Archive for the ‘Persecution’ Category

Standing Firm

I am the eternal optimist, and I don’t want to be seen as a doomsday prophet, but the world is becoming more and more hostile to Christian beliefs and thinking. We are not to be surprised, because the Bible tells us this will happen. The world hates Christians, just as it hated Christ. It is happening today.

Every day, I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John, chapter 15, where Jesus speaks to his disciples, warning them of trials to come: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world…that is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

The culture would suppress Christian thought and belief, and demand we not voice our views in public. Here is a recent quote from Dr. Albert Mohler: “These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.”

The time has come to take a stand for Christ. Silence is not an option for the true believer.

Standing on the Word,
Pastor Jerry

No Middle Ground

Those little showers keep coming, the grass keeps growing, and we mow. This time of the year, I begin to eagerly anticipate putting the lawn mower in storage for winter.

Now for some commentary on the time in which we live. Much of what I read and hear these days from Christian leaders is this; Our nation and the culture in general is becoming more and more secular. As Christian values and beliefs are being pushed into the background, believers must prepare to take a stand for Christ and the Bible. There can be no compromise, there will be no middle ground.

The Bible speaks plainly about the times in which we live: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such things come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron… Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:1-7).

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

What are we to do? “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

This is something I read this week. “What we need above all in the church today is for each Christian to have a profound personal knowledge and experience of God himself and a deep knowledge of the Scriptures as his authoritative Word.” (Impossible People by Os Guinness).

Stand firm,
Pastor Jerry

Stand or Fall

Dear friends,
I drove to Topeka, Kansas last week for a meeting of Southern Baptist leaders from Kansas and Nebraska. As I traveled from the Sandhills of Nebraska to the Flint Hills of Kansas, I saw green. Usually, by mid-September, the pastures and crops are beginning to show traces of brown. Not so this year. Obviously, the Lord has blessed this whole section of the country with timely rains, although some of those rains have been excessive in certain areas.

Part of the discussion at our meeting centered on the Great Commission, that is Jesus’ command to go into all the nations and make disciples. More specifically, there was information on what the Kansas-Nebraska Convention is doing to take the gospel to rural America. If you know me, you know my heart is for reaching those in our part of the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. The need for people to hear and respond to God’s message of salvation is not limited to metropolitan areas and foreign countries.

On another somewhat related topic, Christians are facing challenges we have not seen in this generation. The world is abandoning any thought of God, and those who claim allegiance to the God of the Bible are being marginalized and shouted down at every turn. It isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The question is, will we stay true to the gospel and the truths of the Bible? Will we take the Great Commission seriously, and continue to share Christ with those we meet, or will we sit quietly and let the secular world-view prevail.

Know this, if we take a stand for God and his Word, we will face adversity, trials, and even persecution. We are told in the Scriptures to expect these things. Those same scriptures also remind us of the danger of failing to confess Christ as our Lord.

These are the words of Jesus: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him… I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God…” (Luke 12:4-9).

In Truth,
PJ

A Turning Point

Dear friends,
Are you excited about the New Year? To me, it is good to think of a new year as an opportunity to make some course corrections, and to reevaluate where I am headed. However, I think at this point I am more motivated by the thought that spring is coming. I’m just not dealing with the cold this winter, and yes, I know this hasn’t been a particularly hard winter.
In our Sunday school lesson this week, it was suggested that an encounter with Jesus Christ is a turning point; a new beginning. When a person becomes a Christian, he or she has a change in priorities. In fact, a true conversion experience creates change.
In the passage of scripture known as the Beatitudes, Jesus clearly identified the characteristics He expects His followers to exhibit. They are not options; they are Jesus’ expectations for all His followers.
There are eight of these characteristics, and they are found in Matthew 5:1-16.
The poor in spirit: True happiness comes when we realize we are spiritually bankrupt and must rely on God’s strength. Those who mourn: refers to those who have true sorrow for our sins, which leads to repentance. The gentle: This implies humility and trust in God rather than a self-centered attitude. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: Those who yearn for true justice, personal righteousness, and salvation.
The merciful: The word merciful implies generosity, compassion, and forgiveness. It is second nature for those who have experienced God’s mercy to show the same mercy to others. The pure in heart: Purity of heart is single-minded devotion to God. The pure will see God and experience intimate fellowship with Him. The peacemakers: Peace describes a state of wholeness and completeness in our relationship with God and all others. Those who seek to make peace do the work of God and will be called sons of God.
Finally, the persecuted: It is an inevitable fact of life that true followers of Christ will be persecuted. Those who are persecuted because they serve Christ can rejoice, because their reward is great in heaven.
Those who possess a genuine Christian character are going to make a difference in the world. As salt, which both flavors and preserves, and as lights shining from a hilltop, they will have an impact on the culture in which they live.
Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Decision Time

We are enjoying some more time spent at our lake house. All the hard work on the house and yard is easing up, and it is nice just to sit and enjoy the view. We have a couple more camping trips in mind, but no specific dates or destinations yet. School starts in a month, and we will once more settle into a more structured routine.

Recent events in world and national affairs require we who are followers of Jesus Christ, and who believe in the Truth of God’s Word, to examine our commitment to the faith. One of those events is the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States of America concerning same sex marriage. As one commentator said, “there is no longer any fence to sit on.” We must take a stand regarding what we believe on this topic. I’m reminded of the challenge of Joshua to the children of Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land.

