Tag Archives: ISIS

One flesh

My sermon for the past Sunday was on “One Flesh”, it refers to the Genesis 2:24 and Mark 8 passages. Clearly these passages speak to the physical marriage of man and woman, but we seem to not remember that as Christians we are the part of the Body of Christ, that His Church is the Body of Christ, which we, who are saved in Jesus, are part of. As discussed in Revelation 21, 22, the Church is the Bride of Christ. Now I’m not trying to get cute or all weird, but it does seem to follow that because of that, because we take the true Body and Blood of Jesus, that we all become one flesh. Yes, the Bible passages are to be understood as a man and a woman becoming one flesh. They should both readily understand that and that Jesus’ command that “…What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6) An aside, I have to tell you for those who are involved in facilitating divorce; judges, clerks, lawyers, I truly feel at least a concern. I do not know how people can participate in something that Jesus clearly condemns.

I was also reading Henry and Richard Blackaby’s devotional (Experiencing God Day by Day p 277) which starts “Christians do not live in isolation”. No we certainly don’t, and yet too many who call themselves “Christian” will simply not understand the idea of the Body of Jesus, Bride of Jesus, one flesh etc. We are too much about what are we getting out of this and not at all about what is the Body of Jesus about. I get it, most of us have difficult lives, pressing concerns and different demands that we do need to confront immediately. Certainly the media is beating us into submission, compassion fatigue and when things happen, over and over, in the Body of Christ, we just have to withdraw or be overwhelmed. Yea, I get it. However, we are, nonetheless, part of the Body of Christ. One flesh? Not now, but ultimately, in the resurrection, in the same sense of a married man and woman? Yes. But just because we are not in the same sense as Genesis and Mark describe, does that make it any less genuine? And now, in the shadow of the murders at Umpqua Community College, Charleston SC, Columbine, Lancaster, Pa, just for the United States and the horrific murders in Iraq, Syria, China, Africa on and on shouldn’t that be a signal pain in the Body of Christ, and if we are part of that Body shouldn’t we at least wince?

Maybe there is a fatigue going on, but if the persecutions of Christians throughout history that resulted in resolve and strength to the Body, shouldn’t that be apparent now? If so, how does that look? If your reaction is “wow that’s too bad” or “see that’s why we need gun control” or “every Christian should carry a gun” as the Lt Governor of Tennessee suggested, shouldn’t that suggest to the individual that maybe they’re not in communion with the Body of Christ as they should be?

The Blackabys write: “We depend on one another, and this influences everything we do. Jesus said that even when we pray, we are to begin by saying ‘our Father’ (Matt 6:9). We must do everything with our fellow Christians in mind. (1 Cor 14:12)” Yes, He is our Father. OK, that means children? Yes, it does. Is this another mystery of being in Christ along with the Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, Resurrection? Yea, apparently. Does it mean that just because the concept seems obscure, it’s not valid? No, I don’t think so. The Blackabys suggest: “Ask God to place a burden on your heart for fellow believers.” I do think it’s necessary. Can you ignore such profound pain in your body and not feel it, dismiss it? I’m not sure what the “cure” is. Certainly we are always called to pray. We should remember Tertullian’s words, a Roman, in the middle of the persecutions of the early Christian. He said “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Certainly those who are martyred receive great reward, but for us still in our earthly life, to simply dismiss the suffering and murder of Christian brothers and sisters is not acceptable. As with everything in our Christian life we are always in prayer. We also are to be guided by the Holy Spirit, where is He moving us to confront or to help those in persecution? What are the opportunities He is presenting us and our local church with in order to witness to Jesus to a world that is lost and filled with death. A world that hates God and His people and believes that it is somehow serving a greater God by killing Christians. “”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) Jesus’ words, we certainly trust His Words and this is face to face reality for many. The answers aren’t easy we are to trust in God. Paul certainly appealed to civil law for protection against the mob and unfair judgment. I’m not saying to roll over and play dead, but certainly we remember those Christian Martyrs  who gave up everything they had and witnesses to Christ and sacrificed their life. That is a witness to the world that the Holy Spirit uses to change lives and bring them to salvation in Jesus. Stay in prayer, pray for those who hate and abuse you, and know what the Holy Spirit is putting on your heart and act accordingly.

