A Letter to the American Church

Letter to the American Church is the latest book by Eric Metaxas, author of fourteen other books including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and If You Can Keep It.

He draws some significant parallels between what is happening in America with developments in the German Lutheran churches just prior or WW2, which significantly enabled Adolf Hitler and his minions to execute six million (6,000,000) Jews, not to mention hundreds of thousands of others deemed “deficient” by the Nazi regime.  These “others” included anyone not of “Aryan stock” such as Blacks, Latinos and Asians, as well as those they considered deviant, such as homosexuals, drug addicts, thieves and gamblers.

Lining up Critical Race Theory, Cancel Culture, Transgenderism and Abortion as the current sins of America, he points out the moral superiority claimed by those espousing these views.  “Part of what makes them so wicked is that they smilingly pretend to share the biblical values that champions the underdog against the oppressor.”  These were the same claims of Stalin, Hitler and Mao who butchered millions in the name of “fighting for the people.”

Further, he points out that while these issues are political, there is sufficient overlap with Gospel themes and Biblical values that any church that refuses to address them is tragically mistaken.  These “politics” are as demonically inspired as Hitler’s answer to “the Jewish Question,” and must be met by a Christ-honoring church that believes the Gospel touches on all areas of human life.  He challenges churches that feel we should mind our own business of spiritual matters, “as though the truth of God were a parochial, subjective idea that has no bearing on anything beyond our private prayer times and church meetings.”

This, he warns, was what paralyzed the German Church as Hitler pretended that he was with them, all the while quietly working to co-opt and undermine them.  Privately he actually despised the Church and Christianity generally, though he could not say so openly.  Just as the Three-Self-Churches of China today cannot preach the entire truth of Scripture without being shut down, Hitler’s program was to create a “Reich Church” subservient to the Nazi political agenda.  Enacting sweeping “emergency decrees” suddenly allowed Hitler to do things without the approval of the German Parliament… think “pandemic measures” to control the American population.  John Kerry, at last year’s World Economic Forum, noted that this could be an excellent model for enacting economic measures to control many national money streams.

“The Nazis controlled the media narrative and instantly whipped up a hysterical fear of… their opponents.”  Perhaps you have followed how mainstream media has been complicit with government agencies to further the fears of our population and fix on stories that support the “official” views of government and health agencies.

Many churches hung Nazi banners and flags outside their buildings and even inside their sanctuaries… It may be plausibly compared to well-meaning churches today displaying rainbow banners and BLM flags… They only wish to show that they are not like those other rigid and narrow-minded churches and that they are inclusive and generally mean no harm.  They don’t seem to know that the forces behind those banners are only smiling at them in order to deceive them; as soon as they have the cultural and political power, they will show their dedicatedly atheist colors, and will show clearly what they think of Christian virtues such as mercy and humility and love of one’s enemies.

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels will show that “Jesus was certainly not the nonjudgmental caricature that so many have made him to be.”  Did you know that the swastika that is now so despised in the west was actually borrowed from Hinduism, signifying “svas to’ ke,” meaning “conducive to wellness”?

There is a “Spiral of Silence” political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann described that asserts when one does not speak against an evil they witness, they are contributing to the success of that thing they refuse to name and condemn.  As people of conscience fail to speak against an evident evil, the price for speaking against it rises, i.e., eventually an entire nation or culture becomes silenced for fear of speaking.

This was in Chuck Colson’s mind as he helped frame The Manhattan Declaration in 2009.  Bolstered by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s stance against Naziism in 1932, the declaration calls on Christ-followers to be clear and vocal in their opposition to the idea that Christians should be “apolitical” and stick to “issues of faith.”  This, Metaxas says, is the mistake the German Lutherans made due to overcompensation against legalism that Martin Luther decried.  He specifies Luther’s avoidance of the letter of James in the Bible which clearly teaches that what one believes will affect the actions one takes.  Bonhoeffer called Luther’s stance on this “cheap grace,” an easy religion that avoids controversy and does not address the nuances of what it means to fully live out our faith.  He asks, “Does how I live show God that I actually believe that I claim to believe?  Or does how I live show God that actually I do not believe what I claim to believe.?”  Just as we cannot get to Heaven by doing good works, we cannot get to Heaven without good works, because if we have faith that will take us to Heaven, it will be a faith that is lived out inevitably in good works.

As recently as this book was published in 2022, Metaxas asks, “Shall we arrest the downward spiral, or will we go along with it until we can say nothing about anything?  Are we already very close to that?”

Of course, there is some truth in every lie that will make it believable, and Metaxas does not shy away from the fact that many Christians and their organizations have been “over-political.”  This thinking puts our hopes in a national policy, a particular candidate or party, or in legislation or courts, that if we can just get this law passed or that ruling overturned, everything will be all right.  This thinking, he says, makes an idol of politics rather than a mechanism by which Christians can share their good intentions and the love of Jesus.

Near the end of his text, he lays out the entire books premise: “Truth is truth. All truth is God’s truth, and sometimes it is those who are not bound up and crippled by entangling and confused ‘religious’ views who can see most clearly… Being a Christian is not about avoiding sin, but about passionately and courageously serving God.”

This is a book for every Christ-follower, pastor and church leader that will challenge you to reconsider, What is the Church?  Watch this 11 minute video of Francis Chan addressing this question:

The Legacy Coalition – The Next Wave?

