Last week, Whitney shared with the staff the sessions from the Seeds Conference she attended. She said there was one we should listen to, even if we don’t listen to any of the others. So, I put on the message by Steven Furtick while I was working one day. His message was from 2 Kings 5, about Naaman, a man who was a great fighter but had leprosy.
The first part of the message was focused on the “but” in that last sentence. He talked about how many of us hide our mess behind our gifts. We use our talent but underneath that ,we have problems that eat us away. That is an awesome word and something that deserves consideration. However, the second half of the message is what resonated most with me.
After Naaman’s leprosy was found out, he went to see the prophet Elisha about it. Naaman went to Elisha for healing but left “in a rage” because his expectation of what his healing would involve was different than the instructions he was given by Elisha. The scripture says that Naaman thought the prophet would “come out to him” and he thought that the man would “wave his hand” over him. In essence, Naaman wanted to sit back and watch someone else magically make his problems disappear.
Instead, Elisha instructed Naaman to go to the Jordan River and dip in it 7 times. Naaman had to take active steps of faith and participate by being obedient to the instruction given to him. These steps of obedience seem simple enough and would bring about the healing he was looking for but, initially, Naaman turned away “in a rage”.
So many times, we want to sit back and watch God miraculously make our lives better but often God says to us, “take your simple steps of obedience, and we’ll get there.” Now, I’m not discrediting that God can and does work miracles but sometimes we are standing at our “Jordan” waiting and God is asking for our faith and obedience to step in and join him in the miracle. We let our misguided expectations keep us from seeing the work of God.
I know I’m guilty. I’ve turned away in a rage because God wasn’t doing what I thought he would. And, he was asking me to participate in a way I didn’t really think I wanted to. I can say, like Naaman, I’ve gotten past my anger but I still feel like I’m hesitating to fully get in the water. Today, I’m praying for the faith to fully surrender to his ways so we can experience something miraculous.
Will you join me? Lay down what you think should happen. Lay down your sit and watch mentality. Let’s take active steps of obedience by living a life like God asks us to live throughout the pages of scripture (forgive a relative, join that small group, say yes to that mission trip, be kind to that irritable sales person, say no to that temptation, let go of control and trust God, etc.) and believe that he can take our simple obedience and work something miraculous through it and maybe experience a little healing.
– Jamie R
As horrifically unpleasant as it is, the Christian church today needs to be aware of actions taken against our Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. I know it is difficult to even read about this and often I find myself just skipping over such news. However, I am reminded of the Holocaust and how it seems the entire world overlooked those atrocities.
I ask you to prayerfully consider what God asks of us in these situations. Presently, I have no other answer except that I must remember these people in my prayers and the people who are trying to protect them.
Let us consider how we would react if our own families lived in these areas where Christians are being persecuted and let that be our guide for action.
PUBLISHED BY KATEY HEARTH ON MARCH 2, 2015
[EDITOR’S NOTE: E3’s Middle East expert Tom Doyle shares the following update from a Syrian pastor: “Glory to the Lord, Hallelujah! I have good news, God set free 22 of the kidnapped! They are back with their families now. Some of them are children and girls. Thanks to everyone who prayed with us! The Lord intervened and responded! Please continue to pray for the others. ISIS has the kidnapped 350 people.”]
Syria (MNN) — The nightmare is deepening as reports confirm the worst-case scenario: ISIS is killing off its kidnapped Christians, one-by-one.
At least 15 of the 300+ hostages have been shot or beheaded, and more executions are allegedly on the way. Catholic news source “Crux” cites on-the-ground sources, saying a mosque in Syria had been inviting Muslims to “a mass killing of infidels.”
In addition, a Syrian Christian told Reuters last week, “Some people have tried to call them by cellphone, the relatives that have been abducted, and they get an answer from a member of ISIS who tells that they will send the head of their relative.”
“All you hear are the horror stories,” notes Mike Dworak of E3 Partners Ministry, “but God is moving. God is moving.”
Amir, E3 Partners’ Syria Director, has been sending daily updates of the situation on-the-ground to E3’s main office in the U.S. On Wednesday, Amir reported the in-laws of one of his ministry colleagues were among the captives.
“I’m sure you guys have heard the quote before, ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’ — that’s a hard thing for us to hear, especially in light of this,” Dworak admits.
Pray for the families of these kidnapped Christians. Some captives may only be “cultural Christians,” but others are committed followers of the cross. Pray they can stand firm in Christ and be a bold witness of His love.
Transition. Change. Time to move again. Is it that time in your life, too?
We all go through these times of transition and change, but it occurs even more often for many families here at The Vine due to being in the military. Sometimes it’s enjoyable, and maybe even a relief, but often it can be quite hard and unsettling to us and to our families. I can certainly relate to either of these scenarios.
Two years ago my wife and I sold our home and vehicles and moved to Israel to volunteer with a Christian ministry in Jerusalem. Exciting. Awesome. The land where Jesus lived! Then five months later our first grandchild was born! Now it was more difficult to be separated by thousands of miles. Many of you can relate: the deployments, the TDY’s, the frequent moves—usually farther away from family.
Now after two years we’re back in the U.S., and—praise be to God—living in the same town as our grandson, daughter and son-in-law, and even serving at the same church! Only God could orchestrate all of this!
As great as this is for us, it is still a big transition; it’s still a lot of change. Three months ago I was sitting at the base of the massive stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and today I am sitting within the walls of a metal church building in eastern New Mexico. Talk about change! From the powder keg of the Middle East to the quiet plains of the Southwest.
But through it all, God is with us and He gives us the grace to adapt and flourish. Yes, the changes that we experience can be difficult and challenging, but as the Lord said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And in the midst of the challenges of transition and change, our loving Father gives us another promise to hold onto: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).
So be encouraged today that the God who never changes goes before you, and with you, through the myriad of changes and transitions in your life and mine!