A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Persecution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Persecution. Show all posts

August 30, 2022

What Is The Level of Your Faithfulness?


I have previously shared my testimony of walking in the wilderness and what it was like to have my faith tested. So, it was with much interest that I ran across an article from Open Doors USA about the testimony of a Christian pastor held in a Turkish prison and experiencing the silence of God. In case you are unfamiliar with this organization, Open Doors USA seeks to strengthen and encourage Christians throughout the world who find themselves in danger because of their faith in Jesus. Pastor Andrew Brunson had been a pastor of a small Christian Church in Turkey for 25 years when he found himself serving a sentence for espionage and terrorism, which would result in him spending two years in a Turkish prison cell -- 735 days to be exact.

 Pastor Brunson is candid in his admission that those two years were difficult because he did not feel the presence of God, and it resulted in a season of testing for his faith. In his interview, he reveals, "I was the only Christian in prison, and the only Christian I had any contact with throughout my two years was Norine [his wife]. So I was very alone, isolated in my faith. I prayed for peace so much. I did not feel much peace. Grace was taking me through, but finding strength, determination, peace and joy was actually much more difficult than I expected. So I didn’t feel people praying for me. I had grace, but it was an unfelt grace. My first year in prison, I broke repeatedly."

Many of us can identify with what it looks like and feels like when we've been broken before God. And many times, we, too, experience the silence and what we think is the absence of God. When asked what he learned through this season, Pastor Brunson responded, "There are actually a number of things that came out of my imprisonment in my own heart. Even though it was two years of the silence of God, I came out with a different intimacy, more confidence in my relationship with Him, which comes from having been tested and proving myself. It’s the difference between a soldier who has been trained and has skills, and one who has the same training and skills but has also been in battle."

That last thought, my friends, is at the heart of this post. As my husband and I enter into another year of our unique ministry of Inner Healing, I am increasingly aware of the difference in the faith of a Christian after they have received Inner Healing from Christ. Each one comes to our table, where they have an opportunity to meet with Christ; where He prepares a table [meal] for them in the presence of their enemies, just as David states in Psalm 23. And when they feast on His power to overcome the strategies of the Enemy in their lives; feast on His authority, love and righteousness, they leave a different kind of Christian -- one that truly knows what deep level faith is and how to walk in it. It's as if everything before was experienced through the doctrines and teachings of the Church, but when they experience what Jesus did while on assignment on earth -- hearing and seeing what the Father's will was for them -- those doctrines and teachings pale in comparison to a new level of real spiritual knowledge and awareness, gained through witnessing Jesus's presence [in the spirit] throughout their lives. No one can remain the same after that upgrade in your faith!

Pastor Brunson stated that his time in that prison was a test of his faith and he believes it is stronger today because his faith was tested and he learned what true perseverance was. Before prison, he knew his faith was strong, but until it was tested in the midst of God's silence, he had no proof of the strength of his faithfulness. He hadn't proven it to himself. For my husband and myself, we see that the Beloved's that come for ministry are also able to understand how they've been tested when we can show them the strategies of the devil to keep them from their purpose in this life. They can understand things about their relationship with God that they weren't able to recognize before. They can see that God hasn't abandoned them or forgotten about them; they can finally see that God didn't "allow" the bad things to happen, but that they have an enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and that when free will is exercised by themselves [or others against them], that IT IS NOT GOD'S WILL FOR THEM

Like Pastor Brunson, we can move into a more intimate, strengthened faith with God when we see the truth that God sent us to this earth with an assignment to advance His Kingdom on the planet, and it has been the devil's plan to keep us from that assignment by bringing sin into our lives. And that sin has kept us in bondage to the lies of the devil until the very moment when we have the opportunity to receive the truth from Jesus's own lips! We can cast away the shame, guilt, rejection, anger, unworthiness and whatever other demon spirit the devil has attached to us, and step into a new identity, washed in the blood of Jesus! 

As I've so often said, this life is a journey to become more like Jesus. Each of us has a purpose and an assignment, and we should expect the enemy of God to try to detour us from the path God has written in our Book of Life. After all, didn't Satan do the same thing to Jesus? Our journey is an opportunity to persevere and overcome the attacks from our adversary, and when the testing of our faith comes -- and it will come -- we can choose to rebuild and restore our faith to new levels; and we can form new perspectives about who we are from God's point of view... trading false images for truth.

So, because the Bible tells us that persecution will be on the rise in the End Times, we should take this time to not only get ourselves free from bondage and false identities, but prepare ourselves for the testing of our faith. It will be a time of proving to ourselves that our faith is authentic and that God will be faithful to us, even as we are faithful to Him. As Pastor Brunson reflected on his imprisonment, his words struck my heart: "... there’s already more of a cost to follow Jesus now than there was when I got out of college, and it’s about to very quickly accelerate... One of the things I think God was doing in me was having me go through this breaking and rebuilding so that I would learn and practice certain things that would strengthen me to be an encouragement and resource to others who are also going to face difficulty." May we all commit our hearts to do the same.

#Faith #EndTimesFaith #ChristianPersecution

Romans 8:35   Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?


May 31, 2021

Persecution and The Tribulation: How Close Are We?

"The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are Overcomers."

Those words were written in a letter in 1974, by Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Nazi Death Camps. Unfortunately, I don't think Christians in the West listened to her ... especially here, in the United States. We have lived too comfortably, and we have identified for so long as a prosperous nation, that it is difficult to admit that this world is actually dying. That outlook might be about to change, so maybe we should examine her letter a little more closely. There is hope as she points out that we Christians are ambassadors for Christ to this dying world. And there is no compromise in her theology; she takes the Bible at face value, so she is cognizant of what the Lord said the world would look like before He returns.

She is really quite honest when she admits, "Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you, too, are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to you, shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be My son.” This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be Overcomers in the midst of a dying world".

I will tell you that this is a message that the Western Church is reluctant to hear, let alone accept. But it is a message that I share -- both the good, bad, and ugly about what the Bible prophecies for this time. And I will also tell you that far too many of my contemporary Christian brothers and sisters do not want to receive that message. But as a Watchman on the wall, it is my obligation to speak the truth -- all of it -- both the coming persecution and final victory in overcoming.  

Corrie shares some of the persecution she and her sister Betsy suffered in the midst of the evil in that concentration camp, and that she even struggled to understand God's purpose in all the death she witnessed, including the death of her beloved sister. But, as the Word says, "What the devil meant for evil, God will use for [His] good". And I would like to say that He uses it for His Glory, as well. Corrie saw that herself. She stated that because of Betsey's death, she has been given the assignment [and gift] of  traveling all over the world and telling people about Jesus.

In regards to the persecution she personally endured, in 1974, Corrie declared, "There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days." I am now declaring, that in 2021, there are some among us teaching we will be able to escape the persecution in our time, and receive a reprieve from the tribulation! They tell us that we are on the brink of a "worldwide revival". But Scripture not only tells us we are not going to escape persecution, but I am unable to find anywhere that Jesus foretells such a revival. And I do not believe that we are to cherry-pick the Psalms that speak of our victory in Christ, yet overlook those verses that cry out for deliverance from the persecution of the Enemy.