“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

The question for us is this: Will we serve and obey the Lord, or will we give allegiance to the secular philosophy of the culture around us? It is time to choose. There is no fence left to straddle.

Jesus’ apostles were commanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin not to speak or teach in His name. Their response was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” (Acts 4:19).

Serving Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Staying Close

It is 38 degrees here this morning, with a forecast low tonight of 31. I fear the global warming theory will be a hard sell in this area. Last week, I reported that we had sown the grass seed. After the rain this week, I see mowing in my future.

The local Canada goose population is on the increase. Goslings of varying sizes are making their appearance on the lake. I noticed one family with 4 little ones, three of them stayed pretty close to the parents, but one always seemed to be lagging behind. Lately, that goose family has only three young ones. I suspect the little straggler became lunch for some predator.

There is a lesson here for God’s people.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 3:8). Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as the you see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Remember Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders, as he prepared to leave them: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that when I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! (Acts 20:28-31).

Finally, from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one…be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

In an age when Christianity is being challenged and attacked, I believe it is more important than ever that we remain in close fellowship, encouraging each other in our faith. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. The enemy’s strategy is to divide and conquer. We must stay in close fellowship with our God and with each other.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Ready

Hello all,
Sunday evening we held our 9th annual Valentine supper. I think it is safe to say everyone in attendance was glad they came. Thanks to those who decorated, took reservations, and helped out in any other way. Special thanks to the catering crew for a great meal, and to Pastor Don for his special brand of music and cowboy poetry.

In news from the lake house, the sun porch continues on its way to completion. We had hoped to get some siding on, but the colder temperatures have slowed those plans. Maybe I can get the kitchen remodel finished up instead.

As we see events in the world unfolding, I am once again reminded of the Bible’s teaching concerning the times and events preceding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the 24th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we read the words of Jesus. He is speaking to his disciples: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. These are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:7-9). He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (verse 36).

What should be our response to this teaching? He follows with these words: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (verses 42-44).

How are we to be ready? By confessing our sin, asking His forgiveness, and turning from our sinful ways. I do not write these things to frighten you. My prayer is that all who read these weekly articles would answer the Lord’s invitation to receive His gift of salvation. It is by and through making Him our Lord and Savior that we are able to face tomorrow, and the challenges it may bring.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

The Bible Stands

Hello again,
We are at the beginning of a new year; time to move into another stage of life, begin a new adventure, or even just continue on the path set before us. In any case, it seems with the turning of the calendar page, we get a fresh start.

The New Year may bring joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, wealth or poverty. Whatever else it is, we can be certain it will not be exactly the same as last year.

In these times, it seems there are more people willing to publicly attack the Bible as outdated, and irrelevant for the times. False teaching about the meaning and importance of the Bible are everywhere. A recent front page article in Newsweek magazine insisted the Bible is “so misinterpreted it’s a sin.” The Bible warns us of false teachers and those who would twist the scriptures to the point of denying its truth and authorship.

Our devotional thought this week comes from 2 Peter 1:1-11. In it, Peter helps us learn how to recognize and avoid false teaching. We begin by understanding salvation. God is the source of our salvation. He provided the sacrifice for our sin in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty in our place. We then are saved by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross (verses 1-2).

Our salvation is sustained by God’s power, and His power is all that is necessary for “everything we need for life and godliness…so that we can escape the corruption of this world” (verses 3-4).

Our salvation is confirmed by certain characteristics of the true Christian. These are goodness, knowledge (of God), self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (verses 5-6).

Finally, having these things present in increasing measure, we will keep us on track in our spiritual lives, leading us to assurance in this life, and riches in heaven (verses 8-10).

This is from the Our Daily Bread devotional last week: “As the spiritual darkness of our world grows deeper, the light of Christ shines more brightly through all those who know and love Him. Jesus is our joy and hope—today, tomorrow, and forever.”

In these times, it is more important than ever for God’s people to be equipped to stand and defend what we believe and know to be the truth.

Standing on His Word,
Pastor Jerry

Stand Firm

Hello friends,
My trip to the annual meeting was the bright spot of the week. I came home refreshed, and renewed spiritually. It was good to listen to some great preaching.

If we think that the world isn’t in opposition to the message of God, we are sadly unaware of reality. One only has to watch a little bit of news to find out that Christians are in the bull’s-eye.

Take the news from Huston, Texas; 5 Christian pastors have been subpoenaed to hand over their sermons, their notes, and all communications concerning a Huston city ordinance allowing transgender people to use the public restroom of their choice.

In speaking out against this issue, the pastors are seen as criminals. This, I fear, is a harbinger of things to come. Christians are going to be challenged in many areas, and we need to be prepared to stand firm on our faith and convictions.

Is this persecution? Under the topic ‘Persecution’ in my Bible dictionary it says, “Persecution seeks to intimidate, silence, punish, or even to kill people.” How many of these describe what is going on with these pastors in Huston?

We are warned in scripture that if we stand on, and proclaim the word of God, we will be persecuted. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:12-16).

Let us not forget the words of the Lord Jesus; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).

Let us pray for those five pastors, but also for those who oppose their message, so that they might know the truth of the gospel, the truth that sets people free (John 8:32).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry