Wednesday’s Voice – India

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9 NIV84
Please be in prayer for all believers. Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post. I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other. We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we prayglobally. Blessings to you all.

IRAN (Update): Pastor Saeed Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison
Sources: Mohabat News, Fox News, Asia News, Reuters, The Associated Press

After being convicted on charges of threatening Iran’s national security through his leadership in the establishment of Christian house churches, Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. The anticipated trial, followed by the shocking sentence, took place in Tehran on January 21, 2013. 
Upon hearing the formal charges, the 32-year-old Iranian-American pastor told the judge he had no involvement in politics or in undermining the government. He explained that after moving to the United States in 2005, he periodically returned to his country of origin to visit his family, as well as oversee the development of an orphanage he had begun years earlier. Prior to this, about a decade ago, Saeed was the founder of a growing house church movement which consisted of more than 2,000 members. However, at that time, house churches were not considered a threat in Iran. 
“This trial apparently is focussed on 13 years ago, when Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity,” said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Centre for Law and Justice, who is representing Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and their children. Although the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, the State Department condemned the sentencing and called for Saeed’s release. According to reports in Mohabat News, although the Iranian constitution recognizes religious minorities’ rights, the regime prosecutes Christian converts from an Islamic background. 
In the midst of her personal suffering, Naghmeh Abedini asks for continued prayer. She courageously reminds us that even though Saeed (who always had a heart for the imprisoned) has himself been bound through this persecution, the Word of God is being released. 

May our Almighty God abundantly bless Pastor Saeed for his steadfast faith throughout the ordeal. In the name of Jesus, we ask for God’s divine protection on our Christian brother during this unjust incarceration.

Pray that (in the words of Saeed) he continues to be a vessel in bringing God’s Kingdom to a dark place by sharing the Gospel of peace and eternal life to the dying world. 

We also pray that justice will ultimately be served and that, through the Lord’s mighty intervention, Saeed will be safely returned to his wife and two young children.

Caffeinated Randomness – I’ve Been Hacked

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I’ve been hacked.  
Usually when people say this, there is some apologies for the e-mail virus sent out to their address book. Other times its in frustration over information lost or a redesign in their website.  
My website hasn’t been redesigned.  Neither has anyone received an e-mail from me that came with an attached present or some ad about increasing the size of …. (This is a clean blog you know.)
I know when other’s have been hacked on Facebook and Twitter it’s usually something about “My youngest daughter is the best child I have.” or “bwahahahahahahahahahahaha My sister is the best person in the whole wide world. I wish i could be like her. She is soooo awesome, and cool. Yahhhhhhh I kiss the ground she walks on.” (actual post)  

That’s what usually happens. But nothing like that happens in my world (ok except aforementioned Facebook post by my sister.) My hacking is usually something Dutch. That’s right – Dutch. Not normal Dutch things like the flag, the Queen (who is abdicating this year), the dykes, villages, engineering accomplishments, or even cute kids dressed in traditional Dutch costume. Nope. I get Dutch soccer players or as they say in Europe, Footballers.

At least my hacker has some taste and only post pictures of the top Dutch players. I mean, I wouldn’t just want Dutch soccer players randomly posted to my blog, cell phone, Facebook and Pinterest accounts. I have some class you know. Only the best for me. I get pictures of Dennis Bergkamp, one of the best Dutch strickers

or Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten, and Ruud Gullit (my current wallpaper).  

Love the hair
Don’t try to pronounce these names.  You probably would sound like you had a cold.  

You see my hacker is a Dutch soccer fan.  He follows the national team standing.  He cheers on the team and some of the individual players during the European League.  My hacker surprises me with pictures of his all time favourite player, Bergkamp, a lot.  If you haven’t figured it out my hacker is my hubby.  He’s even posted a blog prior to this one.  I have to admit, it’s not really a hacking.  I asked him to blog for me as I am fighting a head cold.   He loves me that much to do a guest posting.

How has your loved ones hacked you?  What is something that you and your husband like to do together?  Come join in with the random hacking this week with the other java junkies. 

