The witness of the apostles

After the church celebrates the life and ministry of Peter and Paul, we commemorate the rest of the apostles. In the vesperal hymns last night I was struck by the focus on their martyrdom:Here's one:The Spirit-proclaiming disciples of the Savior, having become through faithfulness instruments of the Spirit, and being scattered to the ends of the earth, sowed in steadfastness of opinion the solemn warning, and from their divine husbandry blossomed forth unto grace the army of martyrs, … [Read more...]

Two powerful songs you may have never heard

Everybody knows the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, right? If you've stepped anywhere near Sunday school, heard an old-timey gospel song, or glanced sideways while your four-year-old watched VeggieTales, you've picked it up.It's an compelling story of faith and rescue, and today the Orthodox and Lutheran churches celebrate Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah -- their Hebrew names -- along with Daniel the Prophet. But what many may have missed are two songs, "The Prayer of Azariah" and … [Read more...]

Prayers of the persecuted church

“'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” --Romans 8.36-37On November 4 this year Christians gather to pray for their suffering brothers and sisters. The annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church provides a time to lift up believers who suffer deprivation, torture, and death for confessing Christ.Martyrdom has been a part of Christian witness … [Read more...]