Posted in laodicean church, persecution, state of the church

Jesus Vomits: State of the Church 2015, part 3

The State of the Church 2015, part 1
The State of the Church 2015, part 2

Four years ago I assessed the State of the American Church in a multi-part series, writing from my own perspective in my own opinion based on Bible prophesies and warnings. (The links are on the right sidebar, scroll down.) How is the American church doing now, four years later?

Four years is not a long time in an adult’s life. But in the church’s life, these past four years have been like dog years. According to this canine aging scale, a large dog’s age compared to a 4 year old human would be 34 years now since I wrote the last State of the Church essay.

It has been a whirlwind of satanic activity and visible decline since the last time I’ve had an opportunity to prayerfully discern the State of the Church.

At the end of part 2 I’d said that persecution seems like it is about to begin in America. We have already endured soft persecution such as adverse legal judgments, employment firings, vandalism, and public marginalization. Is hard persecution about to begin? Will we be able to retain our Constitutional right to Religious Liberty?

A CHILL WIND DOTH BLOW

Developments in the US conspire to put a chilling effect on freedom of worship

In the previous essay I’d outlined the abominations God had told Israel not to perform, else He would punish them by vomiting them out of the Land. I had shown how rampant these same abominations are in America, a nation that has been uniquely blessed in history. Jesus judges nations. Thus, America should expect to answer for squandering her blessings from the Lord and to be punished for performing sins that the Lord hates.

But what about the Church? The world always does these things, and though America’s crimes are very great as a nation, how is the church doing? What is the state of the Church in America?

There is a difference between the church as the Bride of Jesus and the church that calls itself the church. I hate the false church. I love the true Church.

The Master’s Seminary: Why I Love the Church. The true church will become brighter than ever. Persecution always does this. Far from chilling evangelistic activity, putting on ice any religious freedom always warms it.

However to pagans, we are all the same. Catholics, Mormons, Christian cults, and Protestants are all “the church” to them and that is the “Jesus” that they see. So the false church that calls itself the church is sinning against Jesus by doing abominations in His name.

In Leviticus 18:21-23 the LORD said He would make the land vomit out its inhabitants if they failed to follow His statutes and did abominations. The abominations for which Jesus said He would vomit them out of the land included the famous list of sexual sins, lying with a neighbor’s wife (adultery) lying with a man as a woman (homosexuality) and lying with animals (bestiality). It also includes warnings against sacrificing children to Molech (abortion).

In Revelation 3:16 Jesus again reiterated that He expects that church to do good works, else He would vomit them out of His mouth. In Revelation 3:17 He says,

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Whoever is naked is not covered in the righteous robe of Christ. Blind means mentally blind. He is speaking to a church that has become not-His-church.

Source for original photo

This church is naked, apostate, self-deluded and unaware that Christ stands apart from them and is not in their midst. Yet they were still apathetic, not having zeal to remain in Christ’s statutes.

Therefore since they were apostate and unsanctified, they had allowed the world to enter in. The same sins that Jesus warns against have flooded the church, or the organization that calls itself the church. Divorce is high among Christians in the church. It is a myth that 50% of Christian marriages fail, but the Christian divorce rate is still uncomfortably high. Porn is a problem among Christian men as it is for worldly men. Abortion rates for those claiming a religious affiliation are also high.

When the world sees a church that does the abominations Jesus warned against, then the world doesn’t see Jesus nor do they see a peculiar people set apart for His name. The world sees an ineffective abominable religion filled with worldly people that makes no difference in lives and blasphemes the name of Jesus through their abominable acts. No wonder Jesus said He would vomit the Laodicean church out His mouth.

So whether we are discussing the uniquely blessed nation of America or the visible entity that calls itself the church in America, we are deserving of all the bile that Jesus can heap upon us.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR THE FAITHFUL?

EPrata photo

Look at 1 Peter 4:7, which says

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

The end of all things started at the cross. Peter begins that passage by reminding the saints that the end of all things is at hand. We should be reminded of that also. At the cross, Jesus enacted his final prophetic plans. Never mind the time span, as far as tasks go, there are just two left for God to accomplish- build the church to its completion and defeat satan at Armageddon. The end is at hand.

Now look at 1 Peter 4:17,

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Then Peter continues after verse 17 with that momentous passage about Christian suffering. He begins to wind it down with this truth- it is time for judgment to begin at the house of God…

Pulpit Commentary explains Peter’s statement about judgment

The beginning of judgment is the persecution of the Christians, as our Lord had taught (Matthew 24:8, 9, and following verses); but that judgment is not unto condemnation: “When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32); it is the fiery trial,

Persecution makes the false Christians leave church and it quickens and toughens the true believers. In this way Jesus uses the evil for our good and His glory.

When Peter says “it is time for” the word time there is not chronos, clock time, but kairos, the season, the tipping point, the crucial moment. And for the last 2000 years, nation by nation, continent by continent since those words were written around 67AD, He has been purifying His church. He does this through through trials and suffering at His providential crucial moments. The church at Rome, Jerusalem, the 7 churches in Asia Minor, Europe, China, Soviet Union/Russia, Egypt…His purifying judgment in the House of God has been ongoing, and now in my opinion from what we see, it seems to be America’s turn.

TIPPING POINT IN AMERICAN CHURCHES IS HERE

Retaining our religious liberty in the future days will become increasingly impossible. This will purify the church because the apostates will either toe the carnal line or depart the faith altogether. Judas was revealed as faithless. Demas loved the world and after a time, departed the faith (2 Tim 4:10). Many who loved the show of the miracles departed when Jesus taught the hard things. (John 6:66). It is to God’s glory when the tares depart under their own volition, because to allows the light of His true disciples to shine more brightly.

This is the best illustration of a tipping point I’ve seen. Though it isn’t related to religion, it deftly shows in one drawing what happens when persecution comes (in my opinion).

Source

Wikipedia explains, in Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra. He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill to nearly the top, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever. The false members of the American Church are operating under their own strength. For a while they can roll the rock up the hill. However they cannot get it to the top and too weak in strength, the rock rolls back down again. It falls away.

The Christians are not operating in their own strength. When they get their rock up to near the top, they have the necessary strength to roll the rock to the crest and beyond because we are operating in Jesus’ strength. As the rock rolls downhill, the snowball effect means it gathers steam, becomes stronger and faster, and becomes larger as it picks up other Christians along the way. The tipping point separates the weak and false from the strong and true.

Here are a few reasons why I believe the tipping point for persecution in America has arrived.

–Oregon bakers ordered to pay homosexual couple $135,000 AND was issued a gag order to stop talking about their faith, (restrict freedom of speech and impose a financial burden)

Church vandalism in Texas. Not a mosque and not a synagogue, which are often in the news for having been vandalized, but a vandalism at a Baptist Church in Texas sparked by their church sign. What had the Church put on their sign? Simply “Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right.” The sign’s message provoked a particularly blasphemous and shocking scrawled message. In addition, two churches in Texas were burned by arson this week. (spiritual hatred expressed in real, physical terms)

–A newspaper announced subsequent to the SCOTUS decision that they won’t publish any letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage. (restrict freedom of speech, remove Christians from the public forum)

More ominously:

The National Review reported, “For Churches That Won’t Perform Same-Sex Weddings, Insurance Begins to Look Iffy The president of the nation’s largest church liability insurance group announced that essentially it does not cover a church that is being sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. The article stated,

“July 1, David Karns, vice president of underwriting at Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company (which “serve[s] more than 8,400 churches”), wrote an “all states” agents’ bulletin addressing same-sex marriage. ‘… There is no coverage for any judgments against an insured.” In other words: Churches, you’re on your own.”

(impose threat of or real financial burden heavy enough to close churches or make weak ones be quiet because they have a mortgage to pay)

Therefore, churches carrying a debt load are soon going to discover the price that a bigger building carries, especially if or when their tax-exempt status is stripped from them. Worse, challenges against churches and Christian Colleges to their tax-exempt status are already beginning. Money will be an issue. It is just the same to satan if he closes a church due to fiscal issues than in striking the sheep with false doctrine, like in Galatians. A closed church is a closed church.

Speaking of Christian colleges,

–Christian Colleges are discovering that since homosexual marriage is constitutional in all states, that challenges to their prohibitions for same-sex co-habitation are groundless. A Christian college that accepts government funding but refuses to allow a same-sex married couple to live in housing for married students would be “on the edge of the indefensible”, said one challenger. He is right, it IS legally indefensible. Hope College and Belmont University already decided to offer same-sex couples health benefits. (pollute the place where seeds are sown and Christians are grown.)

Most ominously, since the June 26 decision, an aggressive hate campaign against religious freedom has been launched. It was encouraged by the Oregon decision of the gag order against the couple that bakes cakes.

Gay-rights groups, allies to push back on ‘religious liberty’ arguments

“Some people want to convert the crucial principle of religious freedom into a license to discriminate against others and deny Americans essential services,” the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said at a press conference Tuesday. “That’s a corruption of a noble concept, and we don’t intend to stand for it,” he said, announcing the group’s “Protect Thy Neighbor” project. The project will fight legislative efforts to let businesses and even government offices use religious beliefs as “a justification to discriminate” on matters relating not only to homosexuality but also reproductive rights, such as paying for all kinds of birth control.”

They are challenging the very concept of religious liberty. The ‘Protect Thy Neighbor’ project will become a groundswell in a short time. What they don’t know is, denying our freedom to worship and evangelize only spurs the true believers to greater, more focused and more intense action. It has been this way each time persecution began in a nation.

