Christians Sentenced to Death – What Difference Does It Make to Us?

**Warning: This post may make you feel bad. ***Warning: That feeling may be appropriate.

There are moments in life that feel like a swift slap in the face.

No one courts that. No one wants to feel that pain. But, if it’s a slap that rearranges your priorities to align with God’s heart, then you will thank God even for that bracing offense.

I received that slap in 2014 when I read a report that Kim Jong-un had ordered the execution of thirty-three Christians reported to have been planting over 500 underground churches in North Korea. I receive the same slap when I read of the struggles of Syrian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Chinese, and Indian believers. Many struggle to literally hold onto life because they’ve chosen to follow Jesus. Continue Reading →

What Responsibility Do Christians Bear for ISIS?

child-1154951_640I faced a hard question this week. It came to me on my knees.

So much conversation is in the air about who is responsible for ISIS. What president is most to blame for their existence? Which candidate is most likely to eradicate them? What nation should be addressing them? How does our culture contribute to their recruitment of some Americans and other Westerners?

How does the world protect Christians living in their shadow? Furthermore, how does the world protect Christians living under North Korean persecution or Chinese oppression? We should be addressing all these questions but for Christians, there is a more important question to ask: Continue Reading →

Persecution Comes to the Strong, the Weak, and the Fake

lamb-buoyancy-814278_640In America, we don’t yet have a practical grasp of persecution.

We don’t live daily in fear of our lives so for most of us, persecution is still a conversation we have over dinner tables and in small groups over Starbucks. We revealed our naivete recently by praying fervently for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini but then stumbling when we learned of his struggles with some unattractive sins. The stumble showed what we don’t understand yet about persecution.

We seek heroes like baby ducks wanting to imprint on a mama, that’s natural. But as Christians, we have One who is our hero and really, we shouldn’t try to make fellow believers try to fit the same bill. Even when they’re imprisoned in the name of Jesus. Even when they hold up under torture for Jesus’ name. Even when they die in Jesus’ name. We sing that all the glory goes to Jesus but in practice, we try to spread it around and that can be a disservice to all. Continue Reading →

They’ll Be Dead by Morning (What Difference Will it Make?)

Caution

**Warning: This post may make you feel bad. **Warning: That feeling may be appropriate.

There are moments in life that feel like a swift slap in the face.

No one courts that. No one wants to feel that pain. But, if it’s a slap that rearranges your priorities to align with God’s heart, then you will thank God even for that bracing offense.

I received that slap when I read the Washington Times news item that Kim Jong-un had ordered the execution of 33 Christians reported to have been part of planting over 500 underground churches in North Korea. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/6/kim-jong-un-calls-execution-33-christians/

I imagined thirty-three of my Christian friends executed for leading people to Christ, facilitating worship, praying, or offering praise to God. I would be horrified, sad, and angry – devastated – but I would also know that God has the last word on their lives not Kim Jong-un or the evil power behind him.

Still, I would want their deaths to motivate the church of Christ. I would want their deaths to galvanize other believers to put feet to their own faith, to fuel their passion for Christ, to remember to pray for those who suffer, to spread God’s word with more zeal, persistence, and creativity than ever before.

While we in the West argue over worship styles, sleep in when there’s a visiting preacher, bemoan having to endure a boring prayer request or off-key soloist, serve up the pastor’s sermon over lunch, or sit home and judge the church unworthy of our attendance altogether, there are other brothers and sisters gasping their way to every precious moment when they can gather, in hiding, with other precious believers and hear a whispered message from God, bathe in the reading of His word, and pray with passion and tears for strength to endure and the courage to continue speaking the truth under threat of death.

God placed us all where we are. He assigned us to our stations. There is no guilt in being born in the land of the free as opposed to a country under harsh rule. But there is guilt if we use our freedom to indulge our petty preferences, to pad our comfort, to drift through this dark world basking in our own light rather than using it to serve those who waste away in prison cells wondering if they’ve been forgotten or their families left to struggle alone with hunger, fear, and loneliness, or those serving the Lord in dark, dark places who need our prayers for their protection, deliverance, courage, and strength.

This blog is just a bunch of words. It costs me absolutely nothing to write. I am free here to say whatever I want without fear that it will cost me or my loved ones their lives. But the words I speak on my knees have the power to move forces in the heavenly realm and make a difference for those who know the names and faces of those 33 facing execution, to comfort those who know their touch, their dreams, the plans they had for this life that will end any minute now and to strengthen those who pick up the bloody batons these 33 will be forced to release and continue to build the kingdom of Christ in lands where the enemy of God rules.

Worship will be different for me with the report of 33 gunshots bouncing around the inner chamber of my soul reminding me that we aren’t home yet. You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.

**http://www.christianpost.com/news/north-koreas-kim-jong-un-reportedly-orders-execution-of-33-people-for-talking-with-christian-missionary-to-start-500-churches-115675/(another source for this story)