Oswaldo Calixto grew up in Via El Salvador of Lima, Peru in poverty. Traumatized by a mother who exposed him to witchcraft and constant family conflict, at the age of 14, he fled home to live on the streets with his friends. Oswaldo became a thief and robber to survive, scrounging whatever he could to survive. Many times he risked his life through
There is natural reason for Ukrainians to dread Russia taking over their country again—oppression under communism was intense and costly. Ukrainian Kostyantyn spent many years in a Soviet labor camp. The authorities disliked his actions as an elder in his church so they sent him to be re-educated. Over 200 pastors were also sent to the same camp.
There is a Kenyan proverb that states “A satisfied man does not know another one is hungry.” Imagine spending seventy years of life under the oppressive hand of communism. The shackles of tyranny were so severe that today in the nation of Georgia the majority of those who hold leadership positions are under the age of forty. Those who are over forty were so impacted by Soviet rule that the ability to think freely or take decisive actions is just too difficult.
Eighteen of us sat around the circular table in the conference room of the Military Academy located in Gori. For several hours we met with different deputies from the Ministry of Defense and listened as they shared the challenges of living within field artillery range of Russian guns. Their fear of angering their neighbor and again losing their freedom is fueled by Russia’s occupation in 2008 of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—two secessionist territories within Georgia.
Knowledge is the gateway to freedom. But my freedom may cause another to become shackled. When this happens, the fragrance that once surrounded my thinking becomes a stench before God. Let me give a hypothetical cultural example. From Scripture, I learn that I am to love people. In American culture, it is common and acceptable in most situations for a man to hug a woman. Let us say I travel to India where such action is frowned upon. Because of my knowledge of Scripture and my own culture, I have no problem hugging an Indian woman in the presence of my Indian brothers because I am free to express love with no sense of guilt or temptation. Now two things have occurred.
Nigeria is a nation of over 146 million people—the largest populated country in Africa. It comprises more than 250 ethnic groups of which the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, and Tiv 2.5%.* In mass Nigeria is over twice the size of California. The nation is located on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with the countries of Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Our team ministered in the city of Jos which literally means Jesus Our Savior! Jos is part of the Plateau State (Nigeria has 36 states) which sits in the middle of the country.
Psalm 34:4--I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
At the age of one month he was dedicated to be a witch doctor and to one day replace his grandfather. But as a ten-year-old he ran away mad because the ancestral spirits wanted him to start practicing divination. Consequently, this young boy grew up rejected by both his paternal and maternal family.
Veteran’s Day is an American holiday that commemorates those brave men and women who have served and defended their nation in the Armed Forces. Currently there are 25 million vets in the United States. According to the most recent census taken in 2000, the United States’ population was 281,421,906. This means that only about 8.8% of our population experienced the patriotic dictums of duty, honor and country through the sacrificial and often thankless task of defending liberty.
Once upon a time, fireworks were created by a loving Creator. But alas, the first two fireworks made were deceived by their Designer’s enemy into believing they could perform as equals to their Maker. Their rebelliousness tainted every succeeding generation of firework with a “My pop’s bigger than your pop!” mentality.
Just because we live in a free country does not mean we have freedom. In fact there are many indicators that suggest that all kinds of cords entwine us. A graph of the stock market looks like some anchor tossed in water that only grows deeper. Wearing sweaters of worry, whose fortunes are tied to investments, face the chill of anxiety. Companies lay off employees to keep their profits. Lights go out from city to city across the state whose economy may be the sixth largest in the world, but who cannot create the energy to prevent brownouts. If our hopes are based on the strength of a nation our dreams will one day be nightmares. The prevalence of fear is a sure sign of the absence of freedom.
Orthodox Jews understand that 39 kinds of work are forbidden on the Sabbath under prevailing Halakah. The Pharisees were experts in the law. Today we would consider them legalists. We recognize them as the black and white thinkers among our friends, co-workers and relatives. In fact we ourselves may be wired as such. Every society needs law-proponents. But if taken to the extreme, legalism may spawn five serious problems.
Galatians 4:17, 5:6-- They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them . . . For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
Caleb’s head sunk in agony. On the splintered beams of a weathered deck stood the only life left that really mattered—his daughter. And now she was to be sold into slavery—auctioned off like some four-legged beast of burden.
Haughty hears Wisdom reveal what’s at stake
but he scorns being told what path he should take.
“Turn right,” says the Son, but left the man goes.
“I like it my way, the way that I chose!”
Off the edge he plunges with a cry of dismay
For left without Wisdom there is no right way.
Man’s perceptions are often not in line with God’s intentions. Had Jesus chosen to heed the opinions of his key men, the dynamic dozen when they:
Psalm 33:12,22--Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—the people He has chosen to be His own possession! . . . May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh, for we put our hope in You.
Proverbs 14:34--Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
A tiny seed fell years ago and grew into a pine tree. But alas she rose in a place surrounded by firs and a healthy maple. The earth rotated and the sun shone but other more mature trees absorbed the light the struggling pine craved. Slowly, her lower limbs died. Her meager green needles only accentuated her brown gnarled plight. So with the help of Gary and Jim the sickly pine in the corner of my yard came down.
Welcome to the age of authoritarianism. Can you pick up a newspaper without finding some new intrusion by politicians or activists who would attempt to further regulate what you can and cannot do? I fear that many of us are caught in the adrenaline rush to be right, to be treated in a certain manner, and to be left alone by an overbearing big brother. Are we becoming increasingly preoccupied with the fear of living in a society ever more hostile to our faith?