CHRISTIANS MURDERED FOR FAITH ROSE 60% IN 2020

The watchdog organization Open Doors USA says levels of Christian persecution are at a record high around the world, revealing that the number of Christians murdered for their faith rose 60 percent in 2020. Biblical prophecy of the end times prior to Jesus return predicts increased persecution of this magnitude along with pestilences, famine and increased earthquakes in “divers” places. All of which are taking place in our time.

Open Doors announced the 2021 World Watch List this week, ranking the top 50 countries where it is the most dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Their latest data indicates one-in-eight Christians now suffer for their religious beliefs worldwide. 

In a broadcast carried on CBN News YouTube, Open Doors USA’s CEO David Curry said, “A shocking number this year is that 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination.” The top 10 countries on the World Watch List include North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. “The big surprise on the World Watch List 2021 is that extremists and governments are using COVID-19 as a justification to increase persecution against Christians and we see this in several places,” Curry told CBN News. 

“In India, where local governments are using pressure on Christians to withhold food and medical care – over 115,000 incidents of this that we can document,” explained Curry.  “It’s also extremists like in northern Nigeria.  Boko Haram which is attacking Christian villages, knowing that there is nowhere for them to go and they’re taking food and medical supplies. We’ve documented this.  This is happening more and more and that’s on top of the other incidents of persecution. So, there’s this level of intensity that’s been added to because of COVID.”

Curry explained, “There’s 100 million Christians right now in China, and they (the regime) are using their technology to surveil the church. They’re watching their every move. They’re seeing when they go into church. They’re using facial recognition. They’re looking at their searches online. They have a massive surveillance system which is monitoring religious practice in China and it is absolutely chilling, and I think it poses the greatest threat to human rights.” Also, according to the report, extremist attacks spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond. In Nigeria alone, 10 Christians a day are murdered on average due to their religious beliefs. 

US RECOGNISES JERUSALEM’S LINK TO AMERICA’S FOUNDING VALUES

In a special ceremony in the City of David, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman dedicates a plaque commemorating the bond between Israel and the United States.

‘Prophetic Messages of Freedom’: US recognizes Jerusalem’s link to America’s founding values
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (l) and chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad Paul Packer (second from right) at a ceremony in the City of David, Jan. 18, 2021. (U.S. embassy in Israel)

Friedman said that he hoped that the plaque would prompt all those who read it to think of the Judeo-Christian values upon which America was founded and “how those values were inspired by ancient Jerusalem and its inhabitants.”

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, along with the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, held a special ceremony at the City of David on Monday in recognition of the “seminal role” the archeological site plays “in connecting its visitors to the origins of the values that helped shape America.”

On June 30, 2019, Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad participated with other American dignitaries in the City of David’s inauguration of the “Pilgrimage Road,” the path taken by millions of pilgrims ascending from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple more than 2,000 years ago.

In his remarks, Packer commended the City of David for its contribution to America’s heritage, adding that with the ceremony, “we are fulfilling another, larger purpose: to unify Americans around our foundational principles and values. The City of David serves as a living testament to those enduring values, and it is our duty to ensure it remains for generations to come.”

ANOTHER C.S.LEWIS FAN – DR ALISTER McGRATH

Dr. Alister McGrath is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University. He holds three Oxford doctorates: a doctoral degree in molecular biophysics, a Doctor of Divinity degree in theology, and a Doctor of Letters degree in intellectual history. McGrath is a prolific author on many topics including science, faith, apologetics, C.S.Lewis, doctrine, and church history.

When asked, “Was there something in particular about C.S.Lewis that drew you to his writing”? his response will hopefully encourage you to start or read more of C.S.Lewis.

“You mustn’t laugh, but I had just become a Christian and was asking my Christian friends all these difficult questions. They got fed up and one of them, exasperated, said: “Why don’t you read C S Lewis?” I knew he had written a book about lions and wardrobes or something, so I bought one of his books and started to read. And it was as if someone turned the light on as if something clicked. I suddenly realised this makes sense. Nearly 50 years later I’m still reading, I’m still getting more out of C S Lewis because there’s so much there to discover.

If you have not read any of C S Lewis books then can I suggest you start with Mere Christianity. Perhaps Screwtape Letters. You decide once you have heard Dr Alister McGrath.

EXTENT OF GOD’S LOVE FOR HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE

For our sake, He (Our Heavenly Father made Him (Jesus Christ, the Son) who knew no sin, to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:21

What an amazing Scripture that reveals the extent of God’s love for the creature He made in His image, us.

We know from God’s Word that God knew before “The Fall” when sin entered the world through our disobedience, that His Son would need to pay the price, “die in our place“, to restore us back into a right relationship with our Holy God. Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.Matthew 25:34

Paul says, God chose us before the foundation of the world, He predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus sacrifice on the Cross.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

Events in God’s world do not unfold by chance, nor are the events a reactionary action from God. He causes them to come to be. Scripture simply unfolds this as an incontrovertible and uncontroversial thing. God is depicted as the One who not only intervenes as He sees fit, but Scripture attributes all actions to God’s predetermined plan.

One of the clearest examples of this is in Genesis 50:20, the verse summarizing the narrative of Joseph and his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive.” In other words: all of the evils Joseph endured through the hand of others was not simply repurposed for good, but ultimately brought about by God Himself as good.

It meant the betrayal of Joseph’s brothers, being sold into slavery, Potiphar’s false imprisonment of him, the cup-bearer forgetting of Joseph’s correct interpretation, and then his subsequent delivery from prison, appointment to a position of prominence, and his shrewd planning for the widespread famine to come—was all ordained by God to keep many people alive, not the least of which being the nation of Israel. God’s covenant faithfulness to Abraham is on full display in His preservation of the Israelites.

The gospels speak candidly to those who are blinded by God so that they cannot be saved (Matt. 13:14; Mk. 4:12, 6:52; Jn. 12:39-40). The epistles likewise have no shame expressing that God has mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and harden whom He will harden—and there is no charge of injustice against God in His sovereign right to choose whom He desires (Rom. 9, 11:7, 11:25).

This theme is picked up clearly elsewhere as well (Ps. 69:28; Lk. 10:20; Eph. 1:3-12; Rev. 3:5, 17:8). Yet it is likewise seen in the fact that God appointed vast swaths of people to come to faith in the early church (Acts 13:48, 15:17-18). We find similar echoes of God’s sovereignty in those whom He has established as authorities on earth (Dan. 2:21; Jn. 19:11; Rom. 13:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). We see that Scripture unabashedly affirms that God appoints our sufferingstrials, and more.

The Bible simply unfolds this principle (Doctrine of Grace), not a theme of controversy, but one of worship. To put that in the simplest terms possible: the compendium of Scripture’s teachings lends itself to be understood through God’s active decree and interference with all of history, including the will of man. In this, He is not passively permitting things to pass, looking with foresight as to what possible choices may come, nor is He reacting to the choices of men. Rather, He ordains whatsoever comes to pass and He does so for His purposes and good pleasure. This is what Scripture teaches it is not necessarily what we want to accept.

I like Grayson Gilbert came to this position by reading Scripture. Grayson wrote the article “How I Became a Calvinist: By Reading the Bible” Jan. 15 2021 http://www.patheos .com. Much of the above was taken from his article.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND BLACK LIVES MATTER

Critical race theory (CRT) is a school of thought meant to emphasize the effects of race on one’s social standing. It arose as a challenge to the idea that in the two decades since the Civil Rights Movement and associated legislation, racial inequality had been solved and affirmative action was no longer necessary. CRT continues to be an influential body of legal and academic literature that has made its way into more public, non-academic writing. CRT was interdisciplinary, drawing on a wide range of scholarly ideologies, including feminism, Marxism, and postmodernism.

Result: Critical Race Theory is a classic communist divide and conquer tactic. Rather than to serve, help, heal the nation, critical race theory has proven to be poisonous to liberty, true community, and our common humanity.  Critical race theory’s agitators are committed to tearing down civil society on the pretense that it is an incubator for “systemic racism.”

If you’ve any doubt about that, consider the Smithsonian display on “whiteness” that condemned all elements of civil society, including politeness, hard work, self-reliance, logic, planning, and family cohesion. None of those are “white” values, but critical race theory frames them just so. This sort of animus proves that critical race theory “arguments” are non-starters and merely serve as convenient pretexts for power grabs.

Doused with critical race theory, the Black Lives Matter organization and its related Antifa-infused mobs are organized for the same purposes as all cult recruits: to recruit more people and to implement the desire to divide and conquer. The phenomenon can be seen as they surround people in vehicles or restaurants, demanding their victims raise a fist and recite slogans under the intense intimidation and implications of violence.

Indeed, agitators who deploy critical race theory have zero interest in ending racism. Instead, they’ve made essentially the same point over and over again: Racism is an unsolvable problem. If you’ve been tainted as “white,” there’s nothing you can do about it. You are eternally a racist, especially if you don’t believe you are.

