Boomerang

BoomerangI was very hesitant to enter the pastorate. As I look back now, I see God had been preparing me for this all my life, but I was reluctant to take on such a heavy spiritual responsibility.

When I finally submitted, I made a covenant with God: “I never want to preach a sermon where my finger is pointed at the congregation, where I am saying, ‘You people better listen to this!’ But I only want to share what You have been challenging me to do and become. I want the congregation to hear an overflow of the work being done in me.”

I recently read a paragraph from Oswald Chambers that validates that covenant I made—

“It is an easy business to preach, an appallingly easy thing to tell other people what to do; it is another thing to have God’s message turned into a boomerang—‘You have been teaching these people that they should be full of peace and of joy, but what about yourself? Are you full of peace and joy?’ The truthful witness is the one who lets his light shine in works which exhibit the disposition of Jesus; one who lives the truth as well as preaches it.

My pastor friend, don’t preach it if you’re not living it! Or another way: live it first, then preach it.

6 Quotes From “The Global War On Christians”

The Global War On ChristiansYesterday I shared some eye-opening statistics from The Global War On Christians by Jeff L. Allen, Jr. Below are some of the quotes which especially stood out to me. If you want to read my full review of this book, please click here.

“Spectacular outbreaks of violence are often produced by less intense incidents, such as believers being harassed on the streets, slurred in the media, shunned in the workplace, and hassled as they gather to worship. The usual cycle is for complaints to be made about these incidents, which are then ignored or dismissed. That failure to act usually serves to emboldened the perpetrators, who then may become more likely to move on to even more lethal assaults, in effect testing the limits of official tolerance.”

“The bottom line is that the global war on Christians will never be won as long as the myth persists that nobody’s really responsible for it.”

“Perpetuating the idea that Islam is by far the primary threat facing Christians in the early twenty-first century also stokes the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between the two faiths, adding fuel to the fire of those who long for a new holy war. That doesn’t do justice to the complex reality of the situation, as there are examples of both conflict and coexistence, and for every virulent and dangerous current in the Islamic world there are also movements and individuals devoted to peace.” 

“Politically correct silence does no one any good, and arguably insults the dignity of those who run risks to life and limb on a daily basis to keep the faith alive.”

“Politics distorts perceptions of the global war on Christians in another sense. Ideological bias tempts observers in the West to see only part of the picture. Those on the political left may celebrate martyrs to corporate greed or to right-wing the police states, but fear to speak out about the suffering of Christians behind the lines of the Islamic world. Conservatives may be reluctant to condemn the situation facing Christians in the state of Israel or in regimes that are presently in fashion on the right has allies in the ‘war on terror.’ Either way, the result is a reductive reasoning of the true score of anti-Christian persecution, and a double standard when it comes to engaging its protagonists. If we want to see the global war on Christians clearly, we have to stop looking at it through the funhouse mirror of secular politics.”

“Historically, waves of persecution have fueled major advances for Christianity. … Today, it’s no accident that zones where persecution of Christians is the most intense… are also the places where Christianity is growing the most dramatically.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Eternal Life Now

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Eternal Life Now

   But to the soul alone with God the secret is known and made real, and already a Paradise has begun that presages a grander and a greater blessedness than has entered into the heart of man to imagine.

From Christian Disciplines

Far too many Christians think of Christ’s promise of “eternal life” to mean something we get later, as in after we die. They falsely think that they have to just hang on during this life to finally get eternal life, if only they’ve hung on long enough.

That’s not at all what Jesus meant! 

The Gospels record Jesus talking in present tense about being Life and having His fullness of life flow through us. He talks about the oneness we can have with the Father, just has He has, right now. He tells us the Holy Spirit will be a constant companion to us, revealing more and more of God’s mind to us about this present eternal life.

Don’t wait until after death to live in eternal life; live in it right now … today!

8 Statistics From “The Global War On Christians”

The Global War On ChristiansI found some of the statistics reported in The Global War On Christians by John L. Allen, Jr., to be quite eye-opening. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but these are some of the stats that caught my attention—

“Open Doors… estimates that one hundred million Christians worldwide presently face interrogation, arrest, torture, or even death because of their religious convictions.” 

“Two of the world’s leading demographers of religion, David B. Barrett and Todd Johnson, have performed an exhaustive statistical analysis of Christian martyrdom, reaching the conclusion that there have been 70 million martyrs since the time of Christ. Of that total, fully half, or 45 million, went to their deaths in the twentieth century, most of them falling victim to either Communism or National Socialism. More Christians were killed because of their faith in the twentieth century than in all previous entries combined. … Christians today are, by some order of magnitude, the most persecuted religious body on the planet, suffering not just martyrdom but all the forms of intimidation and depression mentioned above in record numbers. That’s not a hunch, or a theory, or in anecdotal impression, but an undisputed empirical fact of life.”

“In 1919, just 9 percent of Africa was Christian. As of early 2013 it was 63 percent, for a grand total of 380 million Christians on the continent. These folks are scattered across a stunning 552,000 congregations and 11,500 denominations…. Most of this growth has occurred since the last quarter of the twentieth century and is the result of indigenous African evangelizing efforts rather than Western missionaries.”

