Meaningful not material gifts

Gifts of Hope 2013

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Or have you barely begun? Most people on your list are probably just like the people on my list: they really don’t need anything. We give them gifts because we love them and it’s just what we do during this time of year. So we end up buying things like sweaters to put in already-full closets, video games for kids who should be playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and boxes of Christmas cookies and candies for people who already have too much to eat. We rarely give gifts that will endure until next Christmas much less gifts with eternal value.

But what if we decided to do it differently this year? What if we decided to truly honor the season of the Savior with a gift of hope to a persecuted believer? Open Doors has compiled a Gifts of Hope Catalog to help you choose gifts that not only encourage Christians suffering for their faith but also give real help and hope to those who share our faith but not our freedom.

For $58 you can provide job training for women to help them support their families. For only $5 you can provide biblical resources in digital media format to help train and disciple a believer. $1565 will sustain a whole family for a year. These are just a few of the gifts available in the Gifts of Hope Catalog. Click here to view the entire catalog.

Don’t let this Christmas be another year of giving meaningless gifts that do little to honor the greatest gift of all – Jesus the Messiah! Purchase with purpose this Christmas and give the gift of hope to persecuted Christians around the world.

Why I wear barbwire.

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. All over the world people are praying for Christians who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. In honor of this day, I am re-posting this which was originally posted on September 21, 2012. Won’t you pray with us?

Did you know that 70% of the world’s population lives in countries with heavy restrictions on religion? Did you know that more than one hundred million Christians worldwide are currently suffering interrogations, arrest, and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ? All of this happens on a daily basis around the world while Christians in the West enjoy relative peace, security, and freedom.

First Corinthians Chapter 12 compares the church, the body of Christ, to a physical body with each member having a different function. Verse 26 says that if one member suffers, then all the members suffer with it. Open Doors is a ministry dedicated to serving persecuted Christians worldwide and they would like to invite you to share the wonderful privilege of standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who share our faith but not our freedom.

Please visit onewiththem.com and order a barbwire wristband today. Then be prepared to share with others who ask why you are wearing barbwire.

On behalf of suffering saints all over the world, THANK YOU.

God’s Smuggler – Free!

Gods_Smuggler_large

In this post I told you about the book God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and the tremendous impact it has had on my life. I am very excited to tell you that you can download the audio version of God’s Smuggler here. And it’s free! Whether you listen to the audio book, read the e-version on your e-reader, or hold a real book in your hands and read it the old-fashioned way, I encourage you to read this book. Christian biographies are my favorites and this one is definitely in my top 5.

Click here to learn about Brother Andrew’s book God’s CallAnd click here to see a recent interview with Brother Andrew by The Christian Post.

Why I wear barbwire.

Did you know that 70% of the world’s population lives in countries with heavy restrictions on religion? Did you know that more than one hundred million Christians worldwide are currently suffering interrogations, arrest, and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ? All of this happens on a daily basis around the world while Christians in the West enjoy relative peace, security, and freedom.

First Corinthians Chapter 12 compares the church, the body of Christ, to a physical body with each member having a different function. Verse 26 says that if one member suffers, then all the members suffer with it. Open Doors is a ministry dedicated to serving persecuted Christians worldwide and they would like to invite you to share the wonderful privilege of standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who share our faith but not our freedom.

Please visit onewiththem.com and order a barbwire wristband today. Then be prepared to share with others who ask why you are wearing barbwire.

On behalf of suffering saints all over the world, THANK YOU.

A Dream that Needs to Die

American Dream House

During the time of the Apostle Paul, many worldly philosophies and traditions of men had crept into the church. Many of his epistles were written to churches to combat these false teachings with the truth of God’s Word. There is a philosophy just as dangerous and heretical that has crept into our churches today. It is called “The American Dream.” Practically speaking, the American dream is the belief that we not only have the right to but we deserve a nice home filled with nice things, a good stable job with a generous income, yearly family vacations to Disney World, new cars, a retirement plan, etc. As Americans, we believe that our Constitution grants us all of these things. However, as Christians, we need to realize that our citizenship is not of this world (Philippians 3:20). As the old hymn says, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through!” The American Dream has no biblical foundation and is fundamentally opposed to the great commission. It has made us complacent regarding eternal matters and oblivious to the needs of the body of Christ as a whole.

