Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday, June 25th: Job 3-4; Acts 7:44-60 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 3-4; Acts 7:44-60

“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” - Job‬ ‭4:6

While I think it would've been smarter for Job's friends to just be quiet, not comment on his terrible situation, and just sympathize, this is a good point to remember when we are out of control of a terrible situation. We can hope in God and trust that He will deliver us from whatever we are going through.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJob 5-7; Acts 8:1-25

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24th: Job 1-2; Acts 7:22-43 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 1-2; Acts 7:22-43

Job 2:10 “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?”
As Christians, it is very easy to believe the lie that if we are faithful, God will always reward that faithfulness by blessing us materially and physically in this life.  

Sometimes He does.  But not always.

We are always blessed when we are faithful - spiritually.

But rain fall on the faithful and the wicked. Bad things happen to "good" people (and I put good in quote because none of us are good apart from the Holy Spirit's transformation of our lives).  We live in a fallen world and the effects of sin are all around us.  Sometimes bad things happen to us because of our sin, sometimes bad things happen to us because of someone else's sin, and sometimes bad things happen to us because of existence of sin.  It's just the way life is.

Jesus never promised us an easy life.  Indeed, He and virtually all His disciples died a martyr's death and we should not expect better than they!

But He did promise to be with us, to never leave us or forsake us, and that eventually, eternally, all will be made right.

13 Then they sat on the ground with him seven days and nights, but no one spoke a word to him because they saw that his suffering was very intense.This is the correct response to suffering.  If only Job's friends had stayed silent!  There is often no need to talk - in fact, we often mess things up when we try.  What our friends and family need from us is our presence, our empathy, our love.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageJob 3-4; Acts 7:44-60

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23: Esther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Esther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21

The Book of Esther plays out like a movie.  There is an intense plot - a queen dethroned and exiled, a beauty pageant for the king to choose his next queen, a royal wedding, an assassination plot foiled by the enemy of the king's right hand man, politics, revenge, an evil plot uncovered, hangings, and war.

Today's reading contains the perfect movie ending - the good guys win!

But Esther did not know this was how it would end.  Things could have gone much differently.  The king could have refused to extend the golden sceptre to her and had her killed.  Or, he could have allowed her to live, but not believe her story about Haman.  Or he could have believed it but have been indifferent, allowing Haman to proceed as planned but sparing the queen.  Or, or, or.

But, though the name of God is never uttered in this book, His sovereignty is on clear display from beginning to end.  And the end was never in doubt.  God would never allow His people to be wiped out.  He had promised to always leave a remnant, and He was faithful to that promise.

However, Esther, by doing what was asked of her, by doing the right thing, by showing up "at such a time as this", had the privilege and blessing of participating in God's plan.

What will we do when God asks something difficult of us?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Job 1-2; Acts 7:22-43

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22nd: Esther 6-8; Acts 6 ~ Conrad

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Esther 6-8; Acts 6

Have you ever thought that you had everything all planned out, and then suddenly something happens and now the train is off the track?  Well welcome to todays reading.  

Reality sets in for Haman when he plans on requesting an execution of Mordecai from the king, but instead Haman finds himself honouring Mordecai in the exact way that he recited as being the best way he saw fit to be honoured by a king.  Not only would this be a humbling experience for Haman, but he also would have realized that this could possibly derail their plan for exterminating all the Jews.     

After the king designates Haman to being the one who is hanged (by his own gallows I might add), Esther tells the king that Mordecai is actually her relative.  With the king having an open ear, Esther also pleads with him to put an end to Haman's evil plan of wiping out the Jews.  The king then authorized Mordecai to put in place a decree ensuring that the Jews would be safe throughout the entire empire.

The Jews are God's chosen people.  They weren't perfect, they weren't always obedient, but God protected them.  God used an unexpected person named Esther; a young, orphaned girl whom He raised up to take on a major role in executing the dramatic turn around of Haman's evil plan.  

Today's reading reminded me that I too could be that unexpected person that God needs to play a major role in.  I'm not perfect, and not always obedient.  But am I willing?  Do I open my heart and mind up for that?  Do I make myself available for God?  Do I pray asking God to show me the role that He wants me to play?  

One last point.....

The verse that stood out to me in the NT reading was Acts 6:10:

"but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."

Stephen was a man full of God's grace and power.  How cool and awesome would it be to have someone use those words to describe our character, because of how visible and active God is in our lives.     

