Friday, August 14, 2015

Suffer for the Name

“And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” - Acts 5:40-42

I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the image of a team of athletes after winning an important game, running into a huddle, jumping on top of one another, slapping each other's backs and chest bumping, cheering and whooping, dumping a tub of Gatorade on the coach, celebrating their victory. As I read this passage in Acts today, I had this mental image of the disciples acting similarly, only by society's standards, they hadn't experienced a great victory. They had each been lashed close to forty times, were threatened, and sent on their way. Where was the victory? Here is a group of men, not jumping on one another but probably leaning on each other for support, lacking the strength to run, bleeding together, groaning through the pain, tending one another's wounds – and they're rejoicing?

Yes. They're rejoicing. Jesus told them this was to come, that they would be hated, that they would be beaten, that they would be cast out. But He also told them how precious each of them were, how valuable they were, that by acknowledging Him before men, He would acknowledge them before His Father in Heaven! Think of that!! Immediately after being told not to speak the name of Jesus, this is the first thing they do! Covered in blood, bruises, and forming scars, they go from door to door saying, “Look at our Jesus! Hallelujah, what a Savior!” and Jesus comes before the Father saying, “Look at Your disciples, your faithful servants. How beautiful.”

How beautiful. I think of the disciples as they stumble away from the council, in such great pain. But then they look into each other's eyes, and they smile together, tears mixing with sweat, knowing they were fulfilling God's calling in their lives. How beautiful! I think of them exiting the presence of the council, standing together looking over the city, taking a deep breath and saying, “Now, where were we?” They grasp the fists of their brothers, ready to go, and they pick up where they left off.

The Lord has given each of us a call. It's difficult, it's challenging, it requires stepping out of one's self and following where He leads. He has called me to Japan. It can be so easy for me to get discouraged, to beat myself up for not doing well, to groan inwardly as I struggle to support raise. But what a reminder that I have been given a Call, that I am to power my way through difficulty, through adversity, that it is not by my strength that the money will come in, that He will provide in His timing, and I am to carry on! I want to wake up each morning and say, “Now, where was I?” I want to continue to follow His leading and rejoice through this process! Praise the Lord for His promises! Praise the Lord for His perfect plan!

Please pray for:
  • Boldness in support raising (currently at 12% of needed monthly pledges)
  • Encouragement
  • Patience as I wait to hear back from potential supporters and churches
  • My ability to balance between work, support raising, and ministry here in the States

 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4 

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