Only take heed to yourself, … lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, … And teach them to your children and your grandchildren… Deuteronomy 4:9 (NKJV)

Seventy years ago Billy Graham entered the world stage as a Christian evangelist to reach the lost.  A decade later Youth For Christ became a massive movement of young people being trained in principles of Biblical lifestyles.  In the 1980s Bill Gothard advanced the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts to rallies of tens of thousands across the USA.  Another decade passed and Promise Keepers became the venue in stadiums all around the country to encourage godliness and racial reconciliation among American men.

In this decade The Legacy Coalition is coming in as the next evangelical wave to promote Intentional Christian Grandparenting.  An AARP report on grandparents described grandparenting in the USA:

  • About one-third of all adults are grandparents.
  • The average age of becoming a grandparent is around 47.
  • The average age of grandparents is around 64. (note: average age of death in the USA continues to rise, now almost 74)
  • The average grandparent has six grandchildren.
  • About 77% of grandparents are married.
  • About half are still working.
  • A slight majority, 54%, have at least some college education.
  • About 6% of grandparents have a grandchild living in their home.
  • Parents are not present in around 43% of those homes, a phenomenon known as a skip-generation family.
  • About 15% provide regular childcare for grandchildren in their homes.
  • More than half of grandparents help with grandchildren’s educational expenses.
  • A quarter of grandparents help pay for medical or dental care for their grandchildren.
  • More than half of all grandparents believe they play a very important role in their grandchildren’s lives.

Founded in 2016 by Larry Fowler, author of Overcoming Grandparenting Barriers, the vision of The Legacy Coalition is for grandparents to be more than the babysitters and the “fun old people” in children’s lives.  Instead, he advocates training this elder generation to be purposeful in guiding the spiritual development up to the third and fourth generations after them.

Last week a friend of mine showed a picture of a great-great-grandmother with her daughter, her granddaughter, her great-grandson (my friend) and his baby.  While few of us will live to be 103 as this woman has, most of us will live to see our grandchildren.  The goal of The Legacy Coalition is to promote teaching Biblical living to the second generation after yourself and to envision the third and fourth generation, to prepare your kids and your grandkids to teach their grandchildren.

To that end The Legacy Coalition has grown from its first days into an international outreach to thousands of grandparents from many walks of life with strategies for every stage of grandparenting.  Their website includes many free resources such as blogs, podcasts and recorded radio programs.  Under Events, there is also a link to the free registration for Grand Monday Nights, a weekly webinar platform featuring many different speakers addressing a variety of topics affecting relationships of grandparents to their children and grandchildren.  Other courses, speakers and materials are available for reasonable charges.

October 19-20, 2023, Tony Evans’ Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas will host the live Legacy Coalition Summit, which can be livestreamed anywhere in the world.  Fees and instructions are here and the list of speakers and sites for simulcasting will be updated as the dates approach, but a couple of speakers are already on board with more to be announced soon.  For a preview of the quality of presenters they invite, just look at the list of participants for 2022!  These included Ann Graham Lotz, Arlene Pellicane, Crawford Loritts and Gordon MacDonald among other evangelical teachers.

You can get on their email list for updates individually or as a church organization here.  There will be a no-obligation host-site informational Zoom meeting on February 9, 2023, for anyone interested in hosting, even if you are not the decision maker for your church.  Simply enter your information on the Get Host Info button and they will contact you about the Zoom.

In any case, if you have grandchildren, are about to become a grandparent, or if you have children whom you want to raise to be godly parents, consider contacting The Legacy Coalition via a field representative (such as Brent Nelson for the southeast US [866-461-0197]) or the national organization via their website.  Internationally, The Legacy Coalition has already begun work in Australia, Dominican Republic, Greece, Spain, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan.  Perhaps YOU can be the first in your city or your nation to connect to the next wave of spreading the gospel to every generation!

Here is a sample of the promotional video from 2022:

Thank You for the NO.

“God must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us.  The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog.  They misread the signs.  Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.”  (C.S. Lewis)

I am such a small creature with such limited understanding.  One of eight billion – 8,000,000,000!  And some demographers estimate we are half of the total population that has ever lived since Adam and Eve, 16,000,000,000 in all.

News reporters should not be allowed to use words to describe such large numbers.  Does it not seem easier to accept that our national debt is $31.12 trillion than to read our national debt is $31,120,000.000,000.00!?  And it is growing by over $2,000,000,000,000.00, two trillion, per year or $5,480,000,000.00 per day!  When you see $5.48 billion it just seems to not bother us so much as seeing the numbers stretching across the page.

However, I am writing about people today, not money.  Eight BILLION is still a lot of people.  Think of the crowds in which you have been numbered.  You may have been one of 50 or 100 at a church or social club.  If your church is a mega-one, maybe you were one of 5,000.  You could recognize your children across the large auditorium and even see them wave to you.

Then you went to a concert with 25,000 attendees, and suddenly you could not find anyone you knew beyond those within earshot, maybe 20 feet (3.5 metres) away.  A large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. for a special occasion and the news outlets estimated your “group” was over 500,000 or maybe a million (1,000,000).  All you could see was a “sea of faces” bobbing up and down, looking literally more like a lake than a mass of human beings. 

So eight billion (8,000,000,000) are LOTs of faces!!  And each one has his or her story; each one is troubled by a relationship or blessed by a colleague or family member; each one has had physical and emotional pains, and each has had offers of peace if he or she would take them.  Each ONE.

Thus, when we ask God for a parking space and one suddenly opens up, do we accurately conclude the Creator of the Horsehead Nebula actually paid attention to our desire for a few minutes’ convenience?  Or could it have been coincidence?  Does the One who designed your DNA and spangled the universe with galaxies really care if your bird or lizard or dog dies?  Would He not have more important things which require His attention?