Wednesday’s Voice – India

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9 NIV84
Please be in prayer for all believers.  Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post.  I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other.  We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

INDIA: Tribal Christians Brutally Beaten
Sources: Release International, Morning Star News, Times of India

As a result of two recent attacks by Hindu extremists, more than 100 Christian villagers have been forced to flee from Tamsai (in Thane District of Maharashtra State) for “rejecting their tribal identity.” Apparently, the Hindu nationalists involved in the attacks were angered that these converts to Christianity no longer practiced their traditional tribal religions. Equally alarming is the fact that about 20 police officers failed to intervene, but rather passively stood by, prompting concern of anti-Christian bias being represented by the police force. 

The first brutal assault took place on December 30th when the believers did not participate in a festival celebrating a tribal deity. Many of these victims fled from their homes after being beaten with wooden clubs. More recently, a large mob of extremists physically assaulted a group of Christians who met to worship in a private home. Prior to these attacks, local Christians were receiving unfair treatment from their neighbours by being denied access to water, firewood and their monthly supply of grains at the local ration shop. 
  • Pray that God’s perfect love will drive out all fear from the hearts of these suffering tribal Christians.
  • Ask Him to bring healing and comfort to them, especially after experiencing brutal attacks of persecution.
  • May those in authority uphold and properly defend the religious rights of all citizens in this area, serving as a catalyst of peace between the different faith groups.

Caffeinated Randomness – In the Word Campaign

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Lately I’ve been looking to the right side of me at church.  I’ve been looking to the left side of me.  I’ve been looking to the people in front of me.  If I could, I would look behind me.  I’m not looking to see what they’re wearing.  I’m not looking to see if they’re listening to the sermon or sleeping.  I’m not looking to see if their kids are sitting still or wiggling around.  I’m looking to see if anyone else is opening their Bible.  If anyone else is looking at the Word while our pastor is preaching.  Has anyone else brought their own Bible and are they marking it up?  Is our “overhead” dependent society (thanks Evil Twin for that one) become so complaisant that they no longer bring their Bibles to church or even open the ones offered in the pews because it’s up on the big screen?  

I’m not judging, but this is something that has been bothering me.  I mean if they are not opening their Bibles at Church are they opening their Bibles at home?  It’s something that I think about.  I’m not pointing fingers and not saying because I bring my Bible to Church that am I holier than those who do not.  I never grew up in the Church.  I didn’t have any one in my life that read the Bible or knew the word.  I’m surprised sometimes how I always felt called to God.  He definitely had me in the palm of His hand.  So the questions are if we aren’t in the word, how do we knew what we are called to do?  How are we to learn His ways?  How are we to teach the next generation about Him and His purpose for our life?  I believe the same questions I have,  have been hanging over the leadership of our church, as well.  Our church will be participating during lent in the Saddleback church study – 40 Days in the Word.

Now I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Pastor Rick Warren.  I participated in the Purpose Driven Life a few years ago.  There was some information that was quite good, but I did question some of His teaching.  (Don’t ask me what they were, I don’t remember).   This is the summary of the campaign from the 40 Days in the Word website:  

Together with Rick Warren and Saddleback Church you’ve experienced 40 days of Purpose, Love and Community. Now come along with Rick on a journey of 40 Days in the Word, a journey of eternal significance as you and your church will learn how to be not only a “hearer” of the Word, but also a “doer” of God’s Word. 

40 Days in the Word is a church wide weekly study of six principles of the Word of God. Together with Rick, the Saddleback Team and great pastors from across the country you and your church will explore the authenticity, reliability, power, comfort, interpretation and doing of God’s Word. This eight week journey, led by Rick Warren, will encourage spiritual growth in every member of your church.

I am excited though about this study.  I’m excited that our congregation is being encouraged to spend the 40 days of Lent in the word of God.  Being encouraged to study the Word daily.  That is what He wants.  He wants us to focus on His Word.  In conjunction with my Church’s participation with the 40 Days in the Word campaign and my participation with it, I will be focusing Caffeinated Randomness on the 40 Days in the Word starting February 15.  I might call it the Caffeinated in the Word campaign.  It has a good ring to it.  Every week I will blog about were God has been leading me in this Campaign and probably post some of the questions from the work book.  If you would like to join me, let me know.  

