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First the Blade (Chapter 22)

 

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 22

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (g)

I’ve looked at numerous videos on my computer concerning the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The scenes were horrible and disturbing. There was no possible way I could relate to the agony and loss the Japanese people suffered, even my prayers seemed inadequate.

One scene from a particular video invaded my thoughts and brought with it a nagging question. The particular scene showed the tsunami wave breaking through a housing development and heading out into a farming area. You could see the tsunami carrying homes, autos, buses, and debris in its wave undulations.

The nagging question was this: if I were caught by surprise and stood in the middle of that farm field, facing that oncoming tsunami, could I survive?

“Are you silly? There’s no conceivable way you can survive that scene. Where’s your logic, Larry?” one may say.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5: 7)

The number one hindrance to faith is we can only see our circumstances and nothing else. They loom as huge obstacles in our paths, impossible to get around. Then, because our focus is on the circumstances, our intellect, logic, and reason race ahead and calculate the odds of whether we’ll survive our sicknesses, poverty, dismal marital relationships, family problems, or disastrous situations (like the tsunami), and guess what? There’s never any hope for us. We are doomed.

Faith sees the circumstance – and never ignores it – but it instantly fixes its eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. (82) He is the One who calms the seas with a word or calls us to walk on water. He is the One who raises the dead and multiplies the bread and fish.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Our faith has to be focused on the mighty One who lives within us, not on our puny strengths or abilities. He must be our everything!

I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Philippians 4: 13 Amplified Bible)

Could I possibly stand in a field, facing an oncoming tsunami with all of its force, and survive? Yes, I could, but it’s not my decision to make, it’s His decision because He owns me. He knows when I’ve finished my course. I’m absolutely convinced He’s able to bring me to that particular end time period for my life. (83)

I sincerely believe that the more we know the One who lives within us, the less power our circumstances will have over us.

So, how can faith overcome our circumstances?

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Inside Israel

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (2 Tim 4:1-3)

Greetings with grace and mercy in The Blessed Name of our Lord, Yeshua h’meshiach, Who has come and is coming again.  May He be blessed and glorified and may we be made fit for His use.  May you be blessed and encouraged.

Today is the Hoshana Raba – many praises – the LAST day of the Feast of Sukkot. The last day of the three fall feasts as prescribed in Torah.  BUT DON’T LET THAT DECEIVE YOU!

Tomorrow is Simchat Torah, The Joy of Torah, a most wonderful day marking the end of the cycle of reading the first 5 books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) for the year and the beginning again of the cycle.  The end of the book of Deuteronomy is completed and the prescribed reading will begin again with Genesis 1.

The prescribed readings are called the parashat h’shavouah or the weekly portion, and they are on each calendar, newspapers, just about everywhere that a date is printed.

Simchat Torah is that wonderful day when the Torah scrolls are brought out of the synagogues and into the streets with singing and dancing.  Each congregation brings out their own scrolls and parade them through the streets with blessing and joy.  The Torah – The Word of God – held high and danced around with reverence and joy.  One day The Living Word will be recognized in our midst.

It has been an intense time, this season of seasons.  It always is.  The city is filled to overflowing with visitors from over 100 nations to take part in the many Christian conferences, meetings, convocations and celebrations connected with the Feast of Tabernacles.  Others come on their own just to see.

Jews from around the world come to take part.  Schools and many work places are closed.  Sukkas are built in apartments, courtyards and on the sidewalks.  The streets are packed and at the same time so are the nature reserves, the parks and beaches.  The country becomes a big belegan – a pot of spaghetti – thrown up in the air and having as much fun as possible.  Some of you have been a prat of the Jerusalem March, a huge colorful and joyful parade through the center of Jerusalem that greatly encourages the citizens who always leave with a wonder that in the midst of it all there really are supporters who love us. I have in the past watched the encouragement rise of the faces of spectators whom I stood by. It is tangible.