NFL’s Benjamin Watson Urges ISIS Victims, Christians to ‘Stand Firm’ With Jesus in the Face of Death; Says Rise of Persecution Indicates Christ’s ‘Imminent Return’

The following is from christianpost.com dated March 4, 2015

NFL’s Benjamin Watson Urges ISIS Victims, Christians to ‘Stand Firm’ With Jesus in the Face of Death; Says Rise of Persecution Indicates Christ’s ‘Imminent Return’

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BY SAMUEL SMITH , CP REPORTER
March 4, 2015|4:49 pm
Benjamin Watson is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints.(PHOTO: EAG SPORTS MANAGEMENT)

Benjamin Watson is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

Outspoken Christian NFL player Benjamin Watson recently issued a powerful Facebook post writing about the Islamic State and the rise of Christian persecution throughout the world, asserting that all Christians should be ready to die for upholding their faith in Jesus Christ.

“The images keep flooding our timelines and news feeds. Men being burned alive or beheaded by masked assassins. Stories of families on the run, fleeing their homes while they are pillaged and burned,” Watson’s Saturday Facebook post explained. “Their testimonies hold a familiar chord: ‘Convert, Pay or Die!'”

Watson, an 11-year NFL veteran who’s a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, wrote that although extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram in Nigeria have risen to prominence and are out to destroy Christianity, believers should never deny Christ in order to save their lives.

Watson cited Luke 12:8 and further explained that Jesus specifically told his followers that those who deny Him in in the face of death will be punished.

“‘And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God’ Luke 12:8,” Watson wrote.

Although Watson admits that the idea of being killed over his faith in Jesus is a frightening thought, he wrote that it’s important to remember that some of the bravest followers of Christ were killed for refusing to denounce Jesus.

“The persecution of Christians is not a new concept. As early as the first century we read about the Spirit-filled boldness of Christians, like Stephen and Paul, who proclaimed the Gospel through beatings and imprisonment, torture and death,” Watson wrote. “We remember Christ’s disciples, most of whom were killed just like their master. Roman emperors like Nero executed Christians in the most ghastly ways, using them as torches to light the evening sky.”

Although Christians have been beaten, killed and tortured for thousands of years over their faith, Watson further emphasized that the light of Christ continued to spread because of the brave followers who stood firm in their faith.

“In spite of all this adversity, Christianity continued to spread because men and woman, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stood strong in the face of certain death; some being delivered and others falling,” Watson wrote. “As I sit here in a 21st century United States, I can’t help but wonder when we, too, will face martyrdom for our faith. On this very day nearly 50 countries have laws that restrict or outlaw Christianity, leading to the harassment, imprisonment and death of those who follow Christ.”

The post continued by listing the number of countries today that prevent Christians from practicing their faith, such as North Korea and China.

“On this day, in countries like North Korea and China, Christians gather for church underground to avoid being arrested by police. On this day, in Nigeria thousands mourn the deaths of their loved ones killed by Boko Haram in their quest to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. On this day, in Cuba, Christian ministries continue to risk their freedom as the country continues to feel the effects of Communist rule,” Watson continued. “BUT, on this day, Jesus’ words in Luke still ring true.”

Although many Christians live safe, well-protected lives in America and other countries that protect religious freedoms, Watson contends that persecution of Christians in America will come sooner or later.

“Rest assured, fellow Americans, if it hasn’t already, our day WILL COME,” Watson asserted. “My only hope in such trying times is the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the X factor. He will give us the strength, words, and vision when our backs are against the wall. Jesus promised the believer many things. Eternal life, abundant life, peace, purpose and forgiveness to name a few. He also promises that they, like him, WILL be betrayed, hated and persecuted, even to death. (Luke 21:12-19).”

When that day arrives, Watson encourages Christians not to tremble in fear when in the face of persecution because it’s a sign of the nearing return of the Messiah.