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEsther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 21st: Esther 3-5, Acts 5:22-42 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is. Esther 3-5; Acts 5:22-42

In our reading from Esther we read about how the kingdom, or society, is closing in on the Jews living there, God's chosen people. Their is a order that goes out that gives the go ahead to kill all the Jews and to plunder their goods.

Esther 3:13
Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews —young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.


As Christians, we will face pressure to turn from God and join in what society wants. This storey from Esther shows again how important it is to not turn from God when the pressure is great, but to turn to Him, obeying and listening to Him.


Acts 5: 38-39
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. [39] But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”


What I wise speech, if something is from God it will last, if from humans it will not. To this day the word of God is still preached, just as it was then, therefore it is truly from God and therefore 100% true and trustworthy!


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Esther 6-8; Acts 6

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20: Esther 1-2; Acts 5:1-21 ~ Jody

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is:Esther 1-2; Acts 5:1-21


“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.” When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard. “ Acts 5:3-5

God is the same through all time. From the beginning of time through eternity, yet we change based on circumstance, society, culture etc. Right now most of humanity doesn't want to believe or hear that this same God is our God today. The common theme in mainstream culture is that God is loving and kind (which he is!) and nothing ele. But He is also righteous, just and jealous! The story of Ananas and Sapphira illustrate the wrath of God when we are greedy and ungrateful, lying to the Him. Like any Love-Relationship, God wants our love and honesty. 


God’s grace covers us, but our repentance and obedience is required to truly remain in it.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEsther 3-5; Acts 5:22-42

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19th: Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness,


This is my prayer for me and my family - that no matter the threat, God would give us the courage and strength to speak His word with boldness.

We got to see a bit of that this morning as it was baptism Sunday at church.  So thankful for the young people that were willing to proclaim their faith publicly (including Kezia who contributes to this blog!).  A reminder to pray for them as they continue on their journey of faith.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Esther 1-2; Acts 5:1-21

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday, June 18th: Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22

“if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.” - Acts‬ ‭4:9-10

This is the kind of courage we should have in our faith. We should not be afraid of anything, but we should only fear God. And if we only fear God, then we will have the courage to stand up for Him like this.

I pray we fear the Lord and have courage in our faith today.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageNehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday, June 17th: Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3

2 A man who was lame from birth was being carried there. He was placed each day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so that he could beg from those entering the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money. 4 Peter, along with John, looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” 5 So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Of course, the first thing I think of every time I read this is the kids song we learned about this passage.  Did anybody else learn it too?

In case you don't know it, here it is :)
https://youtu.be/RFZJFXvuv0A


This time when I read it, it made me think of something.  The lame man asked for money, and instead received healing.

How often do we ask too little of God?  Or ask for something we don't actually need?  Yes, the man needed money.  But he needed the use of his legs far more than a few coins!  

We, too, need more than material things.
We even need more than physical healing.
Above all we need spiritual healing.  And even after that - continued spiritual growth. 

May we see beyond our immediate needs and dare to ask God for something big, and even better, something with eternal value.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16th: Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47

Our OT passage today is a study on overcoming opposition and continuing to persevere despite social injustice, government corruption, and just general pushback.  

Sometimes we think that if something doesn't come easily it must be God shutting a door and we want to look for an open window somewhere.  God can shut door sometimes of course.  But often we experience resistance and opposition when we are doing the right thing!  Of course Satan is going to attack that.  But He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world.  And with His help we will not be defeated, we will persevere, and we will not give up!


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday, June 15th: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-21 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-21

I was struck by two things in our Nehemiah passage.

First, was that Nehemiah was obviously a man of integrity.  He had clearly lived in such a way that when he was distressed, his concerns were not only taken seriously, but every request was granted even above what he had asked for, by the king.

Second, was that Nehemiah didn't even think of going before the king or making any requests until he had first gone before God.   He prayed, he fasted, he repented, he glorified God.  He brought his need before the One whom he knew was sovereign, before he went to the king who would be used by Him for His glory.

Do we live with such integrity?
Do we recognize who is sovereign and do we go to Him first?


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday, June 14th: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1 ~ Nathan

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 9-10; Acts 1

In our reading from Ezra today, we read about how the Israelites inter married with foreign women, which was against what God wanted. Both chapters in today's old testament reading talk about this, Ezra gets on his knees and talks about how good God has been to the Israelites,

Ezra 9:8
“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and little relief in our bondage


God was good to the Israelites, and they fell back and continued to sin. God is good to us, even through we continue to sin. Do we see our sin - and ask for forgiveness, then try our best to not repeat our sins?

