Archive for the ‘persecution’ Category

As I have a very full day before me- mostly involving me, my wife, my daughter and various forms of gymnastics- I will leave you with this short post.  Take time and enjoy these top ten posts.

How Many Push-Ups Does it Take to get to the Center of an Awesome Body?

I wrote this post in May, and ever since it has been one of my most viewed posts on a daily basis.  I thought it was a throw-away post at the time, guess I was wrong.

Stop the Bleeding

Need some inspiration to escape credit card debt? Start here.

Also see Starting Your Total Financial Transformation.

A Question for Christians- Is the World Comfortable with You?

What’s your answer?

Training for Ninja Warrior

Yup, I really am.

My Unconventional Workout Tools

I can’t forget the boys that brung me, eh?  My wonderful and wacky workout tools.

How to Break Pateaus.

A few suggestions to help make all that hard work productive.

Living the Deliberate Life

A somewhat complete guide to beginning to live a thoughtful and purposeful life.

Also see this rough outline.  I will get around to finish this sooner or later.  Promise.

My Most Recent Before and After Pictures 

The proof is in the pudding..I mean…the pictures.  But Pudding does sound good right about now.

A Fireside Chat with the Adversary

He is actually quite amiable in person.  A little too amiable.

Sexerise

Wonder why everyone loves this post?  I just can’t figure it out.

Pakistani Christians Warned to Convert, Munir Ahmad

“Christians in a Pakistani town beset by pro-Taliban militants sought government protection Wednesday, the eve of a deadline for them to convert to Islam or face violence.

About 500 Pakistani Christians in Charsadda, a town in the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, received letters earlier this month telling them to close their churches and convert by Thursday or be the target of “bomb explosions.”

Joel Rosenberg Blog

There are new reports this week that Iran may join a Central Asian military alliance with Russia. Syria has just moved up its schedule for a major military exercise. It was planned for the late summer and early fall. Now the Syrian war games will begin this month and run through July. This has intensified speculation among intelligence analysts that Syria could be preparing for a summer war.”

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I was originally going to title this post, “How to Leave Your Church.” However, the title fell far short of what I wanted this post to convey. While this post will address the right way to leave a church, this post is much bigger than that. I want to speak to our western world view and how it plays into our actions within the church and as a body of believers.

Take that phrase, “body of believers,” and think on it.

Paul refers to the “body” often in his various epistles. But can we understand what he means? Is our frame of reference able to comprehend the gravity of that word?

Living in a Constitutional Republic, each of us is accustomed to knowing and exercising our rights. Even those ignorant of the Constitutional specifics know that they have rights. Those rights don’t belong to certain groups, but to the people. They are individual rights that each member of society is capable of exercising without seeking permission or blessing. And while this has been a political blessing, it has also served as a spiritual curse.

As a result, we feel entitled even in the church setting to seek comfort, to go after what pleases us, and to find our own happiness. Just think of how many times you’ve heard the phrase, “How can I grow in Christ” compared with the phrase, “How can we grow together in Christ.” Sadly, church has become an individual exercise of weekly attendance. Where is submission? Where is sacrifice? Where are the shared burdens?

To make matters worse we use or freedom to avoid growth.

Too often, as members of the church we take offense, and instead of confronting our brother, we simply move on to another congregation. Instead of letting these kind of conflicts lead to stronger bonds of brotherhood and friendship, we seek the immediate comfort of avoidance. But in doing such you haven’t solved a problem, you have merely carried your own problem to another church- where it is destined to arise again at some point.

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When we hope we look forward to something with confidence or expectation of its attainment[1] Something that is hoped for is almost never a negative or bad thing, but something that will in some way enrich our lives; Captives hope for freedom, drunk men for libations, poor men for some cash, and weak men for power. There is not a man who lives without some hope- for once hope has departed life soon follows. It is what men hope in that defines them, and is the measure of their desires and character.

When Simeon of Antioch the stylite (388-459) stood upon a pillar twenty meters high and two meters wide for thirty-six years with very little sitting or lying down- preferring to bind himself to a pole so he could sleep standing- he certainly had an incredible amount of hope in something.[2] Then saint Simeon Stylites the younger (521-597) came along and sat upon a similar pillar for almost twice as long- sixty-eight years.[3] These men are two examples out of many men and women who devoted (although I would argue in a flawed interpretation of Christ’s commands) their life to God in the best way they knew- and should elicit some degree of respect for their resolve. If only modern Christians had the same resolve of these men to stand by their convictions with strength.