I absolutely believe that the Bible speaks of personal revival in the End Times, as each human being must make a decision for Christ in the face of persecution and tyranny by the Enemy. Jesus warns of false prophets who are like wolves in sheep's clothing; of diseased trees bearing bad fruit; of wars, nation against nation, famines, and earthquakes -- all of which are the beginning of birth pangs, indicating the end of the Age. Furthermore, He says we will be delivered up to tribulation and put to death. Many will fall away from the faith and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved! Nowhere do I see Jesus saying that there will be a worldwide revival ushering in the fulfillment [completion] of the Kingdom on earth.

The Kingdom is here NOW! And Jesus tells us that the Good News about this fulfillment of the Kingdom [in His Second Coming] will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then "the end will come". I believe the end He is talking about is the end of the reign of the kingdom of darkness on the earth. Yes, the whole world will hear of what Jesus has done for us, but I do not think "proclaiming" the Gospel is the same as a worldwide revival of people coming to Christ. There is definitely a hope fo that result, and if by "revival", they mean the Body of Christ rises up to do what it is supposed to have been doing all along ... healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and preaching the gospel, then I can hope for that, too.

But we cannot ignore the warnings about persecution, because it is here! The Christian Post website reported that China's persecution of Christians intensified in 2020, and the Communist Government is working to more fully control "religion". The website revealed "that schools in China have been teaching children that Christianity is an “evil cult,” while children are being taught to oppose religion, encouraged to question the beliefs of family members and report those closest to them to authorities." As our culture becomes increasingly "woke", and as we see "critical race theory" further dividing the American people, how long before religious and political persecution takes root in America? We are already seeing a "One World/Universal" religion spreading its false teachings throughout the world and within our denominations. Those who choose to proclaim Jehovah Adonai as the One True God will undoubtedly come under fire.

As Believers in this 21st Century, we must set our minds on the truth of Scripture and be prepared to endure during persecution. Will we see a remnant thrive and revive during these anti-Christ times? Of course! The Father's purpose for End-Times believers will never be thwarted! But if we truly believe that every word of Scripture is true, we know that we will be rewarded with Eternal Life with our Savior. What a victory! But before that victory, there is a reality that we cannot ignore. The Book of Revelation holds nothing back. The sixth chapter reveals the storm that is coming before Christ returns: Satan will empower a conqueror to wage war and take peace from the earth "so that men would slaughter one another; and a great sword [of war and violent death] was given to him". The 13th chapter says, "It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and  authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him". The 17th chapter tells us, "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus". 

I believe these are the souls under the altar in Heaven crying out for Justice; those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained [out of loyalty to Christ]. There will be martyrs for Christ, just as there were in the first century after Christ's crucifixion. In 1974, Corrie Ten Boom wrote, "In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation,” but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived.  This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa.  Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations.  But I know. I have been there.  We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners.  Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation". Can you honestly say that Satan has backed off his plans to defeat Christianity in the last 47 years? 

I know that many don't want to contemplate persecution or tribulation; it is much more pleasant to think on the mercy, grace, and victory of Christ. And I recognize that Satan uses fear to keep us from thinking we are strong enough to be a martyr for Christ. But we need to understand that if that time comes, we will receive the strength we need to glorify the Lord in that moment of our refusal to deny Him. We will be able, like Stephen, to testify of His presence in our lives and of His power in the world. We will confidently cry out, “Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!” 

So, how close are we to this controversial Biblical prophecy? No one knows for sure. But the signs are all there. The birth pangs are getting sharper and lasting longer. The Enemy is longer working in secret, but operating right out in the open for discerning minds and hearts to see. He thinks he has control of the whole earth, and is putting his plan into effect. A global pandemic, famine, earthquakes, and rumors of war are all in view. And I wholeheartedly desire revival in the lives of every Christian on earth, with millions more joining our family of God. But I believe it is a personal revival; perhaps one person at a time. And I welcome that! So let us encourage each other and help each other get ready. We have a purpose to fulfill! And let us approach each day knowing that no matter what happens to us, we will not endure this day alone. Our Lord will always be with us, in and out of persecution; in and out of tribulation; until one day we stand before Him and receive the Crown of Life. Praise Him, for He is worthy to be praised!

2 Timothy 3:12   Indeed, all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted [because of their faith].

December 28, 2020

A Testimony For Our Times

I write this blog post with a keen sense that I have come full circle since I began writing in December of 2011. The very first post I published expressed the reasons why I felt called to begin this journey ... "I am writing for all people, who like me, do not want to sit on the sidelines while our country and this world go down the tubes. I am writing for everyone whose instincts tell them something is wrong, terribly wrong, and are ready to throw off the shackles of fear and claim their personal power; to overcome the paralysis of panic and dread, and take command of their lives and their circumstances. And the foundation of that power is the saving grace of Jesus Christ in my life".

At the time, [and it seemed like overnight], all sense of security in my country, my government, and my future went up in smoke. This country was headed down the wrong track, and the conductor was taking us there as fast as he could! In 2008, my husband and I received heavenly promptings to re-evaluate everything in our lives ... to prepare for economic hard times and radical changes in our society. And it scared the living daylights out of me! But instead of giving in to the suffocating fear, I made a choice to face it. I would not give up that easily in all I believed in!

So, three years later, I decided to begin a dialogue with the people of this country, and in 2011 began writing this blog. We are now at the end of 2020, and these last nine years have seen many people arriving at the stage I was at all those years ago. And I will admit that we were not able to turn that train around. In fact, we are further down the tracks and ready to head into a long, dark tunnel. But, as I've done since the beginning, my goal is to give you hope and encouragement in the face of whatever evil we may face. 

We are not the first in history to engage in spiritual warfare with what seems like an invincible Enemy. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran, and not many years before I was born, a force of Evil, such as our modern world had not seen, was defeated with the help of Almighty God's support. That same anti-Christ spirit that existed in Adolph Hitler is still intent on capturing the world and forcing it into horrendous and despicable bondage. You may be experiencing the fear that comes with sudden realization that my words are not written out of ignorance or rashness. Perhaps you are just now receiving your own heavenly promptings, or having been enlightened for a few years now, are becoming weary of the fight and are struggling to endure. 

We all need encouragement and support! And if you are having difficulty hearing the voice of the Lord directly, I would like to offer the following testimony by Corrie ten Boom. You will hear the voice of the Lord through her humble words! And if you are unfamiliar with who she is, I exhort you to become familiar with her story. Hers is the remarkable legacy of surviving the Nazi death camps under the most dehumanizing circumstances, while offering the mercy and grace of Jesus in the midst of what was hell on earth. She would not describe herself as a hero of the faith, yet that is what she was; a woman who persevered against the deepest darkness, demonstrating her hard-learned trust and dependence on the Lord. Let her testimony, given at the First International Congress on World Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974, give you hope and strengthen your faith. Here is her testimony, in her own words...

In the Bible we read in Colossians 1:11, ‘As you live this new life with Jesus Christ, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage.’ God’s boundless resources are what we find when we obey the commandment, ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’ This is not a suggestion; the Bible has no suggestions, only commandments, and this is the most happy commandment of the whole Bible. When the Lord told us to witness and make disciples over the whole world, He promised, ‘You will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.’

