An Exhortation from a Present Persecution.

An Exhortation from a Present Persecution.

Well, you know, I didn’t intend for my blog post from a few weeks ago to be a two-part series, but here we are. It started with an email from Adam, one of my brothers-in-law, on Wednesday asking about a PBS story reporting on Russian troops persecuting Evangelical Christians in occupied Ukraine. In short, it was pretty much what I had imagined; it was the same story that has gone on for over a hundred years, dating from before the Soviet Union.

Connection? You can do so here if you did not get a chance to take in my post from earlier on April 11th. In the brief article, I spoke of the importance of committing to a local church family and illustrated the weight of this commitment by sharing what some Christians were required to in the process of forming a local church after the fall of the USSR. They had to present their documents to the local authorities, which perhaps would put their lives on the line if the tides of politics changed and the Soviets retook control. There was a real possibility that these Christians would be the first in line to hear from the KGB. That real fear these faithful Christians had to walk through was realized by these Ukrainian Christians recently when the Russian Army took control of their region. Part of the agenda of Putin is to force everyone in Ukraine to not only be reunited by force with Russia but to submit to the Russian Orthodox Church, and thus, the persecution of those who will not submit has begun.

Not all Russians support this action. There are indeed authentic Christians in Russia, and I still have such friends there. There are so many ways we should be praying about this situation. However, as was the point of the previous blog post, so we have it here: This should be an exhortation for us in America, the West, and really any part of the globe where we are tempted to take our freedom to assemble with the saints for granted.

Do you have reasons for wanting to ignore the community of saints? Have you been wronged, or have temptations toward something else rearranged your priorities? I don’t know. But I’ve struggled, too, at times. I’ve been burnt and broken and frankly have had times when I’ve just wanted to stay in bed on Sunday – and I’m the preacher. I get it. But this is critical. It’s not about me. It’s about God and others.

What we know is that the Bible exhorts us not to give up on the Body of Christ, which means the local church as well. So often, the issue is that we are looking at the church to get what we want instead of the Bride of Christ, warts and all, and asking what we can do for others instead of expecting others to serve us. Here is the reality. Over the past 2000 years, people have been persecuted, even unto death at times, for Jesus and the Church. These people laid it on the line for Christ, which should say something to our hearts. That ought to encourage us to stand up and put Christ and others first.

So, we must pray for the saints on the other side of the globe. And, yes, we are to get out of bed, actively love others, and commit to the church around us where we live. It’s one thing to talk about religion and politics in other places. It’s another thing to commit to the need here and now. That’s what the call is, though. But being connected to and committed to a local church family is also a blessing found in nothing else the world has to offer. What would those persecuted tell us now on the subject if they could?

I’m not always going to get things right and neither will you. But the amazing thing is that God takes us as we are and changes us, and one of the main ways He does that is through our active involvement in His Church. So, what are you waiting for? Find a local church that loves Jesus and teaches the Bible and find a way to dive in to help.

You can watch the short video report here:

 

Regarding The Sound of Freedom Criticism.  –  Reprise.  “A Confirmation, Clarification, and Challenge”.

Regarding The Sound of Freedom Criticism. – Reprise. “A Confirmation, Clarification, and Challenge”.

As noted in my blog post last week, while I had not yet seen The Sound of Freedom, I knew beyond doubt that the Guardian’s review of the movie was completely biased and fancifully fictitious. Having now seen the entire film, I can say that I was first impressed with the historical narrative and firmly believe that my pre-judgment of the media criticism was confirmed and spot on. True events inspired the movie, which journeys with former Homeland Security agent, Tim Ballard, rescuing children from human trafficking and pedophilia crime. The film is more than a mere action thriller, but a trumpet blast of awakening people to the expeditious growth of this vile crime all around the globe, with the US being a prime consumer. That would seem like a positive thing.

So, why have numerous media outlets and left-leaning journals targeted the film for destruction? Are human slavery and the sexual trafficking of children an illusion, as they claim? (more…)

A Committed Celt and a Changed World.

A Committed Celt and a Changed World.

Moving into March always reminds me of St. Patrick’s Day, which I’m quite a fan of. You could say it’s because I like old Celtic music. March 17th is my birthday, which I always assumed excludes me from having to wear green. But the greater weight here is my love for the man the day is named after, the historical St. Patrick himself.

There are plenty of myths and folklore surrounding Patrick. However, we do know that around 400 AD, he was taken prisoner from Great Britton by Irish raiders and enslaved. Eventually, Patrick returned to Britton after experiencing a Christian awakening and later sensed a call to return to Ireland to share Christ with his captors in the 420s. History tells us that God powerfully used Patrick to lead countless Celts to the love of Christ. The picture we have of Patrick is a man who was profoundly committed to Christ and the people of Ireland. He loved God, and he loved the people.

The fruit of Patrick’s labor has more far-reaching ramifications than most people realize. (more…)

That Whoever Believes!

That Whoever Believes!

I love these videos of Matt Harding dancing around the globe.  The videos from 2008 and 2012 are probably my favorites.  Below is the clip from 2016 and while I’m not stoked on the tune, I’m still enthralled by the beautiful folks from all over the world.  Each video is a reminder of how big God’s creation is and how huge HIS love is for that creation. It is also a clear picture of the ultimate Kingdom of Heaven which is not about geography but people in whose hearts God rules.  They are an ever present reminder of Revelation 7 that speaks of not only the present, but the future fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”  Also, they are an additional reminder of one of the most famous verse in the Bible; John 3:16 in which Jesus proclaims that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  That statement by Christ is such a great proclamation of God’s grace and also the diversity of HIS love.  All of mankind is included in the offer to respond this amazing grace.  And that, along with Matt’s videos, just makes me smile.

What about God’s creation makes you smile?

 

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

A HUGE thanks goes out to the anonymous folks at C4 who gave us a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.  I told Ronda, our admin, that I was probably more relaxed after a few days into the sail than I’ve been in 10 years or so. It was a good time to decompress and just celebrate our marriage commitment and also God’s creation.  For those who live in the Houston area; the ocean water really does turn blue once you get a few miles out from Galveston.  It was incredible to see and experience the colors of the sea, sky, greenery and animals of Cozumel and Progreso.

But beyond that, it was amazing to see the international makeup of the crew on the ship that carried us on our anniversary adventure.  I had heard of cruises like this before.  The complement of the crew was comprised of people from all over the world. Western and Eastern European nations.  Russia and Slavic nations.  People from the UK, Australia, and South Africa.  Countries from Asia, South America, and other were all represented. (more…)

A Call for Kenya

A Call for Kenya

Many of you know that world evangelism and discipleship holds a huge place in my heart.  While Deb and I continue to financially support foreign missionaries and projects, it has actually been over 10 years since I’ve been out of the country.  Debi has served on a couple of teaching trips to Honduras over the past few years but I have not used my passport since teaching in Nagaland, India with Australian missionary, Doug Willis back in 2003.

That is all about to change in April as I have been asked to travel to Nakuru, Kenya to assist in an international Marked Men For Christ discipleship project. (more…)