue to present the Gospel of salvation to their dark corners of the world for God's honor and glory. One such man in the city of Mosul, Iraq faithfully goes forward in his witness to Muslims who are looking for answers about God.

"Hassan" watched as 10,000 Christians fled the city of Mosul because of the dangerous threats against them. Fearful for his own life, he, too, went to Lebanon where he established connections with a church. But it wasn't long before the church asked him to return to Mosul as a missionary and plant churches in Iraq. It meant returning to a war zone, but Hassan felt that "the war provided a great opportunity to advance the Gospel". Once back in his own country, a house church was established and within five months had 60 members.

It wasn't long before an "Imam" from a local mosque ordered his execution for converting Muslims to Christianity. In the attempt, Hassan was shot and paralyzed from the waist down which forced him to return to Lebanon. In his wheelchair, he continues to encourage others about Christ and supports the evangelists who remain in Iraq. As he so eloquently stated, "They are carrying a bigger and heavier cross than most Christians. And despite this difficult situation the salvation of souls is taking place in big numbers among masses in Iraq. They are going and hiding under the wings of the Lord and knowing Him as Savior, and then they are more zealous and determined to witness about the gospel to other people like them...Pray the Lord will intervene directly to strengthen, encourage and empower us to do His work so that we can bring truth to Iraq."


Fourteen year old Aysa Ahmad Muhammad's crime was considered severe and unjustifiable by the strictures of Islamic Law. She and her family had publicly converted to Christianity, a blasphemous and "shameful" act, according to her Uncle and other extended family members. On July 9, 2006, her Uncle entered her family's kitchen utensil store and began cutting Asya's mother and severely beating Asya, or Maria, as she is also called, and her little brother. Fearful for her family's lives, Asya fatally stabbed her Uncle and was sentenced to five years and placed in prison where she remained until November 10, 2008. Because of her good conduct, Asya was given early release. However, there is great fear that extended Muslim family members may retaliate. Her father, Ahmad Muhammad Abdurahman, has received threatening phone calls. “My sisters called me, and my brother’s wife called me also [and said], ‘You are a shame. Don’t be happy in your family; we will never let you be happy in your family,’”. Please pray for their safety.


Refugees from Iraq often end up in nations where allegiance to Islamic Law also prevents them from living in safety. According to Compass Direct News, approximately one third of those who fled the violence in Iraq to Turkey have returned to their native land only to have the hatred for them renewed. Many of them have asked to be given a safe haven in one of the Western nations where they can live and worship in relative peace. As one refugee points out, “We don’t have hope,” he said. “If these doors aren’t opened, we will be killed.” Compass Direct News has received reports that those who returned to Iraq are once again leaving.


Before closing, I would like to honor a few of those who faithfully gave and defended the Gospel and are now at rest with the Lord:

Ziwar Mohammed Ismaeel - February 27, 2003; shot dead in front of his taxi stand by a Muslim man who believed he was “'fulfilling the will of Allah'” by killing an apostate from Islam. “'I don’t feel guilty for doing it,'” the killer told police investigators after his arrest."

Father Boulos Iskander, 59 - October 9, 2006; kidnapped and beheaded

Elder Munthir - November 26, 2006; kidnapped and murdered

Fadhila Naoum, 85, and Margaret Naoum, 79 - March 26, 2007; alledgedly murdered by robbers, although a police chief ruled out attempted theft

Father Ragheed Ganni and 3 church Deacons - June 3, 2007; kidnapped and shot to death

Hazim Thomaso Youssif - October 4, 2008; shot to death. According to VOM, the rampage against Christians continued: "...Oct. 6, a disabled 25-year-old shopkeeper was shot and killed in the neighborhood of Karama. Four other Christians, a pharmacy employee, a disabled man who owns a spare-parts store, and two day-laborers have also been killed."

