PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

Millions of Christians across the globe live in perpetual fear that they will be punished, harmed — or even killed for merely practicing their faith.

Thank goodness for the following Scriptures:

Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

In light of that eternal glory being achieved for us by our momentary troubles, Paul offers the following words of eternal perspective: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:1

Worldwide persecution continues to be at a fever pitch, with varying degrees of affliction for those who openly embrace the Bible.

This tragic reality is more than evident in Open Doors USA’s latest “World Watch List,” an annual report that offers “an unparalleled glimpse into the 50 places around the world where it costs the most to be a Christian.”

According to the stunning 2020 report, more than 260 million Christians live in places where there is a high level of persecution, amounting to one-in-eight Christians worldwide. The “World Watch List” gives a lens into some of the most unthinkable scenarios. “It’s the foremost grassroots data on the persecution of Christians,” Open Doors USA president and CEO David Curry recently told The Pure Flix Podcast. It gives us an idea about the trends of religious liberty generally.”

He said there are restrictions in most places of the world, but that the areas of extreme oppression will likely shock those unfamiliar with the dire scenario. From government seizure of property and social exclusion to violence and murder, there is a wide range of ways in which Christians can be oppressed for their faith.

“The most dangerous country where persecution was most intense was North Korea,” Curry said. “But as far as violence, Nigeria pops up [high] on our list.” The government of North Korea, for instance, has “great control over every sphere of life,” Curry said, with people who are found with scripture or who are suspected of being a Christian at risk of losing everything and being sent to labour camps.

In places like Nigeria — the 12th most dangerous place to be a Christian on the 2020 list — Islamic extremists with the Boko Haram terror group use extreme violence. “Such violence often results in loss of life, physical injury, as well as loss of property,” the report reads. “As a result of the violence, Christians are also being dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood — and Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families.”

Nine Killed, As Many Injured In Boko Haram Raids In Nigeria: Reports
Boko Haram fighters killed nine people and injured nine more in the attacks

Should we be surprised at the increased persecution of Christians? We should not be, as Jesus revealed to us what it will be like just prior to His return. It will be a time of tribulation even great tribulation such that Jesus said, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:22

Open Doors collects the “World Watch List” data through a network of researchers who are on the ground all over the globe.

AUSTRALIA EXPERIENCES UNPRECEDENTED WEATHER EXTREMES

God is shaking all that can be shaken in Australia, and elsewhere for that matter, exactly as prophesied by Him in the “last days” before Jesus returns. What we are experiencing right now with on going rain and flooding is unprecedented following what seemed endless drought and fires. I have extracted these headlines from newspapers reports on these events.

Why These Australia Fires Are Like Nothing We’ve Seen Before

More than 16 million acres have gone up in flames. And it has happened in populated areas, unlike most of the world’s other blazes of this scale. Millions more acres have burned in other parts of the country.

The modern world has never seen anything quite like these Australia fires. What sets these blazes apart, in terms of their size, is that they are happening in populated areas. Until now, fires this large happened mostly in places like northern Canada or Siberia, where few people live and blazes burn largely uncontrolled.

“What we’re seeing in Australia, in a completely different environment, are fires that are approaching or even exceeding the magnitude of things that we only saw in the most remote forested regions in the world,” said Ross Bradstock, the director of the Center for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales.

A man tried to protect his property in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, on New Year’s Eve.

Wet and Wild as Bureau of Meteorology warns of Dangerous Floods

Wild weather is lashing both sides of the country, with NSW and Queensland being warned of life-threatening flash flooding, cyclone Damien smashing WA’s Pilbara coast, and tens of thousands left without power across three states.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) stated on Saturday it was shifting its state operation centre’s focus from fires to floods as the weather helped bring the number of active blazes down to 37, extinguishing the huge Currowan Fire in the Shoalhaven Region, which had burnt for 74 days and and destroyed 312 homes.

“With significant focus shifting from fires to floods, the NSW RFS state operations centre has now been reconfigured to operate as the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) Sydney Zone Operations Centre in support of statewide flood operations,” said NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

The heaviest rains in more than two decades have swamped large tracts of NSW and Queensland, bringing a dramatic end to the bush fire season but leaving more than 100,000 residents across the two states without power as ­authorities warn that the worst of the deluge is still to come.

