An Extreme Question all Christians Must Answer

This is reposted from Voice of the Martyrs

TURKEY: ERCAN SENGUL

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Ephesians 6:19–20

When Ercan Sengul committed his life to Christ in the Muslim nation of Turkey, some saw it as turning his back on his heritage and nation. When he said that he would do anything for God, he had meant it then. But what about now?

Ercan sat in a dark, dank prison cell surrounded by cell mates. He had been arrested by local police who said that he’d “insulted Islam” by distributing books for a Christian publisher. Ercan cried out to God, begging to be rescued. He knew that he’d done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to be there. “You said you’d do anything for me,” God whispered to Ercan’s heart. “Did you mean it?” Broken before God, Ercan wept and worshipped. He told God in his heart, “I really meant it.” Ercan began to preach three hours each day in prison. He learned that God allowed him to be imprisoned to give him a new mission field! Ercan was in prison for thirty days until witnesses admitted that police had pressured them to sign statements, and the judge found no evidence of any crime. The arrest has furthered Ercan’s witness. Since his release, many who shared his cell have visited his church, asking about the God who gave him peace while locked in prison. Ercan still joyfully gives out Christian books, knowing he could be arrested.

Most Christians would admit that suffering is not exactly what we have in mind when we say we want to be used by God. Sure, we want to live out our faith—but not to the point of persecution. We resent being overlooked for promotions at work or excluded from social events. We feel slighted. Cheated. Ripped off. However, we must be willing to prayerfully seek God in the midst of our desperation. The moment we do, we find prayer changes our perspective. We begin to see opportunities for growth. We receive hope. We find promise amid pain. Eventually we begin to discover our current situation, however unfair and undeserved, may be part of God’s plan after all. When we pray for God’s perspective on persecution, we find the courage to be obedient at all costs.

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Carry Me

carryme

“Carry me”…I have become awfully fond of these two words. I don’t say them, although I should. They aren’t from a favorite song, poem, story, or quote. These words are spoken by the precious lips of my two year old daughter. They sound more like kaywee me but it’s a beautiful sound. She’ll come running up to me or my wife, usually when we are in the middle of doing something, and want us to pick her up. I have to admit, there is a part of me that wants to continue doing the project I’m in the middle of, but I am completely disarmed by those two words.

A month or so ago I was praying with a friend of mine and he spoke the following words, “Lord give us the hearts to run to and want to be carried by you.” My mind immediately envisioned my daughter running to me with her arms out wanting nothing more than to be lifted up and held by me. I confess, I got a little emotional. I kept telling myself that I needed to get it together before we were done praying so my friend didn’t see me crying (I know it’s a dumb guy thing).  But it was pointless because the Holy Spirit was melting my heart. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that God wants the same from His children-from me. Christ’s entire mission is to heal our hearts and adopt us into the family of God. Our sin no longer stands between us and running up to our Father and speaking these words, “carry me Abba…carry me Daddy…carry me Jesus.”

I don’t think that it does anything to just speak the words unless our hearts actually want to be picked up and held. And more than that, we have to want it continually just like my daughter does. When presented with the choice of walking on her own or being carried by us, our little Anna wants to be held. I know that this won’t always be that way but I am praying that she will have that same, yet greater, dependence on her Father in heaven as she grows older. I am also hoping for that same dependence in my life. I don’t want to have that desire to walk alone when I have been given the choice to say to the Lord, “carry me.” Fortunately He is never too busy and will never tire. I imagine He is simply waiting to hear those two little words from you and me and I have no doubt that it warms His heart more than it even does mine.

Christ calls us to carry our cross and follow Him, but what we sometimes don’t realize is that He will actually carry us and our cross. He will do that because, one, He already carried our cross up Calvary’s hill, and two, because He is perfect love is far greater than any earthly father. From the beginning of time God wanted a relationship with His creation that He made in His image. It’s not a passive relationship, which I’m afraid describes most of our relationships in the western world. He wants the intimate, passionate, heart-felt love that He expressed, not only in making you and me, but in taking our place on the cross. How can we love our earthly family in such a way that our hearts hurt when we are apart yet we struggle to crack open our bibles or spend a few minutes in prayer? God doesn’t deserve a portion of our times when it’s convenient, He deserves the passion of our hearts. The passion that would pay any price so as to never be separated from Him. He deserves followers who act like His children and want nothing more than to please and be with Him. He deserves a love and a humility that would run to Him saying, “carry me” and never want to be put down. I want that heart for myself, for you. For everyone in this hurting, lonely, depressed, prideful, suffering world. What will it take? I’m convinced He has already done enough to make this happen. He risked it all, to carry you. Will you let Him?

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NIV)

I feel like I’m starting to understand what that verse means. Thanks to being a parent I’m learning what it means to be a child. Now to love Him as I should.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)