When the apostle John encountered The Son of Man in Revelation 1, he was so overwhelmed by this Person that he totally blacked out and had to be revived.  This revelation of Jesus continues through chapters 4, 5, 7, 13 and 19 to 21 and HE is amazing!  He is beyond our full comprehension!  The difference between us and an insect seems less than the difference between us and HIM!!  He is more than our small minds can digest, and then we wonder why He sometimes does not jump when we say, “Do what I tell you to do.”

Yet, Jesus, Himself said that Father numbers the hairs of our heads!  Such a mind with such vast power and yet such perception of the details!!  So when we do not get the “answer” we demand from this Creator, we should not be dismayed, and conclude, “See, God does not exist because He did not do what I want.”

He knows; He understands; He cares more than we can grasp and loves you and me, us two out of 8,000,000,000 (or 16,000,000,000 depending on who you are counting).  He knows and loves YOU more than you can imagine.  So trust Him.  Though he seems to be playing fast and loose with us, simply trust Him, believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life.  Then, someday, we will know fully even as we have been fully known.  And thank Him for all things, even when He says, “No.”

Never On a Sunday

Dad and Mother will be turning over in their graves this weekend.  They passed into Heaven in 1973 and 1999 respectively.  Christmases in ’66 and ’94, the last ones to arrive on Sundays prior to their deaths, were cause for special celebration as Dad and Mother considered Sunday to be a “Sabbath” (although they knew the Jewish practice of the true Sabbath being from Friday at 6pm to Saturday at 6pm).  However, since Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, Christians shortly after began meeting on Sunday rather than the Sabbath, and this was cemented in minds after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. as we Gentiles became the predominant population of Christ-followers.

Throughout the 1900s this coincidence of Jesus’ birth and our weekly worship time was a delight to ministers who would see crowds gather in greater number than any other time of the year (except possibly Easter).  But something changed as we headed into the new century.  Maybe it was the reaction to covid, or the development of the “Mega-Church” and the explosion of church staffs and production qualities that rival Academy Awards shows.  The modern “worship service” takes more people and more tech than the Death Star development in Star Wars, especially if it is broadcast over multiple campuses and the internet!  Why not just pre-record it?

Add that this year we have a “bomb cyclone❗” hitting the middle of the nation on Christmas “Adam.” (That’s the day before Christmas Eve… get it, Adam came before Eve? 😄)  It seems like the weather forecasters need to cooperate with the fear-mongers at every level of government and large institutions, so they chose the most horrific words to describe what we used to call “a winter storm.”  Yeah, yeah, big whoop, like we never dealt with snow and wind before. 🙄

When Christmas and Sunday rendezvous, some churches now feel the need to cancel Sunday worship so that the true meaning of Christmas can be experienced in all its fantastic, fabulous luxuriousness.  After all, we know Christmas is about family and Santa Claus and presents … and eggnog!  At least that’s what the agnostics and atheists say, and by actions (which speak louder than words) so does the Church when it cancels Jesus’ worship “in honor of Jesus’ birth.”  Like my brother asks, “Why would I want to host a party in MY house on MY birthday!?” 😏
Happy Birthday, Jesus.  We’re going to the movies rather than Your house today after we open all our presents we gave each other and not You.

Why would churches cancel worship on Sunday when it collides with Christmas?

  1. Does the Bible say we should?  No.  I’ve read the entire library a few times, and neither the celebration of Christ’s birth nor Sunday worship is mentioned.
  2. Perhaps Christians around the world are complaining, “We can’t go to church Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day!  That’s just too much worship.”
  3. Maybe they are thinking, “Well, commercial places are closed on Christmas! Why should we stay open?”
  4. Folks really need time to marvel at Santa’s empty cookie plate, open presents, go out to eat, and still have time to go to the movies and it’s hard to fit all that in with an extra worship service on Christmas Eve.

It seems the only folks who actually say, “Let’s cancel Sunday worship if Christmas falls on Sunday” are church employees, including some ministers.  After all, they spend their workdays all week celebrating Jesus; they deserve a day off from such tiring spirituality, right?  But as another blogger pointed out, the extra work is “not as hard as being beheaded by ISIS for your faith or being a Christian in Saudi Arabia or India, but it is really, reeeally hard.” 😢

During the 20th century, the 25th of December was on a Sunday 14 times (*see list below).  This century has started off with 2005, 2011, 2016 and now this year, 2022.  Actually, I cannot recall any churches cancelling Christmas Day services before this year, but several in our fair city and many in other places are.  The next time Christmas and Sunday bump into each other will be 2033 (2028 is a leap year).  The following years* will probably have me watching from Heaven, unless Jesus has returned.

However, a big business needs to evaluate cost-benefit analyses, and if less than half of a church’s parishioners show up for Christmas Sunday, is the effort worth it?  Don’t I recall something about “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them?”   In any case, I suspect MANY people would show up for Christmas Day services at a church building:

  1. Nominally religious people who want to show off and need to be told the Gospel again.
  2. Christ-followers who love to meet with other believers who love to celebrate Jesus.
  3. Lonely people for whom the “family” orientation of the day exacerbates their loneliness; they need the body of Christ!
  4. Politicians: these folks need the Gospel more than our votes, but they’ll show up to garner them from the gullible.
  5. “Out-of-town” family members who are in town for the holiday visits.
  6. Atheists who are wondering, “What do those people do at a church meeting on a holiday?”
  7. People who love celebrations with beautiful Christmas music.