When I was a little girl, I remember that I talked with my father and I said, ‘Daddy, I will never be strong enough to be a real witness and a martyr for Jesus.’ And father said, ‘When you go to travel, when do I give you the train ticket, or the money for it—three weeks before?’ I said, ‘No, daddy, the day that I go to travel.’ And father said, ‘That is what God does. You don’t need to have the power to suffer for Jesus at this moment, but the moment that you will have the great honor to be a martyr for Jesus, the Lord will give you everything.’ And I’ve experienced that we have not a ‘spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind’, and the Holy Spirit is there always to do the job, to make us ready.

When I was in prison where my sister and 95,000 other women died, I experienced what Paul wrote to the Philippians when he also was in a terrible prison. The Holy Spirit had pointed Paul to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit also did the same for me. And I can say with Paul what he wrote in the text, ‘I count everything as lost compared with the priceless privilege’ (I read it from the Amplified New Testament), ‘the overwhelming preciousness, the unsurpassable worth, and the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ, my Lord, and of progressively, more intimately, getting acquainted with Him.’ That happened when I was in that terrible prison. That can happen with you also, when you let the Holy Spirit turn your eyes more and more to the Lord Jesus even when we are perhaps entering a time of very great darkness and suffering over the world.

One of the most cruel things I have suffered was when in the concentration camp, we had to stand naked. They stripped us of all our clothing and I said to Betsie, my sister, ‘I cannot bear this. This is so terrible.’ But it was suddenly as if I saw Jesus at the cross. It was the Holy Spirit who turned my eyes to Jesus, and the Bible tells that He hung there naked, they stripped Him of all his garments and He hung there for me. By my suffering I could understand a fraction of the suffering of Jesus and it made me so happy, so thankful, that I could bear my suffering. The Holy Spirit will turn your eyes to Jesus, whatever happens, and then we are ready, we are even willing, and we are able to suffer.

The world is very sick, very ill. Who is it that overcomes the world? He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. I am sure that all of us believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That means that you and I, that we all have to overcome the world—and that is hope for the world. The best is yet to be. Jesus is coming and He has said, ‘I will make everything new’, and that this world, yes, this sick, ill world will be covered with the knowledge of God like the waters cover the bottom of the sea. What a joy to know from the Word of God that God has no problems, only plans. There’s never panic in heaven, and we have to be right with God and we know it. That is because of the finished work of Jesus at the cross. And we have to be right with men also because of Jesus’ presence. The love of God, He will bring into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Rom 5:5).

Once, when traveling the world, I came to Germany and sometimes I find people who have been cruel to me in the concentration camp. Once I saw a lady in the meeting and suddenly I thought, ‘That woman was the nurse who was so cruel to my dying sister,’ and there came hatred and bitterness in my heart; but when I felt that there was hatred and bitterness in my heart, I knew I had not forgiven her. And I know, and you know, that Jesus has said (you can read it in Matthew 5), ‘If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, my heavenly Father will not forgive you your sins.’ But I said, ‘Oh Lord, I cannot, I am not able.’ And suddenly I saw it. I cashed the check of Romans 5:5. I said, ‘Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have brought into my heart God’s love through the Holy Spirit who is given to me, and thank you, Father, that your love in me is stronger than my bitterness and hatred.’ I could go to that nurse and I could shake hands with her, and I had the joy to be used by the Lord to bring her to this decision for the Lord Jesus. What a joy.

This is only part of the remarkable testimony of Corrie ten Boom, an ordinary woman who lived in an extraordinary time. At the start of WWII, Corrie was single, in her 40s and living in her parent's home. Her father, Casper, a watchmaker in the small town of Haarlem in Holland, was a devout Christian who made a decision that his family would become involved with the Dutch Resistance and help smuggle Jews out of  Holland, putting his family in grave danger. After a neighbor betrayed them and the family was arrested, Casper died ten days later in prison. Corrie and her older sister Betsie, would eventually arrive in Ravensbruck, the notorious women's labor camp in Germany. 

Through what can only be described as a miracle, Corrie smuggled a Bible into the camp. While all the other women were strip searched, Corrie walked into Ravensbruck without being touched by a guard. She and Betsie would share the comfort of Scripture in a widening circle of women who found their way to their bunk in the midst of the horrors of the camp. Corrie would say, "The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God". God had given these two sisters a mission, a purpose and a ministry in one of the darkest places on earth. 

All through their time in the Concentration Camp, Betsie shines to Corrie like a lighthouse of Jesus's love. Corrie has rage against her oppressors; Betsie is compelled by love and forgiveness. Through the love of Jesus, the bunker in which they stayed was transformed from a selfish place where women would fight each other for scraps of food to a place where prisoners developed an overwhelming love for one another. But the deprivation in Ravensbruck became too much for Betsie. As her body became weaker, and just before she died at the age of 59, Betsie said, “We must tell the people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

And that is the lesson we must take from their testimony. We don't know what our future holds, and I pray it never becomes as dark as what Corrie endured. But it's becoming clear to me that the same winds of evil are on the horizon, and we must be as determined to represent God as did the brave and faithful ten Boom sisters. We must let the Gospel messages of Salvation and the Kingdom define our lives. We must let the love, mercy and power of our Lord Jesus increase in us during the rising tide of spiritual warfare we are experiencing. We must identify with the Lord no matter how heavy our Cross becomes; being His instrument in the battle against Evil and proclaiming that He can overcome all. Corrie ten Boom is evidence of that truth ... Because of a clerical error, the Nazis released Corrie ten Boom from Ravensbruck 12 days later. Exactly a week after that, everyone her age was sent to the gas chambers and murdered. 

God had a purpose for Corrie's life! And He does for each one of us, too! Betsie ten Boom's purpose was to offer hope and compassion to the women in that Ravensbruck bunker, and to uplift the spirit of her sister, so that Corrie would survive, and go on to tell their story and her journey toward forgiveness. It's a story that defines her legacy, and mirrors the reason that I began writing this blog in the first place, and why I will continue to write it until the Lord tells me to stop --- no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in; no matter how chaotic and evil the world becomes; we have a Victor in Christ. He and the Holy Spirit will show us the way if we stay focused on them, and lean on them. We have no promise that it will be easy or comfortable; only that we will be strengthened to endure and persevere for the sake of the Gospel. There is a Kingdom that has arrived and that Kingdom will soon have dominion over all the earth. We are designed and planned to be a part of that! Be convicted, be bold, and be all in for the Glory of the Lord!

John 3:19-21    And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.



