Posted in encouragement, high priest, jesus

It feels like there’s no one left who is a true believer…

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Apostasy is a hard, hard thing. For anyone who is righteous, seeing loved ones succumb to the sway of a false doctrine, or follow a false teacher, it is a torture to the soul and a agony to the mind and a hardship on the soul. I see a Blackaby book on a pastor’s desk and I worry. I hear a woman refuse to acknowledge Joyce Meyer is false “because she preaches straight from the Bible” and I mourn, I see a woman wear a “Walk to Emmaus” tee shirt and I fear. Encountering these things in my daily routine is grieving.

It’s not to say that these people or any person who reads a book, accepts a teacher or participates in a retreat once is an apostate. I participated in both the Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby and a Beth Moore Living Proof weekend and a DVD retreat, but in doing so alerted me to the falseness of their teachings. It gave me a close-up view of what it was that troubled my soul so much. That’s what false teaching does, it either grieves the soul and alerts one to its falsity or it entrenches one deeper into their lack of discernment. I worry because I know when someone doesn’t or won’t see the falseness of a particular doctrine or teacher, the false teacher or a false doctrine has successfully taken root into their mind. Satan won’t let that go. Unless they refute it and repent, it will grow like gangrene. That is the way of things. (2 Timothy 2:17; Acts 14:2)

It feels sometimes like there are hardly any people with discernment left. It feels like so many friends and family are falling away. I know from your emails and blog comments that many of you are in locations where there literally are no good churches or where false teaching abounds. Doesn’t it feel like were the only ones, sometimes!

Here is where we praise the gracious Lord for His examples for us in scripture. We are not alone! Elijah thought he was alone! Jeremiah was tortured by the apostasy around him and in his lifetime, judgment came! Noah preached 120 years and only had 7 converts! Isaiah was told to prophesy until there was literally no one left!

“And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”… God assured him, Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:9-10, 18)

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. (Jeremiah 4:19)

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. …These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
(Genesis 6:5-6, 9)

“Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,” (Isaiah 6:11)

In the New Testament, imagine there being no ‘church down the road’ you could switch to when apostasy is so rampant in your church you have to leave. The Corinthians were having chaotic services, drunken Lord’s Suppers, and immorality and sexual impurity were a problem. But that was the ONLY church. Can you imagine how the few pure and holy Corinthians felt?

I’ve seen a massive defection from the faith since 2008. I’ve also seen a horrific decline in discernment since then too. The rise in apostasy to my mind and according to how I interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is that the time is near when the rapture will occur. The defections of millions from the faith and the fast tsunami of apostasy in even evangelical denominations shows this, in my opinion. The curtain on this age is coming down, and fast.

Each of the prophets named above walked closely with God. Even in times of terrible apostasy when they were literally the only ones in their sphere left who were faithful. They were human, to be sure. Elijah suffered a bout of depression. Jeremiah was tearful and mourning much of the time. The key is, they clung to God.

Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9b)

Take encouragement! The Lord Jesus is near to us. At the time of His incarnation, there were few faithful ones. His religion had been turned into a mockery. They rejected His words while clamoring for His miracles. They wanted His ‘stuff’ but not Him for Himself. He knew apostasy! He knows the pain we feel when people reject our precious Jesus and go astray! Don’t give up the fight!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. (Hebrews 5:2)

Pray for those who are ignorant and going astray. Pray for yourself in your weariness and sadness. Jesus is with us. It is good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Posted in jesus, new earth, pets, rapture

Pets and the Rapture*

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m asked more often lately about what will happen to our pets when we’re raptured. Some ask about the animals we keep, being a farm community. My county abounds with cows, bulls, buffalo, mules, goats, chickens, sheep, pigs and more. I find the question fascinating, and also encouraging. I’m personally invested in the question, too, being an inside cat owner.

The book of Genesis tells us that we are unique in God’s creation, being made in His image and likeness. Also, though we and the animals have the breath of life in us, we were made to have dominion over the animals. Jesus died on the cross for salvation of his people, not animals, who as far as I know do not have a soul, at least, not an eternal soul. It is reasonable to assume that our futures will be different, being of different flesh and having had different roles on earth.

