Saturday, June 26, 2010


Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:14 NET)

One of the beautiful things I've seen in Scripture over the years is what I like to call the increasing "withness" of God. I've come to see that it defines our message and impacts our ministry.

In the garden of Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve. He came down and interacted with them in the world He'd created for their dwelling place. Sin disrupted that communion, and ever since man has tried to find ways to reach up to God, to experience that "withness".

Amazingly, God's plan of redemption didn't stop at restoring the lost fellowship of garden-walking-and-talking. His plan involved deepening the fellowship beyond anything Adam and Eve could have dreamed.

We saw glimpses in the pillar of fire and the cloud that led the Israelites, and then the tabernacle. God's presence would come down visibly -- the "Shekinah" glory -- and it was so great that the Israelites asked Moses to go up on their behalf. Moses would so shine with the glory of the presence of God that he would have to wear a veil over his face for a period of time afterward. God's Shekinah glory also visited the temple designed by David and built by Solomon. Intermingled in the stories of the Israelites are times when God's Spirit would visit not merely the temple, but rest upon individuals as well, equipping them for a task.

But it wasn't enough. God was merely setting the stage for an unveiling of a withness no one could imagine. When the time was right, He Himself would come down to earth in human form, and live among the people He created. Just imagine for a minute: You build an ant colony (like many of you probably did in elementary school). Curious what life is like for the ants in your glass enclosure, you find a way to enter their world - not as a human, but as an ant. That's a weak analogy of the Incarnation. God - the Word - became flesh and dwelt (literally, "Tabernacled") among us as Jesus Christ. Philippians 2 says He "emptied Himself".

Now in our human understanding that seems sufficient. He's walking with us again, just as in the garden. But God in His wisdom had an even bigger plan ... a Promise of intimacy deeper than a walk in the garden. Jesus Himself described it the night before His death:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. - (John 14:16-20 ESV)
Jesus would die, be resurrected, and ascend to the Father so that we could experience a deeper level of intimacy with God than walks in the garden. He sent the promised Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers. Paul later would teach that the Holy Spirit is the sign of a true believer (Romans 8:9-15) and the seal of our salvation (Ephesians 4:30). So believers in Jesus now have the constant presence of God, a withness beyond imagination. And after a lifetime of walking by faith that His unseen presence is with us, we have the promise that immediately upon death we will behold Him - we will be with Him, in His presence. Heaven will be, first and foremost, the deepest level of withness imaginable.

So - if we have experienced such deep "withness" from God, what difference should that make in our ministry and work to advance the kingdom of God? Obviously, we are motivated to want others to experience what we know to be true. But I think there is another key lesson for being on mission with God.

God is God. He could have redeemed any way He wanted. Yet He chose a path of "withness" - of presence, of incarnation. And once He started that path, He chose others to minister with Him. Certainly the day-to-day work of ministry would have been easier for Him if He hadn't had to constantly teach and correct the disciples. He knew all the right answers. He had a firm grasp on which demons required prayer and fasting. He knew ahead of time what people were thinking and who would believe and who would reject Him. And yet, He still chose to have others on His team -- 72 that were sent out in pairs to minister in the region, 12 to be apostles, 3 that would be with Him at the most personal moments of His ministry.

The example of Christ shows us that we don't advance God's kingdom in a vacuum. First, we have to be incarnational ourselves -- going and adapting to those we long to reach. That might be another people group across the world, an international population in our country, an inner city youth group, or just the women in our Bible study. People need to know we identify with them, and when that happens we will be able to minister at a deeper level. Cancer survivors are great at ministering to cancer patients because they truly know what they are facing. Missions studies over the past few generations have shown that simply adapting to the food and dress of a culture makes a big difference in how the message is received. There are many ways to become incarnational - the main point is that we see ourselves not merely going to a people but in some way emptying ourselves in the process.

But incarnational ministry goes beyond how we approach those we serve. Jesus - who held full authority, was completely perfect, and had all the answers - ministered with others. Too many times we think of ministering to a group of people, especially those in need: ministering "to the poor"; "to the abused""; "to the drug addict"; is all part of the evangelical lingo. But with few exceptions, our ministry can always find a way to be with, not to. Ministering to can easily become patronizing or enabling. Ministering with grants the other a level of dignity, an honor that says we see them in the image God as having something significant to contribute.

One of the most significant books I've read this year is When Helping Hurts. It talks about alleviating poverty and points out that with few exceptions (such as the immediate hours and days after a natural disaster), people can participate in the rebuilding and development process. When we go in thinking we have all the answers, some unfortunate things happen: tractors are donated to people who lack the ability to purchase gasoline; a harvest is increased on land that is worked by tenant farmers who only get a limited return on their labor; and so on.

