Every week day morning when I come together with the kids for our devotional time, there is a specific overall focus given for each day. Monday starts off with martyrdom. Thus, we call it “Martyr Monday.” Usually we dive into the book of Acts because it puts on display what a faithful witness looks like in a crooked and depraved world. And often times I bring up real persecution happening in the world as well as those who have and are being faithful witnesses in the midst of those situations.
Over the past few weeks we have begun Acts 8. Just this past week we talked around Simon the sorcerer and what sorcery looked like back then and what it can look like today. Below is a video of a fun illustration I did with the kids several weeks ago related to Acts 8:1 and how persecution forced believers to scatter, thus it forced the gospel to scatter throughout Judea, Samaria and the nations.
Since Arden was probably 2 years old, we as a family have given time to dialogue at different levels around persecution, trials, struggles, persevering, martyrdom, etc. We’ve made it a point to not shy away from it all but to actually initiate discussion, prayer and worship around it. Why? Well, there are several reasons. But one big reason is that we have felt pressed by God in multiple ways, with a clear sense that our children could very well face severe difficulty for the sake of the gospel in the days ahead. We know that our worldview, and the life that our worldview leads us to live, can seem strange at times to some.
However, we firmly believe that life will not always be how it currently is. Whether the Lord moves us to Iraq, China, etc in the future. Or His glorious appearing happens in our lifetime following some crazy events in the earth. Or all of the above. Either way, being a faithful witness for the Lord is not meant to be a cake walk but it does keep us setting our hope completely on the grace that will be brought to us at the unveiling of Jesus the Messiah (1 Peter 1:13). Where our live’s are already laid down if the moment of hardship unto death were to ever come because our hope is completely set in the moment where He will raise our physical bodies up out of the ground in resurrected glory. That doesn’t happen by accident…the “completely” part.
There are several verses that I can’t get out of my head most days, and it keeps my vision set on the Day of the Lord and the restoration of all things, leading my life in the “now” to be lived for something more than what’s right in front of my face.
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14
This age is passing away. What age am I living for?
for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24,25
His word remains forever! That’s good news…to those who live their life by it. To those who don’t, it will be bad news. That word has everything to do with a coming age and the Promise of One who will come and restore all things, making a way for God and man to walk together again in the cool of the day on this earth.
Unto what am I living for? Unto what would I die for? What is my hope? Am I fearful of death? I often wonder what questions and thoughts float through the minds of believers in North Korean death camps dying of starvation, Iranian prisons who have seen other believers killed before their eyes, Chinese torture sessions where their fingernails have been pulled out, Iraqi martyrs shortly before their heads are brutally cut off. What life have they lived, prayers have they prayed, fellowship have they had, struggles have they endured through, to make them ready for such a moment?
And a great question for us all to ask in the midst of what we see, is “What is the right response?” I really appreciated this recent article by my friend Joel Richardson about the 21 Coptic Christians that were beheaded: http://mobile.wnd.com/2015/02/the-right-response-to-coptic-21s-martyrdom/.
So, why Martyr Monday with my kids? Sounds a bit crazy. But I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have sounded that way to those in the early church. Or those believers in modern day Sudan, Uganda, Egypt, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, etc.
Well, to end this post, I will leave you with a 9 minute audio from one of my recent worship times with the kids, that ended our Martyr Monday devo time. We often focus on current Christians or groups who are being persecuted, alongside praying for laborers to be raised up and for us to also be faithful witnesses in this broken, dark age. This audio is specifically about the Yazidi and Kurdish people of Iraq based on the free documentary video Better Friends Than Mountains by FAI Missions. They are in need of faithful witnesses.