Perhaps we are buying into the secularization of Christmas and are idolizing our families over the One who said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

How do we claim, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” if we add, “unless His birthday falls on the day we usually gather to worship Him,” without looking silly, inconsistent and inconsequential?  So celebrate Christmas this year with worship of the God Who Is and who loves us so much that He came to live as one of us, to experience our pain, sorrows and loss, and to die in our places.  Yes, celebrate Christ’s birth … but Never On a Sunday.

*Christmas fell on a Sunday in these years:1904, 1910, 1921, 1927, 1932, 1938, 1949, 1955, 1960, 1966, 1977, 1983, 1988, 1994.
*In the 21st century, this will occur again in 2033, 2039, 2044, 2050, 2061, 2067, 2072, 2078, 2089, 2095.

Christianizing Christmas – Guest Blog by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

Dr. Eli (as his hyphenated last name is even harder to spell than to pronounce! 😁) is a Research Professor of Jewish and Christian Studies at The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies in the Netherlands, and a scholar in Early and Modern Church History.  He is a Russian-American-Israeli Christian author, experienced educator, and scholar in Jewish context and culture of the New Testament.  Outside his expertise in the ancient languages – Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Syriac and Old Church Slavonic, he has a command of three other modern languages – English, Russian and Hebrew.

One of his greatest passions is building bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history.  He has taught Biblical, Jewish and Christian studies at the Israel Theological Seminary, at the Haifa Theological Institute, at the Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary and at Spurgeon’s College, University of Wales.  He has some outstanding books relating Jewish history and philosophy to following Jesus.
What follows is his guest blog:
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Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

Let us begin with a bit of a dark picture. Nowhere in the Holy Scriptures are we told about a celebration commemorating the birth of Christ Jesus. Nothing in the Scriptures gives us any sure evidence about the date of this magnificent event.

The lack of Scriptural specificity about the facts surrounding the birth of the Judean King stands in sharp contrast to the details available about his death. (Each of the four Gospels provides the exact timing of Jesus’ death).
[Actually, it takes a bit of sleuthing to analyze the exact timing of the days between the entry into Jerusalem, the Crucifixion and Resurrection.  This is why the Roman Catholic Church in The Council of Nicaea mistook Friday for the day of the Crucifixion.  This blogger believes He was crucified on Wednesday, the day before the High Sabbath of the Passover, not the weekly one.  See Matthew 12:40 and Mark 9:31.  Passover and began on Thursday the week of the Crucifixion.  However, the FACT of His crucifixion is more important than on which weekday it occurred.]

In the late second century, the Greek Church Father Origen mocked yearly celebrations of Roman birth anniversaries, discounting them as deeply pagan practices. This suggests that Christian communities did not yet celebrate Christmas during Origen’s lifetime (c.165-264). The first church figure to discuss the date of Jesus’ birth was Clement (c. 200), an Egyptian preacher from Alexandria.  However, December 25 was not even mentioned. By the middle of the fourth century [~350 c.e.], however, we find that Western churches were already celebrating the Birth of Christ on December 25, while the Eastern Churches did so on January 7th.

How did the early Christians arrive at this dating?
Surprisingly, the early church followed a very Jewish idea – that the beginning and the end of important redemptive events often happen on the same date (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashana 10b-11a). In the beginning of the third century, Tertullian [155-220 c.e.] reported that since he knew precisely when Jesus died (14th of Nissan or March 25), he also knew exactly when he was conceived! He was most-likely wrong in his conclusions, but at least we can now see how they arrived to date of Christmas.

The logic went as follows: If Jesus was conceived on March 25, then counting forward to the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy would place His birth on December 25. This is especially intriguing because January 1st used to be celebrated as the Day of Christ’s circumcision (8 days from the evening of December 24).

It is very important to note that it was not until the fourth to sixth centuries [~300-500 c.e.] of the Common Era that Christians began to “Christianize” the local pagan celebrations of the peoples they sought to evangelize. There is no doubt that it was at this time, but not before, that Christmas began to acquire some of its pagan traditions. Why? Because until c.300-320 CE, Christians were fighting a counter-cultural war with the pagans of the Roman and Persian world. Consequently, they were not in the mood for cultural adaptations just yet. 
[Note, Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 c.e., making counter-culturalism less significant and initiating a period of “Christianizing” pagan temples and customs.]

Since December 25 as the supposed date of Christ’s birth was circulated 100-150 years before the practice of “Christianizing” pagan celebrations commenced, it is unreasonable to conclude that this date was adopted to please the Roman pagans as popular conspiracy theory suggests.

It is true that in 274 CE the Roman Emperor [Aurelian] declared December 25 to be, “The Day of the Unconquered Sun,” (Sol Invictus). However, that was some 70 years after Christians had settled on December 25 as their Christmas date. Moreover, the decree itself may have been issued to help stamp out the newly established Christian celebration. Before answering our main question, I think we should answer few related ones:

Is Christmas a Biblical holiday?
No. It was not commanded by God in the Bible.
Does the celebration of Christmas contain elements that are pagan in origin?
Absolutely. There is no doubt about that whatsoever.
Is December 25 the correct date for celebration of the birth of Jesus?
Possible, but highly unlikely.

And finally, is Christmas a pagan holiday?
There is nothing pagan about speculating that December 25 is the birthday of Jesus.
Inaccurate? Probably.
Pagan? No.

Order the Jewish Insights into Scripture or see all books by Dr. Eli here:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078GXC7C8/

Thank you for your attention and blessing!  Dr.Eli
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For some of my earlier thoughts on this theme, see my Christmas Eve blog of 2017.