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Light Unto The World

I thought it would be fun to provide a small Scripture study in the blog once in a while. A few years ago, I began a small workbook on daily devotions. I hope you take a moment to read this and consider the questions at the end and that it brings the Lord closer to your heart. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:23

Jesus Christ - from before the beginning unto eternity. He was, He is, and He always will be. Never has there been a second in this vast span of the cosmos that He has not been. He was, before the beginning, eternally in the blessed Trinity. He was the First born of every creature, the express image of God. From the opening word of the Old Testament to the closing note of Malachi, He is spoken of. Each act of God, each word that was written down tells of Him. Creation reveals His majesty, His awesome wisdom and might, and groans in anticipation of His return. Men testify to God’s great mercies and grace that was bestowed upon them, and eventually all men will bow down to Him with the heavenly hosts who have always known Him. All will cry out in unison that only He, the Lamb of God, is worthy of praise and honor, for all will see that He is the beacon to forgiveness and salvation.

Recently, I received an email from a friend asking me to describe her in one word. When you know someone well, that is a difficult thing to do because of their many attributes and characteristics. It took me some time to come up with only one word to send back to her. Afterwards, I found myself applying this question to Jesus Christ. That is when true difficulty began. There isn’t enough pen and paper in the world to contain the words that describe Him.

Jesus cannot be summed up into one word, for within Him is contained all things: creation, emotions, wisdom, power, majesty, justice, mercy, grace. He is God. How can one put a label on Him? He is “I AM,” the compilation of everything that is good, moral and just. His very Name speaks of incomprehensible omnipotence. Our puny minds cannot comprehend God’s essence and nature in any physical form. But, He gave us His Son, the exact image of Himself, in order that we could comprehend. The plan that the blessed Three established before the foundation of all things was revealed to us through Jesus so that we could come out of the darkness and stand in His glorious Light for ever and ever.

  1. Read 1John 1:1-10. What qualifies John’s testimony regarding Jesus Christ?
  2. What three reasons does John give us in defense of his testimony?
  3. John speaks of false claims people often make. List each one and apply them to your walk with Jesus Christ.
  4. What remedy is provided in the text?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watchmen On The Wall

As promised, I have provided a few links that address the growing threat of Christian persecution within our own nation. Please take a moment to read them and keep yourself aware of this rising problem. None of us can afford to be apathetic or complacent. Although we do not yet see the degree of hatred that other nations have towards Christians, Christ warned us that in the end times we would experience it and to place our trust in Him (Luke 21:12-18).




Forgotten Pocket

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God." 1Peter 1:23

Within my heart, deep in my soul,
A pocket has been sewn;
By able hands and fingers deft,
Each stitch is made my own.

Woven from wool of purest white,
It's borders they doth gleam;
Embroidered by the hand of God,
With love in every seam.

The pocket has a purpose,
Divinely sewn and placed;
For within its soft and downy depth
Are laid the seeds of Grace.

God chose the seeds and placed them there
For me to scatter and sow;
Each seed of Grace that lies in wait
Has a name to which it should go.

But the pocket, full and bulging,
Lies forgotten, forsaken, ignored;
The seeds of Grace that lie in wait
Remain where they were stored.

Its weight bears heavy on my heart,
A reminder they are there;
They call to me from deep within
To cast away my fear.

So, deep within my pocket,
I will reach with trembling hand,
And cast the seeds He gave me
Upon the hearts of men.

I'll sow the seeds that lie there,
I'll scatter them broad and wide;
Upon the hearts prepared by Him,
I'll plant the seeds He provides.

And as each one is taken
From the pocket so lovingly sewn,
I'll watch with great delight and joy
As each takes root and grows.

Forsake not these seeds of Grace
So carefully placed within;
The Lord has laid them there with purpose,
To turn men from their sin.

Reach deep, my friend, inside your pocket,
The one you forgot was there;
Cradle the seeds that God has placed,
And cast away your fear.

Sow them far and wide upon man's heart,
And share the message from above;
For the pearls of Grace are precious and few,
And created from Divine Holy Love.

Copyright 2007 Karen L. Brahs

The Little Things

The simplicity of life is where God most often reveals Himself. We just don't see it because, to us, it is mundane and uneventful. We should look for the hand of God in every aspect of our lives and perform our daily drudgery with joy and expectation. The little things may often become the greatest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Big Fix

Let me tell you a story to help you understand the "Big Fix." There was this girl, we'll call her Jan, who grew up in a family where her dad drank a lot. Her mom blamed herself for his drinking and she did everything she could to fix that. Consequently, the love relationship between her mom and dad was, well, nothing that she would want to copy for herself later in life. Jan didn't understand at the time but her parent's relationship would be her model for later in life. Because her parents were so into their own issues, they didn't really know how to show love to the little girl either. Oh, they loved her, and she loved them, but it wasn't a love that was comforting.