AMERICAN FREEDOM OF RELIGION WILL SHORTLY BE IN THE PAST

[Supreme Court Justice] Thomas additionally warns that the Court’s “inversion of the original meaning of liberty will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty.” Further, he argues that the decision will threaten religious liberty by creating an unavoidable collision between the interests of same-sex couples and some religious organizations. (Dissenters opinions explained here)

That tipping point. It’s that collision, and the world always seemingly ‘wins’ (until Armageddon). As of this moment, religious liberty in America is at serious risk. Why do I say this? One reason the SCOTUS decision shook us is that it was 100% unattached from any part of any law or precedent. It was just simply a personal decision made from personal biases and personal will of the majority of the judges. (so said one of the Justice dissenters, and he should know).

If judges can birth a non-existent “right” (gay marriage) that means they can abort an existing right (religious liberty).

They will obliterate it by first watering it down and chipping away at it (i.e. the newspaper refusal to publish letters to the editor, the Oregon judge’s gag order…) then they will obliterate it by redefining it totally out of existence. You will be shocked to see how fast this will happen. You will be inspired to see what the true believers do in response.

In the Conclusion, the remedy and call to arms.

The State of the Church 2015, part 1

The State of the Church 2015, part 2  

Posted in bible, famine of the word, persecution, prophecy

Why the SCOTUS decision means we must start memorizing our Bibles in earnest, NOW

 I never like to exhort without offering a solution. Thanks to commenters and Facebook friends, here are two FREE systems to help memorize His word.

UPDATE: Memorizing Scripture: two systems to help you- ScriptureTyper and Scripture Memory System 

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On June 26, 2015, Christians got a wake-up call. That was the day that the Supreme Court of the United States decided, extant from law or precedent, that homosexual ‘marriage’ should be the law of the land in all 50 states.

The news hit like a tsunami. The reactions ranged from ones of outrage and perplexity among Christians, to reactions of ebullience from homosexuals and those who applaud them.

The ramification of this decision from the highest court in the land will take time to fully reveal itself. However, initial impacts are not good. Almost immediately a polyamorous triad applied for a marriage certificate in Montana. More ominously, just as immediately, a newspaper editor declared that he will not publish letters to the editor expressing an opinion in opposition to gay marriage. Most portentously,

Christian Colleges’ Right to Deny Married Housing for Gay Couples Is ‘on the Edge of the Indefensible,’ Rep. Barry Lynn Asserts

Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced Monday the launch of an “aggressive” initiative to combat any state or federal legislation, or court ruling seeking to protect religious objectors of same-sex marriage from government consequence for living according to their religious convictions. … In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 that it is unconstitutional for states to refuse issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses, the organization expects Christian conservatives to respond by introducing a plethora of bills, executive orders, regulatory and policy changes that are “designed to resist the Supreme Court’s ruling.”

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (Deuteronomy 11:18).

What it’s saying is that the gay mafia will put to the legal test the notion that Christian colleges cannot and should not deny same-sex couples’ co-habitation at such a college. And if you’re wondering why a homosexual would even bother to enroll in a Christian college, never mind bring his or her partner and spend good money fighting to live together, it’s because homosexuals are disciplined, organized, and are fervently effective witnesses for satan. They go to the hostile places to witness for their demonic truths.

In the week or so since the SCOTUS ruling allowing homosexual marriage, some have begun to think about whether it is time for civil disobedience. Churches are drawing up policies and legal language articulating their position on whether their pastor will perform a homosexual wedding. Church treasurers are going over the bookkeeping accounts to see where they would stand if stripped of their tax-exempt status. Street preachers are settling in their mind how far to take submission to civil law versus speaking to what we have heard and seen, as Acts 4:18-20 says.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … (Colossians 3:16a)

The Banner of Truth posted a sobering article noting that the time for civil disobedience has come. They wrote that despite the clear commands of the Bible to submit to civil authorities, there are limits to that submission.

Yet the Bible itself sets limits to the submission believers owe the civil order. When some of the Old Testament kings of Israel and Judah practiced idolatry, the holy prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah stood against them. In the New Testament, when the unbelieving Jewish leadership told the apostles to quit preaching the gospel, they had to disobey this unrighteous order. Listen to Acts 4:18-20:

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.  (Psalm 40:8)

But that isn’t the point of this article.

I’m worried about a greater danger. There is another ramification of the SCOTUS ruling where a confluence of events have conspired to put Christians at a disadvantage in the battle.

What?! you say? Through Christ we can do all things? Even David, seemingly defenseless against the giant Goliath, was victorious?! How can Christians now be at a disadvantage?

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.  (Psalm 119:16)

Our battle is not against flesh and blood.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Christians are unarmed and unready for the battle because we have failed to put on the whole armor. We were warned, Paul did a good job there. But we did not heed. We have become biblically illiterate, and during a time in which bibles are seen as hate material and are increasingly being forbidden from many public places. Perhaps to be made illegal some time soon. So now we are missing an important component of the battle armor:

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, THE WORD OF GOD.

US OWI WWII poster, series “Nature of the Enemy,”
response to Nazi religious book & religious material burnings

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. (Proverbs 22:17-18)

Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. People don’t study the word, they don’t know what is in the word, they don’t care. They twist the word (“Don’t judge!”) and thanks to football, they are just as likely to know the verse that a person can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, as they are to believe that Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and God helps those who help themselves. Neither of the last two are even in the bible.

Less than a year ago Ed Stetzer wrote in Christianity Today that “It’s obvious: We are living in a post-biblically literate culture.”

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21).

And now we’re caught with our pants down and our mouths hanging open. I’m not talking about thoughtful writing on theological blogs or online religious news outlet articles. In those scenarios an author has time to look up a verse. I am talking about the all-important hide-in-your-heart, wide swathes of the word, to have at the mental ready when out and about. The battle, when it comes to you, will be abrupt. You might be at the Big Box Store checkout line and the lady behind you might see your cross necklace and says, “Hey! You’re a Christian, why do you hate gays so much?” If you say grace at the employee cafeteria table, you might be heckled. Out of nowhere you might be involved in something and you’ll WISH you had that verse you know would compassionately speak to the situation, it’s on the tip of your tongue… but now you just can’t remember…

And soon, very soon, it might even become illegal to publicly carry a bible, or worse, even to own one. Holding Biblical religious material may become illegal in the United States at some point. Don’t think it can’t happen here. Irrational hostility against Christians and Christianity has already started, as noted by the news articles posted above. Bibles and/or verses and/or Bible study are all being banned at some private homes, schools, colleges, hotels (Gideon Bibles) in the United States- before SCOTUS June 26…

So if Bibles become forbidden or illegal what then? [crickets]

Source: Voice of the Martyrs.

What happened to Wednesday night Bible Drills? To using the Bible as the basis for Sunday School Curriculum? To personal Bible study? Gone. Gone. Gone.

Pastors do everything BUT preach the word, busy families shuttle kids to every kind of practice BUT family devotionals. Taking time to study the Bible and not books about the bible is simply unheard of. And we will pay for that.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

Look at what happened to the church at Ephesus. Sometime between 60 and 62AD, Paul wrote to the saints at that church, saying

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers
, (Ephesians 1:16-17).

Paul was effusive and enthusiastic in praising them for their faith and love.

The next time we hear of the Ephesian church it is in Revelation, written about 95-96 AD.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Revelation 2:4-5)

Jesus praises the Ephesians for their enduring patience, good works, and hatred of evil. But it counted for nothing, nothing, because they had lost their first love. Their good works counted for nothing, their patience counted for nothing, not even their pure doctrine counted. They had abandoned their first love, THAT was what mattered. What was that love? Jesus. What keeps that love aflame? Being with Him in His word. The Head of the Church said “I have this against you…” And it took less than 40 years for that church to lose their love.

What was Jesus’ command for a remedy?

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5)

1. Remember
2. Repent
3. Do the works you did at first

What were those works? The very ones Paul commended 40 years earlier and the very same works which characterized the early church; devotion to prayer, worship and rich bible study.

Without the sword of the Lord, we are defenseless against the wiles of the devil. And that is no good place to be. Today people won’t read the Bible. Soon it may be that they can’t read the Bible.

So here is my exhortation:

Personally read and study the bible. Not a devotional or a book or a curriculum or a study. THE BIBLE.

Make an effort to memorize verses. I fail miserably at this, so I am preaching to myself. We don’t know how long it will be until we are banned from carrying or displaying religious material in public, nor how long it will be until we are prohibited from even owning a bible, but it is hard is to fan the flames of faith without His word as the bellows. Have it ready in your heart and mind. Some of the verses urging us to do just that are listed on this essay from top to bottom.

Be diligent about studying with your children. Not just studying, memorizing. We do not know how long the Lord will tarry, but the next generation must have the Word at the ready in their hearts and minds in order to witness because access to biblical material may be too risky to obtain. Our mind may be all that we can carry.

Think about starting a memorization Bible Drill program at your church or homeschool group or after-school club. This one in Ohio is typical. There is one in just about every state, with levels that progressively lead to age-appropriate competitions. It can be modified for adults, like this one in Georgia.

Start NOW. Today.

Don’t go to battle without your sword. No good soldier would leave it dusty beside the campfire. No good policeman would go out without his gun, club, radio, handcuffs, etc. Don’t leave yourself defenseless in these times, times in which persecution is knocking at the door and is even beginning. Memorize, memorize, memorize.

Because if you think it won’t happen here I am sad to say it won’t be long before you are proven wrong. And I do not believe I am being a scare-mongering inflammatory sky is falling nutcase about this.

Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  (Amos 8:11)

Bible verse memorization has a two-fold purpose. It keeps the person memorizing them in a good and holy position so they may not sin against God, and it allows that person to witness on the spot or in places where bibles are forbidden or hard to come by, and to teach others to the truth of the Living God, coming again in glory to judge the quick and the dead.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

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Further Reading

Why is Bible memorization important?

Is Bible memorization important? Why?

Personal Bible study

Blog series: How to Study the Bible 

Posted in atlanta, fire chief, homosexuality, kelvin cochran, persecution, truth

Bible Belt Georgia? Not so much: Atlanta Fire Chief suspended for publicly stating his Christian beliefs (Updated)

Updated to include some links, a pull quote regarding the actual loss of income & a quote from the book. At bottom.

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Fire Chief suspended after publishing book calling homosexuality ‘unclean,’ ‘vulgar’

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran is suspended for one month without pay after publishing a book that says homosexuality and having multiple sexual partners is “vile,” “vulgar”, and “inappropriate”. The 162-page paperback titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” is being sold at Amazon.com. Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement he learned about the book on Friday, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV.”I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration,” Reed said.

Cochran’s book also includes an author page and describes him as a “devout Christian man” whose “greatest desire is to fulfill the purpose of God for his life and to be living proof of God’s exceeding great and precious promises.” Cochran is also a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church and serves as a deacon and teacher, according to the book’s author’s page.

Chief Kelvin Cochran. Source AJC

More at the link. Incidentally, Chief Cochran wrote the book in November 2013.

Chief Cochran has been a firefighter for thirty-four years, beginning his career in Shreveport La. He is a high-achieving man with an impeccable record,

In 2009, “President Barack Obama appointed him as U.S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, Chief Cochran was charged with overseeing, coordinating, and directing national efforts to prevent fires and improve fire response. He worked extensively with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Atlanta Mayor Reed stated of the situation, “Chief Cochran will be suspended for one month without pay, Chief Cochran will be required to complete sensitivity training; Chief Cochran will be prohibited from distributing the book on city property…”

At Red State, Erick Erickson wrote,
Chief Cochran proclaims that his top priority as head of the fire department is “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God.”

Specifically, the accusation is that by being honest about his orthodox Christian views on sex and marriage, Chief Cochran is undermining the public trust in him. You’d think the government would appreciate Kelvin Cochran being a role model to young black men in Atlanta, but they are instead much more focused on not offending the gay rights community. What Mayor Reed and the gay rights community are saying is that if you work for government you cannot be open about your Christian faith.

and all this despite the fact that–

Atlanta just received a 100 score on the Human Right Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which includes scoring on nearly 50 factors under six broad factors including non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, city employment policies, inclusiveness in city services, law enforcement and city leadership on matters of LGBT equality. Atlanta has been the only city in the Deep South to score a 100 two years in a row.

In January 2006, Kasim Reed introduced a bill to authorize scholastic teaching of the textbook The Bible and Its Influence, which passed into law later that year. It is the height of absurdity to mandate the government school system teach the bible, but deny a man’s pay and stature for having an opinion about that same bible’s teachings. Reed’s bill was the first in the nation to mandate teaching the bible in public schools, but Reed punishes a man having an opinion about it. However it is not so absurd when we realize we are living in a post-Christian America.

You have to know that the gay mafia will hound this man out of office. Because we are living in a post-Christian nation, a post-Christian world at that, Romans 1:28-32 says this is what we can expect,

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Cochran makes $172,000 a year. A one-month suspension would cost Cochran $14,333 for expressing his Christian views.
We see their slander in the LBGT ‘community’ saying the Chief won’t put out fires at gay homes, their maliciousness in saying that that his one-month suspension isn’t enough punishment. We see all this in the gay mafia’s evil works.

Is it bad that we are in a post-Christian world? Not necessarily. The cultural veneer overlaid on America these last decades has allowed us to shift our attention as Christ’s servants to the political arena (remember the Moral Majority?) rather than remain focused on our one job: proclaim the Gospel. It has also allowed individual Christians to relax in evangelism, especially in the Bible Belt. Well, that belt is loosening and soon enough America will be wearing no pants. In January 2014, John MacArthur commented on Post-Christian America–

Continuing Christ’s Work, part 2

Most of you older people grew up in a time period in America when there was cultural Christianity. There was a kind of Christian consensus in America. People understood the church, they understood the Bible, they understood the gospel. They understood the morality that came out of the Bible. Sometimes it was called the Judeo Christian Ethic. But even more, it was a cultural kind of Christianity. If you grew up in the south, you probably joined a church, some church, because if you joined a church, you could get a job at the bank.

If you joined a church, you could be hired somewhere because you were one of the good guys. If you joined a church, you connected with other people, and you were socially acceptable, and you were religious, and you believed in God, and that was good, like the founders of America believed. They didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but they believed they couldn’t keep people moral if there wasn’t some divine threat. So they created a God of their own imagining to hold over peoples’ heads. So there was a belief in God, and it was defined primarily by the Bible.

So there was a kind of cultural morality that survived a long time in America, and it was showing up in elections 20 years ago, 15 years ago. There was still a consensus. We remember the moral majority, the religious right. They were still to get people elected, still able to have some clout and some power. Let me tell you something. Gone. Gone. No more. There is no more cultural Christianity. There is no collective Christian consensus that is going to have any power in this country whatsoever.

In fact, the more distinctly Christian we are, the more we will be labeled as extremists. Bizarre, alien, homophobic, intolerant, guilty of hate crimes. Cultural Christianity is, as we know it, that kind of consensus coming from a Biblical understanding is gone. It is gone. The people who now vote in America couldn’t care less. They couldn’t care less about that. The people who carry the elections, they don’t want anything to do with that. They want to escape the extremism of cultural Christianity as they see it. So I think as we go forward, it’s going to come down to this, and this is exactly where it ought to be anyway.

There are several things as Christians we can do:

First, realize that no place, no job, no person is safe from government punishment for holding biblical views. The days of safety, if there ever were any, are over. The tide holding back punishments against Christians has receded and we are at the mercy of sharks patrolling the waters who wish to submerge, devour, and obliterate any mention of biblical views whatsoever. Just a few weeks ago we were shocked in our county that the American Humanist Association and the American Civil Liberties Union pounded us for having a privately-donated statue on school grounds that contained a bible verse.

Secondly, pray for Chief Cochran. Pray the Spirit strengthens him to withstand the arrows the evil one is sending his way, and that he remains true to his convictions and that his top priority as head of the fire department remains “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God,” especially in the face of incredible employment and cultural pressure. This could be a glorious moment for his witness.

Third, buy Chief Cochran’s book so he can receive royalties, or even donate to him if you feel led. No one can easily withstand a sudden suspension without pay. Can you make your mortgage if suddenly you lost a month’s pay? At the very least, it will be a strained month for the man and his family. (Acts 2:45). Here is a commenter’s opinion on Cochran’s Amazon.com page:

A free press is essential to democracy, especially for opinions you disagree with. I bought this book because the author was suspended without pay from his “regular” job for a month just for writing it. I don’t even know if I’ll read it but harassing authors and psuedo-banning of books is the quickest way to get me to buy one. Many thanks to the His Honor the Mayor of Atlanta for making such a big deal about it and bringing it to my attention. By Ernest Lansford on November 25, 2014

The five-star and one-star reviews on his Amazon page are running about equal. There are no reviews in between. The cultural dividing line is reflected in these reviews.

Fourth- prepare yourself, no matter where you live. In America especially, ease and cushiness for the Christian is over. The Fire Chief wrote his book a year ago but his suspension came out of the blue a year later. Something you did or said a while ago could come back to haunt you. Remember, satan is on the prowl, that means he is hunting. This is what the gay mafia does, they hunt for prey, they look for ammunition to use against Christians to silence us and to try and overcome us.

So, how exactly did the Mayor of Atlanta discover the Christian opinions of his Fire Chief one year after they were stated? This way, as reported in GA Voice, (a ‘Gay Atlanta’ publication), in their craftily malicious headline that the Atlanta Fire Chief ‘goes on an anti-gay crusade’,

Retired Atlanta Fire Department Captain Cindy Thompson, who is openly gay, was informed of the book by other firefighters who were disturbed by the book. Thompson, who retired in 2009 after 30 years with the department, contacted the GA Voice to get the word out about the anti-gay book. Today she she said she talked with Robin Shahar, the LGBT liaison for Mayor Reed’s office, about the book…Thompson said she knew Chief Cochran while she worked at the department but “didn’t know this side of him.” She did say she knew he was a religious man and because she had “bad vibes” about him she voluntarily took a demotion from battalion chief to captain. “I just didn’t get a good feeling from him,” she said. “Now I see this book and know I was right all along.”

We know that the ‘bad vibes’ the lesbian got from the Christian Chief was because her wicked spirit recoiled from the Light in his spirit, as all homosexuals suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). They MUST gather numbers of like-minded people to themselves because they NEED the hearty approval. They need the tipping point in order to try and silence the Christian voice.

So prepare yourself, and not just on matters involving homosexuality. Publicly stating that divorce goes against God, or adultery is wrong, or co-habitating is immoral are also stances that go against the cultural grain these days. In fact, any public statement touting a dogmatic fact of evil against God’s good will get you anything from cold shoulders to outright persecution. Sometimes it even comes from ‘Christians’.

In America now there is real risk of economic penalty for believing the bible literally- AND proclaiming it.

