Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

If Jesus rebuked many of the early churches for straying, leaving their first love, putting up with false doctrine, or for being lukewarm, how could we, American Christians, think He wouldn’t harshly rebuke many of our seeker-sensitive, shallow, lukewarm churches today?

Some might claim the Church is thriving here in the United States of Entertainment. I would ask them why then doesn’t it translate out into society. Who is driving culture today, Christians or atheists and secular progressives? Biblical morality or godlessness?

The truth is too many professing believers have generally conformed to the world and have failed to defend and preserve culture through Judeo-Christian values. We are to be salt in society: to not only flavor and enhance culture but to influence it as well. Salt is a preservative, but it can also irritate, especially if it touches an exposed wound. Paul told believers at Ephesus to walk as children of light and,

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11)

Too many in American churches do just the opposite! We accommodate popular sins (abortion and homosexuality). Why? Because the Supreme Court ruled they are legal, of course. But just because something is legal does not make it moral. Has the Supreme Ruler and Judge changed His mind on certain sins? Not at all!

We have watered down the Word of God and have lost our saltiness and power to transform society for good. Some larger churches have a reputation for being alive, but their discipleship and doctrine is rather ineffective. I attended a megachurch for several years and kept running into unregenerate and unconverted people, many of whom thought they were saved. 

God woke me up at 3 AM recently and this message is the result. My heart was heavy; we were wrapping up our Bible study on the book of Colossians – a church Paul commended for their faith and love, by the way – and we were examining the geography of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and many cities that had Christian churches in the first several centuries.

*The following is a partial transcript to the sermon from video:

In Revelation chapter two and three, Jesus harshly rebuked five out the seven churches within the same area. I couldn’t help but wonder what He would think of churches in America today. It’s a sobering thought.

Would Jesus rebuke us, Christians in the United States of Entertainment, the way He did several churches in Asia Minor? 

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Revelation 3:2-3

This quote has been attributed to several people, one of whom is Dwight L. Moody:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

We will all stand before the Lord one day and be judged for how we spent our time. Your husband or wife won’t be there, neither will your children, coworkers, or friends on social media. It will be you alone before Jesus. And that should sober up every one of us in this room.

Here are some important QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ? JN 15:8
  2. Are we passionate about eternal and spiritual things? COL 3:2
  3. Who or what is our first love? What’s our main focus? 6:33
  4. Have you conformed to our culture – or to Christ? ROM 12:2
  5. Do we love this world more than we love God, His Word? 1 JN 2:15-17
  6. Are you prepared for persecution when it comes? 5:11-12

Are we, individual believers in Jesus who make up the church in America, succeeding at what’s most important? Are we loving the Lord God, loving our neighbors, preaching the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, making disciples, raising godly children, impacting culture, and encouraging the faith of other believers?

Or are we just giving God lip service?

American churches, especially many of the larger, higher profile mega-churches, often have a good reputation simply due to their popularity, numbers or size (quantity). But this is often a very inaccurate picture of the overall health, discipleship, and maturity (quality) of a church. Is the body of Christ being built up in faith and equipped for ministry? (Eph. 4:11-12)

According to Barna research and several other studies and surveys, it appears American Christianity is producing the most biblically illiterate church members in history, confused about what the Bible teaches, unable to fully understand let alone explain and defend the essentials of the faith. What ever happened to discipleship? We can learn from the earliest Christian churches that it doesn’t take long to stray from truth.

Revelation 3:1  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Wake-up! Repent! Notice what Jesus also says to the church in Sardis:

5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

*We all have ears – but – are we listening? What is Jesus saying to the churches in America who have grown comfortable and complacent? What is He saying to individual believers? Do YOU have ears to hear from God?

Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ?

We just finished the book of Colossians in our weekly Bible study and looking at the geography at that time, we talked about the many early Christian churches in Asia Minor which is modern day Turkey.

…The Colossian church was just 12 miles from the church of Laodicea and about 95 miles from Ephesus, a booming city at the time. Laodicea was also prospering and growing, located next to a new trade route, they had it made.

But that’s what lots of people would say about America, which is why we’re making this comparison today. We are prosperous, proud, and self-sufficient. Look at our big and many churches!

May we take to heart the warnings to the early churches:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; …19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

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Five recent news stories indicate a concerning trend in America; a shift from disagreeing with Christians to discriminating against them. Sadly, these attacks are slowly becoming accepted.

With a campaign of redefined words such as ‘intolerance,’ it often starts with mild persecution.

New Yorker magazine recently suggested Chick-fil-A, the third largest restaurant franchise in America, doesn’t belong in their blue state because of the alleged “infiltration” of what one writer called “pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

That’s right, a corporation built on family values, hard work, and integrity, and whose stated mission is to “glorify God,” who also donates thousands of pounds of food to the homeless is somehow a threat to the liberal stronghold of New York.

Down south, a Miami Dolphins cheerleader went public because she was discriminated against for not only being a Christian, but apparently a virgin as well. As a cheerleader, Kristin Ann Ware was also criticized for posting a Bible verse on social media with a photo of her baptism.

Over in Minnesota, a school bus driver and pastor was recently removed from his route for praying with students on the way to school, even though students would volunteer to lead prayer. 

Next, you probably heard liberal Democrat and anti-Christian Senator, Corey Booker, actually believes that those who have a biblical worldview are unfit to serve our country.

At a confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Booker grilled Mike Pompeo, but it wasn’t about foreign policy or any of the most pressing national concerns. He demanded to know Pompeo’s stance on homosexual sex and asked, “Do you believe gay sex is a perversion?” Can you imagine a Muslim, Jew, or anyone else being asked this kind of question?

Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire writes:

Here’s the real issue: when your religion is government, and government is god, you cannot tolerate any other God before it — and you assume that all those who believe in God wish to mobilize government in order to impose God’s will.

Booker’s line of questioning was flat-out unconstitutional, but did you hear the media mention it – if they reported on it at all? The Constitution clearly forbids religious tests for public office. Period.

But here’s the most disturbing story: a bill was passed in California that could ban counseling services and the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian views about sexual immorality. This pro-homosexual bill would ban the Bible! (Images of Nazi’s burning books in the 1930s may come to mind.)

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it unlawful to engage in transactions offering to pursue “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

National Review’s David French says California state law would lock in a sexual-revolution orthodoxy that hurts the very people they seek to protect. The bill defines “change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions…”

French adds, “…no state legislature should be permitted to ban a “good” (such as a book) or a “service” (like counseling) that makes these arguments and provides them to willing, consenting consumers.”

This would not only outlaw certain speech, but California seems willing to ignore the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of and enjoyment of religion without discrimination.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, and if they pass it, radical CA Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. And if the bill becomes law, we know from past history what happens in California doesn’t stay in California.

In recent years, Christians believing in the Bible and natural marriage have been suspended or fired from their jobs, sued and taken to court, slandered, some have lost businesses, savings, and have been viciously attacked in the press and on social media.

How can we respond? Stay the course. Don’t fret and don’t be surprised by any of this. Jesus told His followers they would be hated because of Him, and we cannot compare what’s happening in America with what our brothers and sisters in Christ endure in hostile nations. Press on, my friend; God is faithful.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media.

You might call this troubling, concerning, disturbing or alarming, but to those who have studied the Bible and understand the times, this trend of silencing Christians is mostly disappointing.

We should not be surprised. 

On the other hand, though our culture and country seems to be heading for destruction at breakneck speed, believers know this means we are getting closer to more fulfilled prophecy and ultimately, the promised return of Jesus Christ.

One of the more eye-opening things I read this week was the fact that even with all the cases of discrimination against Christians in recent years from the public square to social media, many Americans do not support the basic religious freedom of Christians.

