Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 4

Continuation of prayers for the survivors and conquerors of the abuse by Larry Nazzar. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many including family members of those abused. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

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Day 42 Victim 75  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, even tho her name is not public, You know Victim 75 & all her needs. Whatever her needs, raise up people to care for her & her family. Strengthen her even now. IJN Amen

Day 43 Chelsea Williams  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors God You know the hearts of everyone. You know the hurts that Chelsea has endured, You know her needs. Guide people to her that can strengthen and encourage her. Guard her heart. IJN Amen

Day 44 Stephanie Robinson  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, we pray for Stephanie today. May You guide and help her in anyway, bring clarity to issues she faces. Heal her body and soul, guard her heart in the aftermath. IJN Amen

Day 45 Carrie Hogan  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving Lord, Jesus, we pray for Carrie in all her needs. Take away fears, uncertainty, & may her confidence be in You. Bless Carrie & her family with wholeness, strength, & comfort; IJN Amen

Day 46 Helena Wick  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Your mercies are new every morning, Lord. May that especially be seen by Helena this day. Whatever challenges she faces may You be her Rock, her strength, her Comforter. IJN Amen

Day 47 Victim 28  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, for Victim 28, You know her pain, her challenges. Grant her Your peace that passes all understanding. Strengthen and comfort her each day. Dry her tears, sustain her always. IJN Amen

Day 48 Victim 10 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors: We lift up to Your throne of mercy Victim 10. Grant her peace and healing each day. Protect her spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally. Look with favor upon her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 49 Jamie Dantzscher  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Merciful God, may Your presence & grace daily reassure & strengthen Jamie. Grant that each step forward means necessary resources and people will help her and her family. IJN Amen

Day 50 McKayla Maroney  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we give You thanks for McKayla. Bring complete healing for her emotionally, mentally, & physically. Whatever her needs, raise up people who can care for & encourage her. IJN Amen

Day 51 Lindsey Lemke #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the trials that Lindsey has faced and still faces. Bring healing to her body, mind, and soul. Sustain her w/Your everlasting love and people who love her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 52 Nicole Reeb #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Dear God, We give thanks to You that Nicole is special in Your sight. Grant healing & blessing in all she does. Surround her w/people of love and compassion. Guide her daily. IJN Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed
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Places of Passion: Court of High Priest

In our midweek services we have followed the places that Jesus went on His way to the cross. This week we go to the court of the High Priest. This was the highest religious authority for the Jews. Jesus has one more stop after this: court of Pilate, Roman Governor.

In our text, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus. Their intent was to put Jesus to death. And yet they couldn’t even find any. Even when they find two witnesses, they still can’t tell the truth about what Jesus said.

Nevertheless, when the High Priest finally addresses Jesus to tell the truth, Jesus does tell the truth, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. He gives the same answer that Peter gave earlier in Jesus’ ministry:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:15 CSB)

Peter got the title correct, but he didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to do in fulfillment of that title.

21 From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!” (Matt. 16:21–22 CSB)

In our text, Peter is mentioned ironically, wanting to see the outcome:

Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome. (26:28 CSB)

Ironically, when Jesus publicly confesses who He is: the Messiah, the Son of the living God. By Jesus’ assertion, the Sanhedrin didn’t need a false testimony, Jesus gave a true witness… that served their purpose to kill Him, and it served Jesus’ purpose to reveal Himself in His testimony and in His death.

The truth of Jesus’s statement culminates in events that lead to His death… but even more.

Matthew 26:57–66

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (CSB)

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 3

Continuation of prayers for the survivors and conquerors of the abuse by Larry Nazzar. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many including family members of those abused. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

Day 32 Amanda Thomashow  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, in Your mercy look upon Amanda, heal her heart, grant her peace, protect her from all that would challenge her well being. Raise up the right people to care for her. IJN Amen

Day 33 Victim 105  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Grant, Lord, Your mercy & comfort 2 Victim 105. While we do not know here name, You do. May her precious name be exalted with healing, love, compassion. Raise up people 2 speak love. IJN Amen

Day 34 Gwen Anderson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your mecy be evident to Gwen, especially on difficult days. Strengthen her for each task, guide her and comfort as she continues to move forward. We pray for her family. IJN Amen

Day 35 Amanda Barterian  PrayerSurvivorsConquerors We pray for Amanda today and all her special needs. If hurt, grant healing, if discouragement then hope. Enable her family to continue to support her as they too move forward. IJN. Amen