Robin D’Angelo explains it all in her best-selling book “White Fragility.” Your only option is the cultist’s option: submit to your critical race theory overlords, then recruit others to do the same. If, however, you’re a black person who disagrees with all of this, well, then, “You ain’t black.”

As with all forms of identity politics and intersectionality, critical race theory stokes divisions between people where few or none existed before. It’s all about relational aggression and predatory alienation.

Today our miseducated youth are easily impressed by new terms such as “systemic racism,” “intersectionality,” and “white fragility.” Finally, the wokesters identify and condemn those marked as oppressors — doxing and canceling them by name — in a written list of names posted in the village. Today such work is helped along by media and Big Tech.

The whole idea is to sow chaos where there was peace — or, at least progress. It is to disrupt and destroy any sense of community a person may have.

Today’s critical race theory agitators call for a form of race consciousness that breeds in themselves blind hate. We have been assaulted with many other forms of “consciousness” intended to sow hostilities and lawlessness: immigrant status, gender identity, sexual identity, and on and on. We are being overwhelmed.

Saddest of all is how critical race theory exploits the tragedy of racial divisions in America. The tragedy is thus reduced to nothing but a vehicle for a power grab by elitists in the circles of academia, media, and Big Tech. Ironically, those power elites are vastly and disproportionately white and in it for their gain. So, rather than serve as a balm for healing, critical race theory has proven to be poisonous to liberty, true community, and our common humanity. It could only happen because God and His Word are no longer considered relevant or of value. And yet, God’s Word tells us the world would be like this at the end of this age prior to Jesus return to rule the nations. Jesus said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man as it was in the days of Noah when God’s judgement was poured out on the lawless generation that existed at that time.Matthew 24:37-39

BE JOYFUL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

Consider it joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4

This verse is becoming more relevant as we see the “end times” events outlined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (see verses below), Paul and the O.T. prophets playing out in our time. Christians will be persecuted for holding to the truth of God’s Word.

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. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the authorities and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.Luke 21:10-15

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Priest and King).” Hebrews 6:17-20

millemmnium
Shedding light on Bible prophecy

HOPE FOR AN ETERNAL FUTURE

Saints, by receiving the Holy Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of God through the Word and we experience the power of God producing the fruit of the spirit in our lives, of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, kindness and self control . The Holy Spirit provides the gifts of the spirit for ministry; gift of faith, tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of knowledge, prophecy, wisdom, discernment, healing and miracles. As a result, we have full hope for an eternal future and full hope for today as well! When we have needs, we are invited to the throne of grace where we can expect the Lord to speak to us, imparting faith.  By faith Jesus is our healer, by faith Jesus is our provider, by faith Jesus sets us at liberty from all that would come against us in this life.

Let’s learn and enjoy the way of faith.  Trust the Lord completely, for He cares for us. Listen and receive the faith that comes by the word He speaks to us by the Holy Spirit. The word that is the sword of the Spirit to defeat our circumstances.

Let us also look at what Paul had to say about living the Christian life.

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God Romans 15:18-19

PERSECUTION WILL INTENSIFY

Pro-Abortion Doctor Accuses Lila Rose of ‘Domestic Terrorism’ for Posting Pro-Life Tweet

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Late last week, Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, tweeted: “Abortion is violence.” In response, Torres condemned Rose, accusing her of “domestic terrorism.”

Torres said Rose’s three-word tweet “is objectively false and meant to incite others to commit crimes against clinics, patients, and health care providers.”

Dr. Leah Torres — the OB-GYN who had her medical license suspended in 2020 following a controversy over a since-deleted tweet in which she seemingly bragged about cutting unborn babies’ vocal cords — is now accusing pro-life leader Lila Rose of publishing “violent rhetoric.”

Rose’s tweet is, of course, not intended to “incite” violence. Rather, she was simply posting a tweet with a message foundational to those who oppose abortion, which is that, scientifically, life begins at conception. As such, Rose and other pro-lifers have argued, abortion is violent because it has the intention of ending of viable human life.

Torres’ claims against Rose’s tweet comes on the heels of Twitter’s decision to permanently ban outgoing President Donald Trump from its platform “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” referring to potential future tweets by the Republican leader.

Additionally, as CBN News reported Sunday night, the conservative Twitter alternative, Parler, has been removed from the Apple App Store, Google Play, as well as Amazon’s cloud hosting apparatus, Amazon Web Services, essentially scrubbing the website from the internet altogether. The AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler’s chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff, the Twitter alternative, which prioritizes speech freedom over censorship, hosted content on its site that didn’t adhere to Amazon’s terms of service.