Advent: What Will Happen Soon

Advent, a Latin-borrowed term for something that is coming into view, is mostly used to refer to Jesus’ first arrival on earth the first Christmas day.  However, in church history the birth of Jesus did not get a lot of press or attention.  Some Christ-followers even disdained its celebration as too aligned to pagan Saturnalia practices of ancient Roman days; a festival of debauchery associated to the winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer after the autumn’s longer shadows have stretched the night to its maximum.  The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock fame actually made Christmas celebration illegal for their colony.

“Advent” in its current incarnation, refers to the four weeks prior to Christmas, celebrated by most Christians as December 25, though the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown.  Each week is commemorated with a special focus of a blessing that will come into the world with the “coming of Jesus.”  Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are the four themes, usually marked by the lighting of candles and recitation of Scripture on these ideas.  These practices of Advent probably began sometime before 400 C.E. and were established as a church practice by the second Council of Tours in 567 with monks being required to begin a regular fasting schedule from December 1 to the 25th.

Some churches will rearrange the order of the themes; some substitute Faith for one of them, and some add a fifth candle, The Christ Candle, for lighting on Christmas Day.  In any case, this is not a Scriptural design, but serves as a reminder to Christians of various themes of Jesus first time on earth.

However, when the Church began celebrating the Advent season of Christ’s birth, the focus was not so much on fuzzy good feelings of the commercial season we now see.  Rather they were laser focused on how He came to begin the process by which He wouldjudge the living and the dead,

Evangelism was not shrouded in anger and antagonism at sin and heretics, but joyful communication of the recognition that God would set all injustices right; He would heal all diseases; He would establish His throne on earth to rule in love and holiness.  What He began with His first Advent would end with His glorious return; thus, the judgement of Jesus was part of the Good News!  The judgement day was not about gleefully consigning neighbors and the mass of non-Christians to eternal hell, but about helping anyone with a heart for good to participate in Jesus’ final victory over Martin Luther’s “three cosmic enemies of Christ,” sin, death and the devil.

In antiquity Christ-followers cared little about Jesus’ birthday but focused on two other major events in space-time history: the Resurrection and Jesus’ Second Coming, i.e., His Advent back into the world for the second time.  He specifically warned His followers to beware of false “christs” (anointed ones) and to avoid setting a date for His return.  (See Matthew 24.)

When Jesus left the earth, angels reaffirmed that He was not gone permanently, but would come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  The disciples, some 500+ of them, waited in Jerusalem for His promise to send the Holy Ghost.  This occurred 50 days after His resurrection on the Day of Pentecost, and the New Covenant He had instituted with His apostles at the last supper was initiated.  Under His direction they were to tell everyone that Jesus is the Son of God and will forgive the sins of anyone who repents and follows Jesus.  They proceeded to fill Jerusalem with this message, spread it to all Judea, reach out to Samaria and eventually to the “ends of the earth.”

We are there – the ends of the earth, about as far removed geographically as one can get from Jerusalem, the exact antipode being somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  And this message is being translated into almost every known language on earth, so that this Gospel (good news) has reached nearly the whole world, precipitating Jesus’ second coming.  Keep in mind that of the languages in which Bible translation has not begun, many have access to Bibles in similar languages to their “heart language” and many are very small ethnic groups.   Wycliffe Global Alliance estimates 6,000,000,000 people have a full Bible available with another 22% having partial translations, meaning 97% of the world’s 8,000,000,000 have access to the truth of the Good News!

Now regarding this “Second Coming” there is a lot of confusion.  Jesus was intentionally vague about “the day and the hour” because He did not want someone to think, “My master is delayed,” (Matthew 24:45-51) and slip into selfish behaviors, ignoring that our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6) knows our hearts at all times (Psalm 139:1-16).  There were even those in the first century C.E. that believed Jesus had already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).  And so confusion continues today, whether Jesus will return at the beginning of a seven-year period called The Tribulation, in the middle of it or at its end.  But of this we can be certain: “the day of the Lord WILL come.”

Do you believe Jesus was who He claimed He was?  There is no getting around the idea that He claimed to be THE Son of God.  He was not just some nice philosopher with some gentle teaching.  If you read the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, you will be struck not only by how egalitarian He was among the Jews and Samaritans (leftovers from the Babylonian captivity), but by His egomaniacal claim to be One with God.  Even His enemies recognized this claim and in fact, was the basis for their intention to crucify Him.

So this year, as you sign Christmas cards or fill out ecards online, as you put up your tree or outside lights, recognize that Jesus’ first Advent was just a precursor to another Advent that will joyously tear the fabric of space and time and usher in an age of the earth such as we have never seen since the Garden of Eden.

Marantha, even so, come again, Lord Jesus.

The Only “Proof” of the Resurrection

For those who do not remember “Watergate,” this is the name of an office building complex, The Watergate Office Buildings and Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Convention housed its headquarters in 1972.  A break-in, most likely authorized by then President Nixon, set the stage for most of the distrust of government currently rampant, resulted in the only resignation of a sitting president of the US and brings me to “The Only ‘Proof’ of the Resurrection” of Jesus.  The metonym Watergate came to encompass any associated activities surrounding the scandal.  The use of the suffix “-gate” after an identifying term has since become synonymous with political or public scandal, including irangate, travelgate, Reagangate and slapgate just to name a few.

One of Nixon’s “henchmen,” Charles Colson, sometimes called “Nixon’s hatchet man,” was one of the “Watergate Seven,” chief architects of the crimes associated to Watergate and its subsequent cover-up.  He was also one of 48 convictions that served prison time as a consequence and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior while in prison, penning Born Again from this experience.