Continue reading “Pets and the Rapture*”
Posted in jesus, repent

Nebuchadnezzar understands the power of a holy God

By Elizabeth Prata

“Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)

THERE IS NO OTHER GOD. (He is holy and true).

There is no other God ABLE TO DELIVER. (Jesus saves)

There is no other God able to deliver IN THIS WAY. (His power is unsurpassed).

So what does all this mean?

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

The scriptures are remarkable!

 

Posted in cross, jesus, pope

Mourning the lost- Catholics

By Elizabeth Prata*

catholic
Milan’s Duomo, AKA Catholic Cahedral. EPrata photo

Over a billion Catholics are in spiritual bondage to their heinous religious system. There are many things they lack spiritually but I can think of three to address that we can point them to. First, we can point to Christ and the Bible to help them overcome what it is they lack: knowledge of grace, assurance in their salvation, and trust in Jesus to fulfill all He has said.

~~~~~~GRACE~~~~~~

The simple truth at the center of a born again believer’s faith is surrounded by Grace- that Jesus descended from heaven, lived as fully man and fully God for 33 years, died on the cross as the lamb sacrifice for our sins (taking upon His shoulders the wrath of God), was buried and three days later rose again. This is the Gospel. Continue reading “Mourning the lost- Catholics”

Posted in jesus, theology

Jesus drank the waters of fury

By Elizabeth Prata

God rebuked sinful man. His anger was higher than the mountains, deeper than the lowest valley. He covered the planet with His wrath, in the flood.

The waters were high, deep, angry, and overspread all that existed. All. All that water was God’s wrath for sin. He enshrounded the earth with judgment, covering it with water as a garment. (Psalm 104:6). His water was the judgment robe that spread over the earth as a mantle. Continue reading “Jesus drank the waters of fury”

Posted in jesus, theology

Remembering our earliest grace

By Elizabeth Prata

New Christians are so full of zeal and fervor! They run hither and yon, proclaiming and exclaiming the glories and perfections of Christ. Those early days of their grace-filled life are sweet to witness. Do you remember your early days?

As sanctification grows, so does the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).

As a bundle of one fruit, the fruit in growing saints sweeps in as a rushing tide, later to settle as a gentle march of steady growth.

But as time passes for the mature saint, does the early zeal grow slight? Does it wane? Does the steady growth sadly slow to a state of frozen molasses, inching along only imperceptibly? Let it not be so! Let not the grace filled days of zeal sputter into a distant memory.

Spurgeon said of Christian zeal aimed rightly-

We do little or nothing, the most of us; we fritter away our time. O that we could live while we live; but our existence—that is all we can call it—our existence, what a poor thing it is! … O that we may become inexhaustible and permanent rivers of usefulness, through the abundant springs from whence our supply cometh, even the Spirit of the living God. … We cannot advance so far as the Saviour’s bloody sweat, but to something like it the Christian ought to attain when he sees the tremendous clouds of sin and the tempest of God’s gathering wrath. …

How can I see souls damned, without emotion? How can I hear Christ’s name blasphemed, without a shudder? How can I think of the multitudes who prefer ruin to salvation, without a pang?

I have to close by commending zeal. Let my words be few, but let them be weighty here. In commending zeal, let me say, I think it should commend itself to every Christian man without a word of mine, but if you must have it, remember that God Himself is zealous.

Charles H. Spurgeon, “Zealots” sermon No. 639

If we constantly hark back to our beginning days, we can fan the flame of zeal when we remember our former state. We remember His work to deliver grace. We remember our joy in the relief of the terrible burden of sin and judgment. John Bunyan wrote:

It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls. … It was Paul’s accustomed manner (Acts 22), and that when tried for his life (Acts 24), even to open, before his judges, the manner of his conversion: he would think of that day, and that hour, in the which he first did meet with grace; for he found it support unto him. When God had brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea, far into the wilderness, yet they must turn quite about thither again, to remember the drowning of their enemies there (Num 14:25). For though they sang his praise before, yet “they soon forgat his works” (Psa 106:11-13).

My dear children, call to mind the former days, “and the years of ancient times: remember also your songs in the night; and commune with your own heart” (Psa 73:5-12). Yea, look diligently, and leave no corner therein unsearched, for there is treasure hid, even the treasure of your first and second experience of the grace of God toward you. Remember, I say, the word that first laid hold upon you; remember your terrors of conscience, and fear of death and hell; remember also your tears and prayers to God; yea, how you sighed under every hedge for mercy.

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding

Saint, remember the early days. Remember all that Jesus has done. Extol His virtues and perfections, His willingness to endure the cross with all its loneliness and wrath. His death and burial, and glorious resurrection. Remember all that, so the grace that He delivered to us in forgiveness of our sins will revive the quieting heart, renew the callousing heart, resound the forgetting heart. Jesus was zealous for His Father’s house. We can gather and be zealous for His house also. Zealous in love and submission and awe and worship.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day!

fruit of the light

 

Posted in church, jesus, john macarthur, repent, revelation

Why the evaporation of America’s cultural Christianity is a good thing

John MacArthur wrote in his monthly letter why the deflation of the bloated Christianity we see in America is allowing the true Christianity to shine. Here is an excerpt from his monthly letter, and then below that, despite the encouraging news, a warning for the Church.

In light of recent headlines, court cases, and cultural trends, over the past few months you’ve probably heard—or said—something like the following: 

Our culture is spinning out of control.”
I can’t believe how fast the moral slide is happening.”
We’re living in a different nation than the one I grew up in.”
I think persecution of Christians is coming . . . soon.” 

Without question, the cultural Christianity many of us grew up with has vanished. There is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country today. In fact, the more that true Christians endeavor to speak and live biblically, the more we are being labeled as extremists, homophobic, and intolerant. Truly we are aliens. We foresee a day when being a faithful Christian will cost us or our children dearly, and in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. 

So is there any good news? Certainly. We know that God will use even the current hostilities and the climate of impending persecution for good (Romans 8:28). For years I’ve been concerned by the church’s pursuit of cultural change through political and social activities. Large swaths of Christians have placed enormous time, energy, money, and hope in the wrong things. Hand in glove with that thinking, a superficial, cultural Christianity has blurred the clear lines between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world. Pragmatists in evangelical pulpits have softened the hard demands of the gospel, making discipleship sound easy and grace sound cheap. As a result, churches have been filled with religious, superficially moral, self-righteous people who don’t understand the gospel and are self-deceived about their true spiritual state. 

But with the façade of cultural Christianity shattered, biblical Christianity is beginning to stand out in a way it hasn’t in our lifetime. Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology. With the mask of superficial Christianity pulled down, I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

Read more at the link.

With that said, though it’s true that as the cultural church shrinks and thus there are wonderful opportunities for the church global to share the Gospel and to show out living in a doctrinally pure manner, the moral purity of the Church leaves much to be desired. In a wonderful sermon of two parts, John MacArthur is preaching about Calling The Church To Repent.

There are two parts, and the transcript for both is coming soon. He is preaching from verses in the one place the Bible reveals where the Lord is calling the church to repent, Revelation 1:1-3. The warnings to those actual churches are also actual warnings to us today. The warnings were earned by the various churches due to a list of identified problems listed in the scripture. The churches’ problems were:

  • sexual immorality
  • idolatry
  • absorbing the pagan culture
  • tolerating sin
  • compromise
  • hypocrisy
  • false teaching
  • seduction by error
  • deception
  • preaching for money

This is a list that should be familiar to all of us. Many churches, unfortunately, engage in one or more of these same issues that the first century Revelation churches were engaging in. No, we haven’t built a golden calf to worship idolatrously, but we have built football stadiums, paint ourselves like pagans, and skip church regularly during football season to cheer for sports instead of worship our God. We also worship ourselves, and we have constructed many other idols that compete with God. The rest of the church’s sins are exactly the same today, which is why they should be familiar to us now in the twenty-first century.

In his sermon, Dr MacArthur said that it’s unusual to hear of a pastor calling his church to repent. It’s even more unusual to hear of an entire church repenting, he said, or broken over their hypocrisy, or sorrowful over their compromise, or repudiating their tolerance of the pagan culture, and so on. Though many people think the safest place in the universe is the church, MacArthur said, it’s not so. Jesus is intensely interested in the church, and when He sees problems, He makes threats. This should be a concern to all churches claiming the blood of Christ, and all churches as a whole should do their utmost to adhere to biblical and moral purity.

Please tune in to the sermon and then go on to part 2. It’s worth it.

Posted in conception, encouragement, jesus, life, science

Flash of light announces life

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

This actually happened. It happened the way the Bible records it happening. God created everything. With HIS VOICE!

Awesome.

Anyway, we read in 1 John 1:5, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is light. He is unapproachable light. (1 Timothy 6:16).

I read a cute story in the Science section this week. You might have read it as well. It’s this:

Human life begins with ‘flash of light,’ claim scientists

A “flash of light” marks the beginning of life in humans, according to a study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago. Scientists were able to capture in video the light or “fireworks” that break out when a human egg is activated by sperm, which mimics the process of conception. During fertilization, the amount of calcium in the egg increases, and the egg releases zinc. As the zinc is released, it bursts into light. This happens every time conception occurs.

It makes sense that light accompanies life, as we read in John 1:1-3

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

God is life. God is Light. God ordains all life, creates it, sustains it, numbers it, and calls it home.

Human life begins with a flash of Light. God is good.

Posted in culture shock, discenrment, encouragement, jesus

The very real effects of culture shock, Part 3 (final)

Introduction
Part 1: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock.
Part 2: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock on the Christian, this time from a Christian worldview.
Part 3: What to do about those stresses

In the Introduction to this Culture Shock series, I’d related several expatriate experiences I’d had while visiting abroad for longer than usual vacation periods. There are very real stresses which emerge physiologically, mentally, and emotionally when chooses to dwell in a nation in which one was not born. This fact also applies even when a person has moved from one nation to the next and their native language is spoken in both places, such as moving from the US to the UK, or Canada to Australia. Culture shock is a real event.

I’d said the earth is not our home. In that sense we believers are expatriates. Our citizenship is in heaven. The jarring difference between our home by citizenship and our home by residency is growing wider every day.

In part 1 I’d shared a list of stressors secular expatriates feel when living abroad. In the second part, I translated those secular stressors into stresses Christians feel as expatriates from heaven living in a hostile world. Things are getting more disorienting every day. The “glory days” of Christianity, are all gone, if they ever existed at all. We ARE strangers in a strange land and the times show us that more as every month passes. Yet many Christians are still shocked at the hostility and unfriendliness in their work or in their social circle or even within their families for their faith. Christians become upset over the political process currently happening in America. They are surprised when friends on Facebook suddenly turn angry, bitter, and mean. They are astounded when seemingly solid marriages break up. They are complaining on social media and at the proverbial water cooler about the state of the church (which is admittedly declining, and declining fast).

Expatriation means a break with home – where you come from and your mother tongue – it requires a mental readjustment to meet the demands of your new life which is often governed by specific rules to which you need to adapt and familiarise yourself. Source

The mental – and emotional –  expatriation that occurs when transferring one’s citizenship from the nation of Earth to the City of Heaven does require a major readjustment. The new Christian life is demanding, and this does not change if one is an old Christian, either. The Lord said to pick up one’s cross every day, (Luke 9:23) and from newbies to veterans, pew-sitters to leaders, the adjustment is daily and ceaseless because sanctification is ceaseless. (Until the moment of glorification, that is!) Releasing attachment from the world is ongoing. Scanning one’s life for idols is constant.It takes energy adn sometimes heartache not to assimilate in the world even while we are in it. (John 17:14-15). Just imagine Jesus, who was not of this world but lived in it for 33 years, perfectly and without sin. The Original expatriate. (John 8:23).

In this part: what to do about our surprise, shock, and upset as we grow apart from the culture that wants to hold tight to us.

