Archive for the 'Persecution' Category

07
Apr
17

God, the Church, Refugees and the Gospel

I’ve recently quoted the following a number of times

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him

Acts 17 26-27

Over a year ago I referred to the above quote when I wrote the following on a Christian forum, in reply to comments about the potential danger of the “flood” of Muslim refugees to the west.

To me it shows that God, not man, is in control of national boundaries. And he will change those boundaries to suit the purposes of His Kingdom and to create conditions conducive to people seeking and potentially finding Him.

That could work in multiple ways including:

1) Moving believers to unbelieving areas to take the gospel where it hasn’t been heard before.

2) Moving unbelievers into an area where they have more chance of hearing the gospel.

3) Moving hostile unbelievers into a lukewarm area where the gospel used to mean something, but doesn’t any more, where what is left of Christian faith will be tested and refined by the influx of those hostile unbelievers.

04
Apr
17

Underground Iranian Church

I came across this video after following links recommended by Jeanne T given in the comments section of a recent thread.


 

At the beginning of February I finished reading a book about the growth of Christianity in Iran. Too Many to Jail, by Mark Bradley. I thought I’d written a “review” of it here and wanted to link to the review after the above video. However, I couldn’t find it and suspect my memory was of an email I sent to a friend at the time.

 

The book tells of growth in the underground church in Iran, and suggests that Iran’s history and culture has prepared the country for the gospel.

In recent decades, the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeini , followed later by the Khomeini inspired Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency, caused a lot of disillusionment among Iranian Muslims who couldn’t reconcile the words and actions of “Allah’s representatives” with their own idea of what God was like.

Bradley also writes of other aspects of Iranian society that helped make Iranians look favourably upon Jesus and how some had been primed to respond to the gospel through dreams, visions and miracles before being led to someone who could share the truth with them.

 

After around 100 years of mission work leading up to Khomeini coming to power, traditional churches in Iran could only count around 500 believers – now motivated by home-grown house churches, the number of believers is thought to be in the 100s of thousands.

 

 

03
Nov
16

Chinese Communist Party crackdown on Christianity

Correspondents Report By China correspondent Matthew Carney

China’s governing Communist Party is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on Christianity. Correspondent Matthew Carney travels through the country and speaks to churchgoers who are worried they could soon be arrested.

The Communist Party has just enacted much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they do not pledge loyalty to the state.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions now have to become “Chinese” and the new laws will attempt to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control.

full story here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-08/chinese-communist-partys-crackdown-on-religion/7912140

prayer

16
Sep
16

to the angel of the church in Smyrna

The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

smyrna

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

Revelation 2

_______________

See also: Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 12:13;

17
Aug
16

Extremist Secular Fundamentalism

Almost a month ago I started a post with the following statement:

While one cannot live by “likes” alone, the number of likes against an article or a comment – or their absence – can be a telling indicator of a readership’s attitude.

(https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/plebiscite-on-same-sex-marriage/)

After posting those thoughts I’ve seen something even more blatant than the situation that led me to write that article.

On the same newspaper website, I’ve seen comments ridiculing and belittling those who believe in (a) God have been getting “likes” in the hundreds. Previously it had seemed that 20 “likes” awarded to a comment was significant.

I’ve had varying degrees of involvement with Christianity and church during the past 40 years, and I’ve come across different kinds of hostile attitudes towards myself and other believers, but generally the hostility came from a small number.

This is the first time that I’ve seen such a popular opposition to those professing some kind of religious faith.
The cases I refer to above were actually responding to articles about Moslems, not Christians, but those replies were broadly aimed at a more general belief in God, not at any particular form of belief, or belief in any particular deity.

Examples:

Most people with any degree of individual thought have abandoned the idea of religion.just as nobody believes in fairies or the Loch Ness monster.
This goes for Christians and any other believers in mumbo jumbo. [161 likes]

And

Sorry, but I read the words bible and Koran and just switched off. I just can’t believe that in the 21st century people base their lives on, and excuse their actions because of, works of fiction which are centuries old [50 likes]

And

I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry anyone who is devoutly religious [108 likes ]

Most of the more extreme views some with “likes” in the multiple hundreds, were specifically targeted at Islam. While I have no agreement at all with Islamic beliefs, what I found disturbing about the comments and the fact that so many agreed with them, is that the degree of hostility directed towards people for having religious beliefs, and for actually living their lives according to those beliefs.

One example relates to a current news story about French resort towns banning the “Burkini” from their beaches. Commenters practically demand that Muslim women should conform to Western society’s standards and fit in with the world around them instead of making themselves separate from society by the way they dress.

People in Europe believe that muslims are not doing enough to assimilate properly, so why wear this religious garment? Why not try and adopt your new home`s customs and become progressive rather than regressive? [130 likes]

The point, m’lady, is not your decision to wear the all in one burkini. Knock yourself out.
It’s the ideology that claims you can’t wear a swimsuit that irritates us. [307 likes]

it’s, an ostentatious display of religious identity, and that isn’t something that should be welcome in secular liberal western countries.[50 likes]

The burkini is part of a ridiculous mindset that says that strongly held religious beliefs somehow have intellectual merit.[ 103 likes]

While most of these comments are addressed to an issue related to Muslims (women in particular) – I think they are no less hostile to anyone who takes their faith seriously enough to think their lifestyle should be shaped by something (Someone) other than society’s ever changing standards of morality.

It seems that secularity is becoming much more than an absence of religion, or a separation from religion; it is increasingly becoming anti-religion and is itself adopting the very worst traits of dogmatic extremism

22
Jun
16

Alphabet Soup on the Menu?

