Stories I thought you should know – Christmas 2018

It’s been a big year for many people. There have been a lot of hard things to go through. There have also been a lot of great things to celebrate. I personally am happy to have been able to learn of some great stories coming out of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. There are also tragic stories I’ve heard, too. All this to say, here are some things this year (in no particular order) I thought you’d value.

BREAKING: AT LEAST 7 KILLED IN ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT

Open Doors USA |Article – Length: 5 mins

“At least seven Christians have died and an additional 15 injured in Egypt today (Nov 2, 2018) after a violent attack on a group of Coptic pilgrims. The Christians were on their way to visit a desert monastery, when a group of masked gunmen stopped the bus and fired on it. The death toll is expected to rise.”

An Arab Evangelical Message to American Evangelicals

Arab Baptist Theological Seminary | Article – Length: 12 mins

” For millions of Muslims like Adel, Evangelical support for Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East is a stumbling block for the Gospel. “

I Survived North Korea

SoulPancake (on Youtube) – Length: 6.20 mins

” Charles tells the story of his eventual escape from North Korea in 2008 at age 14. After a brief period of time in China at the age of 8, he was sent back to North Korea to work in a labor camp where he was starved and beaten… What have you survived?”

Pomplamoose – Living in a Bubble

Pomplamoose (on Youtube) – Length: 3.07 mins

How Open Doors Equips the Church in Nigeria

Open Doors USA |Video – Length: 3.44 mins

Kids Meet a Burn Survivor

Kid’s Meet|HiHo Kids – Length: 5.57 mins

This is a fascinating and moving encounter a burn survivor has with children.

New York Times – Length: Very Long

This photo-journal tells the stories of survivors and of the devastation of Aleppo, Syria. There is hope there, but it will be a long, long process of recovery. Note: There is limited free viewing of the NY magazine.

Love never fails

Tomorrow Clubs |Video – Length: 11:15

One of the latest, and right now, one of my favourite stories that I heard this year! Rostik’s story is one of tragedy and hope. Praise God.

Context Concerns: Romans 8:28

We can so easily take God’s Word out of context and apply it to ourselves in unhelpful ways. This can be a subtle change to the intent of the passage.

Take Romans 8:28 for example:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

What does the good mean that “all things work together for”? Well, when we take a broader look at the context, it is clear that God’s purpose is to make all people who love him to look, act, be like Christ. The good intended here is eternal. It’s for our now and on into our eternal future.

And God will bring this good to pass, as it says, “Those whom he called, he also justified, those who he justified he also glorified.”

So we can take heart when things are tough because God is helping us always for good.

 

Fuller context:

 ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. ‘ Romans 8:28-30

https://www.bible.com/bible/1/ROM.8.28-30

Context Concerns: Jeremiah 29:11

Promises from God are great to hold onto, but sometimes they’re not first for us. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those. It’s enveloped in a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon, and if you read it fully, it’d be hard to say this is a direct promise for Christians nowadays. Are we Israelites in exile in Babylon?
I believe in Jeremiah we can see God seeking to fulfill his plans for Israel and then ultimately blessing many nations through Jesus, but I feel better about embracing promises to believers like this from Hebrews 13:5 – ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’ That gives a promise that is eternal and for one and all.

Jeremiah 29 10-14a.JPG

Pic: Northern Beirut, the closest to “Babylon” and Israel I’ve been.

Gallery

Visiting the refugee camps in Iraq…

This article by Open Doors is an eye-opener to the situation for refugees. Safety from the terrorists does not mean security when people are still dealing with trauma, hopelessness, and losing everything.

The Open Doors Blog

Full camps, overburdened aid workers, but also, tentative celebrations, Christians who are opening up their houses and churches to refugees and people who are hesitating about returning to their homes. Just over two months since the first influx of refugees, Open Doors worker Sara* visited the Kurdish Iraqi town of Erbil.

It is difficult to get a complete picture of the situation in northern Iraq. Since the fighters of the extremist Islamic State (IS) advanced with much violence on Mosul, the relatively safe Kurdish region has been flooded with refugees. Sara visited some of the refugee camps where local Churches are providing aid with the support of Open Doors.

“My previous visit to Erbil was in April, before the unrest. At first sight, little seems to have changed in Erbil: the airport is still peaceful, my hotel is still there. But when you look better, you see the changes. Restaurants…

View original post 1,198 more words

A Generous Hand (Part 3) – Proverbs 11:26

-This is my latest post  from my other blog, On Proverbs. Go there to dip into the pool of wisdom that is the book of Proverbs from the Bible. Cheers-

The people will curse him who witholds grain,

But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.” – Proverbs 11:26

It’s one thing to be a careful manager of your assets, and another thing to be so stingy that other people suffer because of it.

This proverb points out how a supplier of food who keeps back his stock receives nothing but bitterness from his customers. The people normally relying on him are left wanting and let loose curses onto his head. The other part of the verse then talks of the generous supplier who is roundly blessed by his customers because he provided his stock for consumption.

The issue in this instance is a supplier who decides for whatever reason to keep back his normal supply from the public. Those reliant on his service are in need now, and call him out on his greed. They are keenly attuned to the fact he is holding out on them!

He could very well be holding out to buffer the period of time until the next delivery of food, but that doesn’t help the customers in need, and they are indignant.

The supplier who does keep up a steady supply receives praise and prayer, instead.

Now, what can we learn from this as Christians?

For one thing, what could be excused as wise management could be inconsiderate action with little thought for others. Wise management of what we have is often not just about us, but also about those in need or who have expectations of us. We could have a very clear and safe savings plan, but leave out any extra for the poor or those in emergency situations.

May we remember all we have is from God, and He wants us to be generous and cheerful givers.

More reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Thoughts or questions? Write them down in the comment section below!
Note: All scripture is taken from Bible Gateway and is the New King James Version. I am using a commentary by John Kitchen for help with difficult concepts and words.