June 11, 2017

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

     This may seem like a trivial matter to some of you, but for the last couple of months I have been noticing a targeted campaign against Biblical teachers such as Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.  To be specific, the website Pulpit and Pen, whom I have always found to be passionate about defending our faith, has seemed to put a big old bulls-eye on the forehead of Beth Moore.  For the longest time, I just ignored it as not worthy of my time in reading about some Christian inner-circle spat.  I just wasn't interested in hearsay or theological differences within the Church.  I was much more focused on what the Lord was trying to tell me (or as of late, about pursuing Him because I wasn't hearing from Him). But when the anti-Moore articles began to irritatingly dominate the website, I discerned that maybe this was something I needed to pay attention to.  As it turns out, all the venom directed at Moore, Shirer, and other teachers, coincidentally points a finger at me, too!
     To begin with, it quickly became clear that Pulpit and Pen were actively requesting testimonies from women who had "broken free from Beth Moore".  When looking through several pages of the website (both current and in the recent archives), it was disturbing to find at least one, and sometimes two, such testimonies per page, with the repetitive headline," _____ Breaks Free of Beth Moore: A Testimony".  The site solicited and printed testimonies by Jill, Elizabeth, Pastor Steve, A Pastor's Wife, and many more names that filled in the blank ... all stating that they were breaking free from Beth Moore, and calling her "a false teacher", and sometimes even labeling her a "heretic".
     Since I have encountered several of Moore's studies in various Ladies Bible Study groups that I have been a part of, I was curious about what these people were breaking free from.  The interesting thing was that in most of the testimonies, there were no specifics stated; just a repetition of a mantra-like statement like, "I am finally free of Beth Moore and her dangerous teachings".  In testimony after testimony, I was left asking, Please, tell me what she is teaching that is so false and dangerous?  Is it not spurious to make sure a claim without providing evidence?
     So, I continued with my research, reading more testimonies on Pulpit and Pen, and searching the internet for some clues as to what Beth Moore has done that is causing such an uproar.  And then I found it; it was buried within one long testimony against Beth, which was interwoven with the cruel abuse one woman received at the hands of her mother.  It was verified by a second article on a blog post titled, Two Reasons Why We Do Not Recommend Beth Moore.  Are you ready?
     Reason No. 1:  Beth Moore does not follow the New Testament command for women to be silent in the church.   Reason No. 2:  Beth Moore claims to have extra-Biblical revelations from God.  That is the exact wording of the complaints against this teacher of the Bible.  This second reason was also worded as, "Beth Moore was claiming that God was speaking directly to her outside of the Bible".  All I can say is, I am flabbergasted!  As a woman who takes her service to the Lord very seriously, I am offended that modern-day Christians still think women should be silent in the Church.  I agree with The Christian Bible Reference website, which states: Some of the great leaders and prophets of Israel were women, so God could not have intended to exclude women from spiritual and political leadership. Paul's proclamation of equality and Jesus' willingness to defy convention and accept women into his larger circle of disciples should be the guiding principles rather than the customs of the Roman Empire in the first century. Women took as large a role in the early Church leadership as was allowed by the conventions of that society. 
     By the way, Paul's statement of equality comes from Galatians 3:26-29 ... You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  We have to look no further than the dynamic spiritual duo of Aquila and Priscilla who, together, "expounded unto him [Apollos] the way of God more accurately".  Her knowledge was equal to that of her husband, and she was not prohibited from presenting Scripture to the young disciple.
     And, of course, we have Phoebe, whom Paul trusts to deliver his epistle to the Roman Church, and  of whom, he writes in Romans 16:1, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a ministrant [servant; deaconess] of the church in Cenchreae". It is obvious that she is no second-class member of the Church. I guess I am more than a little surprised that this argument is being used against Beth Moore by my fellow Christians.
     As to the second reason for which Beth Moore is being excoriated, I guess I am guilty of this "heresy", too.  I understand that the Body of Christ wants to be careful about someone who says they "hear from God".  Instantly, you might be leery of anything they say without checking to see if it lines up with God's Word.  But Moore's critics aren't lodging any specific attacks.  They just don't think God reveals Himself outside the Bible; that the only revelation a Believer can receive is through reading the Word.
     So, then how do they explain the following Scriptures?  John 10:27:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me ... Job 33:14:  For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it ... Jeremiah 33:3:  Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known ...  John 16:13:  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  Whether Old or New Testament, God's character and nature do not change. He speaks to His creation, and we can hear Him if we have that close, personal relationship with Him.
     The Truth is that God speaks to us in many ways .... yes, most assuredly through His Word; but also through prayer, through others, through the Holy Spirit, and through that "still, small voice" that Elijah heard during his darkest hour.  To condemn Beth Moore because she says she has heard "God's voice" is like the Pharisees telling Jesus that He was casting out demons by Satan.  Show me where Beth Moore has taught an un-Biblical Jesus; where she has denied His Deity or distorted His Message.
     Perhaps my fellow Christians who are so ready to condemn her are so scared of being deceived that they don't know how to recognize God's voice.  Perhaps they see God as distant and removed, not wanting to interact with us and only visible through His Word.  That is not the God I have experienced.
     But I think the most tragic aspect of this character assassination of teachers like Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer is that it seems the perfect ploy by Satan to divide the Body of Christ.  When Christians are so willing to attack each other over things that are not central to the Kingdom Message of Jesus Christ (repentance for forgiveness of sins; Jesus's atoning death at the Cross; our Commission to bring Heaven to Earth), then all we're doing is winning the devil's battle plan for him.
     In an article he wrote, Christian writer Jack Wellman said, "By doing this in full view of non-believers, we shame the reputation of Christ.  We are redeemed, but many times we don’t live like the redeemed and we don’t reflect the Redeemer.  Gandhi once said that 'I love your Christ…it is your Christians that I don’t like very much.' ".  Sadly, at times like these, I agree with him.
     Jesus said that a house divided cannot stand…and Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to the Kingdom and the Cross.  The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over beliefs, or any belief, that differs from ours.  Remember, we are a "Body" ... the toes differ from the fingers, and have different assignments; the arms and the legs are given different responsibilities -- different tasks but all working together for the good of the body.
     The bottom line is this ... this kind of vitriol and attack is not representative of God's love indwelling the Believer.  We were given the Armor of God to fight off the Enemy -- not each other.  Righteousness and the Word should not become weapons to be used against our fellow Christians.  And the way I see it, this accusation of "false teacher" is so weak that Satan is laughing at how easy it was to get us to start throwing his fiery darts at each other. May the Body of Christ quit listening to the lies of the Enemy, stand in unity, and go forth to battle the real enemy!

Romans 14:10    “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”

