Persecution of Faith

Nik Ripken has lived through the reality of missions where Christ is hated. He and his wife have served in the Muslim world for over 37 years. In this message that he delivered at Liberty University in 2014, he rattles the paradigms that are stuck in the hearts of many Christians.

We have been trained, yes, and even taught in churches, to hate our enemies, especially those heathen in ____________ (fill in the blank). Is there any wonder why missions from the west has been in decline for decades?

If I could, I would edit the last few minutes of the video, because it is the first 33 minutes that need to be heard. I implore you to take just half an hour and ask God to break your heart for the need of revival and missions to a lost and dying world.

His Robes For Mine

The glorious work of what Christ has done for me can overwhelm the heart and soul. That God was estranged from God cannot be truly comprehended. Just as great is the truth that this beggar had Somebody to die in my stead so that I would be able to stand faultless before the Father.

All because of Christ and Christ alone!

 

A Note of Encouragement for Pastors

I don’t know how many pastors read my blog but, if you are a pastor who is discouraged, I hope this will help to lift your spirits. If your pastor is down right now, feel free to share this with him. Even if he’s not down, this may provide the extra lift he needs.

I have several friends who are pastors, and at least one is very discouraged with the state of the Church. Unfortunately, many attend church because it’s what they do on Sunday morning, but they are not there to hear a word from the Lord. In fact, if God really showed up, I expect some would get up and leave. Gone are the days of growing and repenting and crying out, “Search me, O God!” People simply want a peppy worship service, with a feel-good message afterward, so they can then go back home and live their comfortable life.

clergy_pastor

Some pastors probably are fine with this, as they want the same thing, but I know there are some whose heart is toward the Lord, who desire His will above all else, who wonder if anyone hears a word they say week after week. It seems, many times, a congregation will not tell a pastor what a blessing his messages are (even if they think so), but he will definitely hear about it if he preaches too long, gets too excited, doesn’t get excited enough, etc. Let me just remind you that your job is to preach the Word. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts. It’s possible, though, that you can help that change come about through prayer and crying out to God for it. It is not the time to be discouraged. Faithful is He who called you, and HE will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). If you know that you are where God put you, you must trust that He has a plan. Your job is simply to be faithful.

I know you already know this, but let me remind you that success in God’s eyes is not measured by numbers, wealth, or any such thing. God is looking for people who will speak the word He gives them to speak whether people want to hear it or not. He wants bold men and women who will say, “Here am I. Send me. It doesn’t matter if anyone makes fun of me, criticizes me, etc. As long as I know You are pleased with me, that’s all that matters.”

You may never see results this side of Heaven but, one day, when you finally get Home, you will hear your Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” At that moment, all the struggles and frustrations you had while on earth won’t matter. It will finally be worth it all.

Never Forget – Already Forgotten!

11th of November is a special day around many parts of the world.

Veterans Day – This is celebrated in the United States and is a national holiday designated to honor all military veterans who have served or who are currently serving. Wikipedia notes, “Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.”

Remembrance Day – Wikipedia notes that this “is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.”

What is not commonly known is that this is a special year of remembrance. The ode at the bottom of this post was written 100 years ago on the cliffs of Cornwall in the southwest corner of England. This poem was written as a tribute to those who had already fallen in the Great War of 1914-1918. It was the first national consideration of remembrance for those who fell in battle.

World War I, or The Great War, was the war that was to end all wars, but much of it ended up being a stalemate in the muddy trenches of Belgium, France, Holland, and Germany. Many of the war dead fell to disease and it is considered one of the bloodiest periods of human warfare. It would not be until World War II that the number of dead would exceed the number who died in World War I. On a global scale, the world had not seen such carnage and bloodshed since the Mongol Invasion in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Many are not aware that tens of thousands of boys no older than 14 were allowed to go to war and fight in the trenches.  While America joined the war in late 1917 and ultimately lost approximately 117,000 to battle and disease, what is often forgotten that this was not even 1% of the total death casualty of between 17-22 million. There is a reason why this Remembrance Day is special to many countries.

America has been blessed beyond measure and does not know the shame and disgrace in modern history of having troops march, rape, and pillage their way across this land. Europe has known this and the scars of these wars can still be found on lonely hillsides and in cemeteries. Many fell and were never recovered – known only to God.

Sadly, in this modern 21st century, we are but 100 years from the carnage that ravaged predominantly Europe in World War I. In those years, many have forgotten the true price of freedom. Young people know little to nothing about why this war even took place, and certainly are not taught why we should remember. History always repeats itself, and the one aspect that will eventually doom us is that we never learn from history. The Great War was not an insignificant dot on the landscape, but one that broke nations and would eventually lead to the Second World War in which an estimated 2.5% of the world’s population died, or between 60-85 million.

Thankfully, there are still some who do not forget those who died so long ago. We will remember those “for our tomorrow, gave their today.” And for all who served, whether fallen in battle or living veterans, we salute and honor you. You have stood in the gap where many refused to go so that we can enjoy the freedom of today. Many will never know and cannot know the sacrifice that still haunts the dreams of many, but they know.

To forget their sacrifice will be the greatest disrespect we can give to all veterans, past and present.

“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.”Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen, Ode of Remembrance

Still …

True, biblical love, is not self-serving. It is a gift from God, given in measure to His redeemed. Far too often, people who are married fail to grow in their love for their spouses, but continue to live for love themselves. This should not be so among the people Christ has redeemed by His blood.

Friends of mine, at my church, made this short video – depicting the love from God that we ought have for one another. Particularly in the covenant of marriage. I pray this prompts many to examine themselves and turn to YHWH in repentance and renewed faith.