As Jan grew up, she searched for love in the same way it was modeled for her. Her first boyfriend drank, just like her dad. He told her he loved her and she loved him back. In fact, she did everything she could to make the relationship work. She even gave him the gift of her virginity. Then he dumped her, leaving a gaping hole in her heart where true love is

supposed to live.

Jan tried to fill that gaping hole with alcohol, sex and drugs. For a while, that worked and it was even fun! Fourteen years, many boyfriends and one husband later, she realized she was tired of having that life. Oh, sure, she looked successful on the outside, but inside she was empty and confused. Nothing was the way she thought it would be. To make matters worse,

she couldn't fix it.

"Of course, you can't fix your own life," a friend told her one day.

"What's up with that? Why not?" Jan retorted.

"Because we're not created to run our own lives," the friend answered.

"Yeah, right. If I can't do anything to fix my own life, who can?" questioned Jan.

Enter the Big Fix:

Jan's friend had this explanation: "We were created by God to have a relationship with Him. (Yeah, I didn't know that either.) The weird thing is we can't have a relationship with Him because He's holy and we're not. Holy can't mix with unholy and we're born unholy. We are born wanting to do our own thing which is usually opposite of God's idea for our lives. That's called "sin" and sin is what separates us from God."

"Okay, so now what?" Jan asked.

"Well, God loves us so much that He made a Fix for this mess. You know how when you go to work and get paid, that paycheck is called your wages, right? The wages for sin is death. We sin, our paycheck is death. God sent His son, Jesus, to die in our place. That's right, a couple of thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified for your sins and mine. Jesus got the paycheck for our sins! Not only that, but because Jesus did that, in God's eyes now we are holy! Whoa! God did His part to have a relationship with us, now we have to do our part. We get to choose."

"Sounds too good to be true. I have a lot of crummy things in my past. Jesus would want a relationship with me?" wondered Jan.

Her friend replied. "Everything from your past could be wiped out and forgiven on the cross! Turn to Jesus, ask Him to run your life and you get a clean slate. THAT IS THE BIG FIX!"

So my question to you is: Is the way you're living your life now working for you? Is it time to draw the line and start over? I'm telling you that you can, no matter what you have done. You can change your life. You see, my name is Jan, and I did choose to let Jesus run my life. That big gaping hole in my heart is filled with True Love. It is the best fix I could ever dream of.

Monday, March 9, 2009

When Does Life Begin, Anyway?

Watching the morning news with a good cup of coffee is something I normally look forward to. Good news or bad, I have this inherent need, as do my brother and sister, to know what’s going on in the world. There are some frightening things going on right now. The economy is on a steady free fall, North Korea is claiming that they will be launching a satellite soon (some say it's a diversion and it is really a missile. Who can trust the N. Koreans?) and the US says they don’t have plans to intercept it (what???) and a pastor was shot and killed during a church service yesterday. But nothing was as frightening or as sickening to me as the announcement that our president, Barack Obama, will be rescinding George W. Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Since Barak Obama was inaugurated in January, he has launched an all out assault on the unborn. First was the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This law would bar government - at any level - from interfering with a woman’s ‘fundamental’ right to chose to bear a child or to terminate a pregnancy. All restrictions will be removed from abortion. His next ‘presidential’ act is to allow the use of human embryos for experimental research. Call it what you will folks. Name it anything you like. It doesn’t change the truth.

