Think on these Things : The Door of Full Surrender

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“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

I was recently sitting with the leader of a workplace organization as he described a question he poses to workplace believers. “What if there were two doors to choose from; behind one door was the complete will of God for your life and behind the other door was how life could be according to your own preference. Which door would you choose?” The struggle for most lies in the desire to follow God completely and the fear of what might be behind the door of full surrender. Most of us desire to follow God, but few of us will do it at any cost. We do not really believe that God loves us to the degree that we are willing to give Him complete permission to do as He wills in us.

If we desire to fully walk with Christ, there is a cost. We may give intellectual assent and go along with His principles and do fine; however, if we are fully given over to Him and His will for our life, it will be a life that will have adversity.

The Bible is clear that humans do not achieve greatness without having their sinful will broken. This process is designed to create a nature change in each of us, not just a habit change. The Bible calls it circumcision. Circumcision is painful, bloody, and personal.

If God has plans to greatly use you in the lives of others, you can expect your trials to be even greater than those of others. Why? Because, like Joseph who went through greater trials than most patriarchs, your calling may have such responsibility that God cannot afford to entrust it to you without ensuring your complete faithfulness to the call. He has much invested in you on behalf of others. He may want to speak through your life to a greater degree than through another. The events of your life would become the frame for the message He wants to speak through you.

Do not fear the path that God may lead you on. Embrace it. For God may bring you down a path in your life to ensure the reward of your inheritance. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17)

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

The 23rd Psalm

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The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He restoreth my soul
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23, King James Version

A True Story of Forgiveness: When a Christian Man Meets the Killers of His Family

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Reblogged: When a Christian Man Meets the Killers of His Family
By: Chad Bonham

Reaksa Himm
LEFT: Reaksa Himm gives a Bible to the man who killed his father and siblings. MIDDLE: Awaiting immigration to Canada. RIGHT: Himm today (Russ Stoddard | © brenda sloggett)

No one knows the exact number of Cambodians that were executed in the infamous killing fields between 1975 and 1979. Estimates range between 1.7 million and 2.5 million innocent men, women and children who were mercilessly slaughtered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime.

But for Reaksa Himm, the only relevant number is 13. That number represents how many family members he personally lost in the killing fields. Among those 13 family members were his father, his mother and nine brothers and sisters. To compound the tragedy, Himm witnessed the brutal murder of 10 of his loved ones just outside a small village called Thlok.

That Himm survived the mass execution is nothing less than a miracle. But no less incredible is long trek he took from revenge to forgiveness.

Journey to the Killing Fields Himm’s road to spiritual revelation was paved with unfathomable pain and heartache. But it didn’t start out that way. In 1975, Himm and his family were living a peaceful life in the city of Siem Reap despite an ongoing conflict between the ruling democratic leadership and the Khmer Communists led by brutal warlord Pol Pot. When the Khmer army defeated the American-backed government, Himm’s world was turned upside down.

After systematically executing all leaders sympathetic to the previous government, the Khmer Rouge regime began rounding up the Cambodian people and sending them to work camps. They were told they would only be gone three days to allow the army to root out American solders they suspected were still in hiding. But days turned to months, and months turned to years.

For the first two years, Himm’s family tried to conform to the new government’s policies. They never dared say anything against the leadership.

“If you opposed them, they would usually come in the night and tell you they wanted to send you to school so you could change your behavior,” Himm says. “But to be sent to school literally meant execution.”

By the age of 14, Himm was working in the fields tending to cattle and water buffalo. Each morning he would take some rice and dried fish wrapped in a banana leaf for lunch and head to his post. But one afternoon, he met an older man who was a stranger. The man asked if he would share his lunch. As part of the Cambodian culture, Himm had been trained to respect his elders, so he gave the man half his lunch.

“Before I knew it, he had eaten all of my lunch,” Himm recalls. “I was so angry. I had nothing to eat after that. But then he wanted to tell me a story. So I sat down and listened to him.”

“In the next six months,” the man said, “all of your family is going to be killed, but you will not die. You will have to go through a lot of suffering.”

Out of the Grave A few weeks later, three Khmer soldiers came to the family’s house and arrested Himm’s father. When asked what he had done wrong, one soldier barked these ominous words: “Today we will destroy you! If we keep you, we gain nothing! If we kill you, we lose nothing! You are serving the American government! You are CIA!”

Himm had no idea what “CIA” meant, but he did know what happened to those faced with that accusation.