When we practice "withness" the results are very different. One missionary received a hearing for the Gospel after introducing earthworms to meet a basic need of improving soil. The development is sustainable and the farmers are receptive to the truth. A ministry I know of establishes communities of believers within cities in Asia, living as close as possible to the people and helping meet basic needs in ways that honor the people's traditions, such as neighborhood dinners. In another part of the world, a young woman is learning to garden and plans to establish a community garden where everyone contributes to the effort and shares the rewards. Along the way, conversations about God flow naturally.

Withness doesn't have to happen overseas. It can happen when the homeless population helps serve and clean up the meal provided, such as the Salvation Army and Southchurch do in our city. The main point is to see ministry as with not to. And intentionally seek ways to bring those we serve into a relationship that involves ministering to their own.

Truly God changes everything. Even the way we look at serving. May we humbly serve with others, leading them to know the One who came so we could experience His withness forever.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An open letter from Afghan Christians

Today's email brought a heart-wrenching letter. A source that I trust completely and who has personal knowledge of the organizations involved passed this along and asked for prayer. Since this letter has been issued as an "open letter", I felt that it is safe to publish it in this format. You'll see below two sections: The "introduction to the letter" written by Christian ministries that work with Afghan believers, and then then letter itself, written by Afghan Christians currently displaced to India due to persecution.

You may be surprised to notice that the believers ask for prayer and advocacy toward ending the persecution. It's a myth that persecuted believers never want us to pray for their deliverance, or that persecution is always a good thing. Paul's words to the Thessalonians give us full Biblical permission to pray for deliverance from persecution:

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. (2 Thess. 3:2)

Furthermore, Scripture doesn't give a clear answer on what someone in persecution should do. As John Bunyan - the author of Pilgrim's Progress and himself a persecuted believer - noted clearly, Biblical heroes seemed to be led by the Spirit rather than a single approach to such situations:

May we try to escape? Thou mayest do in this as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly: if it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Any thing but a denial of the truth. He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Exodus 2:15; Moses stood, Hebrews 11:27. David fled, 1 Samuel 19:12; David stood, 1 Samuel 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jeremiah 37:11-12; Jeremiah stood, Jeremiah 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 9:10; Christ stood, John 18:1-8. Paul fled, 2 Corinthians 11:33; Paul stood, Act 20:22-23. . . . There are few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly. . . . Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God's providence, and the escape countenanced by God's Word.... (John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, in The Works of John Bunyan, Vol. 2, ed. George Offor (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991, orig., 1854), 726.)
When placed in the position that we are in as free believers, we cannot accurately judge the decision by these believers to flee and others to stay. We have to simply pray for God to give them wisdom, and trust that He is guiding them with the same Holy Spirit that guides us. So I encourage you to pray as they request you to do so, knowing that God's kingdom work is of utmost importance. Advocate however God leads you. I'm convinced that God wants the Afghan church to not merely survive, hanging on by a thread and dispersed throughout the world, but to thrive, living out their faith in the land of their hearts and transforming it for the glory of God.

An Open Letter from the Afghan Christian Community to the Body of Christ Worldwide:

INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER (from those working with Afghan believers in the country)
We need your help to stop the Afghan government from arresting Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution!

The enclosed letter addresses recent events inside Afghanistan that have unfolded since May 27th, 2010 after an incendiary documentary showing photos and videos of secret "Afghan Christian Converts" aired on Noorin TV, an independent tv station based in Kabul. The documentary was the first of its kind to ever air publicly on national TV in Afghanistan, a country that considers itself to be 100% Muslim. The controversial content, revealing names and faces of supposed Afghan Christian converts, sparked riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan in the days that followed.

During the ensuing protests, demonstrators called on President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government to take strong and decisive actions against these exposed Afghan Christian converts by enforcing the Afghan constitution, based on Islamic Sharia law, which clearly call for the arrest and public execution of anyone who leaves Islam for another religion.

According to an online report by the Associated Free Press dated June 1, 2010, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, deputy secretary of the Afghan lower house in parliament, called for the execution of Christian converts from Islam saying, "those Afghans that appeared in this video film should be executed in public, the house should order the Attorney General and the NDS (intelligence agency) to arrest these Afghans and execute them".

In another reported statement, Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from Herat, declared that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity is "not a crime". Waheed Omar, the spokesman for the President, told reporters that President Hamid Karzai himself was "personally" taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country´s spy agency to do a full investigation and "to take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon".

