RESPONSE TO PROPHESIED LAST DAYS PERSECUTION

Juan Riesco and his brother, Jose, were heirs to a flourishing family business — Nini’s Deli — in downtown Chicago. But it all came crashing down in early June, when the beloved eatery, owned by their foreign-born parents, found itself in the crosshairs of the increasingly progressive Black Lives Matter movement.

Having since left Chicago in the wake of the restaurant’s forced, permanent closure, Riesco told Faithwire he and his brother are focusing on ministry.

If they’re gonna protest,” he said, “we’re gonna preach.

Riesco, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba and Mexico, was once lauded by numerous publications as an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a knack for viral branding. He had enjoyed so much success with the deli and his personal business, Chicago Native, that brands like Nike and Adidas launched collaborations with him. But when Riesco refused to wholly endorse the official Black Lives Matter movement, he and his family were made villains on blogs and news outlets, many of which labeled them as “racist” and “homophobic.”

Photo of Nini's Deli - Chicago, IL, United States. Nini's!
NINI’S DELI BEFORE CLOSURE
Photo of Nini's Deli - Chicago, IL, United States. If there's a line.. must be good and worth waiting for
NINI’S DELI BEFORE CLOSURE WITH FIVE STAR RATING ON YELP
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NINI’S DELI AFTER CLOSURE
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Rather than kowtow to the demands of a movement with which they harbor many disagreements, the Riescos stood firmly by their convictions. In early June, after being asked if they “believe Black Lives Matter,” Riesco published an official statement on the deli’s since-shuttered Instagram account. In it, he wrote he and his family believe “all people were created equal in the image of God.” The lengthy statement continued, “We believe that all black lives matter and we know that only God can bring about justice that is deserved.”

Riesco told Faithwire that, because of the success of Nini’s Deli, which had a five star rating on Yelp, locals were eager to see the restaurant throw its weight behind the Black Lives Matter campaign. Rather than totally embrace the movement, though, Riesco said it was important to use his platform to share his faith.

“I had felt in my spirit that I needed to, yes, take a stand [against] injustice, but also take a stand, most importantly, for Christ,” Riesco explained. “Because my business was so successful, by God’s grace, we had a lot of eyes waiting on us to make a statement about what was happening.”

“We used that platform — all those eyes on us, waiting to make a statement — to say, ‘We believe black lives matter, but we believe that because they’re made in the image of God,” he added.

However, by distancing themselves from the overarching Black Lives Matter movement, as other Christians have done, the Riescos drew the ire of many progressive protesters. After posting a statement to the restaurant’s Instagram handle on June 3, Riesco said “all hell essentially broke loose.

The Christian entrepreneur recalled receiving an onslaught of threats and promises to protest his family’s restaurant as a result of his statement on racial injustice. On Friday, June 5, just two days after the initial post to Instagram, Nini’s Deli shut down permanently as liberal protesters descended on the once-popular eatery.

Tensions only rose when Riesco’s brother Jose began brashly preaching during the raucous protest outside the deli, calling out many of the protesters for their “wicked agenda.” With his at times confrontational style, he talked about how his brother once identified as gay but “Jesus fixed him, straightened him

He also spoke out against the Black Lives Matter campaign’s affiliations with Planned Parenthood, the LGBT movement, and calls to defund the police.

Ultimately, the social pressure proved to be too much: the constant protests, the endless stream of social media posts slandering the restaurant, and the cancelled partnerships with big-name brands resulted in Nini’s Deli having to permanently closed its doors after a decade of business.

The pain of what they’ve lost remains fresh. Through tears, Riesco said he and his family “poured our hearts into loving our community, despite gender, despite sex, despite whatever you want to identify as.”

Nevertheless, even though the family company is gone, the Riesco brothers — both of whom became Christians at the deli — said they are “blessed.”

I was just sharing with our team yesterday that my circumstances have changed, but my identity in whom I trust hasn’t,” Riesco said, adding he is still in “a position of gratitude toward our God.”

Moving forward, Juan and Jose Riesco plan to dedicate themselves to ministry.

WILL YOU ENDURE PERSECUTION DURING THE COMING TRIBULATION

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 is likely one of the most misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood passages within the New Testament. Suffice it to say, it is not about how one can literally do anything you put your mind to simply because you are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships of life. The passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation has more validity due to the previous verses:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, a suffering brought on through no fault of their own.