Last, continue Christ’s work. We live in exciting times with exciting opportunities. John MacArthur reported that though Christianity is against the law in China, 1,000 Chinese pastors gathered in Hong Kong for a training conference and received a new study bible in Chinese. What glorious news!!!

1000 Chinese pastors received a new Chinese study bible at the
Expository Conference in Hong Kong on Sept. 23-26, 2014

MacArthur’s staff reported,

The goal of the conference, a cooperative effort of The Master’s College, Grace to You and Grace Bible Fellowship in Singapore, was to get John MacArthur’s material, both the study Bible and his New Testament commentaries, into the hands of as many Chinese pastors as possible…

MacArthur said in his sermon ‘Continuing Christ’s Work,’

The gospel is circling the globe. We’re living in the greatest revival of Biblical truth in the history of the world simply because of its electronic capabilities circle the globe. We’re also nearer the second coming than we’ve ever been as the gospel is extending to the ends of the earth. Many verses in a new testament encourage us to be faithful until he comes.

May you be faithful. May I be faithful. May we all be faithful in praying for one another. It is a dark time but it is a time of Light too. Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, and His Gospel will prevail, it has prevailed, and the gates of hell shall not win against it. As the Amazon commenter said, thank you Mayor Reed for making a big deal out of this, so we can be aware of a situation to bring before the Lord. Chief Cochran is not alone, we are all part of a glorious church, united in our work to advance His precious Good News to the lost. We do not sing woe is us, but we sing Hallelujah.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
~Psalm 8:1-2

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Fire Chief Defends Christian Views on Homosexuality, Mayor Responds in the MOST Ridiculous Way

Atlanta fire chief suspended for publishing Christian views of homosexuality

Quote from Cochran’s book, which as a Godly man, he did not focus solely on the sins of homosexuality, bestiality, lesbianism, etc, but also for the sin of having sex outside of marriage, having multiple partners, etc.

“Sexual acts pursued for purposes other than procreation and marital pleasure in holy matrimony is the sex life of a naked man. When men are unrestrained in their quest for sex outside of God’s purpose they will never be fulfilled. Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God. This is the kind of sex that leaves a man continually empty–the sex life of a naked man.”

Posted in annise parker, houston, lesbian, mohler, persecution

TX AG to Houston Mayor: "Stop Bullying Christians;" also, what to do if you’re bullied by gov’t

In the last few days there has been a furor over the information reported from Houston, that the lesbian Mayor Annise Parker has litigiously demanded several of Houston’s pastors’ sermons and the pastors’ personal correspondence with congregants. The fracas is ongoing, and has been for a few years. I did write on Wednesday about the recent issue of the wide-net subpoena, here.

Dr Albert Mohler

I’ll recap, quoting excerpts from Al Mohler’s excellent synopsis. Albert Mohler is an “American theologian and the ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky” according to Wikipedia.

When news broke earlier this week that the attorneys working for the City of Houston had issued subpoenas to pastors for sermons, I was fairly certain that some mistake had been made. When the actual text of the subpoena came to me, I could hardly believe my eyes. Here was a legal demand, sent to Christian pastors in the name of one of America’s largest cities, to surrender “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO (an anti-discrimination ordinance), the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

The controversy started when Mayor Parker, often described as the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, led the effort to adopt an anti-discrimination law that, among other things, allows transgender persons to file a complaint and bring charges if they are denied access to a bathroom. Several Houston-area pastors were involved in an effort to rescind the ordinance. They participated in a petition drive that would have put the question before voters, mobilizing their congregations on the issue. They were able to get more than the required number of signatures on the petition, but the city attorney ruled many of the signatures invalid due to technicalities. The city attorney intervened after the appropriate city official had already certified the petitions as adequate. This set the stage for the lawsuit, and the lawsuit set the stage for the subpoenas.

The subpoenas set the stage for the current controversy. The very fact that the subpoenas were issued at all is scandal enough — none of the pastors is even party to the lawsuit. But the actual wording of the subpoenas is draconian — almost unbelievable. The attorneys working for the city demanded all sermons “prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession” on matters that included, not only the mayor and the ordinance, but homosexuality and gender identity.

Dr Mohler said it is a ‘breathtaking violation of religious liberty.’ I agree. The horses are out of the barn and there is no recalling them. Now, any or all pastors can be bullied, threatened, or otherwise coerced into producing work product for out-of-control government thugs.

TX Attorney General Greg Abbott

I’m going to put on my citizen hat for a moment. The government is supposed to serve us. To that end, many states have an Open Records policy. Texas does. It is called the Public Information Act. The purpose of such acts are described by the Texas Attorney General,

“The purpose of the Public Information Act is to maintain the people’s control “over the instruments they have created.”

The People are not without resources. Government records are open precisely to push back against such bullying against the citizenry. Annise Parker has said that if any “pastor used the pulpit for politics, their sermons are fair game”.

The Public can also request records. The Public does not have to lodge a suit, hire a lawyer, or go hat in hand. They may even examine records for FREE, if doing so inside the premises. There may be some REASONABLE costs for labor or copying fees.

The Public may demand any legally covered work-product from Annise Parker in her office as Mayor, or any Council member, or other elected or government official, to examine. The Public does not have to say who they are, or why they want it, or what they plan to do with it.

How do I know this?

I read the Texas Open Records Law.

The litigation lodged against the pastors is worded thus, again from Dr Mohler’s essay:

‘The attorneys working for the city demanded all sermons “prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession” on matters that included, not only the mayor and the ordinance, but homosexuality and gender identity.

What if the public demanded, following Open Records protocols, in similar language, “all work-product, speeches, emails, correspondence, and other matter in the Houston Mayor’s Office held by, produced by, overseen by, delivered by or otherwise retained in the Houston Mayor’s possession or adjunct storage, on matters that include, references or discuss homosexuality and gender identity’ ? If such a request legally falls under open records, the Mayor’s office would have to produce it. PROMPTLY.

From Texas Attorney General Office FAQ:

What types of records are subject to the Public Information Act?
Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is subject to the Public Information Act. The format (paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.) of the record does not affect its status as a public record.

What is a “governmental body”?
For purposes of the Public Information Act, the term “governmental body” encompasses all Texas public entities at the state and local levels.

I believe a City Mayor’s office qualifies as a ‘local government body’ don’t you?

The FAQ further states that the Mayor (or other government body) does not have the right to withhold records nor to make their own determination of what constitutes an open record.

For example, one time I requested under Open Records the products related to an issue in the School Department. In one illegally held document, eventually discovered, contended for, and produced, the School Department had bought a stamp and stamped in large red letters across the document, CONFIDENTIAL’. Simply self-stamping an open records document Confidential doesn’t make it confidential, lol. But that kind of monkeying with language is going on in the fracas in Houston. The Mayor yesterday changed her demand from sermons to “speeches.” Yes, this is an out-of-control government.

There are some exclusions from Open Records. The Judiciary, some personnel records, or negotiations/contracts are often excluded. This is reasonable. Other exclusions are listed specifically in the TX Handbook, linked below.

Again, Open Records are, by law in place to help the Public push back against aggressive or overly-authoritarian government bodies or elected officials. Its purpose is to help the citizenry keep the government transparent, and to educate the citizenry on issues in which the government is addressing on their behalf. I’m not speaking just about Houston but of all local and State and Federal public entities. Citizens (so far) still have rights. Whether the Government entity will adhere to the demands is a different story. A unexercised muscle will atrophy. Here is an example I was involved with.

In Maine, the Maine Society of Professional Journalists decided to test the muscularity of the Freedom of Access law by setting up an audit. (Detractors called it ‘a sting’).

The findings were depressing. The last audit had been in 1978. Between 1978 and 2002, governments had closed up considerably, and not to the benefit of the citizen.

From the Audit results: “A public records audit is a test of government compliance with public access laws, otherwise known as sunshine laws or right-to-know laws“.

They trained us reporters in the Law, created three simple requests (one, I remember for example, was for local expense reports from the mayor or town Administrator, the police were asked to produce a police log, I think), and we were trained in what to say and not say. We were to leave if we were denied, and we were to make notes on whether we were asked who we were or why we wanted it. Requests were made to School Departments, Municipal Governments, and to Police.

In some cases, full compliance was given, in more cases though, access to records was denied. The findings plus comments and notes from the reporters were made public. Embarrassed and chastened, the State of Maine formed the Compliance Committee and tasked 12 people selected from around the state and employed by different public and private entities, to participate. I was one of the 12 appointed to this committee. We were to review Maine’s FOA law and submit the report to the Legislative House and Senate for their denial or approval as an amendment to Maine’s existing FOA law. We did so and the overhaul was accepted by the State Legislative body. Because of the Journalists’  audit, and resulting action on the State of Maine, Maine’s Freedom of Access law was strengthened on behalf of the citizens.

Government that is supposed to serve the public in transparent honesty had become very, very closed, guarded, and sometimes downright hostile to the people they were supposed to be serving. The audit had become necessary. Again, an unexercised muscle atrophies. Citizens, know your rights and use them from time to time.

So. Open Records, Houston. FAIR GAME.

Here are three resources which explain the Texas Open Records Law (Public Information Act). The first one is at the UTexas and is short. The second one is the FAQ from the TX State Attorney General. The third one is THE 2014 Handbook explaining the PIA from the AG’s Office. It is 329 pages, but it has a Table of Contents, and segments of the law are stated then explained in real language.

If a person decides they want to obtain open records from any government office, there are a few things to remember, and I address this to the public at large and especially to Christians.