I have always been pro-life. For the last 25 years God has whispered to my heart about the unborn. But until September of 1999 I was just a bystander. Looking in. Not being touched by the prospect of abortion. I was 44 years old that year. I had 4 children. Two were out of college, 23 and 24, one was a senior in high school and one was a 12 year old. I was through with the child bearing part of my life. Or so I thought. After a month of trying to convince myself that it was just an early change of life and dealing with it on my own, the pregnancy test showed a plus sign. The floors and ceiling crashed in on me. My ears were buzzing. I couldn’t breathe. I cried and cried and pleaded with God to change the results. In my distress, abortion came to mind. “Who would know” I said to myself. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought. I cried out more and more and louder and louder. God was at my side the entire time. He said to me “Dana, this is the child I am giving you.”. He comforted me and caused me to repent of my selfishness. On April 28, 2000, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The Lord showed me the meaning of joy that day. I tell you these things so that you know that I have been tempted. I understand women in distress with an unplanned pregnancy or one that isn’t perfect. I believe that God wants me to write to you about what He thinks about life. Today I will begin at the beginning. What is that bunch of cells and when does human life begin?

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13,14. This is probably one of the most well known verses in the bible in support of life. The thing to notice here is who the maker is. God. The Father. Yaweh, Jehovah God. I tend to sit up and take notice when He speaks. Makes me a little nervous to argue with Him. Does it you? Here’s another one. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you….” Jeremiah 1:5. Catch that? BEFORE he was formed God knew him. How can that be.? We must be greatly loved by God even before we are born. Well, I am convinced just because of these two verses that life must begin at conception. But for those of you who might doubt the Word of God or try to read some other meaning into it, let’s answer some arguments.

You might say, “No one knows when human life begins. That’s a religious argument that can’t be answered by science.” Well if that is the case, shouldn’t we always err on the side of life? Besides, many prominent physicians and scientists recognize that life begins at conception and testified to that before the U.S senate in 1981.

“It’s just a blob of cells. An embryo or fetus. Abortion is terminating a pregnancy not killing a child.” An embryo or fetus is a term used to describe a human at different stages of development. Just like toddler or teenager. Calling a pregnancy a blob of cells is just semantics used to affect perception. Product of conception or POC is just a way to depersonalize the child. Actually, if you think about it aren’t we all just “POCs”? Prior to the earliest first trimester abortion an unborn child will have all the body parts he or she will ever have. We can detect the heartbeat at 20 days , brain waves are detected, the brain is controlling muscle movement and a skeleton has been formed by 42 days. At 8 weeks the tiny hands and feet are formed and fingerprints are developing. At 12 weeks the child can swallow, squint, make a fist, frown, kick, open it’s mouth and urinate. All of this happens in the first 3 months of life. In the next 6 months nothing else develops or begins functioning. The child only grows and matures.

“The unborn isn’t a person with meaningful life. It’s only inches long and can’t even think. It’s less advanced than an animal.” A living being's designation to a species is not determined by it’s size or maturity but by the sum total of it’s biological characteristics - actual and potential- which are genetically determined. If we try to say that the human embryo is not human, homosapiens, then we must say it belongs to another species and this can’t be so. If size or skill determined someone’s personhood then wouldn’t an NBA player be twice the person I am? Size, IQ , age and stage of development are just differences in degrees, not in kind. Our kind is human. If an unborn is compared to animals, why not we who are already born?

“Obviously life begins at birth. That’s why we have birthdays not conception days and we don’t have funerals after miscarriages”. Birthday’s are cultural not scientific. Some people do have funerals after miscarriages. There is nothing about birth that makes a baby different than he was before birth. An abortion can be attempted and if that baby is born alive and moved inches from the mother he is considered a person and now, what was attempted minutes before while he was still in the womb, would be considered murder if attempted on this child. His nature and value do not change just because he has been moved from inside to the outside of his mother’s womb.

Well that’s enough for today. I welcome your comments, questions, debate. Look for further discussion of this subject. It is my prayer that if you are in a difficult situation with a pregnancy that you will get all of the information available before you make a decision. A good source is http://www.care-net.org/. They are there to help and support you .

For Life,
Dana Andrews

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Persecuted Church: Iraq - Part 1

As I sit and stare at the 2009 Persecuted Church Global Prayer Map that The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) sends me each year, it seems to me this year's map is much darker and ominous than previous years. What struck me even more was that the areas that are hostile to Christians appeared to have grown and spread, encompassing all of northern Africa, the Middle East, China, North Korea, SE Asia and parts of the old Soviet Union. As my eye wanders down the map, the Indonesian Islands and Malaysia are also predominately red and dark gray. The Mexican state of Chiapas, Cuba and Colombia stand alone in the Western Hermisphere, a glaring reminder that the cancer is spreading around the globe and is only a heartbeat from our shores.