The top five most hazardous nations on earth in which to be a Christian:

  1. North Korea
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Saudi Arabia
  4. Somalia
  5. Iran

“One estimate is that there are 47 million Pentecostals in China alone, despite the best efforts of the officially atheistic government to rein in their expansion. … The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, which issues the much-consulted World Christian Database, says there are 111 million Christians in China, roughly 90 percent Protestant. That would make China the third largest Christian country on earth, following only the United States and Brazil.” 

“Open Doors… estimates the total number of Christians in North Korea to range from 200,000 to half a million, with at least a quarter of those believers currently behind bars in prison camps.”

“In the 1990s… conversions from Catholicism to Protestantism in Latin America during the twentieth century actually surpassed the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the sixteenth century.”

“A September 2012 report by the Pew Forum concluded that ‘a rising tide of restrictions on religion [has] spread around the world.’ Among other points, the study found that 37 percent of nations in the world have high or very high restrictions on religion, up from 31 percent a year ago, a six-point spike in just 12 months, and that three-quarters of the world’s population of 7 billion, meaning 5.25 billion people, live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion. That’s up from 70 percent from the previous year.”

You can also read some quotes from this amazing book by clicking here.

A Caution About Success

CautionAfter King David had been firmly established as the king of Israel, he wanted to show the world how devoted he was to God, and undertook to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.

This move came after “David knew that the Lord had established him as king” and “that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of God’s people” (2 Samuel 5:12; 1 Chronicles 14:2). David also asked the people about bringing the ark to Jerusalem and “it seemed right to all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:4).

Hooray! It sure sounds like David is using his new position as king to do something wonderful for his people. But…

Even with David’s knowledge that God had established him, David proceeded in a way that was displeasing to God, by attempting to move the ark in a way that God never sanctioned (2 Samuel 6:3; 1 Chronicles 13:7).

When things are going well and there seems to be a lot of positive momentum, we cannot abandon the things that brought God’s success in the first place! 

David had a habit of inquiring of God (2 Samuel 5:19, 23; 1 Chronicles 14:10, 14) which had led to his God-given success (1 Chronicles 14:17). But in the excitement of moving the ark, and the applause of the people David said, “We did not inquire of Him” (15:13) nor did they undertake the task “in accordance with the Word of the Lord” (15:15).

CAUTION!!! We can never be too careful about inquiring of God nor consulting His Word. A danger of success is that we abandon those things which God blesses and simply ride the positive momentum of the moment. No matter how popular or obvious a thing may seem, don’t forget to pray about it and consult God’s Word about it!

The Global War On Christians (book review)

The Global War On ChristiansThe reports of violence against Christians is in the news almost daily, but it should be something which dominates our headlines. Less than five pages into The Global War On Christians by John Allen, Jr. I was smacked between the eyes with this statistic: “One hundred million Christians worldwide presently face interrogation, arrest, torture, or even death because of their religious convictions.” Talk about a wake-up call!

Allen does sound the wake-up call quite clearly. The first section of the book reads a little like Fox’s Book Of Martyrs from the 16th century, except these dispatches are happening right now! Allen takes us around the globe in this section with general statistics for each region, and stories of individuals that put a “face” on the already-sickening statistics. After reading this section, you may wonder, as I did, why these reports aren’t the lead news story every single day.

In the second section Allen debunks the five most common myths used to keep people comfortably numb to the atrocities happening to our Christians brothers and sisters around the globe. This is an excellent refutation to those who may say, “It’s not our problem” or “How could I do anything about this anyhow.”

In the final section of the book, Allen brings all of the stories and statistics right onto your front doorstep. He vividly and, I believe, accurately describes what will happen if we continue to allow this persecution to take place unchallenged and unreported. Truly this book is a wake-up call, and should be read by every liberty-loving, religion-cherishing, thoughtful person in America.

I am an Image book reviewer.

Monologue Or Dialogue

Dialogue with GodTrue prayer, according to the Bible, is a dialogue. If we ever think of it as a monologue, it ceases to be true prayer.

Look at the contrasting statements in the opening verses of Psalms 13 and 14—

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? (13:1)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (14:1)

We can have a dialogue with God—even asking questions of the Almighty—or we can monologue to ourselves.

The dialoguer asks a lot of questions (five of them in the first two verses of chapter 13), and anticipates that God will answer. In fact, David wrote in an earlier psalm, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3, emphasis added).

God’s answers are expected, as the dialoguer stops asking questions of God and begins to express his trust in God’s love, as he rejoices in God’s salvation, and sings about God’s goodness (13:5-6). Clearly this trust, rejoicing and singing comes from assurances received in his dialogue with God.

The monologuer asks no questions of God, but makes definitive conclusions that he himself concocted. He talks to himself, making himself the final authority! The result is inevitable: “There they are, overwhelmed with dread” (14:5).

Jesus told a similar account of a man whom Jesus said, “prayed about himself” (see Luke 18:9-14). That word “about” is probably better translated “to.” That’s right: this man was so sure of himself (v. 9) that he now monologued to himself and thought he was praying. But Jesus said this about the monologuer: He went home without God taking notice of his prayer (v. 14).

May we always be dialoguers in prayer, and never monologuers. God wants to talk with you, even hearing and answering your many questions. Be sure you allow Him time to speak with you, as you anticipate His loving reply.

I will be continuing our series on prayer next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me!

%d bloggers like this: