My heart has broken so many times especially in the last two years with the rise of persecution of Christians - the horror of terrorism - the birth of ISIS or ISIL or IS whatever they choose to call themselves this week etc.
Wars and horrific events overwhelm us on all sides and we are bombarded constantly with detestable, ghastly and heinous crimes. Most of these crimes are directed at Christians, even in our so-called 'safe' Western world, the persecution and awful maltreatment and oppression continue right before our eyes.
OPEN DOORS is an organisation set up to directly assist the persecution of Christians world wide and they certainly have their hands full - read how they define Christian persecution on their website at https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution
"Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis"
I guess we can all relate to this statement as we have witnessed the frightful and abhorrent events carried out right before or very eyes.
It is my privilege to pray for Africa, Asia and the Middle East every week through Twitter on #GodsPrayerRoom and #GodsPraiseRoom and I would love to have you join us if you can - go to TweetingGodsLove.com for details.
During this time my eyes have been opened to just some of the fearful events unfolding in these countries and I may add some of the amazing ways God's Word is being spread by incredible and wonderful servants of our Lord and Saviour.
As I was dwelling on these suffering and persecuted Christians my mind wondered as to how I would fare, dealt the same set of circumstances? It's so easy in our comfort to say how we would react, it's so easy to put our hand over our hearts and confirm our faith in Christ and our willingness to lay down our lives for Him, BUT...
Are we really prepared? I thought of Paul being a mentor to a young Timothy and extolling the young guy to 'be strong in your spiritual duty NO MATTER what comes against you."
Paul knew that Timothy would be under great persecution that could very well cost him his life and he implores the young man never to lose his faith and to keep going on with Jesus.
Proverbs 29:25 tells us in the New Living Translation that "Fearing people is a dangerous trap". Just being afraid of what people could think of us or say about us or how they will react to us if we boldly proclaim Jesus is enough to muzzle the bravest of us.
We are such capricious, changeable and unpredictable people are we not?
I am afraid we are not alone - I remember Peter and the 'denial incident' - Oh how we love to put the boot into Peter - but poor man had just seen Jesus horribly beaten, stripped, humiliated and sentenced to death on probably THE most horrible creation of man.
Peter buckled and crumpled at the thought that he could be next, but he wasn't alone. It says in Matthew 26:56 that the rest of the disciples had left Jesus and fled. They had all been ashamed of Him and not only were they embarrassed but they were afraid for their lives as well.
Peter's denial, you could say, is a classic illustration of what being ashamed of Christ is like. So instead of judging Peter, let's think it over. I would reckon all of us who love our Lord have had a 'past' in denying Him.
Those times at a party, at home with the family, at work even on Facebook or Twitter when we may have spoken just a word for Jesus and we have failed miserably. We have been ashamed of Him and failed to uphold our love for Him - and guess what - it's such a sin.
After the resurrection, you will recall that Jesus asked Peter three times "do you love me?' Jesus was restoring Peter because the old 'ashamed' Peter was useless to Jesus, just like we are useless in our embarrassed state.
It's only when God truly works in our lives that He can push us past that shame and fear - and we can throw embarrassment out of the window - only then can we be of any use to God.
Matthew 10: 32 & 33 Jesus said "Everyone who confesses me I will confess before my Father who is in Heaven but whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father" can't get much plainer than that!
If we don't belong to Jesus - He doesn't belong to us - If we don't acknowledge Him he won't acknowledge us.
So here is a major sin that we commit and that sin is in the denying of Christ. It's probably THE worst sin we can commit - so how can we have a effective witness to our Lord?
We need to renew our commitment to God - Only He can change us from a WIMP to a WARRIOR.
God didn't give you a spirit of timidity - so if you are struggling with 'shyness' when it comes to God you can guarantee that it isn't a gift from God. God's gifts to us include love, hope, courage, power and discipline.
If you need courage to speak, ask for it. If you feel shy and ashamed about God then re-think where you stand actually with Him, take a good hard re-look at the gifts God feely gives and then tap into these amazing resources.
So like Timothy we need to be bold and courageous and not ashamed. We need to tap into the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit so wondrously given to us by God the Father.
God bless you as you use the gifts God has given us - the gifts of boldness and courage in taking His name to this uncertain world.