Awful Advent Reminders

Regular Scripture reading schedules have a way of bringing me back around to texts that I both “enjoy” and “hate” at the same time. They are texts that speak of faith and prayer… and then I’m reminded, “Oh, yeah! That means I need to pray!”

Then, I pray my “immense” amount of time (probably 5 minutes) and give up.

“God doesn’t hear! What’s the use?!”

So I come to a passage like that again in this Advent season.

I come to it after reading this devastating article on Syria and how ISIS and Assad are still using chemical weapons. Something that was “supposed” to have been “dealt with” by our powerful government and other world “leaders” and still… it exists. My heart broke reading that article.

And then, I read the Gospel for today and come across this:

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt. 21:21-22)

Honestly… and I mean honestly… How can someone read THAT and think, “Oh, yeah! I’ll just pray the chemicals away!”

But there it is. Staring me in the face. It doesn’t matter HOW things like ISIS or Assad (the “president” of Syria) go down. That’s not my call. I can’t even ask for the how. What I need to do is command that they fall. THAT is the challenge.

So… why not? Our government hasn’t done anything more effective to this point, have they?

What if we, as believers, just began praying in earnest for the fall of ISIS and the removal of Assad? Just leave all the questions at the door. (Who would take his place? How would they be removed?) Just command the mountain to move.

Not just because ISIS and Assad are pure evil. Because they are oppressing their own people and no one cares.

Maybe… just maybe… some mountains would fall.

Every day… command the mountain to move.

Why not?

#IamaChristian

The shootings in Oregon have rumors swirling. Did the shooter target Christians? The media… oh, the oh so accurate media that always want to make sure they get it right… urges “caution.” (Meanwhile, at a county clerk’s desk in Kentucky…)

In our current cultural war mode, it may “play well” to see the hashtag campaign rage on. That’s about the extent of our commitment, though.

Meanwhile, a reminder for all of us is that Christians truly are being targeted in other parts of the world.

THIS REPORT details what happened just last month in Syria.

Friends, let’s not forget the brothers and sisters in Christ we have all over the world who really are targeted. The media won’t play it… but so what. Let US pray. Let US labor. Let US follow Christ.

Residents inspect damage from what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus.

Why it’s hard to “care” about world events

Over the past few days I have relentlessly posted links and thoughts about the persecution of Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and other places. 

That’s hard enough to get attention, but then (for Christians) it’s hard to also pay attention to stories out of the Middle East that don’t have “Christians” in them. 

Such as the civil war in Syria

First of all, it DOES have a “Christian angle” to it. That is always under-reported. 

Secondly, because we’ve been conditioned to hate Muslims, Iraq, etc., we just don’t care, quite frankly, if Muslims are blowing each other up. 

Hopefully that was a crude enough statement to at least jolt a few people. 

The trouble is we just often don’t know HOW to “care” about news because if it doesn’t have some personal connection, we just often don’t know what to do with it. 

Then we can complain that the “media” doesn’t cover it enough. Or, when they do, it’s the “wrong” media. For instance, the above link goes to a Fox News story. Some of you may have clicked on that link, saw it was a Fox News story and already were pre-disposed to not pay attention because it was Fox News. Others were ready to read every word because it was Fox News. Some of you who haven’t clicked on that link will now NEVER click on that link because I already told you it was Fox News.

I hope THAT was crude enough to jolt a few more people. 

Here is a primer for how to “care” about what is going on in the world. 

1. Knowing what is going on is vital. Caring is another issue. Long to KNOW first, then “caring” can follow. KNOWING is vital. We’ve ignored the Muslim civil war that is sweeping the world and NOW we are reaping a whirlwind. 

2. Quit thinking in terms of “What should the U.S. do to respond?” We aren’t always the “calvary” to ride in. Sometimes the very best thing is to read and TO PRAY. Honest. 

3. READ. 

4. Read widely. Quit using your favorite sites alone. Learn how to read other sites you disagree with. Learn to put down your political lenses and just READ. Sometimes the story IS from Fox. Sometimes it’s from Slate. It could be the BBC or NPR. When we don’t read widely, we fail to understand that something IS being reported… just not from our normally “reliable” sources. 

5. Get to know a missionary or two. I know a lot of missionaries in just about every part of the world. They give whole new perspectives that take out the politics and put in people. 

6. When you get more “news” or “information,” realize it could be the time to pray. Not call for more troops. Pray. It is prayer that can stir our hearts to pay attention and seek God more. 

It’s not that we should “care” about world events, or we don’t “care” because we don’t know what to do. We need to read more because it can lead us to prayer, and THAT gets us into the flow of the Kingdom of God. 

Smokescreen

100 years ago there was an obscure “archduke” assassinated by a small faction of a small ethnic group that just seemed like nothing in the news. It was so out of the way, WHY would it be significant? There were bigger things on the table at the time. People wouldn’t pay attention to some backwater story when Germany was the big elephant to worry about.

It’s amazing to me as to what passes for “backwater” stories these days. Yet, it demonstrates our own political and cultural biases.

Because of our political and theological biases, Israel and Gaza have become the story. It is NOT insignificant that nearly 2000 Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis have lost their lives. Not by a long shot.

But I have come to believe it is the smokescreen. IT is the “backwater” story, but we’ve made it center stage.

The “backwater” story we never pay attention to is Syria and the Islamist group ISIS. And while we haven’t paid attention to this “tiny” story, millions have been displaced and thousands of Christians and other “opposition” religious groups have been slaughtered. Israel and Gaza raise such passionate debates and arguments, we’ve hardly given a look to Syria. In fact, when it may have been we were starting to pay attention, THAT is when Gaza blew up. (I’m just a conspiracy theorist at heart… and it’s my blog.)

While we have relegated passages like Matthew 24 to the “end times” (and somehow only to American Christians), brothers and sisters in Christ are living this today. 

Observe:

The Chaldean-Assyrian Christians, Maronites, Melkites and Copts are also being “butchered under the banner of ‘There is no God but Allah'”. They, too, are fleeing into the mountains for refuge, as Christ exhorted at the time of the end. They, too, are being reviled, persecuted, and their children murdered. But we’re not hearing an awful lot about it.

More HERE.

It is hard for me to fathom, as a Christian, that we have cared so little about Christians in Syria and Iraq. It just doesn’t hit our radar. But the moment Israel comes into the conversation… BAM! We rant and rage and defend and attack…

There has been a civil war raging for quite some time all over the world… and we’ve virtually ignored it. And radical groups are counting on us to keep ignoring it. Rant all we want about Israel and Gaza… it just keeps us pre-occupied, and they get to keep on killing.

Arabic N

Overcome

For the first time in 1600 years it is possible that there was no Christian worship in Mosul, Iraq this past Sunday.

The Christian population in Syria has plummeted from about 6% of the population to possibly less than 1,000 believers.

We must be reminded of the words of Christ:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

A Christian home “marked” in Mosul, Iraq.