Raise them up Lord, raise them up

A teenager recently wrote me to ask about a certain television series to see what I thought. The teenager sent me a summary of the plot that was set in the far east and included using supernatural powers using the mind.

I suggested the teenager look at the terms mentioned and examine whether this is something that should be watched and if God has anything to say in His Word about these issues. That is when the teenager revealed she had already seen the series and while the plot and character development were good, there were things like witchcraft, spirits and use of elements which she knew were wrong. However, she wasn’t sure if it was still “good to watch”.

What she related made me rather sad. Many series and movies, in recent years especially, have introduced children to the spiritual world in the cover of action movies and superheroes, presenting it as something which not only is cool and fun, but also good. This reminds me of the verse “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Some might say, “well, what’s the problem? We can’t isolate ourselves, if we examine everything we won’t watch anything at all”. Or, some might say, “all is permissible”.

Is it so bad if we don’t watch anything? If there is nothing good to eat, if all that is presented to us on the table is poison, do we still eat for the sake of eating? If all that is presented to us on television (or video games) is death, witchcraft, profanity and sex, do we still watch because there is nothing else to watch? 

Is it really “all permissible”? We are called to be a light in this dark and evil world. Sadly, there is little to no difference anymore between the body of Messiah and the world. When people in the world look at us, do they see we are different or do they accept us gladly into their company because we are just like them? 

I know not many will agree with this. Some will view this as being legalistic or overreacting. But if Paul was “deeply disturbed in his spirit” (Acts 17:16) when he saw the city full of idols in Athens, why aren’t we deeply disturbed when we see witchcraft and presentations of the spiritual world on the screen, calling that which is evil in God’s sight, good? How is that any different from seeing actual idols on the street? Have our senses become numbed? Have we become lukewarm in our behaviour? Have we compromised on the truth of God’s Word? 

Some simply don’t realise how great the spiritual struggle is for our children. The world is fighting for our children, the enemy is fighting to dull their senses and ours, to pull us all away from the Lord Yeshua. We need to fight for our children as well as for ourselves.

In studying the Life of Yeshua the Messiah, this verse had a great impact on me and perhaps we can pray this for our youth. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Let’s pray they find favor in God’s eyes as well as man’s. But let’s pray this as well “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

“Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel. We need an army of believers who hate to be lukewarm and will stand on Your Word above all else. Raise ’em up, Lord. Raise them up.” (War Room Movie)

© Hannah Kramer

Interceding with Compassion

“And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him” Isaiah 59:16

I returned from a two-day youth conference Saturday night. It was such a special time, getting to see people I haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet teens from all over the country.

The theme of the conference was “transparency”, a subject which concerns all of us, but which was particularly applicable to the youth. The speakers exhorted them to be transparent in their walk with the Lord Yeshua, to reflect the light of the Lord and be honest in their spiritual life – with God and others.

As counsellors we noticed that there is an increase in the boldness the teenagers and soldiers have, in sharing their faith. They are not ashamed of what they believe in and actively share their faith with others, knowing well the price they could pay (and some do) for doing so. As some increase in boldness, others still remain hesitant.

Reflecting later on the events of the first day, the verses in Jude 22-23 came to mind: “And have mercy on some, who are doubting, save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh”. While there are many who are bold and courageous in their faith, as counsellors we always emphasize that there are others who need to be pulled out of danger, like a girl I talked to who had a non-believing boyfriend. We talked about the slippery-slope dangers regarding compromise and relationships with non-believers. We continued our conversation the next day and as the conference drew to a close, she expressed a desire to meet together, although it would require travel (she’s from a different city). May that opportunity to meet be soon.

We prayed during our counsellors’ meeting that morning, as we did throughout the conference, for ways to help the youth, without pushing them away and for wisdom in all our conversations with them.

The last message of the conference focused on Isaiah 60, verse 1: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you”. Suddenly I realised the exhortation to arise and shine for your light has [already] come, is a direct continuation from chapter 59, where it says people looked for light yet there was darkness – darkness of deeds, of injustice and lack of truth. Yet, the Lord would save by coming with His glory. Arising and shining must be done in relation to all these things and more and, when doing so, the glory of the Lord reaches us. The person or nation in this case must act because God has already acted and has done His part to shine His glory on the nation.
It seemed relevant to the previous discussion with this girl.

It was a relatively full conference. There were many teens present whose love for the Lord Yeshua was evident. And, there were others there who claimed to be saved, but who had little or no understanding of what it meant to have a relationship with the Lord. As for the latter, the answer for “snatching them from the fire” seemed clear – we needed to intercede for them, to have compassion and mercy on them, while encouraging them to seek the Lord and to draw close to the Throne of Grace.

