Archive for July, 2012

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“And In Her Thirteenth Year…”

July 18, 2012

This is a story about a girl who lived in Merida Spain. She caused her parents a great deal of concern because the foremost desire of this particular thirteen year old youth….was to die. Had she lived in the twenty-first century, she most likely would have been taken to the most accredited psychiatrist that could be secured. A diagnosis of her peculiar obsession would have been issued, following which, she would have been placed on a myriad of antidepresants and subjected to intense councelling while a course for long-term recovery was plotted out. But there was no psychiatric infrastructure in those days that could provide such intervention. Subsequently, her parents made decisions which they hoped would keep their young daughter from doing anything “irrational.” Her name was Eulalia, her love for the one true God was unwavering, she was appalled at the institutionalized idolatry which seemed to go uncontested, and in the year 304 AD, her “dream” of glorifying  the name of Jesus as a martyr became manifest.

Psalm 8:2 “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
 
Acts 5:41 “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”

As I’ve been thinking on this topic, a question has been arising. How would most of the professing saints of our generation respond to a young lady who expressed such a desire? “YOU GO GIRL!?” I seriously doubt it. We simply cannot identify with such a mindset; any more than Eulalias parents could. If a person, (whom I was certain had a relationship with the Lord) was telling me they wanted to be a martyr for Jesus, I would initially advice them to not intentionally rush after, or hasten it….and to PRAY!….A LOT! I would compel the person to make sure they were hearing from God and not reacting to a burst of spontaneous emotion. In truth, however, such a response reveals just how much we gravitate toward the preservation of life without considering that some are indeed called to martyrdom. Those who let go of everything to follow Jesus, and rush toward the moment when they can look into his eyes, will always be misunderstood by those who harbor reservations.

Matthew 10:18 “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.”

The story of Eulalia was originally recorded in Fox’s Book of Martyrs. An excerpt was reprinted in the June 2012 issue of the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. 

“Thirteen-year-old Eulalia yearned to die for Christ. She lived in Merida, Spain, during the ‘Great Persecution,’ when Christians in the Roman Empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face execution. Eulalia’s parents, afraid of what she might do, sent her away from home to live in the countryside. But Eulalias fiery spirit could not be quenched. She escaped the house where she was staying one night and appeared before the Merida tribunal the next morning.”

Jesus said “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in the synagogues.” This girl delivered herself up before the council; knowing full well that a painful demise awaited her.

This is how Websters defines the word yearn: “to long persistantly, wistfully, or sadly.” For Eulalia, this wasn’t simply a theological exercise. She so desired to be a testimony for Jesus that to remain in a state of preservation caused sadness. The fact that her parents made efforts to protect Eulalia from her hearts desire reveals two things. First; it reveals that she openly shared both her love for Jesus and her desire to glorify him through death. Second, it reveals that such adesire will be misunderstood. Her parents were most likely Christians, however, the idea of  their daughter seeking after such a thing troubled them. This is understandable.  The laws of natural affection oftentimes cause us to not see the bigger picture. In the previous post, we learned that Roli’s children were very upset over her plans to venture into North Korea. Jesus mentioned that a mans foes will be those of his own household. This can take on many forms; ranging from children turning their parents over to the authorities, to a tearful plea of “Mom; please don’t go into North Korea. We just lost Dad a few months ago. PLEASE DON’T GO!”

So Eulalia escapes her place of refuge, seeks out the Roman tribunal, and says to them:

“Are you not ashamed to cast your own souls and those of others at once into eternal perdition by denying the only true God, the Father of us all, and creator of all Christians, that you may put them to death?” Eulalia asked the tribunal “Behold, here am I, an adversary of your satanical sacrifices. I confess with heart and mouth God alone.” she told the tribunal that she would not worship their three pagan gods or the emperor. Enraged, the tribunal judge called an executioner and demanded that Eulalia be tortured. Before the executioner began his work, the judge offered Eulalia freedom from the severe punishment if she would sacrifice to an idol.

