Posts Tagged ‘christian persecution’

We ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God… 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Stop Praying?

Well not entirely.

I simply want to draw attention to our need to stop asking God to release us from things that He may have allowed to happen. These seemingly negative events could be evidence of His righteous judgment that counts us worthy and simultaneously brings Him mountains of glory. Consider that these trials could be confirmation from God Himself that we are obediently in His will (assuming the persecutions and tribulations that occurred were because we were operating in the Holy Spirit and were not the consequences of working in our flesh). I submit to you that suffering while in the Spirit is yet another proof you are in Christ and He is in you.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

That’s something to rejoice about, but wait, there’s more! As we face these trials, God is with us. In fact, it is in these situations He chooses to mold and refine us. This Bible passage gives illumination:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 

Patience? Perfection? Completion? Without Lack?

Why in Heaven’s name would anyone desire to pray against those things? I am not aaproposing a Christian go looking for trouble ———->(Heaven forbid), but when trouble has found us we need to recognize it for the God-ordained refining process that it is. While all believers delight in mountain-top experiences, obedient Christians know that the real fruit of our faith grows in these valleys of tribulation.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)


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Do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man — Proverbs 3:1-4

There is no sense in rehashing all that’s been said regarding the Duck philDynasty, Phil Robertson, and A&E debate. If by some chance you don’t know what the fuss is all about, just Google the last half of the previous sentence and you’ll be up to date. What I wanted to address is how this event is going to effect your faith walk. In other words, what can we as followers of Jesus Christ glean from our brother Phil? I believe the answer to that question is found in the following sentence, spoken by Phil Robertson in a recent prayer.

“I will not give or back off from my path because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions.” 

I’d like to share with you what I took away from this historical event (yes, I said historical) and of course, preface my remarks (as Phil did), with the Word of God.


Since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech — 2 Corinthians 3:12

Anyone can be bold. Boldness is a unique trait in that it requires fuel to function. What is fueling your boldness? Is it arrogance, anger, or hatred? They can fuel boldness, but when they do they manifest themselves in ugly ways, such as ‘Westboro Baptist‘ rallies that only succeed in spewing the very things that sustain them: arrogance, anger, and hatred.

Not so with Phil’s example. His boldness is fueled by his hope in Christ. Oh not a worldly version of hope; the wishing for and yearning, without certainty or assurance of getting that which you ‘hoped’ for. No, a Christian’s hope is much different. It can be described as a strong and confident expectation. We know, based on the past performance of our Lord and Savior, that He will faithfully provide everything He has promised. Jesus isn’t our insurance policy, He’s our assurance, positively.


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes — Romans 1:16

Phil is quite obviously not ashamed of Jesus Christ or his faith. This is apparent because he openly shares about Jesus on a regular basis. There are no apologies either, because there is this recognition that when Biblical truth is shared, there exists the opportunity for salvation. Phil would likely remind us that saving a man’s soul trumps everything else.


Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth — John 17:17

Bible truth will always be perfect, proper, and pure. Some folks might not agree that the Bible is truth, but that does not negate the fact that it is. Jesus said that He is truth and that obedience to truth is the only way that leads to life everlasting. When Christians share the truth, we don’t do so to win debates, but to win souls. For this reason we must leave our opinions at home and rely solely on the Word of God, lest we muddy the waters.


For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith — Romans 12:3

Obedient Christianity cannot operate effectively in arrogance. Anyone who took Phil’s comments to be arrogant surely took them out of the context of love and lowliness he presented them.  For this reason, knowing the Gospel message and sharing our testimonies are vital. The Word mirrors God’s love and our witness reflects servility.


Let all that you do be done in love — 1 Corinthians 16:14

If we hated those who hate Jesus, Christians would remain quiet, but it’s because we love that we boldly share the truth. We view communication as an expression of love and silence as the language of hate. Silence is also cowardly; if we hated sinners, we would not subject ourselves to ridicule, insults, and exclusion. We love because Jesus first loved us to salvation; we were hopelessly lost when Jesus reached out His scarred hand to us. We were dead in our sins and Christ’s work on the cross revived us. It’s our desire to share, not shatter.


If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land — 2 Chronicles 7:14

Here’s the sad truth: the Body of Jesus Christ, His church, has by in large fallen asleep. Don’t get me wrong, there are thousands of Christians across this great land of ours who are boldly, shamelessly, lovingly, and humbly sharing the Gospel message. But friends, there are literally millions of people in America who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who sit idly by. In love, I question their allegiance.