Brutal execution of 11 blindfolded Christians in Nigeria, the day after Christmas

The thing that is rather sad about focusing on both the ability to do “all things” and “contentment” is that we don’t focus properly on the message of Paul, which is Christ Himself. Not only does emphasizing the “all things” profoundly miss the point of the passage, but it just doesn’t stand the test of basic logic. It isn’t even an adequate application of this passage, because all things” to Paul here has a specific context, and that context is enduring through suffering for the prize gained through the glorious gospel of our Lord. Even more clearly, they stand to be glorified with Christ, as they too share in His sufferings. Yet equally as sad, though perhaps in a less heinous way, is the focus on learning contentment that is often also presented as the point of this passage. Again, it must be restated: contentment is the fruit, not the root. The root is Jesus Christ

A rather large focus in Philippians surrounds the idea that the knowledge of Christ and His great work is the means by which the Christian is able to endure persecution. What that means is that a true knowledge of Christ leads to us seeing Him as greater than everything else—even our suffering. A true knowledge of Christ will produce in us the heart attitude that believes all else is to be considered as loss, and that to live is Christ. The one who sees Christ as the preeminent One will actually remain stable in the midst of either incredible prosperity or incredible duress, because their eyes are fixated on the risen Christ Himself (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are not lured away to treasure or trust in wealth, yet neither are they acting as if the sky is falling in the midst of even the most horrendous of circumstances. They are able to say with Paul that they may be, “…hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because it is invariably through weakness that the Lord is pleased to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are content, yet their contentment is born exclusively out of seeing that their light and momentary” afflictions produces an eternal glory, which is the hope of the resurrection that the gospel of Christ brings (2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10).

Taken from article by Grayson Gilbert (Patheos) “Philippians 4:13 is not about your life goals”. Grayson completed his Masters of Divinity degree at Moody Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing church planting under the umbrella of his home church.

CHURCHES UNDER PERSECUTION

What will churches do as persecution intensifies exactly as prophesied in God’s Word? Sadly, we already know, the majority will compromise with the world and its values. Most of the major denominational churches have already accepted homosexuality, transgender and gay marriage.

We can learn from the past; during the days of Nazi Germany there arose a Confessing Church Movement that separated from the churches that became the religious arm of the Fascist Nazi socialist movement. Of the 18,000 pastors in Germany during that time (1933- 1945) less than 5,000 were aligned with the Confessing Church which came under intense persecution.

Hence, only a remnant held fast to the biblical position, with most of the churches conforming due to political and societal pressure. Unfortunately, this demonstrates that when push comes to shove, a large percentage of pastors, churches and so-called Christians will bow to pressure and allow the norms of culture to become their credo for Christianity.

Hitler said, “You can do anything you want with pastors, they will submit. They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs and they will sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them” (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas, 180). This sounds like some of the contemporary pastors in Western culture who always acquiesce to cultural “group think.”

We see this in churches in the USA, my own country Australia, and beyond. With the accelerated pace of the attack on religious liberty today, there will develop a great divide in the church between confessing churches and compromising churches similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. This will not be a divide based on denominational affiliation but based on the degree of loyalty to biblical fidelity. It is sad but true that more and more so called Christians will compromise core biblical values and standards rather than be stigmatized or persecuted and lose influence in society.

Fulfilled prophecies are proof the Bible is the inspired Word of God

In John 12:42-43 we see that many contemporaries of Jesus believed in Him but would not confess Him because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.John 12:42-34

CHRISTIANS: YOUR WORLD VIEW IS EVIL AND BIGOTED

In the USA they, as a society (Supreme Court), have now said as a matter of law that to hold beliefs about marriage and gender and human sexuality that are consistent with the Bible is discrimination, that it’s hateful and bigoted.

Now, society might give some of those hateful religious people an exception because their Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act tell them that they have to do that. But, when you think about the political and cultural trajectory of the USA, how long do you suppose that the religious liberty exception is going to last when everybody thinks that this is a bigoted and evil view?

We should not be surprised, Jesus told us beforehand.

Jesus told His disciples “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Matthew 10:22a but also “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22b

Thankfully, there are many prophecies warning us of escalating tribulation in the seven years preceding His Second Coming. World events indicate we are approaching that last seven years but IMO we are not there yet.

PROPHESIED “END TIMES” PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

Spiked Online Editor, Brendan O’Neill says the fallout from the death of George Floyd has transcended into “a kind of explosion of political correctness” in Britain.

“There is a politically correct mob running around the country who are expressing all sorts of dangerous, backward, strange ideas.” He said protesters who are now smashing statues “looked to me like the woke-Taliban”. “This idea that we must cleanse the public sphere of every bad person, every bad idea, every bad way way of thinking”. “I think that’s incredibly intolerant, it’s not progressive and it certainly has nothing to do with the awful killing of George Floyd”

Because “racism” is the rationale of the Woke Taliban’s lawlessness and those who applaud and defend them, then nothing is safe from this lawlessness. Any monument to our Founding Fathers is eventually doomed to these mobs and vandals  . . . and then they will come for the Christian Church — a Church the media and left have spent decades smearing as racist and homophobic.

A statue of a man lies on the ground surrounded by protesters

Those Christians who know that persecution is coming and that we will not be “raptured out of here before the bad things begin” are not fretting over this. We expect this and thus our posture is one of soberness and humbleness to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ.