Romans 15:7          “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

April 10, 2017

Pray for the Persecuted this Holy Week

     Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holiest week for our faith.  This week is sacred; not only to Christians, but to Jews, and especially to God.  To the over 2.2 Billion Christians in the world, we are leading up to Easter, the celebration of Christ's resurrection.  To the over 15 million Jews in the world, this is the week of Passover. But to God, is a foreshadowing of the relationship He would like to have with all of the nearly 8 Billion people on planet Earth.  Through the Feasts He has instituted to be observed this week (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits), He is showing us the redemptive work of Christ as our Passover Lamb, as sinless and unblemished, and as the first of the resurrected into God's Heavenly Kingdom.
     So, it is with great sadness that we are witnessing the persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ during this most holy week on our calendar.  The Syrian Civil War began six years ago, and Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo reports that during this time of war, the Christian population in Syria has been reduced by two thirds, from 1.5 million to only 500,000 today --- from 160,000 to just 40,000 in Aleppo, alone.
     The persecution of Christians by Isis extremists has been horrendous; and the latest chemical attacks are a reminder of just how much evil is in the world.  And as hard as it might be for us comfortable Americans to understand, Bishop Audo says the Assad government is not the source of Christian persecution.  But Christians are caught in the middle of the battle between Assad and the anti-government rebels; between Al Qaeda and Isis; between the Russia/Iran partnership and the U.S.-led Western coalition.
     And it is all happening in Syria, who along with its neighbor Iraq, is deemed the cradle of human civilization and the region where Christianity began 2,000 years ago. It was on the road to Damascus that the Apostle Paul experienced his conversion to Christianity, and Syria remains one of the few sacred locales where the language of Aramaic – the language of Jesus – can still be heard.
     But Syria and Iraq are not the only places persecution is happening this Holy week.  Bombings at Coptic Christian cathedrals in Egypt targeted Christians who celebrated Palm Sunday, the day of our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem to observe the Passover Festival.  It was the day that the crowds shouted their recognition of Him as Messiah, when they shouted, "Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest". Hosanna means "Save, we pray", and in essence, they were shouting, "Please save (deliver) us, Son of David".
     I have no doubt that satan and his spiritual horde cringed at this tribute bestowed upon Jesus. They are aware of the prophecies in the Bible that predict that the Savior of man will come from the line of David. And just as the devil tempted the people and the religious officials to reject Jesus and His Deity during that Holy Week of approximately 33 AD, the Prince of this world is still trying to kill and destroy the influence of the Son of God, one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four years later.
     But here is what the enemies of Christ and His people will never understand... there is truth in the Biblical words, "To live is Christ, to die is gain".  And here is what we comfortable Christians in America need to understand about the context in which those words were spoken by the Apostle Paul... he is in prison in the city of Rome, facing trial, knowing he's going to be executed for his faith in Christ. I'm going to say it again ... this is a man facing execution and death for his belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of the One True God.  And yet he says, to die for Christ will be his gain.  Are you prepared to say that?  Would you still proclaim that if you had just watched your children die the horrendous death of chemical poisoning?  Would you deny Him if a sword is held at the throat of your wife or husband?
     Because here is what satan and those who follow him do not understand about us Christians.  Our faith is different.  When asked, What is the difference between Life and Death, Buddhism says, "To live is to achieve good Karma, and to die is to hope for a better reincarnation." Islam teaches, "To live is to obey Allah, and if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, death is to achieve a personal paradise." Silicon Valley answers the question this way: "To live is self, and to die is loss." To all these other religions, Life is all about the self. And to die is to lose everything.
     But that's not what we Christians believe -- or should believe, if you are calling yourself a Christian.  To live is to obey Christ and do what He did: serve others; show them the principles of His Father's Kingdom and how to live by those moral standards; and ultimately to sacrifice His own life  for the sake of offering eternal life to those who would believe in Him and follow Him.  Our faith is not about self! And if we are to die for the sake of Christ or another, then we have the hope of gaining eternity, and that is worth giving up self! It is important to grasp this point --- Even if we die in this life, we have the hope of eternity!
     So, I would like to ask for prayer this holy week for our fellow Christians; those who have already felt the pain of persecution; and for those who face the possibility during these remaining days leading up to the commemoration of Christ's resurrection.  Pray for the Believers who are still in Syria and the Egyptian Coptic Christian communities, refusing to let the Enemy defeat them. Pray that they would be used as strong witnesses of Christ’s love to their fellow Syrians and Egyptians.  Pray for the justice of Christ to draw the oppressed people of Syria and Egypt to Him. And pray for the relief of suffering for the persecuted Christians in North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, and the remaining countries that make the World Watchlist of most persecuted countries.
     Father, Your Word tells us that persecution is part of our future, and we know that our time is coming. But, Father, right now, at this very moment, I pray for strength, and courage, and endurance as my fellow Christians around the world are demonstrating their genuine faith in my Lord and Savior.  Deliver them into a supernatural protection by Your Power and Might. Let their spirits feel the power of our prayers, and let them know we stand with them in our shared faith.  Father, this week shows Your amazing love for us, that You sacrificed Your Son so that we, who believe in Him, might not know the sting of death.  I am trusting you, Father, that those who have suffered persecution because of His Name, will be rewarded in Heaven for their faithfulness, just as You are faithful in delivering them from the dominion of darkness on this earth into the Kingdom of Your beloved Son.  And it is in His holy, powerful, and compassionate Name I pray. Amen.

Hebrews 13:3    "Remember those who are in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body [and subject to physical suffering]".

June 15, 2015

A Shared and Committed Faith

     I am deeply saddened to read in The Christian Post that Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been “viciously beaten” by other prisoners, and punched in the face in what appears to be an unprovoked attack in the Iranian prison where he is being held.  The suffering and persecution he has received for his Christian faith seems as if it will never end.
   According to his wife, Pastor Abedini's "life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity."  A brief review of his history, shows that Saeed Abedini is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000 in his native Iran.  In 2002, he met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen. In the early 2000s, the Abedinis became prominent in the house church movement in Iran, at a time when the movement was tolerated by the Iranian government.  With the election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2005, however, the house church movement was subjected to a crackdown by Iranian authorities and the Abedinis moved back to the United States. In 2009, during a visit back to Iran to visit his family, he was briefly detained, interrogated about his conversion to Christianity, and threatened with death.  He was ultimately released after signing an agreement to discontinue any association with the house church movement in Iran.
     After becoming an ordained minister in the U.S. in 2008, and gaining his U.S. citizenship in 2010, Pastor Abedini continued humanitarian work in Iran, in which he was permitted to freely work, as long as it was not related to religious doctrine.  In July 2012, Abedini made his ninth trip to Iran since 2009 to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht. While in the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest. He was later transferred to Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since.
     In a way, Abedini has become the face of Christian persecution in the Middle East, as well as a symbol of the West's lack of pressure in demanding that prisoners of religious persecution be released.  And perhaps because I am about to begin a personal study with my home church group on the Acts of the Apostles, I can't help but compare the good Pastor's journey with that of a previous Christian prisoner and enemy of the State, the Apostle Paul.
     Like Paul, who founded numerous churches first-hand, and is indirectly responsible for countless others through his apprentices, Saeed Abedini is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.
     Iran, much like ancient Rome, seeks to suppress any movement that 1) threatens the tyranny of the  State government, and 2) contradicts the worship of their State religion, Islam.  In Rome's case, they objected to the growing Christian movement because it was in opposition to their pagan deities; in Iran, it is illegal for Christians to proselytize or evangelize to Muslims.  In both Empires, Christianity is a threat to oppression, despotic injustice, and the State cult.
    Yet, the Apostle Paul and Pastor Saeed Abedini were unable to stop sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ ... even on threat of their deaths.  Whether in the year 64 A.D. or 2015 A.D., it is still true that a simple confession of Christian faith is enough to condemn someone to prison and persecution.  Our faith is seen as a subversive act; a rebellion against the established institution.
     In a letter to his wife, Abedini describes a similar prison experience to Paul's:  "This is the process in my life today: one day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus ... One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy."  Too often, Saeed's visitations with Iranian family members were abruptly ended, and a cover was put over his eyes and he was returned to the dark room of his prison cell, void of any natural sunlight.
     Paul was, at times, kept under a fairly relaxed house arrest; while at other times it is believed that he spent a cold winter in the Mamertine prison in Rome; a location that was originally created as a cistern for a spring, and access was through the floor of the second lower level. Prisoners were lowered through an opening into the lower dungeon, where he was kept in total darkness.
     Pastor Abedini has been imprisoned for over two years, and just like Paul, it appears that “justice delayed is justice denied.”  Both the Pastor and the noble Apostle's fate lay in the hands of a government hostile to the growing influence of their faith.
     Like Paul, fellow Believers in the Faith are praying for Saeed Abedini and his deliverance from persecution.  But, also like Paul, Saeed is on record as being a single-minded soldier of the Faith:  "I forgave the prison doctor who did not listen to me and did not give me the medication that I needed. I forgave the interrogator who beat me,” he wrote in a letter to his family. “Every day when I would see the interrogator and for the last time when I saw him, I forgave him. I smiled at him and with respect shook his hand and I said my goodbye."  Even in captivity and imprisonment, he lives his life by the example Christ showed us.  Like the Apostle Paul and all the persecuted Christians throughout history, Pastor Abedini is not afraid to die; and it is because of his hope in the resurrection.
     And like the growing number of Christian martyrs in the Middle East who accept death rather than renounce their faith in Jesus, hell is more frightening than their killers.  Can you say the same?  Would you be able to say, as Pastor Abedini has said:  "When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness. And whoever stings us, we can take into our embrace and love them. And in this dark and evil time, we can live full of love and full of peace and full of joy and shine like the stars! So, forgive them and use the antidote of love and be Victorious! Glory be to His Name."
     So, please, at some point during this day, take a moment and speak to the Lord on behalf of this courageous and obedient Pastor and his family.  As the American Center for Law and Justice has reported, Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced by Judge Pir-Abassi – known as the “hanging judge” — for “threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.”  It's a charge as old as the Church, and still as threatening to Satan and his minions in this world.  Pray that this committed man of God will continue to find his strength in the Lord and that God will send an army of angels to surround his prison cell and protect him.  Better yet, let's pray that like the other imprisoned Apostles in Acts, Chapter 5, "the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them forth...".
Psalm 107:14   "He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains."

May 20, 2015

Ukraine: Multi-Levels of Persecution

      I rarely take note of it, but sometimes out of curiosity, I will decide to take a look at the native countries of my readers.  Through website analytics I am able to see from which countries readers originate.  The parameters run from who is reading that particular blog post now, or how many have read it today, during the week, the month, or the year; and finally, I am able to see which countries have read it the most during the lifetime of this website.  The numbers are often revealing.
     The readership is pretty evenly distributed, with the majority coming from the United States, of course.  But there is always a minority of readers from United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, China, Malaysia, Poland, and Russia.  But I was shocked that consistently coming in at Number Two was the eastern European country of Ukraine.  Whether daily or all-time, Ukraine's numbers far outran those of other nations.  I had no idea, and wondered what the connection might possibly be between this website and the people of Ukraine.  After a fair amount of research, I may have a glint of understanding.  It is a complex situation in Ukraine, and I would love to get some feedback from those who are living in this tense situation.
     In the meantime, the Christian world's attention is focused squarely on the Middle East and the persecution that is coming against Believers in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sub-Saharan Africa.  The torture and beheadings at the hands of ISIS are broadcast day after day on American news sites.
     Far less known, but just as disturbing, are the persecutions of Christians in Ukraine.  Interestingly, politically disparate websites, such as NPR and The 700 Club, have both published reports that Evangelical Christians in Ukraine are under religious persecution by pro-Russian separatists.  (I must admit that there is conflicting information which states that while the persecution is real, nationalism and ethnicity have more to do with it than the anti-Christian aspect).  Indeed, persecution itself is defined as hostility based on race or political or religious beliefs.  Still, no less than The American Family News Network is also reporting anti-Christian violence in Ukraine.  Whatever the reasons, it is time the Western Church comes to the spiritual aid of our Ukrainian brethren.
    The history of Ukraine is fascinating!  A quick glance at Wikipedia's extensive file on the country reveals that "the territory of modern Ukraine has been inhabited since 32,000 BC. During the Middle Ages, the area was a key center of East Slavic culture, with the powerful state of Kievan Rus' forming the basis of Ukrainian identity. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungary, and Russia. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but Ukraine's territories remained divided until they were consolidated into a Soviet republic in the 20th century. It became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union."  The dominant religion in the country is the Orthodox Church, the eastern branch of Christianity.
     According to the report by NPR, "Protestants from the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine say they are being persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church. Many evangelicals have left because of a crackdown on religious freedom."  But from what I have read, it is my understanding that there is no real difference between the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and the Russian Orthodox Church, other than the ethnicity attached to it.  From the perspective of religious doctrine, they believe the same things.  The persecution is real, but nationalism appears to be the root cause.  (Again, I welcome the facts from those living in Ukraine).
     But we cannot ignore the anti-God influence of the old Soviet Communist regime, nor dismiss the first-hand reports coming from International Christian Concern (ICC), an organization that "acts as a bridge between believers in free countries and believers in persecuted countries."  Less than a year ago, a spokesman for ICC said, "Just this week (August, 2014), four ... volunteers with the Far East Broadcasting Company in Ukraine, which broadcasts the gospel across that country, were pulled from their building.  And it was discovered that they were Christians, that they were believers – and they were actually beaten to death for their Christian faith when it was found out that they were evangelical Christians."
     But this spokesman also reveals that "pro-Russian separatists are opposed to what they believe are immoral influences from the West and instead want fundamental Orthodox principles in Ukraine... They are suspicious of foreign or Western influences and they see evangelical Christians as a threat to the Orthodox faith," he explains. "That's one of the reasons why we've been seeing in the past few months evangelical Christians, Protestants, etcetera being targeted for violence and persecution."
     It may be difficult for us here in America to fully understand the intricacies of hate and violence that exists in the Ukraine/Russia conflict.  But there is one thing that can be agreed upon:  The war in eastern Ukraine has driven nearly a million people from their homes.  Regardless of whether the conflict is centered around ultranationalism or religious differences, the truth is that Believers in Jesus Christ are suffering and their persecution is real and personal.  We should pray for the plight of Christians and refugees in Ukraine... and all around the world.

1 Peter 4:16    "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that Name."

April 27, 2015

Will We Be Judged As Bystanders?