I recently remembered writing from my sukka one year. It was the year that I was so deeply impacted by the gift that God had given us in these appointed feasts.  It was during the very height of the last intifada and we were weary from terror and blood running in the streets, funerals and grief.  NEVERTHELESS, WE HAD TO STOP AND CELEBRATE!  I remember sitting in my flimsy sukka with material walls and branches for a roof looking at the stars so high above and suddenly realizing this gift.  NO MATTER WHAT, WE WERE TO STOP AND REMEMBER GOD.  We are so small and HE IS SO BIG!  War? Yes, BUT GOD IS BIGGER!  Death?  Yes, but HE HAS CONQUORED THE GRAVE!

I recall being in the sukka of a family of dear friends when the first Autumn storm came up.  Remember, we live in a desert and the seasons are distinct.  No rain and only rain.  Sukkot marks the beginning of the rainy season, so we greet the rain with joy, even when it blows your sukka away, which it did that night!  We ran down the street chasing ours while perhaps 50 other families did the same, chasing theirs as the dramatically strong wind brought in the rain.  What laughter and joy in spite of a soggy dinner.

But The Lord DOES speak to us through nature, and although the storms are a blessing, several incidents have me pondering.  There were a number of drownings, terrible deadly car accidents and the powerful storm took even the weathermen by surprise.  The lightning and thunder dramatically preceded short but intense downpours.  But it was a grief to read of the death of a lovely doe eyed 14- year old boy after he and 4 other family members were struck by lightning as they made their way off the beach where they had been.  

            “Asher’s mother told reporters earlier that as religious people she and her family understand things like that can happen and the weather can become lethal.”

There just seemed to be an unusual number of deadly accidents during Sukkot and the other fall feasts this year and of course, our own precious 4 from our kehila such a short time ago.

‘What are You saying, Lord?’

Maybe I’m crazy, but I firmly believe that The Lord is speaking in and through everything.

A dear brother once told me that someone said to him, “Everything isn’t answer to prayer. Some things are coincidences.”

He laughed and said, “Well, when I pray I have a lot of coincidences…when I don’t pray, hum…not so many.”

So, yes, I do see God’s Hand everywhere and His fingerprints comfort me even in the midst of our trials..

People have been asking for my take on the situation between the Kurds, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Russia, the US. I could give you my opinion but there are so many opinions and teachings jumping in to fill that void. Many are interesting, many are very informed, many add into the mix the fact that we still don’t have a government in Israel. And what does THAT mean?  What if we go to A THIRD ELECTION? AND SO ON.  I don’t have the answers, but I DO pray.  I DO see and I DO watch and I pray.

Speaking of prayer, it just occurred to me:  why have I never sent out an invitation to the yearly IFI (intercessors for Israel) prayer conference?  I don’t know, but I would like to now.  Will you pray about coming if The Lord is calling you to?  If you are under 30 and feel that He is calling you to intercession on behalf of Israel, there are scholarships available to help with expenses.  Here is the link:

IFI PRAYER CONFERENCE JERUSALEM – JAN. 2020

This is a short note summing up an intense and wonderful season.  We are off to dinner at our daughter’s house shortly.  I am bringing two types of kubba  with soup, falafel balls, pita, challa, halvah, and a wide variety of middle eastern fair. Wish you could all join and taste!   Tomorrow (the last day that everything including public transportation is closed) is my husband’s 74th birthday. We will celebrate AGAIN with friends and family.   On Wednesday as a gift, we are sending him to London for a week to visit our older daughter and Grandchildren for Noah’s 16th birthday.  WHEW!  If this were the only letter of mine you ever read you might think that we did nothing but celebrate.

And that brings me back to the 2 Tim 4 scripture.

When things are this intense with no let up, we also cannot let up our stance of being ready for the battle.  NEVER!  We cannot be unprepared to answer everyman what is the reason for our hope.  We cannot be unprepared to hear our minute by minute marching orders.  We cannot slack in prayer.  It is life and death!

I watch the young (oh so young!) soldiers and security making their ways through the unbelievable crowds at the shukand I pray for them to be alert, not to be distracted by their cell phones or by conversation or by “selfies.” BE ALERT!  LISTEN!  WATCH!

So it is with us.  We have an unrelenting enemy who is watching for us to be distracted.  This enemy is real and deadly.  Our God is BIGGER!  MAY WE BE FOUND WITH OUR EYES FIXED ON HIS…OUR EARS TUNED TO HEAR HIS VOICE ALONE.