Mr. Colson, as he began to minister to others in the US prison system, said regarding his conversion, “I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead; then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and we couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”  Born Again by Charles Colson.

Following is a brief overview of how each of the twelve original apostles died as well as other martyrs of the first century.  May this remind us that our sufferings in the US (so far) are minor to compare to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their time for the sake Jesus.  Our troubles are also significantly less than many Christ-followers in other nations where simply owning or reading a Bible can result in arrest and death.  Many Chinese Christ-followers do not expect to live 70-80 years, anticipating that perhaps they will be able to lead some of their prison guards to the Lord after they are arrested and before they die for their faith!

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26)
“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)

Why do we feel sleepy in prayer, but stay awake through a three-hour movie?  Why are we so bored when we read the Bible, but find it easy to read novels?  Why is it so easy to ignore a Tweet about God, yet forward the latest Kardashian news?  Why is it so easy to praise a celebrity, but so difficult to engage with our Creator?

Next week, I will discuss why Jesus left earth and did not stay to show off His crucifixion wounds to curiosity-seekers to prove His Resurrection.

_____________________________
Besides the original twelve, this list includes Matthias (elected to replace Judas, the Betrayer), Stephen, the first to die for his faith in Jesus, the apostle Paul (“as one born out of due time”-1 Corinthians 15:8), Mark, the author of The Gospel of Mark, Luke, the author of The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, and James, the brother of Jesus.  These are recorded in Foxes’ Book of Martyrs (except for Judas Iscariot, recorded in Matthew 25 and Acts 1).

  1. Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus):  He hanged himself in suicide over the guilt of having betrayed “innocent blood.”
  2. Peter: Under Nero’s persecution, he was crucified upside-down (~A.D. 64-68).  He requested the inverted crucifixion because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
  3. Andrew the brother of Peter: He was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece, hence the name “St. Andrew’s Cross.”  After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords rather than nails, to prolong his agony.  His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”  He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
  4. James the son of Zebedee: As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded at Jerusalem in A.D. 44 by Herod Agrippa (see Acts 12:2).  The Roman officer who guarded James was amazed at James’ calm as he defended his faith at his trial.  Later, as the officer walked beside James to the place of execution, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James and was also beheaded as a Christian.
  5. John the son of Zebedee: Facing martyrdom, he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome.  However, he was miraculously delivered from death.  John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Isle of Patmos.  The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as the pastor of Edessa in modern Turkey.  He died as an old man (~A.D. 100-105), the only apostle to die peacefully.
  6. Phillip: In Hieropolis, Turkey, he was scourged, imprisoned and eventually crucified in A.D. 54.
  7. Bartholomew: Also known as Nathaniel, he was a missionary to Asia (modern Turkey). Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death with knives.
  8. Matthew: He suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia for preaching about Jesus; killed by a sword in A.D. 60.
  9. Thomas: He was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish another church in the subcontinent (~A.D. 70).
  10. James the son of Alphaeus: He was crucified in Lower Egypt and then sawed in pieces in A.D. 62.
  11. Simon the Zealot: He was crucified in Britain in A.D. 74 for preaching “foreign gods.”
  12. Judas, also called Thaddeus: He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
  13. Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, he was stoned and then beheaded.
  14. Stephen, a deacon of Acts 6: The first martyr was stoned to death, recorded in Acts 7:54-60.
  15. Paul: He was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.  Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write many of his letters to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire.  These epistles, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
  16. Mark the author of The Gospel of Mark: He was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt until he was dead.
  17. Luke: He was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
  18. James the brother of Jesus: As the respected leader of the church in Jerusalem, he was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.  When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies stoned and beat James to death with a fuller’s club, crushing his skull until his brains spilled out.

“There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: ‘It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful.’ Praise God, it does not say ‘successful’.”  Amy Wilson-Carmichael, Things as they Are (1 Corinthians 4:2)

We Are Free To Share!

2022-07-02 The Insanity of ObedienceThe Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken is one of the most vital texts for the American (and the entire Western) Church in this age.  Note, Christ-followers do not seek persecution; it is inappropriate, not to mention mentally and emotionally unhealthy, to try to be persecuted.  But we must recognize Paul’s inspired teaching to Timothy in the first century was clear: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Mr. Ripken notes the common reaction to persecution, especially in the West, falls into five categories:

  1. We want the persecution to stop. (Well, obviously, right?)
  2. We want to rescue the persecuted. (Of course!)
  3. We want the persecutor to be punished. (Isn’t that justice?)
  4. We want democracy and civil rights to usher in the Kingdom of God. (Isn’t that why He established the USA?)
  5. We want to give money to help and rescue the persecuted. (That’s missions, isn’t it?)

“Significantly, however, all five of these responses FAIL on biblical grounds!” (emphasis mine)  He goes on to say, “Jesus told us that persecution is normal and to be expected. The only way to stop persecution is to be disobedient to His call.” (See John 15:18-27.)

Mr. Ripken interviewed hundreds of Christ-followers in various levels of persecution, from simply trying to meet secretly to avoid it, to meetings with prisoners who have been (and some who were currently being) beaten to discourage them from their faith.  His findings, reported in the book, are challenging, if not life-altering!