Now if you still want to link in during that time with good ol’wholesome randomness – bring it on.  I love reading everyone’s randomness.  I love seeing God working within you.  I, many times, learn so much from you all.  You make me laugh and cry.  
Come link into the randomness this week and share God’s work in your life.

Messy Monday – Zechariah

If you have been following our messy list, you would think that this weeks messy would be Noah.  However, you would be wrong.  We are going to skip over….ok, way over to the book of Luke for our next messy, Zechariah.

Now Zechariah was a priest who lived in the time of Herod.  He was married to Elizabeth.  They both lived according to God “careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God.” (Luke 1:6 Msg) (I wonder if I will ever be described this way?)  Yet, they were childless.  In fact, it states that this was Elizabeth’s fault.  I always wonder in situations like this how they knew?  Did Zechariah have other children from a previous marriage or relationship?  Why blame poor Elizabeth solely?…but I digress.

According to custom Zechariah was chosen to go to the Holy of Holies in the temple and burn incense   The angel of God appeared to Him.

When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.  Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:12-17 NIV84)

Then Zechariah sealed his own fate at being called a messy in the next line:

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18 NIV84)

Ouch!  This is actually one of the nicer translations.  The Amplified states “By what shall I know and be sure of this?”  While the Message is pretty to the point “Do you expect me to believe this?”  For a man who was supposed to know God’s word, he forgot the story of Abraham and Sarah and the blessing they received in their old age.  He actually questions God’s representative and in that God Himself.  As a punishment for his unbelief he lost his ability to speak.   Everyone would see how he and Elizabeth had been blessed but he wouldn’t be able to tell them the whole blessing for all of them.
As God told Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18:14) and later to Mary (Lk 1:37):  Nothing is impossible with God.  God created the world from nothing.  God gave Abraham and Sarah Isaac.  God lead Israel to Egypt to provide for them during a famine.  God lead Israel out of Egypt.  God provided Israel with sage judges, leaders and prophets.  God provided Esther with the opportunity to save her people.  God….you get my drift – NOTHING!!!!  We need to make the choice of choosing to believe as Mary did or to fight and question as Zechariah did.

I have to admit that I am like Zechariah.  I want to question and argue with God a lot.  Especially in regards to my children:

Why does my son have autism?
Why is my youngest autistic as well?
Why does my daughter have to face this alone?

These are a few of the questions I have cried out to God.  I have even tried to bargain with Him before my youngest was diagnosed.

Once the infant was born, everybody was going to name him Zechariah, after his dad.  Elizabeth said no that his name was John (Luke 1:61).  They then went to Zechariah.

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke1: 62-64 NIV 84).

Zechariah had become truly obedient and submitted to God.  He had come to believe that nothing was impossible.   He had the bouncy, puking, screaming, cute proof before him.  He was set free from the bindings for his obedience.  We too will be set free when we come to trust and obey God.  We don’t need to receive a huge blessing to see this.  We can see it in the small blessings we receive   When I was angry at God about my circumstances it was because I focused too much at the people around me.  It seemed that many of my friends and family were having “normal” children.  I questioned God as to why I was the statistic and not the “norm.”  I have come to realize that God just wanted me to focus on His blessings.  All of them – big and small.  I probably get more excited than other parents when my sons learn something, like putting their boots on or brushing their teeth.  I have had to learn to trust God completely and to be content in the joy He does bring.  For He will bring you blessings.  
When we obey and submit to God, we too are fully blessed.  It may not be in large things.  It may be in the small things.  Blessings you might ignore if you are waiting for something huge to happen.  

What is God calling you to do?
What are you questioning God about?
How have you been released and blessed lately?

Caffeinated Randomness – They’re Back…..

