Sunday, May 24, 2009
Such Freedom at an Incredible Cost
We are a THANKFUL People Today.
12 years ago, this week, God healed our son, Graham of a horrible, death- threatening cancer. God healed him the week of his first Birthday. Our doctor who preformed a previous surgery on little Graham and who had told us to ready ourselves for his death--"You better get talking to the man upstairs" was some of the advice we were given--and did we ever!! and did the family of Christ ever fall to their knees for him ,in our precious families, and all over our area ,and in Washington D.C. and in many far-flung areas in this world, God heard these prayers and answered with an astounding healing. Lab results suddenly showed that an invasive bone cancer sample (taken from a foot long mass in Graham) that only looks ONE specific way, had "metamorphosed" into something entirely different within the lab (!!) and of course, within Graham!! Graham is written up in a prominent medical journal. I wonder how many other miracle patients they have written up in there!! :) Our doctor next reported, "I think I'm beginning to believe that there's really someone up there!"
And is there EVER!!
This Sunday, we celebrated Graham's 13th birthday--his entrance into the manhood years. As Richard and I looked into each other's eyes tonight, we both read, "A young man. 12 years given back. -- Oh, Thank you, Lord for every minute you have given to us." We both are hitting our knees yet again in praise and thanks to our healer. Graham declared today his best birthday, ever. We ask God for many more with him.
And that brings me to our next thanks--related to this day that memorializes Freedom and its cost...
We truly can do the unimaginable. We can drop to our knees in our front yard and worship God freely
In plain sight.
This is absolutely just not the case over vast regions of our world.
The other afternoon, a sweet friend offered to pray for me--on my front steps...Across the world a young woman would sit in prison or in a torture cell for LESS... Another time recently, Ashley and I enjoyed a time with her guitar on the front lawn--singing our favorite praise songs...
In different regions we would have to mouth our praises silently behind closed doors...
Please Make Sure you are familiar with precious believers' work (such as Voice of the Martyrs) that bring persecution of Christians to light. They count on our prayers and advocacy for their freedom. Who would help you if you were jailed for your faith? www.persecution.com --The young woman I mentioned above is real. She sits in prison. We write to her. We can freely open one of our many bibles and find encouraging Word to bring Life to her. To perhaps breathe strength into one who is standing firm for our Savior. You too, could encourage fellow believers who suffer in ways we could not imagine. I encourage you to discover Voice of the Martyrs.
"The courage of Martyrs throughout history and today is contagious, challenging us to stand up for Christ in a world increasingly hostile to Him and His people." (VOM newsletter quote)
On Memorial Day, we are thankful people.
Thank you to those who have given of their time, strength, wit, endurance, proximity to loved ones and homeland, and even their very lives to serve us--to stand on the walls -- to ensure that freedom remains strong in our land. We are so grateful for your sacrifice for us.
Thank you to those of you who labor on your knees for us. You Warriors of Word and Prayer. Seeking the Father's heart and searching for Him earnestly. You are the ones who humble your hearts and who God sees and promises:
"However, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear [their prayer] from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
You are our glue. God sees you and heals our land. He restrains judgement on our land because of YOUR prayers and humble obedience/love to Him.
In our families and Churches and under the tree in our front yard,-- you pray,--you worship.-- You are the faithful remnant in the land. Believers in the One True Living God, the ultimate warrior --for us -- who paid the highest sacrifice for our FREEDOM from sin and death.
And here is a Memorial Day story for you. About courage and true freedom in the face of persecution. (this is an excerpt from James and Betty Robinson's weekly devotional):
The Lord’s Prayer In Hell
by Col. Leo Thorsness
“…deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13)
Col. Thorsness tells his story in Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey
On April 30, 1967, LeoThorsness was shot down over North Vietnam. He was held and tortured for six years. Today's devotional comes from Col. Thorsness' memoirs, Surviving Hell.
The first Sunday at the Hanoi Hilton, someone said, "Let's have church service." Good idea, we all agreed. One POW volunteered to lead the service and we started gathering in the other end of the long, rectangular cell. No sooner had we gathered than an English-speaking Vietnamese officer who worked as an interrogator burst into the cell with a dozen armed guards. Ned Shuman, our Senior Ranking Officer, went to the officer and said there would not be a problem, we were just going to have a short church service. The response was unyielding: we were not allowed to gather into groups larger than three persons and absolutely could not have a church service.
During the next few days we all grumbled that we should not have backed down in our intention to have a church service and ought to do it the coming Sunday. Toward the end of the week, Ned stepped forward and said, "Are we really committed to having church Sunday?"
There was a murmuring of the assent throughout the cell. Ned said, "No, I want to know person by person if you are really committed to holding church."
We all knew the implications of our answer. If we went ahead with the plan, some would pay the price -- starting with Ned himself because he was the SRO. He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually.
"Leo, are you committed?"
When the 42nd man said “yes,” it was unanimous. We had 100% commitment to hold church the next Sunday. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells. It was different from previous Sunday. We now had a goal and we were committed. We only needed to develop a plan.
Sunday morning came and we knew they would be watching us again. Once more, we gathered in the far end of the cell. As soon as we moved together, the interrogator and guards burst through the door. Ned stepped forward and said there wouldn't be a problem, we were just going to hold a quiet, 10-minute church service and then we would spread back out in the cell. As expected, they grabbed him and hauled him off for torture.
Our plan unfolded. The second ranking man, the new SRO, stood, walked to the center of the cell and in a clear, firm voice said, "Gentlemen," our signal to stand, "the Lord's Prayer." We got perhaps halfway through the prayer when the guards grabbed the SRO and hauled him out the door.
As planned, the number three SRO stood, walked to the center of the cell and said, "Gentlemen, the Lord's Prayer." We had gotten about to "Thy kingdom come" before the guards grabbed him. Immediately, the number four SRO stood, "Gentlemen, the Lord's Prayer."
I have never heard five or six words from the Lord's Prayer recited so loudly or so reverently. The interrogator was shouting, "Stop, stop!" but we drowned him out. The guards were now hitting POWs with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.
The number five ranking officer was way back in the corner and took his time moving toward the center of the cell. (I was number seven, and not particularly anxious for him to hurry.) But just before he got to the center of the area, the cell became pin-drop quiet.
In Vietnamese, the interrogator spat out something to the guards. They grabbed the number five SRO and they all left, locking the cell door behind them. The number six SRO began, "Gentlemen, the Lord's Prayer." This time we finished it.
Five courageous officers were tortured, but I think they believed it was worth it. From that Sunday on until we came home, we held a church service. We won. They lost. Forty-two men in prison pajamas followed Ned’s lead. I know I will never see a better example of pure, raw leadership or will ever pray with a better sense of the meaning of those words.
Thank the Lord for the freedom we have to recite His Word without fear and for the brave men and women who continue to fight for this freedom.
“Father, help me to not take our freedom for granted. Be with those who have sacrificed so much to protect our country and our liberty. Intercede on behalf of those who are in harm’s way and bring peace to our world so that everyone can worship openly and freely.”
Hear Col. Thorsness’ story this Monday as he joins James and Betty Robison on LIFE Today. Story used with permission from Encounter Books.
What Freedoms in Christ are you thankful for today?
I'm thankful to write to you!