Many counsellors this past weekend were people of compassion and they were fervently praying for the teens, both during the conference and privately when at home and serving them at their congregations. Yet, there is much work that needs to be done and, sadly, the workers are few. This weighs heavily upon my heart and others as well, and I solicit your prayers for the youth and teens in your own communities. Today’s generation faces a multitude of challenges and temptations in a spiritually dark world. It is becoming harder to live “transparently”. But, it needs to be done.  “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). May we extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones and reach out, however we can, to those who are being prepared to carry the mantel of responsibility. And may the Lord help us to be so transparent in our walk with Him that others would see right through us and see Him in us.

Feeling God’s heart

“…my heart is turned within me, my compassions are kindled together” (Hosea 11:8).

I recently watched a movie called “Time Changer”. Although it is not a Hollywood quality production, it was well made and very moving. It dealt with the changing times, how society has changed for worse, morals are no longer rooted in God’s word, and believers are living in apathy. The plot, in short, so as not to spoil it for whoever wants to watch, is about a professor who writes a book in which he claims morals do not need to be explained according to God’s word. Meaning, stealing is wrong just because it’s wrong, but no need to say it’s wrong because God says so. A colleague of his sees a problem in such education, and sends him over a hundred years into the future. There, this professor sees the deteriorating society, how believers compromise over the truth, and more than that – when he is invited to go to a movie with a group from a church he visited, he is shocked when the name of The Lord is blasphemed on the screen. He runs out to try to stop the screening of the film and is viewed as crazy. When he conveys his feelings to the people from the church, they think he is legalistic and say they could have gone to worse movies. “It’s not that big a deal, it is only a movie”, they said. The movie goes on and the man is seen praying and feeling deep sadness over what his culture has become.

This man’s feelings, depict on the screen, what many prophets have said throughout the Bible, especially what Hosea said and felt.

Hosea was told by God to marry a harlot. Now this woman might have already been one when Hosea married her, or she might have become one after their marriage. Either way, Hosea suffered much from her behavior. He had a child from her, and then she conceived and gave birth twice more. Some scholars say it is possible the last two were not Hosea’s children, but a result of her prostitution. The Bible does not specifically say if that is the case. However, we can imagine that he might have wondered at times if they were, particularly if she conceived at the times she was out in the streets, betraying him.

How did Hosea feel? In the rest of the book, God describes the nation of Israel as one that had betrayed him, hurt him and turned her back on him. He has reached out many times with loving arms, yet Israel has chosen the idols and other gods instead. Hosea knew all too well the feeling God was conveying – a husband longing for his wife to return to him, willing to forgive her, hurting when others mock her, and wishing to wipe away her tears and disgrace.

Hosea felt God’s heart and his own heart was aching. In chapter 11, verse 8, we read God says “my heart is turned within me, my compassions are kindled together”. Here, God plainly shows His aching heart.

Our Lord Yeshua called out to the Jews of the time in Matthew 23:37-39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’.” The Lord Yeshua’s heart was going out towards his people, full of compassion. Praise God for never leaving the nation of Israel and for loving the people whom He called with an everlasting love!

Do we feel God’s heart? I don’t know how many of us can say we know how Hosea felt. But do we care about what God cares? Do we love what he loves and hate what he hates? I know I still have a way to go to fully understand and feel as God does about things around me. I compromise, saying at times “it’s only a movie”, or “there isn’t anything we can do to change that”, or “it’s just a show”. But, what if we as believers stopped compromising and being apathetic and started acting as salt should act? Stopping corruption and deterioration. What if we said blaspheming on the screen is wrong and we didn’t go to see a movie just because that is in it, if we didn’t watch a show with homosexuals, even if it’s a reality show, because it is giving them a platform and showing it is okay and normal to do what they do? What if a movie is about other gods – is it still just a movie? What if we stopped compromising on the way we dress, the language we use, the attitude we have towards one another, the way we interact with each other? What if we showed more love, compassion and reflected God’s love to our brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua?

What if we were different and started to make an impact? I’m not perfect, and do not claim to be. I am a work in progress. But, for a long time, I have had this feeling – what if I felt God’s heart? What would change first of all in me? And then, what can I do to change society around me? Do I ache as I see mockery on the streets, in schools, on screen? Do I long for my people to return to the loving hands of God, who’s heart is turning within him?

The man in the movie was called legalistic. That is not the question here. It is whether or not we follow God’s word. Period. I pray that I will feel God’s heart. That requires drawing closer and closer to him. I want that. And I hope that we as a nation, the nation of Israel, will return to the loving arms who raised them, and call out to our Lord Yeshua and that the church will strive to keep itself as a pure bride, without blemish, waiting for her groom.

© Hannah Kramer