BLESSINGS to you all and chag sameach.  (Joyful Holyday)  May we glorify Him and finish the work.

Lovingly,

Sister J in Jerusalem

 

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Updates On Writing, Life And So Forth

I am a plodder, much like an old farmer walking behind a horse-drawn plow in a world filled with 400-horsepower tractors and twenty-bottom plows. It would be fun to  sit on a large tractor and finish the field in one day, but that’s not who I am.

So, I trudge forward.

Giddy up, old Babe.

For almost six months, I have been working at Panera Bread in Tempe. I started as a delivery driver, mainly delivering sandwiches, salads and so forth to employees at local businesses. Then, somehow, I also ended up being the opening cashier and set-up person for pastries, bagels, coffee, smoothies and so forth, arriving at 5 a.m. four to six days each week.

If you can, try to visualize a plodding farmer, like me, working in a pastry department, making smoothies and cafe mochas. As you can imagine, there have been more than a few mishaps along the way.

One customer even told the store manager, “You can’t ever get rid of Larry, he adds humor to this store.” He was referring to my mistakes, not my witty quips!

Giddy up, old Babe.

As far as the two writing projects I have been working on, one has not moved forward one inch. The other is 15,000 words further down the road, but I have recently learned that I need to add another 25,000 words. The good news is I have just received a divine inspiration on how to proceed, YEA!

But not so fast, Larry!

It seems the Lord has laid on my heart a new writing project. This will soon begin on this blog and will end up being a book or whatever.

Giddy up, old Babe.

Starting Monday, I will begin working as an UBER driver. More plodding, but just in a different field.

Giddy up, old Babe.

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God’s Love Must Torpedo Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 8)

At the beginning of evil King Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah, Jeremiah stood in the court of the Temple and prophesied a stern message to the people of Jerusalem:

“If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.” (Jeremiah 26:4-6)

God caused His tabernacle to first be set up in Shiloh during Joshua’s days. It remained there until Eli’s two evil sons decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh into Israel’s army camp in hopes God would help the nation defeat the Philistines. The Philistines then defeated the Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant. God’s tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant never returned to Shiloh again.

Shiloh represented a time when God’s glory departed from Israel.

Jeremiah’s words instantly stirred up the prophets and priests of the Temple. They demanded that Jeremiah be killed for his blasphemous words.

Some wiser officials compared Jeremiah’s words to the prophet Micah who prophesied stern words against Jerusalem during King Hezekiah’s reign. Micah’s life was not threatened. Thus, Jeremiah’s life was spared for the same reasons.

Yet at the same time, another prophet named Uriah prophesied almost the exact same words about Jerusalem. He was hunted down by King Jehoiakim’s warriors, captured, brought before the king and killed by a sword. His body was dumped into a common grave, which was not the usual burial place for prophets.

Now think about this for a moment. Both prophets – Jeremiah and Uriah – stood before the Lord, heard His voice and then spoke the word of the Lord to Jerusalem. Yet Jeremiah’s life was protected and spared, but Uriah’s life was not protected. He was killed.

Why did God allow this to happen?

I can’t say for sure, but I do know that God uses martyrs as His witnesses to nations, groups of people and before His throne. The blood of the martyrs cry out to the Lord and says, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood…

Can we expect something like this to happen in America’s inner cities?

(Continued in Part 9…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Inside Israel

Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —

Greetings with grace and mercy in The Blessed Name of our Lord, Yeshua h’meshiakh* May He be blessed and glorified, and may you be blessed and edified.  May He take this small offering for His glory alone and the edification of those to whom it is sent with love.

Elul is the last month of the modern Hebrew calendar.  The month of Elul will end on the 29th of September this year, ushering in Rosh h’Shana (the day of the blowing of trumpets, now celebrated as the new year), followed closely by Yom Kippur (the day of atonement – repentance – the most solemn day in the Hebrew calendar of fasting and prayer) and then the wonderful  7 day feast of Sukkot (feast of tabernacles). Autumn (‘stav’ in Hebrew) is upon us with the fall feasts rushing in!  How suddenly summer ends.