First, let’s give ourselves a bit of a break. The earth is the only home we’ve known. Though we know by faith and from the Bible that our home is in heaven, we have not seen it. So when we are caught off guard during a controversy, a tragedy, or a disappointment, though the head-knowledge is strongly present, it sometimes takes a while for the heart to catch up and sort it out. It hurts to lose your church. It pains us to be marginalized from a previous social circle. It is a grief when family distances themselves.

The remedy for culture shock as always is Jesus. He is the remedy for everything.

First, you know the old adage, “Some Christians are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” This is a lie straight from satan’s doubly forked tongue. The ONLY way we can be of any good is from, to, through, and because of Jesus, and He is in heaven. Further, the Bible says,

Colossians 3:2 says, Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Contrast the above command with the enemies of Christ who focus on earthly things. It does not end well.

Philippians 3:19 says, Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Matthew 16:23 says, Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

This is what it means to be in the world but not of it. Don’t become too attached to human concerns. Of course we can be concerned when our favorite candidates’s presidential campaign does not go well, but we should not engage in public hand-wringing. Of course we can be attuned to the economy’s ups and downs, but the schemes and philosophies of man should not rule us. Of course we are involved with the other elements that make up a society, such as technology, business, culture, trade, communications – but those will not last. We might care about the wind farm going over the hill or the bypass being planned for the neighborhood or the bandwidth of our local communications utility – but those things will pass away. Getting TOO involved in the cultural details will shift our focus from the heavenly home above and Jesus as the ruler, creator, sustainer, savior, priest, judge, etc. Shepherd the things that are impacting our lives here on earth but let them go if they are causing a stumbling in our witness.

Have you ever met someone who was so heavenly minded they were so earthly good? No, you haven’t, and I haven’t either. I have met heavenly people who exhibit the fruits of the spirit and they are plenty good on earth, as a witness to the grace of Jesus Christ. They are patient, joyful, kind, self-controlled, kind, good, and gentle. Their Facebook page is not littered with rants against this candidate or that one. Their conversation is not peppered with complaints about the lousy internet service. Their faces are not all sour because their stock took a slight dip.

From the essay The Futility of Political Change:

Part of the fallout from the emphasis on political activism in the church is the denigration of God’s sovereignty. If we truly believe the Lord is the Author of history and that He is orchestrating all things according to His will, do we really need to throw so much of our time, energy, and resources into supporting candidates and ballot measures? Or is it that He has temporarily lost control, and we need to gain it back for Him? 

As John MacArthur explains, that’s simply not the work we’ve been set aside for:

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle against worldly ideologies and dogmas that are arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV). 

God simply is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or the appearance of “rightness” over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

So as heavenly expatriates, keep focused on the home to which we will all return.

Secondly, all the expatriate sites say how important it is to make friends in the new location. For Christians, this means developing relationships in and among solid Christians who will lift you or help you by a sacred word, pray for you, and keep you accountable. Start with friendships at church. Make overtures, or host a couple or a new friend or two. Be friendly and kind.

I know this isn’t some of “y’all’s” cup of tea. It isn’t really mine. It isn’t a negotiable though. (Hebrews 10:25). Anyway, I like the old story about the man who quit coming to church. After a while his pastor came to visit the man in his home. A roaring fire was burning in the fireplace. The two sat in companionable silence for a while. The Pastor asked the man why he stopped coming to church and being involved with the people there. The man had a list of complaints that were mostly petty. In response the pastor simply poked the fire iron into the fire, and drew out one ember. Soon, the ember faded and then went out. The pastor simply got up and left, and the next week the man was back in church.

Third, in secular expatriate advice, they advise being ‘open to new experiences’. In Christian expatriate life, we translate their advice to at to “serve”. Doing so gets your mind off yourself. We stretch ourselves when we are called to serve in an area of ministry. (Romans 7:6)

In a secular list of advice for the expatriate, it is warned, “Don’t keep all the pressure of your new life to yourself.” We translate that to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Who should we list our complaints to? Jesus. I find this index card very helpful. It was posted on Facebook by a friend today. As the world becomes more brutal, people are more raw. This includes Christians.

Prayer helps us keep our perspective. Lay it all at His feet, from the trivial to the mundane to the tragic woe. He is listening, because He is our priest, interceding for us. (Romans 8:34).

I think I’ve dragged out the metaphor long enough. In order to minimize the very real effects of Christian culture shock in these brutal days:

–Set your mind on the things above
–Develop Godly relationships
–Serve
–Pray

If you do those things you will not be so culture shocked. Personally, I’m looking forward to the shock of living my little life on earth and then the next second being called by Jesus in the rapture and established upon the New Jerusalem which is in heaven! I will have a lovely time being shocked senseless amid the presence of the Savior, the Tree of Life, the saints, the angels, and the glory of God. Now THAT’S culture shock!

Posted in culture shock, encouragement, jesus

The very real effects of culture shock, Part 2

Introduction
Part 1: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock.
Part 2: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock on the Christian, this time from a Christian worldview.
Part 3: What to do about those stresses

—————————————

Top, GraphicsFairy.com. Bottom, EPrata photo

In the Introduction to this Culture Shock series, I’d related several expatriate experiences I’d had while visiting abroad for longer than usual vacation periods. There are very real stresses which emerge physiologically, mentally, and emotionally when chooses to dwell in a nation in which one was not born. This fact also applies even when a person has moved from one nation to the next and their native language is spoken in both places, such as moving from the US to the UK, or Canada to Australia. Culture shock is a real event.

I’d said the earth is not our home. In that sense we believers are expatriates. Our citizenship is in heaven. The jarring difference between our home by citizenship and our home by residency is growing wider every day. Left, heaven above, earth below.

In part 1 I’d shared a list of stressors secular expatriates feel when living abroad. In this part, I’m translating those secular stressors into stresses Christians feel as expatriates living in a hostile world. Things are getting more disorienting every day.

I am writing from a westerner’s perspective. America was founded by Pilgrims seeking freedom to worship. Puritans were almost successful for a short while in instituting a near theocracy. The First and Second Great Awakenings were events from times past on which today’s Christian looks fondly. We fervently wish all to be saved, and we look back onto those past eras in America of the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, and even the early part of the 20th century, and long for the times when it seemed everybody believed.

However those are vestiges, mere shadows of a Christianity that even at the time, wasn’t all it seemed to be. The word is hostile to Christianity. America is hostile to Christianity. it always has been. The Christians of any perceived Golden Era were merely cultural Christians, shallow believers going along to get along, pressured by the wider culture to conform. But most of them didn’t really believe.

Today’s Christian of a certain age grew up in church, the Bible Belt was a real section of the country where it seemed that everyone worshiped the same Jesus, and our nation was strong, thriving, respected, and great. God and country.

No more, if it ever was.

I personally believe the Lord is doing us a favor by showing us, albeit rapidly, how shallow the American Christianity was and is, and how few people adhered to what the Bible commands from us as true believers. However much we understand the head knowledge that we are considered as enemies, it still hurts when that fact is brought home to us. Head knowledge from accepting the word from the Bible and boots on the ground experience are two entirely different beasts, and it sometimes takes a while before the latter catches up with the former.

In rapid fashion, even the most head-in-the-ground Christian is beginning to experience lost friendships and splits over faith. More and more false teachers are being promoted by satan. The more believers point them out, the more furious fellow pew sitters, friends or even family become. It hurts to lose friendly or family relations, even as we know that it would occur (because Jesus said it would). (Matthew 10:35, Matthew 10:21, Luke 12:53).

Cultural attitudes toward work, finances, the economy, politics, our nation, schooling, sexuality, marriage, and even gender are changing fast. It’s disorienting, even as we attempt to adjust to the changing landscape yet remain tranquil and calm with the peace of Jesus as our aura. Made even harder is that secular expatriates try to assimilate, but as Christians we must remain in the world and not of the world. We want to integrate, but not assimilate.