Luke 21:15 “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”

This must have really confounded the tribunal. To be seated there; backed by the full might of the Roman Empire, while this small, frail-looking girl expressed complete opposition to their  folly and gave glory to the Creator of all that is. After summoning the executioner; still clinging to hope that his appearance would diffuse this uncomfortable situation, the judge gave Eulalia an opportunity to reconsider her position. “Eulalia; just sacrifice to this god that’s before you and YOU CAN GO FREE! Otherwise we must carry out the policies of Rome.” (I can almost hear Eulalia thinking “I was free….and safe….I chose to confront you.”) This situation was similar to the one presented by the three Hebrew men who refused to bow down to Nebudchadnezzars image at the sound of music playing. The king wanted to spare Shadrach, Meeshach, and Abednigo, so he gave them another chance to bow down at the playing of music. But the Hebrews placed their complete confidence in the holy One of Israel….just as Eulalia did.

The young Christian did not feel the need to respond. She upset the images, altar, censor, and sacrificial books that sat on a table before her. two executioners immediately stripped her and tortured her with hooks and torches.

As she counted the gashes in her body, Eulalia exclaimed, “Behold Lord Jesus Christ! Thy name is being written on my body; what great delight it affords me to read these letters, because they are the signs of thy victory! Behold, my purple blood confesses thy holy name.” She spoke with great happiness and peace; she didn’t even seem to feel the pain as the blood poured from her body.

There is a level of grace that accompanies one who has finished their course and is laying down their life for the testimony of Jesus. A vivid demonstration of this grace is found in Acts 7:55-60.

After piercing Eulalias body repeatedly with their hooks, the executioners applied burning lamps and torches to the wounds in her sides and abdomen. Finally, they ignited her hair and she suffocated. Eulalia died loving her Savior more than her own life.

Eulalia has now been in the presence of Jesus for seventeen hundred and eight years. Her brief stay in the theater of atoms seems as nothing in comparison to her present situation. While many embrace the fact that they may face demise at the hands of those who love not the Lord, to willingly seek it out is almost unheard of. Some may consider Eulalias actions to be irrational, however, I believe that this course of action was ordered from on high. The members of the tribunal needed to be confronted with the truth. The only person who was spiritually prepared to walk into the lions den was this firey thirteen year old girl with an unquenchable love for Jesus. This in no way takes away from the standard practice of being about our Fathers business and, when our testimony is complete, embracing the method of physical departure awarded us. The conventional model is most important because the laborers are so very few. But Eulalia had a different audience; most of whom she would never meet. Perhaps, later on, one or more of the tribunal members believed on Jesus as a result of her testimony, while other saints were both encouraged and emboldened by the report.

Acts 26:28-29 “The Agrippa said unto paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou,but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”
 
Philippians 1:12-14 “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other palaces;
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Something just hit me and it can be found in Philippians 1:13 “and in all other places;” Undoubtedly, an official report of the incident involving Eulalia was written out and sent to Rome. All who read it along the way must have been astonished that a young girl would display such fierce opposition to the governing entity. One can only wonder how many were compelled to “dig a little deeper” and learn more about this Jesus; who is so real and so incredible that folks will lay down their lives for him. In Rome, the reports were being compiled of Christians, throughout the empire, who embraced their demise; singing and looking steadfastly to heaven while blood flowed from their vessels as a result of the treatment being issued.  While many observers probably gave no thought to these reports, some were undoubtedly stirred. “What do these people have that I don’t have?”

Blessings always in Jesus name.

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“They Have Wings”

July 16, 2012

This post; along with the one soon to follow, will introduce two saints saints to the reader; one from the first century AD and one from the twenty-first century. One heard the call on her life following a significant personal loss and one laid down her life as a child. In both instances, their steadfast love for the Lord Jesus coupled with a complete abandoning for their lives here, gives us a “picture” as it were, as to the degree of devotion to the Savior that will soon be required of all who profess to know him. Shortly we will have to maintain the word of our testimony during what Jesus described as “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” We must give all diligence to ensure that we are fully persuaded of, and completetly trusting in, the Lord Jesus who paid for our sins with his own innocent blood. We must give equal diligence to shed every weight, lust, and attachment to this world. Any root of unbelief; any harboring of that which is temporal will carry us to our doom in the critical moment.

Revelation 7:13-14 “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

I learned about Roli through a book in VOMs  “Restricted Nations” series which focuses on North Korea. Eulalias story (which will be covered in the next post) was originally recorded in Foxes book of martyrs, however, an excerpt was printed in the June 2012 issue of the VOM  newsletter. Both of these testimonies reveal a level of surrender to the the Lordship of Jesus that few of us have even encountered; much less sought to obtain. As of 2005, Roli was still active in one of the spiritually darkest countries in the world. She shared her story with Voice of the martyrs:

“I became a Christian in 1990. My husband and I first went to the official church, but we wanted to learn freely. So in 1993, we started a home church on the second floor of our home with eight of our Christian friends. My husband passed away in 1996. He was a believer, but not very strong in his faith. When he died, I began to blame God. I was really depressed and lonely.”