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Interesting that in Ezra 10: 18-44, the bible lists all who sinned in this way. Not often we read a list of names of those guilty.

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Acts 1:9
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.


What an amazing sight this must have been! Jesus physically left, but we know that He will return one day. He completed what He came to do.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-21

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13: Ezra 6-8; John 21 ~ Jody

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Ezra 6-8; John 21

Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

I read the following in the Bible Commentary found here and thought it a great description of what's going on here between Jesus and Peter:

John Montgomery Boice (source of the "title" above) has a superb, practical introduction to this concluding section of John's Gospel… 
If each of us knew how sinful we really are, we would not be so shocked or subdued by our failures. But most of us do not know the depths of our own depravity. So we are shocked, particularly by a fall into serious moral sin or by our surprising ability to deny Jesus Christ. When we sin in such ways, it is a tactic of the devil to argue that, having sinned, we have forfeited our chance for a successful and happy Christian life and that we might as well go on sinning. Like most of the devil’s statements this is untrue. Though we sin, we have nevertheless not forfeited our chances for a full Christian life, nor dare we go on sinning. Instead, the Christian way is that of repentance and restoration. This is the point of the story of Peter’s restoration by Jesus in John 21. Peter had failed the Lord in his hour of apparent need. He had abandoned him and had compounded his cowardice by a threefold denial that he had ever known him. Yet Jesus loved Peter, and Peter knew that he loved Jesus.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:Ezra 9-10; Acts 1

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12th: Ezra 3-5; John 20 ~ Kezia

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 3-5; John 20

"Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed." John 20:8

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." John 20:25

"Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."" John 20:29

Sometimes it's easy to focus too much on physical proof. The cameras caught a picture of your vehicle running through a red light, proof you committed a crime. Your loved one surprises you by doing your least favourite chore, proof they love you. You earn a certificate when you graduate, proof you completed the course.

Jesus explains how much more valuable it is to have a faith that you don't even need physical proof to believe.

God doesn't just work in physical ways. Yes, Jesus did preform many miracles, but a lot of the work God does can't be seen. God gave us five different senses, and He can reveal Himself not just through sights, but other ways too. The phrase "a change of heart" is not meant literally, but rather as a symbol of God working through you.

So why then do we rely on God to "show himself" to us, in order for us to believe? Why should our loving, caring, and amazing Creator have to prove Himself?



Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Ezra 6-8; John 21

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 11th: Ezra 1-2; John 19:23-42 ~ Emma

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 1-2; John 19:23-42

What a wonderful gift we received from God, His only Son.

This is the story on which our faith is built. This is the story that reminds us that God is faithful. This is the story that gives us hope. The amount of torture Jesus went through for us is unimaginable. And to think He would've done that for me, even if I was the only person on earth. He is truly an all-powerful, all-loving, all-forgiving, beautiful God.

Thank you, God, for your unfathomable love and sacrifice. Help us to never forget all that You have done for us.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageEzra 3-5; John 20

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday, June 10th: 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22

2 Chronicles 34: 3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a youth, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David, and in the twelfth year he began to cleanse Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherah poles, the carved images, and the cast images.

These verses are a great reminder that we are never too young to be passionate about following God, or effective in how we live our lives.

2 Chronicles 34:19 When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. 20 Then he commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, the court secretary Shaphan, and the king’s servant Asaiah, 21 “Go and inquire of the Lordfor me and for those remaining in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that was found. For great is the Lord’s wrath that is poured out on usbecause our ancestors have not kept the word of the Lord in order to do everything written in this book.”

Do we take God's Word this seriously?  We have access to every single thing God wanted revealed to us.  How often do we neglect even reading it, never mind following it!

2 Chronicles 34:33 So Josiah removed everything that was detestable from all the lands belonging to the Israelites, and he required all who were present in Israel to serve the Lordtheir God. Throughout his reign they did not turn aside from following the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

Unfortunately, as we see from this passage, you cannot legislate a change of heart.  The people followed God as long as it was the law of the land, and as long as their King followed God - but clearly it wasn't a heart transformation for them, as it was for Josiah.  We need God to replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday, June 9th: 2 Chronicles 32-33; John 18:19-40

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 32-33; John 18:19-40

John 18: 36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus.
This is why Jesus was killed.  This is why the Jews did not recognize Him.