“That person became dead meat,” he says.

Himm ran back to his house and tried to gather his younger brothers and sisters. Suddenly the soldiers busted through the door, dragging Himm’s father behind them. At first the soldiers put Himm’s hands behind his back, but then they released him so he could carry his 2-year-old brother.

And then they took them all to the jungle.

“When we finally arrived, the soldiers began digging graves for us,” Himm says. “For the next 15 minutes, we just stood there and waited for them to kill us. I tried to hug my father, but his arms were behind his back. Then I told him goodbye. My father responded by saying something I will never forget. He said, ‘I love all of you.’ In Cambodian culture, we rarely show affection. That was the first and last time I heard my father say those words.”

Himm stood there as the soldiers made his father kneel down in front of the grave. His father was clubbed from behind and fell into the pit. Then came the screams.

“I saw every single ax fall as they butchered my father,” Himm says. “It was my turn, and I laid my baby brother beside me. Someone clubbed me from behind, and I fell on my father. Then I heard my baby brother scream so loud. Then I heard the chopping and the screaming.

As the soldiers descended into the grave, they miraculously passed over Himm. When they noticed he was not yet dead, one of the men went back down and hit him again. Blood came through his nose and mouth. Himm began to suffocate and could hardly breathe.

“But no matter what, I didn’t move,” he says.

The soldiers left to find Himm’s mother and older sisters who were working on a farm back at the village. For the next 30 minutes, Himm struggled to climb through the bodies on top of him.

“At that time, I was just beginning to understand what had happened,” he says. “I couldn’t imagine how I could go on with my life. I was just lying there with the dead bodies and waiting for the soldiers to come finish me.”

Somehow he mustered the strength and courage to climb out of the grave. Had he stayed a few more minutes, the soldiers would have found him. Instead, he hid in the weeds and watched them drag his mother and sisters to the grave where they, too, were executed and dumped into the pit.

“After the soldiers left, I crawled back to the grave and knelt down and put my head to the grave,” he says. “I saw my mother’s face. I cried and screamed until I lost consciousness. When I woke up, it was about to become dark. I was by myself in the deep, dark jungle. That night, I decided to climb a tree and hold on to the tree the whole night. I couldn’t close my eyes. I was so scared.”

Three Promises For the next three days and nights, Himm stayed there and cried. He survived by eating bamboo shoots and wild fruit and drinking dew squeezed from his blood-soaked shirt. After serious thoughts of going back to the village so the soldiers could put him out of his misery, the traumatized 14-year-old headed away from the gruesome site in search of help.

Before he left the killing field, though, he made three promises to himself. First, he would take revenge on his family’s killers. If he couldn’t do that, he would become a Buddhist monk to pay respect to his family. And if he couldn’t keep his first two promises, he would go far away from Cambodia.

Over the next two years, Himm migrated among a succession of refugee camps that at times proved anything but safe. He also reunited with the only other surviving members of his immediate family—his older sister Sopheap and her husband, Chhounly. When neighboring Vietnam overthrew the Khmer regime in early 1979, Himm returned to the city and lived with his aunt.

By 1984, Himm decided to join the police force. His purpose in doing so was simple: It would help him get back to the village where his family was killed so he could “eradicate every single person in that village,” he says, to pay honor to his family.

But when Himm finally had the chance to arrest one of the men who had helped kill his family, he couldn’t go through with it—despite dragging the man into the forest and aiming a gun at the man’s head. Having broken his first promise, Himm then faced the harsh reality that he couldn’t keep his second promise, as the current regime did not allow young men to become Buddhist monks.

“Finally, I tried to fulfill my last promise,” he says, “which was to escape from Cambodia.”

Free Indeed Leaving Cambodia was both illegal and very dangerous. But Himm was desperate to leave his problems behind. He headed for Thailand, facing numerous life-threatening situations along the way, and eventually landed in the notorious Khao I Dang refugee camps. While there, he exchanged letters with a cousin who was living in California. Himm shared his desire to come to the United States, and his cousin, who was a Christian pastor, shared stories about his faith.

“He kept telling me about Jesus,” Himm says, “and I told him, ‘I need money, not Jesus!’”

Himm stayed in Thailand five years. His attempts to move to the United States were rejected by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Undaunted, he started a vigorous letter-writing campaign to the Canadian embassy. He also decided prayer wouldn’t hurt either.

