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Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

I have heard pastors mention that we in America have not experienced real persecution in recent years.  This is true as far as I’m concerned.  The reason given is much more ominous.    “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because  you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  John 15 (18-19)

So, the pastor flips this, an obvious conclusion.  If the world does NOT hate a group of people, then maybe they are no threat to the world.  Maybe they are not like Christ, maybe these so called churches are failing.  This could be.  It may also be that the persecution is coming, and the church in America has just been spared for a time and will still be going through it one day soon.

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 (Acts 11 from Bible Gateway NIV version)  19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Why would I want to disassociate myself with the term “Christian?”  These disciples did everything I would hope to do as a believer in Christ, a disciple.  They preached and shared the gospel, they took care of those in need within the body, they spent time hearing good teaching, they supported each other. Moreover, they had the Holy Spirit, they had faith. They are the ones called Christian, what gives people the idea that those persecuting them were the ones who labeled them as such?  Maybe it was the name given by Romans…but it has stuck for a reason. 

It seems to me the seeker friendly style churches miss something when they refuse to use the name Christian.  They say they want to have numbers added to them, they want to meet the needs of others and serve in love, and yet don’t call themselves Christian?  Those who were called Christian in Antioch had it right, so I’d rather associate with them and not rename myself just to make those around me who don’t believe in Christ more comfortable. 

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We are living in very interesting times. Now, I have many children, and certainly do not like the idea of them having to pay for what has been happening in our country and suffer trying to find fellowship as hard as it’s getting now. I think that things are only going to get worse. I do believe, however, that I can prepare my children. The temptation is to shield them from the scary parts of the Bible, the scary events in life. Why would I want to tell them things that will make them nervous? I hated it when I was little, hearing about the tribulation and all of that. I actually believe I was taught in a wrong way anyway. So, I’m having to back up and just tell my children what the Bible teaches. First of all, there is no one they need to follow anywhere. Jesus will return on the clouds, and anyone who acts like he/she has special supernatural powers is NOT anyone worth following. They need only wait for Jesus and not believe anyone else trying to act like him whether calling themself Jesus or some other name. Secondly, even if they aren’t going to experience the tribulation with the mark of the beast etc, they will see persecution. It’s getting worse, and there is not going to be a place to run to like some have had in days past. America was where people ran. God may provide a hiding place if things get as bad as they can. However, if he tarries, we could, like the Jews in WW2, have to deal with great death and persecution. In fact, Christians around the world are going through it now. Our turn will come. I know this is scary for kids to hear, but it needs to be taught. I also tell them there may be and likely will be a time when they will have to stand up for their faith…and it may be that we parents have to make the hard decisions for them in the next few years. We may have to stand on our faith and say we cannot do this or that. We may also have to decide what battle to fight so as not to risk throwing our children into a bad situation. It will be difficult if things get as bad as they can, or even half as bad as they can. It’s important to share this and yet share also with confidence that God is always there and will get us through it. Victory is His even if we go to our deaths. I am sure that many parents aren’t even touching these subjects. I am also sure I’ve heard scary thoughts and worries before, but that this time it seems people are really either in complete denial of problems or they are giving strong and very grave warnings about the events just ahead. To deny there is going to be some drastic changes (and there already have been) and that we aren’t going to be in trouble as Christians right here in our brave homeland is to live in a fantasy land. Our children have to be prepared. It’s not love if they do not know how things can be, and aren’t ready for it. Thank God HE knows what is going on and is in charge, and is in control. This is a very sticky time we’re living in brothers and sisters. We should not neglect the responsibility we have to our children to make them ready.

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As I read about market crashes and planned craziness with the upcoming change from one president to the next, I am remembering that God is in control. He has a plan, He will allow what He will allow. It’s tempting to begin to fear, to become frightened by what will happen to Christians everywhere. It’s tempting to fear the loss of income, the oppression, the blatant in your face lewdness even beyond what we know now. It’s especially easy to become afraid for my children and for their future. I personally sometimes dwell on the thoughts of what it would be like to suffer persecution (real persecution and not this little bit of annoyance I’ve experienced before) with several children in tow including a nursling. Fear may seem justified, but when I begin to entertain fright, I know where to run. When in doubt, I choose faith. When I fear, I choose God’s strength and His shelter. No matter what happens, He is. I can rest in Him. Truthfully, I know that even when I might think I’m choosing, I’m not choosing, the Lord has mercifully given me the faith and the strength. He is protecting me. I believe He has brought to my mind the recall that we are not to worry about what we shall eat, what we shall wear. He will provide. If we are to be truly persecuted, He will even provide the words for us to say.

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Impressed with William Tyndale who stood against King Henry VIII.  At his execution he prayed “Lord, Open the King of England’s Eyes!”  He did not pray for his own rescue, but for the very enemy who forced his execution.  This is the attitude we need to have when we speak the truth, and then are persecuted.  “Lord, open their eyes!”

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Link to Paul Washer teaching…

 

http://bloodtippedears.blogspot.com/2008/11/paul-washer-study-of-1-timothy-46-16.html

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I never want to get pride when it comes to my status in Christ.  Though I see error in our former church and it’s leadership, I also can see myself easily loose focus on Christ and the scriptures.  I can easily see how prideful I could get, how easily hateful.  I question myself often, examine myself, and pray God show me where I am wrong.  I have found this issue of what has crept into the church to be very complicated.  There are those who are saved, but who are currently caught up in all this.  There are those who I thought were saved, but who are misleading the flock.  There are those who have puposely infiltrated to change it all, who may even know they aren’t really Christians so much as they are “making this religion” better…fit in with some outside plan.  I was one who was caught for a while, deceived.  One who knew something was bothering me, and it took a while to see it.  Immature despite my years as a Christian. 

I pray so much in my heart for those who are in churches and are not seeing it right now, hearing candy when they need meat.  Sadly, there is a form of meat being brought forward, but it’s not for human consumption.  I’ve noticed my former pastor is very focused on mentioning how opposition will come if you are doing the right thing.  This is at least two messages in a row now, he’s very strong on it.  We are the opposition to his right thing.  We’re not the only ones.  Read this paragraph, see how strong the message…

” And this one will become painfully obvious over the next

weeks. Look with me at 2:9-10. READ. Remember those names. You are going to read them a lot in the weeks

ahead.

 

 

 

Nothing significant… will ever fly unopposed. Nothing God calls us to that is eternally

important is going to fly on this earth without antagonism and conflict. Get ready. Prepare. Gird your loins.

Anything the people of God seek to do that will advance the King’s Agenda will be opposed. Nothing of lasting

significance is going to be accomplished without opposition. In our church, in your life, in my life… nothing that

will count for eternity is going to happen without the opposition of Satan or the friction of a sinful world system.

Count on it. Nothing you long to do for God that is of eternal value and will bring God great glory will happen

without hostility and resistance.”

So, in perspective, the pastor is saying resistance to what’s going on in their church is Satan’s opposition….friction of a sinful world system.  Yes, the church gets resistance.  Yes, it gets downright persecution.  However, two people who come to you with concerns that we had are not automatically from Satan, not necessarily lax Christians who don’t want to follow God’s will, not necessarily sinning.  Is it possible you can get resistance from some members (a certain percentage) within the church who are actually NOT of Satan?  The ones I know who left before us do not seem to be acting from sin, but from a serious concern of actually sin in the sermons…or in the actions  of the leadership, or in the focus of the church, etc. 

 

 

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