I went out and played 18 holes of golf this morning with my hubby. Being the early riser he is, we had a 7 AM tee time, but actually got off about 20 min earlier. It was a beautiful, quiet morning...cool...It was nice to take the time to breathe...
As I looked up in the blue sky (lately I've been telling God what a good job he's done with the clouds - perhaps he has a new designer up in heaven, but have you seen them recently?) I saw a lone bird flying high up in the sky, and for a moment, I felt its freedom...to be unencumbered, and one with all of God's creation...wow :-)
How nice it would be for us ALL to be free like that.
Living in the United States, we are so insulated from the rest of the world. First off, we're on our own continent (well, we share it with Canada, but hey, they're our neighbors!), and we have oceans on both sides of us...Worlds away, people are dying for their faith.
We don't hear much about it, if at all in the press...There are much more important issues, like who is going to be on the next "Celebrity Apprentice", or what new gory murder can they entice us with? The more sordid the details, the more we seem to embrace it. Speculation runs rampant...Hillary and Obama? McCain and Romney? Oh, that could NEVER be...
Seems to me that James admonished us about our tongues...but with the press being our collective tongue, it's kind of hard to see through all the garbage and get to what is really happening out in the real world...
China - A house church raided in the Gansu province, people jailed for "cult" practices
Indonesia - Muslims vandalized church buildings that have been sealed since 2005 owned by 3 churches in the area near Jakarta. There have been scuffles with the local muslims as well.
Sri Lanka - Buddhist militants are attacking Christian pastors and congregations
India - Christians targets of attacks by hindu nationalists. Homes destroyed, people threatened.
Sudan - Christians are still be persecuted by muslim majority.
What amazes me, is if you read some of these stories...the incredible strength and faith these people have, and how even at the risk of death...they continue to worship our Lord and saviour.
Can you say that you would do the same thing? Have we gotten so complacent with our freedom, that we take it for granted? What if we had to worship in a dark cellar with fabric over the windows, in almost silence in the middle of the night so as not to arouse suspicion of our neighbors? Would our faith that we have now be sustained through this?
I thank God today that we DO have the freedom in this country to worship without fear. There are a few incidences of persecution in this country, but minor in comparison to what our brothers and sisters suffer on an everyday basis.
Take some time today to pray for the persecuted. Pray for their protection, pray for their safety, pray that their oppressors will find something else to do, pray for their faith to remain strong. And don't forget to thank God for the freedom WE have here in the states.
Should not your piety be your confidence, and your blameless ways your hope? --- Job 4:6
My brothers and sisters, I pray for deliverance for you. I pray that there will be a day where you can stand proudly out in the open, and shout the glory of the Lord. I pray for freedom from oppression, and a safe haven of God's hands around you and your loved ones. May your faith sustain you and strengthen you all your days.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD --- Psalm 31:24