Rambo 4 and Persecution

I remember the first time I saw Rambo 4. (I know this sounds silly, but if you haven’t seen it….go watch it.) I sat in the movie theater with my Husband, brother and sister-in-law. Half-way through this very heavy movie, I realized I had my hands pressed to the sides of my face. I glanced over and saw my sister-in-law sitting exactly the same way. Why? This movie was brutal. Brutal. Stallone didn’t pull many punches when he showed what life in Burma is like. (Actually, if you watch the special features, he tells you that there were many atrocities he couldn’t include due to them being so violent the movie would have been unwatchable.) I left the movie feeling sick, just sick.

MV5BMTI5Mjg1MzM4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTAyNzUzMw@@__V1_SX214_ Why did this movie strike me so hard? I’ve seen some pretty violent movies, read some pretty violent books, studied some pretty violent crimes. Why did this movie make me so sick? Well. If you’ve read my blog at all you know that I’m a Christian – an opinionated one. Rambo 4 is a story about a group of missionaries who go to help Christians in Burma being persecuted for their faith and their ethnicity. People praying and reading are blown up, hacked to pieces, raped, and tortured. The Christians are fed to pigs.

My parents didn’t believe raising kids meant protecting them from the world. They knew that someday we would have to live and interact with that big place and they wanted us prepared. Sheltering us from evil was only going to leave us unprepared to deal with it. They believed we needed a good grasp of history, and, as Christians, we needed to understand our own history. All that to say: I grew up with stories of the martyrs. Yes, the men and women fed to lions. Think about it. You’re standing in a sandy, bloody pit surrounded by screaming, cheering people. They are screaming for your death. They want to watch you get ripped to pieces by a lion. The gates open. (Can you imagine the fear twisting your gut?) A half-starved, half-crazy lion bounds towards you. This isn’t a quick death. This isn’t a merciful death. This is death as a sport. And don’t try to tell me watching an action flick is the same thing. It’s not. Watching warriors save lives, win the day, and do the slo-mo walk away from an explosion is not the same as cheering a lion on as it eats men, women, and children.

But, I live in America. I live in Texas – the Bible belt! I’m a pretty traditional American with American values, living a quiet life where I go to church, take care of my family, and help my neighbors. We have owned our own business, we work hard, and pay taxes. Pretty normal, right? Well, in this middle-class life we tend to lose sight of the suffering around us out in the world. We lose sight in our entitlement. We have 1st world problems. Now….many of us are aware of people starving. Small wars. Big wars. Terrorist attacks and such. But are you aware of how many Christians are being persecuted even today? 200,000 woman and children sold into slavery? A pastor in prison who is American citizens? Christians beaten, raped, murdered because they’re Christians?

I wasn’t aware this still happened in our ‘civilized’ world until I saw Rambo 4. I went home with the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I got when I was a kid reading about Nero’s lanterns: Christians stuffed in baskets and lit on fire. If you watch the extra features on Rambo 4, Stallone talks extensively about the conditions they faced, the actors in the movie faced after making the film, and what is really going on around there. This was the point I became a very strong Stallone fan. I wish more actors would design their movies around things like this. Can you imagine Stallone doing a movie like Rambo 4 on Sex-trafficking? Or the Christians being killed in the Sudan? See….in some ways movies, stories, get peoples’ attention more than a documentary. Why? Cause we love stories. Stories move us. Stories help us relate. Stories help us connect emotionally with what is going on. This is why we read historical-fiction. This is why many of us love fantasy stories – they take the human condition somewhere new and fresh and let us look at it from a different angle. How powerful a tool do we have in stories???

I hope to continue to do some research on the persecution being enacted on Christians today. There is much to learn. But, I believe that with all my war research of late, I’m in a good position to do some studying about modern persecution. And you never know what might happen from there. Studying often leads to writing and to stories.

Be aware. Don’t live with your head stuck in the sand. Don’t hide away. Make yourself understand what others are facing in this world. You may not be able to make a movie, write a book, or even donate money to help them, but you can pray, you can know, you can understand. There are real Christians facing horrible persecution in this world – don’t ignore that fact.

(Just a side note: I love the fact that Rambo 4 ends with the Christian acknowledging Rambo’s use of violence to meet violence. Early on in the movie, Rambo asked them if they were taking guns to the Christians. The missionaries were appalled at such an idea. He said if they don’t take guns they’re not changing anything. If they don’t help them have the power to defend themselves, to stop murder before it happens, they aren’t changing anything. By the end of the movie, the Missionary seems to understand this when he is forced to pick up a rock to defend one of the mercenaries that came to rescue him. Protection of home and family is not the same as murder. God said ‘thou shall not murder’. Murder is the blatant, hate-based planning of taking a specific human life because we are not being worshiped like we think we should be. (Don’t they know I’m god??? How dare they?) God, who said thou shall not murder, also instigated the death penalty for murder. The positive side of not murdering is defending life. Just like the positive side of thou shall not steal is private property – you can’t steal something unless someone owns it. At this point, arming the Christians was the best way to defend life. Armed they could fight back and keep their sons, wives, and daughters safe. Armed they could worship freely without fear of attack. This movie does a great job of showing this without getting preachy….like I am. :-))

Thanksgiving 3

523568_10202312866250989_556158456_nToday I thankful for fall.  I love the cool rain, the shorter days, and the bright trees.  I love the leaves blowing across my lawn and sprinkling the streets with orange.  I love the gray sky contrasted with the orange, yellow, and brown foliage change.  I love sweaters and scarves.  I love extra blankets and fires in the fire place.  I love holidays that bring family  together to make merry.   Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.   I love the promise of hibernation, rest from work.  I love how the dying of the leaves and the sleeping of all the little creatures makes spring all the more wonderful.  Fall is a season of rest.  It is a time of inside looking out.  I love the beauty of fall.

Thanksgiving 2

I’m thankful for imagination.  Imagination lets us look at life from different perspectives.  It enhances our enjoyment of the world around us.  It lets us escape and gives us wings without leaving important things behind.   With a well fed imagination, we can have vivid dreams that don’t slip through our fingers.  We can visit not just other parts of our world, but other planes of existence, other lives, other creatures.   It helps us think outside the box, let’s us enjoy beauty, be creative, and avoid homework.  🙂  Life without imagination would be very dull, indeed.

I’m thankful for imagination.

Sunday Thoughts: The Eighty-Five

10/27/13: Mentioned in Prayer Meeting:

The Eighty-Five

Try to put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine sitting in your pew – you know! the one you always sit in – and opening your hymn book or Bible to worship.  Imagine your dearest friends and family sitting all around you, some you don’t like so much, but you love for Christ’s sake.  You lift your voices together to sing.  You unite your voices to read the scripture.  You unite your hearts in gentle prayers.  You gather to go outside to share a meal, some lingering to catch up, some hurrying out with friends. Try to imagine what it would be like after sitting in an uplifting, convicting, encouraging Sunday Morning Service —–

The noise deafens you.

The reverberation of air forced out away from the source blows you over.

Heat races over your skin, burning you instantly.

Your ears ring.  Your nose bleeds and your head swims.  You shake it, trying to clear it of fog and fire.  You push up from the ground wondering why it isn’t clean.  What’s all this rubble and blood?  What happened?

Screaming.  You hear the screaming.  The moaning.  The weeping.  You shake your head, trying to clear it because nothing makes sense.  Weren’t you just singing a hymn as you left?  What are you seeing?  It can’t be, please Lord.  Let it not be.

Limbs, blood, parts, things no longer people litter the ground.  People no longer friends drape bowls of white rice.  Friends no longer family lay scattered about you – just bits and pieces.  She made good bread.  She just had a baby.  She never had a chance to have a baby.  He was about to retire.  He just proposed.  He just held his first son.

Try, oh sheltered ones, try to imagine the pain of looking around at what was once your family but no longer is.  Try to understand they aren’t anymore.

“Why?” you whisper.

“Why?” you scream.

Why did they come and then do this?  Why? They claim politics, but they did this because we are a church which serves Christ, the great Redeemer.  That is why they blew up our body, killed our members, and destroyed our building.  We are nothing more than simple Christians.  Our Savior was murdered and we should not expect to be treated any better, but you, dear believer in distant land, need to remember our eighty-five.  They were taken from us and rushed into our Savior’s arms.  Pray for us.  Eighty-five of our Church body were taken today.  Don’t look away from the price we paid.

Hold us close, Oh Lord.  Hold us as those truly left behind while we seek to stay true to you.  Help us to endure because of you as you refine us with very literal fire.  Hold us Lord, mend our souls.  Bring your truth to our minds and help us to remember what really happened to our eighty-five.8945805

(85 – 89 Christians were martyred in Pakistan when two suicide bombers waited for them to exit the church after their Sunday Morning service.  It is very important historically and as someone who lives in a ‘First World Country’ to remember that in other countries Christians are facing persecution, slavery and death.  Pray for our brothers and sisters in distant land.  Click here to see part of World Magazine’s article.)