They were looking for the wrong Jesus. They were looking for a king who would throw off the mantle of oppression that they were under, and conquer the Romans.

But Jesus didn't come as a conqueror.  He wasn't what they were looking for. He wasn't what they wanted.

He came to die.  He came to rescue, but He did it by conquering sin and death, not Rome.  He came to offer the world reconciliation to God, but so many did not see it and they spat in His face instead of falling at His feet in repentance.

We don't get to accept Jesus for Who we want Him to be.  We can only accept Him for Who He is. Who He said He was.  Who God proclaimed Him to be in the Word.

One day He will be a conquering King.  But first, we need to accept Him as the suffering servant.

Are we looking for Jesus?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday, June 8th: 2 Chronicles 30-31; John 18:1-18 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 30-31; John 18:1-18

Neither Caiaphas or his father-in-law Annas, took the time to evaluate Jesus' claims against their vast knowledge of Scripture.  Instead they were so selfishly ambitious, they were willing to kill God's Son if they had to.  

Do we ever get so caught up in our own agenda, that we don't even take the time to exercise discernment?  



John 18:14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be better for one man to die for the people.

When Caiaphas said this, he had no idea how very true his words would be.  It was indeed better for one man, Jesus, to die for the people.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday, June 7th: 2 Chronicles 28-29, John 17

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is:  2 Chronicles 28-29; John 17

(Tammy here: had a crazy day and totally forgot to publish Nathan's post for him! Sorry for the delay!)

In our Old Testament reading today we read about two kings of Judah, father and son, one who did evil and one who followed God and did good.

King Ahaz did evil, 
2 Chronicles 28:3
He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.

His son, King Hezekiah, did good. 
2 Chronicles 29:3
In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.

No matter where we grew up or what we have done, God offers forgiveness and a chance to follow Him. We can make things right again  by turning to Him, it's not too late.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage:  2 Chronicles 30-31; John 18:1-18

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday, June 6: 2 Chronicles 25-27; John 16 ~ Jody

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Chronicles 25-27; John 16

"7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7

Can you imagine Jesus laying the ground work for the disciples to prepare them for his death? He knew the fear and doubt coming. He knew the persecution they would be facing and He is trying to bolster them and prepare their hearts and spirits. He's telling them that there is good to come in the face of what will seem like a tragedy to them at the time.

This passage spoke to me about the gift of the Holy Spirit to us. As the passage continues, I love how Jesus explains the nearness of the Spirit that can only happen because of what He has done for us! The painful work on the cross so that we can learn and grow in the Spirit.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Chronicles 28-29; John 17

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday, June 5th: 2 Chronicles 23-24; John 15 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 23-24; John 15

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name,because they don’t know the one who sent me.
This made me think of an article I read by Matt Walsh just this past week - he had some harsh, convicting words for North American Christians.....

A few days ago, 29 Christians were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Egypt.....the details of this story are especially harrowing. The victims were in buses headed to a monastery in the desert. The Islamist barbarians didn’t just walk onto the vehicles and shoot indiscriminately. Instead, they pulled each person out and interrogated them. The Christian pilgrims were asked first if they were Christian and then told if they abandoned Christ and converted to Islam they would be spared. When each person refused to renounce their faith, they were shot in the head or the throat. Apparently, all of the victims, even the children, died heroically in this way.