     Just a short 10 days ago, a coalition of speakers lobbied the United Nations to honor its Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the World Summit Outcome Document of September 2005, paragraph 139.  In that document, the United Nations declared that the international community has the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
     With that directive in mind, the group argued that the UN has largely ignored the plight of persecuted Christians and minorities in the Middle East and Africa.  As Pastor Jonathan Cahn proposed, "So the question must be asked, 'Where are all the resolutions?' 'Where are all the troops?' 'Where are all the actions taken to protect the most persecuted people on earth?' 'And where's the universal outcry?' It's a strange and immoral silence."
    Indeed!  Where are the voices of all the Christian leaders throughout the world, and why have they not intervened?  Are we all too comfortable and safe in our faith to think that this is just a blip on the radar screen?  I assure you, it is not!  While the rest of the world is eagerly anticipating the release of the Apple watch, Iraqi children are choosing between converting to Islam or giving up this life for Jesus.  While Christians are slaughtered in African villages, millions of Americans are voting for their favorite dance team on Dancing With the Stars.  
     ISIS is not the only enemy to Christianity throughout the world -- Apathy and Indifference are equally formidable.  Sympathizing is not enough; it won't stop the genocide.  For genocide is what is being perpetrated on Christians around the world.  Every trace of their existence is being wiped clean whenever possible.  Villages in the Middle East that still speak the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, and which predate Islam by 700 years, are being decimated and erased from their existence. In India, 70,000 Christians have fled their homes; 80,000 Syrian Christians have been cleansed from their communities; and 10,000 Indonesian Christians have been killed in recent atrocities.
     As modern-day Christians we have all imagined what it must have been like to be seated in the Roman Coliseum and watch Christians being led into an arena full of lions.  How did those bystanders in the arena justify their apathy?  How did the German Christians who lived near the Nazi death camps rationalize the smoke from the crematoriums, or the cries for help from the boxcars that passed near their towns?  How are we able to defend this generation's lack of action as we watch fellow Christians being devoured by this century's Satanic hatred and sadistic cruelty against the followers of Jesus?  Are we even aware that more Christians have died [due to oppression and violence] in the modern era that in all of history combined?  Do we care enough to do anything about it -- or are we somehow able to separate ourselves from our fellow Believers?
     We are all familiar with the verses in Matthew, Chapter 25, in which Jesus advises us that He will gather us before Him one day, and separate us into sheep and goats.  Keep in mind, these are all Christians gathered before Him! To the sheep on His right hand, He will pronounce their inheritance of His Father's Kingdom because they fed Him, gave Him water to drink, a place to sleep, and clothes.  To the goats at His left hand, He will refuse to recognize them, will curse them, and send them into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.  When asked by each group why they received their lot, it was based on how they treated the "least of His Brethren".  Whatever they did for them, they were doing to Jesus.  Did you get that?  However they responded to a need of one of Jesus's brothers or sisters, would determine their sentence.
     So how does that translate for us modern Christians?  When we see a fellow Christian in Iraq being beheaded, and stand by and do nothing, we are beheading Jesus.  When we see a Christian brother being crucified in Syria, and stand by and do nothing, we are crucifying Jesus.  When we see Christian families being tortured, burned alive, and forced from their homes -- and stand by and do nothing, we are committing these horrendous acts against Jesus.
     As Pastor Cahn so eloquently stated, "We are no longer a good or Christian nation, if we sit idly by.  We will be judged guilty." Are we comfortable in our silent complicity?  Do we only take our own self-interest to heart?  Where is the outrage from Christ's Church, and what is each one of us willing to risk our lives for, and fight for -- yes, even die for --- if not for fellow Christians?
     Whether the Western Church as a whole, or each of us individually, is willing to admit it or not, we will either be upheld or condemned, based on how we respond to today's persecution of Christians around the world.  It is not enough to pray ... I didn't see Jesus mentioning "whenever you prayed for one of the least of my brethren".  Everything involved some form of action.  We must demand that the leaders of our nation and the world, take action to stop the genocide and persecution of our fellow Christians.
     It is time to recognize that the number of those crying out underneath God's altar is increasing at a rapid rate, and may be near the final number.  They are the souls of those who have been slain because of the word of God, and because of their unwavering testimony of faith in Jesus.  God will soon answer them as they continue to call in loud voices, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"  We must not be silent any longer!

Psalm 94:16    "Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?"


April 25, 2015

What The Armenian Genocide Tells Us

     Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of nearly one-and-a-half million people killed during the genocide campaign against Armenian and Christian minorities by the Turkish Islamic Ottoman empire -- I would note, this was history's last caliphate prior to ISIS.
     Now, the current leader of Turkey can deny that a genocide took place; and the current White House can refuse (for the seventh straight year) to use the word “genocide” when referring to this atrocity, but they can't make the truth disappear.  Historical scholars stand beside groups like the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), who report the following:  "More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse.  A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [that is, 2,500 years before the Islamic Turks invaded and occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.  At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000."
     Furthermore, there is actual correspondence from a member of the Turkish regime at the time.  One of the documents authenticated by Turkish authorities in 1919 is a telegram sent in June 1915 by Dr. Sakir, one of the leaders of the secret organization that carried out the planning and implementation of the Genocide.  He asks the provincial party official who is responsible for carrying out the deportations and massacres of Armenians within his district: "Are the Armenians, who are being dispatched from there, being liquidated? Are those harmful persons whom you inform us you are exiling and banishing, being exterminated, or are they being merely dispatched and exiled? Answer explicitly....".  It sounds pretty systematic, premeditated and highly coordinated to me!
     The historical deniers of genocide will try to get you to believe that the indigenous Armenians died through the process of resettlement, or because they were caught in war zones.  But the numbers don't lie ... 1,500,000 deaths over a two-year period aren't "accidental", or because they were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
     You cannot deny such historical accounts as these:  Torture squads would apply red-hot irons, tear off flesh with hot pincers, then pour boiled butter into the wounds. The soles of the feet would be beaten, slashed, and laced with salt. Dr. Mehmed Reshid tortured Armenians by nailing horseshoes to their feet and marching them through the streets. He also crucified them on makeshift crosses... The Muslims hacked Armenians to pieces and dashed infants on the rocks before their mothers. They burned bodies not for sanitary reasons but in search of gold coins they believed the Armenians had swallowed. The Muslims also tore apart the victims’ feces in the search for gold. U.S. consul Leslie Davis, a former attorney and journalist, documented the Islamic zeal...  “We could all hear them piously calling upon Allah to bless them in their efforts to kill the hated Christians,” Davis wrote. “Night after night this same chant went up to heaven and day after day these Turks carried on their bloody work.” Around Lake Goeljik, Davis wrote, “thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.”
     So the question remains -- Why the denials?  And why hasn't the U.S. government officially confirmed the Armenian Genocide ... especially since the U.S. House of Representatives has a long and proud tradition of reaffirming America’s moral stand against all genocides – past and present?  Here is a list of those they have acknowledged in the past, by either commemorating them or condemning them:  the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, the Darfur genocide, the Ukrainian genocide, and the Bosnian genocide.  Furthermore, 44 individual states have acknowledged it!
     Perhaps some of the reasons for denying the past atrocity find their equal in the attempts to deny what the current caliphate is attempting to accomplish. In the period immediately after World War I the tactic was to find scapegoats to blame for what was said to be only a security measure that had gone awry due to unscrupulous officials, Kurds, and common criminals.  This was followed by an attempt to avoid the whole issue, with silence, diplomatic efforts, and political pressure used where possible.  In the 1930s, for example, Turkey pressured the U.S. State Department into preventing MGM Studios from producing a film based on Franz Werfel's The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a book that depicted aspects of the Genocide in a district located west of Antioch on the Mediterranean Sea, far from the Russian front.
     Today, we hear the White House press corps downplaying the atrocities of ISIS against Christian minorities in the Middle East; after all, they are only like a "J.V. team", right?  Furthermore, the ANCA reports that the Turkish government has hired former U.S. Congressman to lobby on their behalf in attempts to keep the U.S. from officially recognizing the Genocide.
     In the 1960s, prompted by the worldwide commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Genocide, efforts were made to influence journalists, teachers, and public officials by telling "the other side of the story."  Foreign scholars were encouraged to revise the record of genocide, presenting an account largely blaming the Armenians or, in another version, wartime conditions which claimed the lives of more Turks than Armenians.  Thereafter, Turkey tried to prohibit any mention of the Genocide in a United Nations report and was successful in its pressure on the Reagan and Bush administrations in defeating Congressional resolutions that would have designated April 24 as a national day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.  The Turkish government has also attempted to exclude any mention of the Genocide from American textbooks.  Stronger efforts still have been made to prevent any discussion of the 1915 genocide being formally included in the social studies curriculum as part of Holocaust and genocide studies.
     Does that ring a bell?  Do we not see that the current Caliphate is influencing the media, and using them, to tell their side of the story?  Are not some journalists and public officials complicit in playing down the danger of Islamic radicalism?  Isn't Common Core attempting to rewrite history, as well as present a sanitized version of Islam, while decrying the barbarism of Christianity?
      So, it is up to the world to tell the truth and to warn of the familiar images of genocide that are flooding out of the Middle East.  And in case you still doubt the veracity of the Armenian Genocide, I invite you to read the miraculous story of a 100-year-old Armenian woman, who is one of the last people alive to give a first-person account of the annihilation of her people.  Read her story so that you will know the horrors of genocide, and so her memories will never die.
Psalm 116:115    "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."