Thanksgiving 1

I’m going to attempt a daily Thanksgiving blog for the month of November. I’ll post it every day except Saturday and Sunday.  It’s not that I’m not thankful those two days, it’s just that Saturday is the day I devote to my husband and Sunday is the Lord’s day!

They will be in no particular order of importance, just as the mood strikes me.

Today, November 1st, I’m thankful for salvation.  I’m not a good person.  I’m proud, defiant, rebellious, unkind, unloving, ungentle, harsh, and lack discernment.  I am a sinner saved by grace, first and last.  I have experienced the greatest of undeserved rescues.  For this, I’m thankful.

Out with the Old and In with the New

61674_424808927863_2159283_nToday, November 1st, is the day I change my writing.
Change has been brewing in my heart and mind. Explaining the change will encourage some of you, puzzle others, and mark me as crazy for a few of you – tis life and life where faith is involved. As a Christian, I believe that Christ is constantly working to sanctify me and make me more like Him. He asks me to live a life of sacrifice for His sake just like He did for me. How can I do anything other than that??
In the process of that sanctification, Christ challenges us and pushes us out of our comfort zones. He seeks to make us holy, not necessarily happy. (Assuming you understand happiness and joy to be two totally different things.) Recently, I have been challenged and convicted about my writing. I don’t believe anything that I’m writing is wrong, but I have begun to wonder if it the best use of my gift. This has been a very painful thought process, and a very long one. I love my urban fantasy/warrior stories. I love them. They are a deep part of me. They resonate with me. I cherish them. But my local church family and my husband aren’t being served by them. I’ve been able to use them as a bridge to a few people in our church and I have forced them on others with threats of friendships ending, but they aren’t serving my body as a whole. If I love Christ, than I’m to love my brothers and sisters, and if I say I love you, than I should seek to encourage and edify you with the gifts I’ve been given.

About a year ago, my husband was provided with the opportunity to start teaching in our Church. This is where his heart is, this is where he wants to go as the Lord provides. As his wife, it’s my goal in life to help him in everything that I do. I want to help him achieve his dreams and I want to grow and mature alongside him, not away from him. I want to be the old couple who still enjoys each other. That takes sacrifice. (And before anyone gets all feminist on me about him sacrificing for me, remember, this is me talking about me, not him, and he has sacrificed for me. He does every day. This is not an idea he foisted on me. He gave me his opinion, of course, but he left me alone to sort things out in my own head, and between me and God. There was no dictatorial edict from on high, but a loving friend at my side in the journey of life.) Needless to say, my particular brand of urban fantasy doesn’t feature in his Biblical Studies….ever. So as he grows and changes, I want – more than I want to be published, and more than I want to share these stories – to grow with him.

What does this all mean??? I’m not sure yet. LOL. I’m making a new blog where I can write things that will be more encouraging and edifying for my church. I’m thinking about taking all the rumbling tumbling stories inside me and writing children’s books. I have lots of nieces and nephews and it would be nice to write stories for them. I think there is a deplorable lack of decent, fun, and wholesome stories with strong life lessons offered to the youth of our day. If we want them to stop acting entitled along with all their other problems, giving them more books like Perks of Being a Wallflower won’t help. (I’m not saying that’s the problem entirely, I’m just saying stuff like that doesn’t fix anything.) There are lots of thoughts stuffed in my head and I feel a bit crowded. I have lots of decisions to make. What I can tell you with all certainty is that I will use my gift to encourage and edify my church. I will find new ways to express the concept of the Undeserved Rescue which sets my heart and mind on fire.

This new blog will include a Writing Journal. I’ll review Books, Movies and Music, and I’ll have Quotes. Since these were the articles I got the most views and comments on in my previous blog, I thought I should keep them. I will also be sharing articles about my own Christian Journey, things that have happened in my life, Sunday Thoughts, and other random things. Once again, my main goal is to use my gift to edify, serve, and encourage my church.

If you want to follow this new blog, you now know what my focus is. I’d love to have you along for the ride, but I understand that some of you may find this offensive, uninteresting, and choose not to follow me as I change focus. I understand. For those of you who are interested, hit the follow button up there on your right, or enter your email address!

Thanks for reading the old blog, commenting, and encouraging me for the last two years! It’s been awesome! And thank you to all the new followers. I look forward to sharing with you!