2022-07-02 Chinese PrisonerFor example, Christians in China consistently reported that being sent to prison opened doors for evangelism that would not otherwise have opened.  As opposed to praying for rescue from their persecutors, they requested that we pray FOR the persecutors, many of whom come to Jesus because of their witness.  They determined that the best way to stop persecution was to help the persecutor to become a brother or sister in Christ.  And they plant churches among the other inmates in the prisons!  From their perspective, giving money to secure their release was counterproductive.  Besides, they reported, “It is impossible to replace witness with money.”

A man whose door we knocked on back in the 70s when I was involved in a door-to-door evangelism effort, looked at us two young men incredulously as we told him our purpose was to talk to him about Jesus.  “What for!?” he angrily answered. “I’m a Christian. I was born here in the US!”

Of the estimated two billion (2,000,000,000) “Christians” reported in surveys, one has to wonder how many are “census Christians,” believing they are Heaven-bound because of where they live or who their parents were.  The lack of persecution in America today probably has less to do with our “Christian” heritage than with the fact that an accurate message of the Gospel is not being shared, much less received.

2022-07-02 MBBThis confusion extends to other nations where, to Muslims, it is typically believed that to be American is to be “Christian.”  With American culture reaching the world through television and movies, is it any wonder that Christianity is viewed so disgustingly as it is?  These people think THAT is how Christianity causes people to live, like Friends or Bel-Air!  Overcoming this stereotype is usually a long process with lots of face-to-face Bible reading and explanations.

The most poignant note I wish to make in this blog is the freedom we have to share Jesus with people we meet.  While we claim, here in America, that we are free, one must wonder if that is true . . . based on how many people I have shared Jesus with in the last year.  With how many have you shared?  And not just in blogs, but face-to-face, with personal “skin in the game.”  Am I free to share?  Are we free to share?

A Chinese house church leader shared this distinction of “church members” and “true followers of Jesus.”  “Of that large number of believers you described, two thirds are what we would call ‘members.’  Only one-third . . . are ‘true followers of Jesus.’  Probably two-thirds of the people you mentioned regularly attend church; most have been baptized . . .  contribute financially . . . But we do not consider church members to be ‘true followers of Jesus’ until they have led other people to Christ.”

Mr. Ripken makes the point that EVERY believer IS FREE to share.  The only difference is in the possible consequences of that sharing.  We assume in the West that God only wants what “feels” best for me, my family and my country.  But what if this assumption is wrong?  “It might be that Western Christianity has diminished the heart of biblical faith by removing the suffering and persecution that the New Testament promises are intrinsic to following Jesus . . . Sadly, it may be time for believers in the West to admit we are afraid.”

We must choose to obey Jesus’ call to disciple the nations, beginning at our Jerusalem and Judea (our neighborhood, our home town, our “village”), reaching out to our Samaria (those who are racially or socio-economically different from us) and to the uttermost parts of the earth.  “We can either choose not to be afraid or we can choose to obey in spite of our fears.”  There is no place or situation on earth over which the devil has so much control that we cannot share what we know to be true.  “Believers cannot always choose safety, but they can always choose obedience.”

2022-07-02 Joseph Sold to MidianitesConsider lastly an illustration from Joseph (Genesis 3745).  If we were a “missions-minded church” in his day, what would our response to Joseph’s troubles have been?  Upon hearing his brothers had thrown him in a pit, we would have sent an ‘extraction team’ to rescue him.  When he was sold to the Midianite traders, we would have taken up a collection to purchase his freedom.  If we found out about this when he was in Potiphar’s house, we would have sent a diplomatic delegation to press for his release from service.  When we discovered he was in prison, we would have sent legal teams to argue against his unjust imprisonment.

And all our efforts of “rescue” at any stage would have left Pharaoh without a “witness” to provide for all of Egypt and Jacob’s family’s provisions that they needed to survive a famine; not to mention the blessings Egypt received as long as they did not oppress the Hebrews; not to mention the tremendous deliverance The God Who Is worked through Moses and Aaron to establish His covenant with the fledgling nation of Israel.

This is not to say we should ignore brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith.  One of their greatest blessings is to know that they are NOT forgotten by the more fortunate branches in the Church; that we share in their suffering; that we give to promote the Gospel witness they provide at risk of their lives.  But we must be careful to obey the Holy Ghost and not prematurely “rescue” those Father has ordained to either suffer or die for His glory.  And we MUST share in their suffering, being willing to expend our lives, not just our money, for the sake of this Good News, just as they are.

So as you celebrate Independence Day here in the USA, or if you are just observing our native celebration from other countries, consider our real independence!  Freedom from sin, release from its consequences, deliverance from bondage, a guaranteed resurrection from the dead . . . and freedom to share all this with anyone: from our neighbor across the street to the jailer in a Chinese prison, to the imam in a mosque to the Hindu who is burning Christian churches, to the pro-abortionist who wants to prolong abortion up to 28 days after birth, to the artificial “Christian” who warms a church chair every Sunday.

We are FREE TO SHARE OUR FAITH IN JESUS, the Savior of the world!

2022-07-02 Pray for the Persecuted

https://www.persecution.com/globalprayerguide/?_source_code=WHPB20C

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

June 29 is the Day of the Christian Martyr.  More than 4000 Christ-followers are killed every year (11 every day), not because they cause trouble, but simply because they claim Jesus as their Lord.  We who live in luxury and comfort need to be aware that the freedom we now have to share the gospel could disappear overnight.  Are we ready? … But that is a question for another blog.
John Chau was part of my blog on December 03, 2018.  Here is the “the rest of the story” as told by the editors of The Voice of the Martyrs.  For the sake of my shorter blogs, this is an abbreviated account.  The full original article is available HERE.  And well worth reading!

