What if Today Happened to You?

Today was a special service at our little mission. There was rejoicing, a time of prayer, and worship of the Most High. While we spent time in prayer specifically for the persecuted church, every part of our service, including the time of fellowship afterwards, was intended to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each person that came today woke up to a dreary, grey, overcast sky and drove in a vehicle in a country that freely allows us to travel. But still we came.

Each person that came today had the privilege of coming to a building where we have freedom to worship as we see fit and not having to hide in a cave, or in the forest, or out on a dreary plain just to worship without fear of being reported to the authorities. But still we entered.

Each person that came today had no thoughts of any news that might or might not be taking place around the world. But still we worshipped.

Each person that came today had the opportunity to have a better understanding of what the persecuted church experiences every day. But still we prayed.

Each person that came today was reminded that there is an eternity to look forward where there will be no sin, no tears, no dying, no fears, and only joy in the presence of the Savior. But still we sang.

Each person that came today heard the truth of Scripture being boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ alone saves sinners. But still we listened.

Each person that came today left after service to gusts of wind blowing across the parking lot, and a sky that was clearing with beautiful sunshine. But still we left.

Each person that came today read the news this afternoon that while we were worshipping, there were others who were doing the same but who did not go home for the wickedness of the heart of man was made evident as several in a Baptist church in south Texas went out into eternity. But still we grieve.

Tonight and in the coming weeks, there will be much soul-searching by many who go to services. Many parents will have concern for their safety and that of their children. Many will wonder if it is safe to go and worship with other believers, or will more lives come to an end. Many church leaders will face the daunting task of determining what kind of security they believe is necessary to help provide protection for those who come.

Yet, through the difficulty of following the news, these things remain true. The dangers are real. The reasons why this young man chose to kill will remain unanswered because he went out to eternity where he faced God as Judge.

Every day across this world, there are millions of Christ followers who live in danger of being harmed or being killed. Millions understand the risks of coming together knowing that it could be their last week. From places like North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and many other countries, especially in the 10/40 window, there is the cry of the persecuted church. They are being harmed or killed simply because they have called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

BUT still they went, still they entered, still they worshipped, still they prayed, still they sang, still they listened, still they left, and still they grieved.

The world is going to get worse. The Bible promises that this will be the case. Others will die for their faith. Others will have to determine whether dying for Christ is better than living for self. Others will have to decide if they will be bold for Christ and accept the martyr’s crown, or if they will deny the Christ who died for them and so forget that the servant is not above the Master.

What if tomorrow doesn’t take place like you think it will? What if tomorrow you are called to stand before God?

What if today happened to you?

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

Our worship leader prayed for the persecuted Church this morning and, as he did so, I couldn’t help but think of what I have heard about the persecuted Church praying for us, that we will experience persecution so that the Church here can grow. That may sound funny since it seems like there is a church building on almost every corner, but there is more to being a part of the Church than just walking through the door of a building once or twice a week.

The fact is, it is too easy to say you’re a Christian in this country. Although we are becoming a minority, many people still respect “religious” people so we’re okay. If Christianity were to suddenly be illegal, I wonder how many of us would boldly say, “Yes, I’m a Christian.”

Before you raise your hand and say, “I would,” evaluate the way you live your life. Have you truly surrendered every area to Him, making sure everything you do, say, and watch pleases Him? Sometimes I think it is easier to die for Him than it is to live for Him and, yet, if you don’t live for Him now, how do you expect to stand in the midst of persecution?

Like most Americans, I have a pretty comfortable life. My needs are provided, I have a family who loves me and, therefore, much to be thankful for. I am very grateful that I don’t have to fear for my life, or the lives of my family members. At the same time, there should be nothing that I am unwilling to give up if God asks me to. Trust in God means knowing that He knows what’s best for me, and He has a plan whether I understand it or like it … or not.

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So today, I too am praying for the persecuted Church. May God continue to encourage them and give them grace to stay strong in the midst of the persecution. May He use them to draw others to Him, and may He have mercy on America. May we use our freedom, not for our own pleasure, but for His honor and glory. If we don’t, we very well may experience the horrible things our Brothers and Sisters in other countries are going through. Then we won’t be able to live lukewarm lives. We will either be on fire for God, or we will do what we need to in order to keep our comfortable lives and, in doing that, we will lose them.

Please don’t wait until you are forced to make a decision. Decide today that nothing is more important than pleasing the Father who gave His only Son so that you could spend eternity with Him. He has given so much for you. Today, He asks you to give your life and everything you own back to Him. I pray you will say Yes.

Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?

This is different than probably anything I have ever written. I have wanted my writings to be a means of encouragement to those who are struggling or who need a pick-me-up. I do believe, however, that God laid this on my heart so I hope you will bear with me for this very solemn post. I am sure most of you have heard about what is happening over in Iraq; however, if you can’t handle the details, feel free to skip to the second paragraph.

I have read a couple short articles on the atrocity that has been happening in Iraq the past few days. I didn’t read more than that because, honestly, I can’t handle it. My heart is breaking for those people, however, as I pray for their strength and comfort. Many watched their children beheaded or cut in two. They had to flee their homes which have now been taken over by this terrorist group. I am reminded that Christian persecution has not ended. For a while, it has been out of sight and out of mind, but I am endeavoring to begin praying for the persecuted church like never before.

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Here in America, we have had it so easy. Any persecution we have faced has been really minor compared to what our Brothers and Sisters in many other countries have experienced. I am grateful for this but I don’t believe this freedom will last forever. We very well may live to see the day when our lives are in danger as well. If this doesn’t happen in my lifetime, my children and grandchildren may see that day. Would I stand firm as so many martyrs have done and boldly declare that Jesus is my Lord? The Sunday School answer is, “Yes!” I know that’s easier said than done though. I think I would probably have the boldness to die for Christ but what about being tortured day in and day out for months on end? Or what about seeing my children tortured in front of my eyes? Is my faith and devotion to Christ strong enough to withstand those things?

I am not trying to scare anyone. Life is plenty scary and uncertain without me adding to that. But I do want to tell you that this is the time to choose who you will serve. This is the time to get as close to God as you can without any compromise. If you are not fully surrendered to Him now and willing to do whatever He asks of you, you will not be instantaneously willing to suffer for Him when that day comes. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It’s not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of when and to what degree. The call is still the same, however. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

I am challenging myself as I challenge all of you. Whether you agree with me or not that America will see immense persecution, I hope you will at least agree that this is a wake-up call. Christians in other countries are being massacred while we live a life of extreme ease. If this doesn’t break your heart, it is way too hard. We do not live here because we are special. We have been the recipients of God’s gracious mercy. Every day that we wake up, we should be rejoicing and asking God how we can best serve Him with the time that He gives us on this earth. God told the lukewarm Church in Laodicea that He would spit them out of His mouth. I can’t imagine anything more dreadful.

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God, give me a renewed determination to live for You wholeheartedly. Remind me daily to pray for my Brothers and Sisters who are being persecuted for Your name’s sake. Fill me with the fire of Your Holy Spirit so that I do not become lukewarm or mediocre. Continue the work that You’ve begun because You are faithful! And please give comfort and a special grace to Your people in Iraq who have lost their homes and seen friends and family members brutally murdered. No one could get through that with You. Let them feel Your presence in the midst of their grief more than ever before.

The Persecuted Church: China

1 Peter 4:12-19, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”

What Does It Cost You Today?

Persecution is coming and at what price will we in the west be willing to pay. NO, we are not talking about the persecution that fringe groups like the gay sodomite community like to proclaim that they and their perverted followers are undergoing. That is NOT persecution for the desire of that community is to get the world to accept their abominations as acceptable and also desire DEMAND that our children be subjected to their perversions. It is AND ALWAYS will be contrary to the laws of God!

My friend, I am speaking about standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is costing our true brethren in Christ their homes, their children, and even their very lives around the world all because their faith is in the One and Only True Sovereign, God Who is the Maker of heaven and earth!