The personnel at the copy machines and secretaries and administrators who carry out the PIA requests are people. They deserve politeness and consideration.

Do your homework. If a person makes an Open Records request, know what is and is not legally available to you. Be considerate by having read the pertinent parts of the law and not making extra work for the people in the offices by having to figure out your request. As is stated in the FAQ, the receiving office does not have to answer your questions, interpret the law for you or otherwise provide information other than your specific, written request. One must not make make ridiculous or frivolous requests.

Records requested have to actually exist. General requests such as “Anything the Town Manager might email next week” will not fall under the Law.

Any person requesting information under PIA should be legible, specific, and polite. I’ve said polite three times now.

The citizenry has rights. We do have resources that protect us against aggressive governments. Though we as Christians do submit to our government leaders, as long as there are mechanisms in place to legally help the citizenry monitor our government, we should use them. When Apostle Paul was accused in Judea, as a Roman citizen he had a right to appeal to Rome and be tried there instead of Galilee or Jerusalem. Paul employed a mechanism that was available to him. (Acts 25:11, Acts 25:21, Acts 28:19). That is what these mechanisms are there for- to help the citizen obtain justice or for relief from an unjust or oppressive government.

Aggressive government is a pet peeve of mine. I’m speaking more as a temporary citizen of earth and less so as a Christian. But as a Christian, we should remember eventually in this age, it looks more and more like western Christianity has had its day. The threat of jail just for preaching the bible has become very real.

Here are the links:

Open Records Act / Texas Public Information Act

Frequently Asked Questions Relating to the Public Information Act

Public Information Handbook 2014: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

RECENT NEWS:

Sermons Are “Fair Game” in Houston — The Real Warning in the Subpoena Scandal

Mayor Parker revises, narrows sermon subpoena request 

Houston to pastors: Forget your sermons, now we want your speeches

Texas Attorney General tells Houston city hall: Stop bullying Christians 
[AG] Abbott called the subpoenas “aggressive and invasive” and said they show “no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.”  “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote, demanding that the subpoenas be rescinded.  “You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the city’s subpoenas,” he added.

Posted in annise parker, hope, houston, mayor, persecution, sermons

Lesbian mayor of Houston demands Houston pastors’ sermons

In this piece of news,

61st Mayor of Houston,
Assumed office 1/2/2010. Wikipedia.

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa. The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities. After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications. “We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity. The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

[Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said] This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty. Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected

We know that the way that society is going here in America that this day would arrive. I believe we have all seen a dramatic acceleration in soft hostility against Western Christianity in just the last few years. That the State would begin to bully Christians in a harder persecution would not be long in coming. I personally believe this act from the Houston Mayor is a kind of bridge step in going from soft pressure to hard persecution.

Russell Moore, speaking on behalf of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote yesterday,

Houston, We Have a Constitution

Reports coming out of Houston today indicate that city attorneys have issued subpoenas to pastors who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. The subpoenas, issued to several pastors, seek “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.

The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.

The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi…

MORE AT LINK, please read. It is good and it’s not long.

Dr Steve Riggle

Dr. Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church of Houston was mentioned by name in the article. Here is Dr Riggle speaking two years ago of the need for pastors to be the moral, prophetic voice in their communities and about the reason pastors need to continue speaking of these cultural issues. The excerpt below is from the 6-minute clip below:

If I don’t speak up for the people at Grace, then who are they listening to? Because what other voice is out there? And the voices that they’re being inundated by all around them are not the voices of righteousness nor are of a stance that adheres to biblical fidelity. It’s imperative for me because I’m trying to to shape their worldview in a biblical sense. If I don’t speak out on issues like homosexuality – what the bible really says – in a way where why God said ‘no’ is seasoned with mercy and grace for the person, but not countenancing the sin, then how do they know that? Because who else is going to say it? … We raise up authentic followers of Christ who walk in righteousness and see themselves as salt in the culture. And to do that, they have to have a solid biblical foundation.

He speaks on the need for pastors to stand with each other. In seminary, regardless of the degree level a seminarian is at, the legal complexities are not taught, Riggle said. It can be overwhelming for a shepherd to be confronted with legal complexities and legal pressure from the worldly culture.

He also speaks of the difference between pastors who respond to their work as a calling and pastors who see their job as a vocation. Pastors who are in a calling will do anything to further the cause. The difference is that one is a leader and another is not. One will speak up and the other will not.

In an interesting turnabout, two years ago during an earlier contretemps with Dr Riggle, Mayor Parker said,

“…it’s her duty “to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they [Riggle and his supporters] don’t understand the Constitution. I’m going to continue to follow my oath of office, lead the city well but speak out on issues that I care about.”

It might be wise for Ms Parker to remember that freedom of speech to promote ‘issues that she cares about’ goes both ways in this Constitution she cited two years ago when it suited her.

Pastors need prayer. Even if the Houston Mayor backs down, this shot across the bow has opened the Pandora’s Box for all manner of evil to come flying out. Once the demand has been made, it cannot be unmade. Other towns and cities will follow suit in Houston’s precedent, and quickly too. One of those times, the demand will stick. Pastors, are you prepared to go to jail? THE QUESTION IS NOT RHETORICAL in the US any longer!

However, in the mythological Pandora’s Box, when all the other evil had flooded the world after being released, what remained behind? Hope. In real life, not myths, Jesus tells us that we always have His hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

He IS hope. He gives us His hope AND His power so that we may overflow in it. In John 16:32 Jesus said the hour was coming when all will scatter and He will be left alone. He concluded by saying,

Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

The Father is with us all. Unite in prayer and like-mindedness so that the Houston pastors are emboldened, energized by the Spirit as they abound in hope. The Houston Mayor is not the enemy. We all have a common enemy and he is satan. But this enemy has already been defeated. Let’s pray for the Mayor, her cohorts, as we should be praying for our leaders. And always remember that against the Father, who can stand?

_______________________

Further reading

Joel Osteen gives blessing prayer at Annise Parker’s Inauguration

Posted in discernment, glory, jesus, monument, persecution, red raiders

Red Raider Monument: How God uses persecution

Last night I posted an essay reporting a new controversy that had erupted yesterday in our county. The public became aware that two anti-Christian groups had challenged the location (on school grounds) of a recently installed, privately donated sports monument because it contained two scriptures. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association separately had been contacted by local resident(s) and alerted to the alleged Constitutional infraction. The FFRF and AHA contacted our Superintendent of Schools with threatening letters insisting on immediate removal or modification of the offensive (to them) monument. The story I wrote is here:

The scripture laden Madison County Red Raiders Monument and the Humanist Association who wants it gone

Christians, wake up…

The TV news stations have already pounced, the newspapers are picking this up, and the county residents are inflamed- both ways. In Georgia, sports and Jesus are dearly held.

Persecution comes in various flavors. Hard persecution involves jail time, torture, physical violence or death. Apostle Paul knew all of those, first as the persecutor, then as the persecutee.

Other kinds of persecution involves social persecution. Early Christians were excluded from the guilds (and thus from employment). Christians can be marginalized or excluded. The Pharisees used this kind of persecution by throwing people out of the synagogues. (John 7:13, John 20:19, John 16:2). Mocking, bullying, shunning, legal threatening…all are a kind of soft persecution.

It is still early days, but I have been thinking of all the ways Jesus will use this Red Raider Monument issue for His glory, something I mentioned in the essay I linked to above. I’d like to spell out some specific ways I know He is already at work, and ponder some ways I suspect He is already at work.

Satan is god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He walks up and down upon it, (Job 1:7, Job 2:2) seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Not even heaven is immune from satan’s presence, (Revelation 12:10), though satan has a leash beyond which God will not let him go.

So what makes anyone in the Bible Belt states think there can possibly be one nook or cranny on earth where we would safe from satan’s attacks? He will persecute. Everywhere. Since Genesis 3 he always has, and he always will, until Revelation 20:7 is finished.

1. One way the Lord seems to be using this controversy is to remind us of that fact. Perhaps He is shaking us out of our complacent, casual Christianity. This would be a good thing, and to His glory.

2. He seems to be using this controversy is to make us face the possibility of persecution, and with that, to internally prioritize our potential response. I’ve been thinking over the last day, do I care about this monument? Would I fight for it? Do I want to use my energies or finances to expend on a legal battle? If not, then what would I fight for?

I think of Peter before the Council in Acts 4. Peter and John were arrested. They submitted to the arrest. Remember Peter fighting with his sword when they came for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? He lopped off the ear of one soldier. Jesus miraculously put it back on. This time, with the Spirit in him, Peter submitted to the arrest humbly. He didn’t fight. The Spirit used the opportunity to present the Gospel through Peter to all the Council of Jerusalem, a crowd that needed it more than anyone and yet a crowd that otherwise never would have heard it. God used the “bad” situation for His glory. and made it good.

Chinese Soldier,
Painting by William Alexander, 1793

Yet when the Council commanded Peter to leave but not speak the name of Jesus any more, Peter drew the line at submission to authorities. Peter knew just how far to go in that balance of submitting to earthly authorities but not infringing on his duties as a Christian witness with God as his ultimate authority. He said,

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

3. How far will I go to submit to ruling authorities and at what point would I rebel against them because I claim God as my Highest authority? Thinking these things through with scriptures to solidify a foundation for biblical action prior to persecution’s arrival is a good thing that is happening already.