It seems necessary here to address a truth that many of us attempt to hide from our unsaved contemporaries because we don’t want to be a bad testimony. “Christians can get lonely, depressed, and even mis-assign blame.” It could be stated that such battles will intensify as one draws closer to Jesus. As we become a greater threat to the kingdom of darkness, the enemy will increase his efforts to distract, discourage, and, if possible, derail us. He saw Roli as a direct threat because she was given to prayer. Without a vibrant prayer life, Roli may have surrendered to despair and subsequently, never heard the heavenly calling. Instead, she overcame the tactics of the enemy and soon began carrying the gospel into a very restrictive land.

“The more I prayed about my situation, the more I felt God calling me to North Korea. So in the spring of 1997, I planned my first trip. My children were very upset. They said it was too dangerous, but I had to see if this was indeed God’s calling.
The moment I stepped foot in North Korea, my depression went away. I felt an inner peace I hadn’t felt in many years. I knew God had called me here, but then I was heartbroken by what I saw I walked down the road in this one village where dead bodies were on the side of the road.”
(This was during the famine years of the mid to late 1990s) I saw a hungry boy eating one of the bodies. But then a policeman also saw him, and pulling out his revolver, he shot the boy in the head. It was the first, but not the last person I saw shot for cannibalism in North Korea.”

It’s been a continual pondering as, year after uneventful year, as I sit in my westernized bubble; isolated from the real world. “Do we have even a remote understanding of what’s taking lace outside of our own little theater of activity?” While we sit in front of televisions and spend countless hours on facebook (sorry; I had to get in a facebook jab) the battle for souls rages in ways that we are either incapable of fathoming  or unwilling to consider. And if we do take a moment to give thought, it’s oftentimes in an “over there” format that doesn’t really effect us beyond a momentary burst of emotion. (Matthew 25:31-46)

“When I returned to China after my first trip, I left something in North Korea – my heart. I knew this was was to be my ministry, so I began frequent trips and began a network of people to evangelize. You can bring small gifts, some food, a toy, or even pencils and paper. The North Koreans warm up to you, and I would look for opportunities to share the gospel.
Once they believed, I would come back for training and try to bring them a bible. Since my first trip in 1997, I have made contact with 40 house churches and helped start another sixty.”

It seems awkward to mention it, however, had Roli not suffered the loss of her husband, she probably would have never ventured into such a dangerous situation. Without a doubt, the home church was an incredible work as many had come to know Jesus and were seeking the deep things of God. But the call to North Korea was urgent beyond comprehension. It was a time of unimaginable loss of life in that land. Low crop yields. coupled with destructive government policies resulted in a famine that lasted for years. It’s very likely that there are precious souls from North Korea who heard of Jesus and believed on him only hours before departing this world. These will shine like the firmament throughout the eons to come. Roli continues:

“But now the work is very difficult. The larger it gets, the more dangerous it is. Our first arrest happened in 1999. Four believers were caught worshipping together. They were arrested and sentenced to seven years. A young man who was trained extensively and active in bible delivery was recently arrested. He has disappeared. I am really worried about him as well. Another family was arrested – the whole family, including the children. They are all in prison except for the father. He was executed.
Some former prisoners have died from their imprisonment. The guards let prisoners go when they are near death. They usually die within a few weeks or months of their release.”

Interesting. As I was typing the final sentence of the above excerpt, Acts 14:19-20 came to mind.

Again, we are confronted by a truth that few can fathom. In the west, we can go to our computers, wander over th the VOM website (or similar sites) read a few stories, perhaps even make a monitary donation……then quickly step away, wander out to the back yard, and grill up some steaks. We can read a few reports and convince ourselves that we understand when we really don’t. I honestly do not know what it would be like to share the gospel in a hostile land; where a single miscalculation can result in others being imprisoned or executed. I do not know what it will be like when we are hunted down here and executed for our faith in Jesus. (Revelation 13:7) I don’t know what it will be like when almost everyone that I currently interract with has turned against me because they received a mark which has rendered them incapable of repentance or independant thought. Nonetheless, we can be certain that the same Jesus who has sustained Roli during multiple journeys into the hermit kingdom will sustain us when our testimony for Jesus costs us everything in this life. 

