Month: February 2010

Persecution of Christians in India-(This is Violent,but You Should Watch)

Spurred by an article from Christian news wire, I wrote a post yesterday regarding the new post-Christian America, and the potential it holds to see the the true church rise because of coming persecution. I wrote in there about things that others in the world have suffered for years for the cause of Christ. We have lived for years under the blanket of Christendom, hoping never to face anything like this. Here is an example.

If you can watch this, and not be changed……

Post-Christian America, and All the Potential it Holds

Yesterday I posted an article written by the Christian news wire that told of the shocking yet honorable death’s of two young men sharing the gospel in Florida. Though it was shocking to the author, and though he cried out for justice, and media coverage that would be given to any other individuals killed for their religious affiliation or belief, I find myself not terribly shocked,and not terribly fearful.

Prior to Constantine’s decision to make Christianity the national religion of the empire, the early church suffered horrendously. Eusebius, a historian of the time tells of people being boiled to death, fed to lions, pulled apart, and being forced to sit in a metal chair while being cooked to death. The most horrifying for me as I read was the man who was asked to recant his faith in Christ under the threat of having boiling hot lead poured down his throat. Eusebius tells us that this man, like many others, did not recant, he would not substitute Caesar as lord, for Jesus as Lord, and so that day he lost his life…in a most disturbing and painful way. I have a vivid imagination, often times too much so, and I just kept feeling the heat in my mouth…throat…and chest as I read, trying to grasp in what world a human being could do this to another, and in what world a man could so faithfully love his Jesus, that he would give everything…even unto death, for the sake of His name.

Do I believe the death’s of these two men are the ushering in of Barbary of this nature? The likely answer is no, but what I do believe is that this incident, however tragic, marks a new age for the American Church. One in which the faithful and the fakes will be distinguished clearly. In the days that Eusebius wrote, it would be foolish and deadly to say that you were a follower of Jesus when you really weren’t. The sad reality is that since about 325 a.d. there has been an influx into the Church of casual “Christians” who served a Christ of convenience. But with the threat of death looming for even sharing your faith, this practice seems to be soon coming to an end as Christendom dies, and a post-Christian era emerges.

My hope is that the church would rise, and those that truly belong to Christ would stand firm in the face of all possible persecutions, be they personal, social, or governmental.

This incident, however terrifying for the author of yesterday’s article and others, is full of potential. For years men and women all over the world have given their lives, literally, for the cause of the gospel. The fact that it is just reaching America is in itself a startling reality…but it is here nonetheless. Do you belong to Christ? I hope that your lips are not close to Him while your heart is far off, because if it is, the time will come when it will be weighed and measured by similar incidents of verbal, physical, and emotional persecution,and if you are not His, the world will know….but more importantly, so will you.

American Martyrs Death Go Unreported-Mainstream Media Ignores this Travesty

Two Christians Murdered for Witnessing in Boynton Beach

Why the National Media Blackout?

According to the Boynton Beach police, simply sharing the word of God on the street is what brought two ministers to the man who killed them. Tite Sufra, 24, and Stephen Ocean, 23, were shot and killed Saturday night after meeting Jeriah Woody, 18. They witnessed to Woody for fifteen minutes when he got a phone call and told the preachers he ‘had to go.’ As they walked away, Woody suddenly started walking back toward them. Sufra walked up to greet him and was killed with a shot gun blast at point blank range. When Ocean ran, he was shot in the back. After he fell, Woody shot him in the head execution style. Woody was arrested Wednesday and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

“As of today, there are no national news organizations reporting this vicious murder of two innocent Christian men. Why?” Cass said, “I’ll ask this: If two Muslims, or two feminists or two homosexuals were murdered, wouldn’t the media be all over it? These were two fine young black Christian men shot by another black man for their Christian faith, yet the media does not seem to care.”

Cass continued: “It is an ominous sign of our times that Christians are being shot on the streets and in our churches. Last year Jim Pullion was killed while holding pro-life signs in front of his granddaughter’s Owasso Michigan high school. Rev. Fred Winters was murdered while preaching in his pulpit in Maryville, Illinois. Increasingly we see Christian ministers threatened and churches terrorized and vandalized for their stand on marriage. Now when Christians gather for worship they must have armed security. Anti-Christian defamation and bigotry has helped to create this violent climate and it must stop.”

Tomorrow I will write some thoughts I have on this as it relates to the new frontier of post-christian culture in America. But, I’m curious to know, what do you think?

homeless-people

Some Lesson’s Learned from Ministry on the Margins

1. These are people. God’s image bearers, and as such they should be treated with love, kindness, dignity, and respect. Even if they are disrespectful to you or themselves, show them the gospel in the way you respond.

2. But for Grace, there go I. We are not better than them because of our physical, mental, or emotional state. In fact, we may be worse off in our self-righteousness.

3. Do NOT give to pan-handlers. I have failed at this many times, but actively try to not do it. We can do so much more for them if they submit to coming and being a part of the body of Christ. It would benefit them greater to come and hear/see the gospel, and the implications of it by how we serve them, rather than giving them a couple bucks to assuage our conscience.