4. Pastors and Bible teachers are preparing themselves for persecution. Mature Christians and spiritual Leaders know it is coming. It is the last days. Trouble in this world was promised to us by Paul, Peter, and Jesus. Though mature Christians always have their armor on, the mature Christians in our county are now tightening their belt of truth, adjusting the strap on their helmet of salvation, raising their sword of the Spirit a bit higher. Christians are on a battle field in a battle. Although a sentry is on guard, when long periods go by with nothing to report, their guard slackens a bit. If the sentry hears a gun cocking, his adrenaline rushes and he is suddenly on high alert. The letter from the AHA and FFRF were the sounds of the gun cocking. We are now all on high alert once again. This is a good thing.

The Golden Calf, watercolor, James Tissot, ~1900

5. Many pastors and bible teachers are already discussing this event with their congregants or students. They are preparing them in wise counsel and advising them in an appropriate behavior. This has given us opportunity to mindfully and biblically prepare a response in case of further persecution.

6. The controversy is causing people to speak up for Jesus. This is always a good thing.

7. It is causing people to search their hearts to see if what they believe is faith in the living God, or an idol.

8. It is causing fervent prayer on behalf of our leaders. I consistently pray for my spiritual leaders, but I admit I am slack in praying for our county and other government leaders. Yet we are called to do exactly that:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

I’m glad this came up so I could be confronted with my sin of failing to pray for government leaders.

Before I was saved, I was just as deluded as Ms Miller. I was stumbling along in the dark, rejecting Jesus and dwelling in my own depravity. I found out someone had been praying for me for a long time. I discovered this after I was saved. Now it is my turn to pray for the deluded, sinners, Christ-rejecters. It is a privilege.

Red Raider Monument unveiling.
Madison County Journal Facebookpage

Some ways the Lord may be using this event:

1. He may be preparing us for a harder persecution that is coming. No one likes to think about oppression, jail, or physical violence against Christians, but this may be the first volley to strengthen us for a next volley that will be harder. Through trouble in this world, we grow. Persecution always results in His glory. Through trials, HIS glory rests upon us!

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14).

As faithful Christians, we must learn to recognize the value of persecution and even to rejoice in it, not in an ostentatious way, but quietly and humbly because persecution has great spiritual value. Source
I remember the shock of September 11, 2001 and the four planes that were used as bombs on our buildings and our people. It was a shocking attack the nation has never recovered from. Who knows what is planned for tomorrow? On September 10, 2001 I never suspected for a moment that the terrorists were going to slam into our buildings and change us forever on the very next morning. Today’s little foray into a soft persecution might be the first step in the Lord’s preparing us for more trials to come. And they will come, the verse above says they will. I will be thankful that I had advance opportunity to prepare, by praying, reading pertinent scriptures, and encouraging others even as I was encouraged by my pastors yesterday.

2. Jesus may be working toward an upcoming salvation through all this! What price is a monument when a soul comes to the Lord! Wouldn’t that be wonderful if all this controversy somehow caused a person to look into their heart and come to the cross and be saved forever! What an exchange, a few dollars spent on an out-of-the-way rural sports monument that isn’t going to last anyway, in exchange for a glorious soul brought to Jesus forever! I hope that happens.

3. He may be using this controversy to rid our country of an idol.

4. Other ways I can’t even think of! In Isaiah 55:8, God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

Jesus is always at work, as the Father is always at work. He uses any and all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. I can’t even imagine all the ways He will use a tiny controversy such as a scripture-laden monument on school grounds, but He is endlessly creative and His glory endures forever. It will be enhanced by this, not diminished.

Here is one last thought … satan. He is using this for his own purposes, too.

He is already causing some to be thrown into confusion and others to doubt.

He is using bible scriptures out of context, like he did to Jesus at the Temptation and like the ones on the monument.

He is causing arguments, anger, and division among brethren.

He is causing some to stumble in their Christian witness.

He is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10).

Don’t let him.

Godly brethren, adopt a wider perspective and think on the good things that God is doing through this.

As always, pray, read your bible, and by all means, tighten up your Spiritual Armor! We are not excused from the battle just yet. Do not be surprised it has come to our door. Certainly, don’t let the surprise be your reaction to it.

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Further reading

Sermon: Persecuted for Christ’s Sake, part 1

Essay: How should Christians respond to persecution?

Posted in Christians, middle east, orthodox, persecution

Sunday Martyr Moment: "Christians" in the Middle East

On Sundays I used to post an essay called Sunday Martyr Moment. I did so because I want to remember the martyrs who went before us in the faith.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs- According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

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In the last posting, last February 2014, I looked at the ten primitive persecutions. Foxe developed his chronicle in chapters from the first martyr, Stephen, in chapter 1: “History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions Under Nero” and in February we got to the end of chapter 2: “The Ten Primitive Persecutions“. That brought us up to 303AD.

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Last February was the last Martyr Moment I’d published. I’d wanted to cover only the first ten primitive persecutions, because once you get into the 300s AD, Catholic martyrs are mixed in and it becomes too hard to separate fact from mystical Catholic fiction, at least it was for me.

The first ten persecutions covers well the tribulations the early Christians went through. I listened to a recent sermon from John MacArthur. On Sunday nights he is going through the book of Acts. The sermon is called “Persecuted for Truth’s Sake” and it covers Acts 4:1-12. (There is no transcript yet, but there will be). He mentioned the persecutions, the first ten, and generalized some of the more heinous acts. It is always worthwhile to remember what the early Christians did, they were bold in proclaiming Christ to a hostile system, which at that early time was the Jews. I recommend the sermon.

I bring up the persecutions and martyrdoms now for another reason. We skip ahead to 2014, and the Middle East. In 2014, we are living in apostate times and most people attend an apostate church. “Christians” all too undiscerningly accept any person who says they are “Christian”. Most of the church today is one big undiscerning, deluded club.

We hear repeatedly that Christians are being killed in the Middle East for their faith. We read articles about the Christian martyrs in Syria, Iraq, and other places. We read about ISIS, the terrorist group, which is actually a government successfully holding large swathes of land, insisting at point of a knife for all to convert or die. Many “Christians” refuse, and are killed.

What I am going to say is not popular, but we need to be discerning for two very important reasons.

First, most of the people killed in ISIS-controlled territory who say they are Christian, are not.

The largest non-Muslim group in the Middle East are Coptic Christians. By some accounts, between 4 and 8 million Egyptians are Copts. Some estimates say 10 million.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians are set to vote for a new leader on Monday to succeed Pope Shenuda III,
who died in March leaving behind a community anxious about its status under an Islamist-led government.
The candidates for leading the Coptic Church, (from L) Father Bakhomius of Virgin Mary in Wadi Natroun,
Father Rafael from St Marina Monastery, Father Seraphim of Virgin Mary, Bishop Raphael of Central Cairo, and Bishop Tawdros of Beheria in Giza Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany Source

Copts are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church (AKA Oriental Orthodox). Copts believe that liturgical ritual and faith plus works saves you. Of Orthodox churches, according to this excerpt from GotQuestions, says that

in doctrine, they have much more in common with Roman Catholics than they do with Protestant Christians.

Sadly, the doctrine of justification by faith is virtually absent from the history and theology of the Orthodox Church. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes theosis (literally, “divinization”), the gradual process by which Christians become more and more like Christ. What many in the Orthodox tradition fail to understand is that “divinization” is the progressive result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation itself. Other Orthodox distinctives that are in conflict with the Bible include:

The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture
Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
The perpetual virginity of Mary
Prayer for the dead
Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
The possibility of receiving salvation after death
The possibility of losing salvation

Coptic Monks circa 1900, Wikipedia

Here is another article regarding Coptic “Christians” specifically-
“What is Coptic Christianity, and what do Coptic Christians believe?”

Well if the Copts adhere to a doctrine that is not saving, what about the other people who are called Christian in the Middle East? The second largest group claiming to be Christian are Lebanese Maronites, and they simply are Catholic. The other name for them is the Maronite Catholic Church.

As for the rest, most are from some kind of Orthodox church, whether it’s Russian, or Greek, or Armenian etc.

There was an Assyrian Evangelical Church of Tehran but it was forcibly closed between 2010 and 2012. There is a Presbyterian church in Iran, but it is small, and it is unknown as to whether it is still going. It was (I believe) affiliated with PC USA which is a denomination gone apostate, anyway.

I am NOT saying there are no Christians in the Middle East. I AM saying that we do not automatically accept every single person claiming to be Christian as Christian, especially when they are from obviously apostate churches such as the Catholic or Orthodox. We must be discerning. We stand for a pure doctrine and proclaim ‘this same Jesus’ who left us and will return. We don’t abandon that mindfulness and steadfast adherence to purity in the church when we’re pressured by the natural response of grief over deaths and persecution of any minority.

The second reason to be cautious is not only to display a measured and mature response in discernment, but that if indeed most of the people calling themselves Christians are not, then it is worse when they are killed. True martyrs make the boldest statement of all when they are killed for the name of Jesus- in truth. Then they go to heaven. False Christians who are killed for their faith make a weak statement by their death, for they stand on sand and proclaim hot air, and when they die, they go to hell. We cannot celebrate their survival as wholly as we would like, because they proclaim a false Gospel and a different Jesus, which spreads when they flee persecution. We do grieve their death because they are eternally damned.

It’s sad when a true Christian is killed for the faith but their death glorifies God. It is bad when any lost person dies, because their soul is damned in hell under eternal torment forever. But when a false Christian is killed ‘for the faith,’ that is the worst, because the person goes to hell but on earth the Spirit had been blasphemed and Jesus had been denied by their false Gospel. Their death brings glory to satan’s gospel. Therefore, it’s the worst.