I’m sure you know many of the stories.

  • A Christian florist who had served homosexual customers on countless occasions refused to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding, and she was sued by two homosexual activists. Baronelle Stutzman might lose everything. The Washington Supreme Court has punished her for peacefully operating her business consistently with her faith. 
  • Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, was sued for the same reason even though Phillips has also turned down cake requests for bachelor parties, anything profane, occult-related, violent, or perverse. In many states, bakers can refuse to write a Bible verse on a cake but are not allowed to decline to make a gay-wedding cake. This pivotal case is headed to the Supreme Court.
  • Christian geologist and believer in God as Creator, Andrew Snelling, was denied access and opportunity to study the Grand Canyon for three years until the National Park Service finally relented and accepted his application.
  • Donald Vander Boon’s meatpacking center in Michigan was targeted by the the federal government for having marriage brochures on the employee break room table. The Christian family proudly says on their website the company “seeks to glorify and honor God in all we do,” and were shocked to find out during a visit by the USDA that it wasn’t their beef that was being inspected — but their faith! The inspector took offense to the literature and told Don they’d call off the inspection if the material wasn’t removed. Within hours, he was threatened with the closure of his business.
  • An Ohio library banned a Christian group from meeting to discuss natural marriage unless the group also included supporters of same-sex marriage.
  • Christian farmers, Steve and Bridgett Tennes, were refused to participate in the East Lansing, MI farmer’s market because of their Christian beliefs. Country Mill Orchards was kicked out of the sellers group last August after a post on Steve’s Facebook page revealed his beliefs supporting natural, God-ordained marriage.

Both of them military veterans who understand the cost of religious freedom in America, Tennes stated,

“My wife and I both volunteered to serve in the military to protect freedom. Now we come home and the freedom that we worked to protect, we have to defend in our own backyard.”

…The U.S. Department of Education held a panel discussion on fatherhood and LGBT groups protested, demanding conservative viewpoints not even be allowed. 

If culture is downstream from the church, and politics (government and policy) is downstream from culture, it’s easy to see how this nation is no longer unified as one nation, under God, or indivisible. Why?

On a recent Stand Up for the Truth radio program, we discussed some dangerous and influential voices impacting the church. It is disappointing how many followers these people have. One example if you haven’t heard the latest, is Christian author, Jen Hatmaker. She not only endorses same-sex marriage, she now goes so far as to say (ready?) she believes gays and lesbians who are married should receive counseling from the Christian church – to strengthen their marriages if they want to be part of the Christian community.

She previously said same-sex relationships can be “holy,” after which her books were pulled from LifeWay Christian Store. More recently, Hatmaker said she dreams of a day when church is safe for the LGBT community. Okay, define ‘safe.’ 

When liberal Christians, the left, progressives, or the emergent church preach “unity,” what they often mean is uniformity. They are fine if we conform to their watering down the true gospel. They love the idea of diversity as long as we unite around their progressive worldview that distorts the truth and deity of Christ.

Since we are commanded to love our neighbor, do we love others enough to tell them the truth even when it is not popular?

In a Gospel Herald article on this topic, Rosaria Butterfield, a FORMER lesbian is quoted. Concerned that by affirming the gay community, Jen Hatmaker is damaging them, not helping them. Butterfield shares this story:

“A few years ago, I was speaking at a large church. An older woman waited until the end of the evening and approached me. She told me that she was 75 years old, that she had been married to a woman for 50 years, and that she and her partner had children and grandchildren. Then she said something chilling. In a hushed voice, she whispered, “I have heard the gospel, and I understand that I may lose everything. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? Why did people I love not tell me that I would one day have to choose like this?”

That’s a good question. We cannot have it both ways with one foot in the world and one in the Bible. Everyone must choose for themselves.

God or man? Justification or judgment? Repentance or rebellion? Christ or culture? The questions remain.

Read the full post at DavidFiorazo.com