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A Valentine from God

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I will not forget you!
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See I have engraved you
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On the palms of my hands …
 
Isaiah 49:15-16
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“You are precious and honored in my sight.
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I love you. For I am the Lord, your God, who
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takes hold of your right hand and says to
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you, Do not fear, I will help you.  I will
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strengthen you.  I have called you by name
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and you are mine.  I will not forget you!  See
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I have engraved you on the palms of my
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hands.  Never will I leave you.  Never will I
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forsake you.”  — God
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Dedicated to Pastor Saeed and his wife Naghmeh

“Because he love me,” says the Lord,

“I will rescue him.” Psalm 91:14

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Remember those in prison …

Remember those in prison,
As if you were there yourself.
Remember also those being mistreated,
As if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
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Hebrews 13:3
     
 
Each year for Valentine’s Day, I offer a challenge.  This year I would like to challenge you to remember those who are in prison by sending cards during the month of February.  One idea is to send cards to a chaplain at a local prison and ask him/her to give them to someone who never receives mail.  (Use your church address for the return address.) 
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I also would like to highlight three Americans who are unfairly imprisoned in Iran: Pastor Saeed Abedini, former FBI agent Bob Levinson, and former marine Amir Hekmati.
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Three Americans today will endure another 24-hours in hell-like conditions in Iran.  All three men are held against their wills as hostages and have no direct contact with their U.S. family members.  All three are U.S. Citizens with distinguished backgrounds.  All three entered Iran legally.” freeallthree.com
These men need our help!  Picture yourself in prison in Iran.  What would you want your country to be doing to fight for you?
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What we can do:
    1. Pray for them and for their release.
    2. Tell their story to everyone we know.
    3. Post links and updates about the men on social media.
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“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you …
And you will be a light to the nations …
You will free the captives from prison,
Releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.”
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Pastor Saeed Abedini
saeed-in-park.jpg (377×196)
Click here to read his story:
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Bob Levinson
bob-l.jpg (300×266)
Click here to read his story:
Amir Hekmati
hekmati-marine.jpg (300×187)
Click here to read his story:
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At the National Prayer Breakfast 2014, President Obama highlighted Pastor Saaed Abedini, and for that I am thankful.  All three men should have been highlighted.  All three men need to come home.
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Thank you to Daniel at freeallthree.com for the information quote and linked to this post.

Choose Jesus in 2014

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“You did not choose me,

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but I chose you …”

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– Jesus 

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Each day we have the opportunity through our thoughts and actions to choose Jesus.  When we choose kindness over irritabilty or choose reading the Bible before entertainment (social media, TV, etc.) we choose Jesus.  Sometimes I even whisper the words, “I choose you, Jesus.”  At other times, at the end of the day, I will think, “I didn’t choose well; I didn’t choose Jesus today.”  In 2014, let’s make a concentrated effort to “choose Jesus!”

My close friends Dianne and Perry Dodge hold marriage conferences.  One of their talks discusses what five minutes a day can do for your marriage.  When you improve your relationship with God, it can improve your marriage.  Making small choices for just five minutes every day can make a big difference in your life.  Here are some of Dianne and Perry’s suggestions of ways to devote five minutes of time to God throughout the day.  I challenge you to choose a few of these ways to spend more time with God.

 

What Do You Have That You’re Willing To Give To God?

 
 
My first 5 (or more) minutes of the day 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of television time in the morning 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of television time in the evening 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of email/Facebook/internet time during the day 
 
 
Get up 5 (or more) minutes earlier 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes in the car 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes at lunch time 
 
 
Leave work 5 (or more) minutes early 
 
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5 (or more) minutes during ________________________ 
 
 
 
Underneath each one of the above that you’ve picked, write down what you’d like to do during those 5 minutes. ie. Pray (talking to God, and listening to Him), read scripture, thank God for the things He’s done for you, pray for your spouse, pray for others, write in a spiritual journal, listen to inspirational music that draws you closer to God, etc. 
 
    (used with permission)
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I would love to hear what you choose from the list and how choosing Jesus makes a difference for you in 2014. I choose to devote my lunch hour to God. 

How great it would be to hear Jesus say at the end of my life, “You chose me!”

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  (Colossians 3:22) 

 
Eight and a half years ago, Dianne Dodge and I prayed that my youngest son would be born on her birthday, January 1.  Not only was he born on her birthday, but he was also the first baby born in Nashville, TN in 2006.  Happy birthday to Dianne and my son Sterling!  
 