School began here in Israel on the 1st of September (yes, Sunday is our ‘Monday’ because Saturday is our Sabbath (shabbat) and being that today (Tuesday) is my day off from work, I smiled with joy as Eric and I walked our 5 and half year old Granddaughter Maya to ‘gan ho’veh’ (or ‘advanced kindergarten’ for those who get to go again).

Our daughter was taking 2 and half year old Nuria to gan, which she began on Sunday – one excited little cookie!  ‘All in our places with sunshiny faces’ was all I could sing as we made our way along with the throngs of parents and grandparents taking all of those little shiny excited faces to their respective schools or ga’nim (kindergartens).  I was totally absorbed in watching Maya on her scooter chattering joyfully to me when I tripped over part of our notoriously choppy sidewalks and fell smack on my knees, injuring my pride terribly but thankfully otherwise not doing anything serious.

‘Oh Tata! Tata!  Are you ok?  You scared me!’ (Maya couldn’t say Sav’ta when she was tiny and Tata stuck)

‘I’m fine!’ I assured her as we continued on and I introduced myself to the ga’ne’net (teacher) so that we could get through security to pick her up.  Isn’t the love of a child amazing?  (To you parents…it gets WAY better when you are grandparents believe it or not.)  May we BE like them, that tender, simple and honest love to our Abba God!

 

The past couple of weeks have been ‘belegan’ here in Jerusalem.  The last two weeks of summer vacation there is no kay’tin’ah (sort of summer ‘day camps’ that most children attend.  They are specialized and can be just play or sport or art or science, language or history , all sorts of age classified enrichment activities).

As you know, our economy here is different than in the west, a huge portion of this tiny country’s  resources  go to very necessary defense, so it is pretty rare for a family to be able to survive even simply on one paycheck. Most parents honestly HAVE to work, not to get ahead, but to survive.  HOWEVER, the last two weeks of summer, ‘someone’ needs to be home with the children (if retired grandparents aren’t available), and most vacations are taken then.

Consequently, the streets of Jerusalem have been PACKED with large families (religious families are particularly large. As I have said before, our son in law is the oldest of 14).  The time is spent getting school supplies and being out on ‘te’oo’lim’ (‘trek’ or ‘trip’, outing).  The lite rail and all buses were packed way beyond capacity as families enjoyed museums, parks, the zoo, the Old City, shops and restaurants.

Our dear friend Janet is staying with us for awhile and I have so enjoyed reading her updates (although she has been here on and off for many years, she always sees things with new eyes. I can’t help but borrow from her beautifully written letters:

She mused about large families dressing their children in identical clothing and I hadn’t thought about that for a while but I always think of them as big gardens.  The pansies are planted here and the daisies are there, then there are the sweet peas.  I think it really solves many problems:  First, like school uniforms, it solves the fashion problem.  ‘Here’s your ‘dress’ for the year girls’ and each one gets what Ima (mama)  picked out.  You surely can see your whole family in a crowd without losing any easily.  And when they are all on sale it’s a win-win situation for the family.  Often though it is a bolt of material that is on sale, and one pattern.

I’ve often wondered at the resilience of the people of this country, how it continues life in the midst of all of the stresses, threats and challenges. There is a philosophy or a culture that has been planted in the people. Perhaps a survival skill.  I heard so many stories about how people survived in the death camps of the Holocaust.  I was told by a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto about the schools that they set up, about how, in spite of starvation, slavery, degradation and death everywhere, they set up a functioning society with phony money to use to keep themselves from being penniless and to keep an order. Concerts performed by those who could sing or make instruments from garbage.  Humor and other forms of entertainment. Doctors and teachers continuing their trade so that they could encourage one another to life.  This way they kept themselves from despair and from degradation.

 

Our borders are heating up.  I know that I say that to you often, but things erupt here suddenly.  On Sunday we had a skirmish with Hizbollah in Lebanon sending residents of the North into shelters and sealing off the roads.  It did not erupt into the war …yet.  There is MUCH background fighting going on and as our Prime Minister has openly announced often, he (we) will not compromise Israeli security and will strike at all threats.  We have been doing that with missions and raids in Syria and Lebanon and in other places.

Iran has been playing a chess game against Israel, using other counties as pawns since they have no border with us, but their proxies – Syria and Lebanon do share our borders and Iran has been based there.  It has been a game of cat and mouse so to speak as Israel identifies threats (sophisticated weapons and deadly projects) and eliminates them.  Drones and drones heavily armed with highly destructive smart weapons have entered the arena.  To admit it, Iran has to expose their presence, which is illegal, so it has been covert.  But it has been intense and building.  Added to this toxic mix is Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Isis in Gaza and in the Sinai, infiltrating Judea and Samaria – our heartland – called by the world media “the West Bank.”  With continuing active riots on the Gaza border every Friday, our southern population is frayed but not Afraid

“Be strong and of good courage”…”DO NOT FEAR NOR BE AFRAID” are probably THE most oft repeated COMMAND given throughout the scriptures, particularly the Torah (the first 5 books of Moses) when the fleshly REASONS to fear were ABUNDANT.

In my 44 years of reading and re-reading through the Scriptures I am strongly struck by the irony of this command. Perhaps it is one of the PILLARS on which our faith rests. YES, the giants are there!  YES, the Sea is before you and the Egyptian army behind you. YES the inhabitants of the land are fierce and we are as grasshoppers in our own eyes and probably theirs. YES there is no water and YES there is no food and YES we are surrounded by armies far larger than we are and YES!  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, BUT LOOK UP!  THOSE WHO ARE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST US, as Elisha told his servant when the Syrian army was coming down upon them.

I listen to some who seem to feel that faith in our God is a “get out of jail free” ticket and we will be always physically well and safe but in Luke 21, Yeshua says something very interesting that bares understanding and the context of the whole chapter is helpful:

“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:16-19)

SOME OF YOU WILL BE PUT TO DEATH, BUT NOT A HAIR OF YOUR HEAD SHALL BE LOST.  May our values be His, our perspective HIS.

We (as a part of the body of Messiah here) have been through fire lately in the loss of 4 beloved members.  Eliyahu Ben Haim and the three members of the Rosetsky family.  These were all people walking in the will and the ways of The Lord and living completely for Him, aside from 2 month old Itai, who had as yet done not right nor wrong). They ARE safe with not a hair of their head being lost.

His ways are not ours. His thoughts not ours but it is a wake-up call for sure.  One sister remarked to me last shabbat that “We weren’t yet back to normal’

I said, “I don’t think that we are SUPPOSED to be ‘back to normal.’  A very precious sacrifice was placed on the altar and I believe that He wants us all changed by what we have witnessed.”  

We don’t know what lies ahead, but we are NOT afraid.

We are told to fear ONLY GOD and we believe that.  Our upcoming re-elections are scheduled to be held on 17th of Sept.  Lord knows what lies ahead, we don’t.  But one thing we know (both you and us) is that the ONLY safe place in this world in IN HIM.

Our pastor is faithful to remind us time and time again to turn our faces to Him.  Run into Him!  Look to HIM! THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH!

My years are running into one another and I surely never expected that, did you?  May we ALL be found IN HIM IN (HIS) PEACE!  May His Word be a living two-edged sword in each of us.  May we be dangerous to the enemy for His sake.  May we be kept from deception. Oh may we be humble in the fear of The One True God, The Lord of heaven and earth!  May we be purified for His glory.

Lovingly,

your sister J

 

*Small note.  Lately transliterators have been writing ‘kh’ instead of ‘ch’ to indicate the sound that is like ‘clearing your throat’.  For years it has been written ‘ch’ but we know that in English ‘ch’ is pronounced like the beginning of  ‘child’ and that leads to much confusion.  I am joining the pack, so I spelled (Messiah) Meshiakh instead of Meshiach.

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 5)

“With all that is going on around social justice, churches must calibrate what that means for them in the present,” said the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, a black professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity. “Churches have to ask the fundamental question: ‘Are we going to be at the forefront of struggles for justice, or are we always going to be catching up to where the arc of justice will literally take us.'”

“The one thing that would be dishonorable for us is to bring all this attention to the assassination of Dr. King (fifty years later) and not have a resurrection of the efforts and the unfinished business dealing with systemic racism, systemic poverty,” said Dr. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C.