Day 36 Jaime Doski #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bring to Jaime Your unending love & mercy. Strengthen, comfort, & lead her each day to grow in her trust in You & her capacity to love others. Use her mightily in years ahead. IJN. Amen

Day 37 Jenelle Moul #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of love & mercy, grant Janelle Your protection, hope in midst of darkness, comfort on most challenging days. You know her needs, desire. IAW You wisdom grant all she needs/ IJN. Amen

Day 38 Madeliene Jones #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we stop & take time to remember Madeleine & her needs. Raise up the right people to speak to her words of hope, love, & encouragement. In challenges grant her strength. IJN Amen

Day 39 Kayla Spicer #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, Your special promises in Ps. 91:14-16 for those battling great challenges. May these promises help, uplift, & encourage Kayla each day. Grant her peace, strength, & love. IJN Amen

Day 40 Jennifer Hayes  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look with favor upon Jennifer as she deals with all that has happened. Give her peace of mind, strength, and courage to move forward. Heal her heart and empower her. IJN Amen

Day 41 Nicole Walker  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the pain & agony Nicole has experienced. Bring healing to her heart. Raise up people to show her love, kindness, compassion. Strengthen her daily to move forward. IJN Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 2

Continuation of earlier this month. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

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Day 20 Melissa Imrie #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of life & love, may You sustain Melissa day by day. Bring healing to her mind, heart, & soul. Bless her family as they too need help. Strengthen her this day of her new life. IJN. Amen.

Day 21 Victim 125 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, you know hurts, agony, need for stability 4 Victim 125. Today bless her, comfort her in dark times, raise up people to walk w/her, to bring Your words of love & hope. IJN Amen.

Day 22  Megan Halicek #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we lift up Megan as she continues to live in aftermath of the abuse. Grant her nights of rest, & comfort her in the midst fears, uncertainty. Surround her w/people of love. IJN. Amen.

Day 23  Victim 48 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, bless and protect this woman. Reassure her of Your love and grace. Embrace her with people who know You and love her. Whatever her needs, may You meet them thru Jesus

Day 24  Katelyn Skrabis #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor upon Katelyn in her needs today. We thank You for those who have walked beside her, support her. Continue to bring wholeness and strength to her. IJN. Amen

Day 25  Brianne Randall #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. Be present w/Brianne in whatever her needs. Comfort, strengthen, & encourage her. Bring healing to her heart. IJN. Amen.

Prayer for Jules: Lord God, You know all that she has faced,
You have strengthened her in midst of much opposition.
Grant that Your Spirit would fill her heart so that she
demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit in all circumstances.
Her story is not “her truth” rather “the truth.” Protect her heart,
give her wisdom and courage to speak that truth. IJN. Amen.

Day 26  Victim 2 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, once again we come to You in behalf of this victim. Heal her pain, grant her nights of rest and peace in the midst of the turmoil. Bless her family as well as they continue to care for her. IJN. Amen.

Day 27 Anna Ludes #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Dear God, we lift up to Your throne of mercy Anna. You know her heart, agony, sorrow, also new life moving forward. Give her joy in life. Strengthen, comfort, and love her. IJN Amen

Day 28  Lindsey Schuett #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we entrust Lindsey to Your loving/healing care. In depths of hurt, bring soothing care. Remind her of constant love in Jesus. Bless Lindsey & her family as they mend. IJN. Amen

Day 29  Maggie Nichols #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the needs of Maggie. Not only meet them, but raise up people who can minister to her & care for her. In times of difficulty, loneliness, may You be her Rock. IJN. Amen

Day 30  Tiffany Thomas Lopez #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Our God, grant Your healing, comforting presence for Tiffany today and each day. Where the hurts are deep, bring the soothing salve of Your love and grace. Be her Rock IJN. Amen

Day 31 Jeanette Antolin  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, grant Your mercy upon Jeanette as continues to build her life. Strengthen her in the midst of weakness, comfort her in the dark days, love her continually. IJN. Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors

I started almost three weeks ago a series of prayers for survivors of Nazzar’s  sexual assaults on hundreds of young girls and women. One prayer each day. It’s easy to be angry initially, but each of these girls and women and their families live in aftermath of the abuse. Let’s not forget them.

I marvel at their strength, courage, and encouragement each of them is for all others who have been abused.

