Pray For Christians In Iraq

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Persecution of Christians is becoming more frequent around the world. Yesterday the news came that 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded in Libya. Many are unaware of the horrible atrocities that are occurring almost daily in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS, in Nigeria by Boko Harem and now in Libya.

This is a serious threat to civilization as we know it and left unchecked will spread to every part of the world. One man in the 1930’s brought war to the entire world and brought about the death of over 5,000,000 men women and children in concentration camps because the world failed to take him seriously and did not act.

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What all Americans must understand is this: Ending the persecution of Christians is not just morally right; it is in our national interest. When we promote and defend freedom of religious expression throughout the world we are making the world safer for oppressed people, we are promoting a value that keeps extremism of any kind in check”.              David Curry President of Open Doors

I have started a Facebook page for the purpose of sharing information about the persecution that is taking place. The page is titled

Pray For Christians in Iraq. The page is dedicated not only to Christians in Iraq but anywhere persecution is taking place

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Please visit the page and then share it with your friends on social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You may also submit comments to President Obama at

http://www.whitehouse.gov

United Nations  http://www.un.org/en/contactus/

And pray!

 

Wake-Up

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And now consider this. You know well the times you are living in. It is time for you to wake up and see what is right before your eyes: for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

Romans 13:11

 Saeed Abedini (Persian: سعيد عابديني‎) is an Iranian American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and incarcerated in Evin Prison since September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities in Iran

 

Pastor Abedini represents a vast sector of the church outside the United States where Christians suffer persecution and endure the denial of even basic human rights simply because they believe in Jesus.

His crime? Working on a government-approved orphanage.

In his book “A Psalm in My Heart” George Wood writes:

A pastor friend of mine in China was sentenced in 1956 to 9 years in prison and kept on probation another 15 years. Twenty-five years is a long time to remain falsely accused, forbidden to preach the gospel, or conduct services.

In many parts of the world this is a common experience for Christians.

We may ultimately face such a time in America.

Before the German Nazis began to exterminate Jews and Gypsies around World War II, they caricatured and dehumanized them through ridicule and false accusation. In America, evangelical believers committed to biblical stands on morality are commonly typed as intolerant, hateful, or even dangerous.

This book was written in 1997

In the United States in recent years there we have seen a significant increase in anti-Christian rhetoric and ridicule of Christian beliefs.

There is an increasingly radical and sometimes violent demand for acceptance of world-views and lifestyles that oppose foundational Christian beliefs.

And those who demand tolerance show little if any tolerance to those who disagree.

I believe Mr. Wood’s prediction is right and closer than we think.

But when this comes to pass it will provide an opportunity for the church, the followers of Christ to do their best work.

So how do we get ready? What do we do to be prepared?

I believe there is some very good advice in the verse used at the beginning of this post.

 “Now consider this”

Think about it don’t let this moment pass without “considering” the importance of what the apostle Paul is writing.

 “You know well the times you are living in”

Do you?

Or are you like those in the Orthodox church in Russia in 1917 who considered the issue of the day to be the length of candles used in worship. A few blocks away Lenin and the Bolsheviks were planning a revolution that would change Russia and and the church.

The time that is coming is a time of great challenge but also a time of great harvest.

 “It is time to wake up and see what is right before your eyes”

I am afraid that in our church culture we are also too focused on the candles, the cosmetic aspect of the church. The privilege  we have to freely worship when and where we please has lulled us to sleep and far to often we look to “others” the full-time ministry people to address the issues of our time.

What are your opportunities to impact what is “right before your eyes”. What are the issues in your neighborhood, your city? What can you do?

“for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”.

For those who know the Lord and belong to Him His coming will be a time of great joy. Not so much for those who do not.

There is still time to reach them, and guess who gets to do that?

We pass up opportunities to share the Good News because they are “not like us”.

It is ironic to me that after all the grace and forgiveness we have experienced we would pick and choose who we will reach out to. Creating a litmus test that decides who is worthy of our attention and who is not. A criteria that has nothing to do with the most important reason we reach out to the lost and hurting.

Because God loves them.

The Lord is not willing that any would perish, but that all would know His love, repent, and be saved

 2 Peter 3:9

 

It is time to wake up!