In 2011, these are some things that happened to Christians around the world:

– 300 were martyred in Nigeria.

– 50,000 to 70,000 were held in horrific prison camps in North Korea.

– Many of the 80 million Christians in China were denied the right to worship and their pastors were arrested and put in prison.

– And in January of 2012 in Uganda, the father of a 15 year old girl locked her in a closet for six months because she converted from Islam to Christianity. She lost the use of her legs but is slowly regaining strength and the ability to walk.

In their book The Privilege of Persecution, Dr. Carl Moeller and David Hegg explain the dichotomy of reality between American Christians and those Christians suffering for their faith. Our ways of thinking are so radically different that it is difficult for us to understand their lives. And it is just as difficult for them to understand ours. The authors say, “[Persecuted Christians] pray for things [American Christians] probably wouldn’t think to pray for, and never pray for many of the things we do…It can be difficult for someone who has been fully immersed in the culture of the persecuted church to relate to Western believers who think it’s a really tough day when their daughter doesn’t make the cheerleading squad.” Shallowness pervades our congregations. But the simple truth is that to whom much is given, much is required. God has given us political, spiritual, and material blessings and freedoms so that we can encourage and strengthen through prayer and advocacy those Christians who have no freedoms and no resources.

First Corinthians chapter 12 compares the church, the body of Christ, to a physical body, with each member having a different function. Verse 26 says that if one member suffers, then all the members suffer with it. Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated since you yourselves are also in the body.” As Christians with religious freedom, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility of supporting and standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who share our faith but not our freedom.

So what can you do to help? You can pray! Brother Andrew, author of God’s Smuggler and founder of Open Doors, says, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle; prayer IS the battle!” The World Watch List comes out every year and ranks the top 50 countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for their faith. I’d like to invite you to pray for each country on the World Watch List in 2012 by taking the 5 Minute Challenge. Click here for more information on how you can sign up to receive an email once a week highlighting a country for whom you can pray. Take just 5 minutes a day to strengthen and encourage those who share our faith but not our freedom!

Shatter the Silence!

Next week is North Korea Freedom Week. Open Doors, a ministry to Christians around the world where faith costs the most, is petitioning Christians everywhere to unite in prayer for the country of North Korea. For the last 9 years, this country has been #1 on the World Watch List, a listing of the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted for their faith.

Here’s what Open Doors says about North Korea: Nowhere in the world is Christian persecution so fierce. Christians have to hide their faith; Christian parents can’t even share their beliefs with their children until they are old enough to understand the dangers. Owning a Bible could get you killed, or sent to a harsh labor camp. In 2010 hundreds of Christians were arrested. Some were murdered, others sentenced to labor camps. Despite the risks, the church is growing: there are an estimated 400,000 believers. 

You have an opportunity to encourage believers in North Korea. Go here to send a written message that will be read over the radio in North Korea next week! Don’t wait! Send your message of hope and encouragement to North Korean believers now. Let them know that they are not forgotten and that they are being lifted up in prayer by their brothers and sisters all over the world.

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. . . And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12,26


Get involved.

Did you know that right now there are 100 million Christians all over the world being persecuted for their faith? These are law-abiding, peace-loving citizens whose only crime is that they worship Jesus Christ. They are imprisoned, tortured, discriminated against, harassed, and even killed because they refuse to renounce their faith.

Paul told the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 12:26 that when one member of the body of Christ suffers, we should all suffer with that member. There are many ways that you can get involved. You can write letters to those in prison or those who are grieving the death of a loved one killed for his faith. You can pray for these precious brothers and sisters. You can write letters to government officials pleading for justice. There are so many ways to do something to help. But you have to take that first step.

To find out more information on how you can get involved, click on the picture below. It is a step that could make a world of difference in the lives of so many who are suffering for their faith.