The color
red indicates that it is a "Restricted Nation". They have "policies or practices which prevent Christians from obtaining Bibles or other Christian literature...government-sanctioned circumstances or anti-Christian laws that lead to Christians being harassed, imprisoned, killed or deprived of possession or liberties because of their witness."

The countries which are labeled in
gray "have large areas where governments consistently attempt to provide protection for the Christian population, but Christians are victims of violence because of their witness." These are considered "Hostile Areas".

As I gaze at the map, the
red appears to be running, as a drop of blood will run when it falls on a watery surface, spreading out and becoming thinner. It is a indication that where it is faded, persecution is escalating. The Sudan. Darfur. Nigeria. Ethiopia. Creeping down the continent of Africa and consuming the nations within.

Perhaps the hatred for Christians hasn't grown as dramatically as my mind perceives it to be. Perhaps it's only the darkness of the map that makes it look like the world is being overtaken by those whose objective is to silence the Gospel by persecuting with vehemence and hatred. After all, Christian persecution is nothing new. History is overflowing with statistics that defy any common reasoning, sensibility and compassion. It is estimated that since Christ, 70 to 80 million souls have died bringing and defending the Gospel. Next year's map will tell whether I am correct in my assumption.

But the most troubling to me is that there have been more Christians killed in the last century than in any other previous century combined. And very few of us have really noticed or paid close attention. They are names in past and recent history that have become data and statistics that are rarely used, except by a small few who faithfully remind us of the sacrifice these people made to further the message of hope and salvation. They are the "souls" beneath God's throne "who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained" and who cry out to Him for justice (Rev. 6:9-11, NIV). And they should not be forgotten.

I originally thought I would start this section of the Persecuted Church with the nation of China because of their appalling and obvious human rights issues. But as I opened the 2009 Global Report provided by VOM, it became clear to me that the best place to start would be with those the United States is currently closest to in relation to current events. Not that we aren't closely tied with China during this global economic turmoil, (they now own over 40 percent of the "paper" borrowed by the U.S. and Hillary Clinton is begging for more) but there are other nations that stand out more vividly with which the United States has spent historical resources. Therefore, the first nation that will be profiled here will be Iraq.

Geo- and Demographics

Located in the Middle East, Iraq is not a large country in the general scope of the world. It encompasses only 437,072 square kilometers - which is roughly twice the size of my home State, Idaho - and has a population of approximately 28.25 million people. It is bordered by the Persian Gulf, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. However, relationships with some of these nations have become strained over the exodus of more than two million Iraqis who have fled the conflict in Iraq, with the majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan.

It is interesting to note the Biblical history of Iraq and its location in relation to God's plans for His people and the nations. It is believed by some the Garden of Eden was located in what is now Iraq. God sent Abram to the land of the Caananites - Iraq, as we know it. God empowered the Babylonians to carry His people into exile. The Babylonian Gardens, which lie in prophetic ruins, were situated in Iraq. One of Saddam Hussein's pet projects was the restoration and rebuilding of the Gardens and relocating the capital there. Although I believe the use of the word "Babylon" in the Book of Revelation is metaphoric and refers to all of the Muslim Arab nations comprised of the ancestors of Ishmael and Esau, it will rise in the end times bent on the destruction of God's chosen people, Israel. And I believe we are seeing this era unfold before us.

Ethnicity and Religion

The Iraqi population consists of a mixture of Arab, Kurdish, Turkoman, Assyrian and a small percentage of "other". The languages are indicative of the population, with Arabic and Kurdish as the main dialects.

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the population of Iraq are Muslims who follow Islam. But there are two political factions within the population who are considered militia groups and are divided on their interpretation of the law of Islam. The Shia comprise 60-65% of the population and adhere to the belief that direct descendants of Muhammed, or "Imams", have exclusive power and political rule over the Iraqi community. Sharia Law is considered to be the most oppressive and brutal, insisting on strict obedience to Quranic law. At odds with the Shia are the Sunni, who comprise 32-37% of the population. Their interpretation of the successor of leadership maintains that any "devout" Muslim could succeed the Prophet Muhammed if accepted by his peers. This vast difference in beliefs has led to brutal conflicts and the death of many throughout history, and continues today.

