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Category: Persecution

How should we respond to ISIS?

I know there are some who see ISIS and their murderous activities in Iraq as further evils of Islam. Keep in mind, though, that ISIS is not only driving away and killing Christians and Jews; they kill Sunni and Shiite muslims as well. While they may point to certain passages in the Quran as justification for their sinful and evil action, their actions are not representative of Islam. The Bible itself can be (and has been) used in just a decrepit way.

Don’t focus on the religion they use as a mask for their hate and depravity. Remember these are men, who were created in God’s image. They are sinful, depraved creatures whose hearts will not change by hating them or killing them. Hatred and murder is their language, is their practice, and they are far better at it than you are. That’s my guess, anyway.

They are killing Christians, our brothers and sisters. They are killing their own “fellow” Muslims, our neighbors. Affinity with those being killed is easy. Much harder is realizing and reacting in the Christ Commanded way to the people of ISIS, our enemies and our persecutors. Much harder is stepping away from the desire for the US military to enter Iraq and eradicate ISIS with several drone attacks or the massive ground offensives this country is quite capable of, and considering how we–followers of The Way, disciples of Jesus, a people called out from the ways of the sinful world to act just as our master and exemplar did–might consistently and genuinely live out the way of Jesus, here and now, under these circumstances.

How do we respond in genuine unity with our persecuted and martyred brothers and sisters? How can we act in such a way that does not involve laying down the cross? Must some of us lay down our lives for our friends?

We know that we Christians will rise again, will eternally dwell with Jesus our King, no matter how we die on this Earth. But, it’s still so difficult to consider sacrificing ourselves, being willing to die, for the sake of a friend, especially for the sake of an enemy. We still tend to value our own lives more than others. We still want to control our fate, our life and death, in spite of what Jesus has said. We still want to be the masters of wrath against perpetrators of evil, believing that’s our job on this Earth, in spite of what God has said. We, the people of God, in our passion for autonomous free will, have distanced ourselves from the one we claim to follow, and have forgotten how much we truly depend on Him for life, death, and resurrection.

So how do we, a community far removed from the active carnage ongoing, respond? How do we act so our brothers and sisters know they are not alone? How do we act so our neighbors (the Muslims enduring their own persecution) know we will not forget them or lump them in with their killers? How do I remember that being a graphic designer isn’t my calling, it’s just something I do; that my calling is to make disciples, to love my neighbors and enemies, to teach, to baptize, to feed, to visit, and to sacrifice?

How do I be a Christian in the face of ISIS? I can’t, because I cannot be a Christian by myself. The real question is how can we, the body of Christ, be the body of Christ, in unity with the persecuted and martyred in Iraq and around the globe, in the face of ISIS?

Book Review- The Devil in Pew Number Seven: A True Story

When my husband told me we would be receiving this book to review I was very excited and this book did not let me down. It had me from the very first page. In fact, I started it in the evening, read until 1:30 in the morning, got up at 6:30am to read some more and finished it by about 10am. It was that good.

Let me give you a little bit of info about the book and then I will tell you why you should definitely read it, too. This is the true story of Rebecca Nichols Alonzo and her family. She was born into a little community called Sellerstown. The book shares about about her parents’ love story and travels as traveling preachers before she was born, but the main story mostly takes place at the Free Welcome Holiness Church in Sellerstown, North Carolina where her father took over as the pastor in 1969. A man that attended the church decided to make it his mission to terrorize the family until they left the church, as he had lost a lot of control over the congregation when Rebecca’s dad came to town. He tried to accomplish this through numerous bombings of their house and church, threatening phone calls and mail, sniper fire and even trying to pay someone off to run the pastor down with a car. Throughout the entire story Rebecca’s parents stand steadfast and instead of teaching their children to be fearful and hateful, they repeatedly encourage them to trust in the Lord and forgive their enemies.

I knew that I would like this book from the very beginning, but this book turned out to be so much more than I had even hoped it would be. This book truly addresses the issues that hold us back from forgiving, and the true toll that anger, bitterness, and lack of forgiveness can have on our own lives and walk with the Lord. This book made me step back and take a look at the condition of my relationships present and past. I realized that I am not as good at speaking “the language of heaven” as I thought I was. That is something that God is now working on in my heart because of Rebecca’s courage to tell her story and share the wonderful lessons of forgiveness that her parents taught her and her brother. I am so thankful for this book. I plan on reading it again and again so that these lessons are never far from my mind. I am grateful that Rebecca had the courage to share her story and I hope that you will pick this book up and be blessed by it as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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