Reports from inside Afghanistan already tell of many arrests in recent days, frequent and ongoing searches of homes and businesses, as well as claims of torture by those under arrest in an effort to forcibly extract the names of other Afghan Christian converts and the locations of secret Afghan Christian "churches" and underground fellowships throughout the country.

In light of all these events, and the perplexing media silence on these atrocities occurring in plain view of the international community, we are pleading with the Body of Christ around the world to support our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters during this critical time by taking a firm and vocal stand against the severe and devastating wrongs being committed against them by their own government!

We ask that you please forward and share the enclosed "open letter to the church" with your friends, churches, prayer groups, human rights advocates, the media, your local representatives, senators and other government bodies and authorities... We need everyone's help to make our voices heard!

We must make people aware that right now our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters are being subjected to forcible arrest, intimidation, fear, torture and certain public execution merely for choosing to be Christian! We must raise up a standard against these egregious injustices and blatant human rights violations by taking a strong and public stand against these unconscionable actions being perpetrated and condoned by the Afghan government from the parliament floor against its own people!

The enclosed letter was written on June 8, 2010 by Afghan Christians who are currently living in exile from their beloved homeland because they were forced to flee their country in order to save their lives and the lives of their families, due to orders of execution issued against them by the Afghan government for choosing to convert to Christianity:

Letter to the Body of Christ around the world,
written by members of the Afghan Christian community on June 9, 2010:

To the Body of Christ:

This letter is written by the Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi, India which is a small community of 150 Afghan Christian refugees and asylum seekers.

We left our country because we were sentenced to death on the account of our Christian faith (conversion), as Afghanistan is a Muslim Country, the Afghan Government is an Islamic government, and Islam is the only formal religion of the country, and according to the Constitutional law of the Afghan Islamic Republic, conversion is considered as a big crime, Christian are called pagans and infidels and are sentenced to death by the Afghan Government. Christians are considered criminals. Death penalty is waiting for all those who want to leave the darkness and come to the true light, repent from their sins, and put their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and Savior of all human being.

We believe that you (the Body of Christ) have already heard that some pictures and movies of the Afghan believers (from Delhi and Kabul) were shown by an Afghan Private TV (Noorin TV), this TV channel showed these picture in a especial program (Sarzameen Man), and the Government and people were encouraged and provoked to think about the issue of conversion, to make a stand against it and to take serious and practical measures and actions to destroy Afghan Converted Christians (Sons of God) and those who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lost.

The Afghan Parliament, Senate, Religious Council and Islamic Parties and leaders made statements that the Afghan Government has to search, find, arrest, deliver to courts and executes all Afghan Christians, and the Christian NGOs and Organization have to be stopped too. University students protested against Afghan Christians in Kabul and Herat Provinces, and the Afghan Government also made a statement that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed, and the Christian NGOs and Organizations which involved with the issues of conversion will be closed.

Mr. Mujajdi the Chairman Of Afghan Senate said that if the Afghan Government does not take serious action, he and other Islamic leaders will call and request the Afghan people to take practical measures to kill all Afghan Christians. President Karzai himself showed his personal interest in this regard and said that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed and Christian organizations which are involved with this issue will be stopped. He ordered the Afghan security organs to take serious measures in this regard. The Afghan Home Minister and the Chairman of the Afghan Intelligence told the Afghan Parliament that 4 Afghan Christian individuals and one family have been arrested and they are under investigation, 13 NGOs have been named and suspended, the names of Afghan Christians have been listed, and the Afghan Intelligence agency is trying to arrest them. Two Church organizations by the names of WCA and NCA have been closed. As we are in contact with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, many believers are arrested, our houses are checked by police and intelligence people in Afghanistan, our families and parents (though they are Muslim) are under investigation and even arrested, and all Afghan believers are misplaced.

1. So, We (Afghan Christian Community) along with our other Afghan Christian brothers and sisters who are in Afghanistan request you to:
2. Please pray for us and for this critical situation, pray for those who are arrested, and those who are under investigation. Please come together and help your Afghan brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are sentenced to death, we are arrested, we are under investigation, the Afghan Government kills us because we believe on Jesus Christ, we know that we should consider it pure joy when we suffer (James 1: 1 -4), and we are enjoying all suffering all joy. But we also know that faith without deeds is useless (James 2: 14 - 17), and this is the time to raise your voice for your brothers and sisters, for our children, for our old parents, for the execution of thousand Afghan believers. This is the day that all of us should come together and pray, think, help and raise our voices to the International Community, to put pressure on the Afghan Government to stop killing, persecuting and executing Afghan Christians, to give us freedom of religion, to respect and accept us as Afghan Christians.
3. We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes, while thousand of their brothers and sisters (Body of Christ) are in pain, facing life danger and death penalty, and are tortured, persecuted and called criminals because they believe in the Truth.

