We Will Remember Them

img_1229They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Englishman Laurence Binyon wrote his well-known poem, “For the Fallen”, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Sitting on the cliffs of Cornwall, gazing across to France where the British army had suffered heavy casualties on the Western Front, he composed the poem to honour his fallen countrymen. The third and fourth stanzas are quoted often as a universal tribute for fallen servicemen and women.

Receiving little recognition, an ongoing battle rages between the worldwide family of Christ and those who oppose and persecute its members. Recently Perfecto, a dedicated church elder from a village in the Philippines, was brutally murdered by two Muslim men as he rested in a hammock outside his house. Perfecto’s 12 year old daughter witnessed the shooting. She and her younger brother lost their only parent as their mother left the family years ago.* Perfecto’s murder is only one among many occurring in countries restricted and hostile to Christians. As well, large numbers of believers are being tortured, imprisoned and persecuted for their faith. Will we remember them?

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, the early Christians were already suffering persecution for their belief in Christ. “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
(Heb. 13:3 NIV) Calling upon the compassion exemplified by Christ, Paul exhorts believers to identify with their persecuted brothers and sisters and do what they can to comfort and help them. The most accessible and effective defense for such intense spiritual warfare is the weapon of prayer which can be wielded from anywhere by any believer. In Ephesians 6. Paul uses the parts of a soldier’s armour to illustrate the list of defenses needed for spiritual warfare. He instructs them to pray “in the Spirit, on all occasions” and to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Eph. 6:18)

How can we best honour and remember those of the army of Christ who have given their lives for their faith? By vigilantly praying for those who are presently being persecuted around the world because of their love for Jesus, asking Him to equip and protect them with the His spiritual armour. “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

* story from Voice of the Martyrs http://www.persecution.com

 

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Skydiving

????????????????????????????Gazing up into the blue sky at the speck of an airplane droning overhead, I saw the tiny figure of a skydiver fall towards the earth while the plane flew on. Spread-eagled in his orange jumpsuit, he hurtled down for several seconds before his parachute bloomed above him, slowing his descent to a manageable glide to the ground.

I thought about a time early in this skydiver’s experience when he would have stepped from the solid safety of an airplane into thin air for the first time. What was he relying on? Where was his faith placed that he believed he would reach the ground safely? How did his mind overcome what appeared to be certain death in order to take that step?

There are times when I’ve been riding safely along in the vehicle of my life with God when He suddenly calls me to step out of the plane; out of my comfort zone into a place of risk, an unknown place, a frightening place. At least that is how I first perceive where He’s calling me, so I quickly withdraw into the plane where it’s safe. This routine, these people, this predictable life is what I know; why would I want to leave it behind for something chancy?

Then I look out at the vast blue sky, feel the exhilarating rush of wind on my face and imagine the possibilities. What He’s called me to is actually something I’ve dreamed about from the safety of my secure little life, but have been too afraid to try. The fact is, when God calls me to step out of the plane I will only go when I can tandem dive with Him. Even when what He’s called me to do looks risky or foolish, I’ve learned by experience that wherever God leads I will be safe with Him.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.  – Romans 8:28 The Voice

So how do I know when it is God calling me to step out in faith? When I first get that niggling thought, the “what if”, the possibility offered against all odds, I pray if this is from Him, God will give me His imprimatur of peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. Even when I am fearful in the stepping out, a sense of His peace never leaves me. I know I am safer in the unknown with Him than in the known without Him.

In His Word I stay alert to the “lamp for my feet, the light on my path”, illuminating the next step, confirming the Spirit’s impression. Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit. – Gal. 5:25  The Spirit of God is my parachute, bearing me safely to where He wants me to go and giving me a ride of a lifetime in the process.

I am not an adventurous person, but when it comes to a God-purposed adventure, I know I can step out of the plane in faith that what He has in store will be beyond anything I can imagine or do on my own.

Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen. – Eph. 3:20-21