“[W]e must WAKE UP from our slumber, be on guard and stand firm. A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Watson added. “Spiritual unity in the body will help us weather the coming storms. We must REMEMBER that as terrible as things are and will become, they are simply signs pointing to one thing; His imminent return.”

Christianity may be making a comeback? It was never gone.

In 2015, Christianity May Be Making a Comeback

Posted: 01/05/2015 6:42 pm EST Updated: 01/05/2015 6:59 pm EST
JESUS CHRIST

Just when everyone thought God was dead, The Creator seems to be making a serious comeback. Although non-believing cultural elites in media, academia, and entertainment may be the loudest voices in the room, a new Pew Research Studyindicates they’re becoming the smallest group in the room. Among it’s findings:

  • 73 percent of U.S. adults believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
  • 81 percent, the baby Jesus was actually laid in a manger.
  • 75 percent, wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  • 74 percent, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds nearby.

The study indicates that 65 percent of Americans believe all four of these elements of the Christmas story, and a mere 14 percent believe none. And just when you thought these numbers reflected the Bible Belt, it turns out that 54 percent of liberals believe in the virgin birth, and for adults with postgraduate degrees, 53 percent affirm the virgin birth of Jesus.

Hollywood apparently saw it coming. For decades producers and studios have bent over backwards to reach out to special interest groups like feminists, the gay community, environmentalists, and others. But simply looking at the numbers, they finally discovered the Christian community is the largest special interest group of all. So while they’ve had some Bible movies hit and miss, they understand the Christian audience isn’t going away soon. In fact, if they’ve learned anything after the productions of Noah and Gods and Kings, they’ve hopefully learned they need to get it right. The more a movie sticks to the Biblical account, the bigger the box office.

So the question becomes, where has Christianity been? Early in the 20th century, the Church embraced motion pictures, radio, then television and now the Internet and social media. But in the vast majority of cases today, they’re not using those platforms to engage the greater culture, but instead living inside a bubble. After all, why tweet, when you can join a Christian alternative to Twitter? And don’t go to eHarmony or Match.com if you’re looking for a mate, use Christian Mingle. From the web, to publishing, to record labels, TV networks, universities and more, the last 50 years have seen a remarkable withdrawal from mainstream culture and a move back to a cloistered, protective bubble.

In all honesty, the Church hasn’t been losing it’s voice, it’s been giving it away. As a result, they’ve lost remarkable influence in the culture. It’s a tragedy, because since the founding of this country, Christianity has been a powerful engine behind social service outreaches, educational institutions, hospitals and more.

So while the majority of the population still professes religious belief, will Christianity ever regain it’s influence in the culture? I believe it can, and there are plenty of signposts:

  • Vibrant churches are growing in major urban centers around the United States. From New York City to Chicago, to Los Angeles and Seattle, young pastors who have a passion for their cities find it difficult to locate facilities large enough for the crowds.
  • A new generation of talented writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists are unapologetic about their faith. As a result, they’re breaking out of traditional “Christian”-branded record labels, film distributors, and publishers, and are finding success with mainstream audiences.
  • Episodic television programs like Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’sThe Bible series broke audience records in the United States. Their new series “A.D.” based on the New Testament book of Acts debuts this spring, and a remake of the epic film Ben Hur is in the works.
  • The first Ebola cases to be treated on American soil were Dr. Kent Brantly and his assistant Nancy Writebol. Both were fighting the disease in Liberia with the Christian group “Serving in Mission.” Today, massive relief operations like “Mercy Ships,” “The Salvation Army,” and “Medical Ministry International” are all driven by Christian convictions and are making a dramatic difference in the most desperate places on the planet.

Honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise. When the Iron Curtain fell, we discovered that Communism couldn’t silence the Church, and despite horrific torture and executions by ISIS militants, Christians in that region refuse to recant. So it shouldn’t be shocking that here in the West, for all the criticism and clatter from nonbelievers, or advertising campaigns from atheists, Christianity is actually growing.

In 2015, it will be obvious that Christianity is back. But truthfully, it never left.