The black church was the stabilizing institution which emerged from the horrible pit of slavery after the Civil War. Black pastors then became the preeminent leaders and spokesmen for both the Christian and non-Christian community alike. These pastors focused themselves on meeting the needs of individuals, preaching messages, building self-esteem of an oppressed people and addressing the concerns of their communities in a segregated society.

In the the 1950s and 60s, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. added a new role for black pastors: that of being a prophetic voice demanding the freedom of God’s people. They then became social justice warriors, too.

Today’s identity of the black church is that of a spiritual Israel suffering in this world with the pastor as the Moses leading the people to the Promised Land.

It’s hard not to look at the roles that black pastors fill in their communities and then not shake our heads in wonder and amazement at what they have accomplished. They have been the glue that has held Christianity together in America’s inner cities.

But even so, we need to remember that Moses never led Israel into the Promised Land. It was a non-priest named Joshua who completed the task.

So, will a Joshua generation of leaders rise up to lead the inner cities into their divine destinies?

(Continued in Part 6…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Will We End Up Being A Part of the Great Falling Away? (Part 3)

I have used this story before, but this time, I use it from a different angle.

In the early 1990’s, Larry Burkett told a story on his radio program, “Money Matters,” that still sends shivers down my spine. Burkett told about the time he attended a local church and heard a Chinese man tell his testimony.

It seems the man was a lieutenant of Mao Zedong when Mao’s communist army defeated Chiang Kai-Shek and took control of China. Mao then set out to cleanse China of all imperialist influences, especially American connections. Missionaries were sent home or killed. Chinese pastors were imprisoned or killed. Christians were killed. Political leaders, people who had visited America or attended schools there were killed.  Historians estimate 40,000,000 Chinese were executed by Mao during his various purges.

The man, who told this testimony, was chosen by Mao as one of the leaders in the rural purges. He dispatched his tasks with cruel efficiency. But some Christians focused their prayers on him and he was miraculously saved. So convinced was the man that Christ was the answer for China he decided to return to Peking (Beijing) and tell Mao the good news of Jesus.

Mao was not impressed with his lieutenant’s message and commanded him to renounce his new found faith. The man refused and said, “I cannot deny the experience I’ve had with Jesus.”

Mao brought his wife and children before the man. Soldiers stood behind his family with guns aimed at their heads. Once again, Mao asked the man to renounce his faith. The man fell to his knees and said, “Please do not kill my family, but I cannot deny Jesus.”

His family was executed before his eyes.

Next, his parents, brothers, sisters and their families were brought before the man with soldiers standing behind them with guns at their heads. Mao insisted the man renounce Jesus. The man refused. His entire family was executed before his eyes.

All of his friends and their families were placed in front of him, but still he would not renounce Christ. They were executed.

Then, Mao decided death was too good for this reprobate of a man. He was stripped naked and placed in a cold cell. Once a day, guards were ordered to beat him.

His imprisonment and beatings continued for fifteen years. During that time, the man led 90% of the guards to Christ and the guards even risked their own freedoms by bringing Bibles to him.

When he finally emerged from prison, he walked down a road, heading toward his hometown. As he walked, people in the fields next to the road, fell to their knees and cried out to be saved by Jesus. Yet, the man said nothing because the presence of God was so heavy upon him that he just continued to walk.

Larry Burkett said that when the Chinese man finished his testimony he was asked, “What do you think of our American churches?”

The man gazed at the audience with tears in his eyes. “You American Christians do not know the Jesus I know,” he said.

But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12)

This man’s testimony shines a light on a worst-case scenario for all of us believers. We obviously all hope to never face such terrible circumstances, but what if we do? Could we still hold onto Jesus and not deny Him?

I don’t believe any of us can pass a test like this without having the following revelations:

  1. Our Father is a good God. We can trust Him with our lives and the lives of our family and friends.
  2. Our Father is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present everywhere at once) and omniscient (all-knowing). In His omniscience, He saw the circumstances before they happened and He still allowed us to go through them. He expects us to be faithful until the end, trusting Him till our last breath.
  3. God honors His word. God exalts His word about His authority and abides by His own rules.

If any of us do not have these revelations of our heavenly Father, we need to seek and ask Him for them. He desires to reveal Himself to us.

Remember: The number one reason for being a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be denying Jesus and His character attributes.

(Continued in Part 4…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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