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Monday, July 28, 2014

Radical Obedience: Hamas and Khaled Meshaal

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. (Psalms 122:6 NASB)

Khaled Meshaal, a Suni Muslim, heads the Hamas organization, which was originally an off shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation as its goal. This is a Muslim organization with three main branches, or wings: Social Welfare, Political, and Military.  According to Wikipedia, "Israeli scholar Reuven Paz estimates that 90% of Hamas activities revolve around "social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities". Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.[57]Needless to say, the social welfare activities have made Hamas very popular with the Palestinians. 

It is not the social welfare programs that are the problem. The military branch excels at covert operations and have targeted groups that they consider moral deviants, pro-Israelis, and random unarmed civilians.  They view suicide bombings and summary executions as acceptable options, and celebrate the idea of martyrdom.  Criticism of Hamas has not been tolerated, and has resulted in execution for those dissidents who are brave enough to speak out against them.  

Although the claim of only 10% of their activities as military sounds nice, those activities are acts of terrorism, which is by definition "using violence and threats to intimidate or coerce". Being 90% humanitarian does not excuse the 10% of this organization that is purely terrorist, nor Khaled Meshaal, who heads this organization.  

The current conflict between Hamas and Israel is a perfect example of the tactics of these terrorists.  They have shot rockets into Israel and dug tunnels from Gaza to Israel "with our fingernails", with the plan being to send terrorists in disguise through the tunnels to infiltrate into Israel.  The Jerusalem Post is reporting a statement by Mushir-al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas, who says that Israel has not discovered even a fraction of the tunnels, that they will build many more, and that, despite their losses, they are recuperating and will liberate Palestine from Israel.  

Terrorism is inexcusable.  
No matter what your objective, terrorism is inexcusable.  
No matter how many soup kitchens and schools you support, terrorism is inexcusable.  

With that understanding, please pray this week for Kahled Meshaal, who heads Hamas, and those who lead with him.  Admittedly, praying for these terrorists is not easy.  The prayer that never fails, however, is the one that we would do well to pray here.  Thy will be done. Whatever God wants in their lives is what we should want. Because His Word says that He is not willing for any to perish, we should want that, too.  For that reason, repentance and transformation should be a part of our prayers for these men.  

There is one more thing we can pray in this situation.  There is clear instruction in the Scripture to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."  In these days when there is such threat of violence and destruction toward Jerusalem, we can pray with confidence for the peace of Jerusalem, knowing that it is the will of God.  

Excitement in the Boat, part 7: The Master Moment

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. (Luke 8:24 NASB)

Get the picture clear in your mind's eye. The disciples were with Jesus in a large wooden boat (or ship), sailing across the Sea of Galilee. Lulled by the rocking of the boat, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. The disciples knew He was tired and had decided to let Him rest, since they were professionals and could handle the transit. 

Suddenly, an enormous storm began. The next thing they know, they were caught in a whirlwind (hurricane) and the ship was about to be swamped. The disciples were desperate and had done all they knew to do, to no avail. 

Finally, someone remembered Jesus in the back of the boat, sleeping. "Master!" they cried, to awaken Him. "Master" was the term used, not teacher, as they sometimes said. Instead, it was "Master", indicating acknowledgement of His authority. Perhaps that disciple had an idea about this One who was so clearly in charge in every situation. 

In a way, the use of the honorific Master was a turning over of the authority for the ship and all in it to Jesus. When they cried  "Master", it was their point of surrender. It was the moment they gave up trying to solve the problem and gave it all to Jesus.

We desperately need those moments of surrender, when we cry out "Master" and not only acknowledge our Lord's authority but give all the trouble, all the chaos, all the danger to Jesus.  Have you experienced a "Master moment"? Have you given your storm to Jesus?

Today, pray that we and our loved ones would surrender the storms (and the calms) of our lives to the only One who can still the storms. 