Would a modern Christian submit himself to such severe deprivation for the sake of his Lord? Would a modern Christian deny himself the pleasures of the world? I said earlier these men were flawed in their thoughts, I say such because they separated themselves from the world entirely- living apart the anchorite lifestyle. Yet, to endure such deprivation, such pain, such discomfort (imagine the blazing Arabian sun in Syria burning down directly on you for thirty-six years) was a task that could not be completed without a sure and certain hope. A hope that transcended the flesh and it’s base desires.

Now, over 1,600 years later, what is our hope? Where is the evidence of our hope in God, in Christ, and in God’s word? It is easily understood how we could not endure the life of a anchorite or stylite, but how much discomfort would we endure for Christ? Would you be willing to lose your family?[4] Would you be willing to be hated by the world for the sake of Christ?[5] Would you be willing to endure imprisonment?[6] Would you be willing to die for Him?[7]

We must all answer these question for ourselves. But as best I can guess, many believers will turn away due to the hardship. For today few in our nation suffer imprisonment, torture, abandonment, or death for their Lord- as believers in other parts of the world currently endure courageously. Could we as believers in America endure as much? I doubt it.

I doubt because so many of us are already too concerned with the way the world, our neighbors, and the media view us that we compromise scripture to avoid being stereotyped as a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian. We avoid confrontation on those parts of our beliefs and scripture that we are unable to defend, conceding ourselves into a more limited form of Christianity. A Christianity that isn’t defined by God or His word, but by man and his views- or his scorn of us as believers.

But why lay our trust and hope in men? Why value their opinions above those of the Lord? The great apostle writes, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”[8] As believers we are admonished to, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”[9] But are all our thoughts obedient to Christ? Or have we adopted the wisdom of the world because we are ashamed of our perceived foolishness?

There is a simple equation that explains why we should not trust secular men to dictate our views as Christians. That equation is: No God = No Hope. If our secular friends win in persisting us they are right, if there is no God of the creation, no redeeming death of Christ from the fall, and no judgment and eternal life for the believer- then there is no hope. Men great enough to build pyramids currently slumber in museums and under the ancient sands of the Egyptian deserts, but their power, wealth, and privilege mean nothing to their rotting (or preserved) bodies. They know no thought, no judgment, no pain- only a constant void of existence. A similar fate finds kings and jesters, CEO’s and janitors, doctors and carneys.

We are free to hope in man all we want, but in man we will always find death. For even should man discover how to live 200, 1000, or even 10,000 more years he would still ultimately find the cold visage of death awaits him at the end of his journey. We will all discover at the final judgment that death is the result of sin and its entrance into our world. For as Paul writes that by one man sin entered this world, so by one man (Christ) we will be freed from sin.[10]

So we should never be ashamed to espouse our full and unfettered faith to friends, family, and strangers.[11, 12] For Christ is not ashamed of us when He stands before the Father to present our case as our great defender.[13] For when through a fear of shame before man we compromise our hope and faith in Christ and His creation- we show the world we respect them more than we do our own Lord. What image does that give unbelievers of our church, our faith, and our certainty in salvation?

This mornings news featured Republican Senator John Warner’s condemnation of the remarks made by General Pace regarding homosexuals. For a brief refresher, here are General Pace’s comments:

“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts…. I do not believe that the armed forces are well served by saying through our policies that it’s OK to be immoral in any way, not just with regards to homosexual acts, So from that standpoint, saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity[.]” [1]

Senator Warner responded with the following comments:

“I strongly disagree with the chairman’s views that homosexuality is immoral.” [2]

So the context of the conversation begins broadly enough- it pertains to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of our military. Within this discussion, Gen. Pace mentions that he thinks homosexual sex (and adultery) are immoral activities.

Now, Senator Warner did not respond (at least on the record) to Gen. Pace’s comments by arguing that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a bad policy regardless of whether or not homosexuality is immoral (a credible point). Instead Sen. Warner’s comments ignored the main issue (the DADT policy) and focused on the claim that homosexual acts are NOT immoral.