As for Torres, while one tweet isn’t likely to spark action against Rose, it is worth noting one post was all it took to get Abigail Shrier’s book critical of the transgender agenda briefly removed from Target’s shelves.

Most of big tech is led by progressives, and Democrats are just days away from assuming control of every level of the federal government — two realities that have many conservatives concerned about the restriction of free speech and the flow of information.

In just a matter of days, it seems, we’ve found ourselves at the beginning of a very slippery slope that could lead to the censoring and silencing of those who simply hold to differing perspectives, beliefs, and world views. This is “end times” stuff folks.

JESUS – WHERE HE IS AND WHO HE IS

This one Scripture says it all: Jesus is God’s son, He is heir of all things, He is the creator of all things, He reveals the Father to us as Jesus is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. He upholds all things by the word of His power. He is the one who has purged our sins, salvation is only through Jesus. Jesus sits at the right hand of our Heavenly Father in heaven.

‘God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers, by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.’   Hebrews 1:1-3 

What about Romans 8:14-17, it tells us what Jesus has accomplished for us: we have become children of God to whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father,’ and that as such we are now joint heirs with Christ.  Joint heirs with exceedingly great and precious promises, through which we have become partakers of the divine nature and inheritors of the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:1-11, 2 Peter 1:4).

This gem from Dr Paul Cedar of Love to Pray is appropriate here: “Prayer to our Heavenly Father should be our greatest joy, it is our highest privilege and our greatest venture.”

Remember the cost of your salvation

ETERNITY – WHERE WILL YOU SPEND IT?

For over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, the people of Sydney woke up each day to a one-word sermon—”Eternity”—handwritten in white chalk or yellow crayon (when raining) on footpaths, train station platforms, and perimeter walls lining the city’s many walkways and streets. Each day a fresh batch of graffiti rendered in beautiful copperplate lettering style  would appear at places where there weren’t any the previous night. Somehow, for twenty five years, a mysterious figure had managed to sneak into the city every night and leave his presence on the city’s walls and sidewalks. It attracted the ire of Sydney City Council at first, but as the weeks become months, and the months became years, the “Eternity” graffiti became an iconic symbol of the city. Pedestrians stepped around and over the words, and street sweepers and cleaners left the elegant writings untouched. This is some way explains why the “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. The real explanation, God orchestrated it so that many worldwide would be impacted by the “Eternity” message. Arthur Stace was illiterate so it was obvious, certainly to Arthur, that God had initiated it. “I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t,” Arthur later told in an interview.. But Arthur did know that God had asked him to do it. Arthur was obedient to go out on the streets of Sydney everyday, rain or shine, until the day before he died.

eternity-sydney-1
The “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. Photo credit: National Geographic

The mysterious figure behind the phenomenon, who was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history, managed to keep his identity a secret until one morning in June 1956, when he was caught in the act. That morning, Reverend Lisle M. Thompson, who preached at the Burton Street Baptist Church, saw a church cleaner sneak out a piece of chalk from his pocket and write the word on the footpath.

Rev. Thompson approached the cleaner and asked, “Are you Mr. Eternity?”, to which the cleaner replied, “Guilty, your honour.” Soon after that encounter, the Sunday Telegraph published an interview with the artist and the mystery that had baffled Sydney for over 25 years was finally revealed. The cleaner’s name was Arthur Malcolm Stace.

arthur-stace-1
A rare photo of Arthur Stace – “Mr. Eternity”.

Born in 1885 in Redfern, Stace’s childhood and much of his adulthood was marked by abject poverty. His parents were alcoholics, and his sisters ran a brothel. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. At the age of 12, Stace became a ward of the state and worked briefly in a coal mine. As a teenager, he became an alcoholic and was subsequently sent to jail at 15 for drunkenness. His twenties were spent running liquor between pubs and brothels, and working as a lookout for gambling dens. During the First World War, Stace found work as a laborer with the Australian Imperial Force, but his recurring bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy led him to be discharged.

Stace finally found his calling in November 1932, when he went to listen to a Baptist preacher named John Ridley give a sermon. In a homily titled “Echoes of Eternity“, Ridley declared: “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?“. The words so captivated Stace that at that very moment, Stace pulled a piece of chalk he had in his pocket, bent down and wrote the word “Eternity” on the church floor.

Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, the word ‘Eternity‘ came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. Arthur had to ask the person next to him what he had written.

God has a calling for each one of us, what is yours? Don’t know, then get into prayer until you do. Also, will you be obedient as Arthur was to carry it out regardless of the cost?

The story of Arthur Stace (Acorn Press, 2017)