Persecuted Without Cause

Help me, for I am being
persecuted without cause.
Psalm 119:86
 
A plea to help the church in Egypt
 
If one hundred American churches were burned to the ground, those of us who live in the U.S.A. would want Christians in other parts of the world to notice and care. There was little public outrage for 101 churches and many homes that were burned and attacked in Egypt in August of 2013.  Most of the people I have asked about these events had minimal knowledge of this tragedy.  I only knew about it because I heard a man from The Bible Society of Egypt speak at church last Sunday.  Here is a news story with more details about what occurred:  
 

Massive riots in Egypt in mid-August left behind more than 800 dead, and at least 4,000 were injured, as Egyptian police and soldiers clashed with demonstrators. Unfortunately, supporters of jailed Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi also vented their wrath at the country’s Christian minority, in what activists described as “the worst coordinated attacks on Egypt’s Coptic community in modern history.”

Even Associated Press, which isn’t considered a pro-Christian news outlet, reported on the extent of the assaults.

“In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority,” reported AP. “Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday [August 14].”

A more detailed report lists 56 churches attacked in a 24-hour span that started on August 14. Fifteen more were hit over the next two days. Dozens of Coptic institutions like schools, monasteries, bookstores, and even an orphanage were also attacked.

The Bible Society of Egypt has been operating for 129 years, and this is the first time it’s been the victim of assaults like those carried out on two of its bookstores. Both were burned to the ground.

On August 18, AFP talked with Dr. Halim Meawad, a deacon for 26 years with St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Coptic church in the Washington, D.C. area.

“St. Mark was the founder of the Coptic Church in 45 A.D.,” Meawad explained. “All of Egypt was Coptic for almost a thousand years until the Muslims invaded and started imposing heavy taxes on the Christians. Those who couldn’t pay were forced to convert to Islam under pain of death. Today’s Muslims in Egypt are descendants of Copts who couldn’t pay their taxes hundreds of years ago.”

“The Copts today are only 10% of Egypt’s population of 90 million,” said Dr. Meawad, “but they have much economic and social influence in Egypt. They are the largest Christian community in Egypt and also the largest in all the Middle East.”

Asked what brought about the recent riots and the attacks on Copts, he explained:

“Since its founding in 1929, the Muslim Brotherhood has been involved in assassinations, arson, and terrorism, with the single goal of making Egypt an Islamist republic. They co-opted the Egyptian revolution of 2011, which was a genuine grassroots movement against [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak’s tyranny. Shortly after Morsi came to power last year, he started changing the constitution to give himself and the Muslim Brotherhood unlimited power. Millions of Egyptians, including moderate Muslims, secularists, liberals, and Christians, protested against his government last November, but he continued with his goal of turning Egypt into an Islamic republic. On June 30, 33 million Egyptians demonstrated against him in what was probably the biggest demonstration in history, causing his ousting on July 3.”

“The Copts were attacked because as Christians, they were a convenient scapegoat for the Brotherhood,” explained Dr. Meawad.

“Since Morsi’s ousting, his supporters set up camps on town squares and refused to leave,” said Meawad. “They were blaming the Copts for Morsi’s downfall and had already started threatening and attacking us. The sheer scale of the recent attacks against us proves that they were orchestrated rather than a byproduct of chaotic unrest.”

“Neither the Copts nor the military are responsible for Morsi’s ouster,” Dr. Meawad explained. “The Egyptian people simply did not want him. Morsi was elected with only 14 million votes last year, but 33 million Egyptians in the streets on June 30 told him they didn’t want him.”

Thank you, Pete, very much for getting our voice heard out there.  We definitely need as much spreading the word about the atrocities our fellow Copts are enduring as possible.  Sadly, from the day you have reached out to us [August 18, 2013] till today [September 1, 2013], a total of 101 churches have been burned down/attacked. 

  –St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church  

For the full news story, click here. 

According to the man I heard speak from The Bible Society of Egypt, those who started the fire did so with the intent that the Christians would retaliate and cause the country to be thrown into a civil war.  He reported that there was no retaliation!  They considered their churches being burned as a burnt offering to God, and they choose the path of peace. 

So what can we do in response to the persecution the church in Egypt has faced?  November 10, 2013 is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church.  Joining together with Christians around the world to pray for those being persecuted is a great place to start.  We can also contribute to The Bible Society of Egypt.
 
The Bible Society of Egypt exists to make the Scriptures available to all at an affordable price.  They are the largest publisher of Arabic Bibles in the world.
 
Please share this information with your family and friends.  For more information about the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church, click here. 
 

Jesus Noticing You

 
The woman, seeing that she could not go
unnoticed, came trembling
and fell at his feet.
 
Luke 8:47
 
 
She didn’t want to be noticed … She didn’t want anyone to see her shame or to know her pain.
 
He wanted to give her the gift of being noticed.
He wanted to take away her shame and to heal her pain.
 
Jesus wants you to know that he notices you …
He wants to remove all your shame and wants to heal all your pain.
 
Will we now notice others in their pain?
 
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
 
To read the story click here:
 
Dedicated to Missy Gaw who inspired this post