Here is the list of the first 19 prayers. On Twitter here is the key phrase:

#PrayerSurvivorsConquerors

Day 1 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, I lift up to Your throne of mercy Kyle Stephens. You know the pain & hurt, the challenges that lie ahead for her. Therefore grant her comfort, peace, & safety, & healing. Raise up the right people to walk w/her; thru Jesus Christ, Amen

Day 2 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O, Lord our God, how majestic is Your name. Today l lift Jessica Thomashow to Your throne of mercy. May You comfort, heal, and strengthen her each day. Grant her peace and joy in You, as You as she move forward; thru Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Day 3 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors The next person on the list I have: Victim D. Lord God, bless and protect this woman. Reassure her of Your love and grace. Embrace her with people who know you and love her. Whatever her needs, may you meet them thru Jesus

Day 4 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Chelsey Markham: Lord, look with favor upon Chelsey as she continues this journey. Grant hope in the midst of the worst trials, encouragement when the world wants to discourage. Continue to bless her with friends who walk with her. IJN. Amen

Day 5 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may You raise up Jade Capua by healing, strengthening, and encouraging her today. The challenges are still present even tho they take different forms. But You have led her this far, continue to bless her that she might live in Your freedom, thru Jesus. Amen

Day 6 Alexis Moore #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, You strengthen of weak, You comfort those who mourn You are with them daily. I pray for Alexis Moore today as she continues to live in light of her freedom. May Lam. 3:21-23 be her daily reminder; IJN. Amen

Day 7 Olivia Cowan #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, Your love never ends. Give to Olivia Cowan a special outpouring of Your love & comfort today. Where she has needs raise up people to provide that for her. May Your peace abide with her. IJN. Amen

Day 8 Rebecca Mark #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, You are the God of grace and mercy. Continue to work in and through Rebecca as she heals from her abuse. Surround her with people who love and support her. IJN Amen

Day 9 Bethany Bauman #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the devastation that Bethany has faced, silently & publicly. Raise up people to care for her, encourage her, and strengthen her. May Isaish 40:29-30 be a lifeline. IJN. Amen

Day 10 Kate Mahon #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our God, You know the pain, heartache, & destruction Kate has faced. Raise up the right people @ right time to care for her, walk w/her, cry w/her, & support her always. IJN. Amen

Day 11 Danielle Moore #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor on Danielle. You know the pain & agony she has faced. Bless her family as they also move forward. Bring healing to hers & their hearts. IJN Amen

Day 12 Marion Siebert #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving God, Your mercies are new every morning. May that be true 4 Marion today & this week. Give her strength & hope for each day. Raise up people to speak love & compassion to her. IJN Amen

Day 13 Annette Hill #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God in Your love uphold Annette in the aftermath of abuse. Strengthen her, raise up people to care for her & her family. The needs are great, You are greater. INJ. Amen

Day 14 Taylor Stevens #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Jesus, You know what affliction is, You know what Taylor has endured. Even more You know what comfort is & You comfort her in Your love for her. Strengthen her each day; IJN. Amen

Day 15 Victim 55 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, You are more than sufficient for every person. For Victim 55 we ask Your mercy, strength, comfort, and hope. Heal her brokenness for what she endured. Be her fortress, IJN. Amen

Day 16 Amanda Cormier #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of life, bring to Amanda Your mercy through people who can love, support, encourage her. Grant her strength 4 each day so that she might stay strong 4 the challenges ahead. IJN. Amen

Day 17 Jennifer Rood Bedford #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, the road to stability can be difficult—at times impossible. You promise to walk w/us thru the deepest valleys—to never leave us. Reassure Jennifer today. IJN Amen

Day 18 Nicole Soos #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Memories may be very bad, Lord. But with Your memories change with Your healing, loving, comforting presence. Help Nicole to begin new memories not marked by the past abuse. IJN. Amen.

Day 19 Ashley Erickson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, Your love never ends. Ashley & many others live in reality of pain, sadness of what happened. May You strengthen & comfort her as well as her family. IJN. Amen.

Places of the Passion

Today we begin the Lenten journey to Jesus’ death on the cross and to His resurrection from the dead.

Our Lenten journey takes us to the Places of the Passion:

Feb. 21 The Upper room
Feb. 28 Gethsemane
Mar. 7 Court of the High Priest
Mar. 14 Court of Pontius Pilate
Mar. 21 Way of Sorrows

Tonight for Ash Wednesday we are introduced to our Guide: The Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18).

While the observance of Ash Wednesday is not required, it has a long history in the Christian Church. But further back in history we can see two links in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament):

I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and petitions, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:3)

But even earlier, after Adam and Eve sinned, God spoke judgment upon them for their sin:

[God said to Adam:] “By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19)

Those words are often spoken by the pastor as he applies the ashes to the forehead.