“I felt hopeless,” he says. “One night I knelt on my knees and prayed, ‘God, if you take me to Canada, I will start a new life and live for You.’”

About 90 letters later, in 1989, Himm gained entrance to Canada. He accepted Christ a year later. Then he enrolled at Tyndale College in Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, followed by a master’s degree in counseling and Christian education from Providence Theological Seminary.

 

Yet even as Himm was growing in his new life of faith, he still struggled with bitterness and hatred for his family’s killers, in addition to the depression and guilt he privately held on to because of his failure to avenge their deaths. The journey wasn’t easy, but gradually, as he studied God’s Word, passages such as Hebrews 12:15 (“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many,” NIV) helped him realize that his failure to forgive was blinding him from seeing the grace of God in his own life.

As the Holy Spirit healed his deep wounds, Himm gained a revelation of both God’s justice from passages such as Romans 12:17-19 (“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. … ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord”) and God’s forgiving grace (“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more,” Heb. 10:17).

“I had failed to allow God be the righteous judge,” Himm says in his book After the Heavy Rain. “Vengeance is the Lord’s, not mine. … God does not remember my sins anymore. God had cancelled all my sins, but I had failed to let go of the sins of my family’s killers.”

By 1999, Himm felt God calling him back to Cambodia. He returned to lecture on psychology at a Bible college but stayed to plant churches, including one where his family was killed. And while he had already forgiven the killers from abroad, he knew the time had come for him to take the process one step further.

Himm located the man who killed his father and siblings, the man who had clubbed him from behind, and the man who had killed his mother and older sisters. He came prepared.

“I offered each of them a camel scarf as a symbol of my forgiveness,” he says. “I offered my shirt as a symbol of my love for them. And I gave them a Bible as a symbol of my blessing for them.”

As Himm reflects on those powerful encounters, he is reminded of Jesus’ words found in John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

“To say ‘I forgive you’ from Canada to Cambodia was easy,” Himm says. “But to actually travel back and meet those killers and look into their eyes and say, ‘I forgive you,’ that was tremendously difficult. There’s no way in my own humanity I could have done that. It was only the power of the grace of God in my life that gave me the strength to do that. It was only God’s grace that set me free.”


Chad Bonham is a journalist, author and broadcast producer who has worked in mass media for more than 20 years. A regular contributor to Charisma, he recently published Life in the Fairway.

 

Psalms 22 – A Cry of Anguish and Song of Praise

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Psalms 22 – A Cry of Anguish and Song of Praise

Psalms 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

8 “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

11Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shrivelled

17 I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!

20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!

21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

28 For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,

31 And proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.

 

Psalms 21 – Praise for Deliverance from the Enemy

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Psalms 21 – Praise for Deliverance from the EnemyPsalms 21

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O Lord, and in your help how greatly he exults!

2 You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. (Selah)

3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.

4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him— length of days forever and ever.

5 His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.

6 You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

7 For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.

9 You will make them like a fiery furnace when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.

10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind.

11 If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.

12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

Psalms 20 – A Prayer for Victory

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Psalms 20 – A Prayer for Victory

336ac-psalms1 The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. (Selah)

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.

7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.

9 Give victory to the king, O Lord; answer us when we call.

Psalms 19 – The Works and Word of God

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Psalms 19 – The Works and Word of GodPsalm 19

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalms 18 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance

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Psalms 18 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance

Ottawa river in Gatineau – Quebec, Canada

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of perdition assailed me;

5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.

Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.

9 He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.

10 He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water.

12 Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire.

13The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice.

14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.

15 Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high, he took me; he drew me out of mighty waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support.

19 He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his ordinances were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.

23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt.

24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 With the loyal you show yourself loyal; with the blameless you show yourself blameless;

26 with the pure you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.

27 For you deliver a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

28 It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

29 By you I can crush a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

30 This God—his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

31 For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?—

32 the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe.

33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights.

34 He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great.

36 You gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; and did not turn back until they were consumed.

38 I struck them down, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet.

39 For you girded me with strength for the battle; you made my assailants sink under me.

40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.

41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.

42 I beat them fine, like dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

43 You delivered me from strife with the peoples; you made me head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me.

44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.

45 Foreigners lost heart, and came trembling out of their strongholds.

46 The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation,

47 the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me;

48 who delivered me from my enemies; indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries; you delivered me from the violent.

49 For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.

50 Great triumphs he gives to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

 

Psalms 18 – Thanksgiving for Deliverance