ANGELS ASSIST THOSE CALLED BY GOD

This post has been adapted from article “HOW TO WORK WITH ANGELS IN YOUR GOD-ASSIGNMENT” by Kris Vallotton | Feb 07, 2020 https://www.krisvallotton.com/

 God sends His angels to earth to effect change, whenever prophecies require events to be altered, things to be accomplished, or if heaven’s resources need to be released over you, for your preparation, provision, and protection. Hebrews says that the angels are servants to the children of God:

But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet?” Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14)

Angels are mentioned more than 190 times in the New Testament alone. We’ve read about these celestial beings opening prison doors (Acts 12:7-10), delivering messages from God (Luke 1:5-38), and showing up in people’s dreams (Genesis 31:11), but are angels among us today? Right now, going unseen, there are angels on assignment for people, young and old, in various roles and jobs; some angels are actively working within specific industries, over regions, and even assigned to entire countries. It is my personal conviction that God is still deploying angels on your behalf, and that they are eager and ready to supernaturally usher in heaven’s resources for your preparation, provision, and protection.

Image result for pictures of Angels visiting earth

Testimonies are powerful and this one by Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California of how angels worked in getting Paul Schmidt to be the sheriff of Trinity County 1986-1998 is amazing.

“My friend Paul Schmidt and I were ministering at our local convalescent hospital early every Sunday morning. Paul was a strong believer, a body builder, and a deputy sheriff. One morning we were standing outside the hospital praying before we went in to minister. As we prayed I heard myself say aloud to Paul, “The Lord says that you are going to be the next sheriff of Trinity County!”
In the months that followed, Paul decided to run for sheriff and I became his campaign manager. We campaigned hard for months. The night of the primary election all the campaign workers went down to the courthouse to watch the Lord work through the election. We were hoping to cheer as we watched the election results come in but there would be no cheering that night, because Paul lost the primaries by a mile. Our entire team left the courthouse crushed and discouraged. I personally felt humiliated and guilty, thinking that I must have got the prophetic word wrong.
A few days later, very early on a Saturday morning, the phone rang. Half asleep, I answered the phone and a voice on the other end said, “Hey, I am going to run for sheriff as a write-in candidate! What do you think?” It was Paul, and I was in no mood for more humiliation. “I think you’re crazy,” I yelled into the phone. “You took fourth place when you were on the ballot. How would you have any kind of chance when people would have to remember to write you in? You’re nuts!”

“God said I am supposed to be the next sheriff and I need to finish this race. Will you help me?” he pressed.
Paul did end up running as a write-in candidate and I continued being his manager. The week before the election we commissioned Paul as the next Sheriff of Trinity County at church.
I want to explain what I mean when I say that we commissioned Paul. To be commissioned means that you come into submission to the Father’s mission; co-mission: a mission together with God. As a church, we gathered in agreement with the prophetic word that Paul would be the next sheriff of Trinity county, and we prayed over him, sending him out to fulfill the assignment that God had placed on his life. It’s common to find throughout scripture and in our walk of faith today that physical acts of agreement often release spiritual realities.
On the day of the election, if Paul were to win, people would be required to write his name in on the ballot. We couldn’t have any campaign signs anywhere within 1,000 feet of a polling place, so any last ditch campaigning efforts weren’t an option. We simply had to wait and watch. After the vote was closed and when the news report finally came in, it read, “Paul Schmidt Wins Landslide Victory as a Write-In Candidate!” 

We were stunned! Over the next several weeks, strange stories began to emerge from our community. Many people who went into the booths to vote for another candidate ended up having crazy experiences. Some said they couldn’t get the lever on the machine to pull down and punch the card for either of the sheriff candidates, so they decided to write Paul’s name in. Others said that when they got into the booth, a voice spoke to them and said, “Write in Paul Schmidt!” Many had dreams the night before in which they were instructed to vote for Paul. Several citizens who came out with ads in the paper in support of one of the other candidates also had these experiences and changed their minds in the voting booth. These stories continued to emerge for months. Many of these people were not Christians. Paul became our sheriff and held the office for 16 years. The question is, what really happened on that election day? 