So there is Biblical support for Ash Wednesday practice, but there is no requirement that is must be done. The marking of the forehead is not a “sign of spirituality” for the person receiving the ashes for others to see. Rather, it reflects the person’s acknowledgment of sin and its affect on the person. Ashes in the form of a cross also remind the person that Jesus fulfilled the demands of the Law for living and satisfies the demand of death for sinning. The cross of ashes then reminds us of the great debt of sin and the greater payment of that debt by Jesus.

Ash Wednesday observance

Review of Unbroken by Madeleine Black

Unbroken: Used, beaten, but never broken. My story of survival and hope. Madeleine Black (2017).

Rape is horrible, no matter how we describe it, no matter what words we choose—rape is still horrible. Madeleine Black in her book uses words, graphic words, to tell the story of her rape and close brush with death. As difficult as the book is to read, this book needs to be read—by survivors of rape, by families of those who have been raped, by friends who want to help but may not not know how to respond.

And it needs to be read by those who get impatient, frustrated, and exclaim “Just get over it!” If only it were that easy. Madeleine takes the reader through the process of dealing with rape and all the associated emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of rape and survival.

At the end the reader discovers that the road to “get over it” is something each rape survivor wants to do. But it can’t be done with an impatient shout or frustration from a friend, family member, or even the survivor. There is so much more to it. Madeleine writes:

I have been a victim of a crime that leaves you silent, and there is so much that stays hidden in that silence. It not only protects the perpetrators, but it also keeps the victims in the shadows, drowning in their inappropriate guilt. Now, my strength is my voice and I intend to use it, not just for me, but for others who aren’t able to speak up yet. (p. 266)

As you read the book, Madeleine walks you through the horrifying details in essentially chronological order. That means at the beginning she will generally describe the rape and associated death threats and degradation. But it isn’t until much later in the book that she gives the full details—and it is so bad that she provides an appropriate warning about the graphic nature of the events surrounding the rape. Why that approach? Because Madeleine is living with the reality of the rape, which means some events are blocked from her memory as a defense mechanism. The frustration and despair of rape includes gaps in memory. She couldn’t get past it, because she didn’t and couldn’t have the entire story in mind. The reader takes the journey with that hole in her memory—she lived that way not having answers, fighting at times to remember, thus, the reader experiences it that way, too. Consider how many years Madeleine endured those struggles to get to this point in 2017. A one week immersion in her book does not fully give the reader the understanding of what it means to “get over it.”

I have known people who have experienced horrible circumstances. Neighbors fought in World War I, one was a Bataan Death March survivor, my father, uncle and father-in-law all fought in World War II. When I was in the Navy I met several former POWs of Vietnam. Our commanding officer came to the squadron the same month I did. He was a POW for 6½ years, severely injured and was in the hospital for 15 months upon his release. I persuaded him to tell of his experiences. So every week for a year he walked us through captivity and torture chronologically from the time he was shot down until he was released. As a pastor I have ministered to and cared for rape survivors, so I was not a newcomer to the agony of many who had endured severe trauma and major accompanying (often hidden) issues.

Yet, even with that background, this was a difficult read for me. I was surprised when I got about half way through the book—I had to stop. I didn’t read for two weeks. Very uncharacteristic for me. Puzzling: how could I be hung up on reading it? After considerable reflection I finally discovered why it was so hard for me. I thought I had the answers to “help Madeleine.” But what I was really doing was trying to re-write her book, from a different perspective so that it would get to the point where I had all the answers. Yeah, I know—how arrogant and disappointing! I had failed at the one point that had always been a strong point of my ministry— listening to the person on his/her terms.

That seems so obvious but I wonder how many critics of rape survivors approach it the same way, hence the exhortation “Just move beyond it!” By doing so, we fail to understand what really happened and what the teller of the story is presenting to us and lived through. Once I came to this realization, then I could go back and read the book, in other words—let Madeleine tell the story on her terms in her way. And then I could finish the book.

While reading, I gave Madeleine updates on my progress (or lack of). She wrote several times “It gets better, stay with it.” I did stay with it, and I am glad I did. My heart aches with what she endured, my heart rejoices that she came through decades of profound struggle. And now she has a voice to add, an important voice, a strong voice through her book and through public speaking. If you or someone you know (male or female) has been raped, seek help. There are many resources. Madeleine’s book is a valuable resource for every person.

Thank you, Madeleine for your story, your perspective, and your encouragement. Well done!