They accepted death rather than betray their beliefs. They chose to be martyrs. Real martyrs, I mean. Not the suicidal, nihilistic Muslim sort of “martyr” who dies with a bomb on his chest and blood on his hands. These were actual martyrs. Innocents who died brutally, bloodily, as victims. True believers who drank from the cup of Christ and perished as He did. If we as Christians in America are not stirred deep down in our souls by the stories of these heroes, then our souls must already be dead.
Imagine facing this yourself. Just imagine it. And there are two questions here, remember. You must choose martyrdom twice.
The first question: “Are you Christian?”
You could probably escape death here. All you need to say is “no.” One word. One syllable. One syllable will save your life. That’s all it will take. Imagine the courage required to kneel there on the ground with a gun to your neck and speak the simple truth. “Yes.”
The second question: “Will you renounce Christ and convert to Islam?”
Perhaps you didn’t know there would be a second question. You thought they’d kill you after you answered affirmatively to the first. But now you have another chance to save yourself. Another chance to avoid a violent death out here in the desert, in the middle of nowhere. Imagine the courage required to reject this final temptation and speak those words that you know will be the last you ever speak. “No.”
Gun shot.
Death.
How many of us have a faith like this? These Christians were willing to give up everything for Christ. How many of us are willing to give up anything, let alone everything? Most so-called believers in this country will lash out angrily if you so much as suggest that they ought to be more discriminating in the shows they watch and the music they listen to. The idea that we should even make sacrifices in our entertainment choices is downright offensive to us. Forget about telling a Christian that they should dress or speak a little differently. You’ll be cast aside as a Puritan by these earnest Bible believing folk. And yet we think we possess the conviction and the faith to give up our very lives for Him? Laughable. Face it: most of us would grovel and weep at the feet of our Muslim captors and recite whatever Koranic prayer they demanded of us. I suspect most of us would probably do that if someone put a gun to our TV, never mind our heads.
Am I being too hard on us? Oh, I’m not being nearly hard enough. You and I both know it. Our persecuted brothers and sisters put us to shame, and we should be ashamed. We are nothing compared to them. We are unworthy to wipe the dust from their sandals. We play pretend Christianity in this culture. They show us the real thing, and it bears almost no resemblance to our pale, pathetic imitation.
Just think of what these martyrs were doing in the first place when they were killed. They were traveling out into the desert on a pilgrimage to pray at a monastery, despite the enormous risk that such a journey entails. What about us? We can’t even be bothered to get up on Sunday morning and drive 12 minutes to church. Our churches aren’t in the desert. There aren’t any Islamic militants patrolling the area, looking to put a bullet in our skulls and turn our children into slaves. So what’s our excuse? We don’t want to get up. It’s a hassle, you see. It’s boring. The air conditioner doesn’t work very well and we might get a little sweaty. We had an argument with someone at church and it might be awkward to see them. We don’t like the sermons. The pastor was rude to us once. Why should we go? We don’t want to. You can’t make us. Our tummies hurt. Waaaaah!
Oh, sure we’ve come up with our theological excuses for not going to church, not changing our lifestyles, not really doing anything at all. We found a verse or two that justifies our laziness, in our minds. Or we came up with a verse that we’ve decided should be in the Bible if we were really supposed to do such and such or not do such and such, and because this verse isn’t in there, it means we’re good to go. This is the one area of religion where we exert some effort: in finding excuses to not be religious. I recently had an argument with a Christian who provided the most impassioned Biblical defense of mini-skirts that I’ve ever heard. I’m sure it was the most energy they’ve invested in a religious discussion in their lives.
But our brothers and sisters to the east know nothing of these excuses. They can’t conceive of why you’d even want to find them. They look at us and ask: “You can be as Christian as you want and nobody will hurt you. Nobody will kill you. Why wouldn’t you proclaim Christ from the rooftops, then? What’s stopping you?”
Well, because we might lose Facebook friends. Someone might accuse us of being weird. And, besides, if we start being really Christian then we might feel guilty about all of the gossiping we do at work, and all the porn we watch on our computers, and the fact that we drink too much, and spend too much of our money on frivolous things, and that we make no sacrifices at all, ever. That’s what’s stopping us. We have it too easy, in other words. We’re fat and lazy and soft and selfish. What’s stopping us is that nothing is stopping us, you might say.
Perhaps, in all of this, I’ve stumbled upon the answer to my first question. Our media pays little attention to the martyrdom of Christians because the martyrs make such a compelling case for Christianity. They’d rather focus on Christians in this country as we complain about not hearing “Merry Christmas” from the cashier at JC Penny, and then get back to our divorces and our Netflix addiction.
We are ridiculous and it is, therefore, quite easy to not take us seriously. After all, why should they take our faith seriously if we do not take it seriously? But the Christians in the Middle East do take their beliefs seriously — very seriously — and that makes them extremely convincing advocates for those beliefs, and that makes them dangerous. That’s why the media is afraid to pay attention to them. That’s why even we, as Christians, are afraid to pay attention to them. They show us something about ourselves, and we don’t like what we see. So we look away and find something else to care about.
Oh, hey, Donald Trump tweeted a typo. Good, yes, there’s something safe to focus on. Let’s talk about that instead. Let’s talk about anything instead.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage2 Chronicles 25-27; John 16