It seems impossible to go through life today without coming across that ever increasing chain of initials LGBTQI ETC.; coined to represent a multiplication of sexual/gender identities.

alphabet soup

Increasingly, such “identities” are being accepted into main stream society and those who have a problem with this are portrayed as narrow-minded, behind the times, bigots or that favoured misnomer “homophobes”, which narrows down objections to being fear centred  and rejecting other possible motivation for people’s concerns.

Laws are being changed to accommodate, and school curricula are being redrawn to educate upcoming generations about the normalcy and acceptability of a variety of e sexual/gender alternatives. In Australia this recently included a school’s program introduced under the name of an anti-bullying campaign, and around the western world the traditional understanding of marriage is being redefined.

tardisPopular entertainment has also joined in – even family and children’s programming include homosexual relationships as an acceptable part of society. Doctor Who, a show I grew up with from it’s very first episodes in the early 60s, in its latest incarnation has featured same sex marriage as nothing out of the ordinary. Recently I saw an article suggesting that a sequel to Disney’s Frozen should include its main female character, Elsa, finding love with another woman, and even more recently it’s been suggested that characters in a current Disney cartoon are a same sex couple.

As a Christian living in a secular society I see this issue presents some significant difficulties.

There is the reality of violence directed against homosexuals that can’t in any way be condoned. I recall witnessing a bashing a few decades ago, of a homosexual man in a popular pub. The perpetrators were allegedly off-duty policemen. While I couldn’t verify that allegation, the men had unusually short hair for the fashion of the times, so their appearance added to that perception. Nothing can justify or excuse that kind of violence against anyone.
There is also the issue of the confusion and trauma experienced by those with a same sex attraction as they wrestle with society’s historical hostility and also with their own conscience. Sadly this struggle has sometimes ended in suicide.

The church has often been seen as a primary contributor to that state of mind, bringing condemnation upon people for having feelings that are generally beyond their control. Making homosexuality an easy target, while they brush aside some of their own attitudes and practices that are given more biblical pages of condemnation than homosexuality is given. (Why should greed, heterosexual lust and exploitation of the vulnerable be more tolerable?)

So, there is the question of how Christians OUGHT to respond to the increasing influence and acceptance of the diverse sexual and gender identities within western society, while staying true to the God they profess to follow. Should we merely go with the flow, recognising a need to keep up with the times and changing cultural values? That seems to be the expectation of secular society: that the church needs to change and adapt or die.

Or should we assume that God’s standards aren’t influenced by man’s fickle philosophies and that church survival isn’t dependant on following them?

Jesus said that the gates of hades wouldn’t prevail against His church. While many assume that statement refers to the forces of the devil not prevailing against the church, it should be recognised that hades (or hell) is NEVER referred to in scripture as the domain or kingdom of Satan or demons. cemeteryInstead the term is a reference to the grave, the equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. Therefore Jesus’ statement is an assurance that His church will not die out, will not be overcome by death – no matter how far the world’s standards deviate from the Godly standards upheld by His true church. So there’s no need for the church to sway with the breeze, following every fad of an increasingly secular world in the hope of surviving.

Instead of following the world’s standards of acceptability, disciples of Jesus should be following HIM, even when that puts us at odds with the world; something that WILL increasingly happen, the further the world’s values move away from God’s.

So how should Christians respond? How do we take into account and act in accordance with God’s standards as revealed through scripture?

1) Recognise that God is the Creator and the one who determines what is right or wrong within His creation. Man’s opinion changes nothing except on an individual level where a person’s choices determine where they stand with God. Are they with Him, submitting to His ways, or are they against Him, choosing something else in place of Him?
2) Be aware that God sees homosexual acts as detestable, leaving no room for legitimacy. Such acts are also described in scripture as shameful and vile passions.
3) Know that men are men, women are women, boys are boys, girls are girls – determined by biology and not by personal choice, desire or whim. Man’s relativist philosophies might allow alternative choices, but God’s standard of truth doesn’t.
4) There is a difference between same sex attraction and homosexual acts, just as there is a difference between heterosexual attraction and illicit sexual activity between male and female. We can’t choose who we’ll be attracted to, but we can choose how we respond to that attraction. No one should be judged or condemned for the kind of temptations they face.
5) We are not entitled to respond to homosexual individuals or communities with hatred, aggression or violence of any kind – including verbal. The “God hates fags” brigade is NOT a valid representation of God and His Gospel.
6) Homosexual acts should not be singled out above other sins – it is far too easy to see our own sin as being more forgivable than sin we are not personally involved with.
7) Taking and expressing a biblically sound stance on the issue of homosexuality will increasingly lead to the Christian being marginalised and vilified. Ironically, the more acceptance of the LGBT agenda grows, the less acceptance there will be of those standing for God’s agenda.
8) God desires repentance from ALL. He desires that ALL will be saved. He excludes no individual from His gift of salvation; but we can exclude ourselves by ignoring or refusing His gift. We can exclude ourselves by making the world and secular society our standard of truth.

02
Jun
16

On IS’ Frontline. (interview on ABC Radio)

A combination of news story and wonderful testimony on this short audio interview.

Announce that you’re bound for Syria or Iraq these days and you’ll pique the interest of Australia’s intelligence community.

If you’re a Christian mission worker heading into a conflict that’s driven three quarters of Christians out of Iraq, you’ll certainly have the prayers of your friends. But they’ll also have a simple question. Why?

For pastor Steve Chong and his wife, Naomi, it was to bear witness to the victims of the Islamic State group. The Iraqi army is trying to drive ISIL out of Falluja, where about 50,000 people are besieged and facing starvation.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/religionandethicsreport/on-is’-frontline/7467264




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