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Two weeks ago I awoke to great news.  We had been anticipating the worse.  We had been waiting since the fall for some decision to be made.  Plans were canceled.  Schedules changed.  We survived Saturday nights watching movies and old reruns on Netflix.  
But all that changed.  Saturday nights are going to back to normal soon.  We’ll be able to watch Coaches Corner and see the worst suits ever.  We’ll be able to hear about the blue line and goalie crease.  We’ll hear words like Battle of Alberta, face off and Lord Stanley.
You guessed it for this Canadian girl – HOCKEY IS BACK!!  I know there are arguments about why support the game of overpaid children having a tantrum or rich corporate greedy owners.   I really don’t care about it.  I just want to see the boys playing.  I’ve grown up in a hockey household and have a hockey husband.  It has been weird not to hear hockey noises in the background.  The cheers when your team is doing well and the angst when they are losing.  The stress of when there is 20 seconds left, the goalie pulled and the game is tied.  
It’s been very frustrating listening to my football friends talk about their teams and their favourite players and I’ve been silent.  I haven’t got to cheer on the boys.  I haven’t got to tease my Pastor when his team is defeated by my team.  I haven’t got to celebrate cheering for our team while living in enemy territory.  
That has all changed.  The Boys are BACK!!!!

Is there something you have been waiting for?  What is your favourite sport and team?  Come join the other Java Junkies in the randomness today.

Wednesday Voice – Nigeria

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9 NIV84
Please be in prayer for all believers.  Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post.  I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other.  We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

Churches Attacked on Christmas Eve 
Sources: CNN, Reuters, Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

While the majority of Christians around the world were peacefully celebrating our Lord’s birth on Christmas Eve, vicious attacks took place during two church services in northern Nigeria that have resulted in the deaths of at least 12 innocent people. This is the third year in a row that violent attacks have been launched against Christians in Nigeria at Christmas. 
Gunmen opened fire at the Church of Christ in Nations located in a small village of Yobe state, killing a total of six people, including the pastor. The perpetrators also set the church on fire and left several congregants seriously injured. That same night, a deacon and five other Christians were killed at the First Baptist Church in the city of Maiduguri (Borno state). Although no one has claimed responsibility for this year’s attacks, an Islamist terrorist group known as Boko Haram is widely suspected. Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan has issued a statement promising improved security for Christian communities. 

Please lift up those who have been greatly impacted by the attacks, asking God to overshadow them with His comforting presence and perfect peace.  

Also pray that He will powerfully minister healing to the injured and bereaved that they may remain faithful in the midst of persecution. 

May He impart wisdom and courage to the country’s authorities as they take necessary steps to end the violence caused by extremism.

Messy Monday – Cain & Abel

We all know the story of Cain and Abel.  At first glance it appears to be a story of brother vs. brother.  The good brother vs. the bad brother.  We see this theme played out in multiple movies, books, and television shows (ie. Thor vs. Loki, JR vs Bobby, etc..).  The theme is so ingrained in our culture that Kevin Leman thought he should call the Birth Order book, “Abel had it Coming!”

This story is really about sin.  The messy ugly sin that can take control of our lives if we let it.  In Genesis Chapter 4, we read that Abel kept flocks, while Cain “tilled” the land.  Both brothers brought an offering to God.  Cain brought the fruits of his labour as a farmer.  Abel sacrificed one of his firstborn sheep.  God honoured Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s offering.  Being an older sibling, I can tell you of the many times I felt this has happened to me, where it appeared that my younger sister got more than me or was favoured over me.  I have felt angry, frustrated and jealous.  I can imagine that this is exactly how Cain felt.  You’re the oldest, of course you should be favoured first.  It’s hard to see your younger sibling get something that yourself has not received.  

God saw Cain’s frustration and confronted him on it.  He tells Cain that if he does what is good he can “hold his head high” (vs. 4-5 CJB).  But…..there is always a but…..sin was crouching at his door. Waiting for him.  Watching for him.  Isn’t that the way with sin.  It waits for us and tempts us.  We can choose to hold our head high or to fall into it.  Hear that, we allow sin in our lives.  We allow it control over us.  It has no control unless we give it control.  

And of course, Cain did not heed the warning.  He led Abel to the fields and attacked and killed him.  While the bible doesn’t come right and say if this was a premeditated murder, the CJB version states:  

Kayin had words with Hevel his brother; then one time, when they were in the field, Kayin turned on Hevel his brother and killed him. (Gen 4:8 CJB)

He may not have intended to kill, but He did take advantage of the situation.  He took out all his frustrations, anger,  pain and jealousies out on Abel.  I can visualize both brothers during this.  I can feel Cain’s angst as I have been in this position and I can see Abel’s fear and shock during the attack.   

Notice how Cain took Abel out to the field so that what ever did occur would have no witnesses.  But there was a witness.  God saw all of it.  Just as every parent does when they know their kids have done wrong and want them to confess and tell them, God questions Cain:

And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? (Gen 4:9 AMP)

God wants Cain to repent.  He wants Cain to seek God’s forgiveness and grace.  He also wants Cain to be able to hold his head high in repentance   I often wonder what Cain would have faced if he had done so.  If he had immediately admitted to his crime.  But that was not to be.  Like most of us who have been caught in our sin, we want to blame someone else for our sin and hide from it.  Cain was no different.  

But face the music we must.  God knows full well what happened and punishes Cain.  But Cain still can’t accept responsibility for his sin.  He even complains about the punishment that he receives (v. 13).  I hear that from my kids a lot when they are being punished.  They don’t see that the punishment fits the crime.  No criminal ever does.  They feel like they are being persecuted excessively for what they committed.   It is because they don’t take responsibility for their actions.  They don’t see the pain they cause and inflict.  Our sins do not just affect our lives, they affect all of those around us.  Ask a family member of an alcoholic or drug addict how it affects them.  

God wants to show us grace.  He wants to forgive us.  But we need to take responsibility for our actions and face the music when it comes at us.  When we sin, we need to immediately turn from it and ask God to forgive us and ask those around us to forgive us.  When we are around something or people that would tempt us and lead us down a path of destruction, we need to turn from it.  We need to choose to hold our heads up.  We need to walk the path of righteousness with God.  

What are is tempting you?  What sins are you fighting?  Have you asked God for forgiveness?

Caffeinated Randomness – A Review


What would you do if you lost something that should be your most important possession?  Would you search for it or would you just let it go?  

What would you do if the person who you loved the most hurt you the most?  Would you make them pay?  Could you forgive them?  

Who do you trust, the person who appears to have it all or the person who everyone tells you to stay way from?  

Would you help a stranger when everyone told you not to?

These and many more layers of messiness are explored and embraced in an authentic, yet dramatic tale by Shannon O’Donnell in “Love’s Memory – The Scotts of Moutain Ridge (Book 1).”
I was privileged enough to be asked to preview this book late last year.  I struggle with many Christian Novels as I find them “fluff.”  Everything is always solved in a happy ending at the end.  They seem to be no better than, dare I say it, romance novels.  Not that I don’t read them.   They’re the books I read when I don’t want to be challenged or think.  However, this novel had me thinking.  There were so many layers to this story.  So many flawed characters who were struggling and in pain.  I was challenged to look at my own relationships and perceptions.  No one character was innately good and no one character was innately bad.  They were human.  They were honest and they were messy.

This novel is officially released on January 15, 2012 and would recommend getting it and reading it. I am now waiting for Book 2 and it can’t come soon enough.

What have you been reading?  What books have pushed or challenged you?  Come and join up with the other Java Junkies this week with your randomness.

Wednesday’s Voice – Martyrs

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9 NIV84
Please be in prayer for all believers.  Please feel free to share any prayer requests or praise requests in the comment section of the post.  I would ask that if you read this blog on a Wednesday that you take time not just to pray for those who are persecuted, but also for each other.  We may not know each other, but we can take joy in praying for each other and the power that God has when we pray globally. Blessings to you all.

On behalf of the Voice of the Martyrs I want to thank you for your prayers on behalf of all our persecuted brothers and sisters who are fellow believers in our Lord Jesus Christ .  Please pray that there would be religious freedom in all these countries. That God may give the body of believers strength and courage to stand strong and courageous for Him, not by their own strength. That they may seek God’s council in all that they do surrendering to His ways We are thankful to our heavenly Father for the privilege of praying for them and that we may never become disheartened or numbed to the needs of the Persecuted Church world wide.

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