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 →

Ten Reasons You Kill Christians

sunset-50494_640In the past several days, reports from Belgium, Nigeria, and Pakistan of suicide bombers targeting Christians have seemingly rolled in like waves. One month ago, four Wycliffe translators were martyred in the Mid-East and a kidnapped Catholic priest was crucified in Yemen over the weekend. I believe, with headlines destined to stir fear, it is upon the Body of Christ to foster courage in the ranks and a focus on the truth that our lives are now, as always, in the hands of the One we trust the most. It is for that reason, I share this post again, so you can share with others the word that neither evil nor ISIS nor any other mechanism of darkness on earth has the final word on this battle. The battle belongs to the Lord.

This is a message for those who persecute, torture, imprison, and kill Christians. We know why you’re killing us – do you?

Killing Christians is a practice as old as Christianity. Those who practice it do nothing more than imitate their predecessors. Predecessors who attempted but failed to snuff out the life of our faith in its infancy. The practice of persecution is hard for some to fathom but it’s actually an understandable act. In fact, I can think of at least ten reasons to kill a Christian: 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 →

Disturbing the Peace, In Jesus’ Name

Jesus didn’t come to bring peace on earth.
Jesus came to disturb the peace.
Why? Because any peace to be had apart from relationship with and obedience to God is peace that is built on a lie.
Peace that crumbles.
Peace that’s a mask, a façade, a thin veneer, a sham.
Jesus came to be the Way, our path to the Father, to wholeness, to redemption, to reconciliation with God, to perfect freedom, and to the peace that is eternal.
But to do that, He must offend the current rulers of the age.
When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, Simeon spoke this prophecy over Him:
“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
 Luke 2:34-35
Here’s the thing:
if we’re following Jesus, we must also be disturbers of the peace.
We must represent Jesus and when we do, it will reveal the thoughts of many hearts –
And that won’t be pretty.
A sword will pierce our own souls, too
And sometimes our flesh
or the flesh of our children.
Even as Americans debate the Christmas wars, the culture wars, and other skirmishes in the battle for souls on earth, FOX news today shone a light on those who suffer on the front lines:
“-An American Christian pastor has been in an Iranian prison for more than a year. The U.S. State Department has confirmed that he is jailed “on charges related to his religious beliefs.” Saeed Abedini set up churches in that country for almost a decade and the government found his work threatening. The pastor’s wife told reporters earlier this week: “My husband is suffering because he is a Christian. He’s suffering because he’s an American… Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table.”
– In Egypt fundamentalist Muslims regularly attack Coptic Christians. A House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee heard testimony last week on the sad plight of the Copts. Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Britain spoke of “an unprecedented wave of violence erupted against Christians” that is being “carried out by radical elements in society.”
And in Syria there are reports of Christians in the northern part of the country being targeted for rape, kidnapping and murder by Muslim groups. Christian churches have been vandalized throughout the country as civil war has torn the country apart for the last two years. The Civil War has forced thousands of Christians to flee the country in droves, seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Earlier this month, more than a dozen Greek Orthodox nuns and Christian orphanage workers were held hostage. One 65-year-old Syrian Christian woman put it bluntly in an interview: “They’re coming after us. All they do is massacre people, all they know is killing.”
The British Parliament debated this worldwide persecution of Christians earlier this month. One Member of Parliament called it “the biggest story in the world that has never been told.”
As we prepare for Christmas, let us honor Jesus by engaging in prayerful battle for those who suffer for His name around the world.
One day, this will end-
But not before it becomes more intense
Not before it reaches our own doorsteps.
When the war is over and we sit around our Father’s table sharing stories of what we did in the Great War, we will sit across from these dear ones,
These brothers and sisters who were imprisoned, beaten, raped, and killed.
Will part of your story be that you moved spiritual forces on their behalf in prayer and raised your voice to all who would listen for those whose voices are being silenced?
In honor of their lives, will you sacrifice one hour of Christmas preparation to pray for those who suffer in Jesus’ name?
Step out in faith and watch God work.
Follow in Jesus footsteps – Disturb the peace.