Knowing the facts about ‘Christianity’ in the Middle East helps us pray more pointedly and mindfully. In the heat of the emotional moment, please don’t abandon discernment in trade for running to stand under a too-large umbrella of faiths that are no faith at all. We love the people of the Middle East, Muslim or Orthodox, because they are both hanging by a gossamer thread over the pit of hell, and in such a harsh environment they could die at any moment. But now you know how to discern and now you know in which direction to pray for them.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyr, persecution, prayer

Sunday Martyr Moment: Seven soldiers in a cave

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249, continued

In the year of our Lord 251, the emperor Decius having erected a pagan temple at Ephesus, he commanded all who were in that city to sacrifice to the idols. This order was nobly refused by seven of his own soldiers, viz. Maximianus, Martianus, Joannes, Malchus, Dionysius, Seraion, and Constantinus. The emperor wishing to win these soldiers to renounce their faith by his entreaties, gave them leniency and said that they would be allowed a considerable respite until he returned from an expedition. During the emperor’s absence, they escaped, and hid themselves in a cavern. The soldiers’ hiding place was discovered, and it was ordered sealed up, so that they would die of hunger and thirst.

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The Voice of the Martyrs blog posted a story recently about how difficult it is for Chinese missionaries who obey God to enter the Tibetan mission field. One of those difficulties is the deep spiritual darkness of the region. It is Buddhist, and idols are everywhere. Here is an excerpt of a wonderful short essay about those difficulties, and the grace of God which strengthens and enables the missionaries to persevere.

The biggest obstacle faced by Chinese missionaries, however, is the intense spiritual warfare being waged in the region. Tibet is a Buddhist stronghold. The vast majority of the Tibetan people adhere to this religion. “The streets are full of idols,” says the Chinese missionary. “All of these people worship these idols.”

“A quick walk through the old part of Lhasa confirms this statement. Everywhere you walk and at all hours of the day, people are ceaselessly mumbling chants, rubbing their prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels. According to the missionary, penetrating this spiritual darkness is extremely difficult – many of the Chinese Christians in the area, he says, are lazy and weak of faith as a result. Many more go home, disillusioned and discouraged.”

“As if these challenges weren’t enough, Chinese missionaries are often persecuted by the Chinese government, which maintains very strict control on religion in Tibet. Chinese missionaries have been thrown in prison and even kicked out of the province as a result of their efforts to evangelize the Tibetan. Evangelism in Tibet must be conducted very covertly and on a small scale level in order to avoid the wrath of the authorities.

In Lhasa, everywhere Buddhists are ceaselessly mumbling chants,
rubbing prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels.(source)

The fingers of the Buddhist are calloused because they pray and pray but no one is listening.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

The seven soldiers that the Emperor sealed up in the cave died a horrible death. Though not as painful as some of the Christians who were being actively tortured, the soldiers took a long time to die, in agonizing thirst, alone in the dark. Except … they were not alone.

I am sure that they prayed to our Holy God for comfort and to supplicate to Him. They laid down their lives for His glory. Being a faithful God, would not leave them alone in their moment of truth but accept the sacrifice of their lives and their dying prayers as the glory He deserves and demands. I wonder if the LORD sent an angel to minister to them as they lay dying. I wonder if they heard His voice whisper comfort to them. I wonder if they gained supernatural strength to pray and sing even as their wasted bodies lay shriveled and dying.

Even in death, the loss of the breath in the body is nothing, as long as there exists a blessed supernatural highway of communication between ourselves and our precious Savior. For the Buddhist, spinning wheels and counting beads, there is only blackness, emptiness, and darkness. They have the high altitude sunlight but have hearts of stone and dwell in the dark, while the 7 soldiers had the darkness of a cave, but the Light of glory at the end. No matter your situation today, whether you are in a real cave-like dark prison for the faith, or you are in a metaphorical dark cave of bad circumstances, you always know that you can pray. We are confident in Him.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Posted in black, ethnos, kingdom against kingdom, persecution, race, white

How easy it will be for the current race violence to turn to Christian persecution

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)

This is an eternal truth. Though there are only a few words in this proverb, the truth of both halves of the verse (hate-love) cover the entire world. It covers all human behavior. It was true 6000 years ago (Cain vs. Abel) and it is true now (Muslim vs. Christian) and it will be true in the future (Armageddon unbeliever vs Jesus).

When a person hates, it stirs up strife. That strife first appears in the heart, which has its own evil passions. Another Proverb tells us that from the heart flow all springs of life, (Proverbs 4:23). Pulpit Commentary explains, “The fact here stated is that the moral conduct of life, its actions and proceedings, are determined by the condition of the heart. If the heart is pure, the life will be pure; if the heart is corrupt, the life will be corrupt. “

Next, if the heart is not guarded and the issues which spring forth in life are not dealt with, the mouth will begin to give voice to the strife within. (James 3:6a). Matthew 15:18 clearly ties the two together: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

Finally, if the heart and the mouth are not restrained, then the person will begin to act on the corruption that is coming out. (Galatians 5:19-21). That is the way of the wicked.

We see this progression now in America. There is a rising race hatred which is causing riots, mobs, and individual beatings and killings, just on the basis of race. I am talking of black people killing white people simply on the basis of race-hatred.

A spate of news items in the last weeks has shown us that this particular kind of hatred is rising. Once hatred is found in the heart, if it is not addressed, and it rises to the mouth, it then is expressed in violence. This seems to open the floodgates. Just think of the spate of mob violence at fast food restaurants we saw in the news about 6 months ago. It seemed that every day there was some sort of altercation from a customer who, enraged for some reason or other, beat the cashier for a wrong order or a wrong look. Hatred and violence comes in waves, and now we see it in race violence.

I envision that hatred easily turned from race baiting and violence against white people to violence against Christians. After all, this is satan’s ultimate goal.

Jesus said that this would be the state of things in the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:7 He said, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”

The word for nation against nation is ethnos. It means a people group against a people group. The Greek is defined here in Strong’s concordance, ‘people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture’. This is a perfect definition of white against black, or as in Bosnia, Bosnian Croat against Bosnian Serb. Gentile against Christian. In other words, a people who live in the same nation, but are otherwise divided by artificial lines within their same culture.

I am deeply concerned that the hatred we are seeing today in America, percolating in hearts and rising to the surface to evidence itself against those of different color, will soon be perpetrated against the Christians. It would only take a slight spark to ignite that fire. This is because it’s what the world is hurtling toward, anyway. By the time the Tribulation comes, the entire world, every nation, every people group, and every kingdom will hate the Christians and make war with them- and overcome them. (Revelation 13:7, Revelation 12:7).

Our job is to make disciples, share the Good News of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, even as the world increasingly rejects this message. However, there are still people being converted. There will still be people converted by His grace throughout even the darkest days of the Tribulation, before the mark of the beast settles the dividing lines once and for all. So certainly now, share the Good News!

As for us who are already in Christ, please be ready with a mental mindset and a heart condition of coming persecution in the US…Canada…Australia… “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)

Therefore, do not react with surprise or anger at anything from mild rejection to killing persecution, for “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Here are the news clips from the race violence

3 Blacks Randomly Kill White Man In TN. Mainstream Media Silent
“Memphis–A young white male was walking to his car on a city street late at night on August 12, when he was confronted by a trio of black individuals. They shot him dead. Police have arrested three people and charged them with first degree murder. But some in the victim’s family can’t understand why the shooting is being called a “failed robbery” when they say the evidence suggests something possibly more sinister: a hate crime.”

WWII vet, beaten by teens outside Eagles Lodge, dies
“WWII veteran Delbert Belton survived being wounded in action during the Battle of Okinawa only to be beaten and left for dead by two [Black]teens at the Eagles Lodge in Spokane on Wednesday evening. Belton, 89, died from the injuries he suffered in the beating Thursday morning at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Don’t Ignore Race in Christopher Lane’s Murder
“Australian Christopher Lane was killed on Monday in Oklahoma by three teens, one of whom has said they were just “bored.” The right is complaining that the media is making nothing of the fact that two of the teens were black whereas Lane was white, as opposed to the massive alarm sounded in cases such as white (or white-ish) George Zimmerman killing black Trayvon Martin. And again the cry was heard that there is more “black-on-black” or “black-on-white” crime than “white-on-black,” and that young black men are in fact more of a problem than people like Zimmerman.”

RACE IN AMERICA: ‘Black mob violence’ – the forbidden words
“The murder of the Australian man in Oklahoma was horrific, but not unique. Or even rare. A similar episode of black mob violence happened just a few days ago in Memphis. And a few days before that in St. Paul. And before that in Burlington. And before that in Delaware, New Haven, Madison, Denver, Flint, Peoria, Springfield, Greensboro, Green Bay, and on and on and on. This is a long list with more than 500 cases of recent black mob violence in more than 100 cities, big and small, many on video – and all unreported as being part of an epidemic of black mob violence throughout America. “Beat Whitey Night,” for example: Two summers ago, black mobs beat and robbed dozens of patrons at the Iowa State Fair for three nights in a row. They also attacked police. Ever hear about it? Didn’t think so. That is because most editors are not comfortable with the words “black mob violence.” No matter that black mob violence exists plainly and exponentially out of proportion.”

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The hatred for another person based on skin, now that it has been expressed in violence so regularly, will be all that much easier to express in violence against Christians. It’s coming. Fortunately, the Good News is already here.