Integration occurs when individuals are able to adopt the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture while maintaining their culture of origin. Source

I’d posted in the last part that secular expatriates experience ten major stress-related triggers. Below, I reformatted those top ten secular stresses into stresses that hopefully may seem similar to today’s Christian. Even without my re-formatting, a Christian would easily recognize the ten stressors if they wanted to apply them to their own circumstance.

1.) Long and unusual work hours due to the fact that Christians are never “off” and are always “on” and like the Father, always working. (Col 3:23, John 5:17).In these brutal days, there is all the more work to do, ministries to fill, and faltering friends to hold accountable or to comfort when tragedy happens.

2) A “trailing Christian spouse” who has given up a career to move abroad with her working spouse and is adjusting to not only a new country, but a new lifestyle, especially when the feminist culture mocks women for submitting to her husband. (1 Peter 3:1)

3) New stresses for our Christian children: school, new non-Christian friends, a different native language, counter-Christian teachers and teaching methods, and not to mention, full immersion into a culture other than their own. It stresses the parents to know how best to protect children from secular influences. (Proverbs 1:8).

4) As new Christians, our most comfortable support system of non-Christian friends and family have gone from being neighbors and parents to enemies of the Christ in us. (Matthew 19:29). Creating a new local support system takes a lot of time and emotional energy, and can be a stressful endeavor, especially for babes in the faith.

Finding a church so as to merge into a support system of comfort and accountability early on in your Christian expatriate life is essential. (Acts 2:42). Yet many churches teach false doctrine and babes are especially vulnerable because they cannot always detect the false, and instead of a new support system for growth in the faith, what they get is drawn into a pit from which, if they escape by grace of God, having then to start over and dispense with the teachings that have now polluted their brain. (Hebrews 3:13).

5) A certain amount of lost independence due to language barriers.

6) The dynamics of a Christian marriage inevitably change with the new responsibilities and roles that come along with a move of citizenship from the World to the nation of Heaven, creating stress for each spouse. (Ephesians 5:22-27)

7) For “Single Global Christians,” between building a social network outside of work without the benefit of a spouse, and not having a sense of “community” or roots, being abroad alone can be both a stressful and lonely place, especially if one has been disowned for the faith or lives where there literally is no visible network and speaking of Jesus means death.

8) Finances. In many instances, the transfer of citizenship from the World to the City of Heaven reduces the Christian’s economic status in life. This is especially stressful when one has been immersed in hearing Prosperity Gospel and one wonders why “it’s not working for me.” For others, being a citizen of Heaven means persecution comes in stolen property, schemes to steal one’s home, or persecution where one loses everything.

9) Being Unhappy. Having a negative attitude or feelings about where you are; unrealistic expectations of your new life in your new country, and expecting perfectionism from yourself and the culture around you is a breeding ground for self-induced stress and a recipe for marital unhappiness. Your unhappiness is a feeling even your children pick up on.

10) Poor stress coping skills. Usually due to a lack of prayer and a lack of studying the Bible.

Over the last decades, who hasn’t been influenced in perspective when watching grainy lack and white Billy Graham Crusades and saw thousands of seekers streaming forward? Who hasn’t been affected by seeing many ‘walk the aisle’ at revival after revival? Which grandmother doesn’t fondly recall the glory days of Christianity when the churches were full and everybody came to dinner on the ground?

Those days are all gone, if they ever existed at all. We ARE strangers in a strange land and the times show us that more each day. Yet still, many Christians are shocked at the hostility and unfriendliness in their work or in their social circle or even within their families.

In the next part: what to do about it.

Introduction
Part 1: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock.
Part 2: Examine the very real effects of expatriate living and culture shock on the Christian, this time from a Christian worldview.
Part 3: What to do about those stresses.

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Further reading

How can Believers be in the world but not of the World?

What does it mean for Christians to be in the world but not of the world?

Blog Series at Grace to You, In the World, but not of it