Much like the stories we read throughout the Bible, the Lord sent His angels to Trinity County to make sure the word that God spoke over Paul Schmidt would come to pass. Heaven invaded earth that day! One of the most common ways angels are commissioned is through prayer and prophecy. Angels perform the word of God that is proclaimed by the voice of the Lord. The Church is His voice that declares His word on earth. God’s angels become the agents of change whenever prophecies require events to be altered, things to be accomplished, or wars to be won.

Imagine the angels that were at work to get Trump elected to President of the USA or for that matter Scott Morrison elected Prime Minister of Australia.

CAN WE BE JOYFUL IN SUFFERING?

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Philippians 4:4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.James 1:2

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20

God hates evil and He commands us to hate it as well so so these verses certainly don’t mean we are to rejoice in evil, per se, However, we should believe Romans 8:28, which tells us God will work all things together for our good, including evil things that happen to us.

Believing this frees us to thank God in the middle of difficult and even evil circumstances, knowing that in His sovereign grace, He is accomplishing great, eternal purposes in us through these things. We walk by faith, believing in what God has done, is doing, and will do to bring a good end to all that troubles us. Choosing to rejoice, recounting our blessings in the midst of trials, affirms trust in God.

This response requires faith that God lovingly superintends our challenges. Viewing our sufferings as random or obsessing over someone else’s bad choices that caused our sufferings robs us of happiness. A weak, small, or faulty view of God always poisons the well of our contentment.

Being Spirit controlled is inseparable from giving thanks in everything. The more we grow in our understanding of God’s attributes, the happier we become.

.The deeper our knowledge of God’s character, the deeper our reservoir of strength, perspective, and happiness in hard times. Who is this God we are to trust? What is He really like?

Scripture teaches that we have a God who loves us and is sovereign over the universe, including all evil. We can’t be happy, and remain happy, without believing in the sovereignty of a loving God. The beauty of the Christian worldview is that while we’re encouraged to take initiative and control what’s within our power, we also know that the enormous part of life we can’t control is under God’s governance.

Scripture tells us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleasesPsalm 115:3. It assures us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9. And since God is eternally wise and good and happy, and we’re not, we’re far better off with Him, not us, in control.

Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

In light of that eternal glory being achieved for us by our momentary troubles, Paul offers the following words of eternal perspective: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:1

This article is excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book Does God Want Us to Be Happy?

Addendum: When times are difficult, hard, and bring sorrow, then remember, chose to bring to mind, the wonderful deliverance Jesus has achieved for you. Then put on the garment of praise.  The spirit of heaviness will depart – no need to let things depress us and get us down. He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will bring good out of every situation for us. God is good. Sometimes it takes effort to start to praise God – especially if we come from a dark place, a place of difficulty or even a place of tragedy. Yet be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and sing and shout your praises to God, breakthrough into the inexpressible joy of the Lord – it is the place of strength for life.

ARE GHOSTS REAL?

This study is another reason why you and your church need to connect with Creation Ministries, http://www.creation.com.

Gary Bates of Creation Ministries does a great job of dealing biblically with a very difficult and controversial issue – GHOSTS. You will only need 11 1/2 minutes for this study, but let me suggest it will be worth your time. Let me know what you think. Did it help.

ENSURE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

Here are five ways to ensure your Gospel message is understood so the enemy can’t snatch “the message of eternal life” from the minds and hearts of your hearers. This message applies equally to when you are speaking to a group or just one person.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” Matthew 13:19

1. Don’t focus on what you’re teaching, focus on what they’re learning.  Instead of being consumed with getting your message across, get feedback to ensure they are engaged. You’re not successful when you get through your outline, you’re successful when they understand the message, and sometimes those are two different things.

2. Don’t give the answer before they’ve asked the question.  Utilise the first few minutes of your message to engage with your audience, throw out strategic questions, to get people thinking. To get them asking the right questions, only then will your answers be meaningful. The goal is to get people wanting to know the answer to the right questions.

3. Tell better stories and use testimonies. There’s a reason Jesus told so many stories. We’re wired for stories. If your message has all the facts but no compelling stories, you’re in danger of teaching for knowledge, not understanding. Stories help complex and deep truths penetrate the outer shell of our minds. Share your testimony, testimonies are powerful. It will be the linchpin of your message.

4. Create environments that foster an atmosphere for deeper learning.  People need to feel welcomed, loved, accepted, comfortable in the physical environment you’re teaching in. Foster an atmosphere where people are open to deeper learning. Your reputation must be one of integrity.

5. Check the fruit. The easiest way to check whether you’re teaching for knowledge or understanding is to check the fruit. Are they following through with what you’re asking them to do? Are they living it out? If there’s no long-term fruit in your audience, you’re teaching for knowledge. Jesus himself said that when you teach for understanding, “this is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”  (Matthew 13:23).

JESUS TRANSFORMS PRISON IN EL SALVADOR

J Lee Grady (Fire In My Bones, Charisma Magazine) stood in front of 600 male inmates at a prison in Izalco, El Salvador. The men were dressed in white T-shirts and white drawstring pants, and many of them sported tattoos on their faces and necks. All the men were members of violent gangs when they were incarcerated. About 20% of them were affiliated with the MS-13 gang—a group known for horrific attacks on women, children and police officers.

Yet he felt no fear as he looked out over the crowd and shared a message from Luke 15 about the prodigal son. Most of the men were carrying Bibles, and when he announced his text, they immediately turned to the passage. They yelled, “Amen,” or “Gloria a Dios,” when Grady stressed an important point. And they clapped and cheered when he reminded them that the kosher Jewish father in the story welcomed his wayward son home even though the boy smelled like pigs.

Almost every prisoner in this huge group became a Christian after arriving at the Izalco prison. Two churches now operate inside the facility, pastored by men who were once tough criminals. All the men now gather for Bible study every day, they hold prayer and fasting vigils, and they are helping each other to grow spiritually.

When the men worshipped on Monday, six guys used plastic paint tubs for drums while an inmate with a huge smile led the praise choruses. The men sang louder and with more passion you would see in most churches in the outside world.

Latino-man-172291797
!Jesucristo vive dentro de esta prisión!” (“Jesus Christ lives inside this prison!”

“Our government is encouraging this movement,” says Oscar David Benavides, director of the prison. He says in 2016 he was allowed to encourage evangelism among inmates. When men experienced conversions, he intentionally moved them into buildings where there were non-Christian inmates.

Faith was never forced on anyone, but more and more men began to find Jesus in a chain reaction of grace. The new converts changed dramatically. They were no longer angry and depressed. They became cooperative and friendly. Their frowns turned to smiles.

Today, El Salvador’s government leaders see evidence that Christianity is good for violent offenders.

No serious crimes have occurred inside the Izalco facility since the prison revival began. The inmates treat each other with respect, even though they were affiliated with rival gangs. “The transformation is an obvious miracle,” Oscar Benavides says.

In the United States, Grady said, “We are skittish about mixing government and religion. We don’t want prayer in schools. We don’t want the Bible to influence public policy. And yet our prisons are so dangerous they are like hell on earth. A report released last year by The New Republic said 428 inmates died in Florida’s prisons in 2017, hundreds have died in prisons in Oregon and Washington since 2008, and the rate of prisoner-on-prisoner violence has doubled in Alabama in the past five years.

Grady said, “he is not going to hold his breath until America’s prison officials try El Salvador’s method of reform – JESUS”. But asks, “Why wouldn’t we?” In this tiny Central American nation—the only country in the world named after Jesus Christ—a true miracle has happened. We are foolish to ignore it.”

SUPER BOWL BLASPHEME

The Super Bowl Halftime Show during the NFL game last night may have been the most blasphemous production ever put on by a major world organisation. As the show was riddled with sex — and references to sex — it is clear that Americans have exchanged the true God for a god of lust. And, perhaps, Jennifer Lopez presented herself as the face of this idolatry in last night’s halftime show.

Was Jennifer Lopez Replacing Jesus on the Cross and Being Worshiped as Goddess?

During the performance, it appears she is raised up on what looks like a pose on the cross of Jesus while the surrounding people fall down on their faces in simulated worship.

Anyone who thinks this wasn’t by design is foolish.

What’s sad is that so many Christians sat around and cheered and indulged in this blasphemy as it took place — many with their children. Further evidence if you needed it, that we are in the “last days” before Jesus return to rule and reign with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27).

IS THE CHURCH NO LONGER RELEVANT?

What are the cultural realities that are crippling the church?

1. Not Holy Spirit led. It is rare to see anything like what you read about in the book of Acts happen in churches today. When’s the last time the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of your church? If you can’t point to something, that may be a sign of a powerless (Acts 1:8) church.

2. Not serving their community. Simply protesting against sin in the world without proactively working for good causes in the community creates a negative impression in the minds of those who drive past your church on Sundays. Also, consumerism has most definitely infected the church and it is reflected in how praise and worship is conducted. When you have Christians (no matter their age) content to sit and attend services (no matter the type) while refusing to stand up and serve others, you have an irrelevant church.

3. Bible knowledge alone equals spiritual maturity. Bible knowledge is foundational to spiritual maturity, but it does not in and of itself equal spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with obedience and love towards others. Paul warned about this in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

4. No John 17 unity. Jesus himself prayed (John 17:23) that his followers would be one, so that the world may know that we are his disciples. The early church brought men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free, all together under the name of Jesus. Do we see that same unity today, or is the church divided along racial, political, theological and socio-economic lines?

Image result for pictures of empty churches
Anglican church in the UK

Regardless, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still building his church. The Holy Spirit continues to do his work. My prayer is that the church will start being part of the solution.

Live a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

In Mark 9, Jesus modeled this for us:

  • Prayer = Jesus said His disciples couldn’t heal the boy because it required prayer
  • Care = Had compassion on the boy and his dad
  • Share = Jesus asked the boy’s dad to proclaim faith in Him before healing his son

Powerful Christians live accordingly, not content simply to invite people to church or stop at “telling their story”.  They understand that bringing people to Christ involves taking personal responsibility for all 3 – praying, caring and sharing.  

MORE EVIDENCE FOR A YOUNG EARTH

Dinosaur-bone-cellsBone cells discovered by Schweitzer, showing classic appearances including nuclei and connecting fibrils—from a Brachylophosaurus allegedly 80 million years old!

Following the most rigorous tests and checking of data, many evolutionists now admit the existence of such dinosaur soft tissue and organic material in not just one or two specimens, but well over thirty. They now have to explain how extremely delicate structures could have been preserved over incredibly vast time periods.

E.g, In 2009, researchers reported that they had found the fossilised remains of a fish brain—dated at 300 million years by evolutionary standards. John Maisey, the lead author, found it remarkable that brain tissue was preserved by fossilisation, since it consisted mainly of water.
Then, in 2016, researchers studying the remains of an Iguanadon-like creature reported not just fossilised brains, but unfossilised brain tissue. Dated by evolutionists at 133 million years, this fossil from Bexhill, England, was discovered more than a decade ago but only recently analysed. It was found to contain unfossilised protein fragments—brain tissue, fine capillaries, collagen structures, and the membrane that surrounds the brain. The authors attributed the brain tissue preservation to the highly acidic, low-oxygen environment in which it was found. However, such an acidic environment should have sped up rather than slowed the breaking down of brain tissue and protein.
How long can brain tissue last?

The existence of soft issue in fossils is hugely problematic to the idea that these fossils are millions of years old.

Believing proteins could last for tens of millions of years takes enormous faith. According to a report in the science journal The Biochemist, even if collagen were stored at 0°C, it would not be expected to last even three million years.8 But such is the power of the evolutionary paradigm that many choose to believe the seemingly impossible rather than accept the obvious implication, that the samples are not as old as they say.

8 Roach, J., Oldest fossil brain found in “bizarre” prehistoric fish, news.nationalgeographic.com, March 2009.
Brasier, M.D. et al., Remarkable preservation of brain tissue in an Early Cretaceous iguanodontian
dinosaur, Geol. Soc. London Spec. Publ. SP448.3, October 2016 | doi: 10.1144/SP448.3