Consider that on September 11th, many souls were aroused and we gathered in the public square professing Christ’s name, crying out to Jesus in our anguish, but we soon relapsed. Since then we have witnessed hurricanes, wars, mass-shootings, and bombings that have brought us back to our knees, but again, when there were signs of recovery, we fell back.

We properly rallied around Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, buying many knickknacks and chicken sandwiches in support, but yet again we slumbered. Now today, God has allowed yet another event to occur that has caught our attention. In peculiar fashion, American Christians everywhere have become part of reality TV when we opted to stand with Phil Robertson and his right to speak openly about Jesus Christ and all things Biblical, but where will we be standing next week?

Are we poised to fall away once again or this time will we put a death-grip on our revival? Will we embrace boldness and love or return to complacency and compromise? How soon will we forget that thousands of souls are being lost everyday and that God has positioned each of us to make a difference. I submit to you that this is the biggest thing we can take away from the Duck master episode.

Be ye revived!

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

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“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29)

It’s been estimated that since Christ’s time on earth, 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith. Recent statistics reveal that over 100,000 Christians are killed each year. Their crime: faith in Jesus Christ. Some reports say that annual number is closer to 160,000 deaths per year! As for general Christian persecution not necessarily leading to death, it is estimated that currently over 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide. That’s 200 million Christians who are routinely subjected to oppression, humiliation, jail, beatings and/or torture.

Again, that’s 200 million!

How should we respond?

I don’t know about you, but I very often feel helpless. My attention has been drawn to the reports of American Christians, arrested in foreign lands. Names like Saeed Abedini, Kenneth BaeMaryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh have made our recent headlines, thanks primarily to a select few media sources, such as Fox News.

Why would God allow this to continue?

The answer to that question has too many facets for us to count. In a sad way (and in one small SaeedAbediniaspect), I see these arrests and the media attention they are receiving, as a good thing, in that the eye’s of American Christians are being opened to the horror. Is this a tiny portion of God’s plan? It very well could be, although I would not be dogmatic about it. The reality is that many of us have heard the outrageous statistics, but at the end of the day they are just numbers on a piece of paper and we do nothing. So in a sense, Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae have become the face for Christian persecution — essentially they are the poster boys for the 200 million tyrannized Christ-followers, worldwide.

Now that you know, what will you do?

I submit to you that God has a purpose for each of us in this, and that the directive behind the purpose is unveiled, at least in part, in these two Bible passages:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

To simplify…

Pray and  Obey

As a first response to any situation, prayer is our course of action. Frankly, it is the best thing we can do. God, through prayer, does many incredible things, but the fact that God changes us when we pray could perhaps be the most significant factor. Don’t believe God changes us? Then try praying sincerely for your enemies or for the needy or praying thanksgiving over the blessings you already have, and watch how God changes you. The truth of the matter is that in our earnest prayers, God reveals the next step we are to take. It might be a baby step or it might be a grand leap, but whatever it is, He shares the maneuver with us. In contrast, if we do not pray, we probably will not hear.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

We need to know that our prayer, at least as it pertains to how God wants to change us, is often rendered powerless, unless it is our intention to obey whatever we learn from God in those prayers. In actuality, we might want to include that talking-point in our prayer, for as we know it is not an uncommon thing for our Spirit to be willing, but our flesh to be weak. It has been my experience that if the Lord detects any insincerity in this regard, He likely guides us to address our submission issues, while putting the other items we presented on hold. Not always, but remember, our Father is a God of order, not chaos.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)


What God says to you may not be the same thing He says to me. It could be, but I believe the Father takes our individual needs into account, in order that the changes He makes in us are most appropriate for us. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Let us also keep in mind that these changes in us are for His glory, not ours.

For example, when I began to pray for the persecuted church, God’s initial response to me was that these prayers needed to be an everyday, consistent practice of mine. The Lord then moved me to share the dire situation with others so they would pray. I’ve got to be honest with you — I was waiting for God to say to join some cause, or financially support some persecution ministry, such as Voice of the Martyrs. He still might! I am willing, but that’s not the direction God is nudging me, today.

One substantial thing He has led me to do is to exercise my liberty as a US citizen — to share the Gospel more boldly and passionately. It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that God would not have reached me with this change He desired to make, unless I had been praying for the persecuted church and the likes of Pastor Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae. All that is to say, God is faithful.

I don’t know firsthand what the Lord is doing on behalf of Saeed and Kenneth, and the millions of nameless Christians whose plight we bring before the throne each day, but I know God’s way is the best way and that He will get His glory in each situation. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to pray for the persecuted church and  all things, with an attitude of submission to God’s will.

Expect to hear from the Lord and be prepared to obey.

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