Now, this position does not appear to be an individual creation. It should come as no surprise that Sen. Warner claims to be an Episcopalian– a denomination that recently gave up the long standing (biblical) Christian doctrine that homosexuality is immoral, and now supports homosexual marriages.

How has the church served Sen. Warner if it has taught him that homosexual sex is not immoral? What other false doctrines has he heard seated in the pew at his local Episcopalian church?

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Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Hollow, a silhouette, symbolic, vain, and social. These are all words that could well describe our Christian faith in the West (and the U.S. specifically). I came across this story today on-line:

“Woodrow Kroll of Back to the Bible says a new survey shows biblical illiteracy is one of the biggest problems facing the Church in America. According to the Christian ministry president, research shows that the average American owns three copies of the Bible, but doesn’t read any of them.” [1]

Not convinced we have a problem on our hands? Read this:

“[T]wo-thirds of Americans believe that the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life’s basic questions. Yet, only half of the adults in this country can name one of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and most Americans do not know the first book in the Bible (Genesis).” [2]

Three bibles. Many can’t even name the four gospels or the first book of the Bible- unbelievable. While people all around the world thirst (and bear beatings, torture, and murder to receive God’s word) we have an abundance of Bibles and show little to no interest in reading them. Much less do we seem interested in living a biblical and Christ centered lifestyle.

Earlier I described our belief in this country as hollow, a silhouette, symbolic, vain, and social. And in this day it has become as much for many believers who not only sit in pews, but those who hold positions within the church. I am not qualified to judge people individually on this ground, that is something each of us must do introspectively and retrospectively guided by God’s word and thoughtful prayer.

That being said, I would like to present what might be the single most common reason why our beliefs have become hollow, symbolic, and vain in many instances.

Compromise– We are quick to avoid confrontation, like Peter following Christ (after his arrest) to the home of the High Priest. But instead of outright denying any knowledge of Christ (like Peter) we simply deny the biblical Christ in favor of a Christ more friendly to the world (and the true Bible in favor of a worldly scripture). There are many reasons for this compromise: avoiding confrontation, a lack of knowledge, seeking worldly acceptance, rationalization that a more PC Christ will draw more people to the Church, etc.

Whatever our reasons, all too often we compromise Christ or His word in order live an easier life- a life free from serious disputes with the world around us. I can tell you from experience that a life of uncompromising acceptance of the scriptures isn’t easy. It is downright hard. The world will call you foolish and stupid, many will hate you for what you believe. It won’t be an easy road.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:20-22.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19.

Now I would ask you to look to your own life. Where have you compromised? Do you retreat in horror when the topic of evolution and creationism rears it head? Do you remain silent when the issue of homosexuality within the church is a part of the conversation? Do you quietly abide while others talk about the many paths that lead to God? Did you do any of these things because a thorough search of scripture convinced you they were correct, or did you do these things because you felt uncomfortable (or simply wanted the world to be more comfortable with you).

I can tell you that such a look into your own heart is profitable and beneficial to your walk. How do I know? I was a compromising Christian at one point in my life. My own problem wasn’t a lack of knowledge, but a fear of being ridiculed by my peers and mentors in the academic world.

“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:25-26.

If Christ expects me to die for my beliefs, how can I be so weak as to compromise them just to gain acceptance? If believers around the world are willing to die for Christ, why can’t I simply endure the scorn of my peers?

After all this inward searching, I learned that Jesus was right when He said, “if you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” I compromised Christ so much that the world accepted and loved me, and in the process I lost my love for Christ. The world was glad to accept me as long as I embraced it’s desires and repudiated those aspects of Christianity that it found offensive. But when I changed, when I embraced Christ fully, I found my reception was much different. Threats, slurs, and intimidation are but a few of the responses of this world those who won’t compromise their firm faith in Christ.

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 10:22.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 24:12-13.

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

“[I]t is by faith you stand firm.” 2 Corinthians 1:24.

Love Christ because of what He has done, love Him for who he is, or love him because He first loved you. Whatever the reason, know why you believe what you believe. And be ready to respond to those who question your faith.