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Link to last night's post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/07/back-to-beginning-bahamian-blogging-14.html
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Our terrorist prayer focus this week is Abubakar Shekau. He is the leader of Boku Haram, a radical terrorist organization operating in northeastern Nigeria. He is particularly fond of kidnapping and murder, having kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls (many who are still in captivity). Earlier this week, his forces captured a civilian-controlled town, murdered at least 100 people, and made the town his new headquarters. More than 22,000 have been killed in battle between his forces and the Nigerian military in the last few years. Earlier this week, two bombs in Abuja killed dozen more. Boku Haram is suspected. Please pray for an end to his reign of terror and for salvation for him and his men.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to the Beginning (Bahamian Blogging # 14)

Our arrival in the Bahamas was a little unusual.  I was expecting beaches and palm trees.  Alas, they would have to wait.  My cousin and her friends picked us up at the airport in Freeport, and we immediately went to a health food store, where we shared vegan fudgesicles. Since I am very fond of my own health food store, as well as fudgesicles, this was like being at home, and was a perfect welcome for me.  We had missed lunch, so this was a wonderful treat, as well.

From there, we went to Pinder's Point.  One of the songs on the C-Force CD (the Classical Caribbean music trio of which my cousin is a part) was titled "Pinder's Point" and everyone wanted to see this spot about which they had played.



Pinder's Point was the place Chris Justilien was reared and where he began his musical career, playing the organ in the church his father pastored.  We had the opportunity to explore the small community at Pinder's Point, visit the home in which Chris grew up (above), and meet his sister Arlene. Chris had a happy reunion with some of the people who still lived there.  


This is Chris with his sister Arlene. She is as sweet as she is beautiful. We loved her instantly. 

Since we were taking in the sights, we also visited the Pinder's Point Cemetery, which was adjacent to the beach. It was a rock-strewn beach with a lovely view


Chris told us stories about fishing for sardines on the beach and taking them home for breakfast, as well as tales of long-ago adventures in the little community. He was full of smiles as he remembered those happy childhood days, and it was evident they had shaped the man he has become. Chris is not only a professional musician, playing multiple instruments, but is a composer, band leader, active community servant, and assistant professor of music at the College of the Bahamas. 

What is most important about Chris, however, is not how well he plays instruments, composes, or speaks.  What is important about Chris is that everything he does is infused with the aroma of his faith in Christ.  The lessons he learned at his father's knee have born fruit in a life that is full of caring, service, and love.  This gentle man may have left the simple community of Pinder's Point, but he carries the truths he learned there deep in his heart, and they exert a gentle influence on him every day.  

When I met Chris, he instantly felt like family.  When I saw him at Pinder's Point, where his musical journey began, I realized he is family.  The journey back to the beginning was important for us to know Chris a little better.  The journey back was just a happy reunion for Chris.  He carries Pinder's Point, his "starting place", with him everywhere he goes.  That's what we should do, too.  







Excitement in the Boat, part 6:

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. (Luke 8:23-24 NASB)

There can be a vast difference between the reality of a situation and our perception of that situation.  Scripture tells us that the disciples were kindyneu┼Ź, "in danger".  This was an absolutely real danger, but what kind of danger?  Their boat was caught in a whirlwind or hurricane, and was tossed about. The waves were chaotic and water was pouring into the boat, which was beginning to be swamped. The immediate danger was that the boat would sink and they would be thrown into the water. Once they landed in the water, there would be a different set of dangers, but they were not in those dangers yet. 

The disciples' perception about their situation was apollymi. This word is translated as "perishing" but, according to Vine's Expository Dictionary, it is used to mean "ruin" or "loss of well being."  Their perception was that they were about to be utterly destroyed, not just losing their life but everything that mattered, and they were terrified. 

There is a vast difference between the risk of falling out of the boat and the risk of losing everything, including your life.  In the midst of a horrific storm, they both look very much alike. Once the falling out of the boat was accomplished, the risk would be loss of life and all that was dear. The disciples were so busy anticipating the worst that it seemed to be already upon them. A boat in danger of sinking is not yet a sunken boat, but it "felt like it".  

Why does this difference in perception matter?  The action required for a boat about to be swamped in a storm is different than that required when a boat is gone and you are tossed into the sea. Overwhelming fear and misperception can cause you to start throwing things overboard and clinging to life rafts when what is actually needed is a big bucket with which to bail the water. 

The good news is that they, in their despair, took their fears and their desperate situation to Jesus, who readily intervened. It was the right decision, and might have been made earlier.  It should have been made earlier. Regardless, once the help of God was sought, it was received, and the storm was stilled. 

When Jesus spoke to the storm, He stilled the waves and the wind. He did not miraculously empty the boat of the water with which those raging waves had filled it. The disciples still needed a big bucket with which to bail out the water, and there was more water to bail because of their delaying in calling out to Jesus. 

What does all this mean for us?  It is important that we correctly assess the danger in the midst of the storms of life so that we can take the appropriate action in response. It is even more important that we take those storms of life to Jesus, who can still the storm with a word. Stilling the storm does not mean there are no sequelae with which to deal, but the timing of our surrender of the situation can result in more (or less) "water to bail". 

Dear ones, if you find yourself in a life-storm, don't wait until you are terrified and paralyzed with fear. Take it to Jesus now, invite Him to intervene, and allow Him to quiet your storm. You may still need to bail, but the sooner you invite Him into your storm, the less water you will need to bail. 
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Link to last night's post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-city-cousin-and-country-cousin.html
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Our terrorist prayer focus this week is Abubakar Shekau. He is the leader of Boku Haram, a radical terrorist organization operating in northeastern Nigeria. He is particularly fond of kidnapping and murder, having kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls (many who are still in captivity). Earlier this week, his forces captured a civilian-controlled town, murdered at least 100 people, and made the town his new headquarters. More than 22,000 have been killed in battle between his forces and the Nigerian military in the last few years. Earlier this week, two bombs in Abuja killed dozen more. Boku Haram is suspected. Please pray for an end to his reign of terror and for salvation for him and his men.  


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The City Cousin and the Country Cousin

My cousin Christy had talked about visiting ever since she returned to the US from the Bahamas. Both our schedules had been crazy, though, and it just hadn't worked out. At last, she was in Mississippi after her summer opera schedule and eager for a visit. Today was the day!  When she finally arrived, I gave her a quick mini-tour of my back yard, my azaleas, the herb garden, the greenhouse and the greenhouse "compound".  Her childlike delight was thrilling to me. 


She had asked for "a day in the life", so we headed out in my old white pickup. The first stop was downtown Blue Springs. I showed her town hall and the Little Free Library, as well as the park plan poster. Christy was full of ooh's and ahh's, and wanted to take lots of pictures. 


I needed some things from the feed store, so we headed to Pontotoc next.  If you haven't been to Moore's, you should make the trip. They have EVERYTHING, including something I'd been considering for a long time. A reel-type push mower!  It is the ultimate in sustainable. They didn't have the brand I wanted, but their price was right. As soon as we got back to my house after lunch, we hurriedly assembled it and started mowing. Christy sqealed, "it cuts!!!" and she was off and moving. We were both amazed. It takes a little effort, but it works well. 



After she left, I realized that, other than lunch, our main activity had been assembling and using the push mower. And talking girl-talk, of course!  We had a wonderful time. What mattered most was not what we did nor where we went. What mattered most was that we were together. 

It was a day of sweet, simple pleasures. For just a few hours, Christy shared my life, and the enthusiasm she expressed helped me see once again the beauty and sweetness of this unusual life of mine. It turned out the weeds in my garden and the vines in my azaleas weren't nearly as important as the overall picture here. I'm not just savoring our visit this afternoon, I'm savoring my life. 

What about you? Has your life become so routine that you've begun to miss the beauty and sweetness of it?  Perhaps you, too, need to view your piece of the world through different eyes, look past the weeds and vines, and, once again, delight in the good. 




Excitement in the Boat: The Wind of Judgment (part 5, Luke. 8:23)


But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. (Luke 8:23 NASB)

We saw yesterday that the word translated as "fierce gale" literally means a whirlwind or hurricane. The word translated as "wind" is a bit of a surprise. anemos does mean a violent, whirling wind, but is used in Jeremiah and Daniel to indicate the four compass points, or corners of the earth, and (in those passages) symbolizes the judgment of God. 

What a perfect word to describe our human condition! When we are trapped in the whirlwind that sin always brings, facing the consequences that always follow, as well as the discipline of God, our Lord is ever near and ready to come to our aid. Instead of calling out to Jesus in our need, what do we do?  We manage the whirlwind as best we can, bailing like crazy, and putting ourselves in unnecessary danger. 

There is a tendency to think, "Well, I got myself into this, and I can get myself out," but that is flawed thinking. If we could "get ourselves out" of the whirlwind resulting from sin, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross would not have been necessary. 

Dear ones, there is no better way to handle the whirlwinds we face, whether they be as a result of our own choices or the unfolding of life, than to cry out to the One who can still the storm. Are you facing a whirlwind? Whatever the source of the wind, Jesus can handle it. Cry out to Him in your need and on behalf of those you love. He is near and will not fail you. He can help, and He will. 
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The link to last night's Friday Night with Friends is here: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/07/friday-night-with-friends-difference.html
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Our terrorist prayer focus this week is Abubakar Shekau. He is the leader of Boku Haram, a radical terrorist organization operating in northeastern Nigeria. He is particularly fond of kidnapping and murder, having kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls (many who are still in captivity). Earlier this week, his forces captured a civilian-controlled town, murdered at least 100 people, and made the town his new headquarters. More than 22,000 have been killed in battle between his forces and the Nigerian military in the last few years. Earlier this week, two bombs in Abuja killed dozen more. Boku Haram is suspected. Please pray for an end to his reign of terror and for salvation for him and his men.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Night with Friends: The Difference Between For and With by W.C. Barber

Mr. W. C. Barber is our Friday Night with Friends guest blogger.  I asked for permission to share this sweet story and he reluctantly agreed.  As you have probably noticed from the blog website, the theme of Lines From Leanna is "faith lived out loud".  Mr. Barber has had a "faith lived out loud" experience that gave him great joy.  In the midst of our routine, we can suddenly find that God is not only at work, but He is calling us to participate.  That is exactly what happened to Mr. Barber.  I think you will be blessed, and hope you will be looking for "Faith Lived Out Loud" moments of your own.  

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I received a call one Monday morning recently from a sweet little lady in quite a bit of distress. It seemed that, after being discharged from a Nursing Facility and admitted to Sanctuary Hospice, her Social Security payments and her Medicaid eligibility had vanished. Her family had given up on her and had not been to visit at all. She had no one to help, and had no idea what to do.  

After a few calls and a bit of computer time, I was able to fix those problems of hers fairly easily. Something just seem to niggle and tell me I needed to do more. I told her that I would put her on my prayer list (the one that seems to be growing with names I can neither spell nor pronounce) and would pray for her daily. 

She called a few days later to thank me again and to ask if I would not just pray for her, but would I come see her and pray with her. After a little debate I thought, "Well, why not?" I stopped by a florist to get her a small bouquet of fresh flowers that I thought might brighten her day just a little. 

I obviously did not realize the difference between praying for someone and praying with someone.  This was a first for me. My intentions were to have a short prayer, leave the flowers, and let her meet the voice on the phone. WOW, was I ever wrong! The time spent praying with her was one of the most incredible hours I have ever experienced. It was a wonderful time, and, when I left I truly felt she was the one helping me. It was an incredible blessing.