Posted in contend for the faith, hostility, oppression, persecution

Arizona student told to remove her cross necklace, how should Christians respond to hatred and hostility?

In April 2010 I’d reported that in the UK, opposition to outward displays of Christianity were increasing. I’d used the example of a nurse in the UK who was told she could not wear her cross necklace, but that Muslims could wear jewelry in hospital. The denial for the cross was that it was a safety hazard in that distraught patients might grab the jewelry and use it to choke the nurse. This particular nurse had been wearing it for 30 years without incident, she told a tribunal, but she still lost her plea to keep wearing it.

The issue turns into Christian oppression and hatred when the double standard presents itself immediately after. The following news excerpt also occurred in April of 2010 and it also occurred in the UK.

Muslim staff escape NHS hygiene rule
“Female staff who follow the Islamic faith will be allowed to cover their arms to preserve their modesty despite earlier guidance that all staff should be “bare below the elbow”. The Department of Health has also relaxed rules prohibiting jewellery so that Sikh members of staff can wear bangles linked with their faith, providing they are pushed up the arm while the medic treats a patient.”

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

photo credit: Sam and Ian via photopin cc

The double standard had many shaking their heads, wondering at the obvious bias against Christianity. Many felt that such a thing could never happen in the US.

However, many preachers and Christian leaders have been saying for a number of years that oppression and then outright persecution will occur in the US. America is no different than any other place that is ruled by satan, for he is the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). And this world hates Jesus and therefore it will hate Christians. (John 15:18, Matthew 10:22). There is no such thing as political protection from satanic hatred and there is no place that will be favored location untouched by the enemies of Jesus.

Witness the following:

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Sonoma State University Forces Student To Remove Cross Necklace.
“A California college student has filed a religious accommodation request after her university told her to remove a cross necklace out of fear that it may offend incoming students at the school.

“According to The Blaze, Audrey Jarvis, 19, works on the Associated Students Productions crew at her school, Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. She was working at a student orientation event when one of her supervisors pulled her aside and asked her to remove the necklace. According to Jarvis’ lawyer, the supervisor told her “that she could not wear her cross necklace because it might offend others, it might make incoming students feel unwelcome, or it might cause incoming students to feel that ASP was not an organization they should join.”

“Understandably, Jarvis was troubled by what her supervisor said. She kept the cross on and continued working. When she came across her supervisor for a second time, she was asked to either hide the necklace under her shirt or remove it. Jarvis was so troubled by what she was being asked that she left work for the day.”

photo credit: JuditK via photopin cc

“I was offended because I believe as a Christian woman it is my prerogative to display my faith any way I like so long as it is not harming anyone else,” she said. “I was very hurt and felt as if the university’s mission statement – which includes tolerance and inclusivity to all – was violated.” As noted by Fox News, her lawyer, Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute, says the university was in clear violation of California law by asking her to remove the necklace. California law says that “state employees may wear crosses while they are performing their duties as long as the wearing does not interfere with the employees’ duties or harm the employer’s business interests.”

“The university has apologized for the event. “It was absolutely an inappropriate action for him to make that request of her,” a school spokesperson said. School president Ruben Arminana is trying to reach Jarvis to make an official apology to her.”

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I’d like to note that the original request to remove the piece of jewelry came because it “may offend.” Not that anyone had already been offended. The request was made based on a pre-emptive action founded on fear and an assumption of something that may happen that had not happened yet. The necklace wearing hadn’t even violated any rules. For example, active firefighters do not wear metal jewelry to fight a fire. There are rules about that. (OSHA prohibits any facial hair, head gear, or jewelry that prohibits a respirator to seal tightly and no earrings that extend below the ear.). A request to a firefighter to remove earrings would be legitimate because it is supported by an existing policy for a good reason. It would also be a legitimate request if the University already had some kind of rule in place that no one could wear jewelry. Yet the request was made out of thin air to pre-empt a feeling that hadn’t been expressed yet by someone who didn’t exist.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

The cross offends, it is never more clear than now. (Galatians 5:11). Charles Spurgeon said,

“The religion of Jesus is the most peaceful, mild, and benevolent religion that was ever propagated. When we compare it with any set of dogmas invented by men, there is not one of them that can stand the least comparison with it for gentleness, mildness, and love. As for the Muslim religion, it is the religion of the vulture; but the religion of Jesus is that of the dove-all is mercy, all is mild; it is, like its Founder, an embodiment of pure benevolence, grace, and truth. … Strange, yet strangely true is it, that the cross of Christ has always been an offense, and that it has provoked the fiercest battles and the severest strifes which men have ever had with their fellowmen.”

You have to ask yourself, 

–Did the student do the right thing by refusing to submit to a superior and remove the jewelry?
–Did she do the right thing by being aware of the University’s mission and policy?
–Did she do the right thing by abandoning her commitment to work that day? (Colossians 3:17). Or did her departure from work ultimately bring attention to the situation for the betterment of all?

Our lesson is to be prepared, and not to be surprised when it happens to us. The student who had been asked to remove her cross, defied the request. Is that right action? She knew the university’s mission statement and she knew the request was at odds with it. Is it still reasonable to refuse a request by a superior? Do you know the policies of your workplace, of your town and country?

Here are the questions to mull over. Oppression and hatred IS coming, and is already here. US Military Chaplains were told not to pray in the name of Jesus. This AZ student was told not to wear a cross. Towns and Villages are told not to erect a nativity scene at Christmas. Workplace, civic, and personal restrictions against Christianity are already setting in. John MacArthur said on June 30, 2013 of the pollution into the church, “It will come like a flood … This is going down fast.” The thing to do is to have a response ready beforehand, and along these lines:

If wearing the cross is your outward representation of Christ, then decide which is more representative, the piece of jewelry itself, or the Christian wearer’s behavior in all circumstances? Do you want to wear your cross at all costs, or use it to begin a dialog? Because, more often than not these days, it will spark a conversation.

I believe that the best thing to do is be ready with bible verses. For example, an imaginary conversation could go like this:

 “I’m sorry my jewelry offends you. The cross IS an offense as it says in Galatians 5:11. The cross offends because it reminds people that Jesus died for our sins, and we are all sinners it says in Romans 3:23. We will all stand in judgment before Jesus one day, called to account for those sins. Would you like to know more about how to stand before Him as righteous and not as an unjustified sinner?” and so on. You could be saying all this as you remove the jewelry. Slowly.

I don’t have an answer for all scenarios, because I cannot imagine all scenarios. I hope that US chaplains were not surprised by the rule not to pray in the name of Jesus and had made their responses and decisions ahead of time. That is the point: it’s coming and we need to be ready.

So how do we do that?

First, read the bible closely for explicit examples where we are told what to do or by seeing what the Apostles did, we can mirror their actions. Peter and John were told not to street preach. But they continued. However, their preaching in public came at a cost- they were jailed. (Acts 4:19–20, Acts 5:29). Be ready to absorb consequences, and think carefully on what they may be- marginalization at work, a poor work evaluation, job loss, incarceration, violence against you, or death, depending on the circumstance.

If the bible doesn’t speak to an explicit instruction on an issue, look for implicit governance on various issues. If there is nothing implicit or explicit, then pray and prepare your heart to be led by the Spirit and not by the ego if a situation should arise.

It could happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe while you’re gassing up the car the guy at the next pump sees your cross necklace and calls you a name. Maybe you are told you can no longer pray at work before you eat your lunch. Maybe you are told you cannot bring your bible into the doctor’s office to read while you wait. At any time satan could grab a situation and turn it for evil. The key is to be ready with a response that exalts Jesus and glorifies Him and He’ll use it for Good.

Decide on some key verses and memorize them. Prepare your heart so that the adrenaline of the moment will not take over, lest you sin. Prepare your mind for acting in ways that exalt Jesus, not win the point in an argument. Pray for strength and wisdom ahead of time and during the time.

The most important thing is to glorify Jesus with our words and our actions. He said He is sending us out as sheep among wolves, therefore be as shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16).

What does that mean? Rev. Matt Slick explains in this mini-devotional:

Mini-devotional – sheep among wolves
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves,” (Matt. 10:16).

“Jesus’ words to his apostles were sobering.  The disciples were sent out as sheep among wolves.  That is, the Christians who would go forth to preach and teach the word amidst great hostility.  Wolves, of course, sought to devour the defenseless sheep and it is this analogy that Jesus uses to illustrate the relationship between the Christian teachers and the ungodly society.  But, Jesus does not tell us to blindly walk down a path of destruction and martyrdom.  He tells us that we are to be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.  In other words, the Christian should be very smart when it comes to avoiding danger and spreading the word, even using the laws of the land for his own protection and furthering of the truth.  Yet, the Christian is not to harm anyone.  The Christian is to be gentle.”

“Notice that the Christian is told to emulate both the serpent and the dove.  These two creatures represent the differing functions and callings in which Christians must act as they go about preaching and teaching the word of truth.  We are not to sit idly by and let the wolves have their way.  Quite the contrary.  We oppose them strongly, shrewdly.  Yet we must be godly and not sin.” —end—

American Christians are not used to being challenged about their faith. It’s time to get ready for the challenge: and meet it in the most Godly way possible.
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Further reading:

What did Jesus mean when He said to “not cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6)?

When is civil disobedience allowed for a Christian?”

Is civil disobedience biblical?

How Should a Christian Respond to Hatred and Hostility?

Tony Miano describes being arrested by (UK) Wimbledon Police for speaking against sexual immorality, including homosexuality. (video, 17-min). “It was surreal. I was interrogated for my faith in Jesus Christ.”)