April 20, 2015

The Survivors Remember ...

     This week and last, memorials are being held among the survivors of the Nazi death camps.  In Israel, these days are marked under the banner of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  For those of us who read of the atrocities committed by one human being against another, it is difficult to escape the emotions that accompany the tragedy of millions of lives lost; all because they were born a Jew.
     Our anger and tears and sympathy are displayed as we try to pay homage to those murdered, and we try to put ourselves in their place.  How would we have endured such blind hatred and evil?  Could we have survived it?  Are we even aware that the same unbridled hate is coming against Christians in the Middle East -- and will become a reality here at home?  Have we forgotten the lessons and the voices of history?
     The truth is, none of us can come close to knowing how horrific it was.  We only have the words of the few remaining survivors to keep the truth alive; to repudiate the attempts to rewrite history.  We should pay attention and listen carefully....
     Last Friday, on April 16th, Noah Klieger and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau raised the flag of Israel at the March of the Living in Poland.  Noah was one of the few Jews who survived Auschwitz; Rabbi Lau was the youngest prisoner to be liberated from Buchenwald. Neither would have dared dream at the time that one day they would participate in a symbolic march in memory of the millions murdered by the Germans.
     "The only dream that all the prisoners in the Jews' camps had was to live one day more than Adolf Hitler and survive the Reich of horrors he established. I was a prisoner at Auschwitz at the time, a nameless prisoner, with a number tattooed on my left arm. A prisoner without rights, whose life or death were determined by one SS officer or another.
      Can an ordinary person imagine hundreds of people sitting side by side at the latrine, the building in which holes were dug in the ground every half a meter, holes in which we defecated, many of us suffering from serious dysentery. An ordinary person definitely can't imagine that, just like he can't imagine standing for hours in the parade yard at the end of a working day, when the SS officers find out that one prisoner has not returned (they counted us when we left and returned from work). As long as they didn’t find the missing prisoner, as long as they suspected that someone had managed to escape, they made us stand there for hours. With no other option, we relieved ourselves while standing up. In the extremely cold weather, the urine and feces froze on our bodies and thin pajamas we were wearing. In the summer, the stench made hundreds of us – maybe even thousands – faint."
     There is the story of 80-year-old Rita Kasimow Brown, a recognized Holocaust artist, who always painted herself in her portraits in white.  " I think it has to do with the little white, not-so-white nightgown that I survived the whole Holocaust in."  Rita was just seven years old when the Nazis invaded her hometown of Turmolt, Poland.  In 1941, the Nazis rounded up the Jews there and put them in a ghetto.
     Rita's memories, like so many of the remaining survivors, are those of a child.  "What happened was we escaped the ghetto. We were hiding in all sorts of places, in barns, in bunkers, in all kinds of places with other people, but we got sick and had colds and then my father went away for a few days and what he did, he found another Christian family," she said.  "And there he dug a big pit under the stable and had a connection to the potato bin and a latch that you can open to the farmer's home," she recalled. "Now it was total darkness. We had a little light, from the cow shed, a little straw so there was a little light.  This is how we lived 20 months. We were hungry and fearful. It was just a living hell. It was a living grave," she said.
     As they lay there, Rita's mother taught her songs that she knew from the very cultured life she had led in her birthplace of Vilna.  "We sat like this and prayed and tried to sleep," she said, clutching at her heart.  Being awake was a nightmare, she explained, hour by hour, suffering day and night.  Most of her father's 12 siblings died while her little family of five stayed alive.
     "Being creative helped me survive and not only survive but keep my sanity," Rita said.  "I survived the Nazi murder machine, but the thing for us, the Nazi Holocaust survivors…we are wounded survivors."
     The Holocaust has not only affected those who lived through it, but the following generations.  David Hershkoviz would hear his mother screaming in her sleep as she relived the agony: a German soldier separated her from her own mother, who died at Auschwitz.  Hershkoviz's mother died two years ago. But through a "second generation" study course in central Israel, he's keeping her story alive. The Shem Olam Holocaust Institute is educating people like Hershkoviz to tell their stories when the Holocaust survivors are gone.
     And how many Christians share the story of journalist Nancy Beasley, who ignored the story of the Holocaust for too long?  When her Editor forced her to cover a story on the tragedy, she could no longer avoid it.  "I ended up going to a Kristalnacht ceremony where I think I heard my heart break because the survivors were talking about their family members who did not live, and it just changed my life completely," she said.
     "There was a woman named Raja Shlom and she witnessed the murder of her husband, her father and her father-in-law. And just moments before they were executed, she was talking to her husband. She'd taken some food [to him] and he said, 'Just save the boy, just save the boy,'" Beasley said.
    With the help of a German guard who had been her student, Shlom escaped with her mother, sister and the little boy, whose name was Emanuel.  "And she would say to the farmers as she went through the countryside, 'Don't be afraid. My son's name is Emanuel. That means God is with us,'" she told CBN News.  Those farmers along the way, hid the family.  Now 70 years later, Emanuel's son, Gadi, lives in Israel.  Beasley went on to spend the next 7 years writing that family's story in a book titled Izzy's Fire.  She wrote it to educate children so that they will not fall for the false narrative that God's enemies would have them believe.
     So what are the lessons for us today?  We not only see nations like Iran, who openly cry for the destruction of Israel, but the same evil intentions are being spearheaded against Christians, and it is spreading across the globe.  And if we think we will be spared Satan's plan to rid the world of those who belong to Jesus, then that's all the more reason that we should listen to these survivors.
     Evil will come as rapidly against us as it swept through Europe 70 years ago.  It will harden the hearts of your neighbors.  You will not recognize your family members or friends; they will suddenly become enemies if you do not step in line.  The stories you have read today are those of people who never dreamed that their lives would take that turn.  We must not refuse to listen to them or to learn from them.  Pray for strength to endure what is coming upon the earth, and pray that you will overcome evil with the testimony of Jesus Christ.  The Evil that overtook the world 70 years ago was not wiped out.  It just went into hibernation and is now awakening from its slumber.  We will soon feel it sweep the earth, and this time it is determined to win!

Psalm 50:15    "And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."