Within the ethnic mixture of the 75 to 80% Arabic population are the Kurds who comprise only 15 to 20%. It is widely known that the former President of Iraq, Suddam Hussein, performed mass murder by experimenting with bio-weapons, killing over 100,000 men, women and children within the Kurdish population.

Although there are differing viewpoints within the Muslim community on the interpretation of the Quran, it is my opinion (and substantiated within their "Holy Book") that all Muslims should acknowledge and agree Muhammed directed his followers to pursue and kill all "infidels", meaning those who would not submit to Islam.
To not do so is tantamount to blasphemy and heresy. Their intent then was to "convert" the entire world. And their intent today remains the same, regardless of the labels "radical" and "fundamental" that are placed upon them - and Christians are their major target.

Iraqi Christians

It is estimated by VOM that Iraqi Christians comprise only 1.55% of the population. Considering the influence of Islam, regardless of the differences of political opinion within their sects, this number doesn't surprise me. Although conversion is currently occurring at unprecedented numbers, they "are doing little more than replacing emigrating Christians" who fear for their lives. It's not so much the on-going Iraqi war that is causing them to leave. Persecution has escalated over the last five years, thus the conversion numbers appear to be low. Because of the intensity of the persecution, that which VOM considers "severe", churches have been attacked, bombed and closed, mainly in the areas of Kirkuk and Mosul, kidnapping has escalated and many have fled in attempts to escape it. Unfortunately, those who have sought out safety elsewhere often find themselves in nations that adhere to perhaps the same or stricter religious laws that prohibit openly practicing Christianity and evangelizing and conversion of Muslims. The intensification of persecution has forced some of those who remained in Iraq to worship in secret or in house churches.

In spite of the increase in persecution, many Iraqi Christians remain, faithfully taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their war-torn nation. They bear their cross with boldness, knowing that to suffer is to gain. As VOM points out, "One of the few churches that remains reports of a ministry to Muslims that began when one person came asking about Christianity". From that "one person" who knows the consequences he could suffer under Islamic law, a light still shines brightly in what may appear to us a hopeless and dark nation. He risks everything: family, job, home, and life to bring honor and glory to our Lord. Although we may think he is alone in his work, I am reminded of Elijah's complaint that he was the last of the prophets as he ran from Jezebel, and of God's response: "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." (1Kings 19:18, NIV)

Our brothers and sisters who suffer for Christ are not alone. The Lord is with them every step of the way. Please join me in praying for those who boldly take His message to the lost. As we do, we also walk with them and share in their burdens, their grief, and their trials. They do so to further God's Kingdom, for the glory and honor of our Savior Jesus Christ.


I invite you to return next week for the second part of this post. I will profile a few of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering greatly, yet remain faithful to the Lord and steadfast in their desire to draw others to salvation. I will also introduce you to some who have completed their work and are now at home with the Lord.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Praise and Prayer

"Praise awaits You, O God, in Zion; to You our vows will be fulfilled. O You Who hear prayer, to You all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those You choose and bring near to live in Your courts! We are filled with the good things of Your house, of Your holy temple." Psalm 65:1-4 (NIV)

There are times in each of our lives when we think we cannot bear the burdens that come upon us. We struggle with temptations and trials and often seek relief where it cannot be found. But there is One Who is waiting to hear from us, One Who is offering His shoulder to place our burdens upon and carry them for us if we will only allow Him.

Prayer is essential to the Christian. By communing with the Lord in prayer, it draws us closer to Him and enables us to hear His voice more clearly. God desires that we come to Him with everything that makes us weary or troubles our heart. He is ready to heal, to lift up, and to carry us through the trials of life.

If you have a prayer request, please don't hesitate to let us know. We are ready and willing to take your request before the Lord Who is waiting to intercede on your behalf. By clicking here, you will be redirected to our Praise and Prayer page where you can read the requests that have been left and join us in prayer. By clicking on the "comment" below, you will be taken to the form where you can leave your own prayer request or praise.

Also, let us not forget to praise Him, for He so richly deserves it! Let us know about the wonders the Lord has wrought in your lives in order that we may rejoice with you!