4. Homeless men need to be taught basic skills to re-enter and thrive in society. This requires more time investment and reprogramming than giving them a blanket and a hot cup of soup. Though giving them soup and a means to keep warm is good and right, it will only sustain them for a day, a week at most. Taking them off of the streets, or sending them to a Church/organization that can and teaching them how to function in society, if successful, could sustain him for a life time.

5. Many of them have stories, of a life before (insert: drugs, alcoholism, spouse leaving/cheating, job loss etc.) ask them to hear their story, and you will most often gain their hearts.

6 Many people living on the streets suffer from mild to severe mental illness. Finding creative, no-governmental ways to serve this population could be vital to the renewal of any major city.

7. If you feel safe in doing so, if someone tells you they are hungry, invite them to dine with you at a nearby restaurant, rather than sending them off with a few dollars to “buy food”. If they are truly hungry, most often they will go. This is a great time to share your life and the gospel.

8. There are entire homeless families. Find ways to love and serve their children, and you will often find a way to reach the parents.

9. If they are hustlers, they have been to multiple churches/social/government organizations in the area. Call other local churches to find out who and what they know.

10. In some cases there is a measure of entitlement, as though they are owed what they are asking you for. Overcome this with the love of Christ, and the gospel.

11. There is little greater than seeing someone restored spiritually, physically, and culturally.

There is much I am still learning, but knowing these things has helped me a great deal in loving the poor, marginalized, and homeless as well as they will allow.

Though the World May Rage

Preach the Gospel!!!

“How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Why? Because their God reigns! Some just don’t know it yet….

Christopher Hitchens: An Atheist who Get’s the Gospel

Jesus said to Peter, and His other disciples, “Who do men say that I AM?” After a few answers that were incorrect, it would be Peter who would say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Centuries ago, this question was at the center of culture and humanity, and today it has not changed. It is no longer an argument, primarily, of whether Jesus existed, even History, Discovery, and Science Channel have a “theology” of His existence. What they, and many more do not have, is a true theology of His Person. Take into account this excerpt from a debate between Unitarian “Minister” Sewell and renowned Atheist Christopher Hitchens. the full transcript can be found here

The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion? {Minister Sewell}

I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian. {Christopher Hitchens, Atheist}

Let me go someplace else. When I was in seminary I was particularly drawn to the work of theologian Paul Tillich. He shocked people by describing the traditional God—as you might as a matter of fact—as, “an invincible tyrant.” For Tillich, God is “the ground of being.” It’s his response to, say, Freud’s belief that religion is mere wish fulfillment and comes from the humans’ fear of death. What do you think of Tillich’s concept of God?” {Minister Sewell}

I would classify that under the heading of “statements that have no meaning—at all.” Christianity, remember, is really founded by St. Paul, not by Jesus. Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy. If none of that’s true, and you seem to say it isn’t, I have no quarrel with you. You’re not going to come to my door trying convince me either. Nor are you trying to get a tax break from the government. Nor are you trying to have it taught to my children in school. If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book. {Christopher Hitchens, Atheist}

The Gospel is so very clear, clear enough that an Atheist understands it, and yet, it is the religious who have managed to convolute it, be ashamed of it, misrepresent it, and misrepresent He who is at the center of it. Unfortunately for Hitchens, and all of us, it is not believing it (mental ascent) or understanding it (knowledge of concepts) that make us followers of Jesus. It is the regenerating (transforming) work of the Holy Spirit that alters us, giving us the ability to put our whole hope in the unalterable gospel.

Tom Brady and the Idol of Professional Sports

Americans love to make and break hero’s…and tonight’s game will be no different. Someone will win  (the Saints hopefully) and someone will lose, but most everyone, except the ultimate most ridiculous fan will not really remember who in the coming years. We love idols don’t we? We love hero’s who we can exalt, and then tear down at our convenience, that is what is so very inconvenient about Jesus. We have no control really….Hear what Brady said in an interview with 60 minutes, and decide if what you are really living for, behind all the pretense, is “everything you ever wanted…..” or, if you are really honest….there is more

Culture Clash: Where Gentrification and ‘Hood Meet Pt. 2

Take for example the shopping center 1.2 miles from my home where we do all of our grocery shopping. There is a Target, Barnes and Noble, Kroger, Carribou Coffee, Best Buy, Lowes, Rue Sans(Sushi), Wachovia (Bank), and a Smoothie King, not to mention several upscale ($200 or more a pair)shoe stores, shops, and boutiques. It possesses all of the qualities of the “rough” areas of Seattle, so by my general definition, it is no longer a depressed area…except, because of gentrification and trend changes, for this situation, my definition is blown…why? The liquor store three blocks from this shopping center was robbed, and the clerk was shot to death just two month’s ago. Just this past Sunday, a shoot out between two vehicles occurred in that same shopping center just a few hours after my family and I finished buying groceries there.

The point to this discourse is that the dividing lines between rich and poor, safe and dangerous, ‘hood and hip are no longer so clear. This is a changing landscape that as a Pastor to this city I am going to have to carefully examine to understand, so that we can most effectively and faithfully engage and reach this entire area that does not in anyway lend itself to homogeneous ministry, if we are being true to engaging the whole of the community. How we will reconcile our culture clashes, I do not fully have an answer to yet, but for anyone else seeking to move into and work for the welfare of any major city through Gospel transformation, this is a question that has to be answered.