The temptation to apostatise is real. The majority of the Evangelical church is folding like dominoes at this time. But you brother and sister stand firm and have endurance to weather the spiritual storm that is upon us and will only continue. The world hates us, but only because they hate Jesus. It will be difficult to endure, as there will be no recourse, except for the ultimate reward of Jesus that awaits us.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATES IN LAST DAYS

Over 4,000 people were killed in Islamic extremist attacks in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali in 2019, according to the U.N.’s envoy for West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Since 2016, extremist groups including the Islamic State West Africa Province and Ansaroul Islam have carried out attacks throughout the Sahel region of West Africa. But attacks increased fivefold in 2019 — deaths rose from 80 in 2016 to 1,800 in 2019.

A Nigerian organisation claims that more than 350 Christians have been killed across the West African country since the start of 2020 and estimates that about 11,500 Christians have been killed since 2015.  “Nigeria has become a killing field of defenceless Christians,” the non-governmental organisation, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, said in a new special report.”

IS and al-Qaeda's JNIM are both active in the Sahel region where they compete for power
IS and al-Qaeda’s JNIM are both active in the Sahel region where they compete for power

Jihadist violence has now spread from the country’s north to the western Boucle du Mouhoun region where rice and maize are produced and transported to other areas, resulting in a food shortages and might cut off food for millions more in the region, according to the Associated Press.

It is feared that the COVID-19 pandemic might exacerbate the situation at a time when 2 million people in the country are already facing food insecurity.

“If production goes down in this area and if movement restrictions due to the coronavirus drive up food prices in the markets, it could push numbers of severely vulnerable people to double or triple,” Julia Wanjiru, communications coordinator for the Sahel and West Africa Club, an intergovernmental economic group, was quoted as saying.

According to the U.N., the number of people displaced in Burkina Faso rose 1,200 percent in 2019. There are about 600,000 internally displaced people in the country as it is becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises. 

Authorities in the Borno state of Nigeria said Wednesday that at least 81 people were killed in an attack on a nomadic community believed to have been carried out by militants aligned with the Islamic extremist groups Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa Province. 

Signs of the End of the Age

Jesus said, “And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Luke 13:7-8

PROPHESIED END TIMES INCREASED PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS EVIDENT NOW

While Samaritan’s Purse has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients at its field hospital in Central Park, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson demanded that the Christian charity leave the city over its biblical views on homosexuality.

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“It is time for Samaritan’s Purse to leave New York City. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed,” Johnson wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman (openly gay member of the State Senate), who represents the district where Beth Israel is located said in a press release Friday: “It was bad enough that Donald Trump’s failure to prepare the nation for this pandemic forced New York to accept charity from a bigot like Franklin Graham. Inviting Graham to stay on longer is an insult to LGBTQ New Yorkers and sends the dangerous message that homophobia and transphobia are acceptable.”

Hoylman said. “On behalf of the LGBTQ community I represent, I demand they end their association with Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse, or risk further reputational harm with LGBTQ New Yorkers and the wider public.”

Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, responded to Johnson’s tweets and argued that Christians are the ones being discriminated against.

“This open hostility to Christianity is breathtaking. Christians have always believed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that all sexual relations outside marriage are by definition immoral, It’s not a particularly popular point of view in the secular West, but it is what all faithful Christians everywhere throughout the 2,000-year history of the church have always believed. This is nothing new.

“What is new is the notion that real live Christians are unwelcome to live and work and practice their faith in New York. That is an innovation of recent vintage and is nothing more than unvarnished animus—invidious discrimination. If Christians are not allowed to practice their faith in NYC, rest assured that it is only a matter of time before they won’t be allowed to practice it anywhere in the U.S.”

REASONS WHY JESUS IS COMING BACK SOON

ABORTION LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN 2019 AT 42 MILLION

Abortion was the leading cause of death worldwide last year, with termination procedures accounting for some 42 million losses of life.  The latest figure was highlighted by renowned stats website “Worldometers” which keeps a tally of many different world statistics in a live format.  The specific abortion number is based on the most recent figures published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This abomination is just one of the reasons why God could decide it is time for His Son to return and rule with a rod of iron. His Word reveals that lawlessness will abound in the “last days”. Jesus said the “end times” will be just like the days of Noah when mankind was so wicked that God destroyed all but eight people with a worldwide flood. Many other prophetic “end times” signs are coming to pass, the big one was the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948. God has miraculously preserved it despite repeated attempts by its hostile neighbours to annihilate Israel from the map. Jesus also said pestilences, plagues, famines, and so called natural disasters will be more evident in the “end times” and it is hard not to see the evidence of those events unfolding across the world.

Are you living with an end times focus now? Are you preparing for the coming persecution of Christians that hold to the word of God and His values? Are you ready for Jesus return when He will rule and reign on this earth for 1000 years?

GOD AT WORK 2

More and more Christians are realising the need to warn the church of the coming increased persecution of Jews and Christians as we approach the prophesied “end times” tribulation and then great tribulation prior to Jesus return.

My brother in Christ, Futon Sheen in his recent Newsletter, Coronavirus Reality v Perception & World Markets said the following:

“These are all shakings which scripture has clearly articulated would happen as the time of Christ’s return draws near. As Christians grounded in scripture, we should understand and expect this and not be anxious or fearful.  That is not the case for unbelievers and governments which follow their own hearts and put their faith in themselves and the external world which surrounds them, they have much to fear. Hosea 4:6 says, My people are destroyed for lack of understanding, and people fear what they don’t understand. Over 350 times scripture says “do not fear,” as fear is the opposite of faith, but it is the automatic default of the flesh when something suddenly interrupts our expectations of what we think should be happening. This is why social media, news media, governments, markets and individuals tend to overreact to whatever is going on around them.

The times described in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13, which Jesus said would come, are upon us and God is shaking everything that can be shaken. We need to do what these passages tell us, which is to be watchful and prepared, so that we won’t be caught off guard, fearful, confused, or manipulated by the circumstances and situations swirling around us. We need to pray for eyes that see, ears that hear and a mind that comprehends what’s going on in the spiritual realm, so we can wisely, peacefully and methodically walk out what Jesus tells us to do.

DIVINE DESIGN: PHYSICAL, SOCIAL AND SPIRITUAL

There is physical order in the cosmos; there is also social order, and spiritual order. In the beginning, Genesis teaches us, God not only made matter, he made order. In creating the cosmos ex nihilo, He ordered it–that is, He gave it form, structure, coherence, beauty and symmetry. 

Order is not incidental to Christian doctrine; order is central. God is the maker and ruler of all things; the creation is distinct from him, yet exists by the super-sustenance of his Son (Colossians 1:17); the world in which we dwell is not characterized in fundamental terms by randomness and disorder, but by divine design.

All this matters greatly for our understanding of men and women, those who are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The man is created first in the Old Testament, and possesses what the New Testament will call headship over his wife. Adam is constituted the leader of his home; he is given authority in it, authority that is shaped in a Christlike way as the biblical story unfolds. According to the apostle Paul, a godly husband does not lord his role over his wife, but rather sees his headship in cruciform terms. He dies to himself over and over in order to love his wife and children well (Ephesians 5:22-33). This does not mean that he fails to exercise actual on-the-ground leadership or make decisions; it means that he constantly seeks to shepherd his wife and family so that they will flourish in Christ. On the basis of a man’s domestic leadership, men are called to provide spiritual leadership and protection of the church (1 Timothy 2:9-15). Elders preach, teach, and shepherd the flock of God; only men are called to the office of elder, and only men who excel as heads of their wives and children are to be considered as possible candidates for eldership (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

It is right for men to lead their homes, and put their lives on the line when their family members are endangered, and work hard to be the financial pillar of their loved ones. It is right for women to be distinctively feminine, bear and raise children as God allows, submit to and support their husbands per 1 Peter 3, and serve their churches in ways that use their gifts. Living out these realities is good and glorious, and shows us the beauty of the Christian worldview over against secular conceptions of the sexes.

The teaching of evolution in our schools and universities as fact has totally undermined the Biblical view of the history of our planet. A planet created by a loving God, initially perfect, without sin and death. It had the potential for sin and death but only if man disobeyed God. Sadly, Adam and Eve who were made in the image of God were deceived by Satan, a created angelic being that had already rebelled against our Creator God. Satan had wanted to be God. He convinced Eve that she could be like God, knowing good and evil, if she ate of the fruit God had commanded Adam not to eat on pain of death. As a result, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden so they could no longer eat of the Tree of Life and live forever.

Only from the Bible do we know that the origin of sin, pain, suffering and death in the world is a result of man’s disobedience. Fortunately, it reveals a loving God has provided a way back into a right relationship with Him. The penalty for our disobedience was death and it has been paid for by God’s own son, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. If we repent, are baptised (die to self, alive in Christ) God the Father sends the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to indwell every believer, to do what we can’t do for ourselves, He will start the sanctification process to make us like Christ. As we allow Him to direct our will, He produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. He also provides the gifts of the spirit for ministry to believers and unbelievers.

God’s Word, The Bible, reveals the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end of the story for this world. Its many prophecies reveal the future of nations, particularly the nation God established for His purposes, Israel. It reveals the time we are in right now, with a great falling away from God and Biblical truth (apostasy), a time of tribulation for Christians leading up to even great tribulation before Jesus returns to conquer the nations and rule and reign for one thousand years from Jerusalem.