Persecution

ImageAccording to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. Many of these people are Christians. In the country of Iran in 1979 there were fewer than 500 Christians. Today there are over one million and growing. Horwoz Shariat a former Shia Muslim has been responsible for planting churches and leading many to Christ in Iran. Please pray for pastor Shariat. His story is featured in the April 2014 edition of Charisma Magazine. There is also a great need for bibles for our Iranian brothers and sisters. For information on how you can help contact opendoorsusa.org revivaliniran.org

Culture

Culture

It’s  a word we hear a lot in the 21st century.

Pop-culture, cross-culture, multi-culture, western culture, eastern culture, counter-culture, culture shock, culture wars, sub-culture.

In the 21st century our culture is described by some as post-modern or post-Christian.

This statement advances the view that Christianity is no longer the dominant civil, moral religion of our society. The evidence that would seem to support this view is that in the U.S. and parts of Europe since the 1960’s there has been a shift away from traditional Judeo-Christian values.In 1910 66.3 of the worlds Christians were Europeans.

In studies performed in 2011 the number has dropped to 25.9% *

World-wide there has been increased persecution, imprisonment and death of Christians unlike anything seen in modern times. Islam is said to be the fastest growing religion in the world along with an interest in and resurgence of other world religions. This would certainly seem to indicate a world-wide shift and trend towards a post-modern/post-Christian  world-view.

But in reality is this an accurate assessment of the culture and world at large?

It is important to note that in our day of instant information and social media a lifestyle, an idea or a movement  can seem to be the “majority” view when in reality it is not.

Joseph Goebbels minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany said it well all those years ago.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

And when you mix some truth with the lie it is especially effective. Consider this explanation of propaganda:

Historically true propaganda hasn’t always been  full of outright lies or deception, as many people believe. Rather it’s the statement of facts and beliefs with the intention of influencing a particular audience, trademarked by the omission of any details that might persuade the audience to the other side. So we are bombarded with persuasive messages on a nearly constant basis, sometimes by paid advertisers and other times by groups looking to forward their own interests.

The entities behind these messages all have the same idea in mind: Convince the audience to agree with the message presented and adopt it as their own belief, thus rejecting the viewpoints of the “other” side. We call it propaganda first coined as a term by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 to win back Catholics who had taken up the Protestant faith during the Reformation. **

In our time the purpose of a post-Christian view is to convince us that the world has changed and along with it the need for Christian morals, values and beliefs.

A second question we need to consider is should our culture be of importance or of interest to a Christian? I believe the answer to both should be yes.

1. In an age of pluralism where all world-views are correct, where it is intolerable to state otherwise, secularism reigns. Absolutes have ceased to exist and truth is relative. Jesus commanded his followers to be light and salt. To refuse to have any interest or place any importance on our culture and those living in it would be to refuse an important command.

2. We must decide what we will be defined by. As Christian values and beliefs are increasingly presented in  negative ways, the  danger of allowing “unpopular opinion”to cause us to compromise or abandon the mission altogether is  a danger we must avoid. To do so would be spiritual suicide.

3. We must understand that no culture or even national stance defines everyone. World-wide the number of Christians in Africa, Asia and the Americas are on the rise. The U.S. based Pew Forum reports that the number of Christians in the world is currently 2.18 billion with a total population of 7 billion, one third of the worlds population. This number represents a rise from the 1910 population, when the world had 600 million Christians with a total world population of 1.8 billion.

Reaching out to the world regardless of the culture or opinion of the world was and still is most important in expressing our faith. It was the foremost issue to Jesus “You have heard others say, Be patient; we have four more months to wait until the crops are ready for the harvest. I say, take a closer look and you will see the fields are ripe and ready for harvest”. John 4:35

I want to leave you with some thoughts that will hopefully encourage you as you engage our present culture.

It is His story. God’s hand is on history at every point, kingdoms, culture and all history indeed, is no more than “His story”, the unfolding of the eternal plan, and the kingdom that will triumph in the end is God’s*** Revelations 1:4-8

Times and culture may change but the mission is the same. “Go and make disciples”. Matthew 28:18-20

Do not be afraid. Jesus said this many times. He knew what was ahead for his disciples. His word to the disciples then and now has not changed. “Do not be afraid”. John 14:25-31

Fight the good fight. The apostle Paul used the imagery of running and fighting many times in describing his battle to stand for and share the gospel. His race was not without hardship and struggle, ours will not be either. In his last letter to Timothy he writes:”I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept the faith.

May that be said of all of us!

Sources

* Pew Forum

** How it works

***J.I. Packer “Knowing God”