The testimony of Roli is truly amazing; and yet the single most eye-opening portion of the report was found in the editors note which reads as follows:

Editors note: At the time of this printing, Roli continues her work inside North Korea. Please pray for her work, as it is extremely dangerous. She is in her mid-seventies. Before concluding the interview, Roli was asked if she had any idea of the extent of the ministry going on inside North Korea. She could not even guess but said “I know there are many people doing what I do. I see them coming across the border. No one ever speaks a word, but you just know who they are. They have wings.”

“They have wings!” This observation demands an response from everyone who professes to know Jesus. Is my relationship with Jesus so vibrant that people can tell before a syllable is uttered? Am I walking in the love of Jesus and abiding in the peace that passes all understanding on a level that preceeds any verbal or physical identifying features?” This isn’t an unusual idea. We know that something similar transpires in the kingdom of darkness. A person with accumulated demonic presence can enter a room and everyone in the ambience will “feel” the darkness. The same principal works in regards to one who walks in truth. We should strive to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that, when we enter a place the very atmosphere is altered. We are supposed to be “a peculiar people.”

Luke 10:5 “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.” 

I once heard a comment which relayed the following observation: “Christians love to talk about the martyrs for Jesus and those who suffered greatly for their faith, however, none of them want to do likewise.” In other words, we like to identify with them on a linguistic level, but we don’t envision ourselves ever having to endure similar circumstances. And if this isn’t enough to consider, the upcoming story of Eulalia will issue a challenge that few of us can even begin to fathom. My fervent desire is that these reports will encourage all who love the Lord Jesus to prepare spiritually for the days ahead, and maintain their testimony steadfast until the end.

Blessings always in Jesus name.

Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Hebrews 13:3 “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
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C R E S E N D O

July 11, 2012

Good morning.  The broadcasts contained in the following links cover a vast array of topics as they apply to the unfolding end-time senario. The first is a three hours long marathon in which Steve Quayle outlines the various venues of prophetic fulfilment. In the second one, Bob Auxier discusses the prophetic significance of the storms that recently ravaged the east coast, the need to reach the lost during and immediately following times of unthinkable catastrophe, (because such events open up many opportunities) and the coming persecution in the west; the framework for which has already been established.

Hagmann & Hagmann Report with Steve Quayle (July 10, 2012)

TruNews: Rick Wiles and Pastor Bob Auxier (July 11, 2012)

There is so much transpiring at such an alarming rate that trying to grasp even a small portion is a daunting task. This morning, two things have been on my heart. First, we must let go of every weight, every sin, and surrender every possible distraction. We must be in close to the Lord Jesus and love not our lives in this world. Second, we must be in fervent prayer for those in our ambience who know not the Lord Jesus and those who profess to know him but are not living for him.  In the above broadcast, Steve makes the following statement: “Repentance is a gift; it’s not a mental exercise.” (or words to that effect.) Just as God can sustain us in the most inhospitable of conditions, he can grant repentance to the most hardened of hearts.

Another observation that Steve mentions is a condition that he once termed “normalcy bias.” We have heard ominous reports and end times senarios for years. Yet every time a given report was over, we go outside, observe the status quo proceeding as it has for as long as we can remember, and we quickly brush aside the cogitations of that which is coming to pass. Until it effects us directly, we tend to place such things as being “over there” (as in tribulation in a foreign land)  “down the road” (as in after our allotment of days is completed) or “we’re not going to be here” (as in pre-tribulation rapture) For most of us, the thought of being alive on planet earth when the worlds most horrific season unfolds is unthinkable.

We cannot change bible prophecy or timings. We can, however, trust in the Lord Jesus who has promised to be with us always. We can, and must, set our affections on things above. We must love not ourlives in this world and we “must” maintain our testimony of Jesus until the end. We must give all diligence to make our calling and election sure. I must be going for now. The following passages are both familiar and demanding of our consideration.

I Thessalonians 5:3 “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
 
II Peter 3:3-4 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
 
Isaiah 55:6 “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”

During the Trunews broadcast, Rick makes the following observation: “when sudden destruction hits, you are either covered with the blood of Jesus or you are not.” The time to get our proverbial ducks in a row is now; before the continuance gives way to that which has been prophesied. 

Blessings always in Jesus name.