We need to wake up, get up and speak up today, and to prove it that we are really in concern, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should help the persecuted part of the body of Christ, for His Glory. If we really believe that Lord Jesus Christ is God, then, He commands us to love Him and to love our neighbor, if our own brothers and sisters, are in pain and suffering, and we are silent and we ignore them and their suffering, then the question is that do we really obey Lord Jesus's commandment to love Him and our neighbor?

So, dear brothers and sister (the Body of Christ), we (Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi) on behalf of all Afghan Christians request you to support us by your prayers and practical measures, let us tell the Afghan Government that we are not pagans and infidels, we are not criminals because of our Christian faith, and let us tell them not to sentence us to death.

May God bless you!
Afghan Christian Community
(Obaid S. Christ)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
My eyes are not haughty.
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul.
Like a weaned child with its mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
Both now and forevermore.

I've struggled with this Scripture ever since I first read it. Frankly, it's one of those that pours forth as a prayer more easily than a statement.

I have always concerned myself with big questions. As a child, when I asked "Why is the sky blue?" I was unsatisfied with "Just because". I couldn't understand why it wasn't orange, or brown. There was always one more "Why?" behind my questions (and I was very excited to learn later about refraction!).

I don't know why God made me this way, but He did. As an adult I've had to learn to bring that under the control of the Holy Spirit, to approach my questions from a foundation of faith. That didn't happen right away -- first, I laid aside everything I'd grown up with and then began to pick it up, one "truth" at a time, and examine its validity. God wisely started me out with resources that helped me gain a strong conviction in the inspiration of Scripture. From that starting point, by God's grace I established my faith as my own in a way that fit who God made me to be. My faith is deep and real, but it is intellectually honest. Simply put, I think that the truth of Christianity is the most logical, reasonable things you'll ever come across. Lived out in a worldview that applies its teachings, it will "turn the world upside down".

But all this questioning hasn't stopped. I still wonder about the big questions. I'm opinionated by nature and if I don't have an opinion, my tendency is to research and learn so I can develop an informed perspective. So when I started memorizing this Psalm, my first comment to God was that I wasn't sure that was true in my life. I didn't think I was proud or haughty, but I was pretty sure I concern myself with lots of great matters and things too wonderful for me. Almost immediately God brought one of my favorite Scriptures to mind:

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)

The things revealed. God has given us His Word. He wants us to understand it. When I ask questions about Scripture, when I seek to truly understand what something means or how to live out a truth or whether something is culturally bound or applicable today, I'm not dealing with "great matters". I'm dealing with "things revealed." Based on God's reaction to people who asked about current events and the facts before them, I think even those questions that stem from observing the world around me fall into the "things revealed" category. (See for example Daniel, Habakkuk, Mary and the disciples.)

But what about Zechariah, who questioned the angel and was struck mute for 9 months. Zechariah is a favorite example of those who fear that asking God questions amounts to questioning God. I have come to see this as the issue reflected in verse 2 of Psalm 131: our soul must be "like a weaned child". That speaks of trust. Why does the Psalmist refer to a weaned child -- one no longer nursing? A nursing child cries and wails until it is fed. A weaned child, though, knows that Mom will take care of dinner. There is a trust that simply saying, "I'm hungry" will be sufficient.

God doesn't want me to quit asking questions. He just wants all the questions to come from a place of trust. A place of "hope in the Lord". He wants me to rest in His character and know His heart, even when things don't make sense. Notice I said that our faith is reasonable. That doesn't mean it is always logical from an earthly perspective. Indeed, it's a counter-cultural, upside down life where the way to success is servanthood, the want to overcome doubts is to step out in faith, and needs are met by sacrificing for others. To live that life I have to have a firm conviction in something unshakeable -- the character of God. There will always be a lot of questions. The one thing I'll never have to question, though, is Him.

So now I rest in the knowledge that I don't concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. Those are the secret things -- and I know the One who holds them in His hand. I learned about Him through the things He has revealed.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness,
Therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His Word I place my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
More than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
For with the Lord is unfailing love,
And with Him is full redemption.
He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

WOW. This is one of those Psalms that throws me into "Wide Open Worship". As I memorized it this week, I walked with arms outstretched to heaven, praising God for all that "full redemption" means. By the time I had it memorized, I was nearly having a "hallelujah fit".

This Psalm excites me because I've been in the depths. I've cried out to God and thrown myself on His mercy. Some Christians have the luxury of reading passages such as Leviticus 16-18's moral laws and identifying mainly through James' teaching that to violate one point of law makes us guilt of all of it. They read Paul's list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and think it's great that God pulled such people together in a church there in Corinth, but they struggle to personally relate. I'm so grateful God has allowed so many of His children to avoid the depths of depravity by being raised in the church or at least in moral homes, coming to know Him and living for Him from childhood or young adulthood. As much as I wish that were my story, it's not.

My reality is that I relate very, very literally to the Law's requirements of death. My blood ran cold the first time I realized that under the Law, I would have died. As I began to realize that I was in the depths, I knew of only one thing to do: cry out for mercy. I honestly didn't know if God would hear. But I knew there was no other option. There was no Plan B. I knew I couldn't stand before Him with the record of my sins.

How thrilled I was to know that with Him there is forgiveness. I completely understand why the Psalmist says "therefore You are feared." At first it seems counterintuitive because we think it should say "You are loved". But truly, when we desperately hope for forgiveness we stand before God our Judge as one guilty of a crime - someone who wants the Judge to grant mercy. We "fear" in the sense of reverence or respect. When I served on a jury, the convicted man begged for mercy at sentencing. He wasn't casual or light in his approach. He was thoroughly respectful. God's forgiveness should yield the same tone of respect in our approach to Him. 

So, I did all that I could do. I waited on God, and put my hope in His Word--in passages like Psalm 103:12. I threw everything I had into believing that truly, He Himself would redeem me -- through the sacrifice He made on the cross. An anonymous statement became a guide as I sought God's Word and learned that truly, Jesus' sacrifice was all I needed.
Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die,
Another's life, another's death,
I stake my whole eternity. 
Truly, I learned that He offered unfailing love and full redemption. I learned He would redeem ALL my sins. I soon recognized myself in Scripture as the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). All I could do was worship.

As I memorized this Psalm, I was taken back to those early days of awakening to the knowledge of my sins and of His full redemption. I had struggled to put those feelings into words and then a Gospel song was released that beautifully described my experience. As you listen to Cece Winans sing Alabaster Box, think back to your own cries from the depths. Praise Him for His forgiveness and unfailing love. And never forget that He has given you full redemption. There are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. Though no one else understands the "price of your praise", He receives it gladly. And He will use you to tell others that His full redemption is still available for all who will by faith receive it.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Psalm 129

They have greatly oppressd me from my youth - let Israel say -
They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
He has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.
My all who hate Zion be turned back in shame.
May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow;
With it the reaper cannot fill his hands,
Nor the one who gathers fill his arms.
May those who pass by not say,
"The blessing of the Lord be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the Lord."

I am so grateful for Psalms like this which give me full Biblical permission to know that God is on my side in any struggle with the enemy.

I can identify with being "greatly oppressed from my youth" by the enemies of Satan, the world, and worst of all, my own flesh. I have scars from "long furrows on my back". The worst of it is that most of those furrows started with seeds that I chose to plant. It's always easier to believe God is on your side when the attack is completely one that is not of your choosing. The enemy beat me up for 7 years before I came to realize that God wanted to free me from the oppression I had entered willingly. He was righteous, and cut me free from the cords of the wicked.

Maybe that's why I don't have the struggles with the latter part of the Psalm that some people do. "Zion" is used in Scripture to refer to God's habitation, or to Jerusalem as the spiritual seat of Israel. "Hating Zion" is essentially hating what God stands for, what is close to His heart. Of course those who would be coming against God's purposes should be turned back. Of course He is greatly interested that what they plant withers and dies. And of course, we should not bless what is opposed to God. Israel tried that in her history, and ended up in exile as a result.

This passage should encourage believers to be bold and continue advancing for the sake of the kingdom of God. We of all people should never be discouraged when the world acts like the world. We have the answer: a countercultural community that engages with loving acts of service and holds forth an example of radical love for each other. It's called the church. And God has guaranteed its success: Matt. 16:18 says "...upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." The verbage reflects a church on the offensive. The gates of hell will not stop what God is doing in the church. His eternal purpose depends upon it! No one is more dedicated to seeing His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven than He is.

So step out in the freedom God has granted you. Move away from the oppression of your youth and into the victory of your maturity. Trust me, based on Psalm 129: God is on your side!