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

2022-06-18 John Chau Title Pic

A LIFE OF PREPARATION
John spent almost a decade preparing to take the gospel to the Sentinelese, one of the last uncontacted people groups. His journey began in 2008, the year he turned 17, when he became what he described as “an apprentice to Jesus.”

2022-06-18 North Sentinel MapAfter taking his first missions trip the following year, he began to pray about spending his life serving as a missionary. “I know that God used that time to mark my life,” he later said. In his prayers, John asked God where He wanted him to go, echoing Isaiah’s affirmation – “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Soon after making that prayerful commitment, John found information online about the Sentinelese people, who live on an isolated island and have never heard the gospel. He sensed that God was calling him to go to North Sentinel Island to share God’s love with them.

“Once I said yes to Jesus,” he said in a video for a church that sponsored his work, “I was committed. I was all in.”

Every decision John made for the next nine years was in preparation for going to North Sentinel Island, living among the Sentinelese and sharing the gospel with them. “He had conditioned his body, his mind, his spirit,” said a former representative from the student missions office at Oral Roberts University (ORU), the school John attended in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “He was one of the most prepared men I’ve ever met.”

Since little is known about the Sentinelese language, he took a linguistics course through a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators hoping it would help him communicate with the islanders. In addition, he undertook medical training and became certified as a wilderness EMT (emergency medical technician) so he could provide the Sentinelese with basic health care, knowing their immune systems would be vulnerable to imported Western viruses, and he underwent laser eye surgery so he wouldn’t have to worry about keeping his contacts clean.

2022-06-18 North Sentinel PictureJohn was so focused on preparing to serve on the island – an arial view of North Sentinel hung on his dorm-room wall – that he needed a reminder to keep serving in the here and now. An outreach leader at ORU challenged John not to wait, but to start immediately serving and reaching out in the name of Jesus. And John took the challenge to heart.

Because of his love for soccer, John became involved with a ministry that ran a soccer program for immigrants from Myanmar. He was not the most high-profile leader, standing in the spotlight or preaching a sermon, but his love for people and his bedrock faith began to shine through.  “Coach Chau” became a friend, mentor and coach, taking every opportunity to point young men to Christ.

When John reached out to the ministry, All Nations, which had overseen one of his college mission trips, a member of the executive leadership, Pam Arland, took notice that John’s email was the second mention of the Sentinelese people she had seen in a week. And prior to that, she had never even heard of them. Was God at work to reach this unreached island, she wondered.

Pam invited a coworker to sit in on a call with John and help determine whether he was the right person for such a dangerous mission trip.  “John is actually one of the most well prepared and intentional missionaries I have ever met,” said Mary Ho, executive leader of All Nations in a VOM radio interview (VOMRadio.net/JohnChau). “He would call us and say, ‘How do I prepare myself to know more about cultural anthropology?’ We would say, ‘OK, here are 10 [or] 20 books on the subject.’ He would say, ‘Oh, I have read half of them.’ Literally two weeks later he would be like, ‘I have finished reading them. What’s next?’”

A SOLO MISSION
In 2015, John took the first of four scouting trips to the Andaman Islands, a union territory of India located so far east in the Bay of Bengal that it’s much closer to Bangkok than Bangalore.  As he flew out of Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands, John gazed out at the blue ocean below and saw an island come into view that he recognized immediately: It was the same island he had stared at on his dorm-room wall all through college.

“A sense of clarity and peace came upon me,” John said later, “A sense of knowing that I’m going to be going there one day. I took that as confirmation. I’ve only had that sense of clarity and deep sense of knowing a few other times in my life, and each time I can say it was definitely God that was speaking to me.”

John had a natural inclination toward planning, and it was now in full flower. He planned what to take with him, sorting and re-sorting his gear, then deciding how much would fit in the cases he planned to cache on the island before he met the islanders. He wrote plans for the first day, for his early goals and even a contingency plan in case things didn’t go well.

Plan A was to make contact with the islanders and live among them for as long as it took to learn the language and culture. Then he would tell them about the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John knew it would take years and maybe decades. His meticulous planning also included a Plan B, the possibility that tribes would not welcome him and might even kill him, just as they had two fishermen who drifted ashore on North Sentinel in 2006.

John was at peace either way. He had committed his life to seeing the Sentinelese people worship Jesus Christ as their Savior. Either he would live on the island as a guest and a light for Christ, or he would give his life on the island and enter eternity. Like Paul, he knew that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

“ADVENTURE BRO”
In case the world did hear John’s name, he had done his best to protect Christian friends in the islands and make sure any publicity would not hinder further efforts to reach the Sentinelese with the gospel. His Instagram feed is filled with adventure images from far off places. He blogged about traveling the world, climbing, kayaking and diving with great white sharks. If John’s name became known, anyone searching the images and blogspots would simply think he was an “adventure bro” who stepped too far off the beaten path and paid with his life.

After John’s death, a friend posted some thoughts that John had shared before the trip. “Death is inevitable,” John had said. “I can die in a car crash, [from] snakebite, [from] cancers. There are many ways we can die. I’m going to the islands this November and I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’m ready. I’m ready to lay my down life down for the gospel.”

In August 2018, the Indian government removed the requirement – in place since 1963 – that foreigners visiting 29 of the Andaman and Nicobar islands first apply for and receive a Restricted Area Permit. Media reports listed islands that no longer required a permit to visit – including North Sentinel Island. The change was designed to promote tourism, but also eliminated one obstacle to John’s mission.

FINAL PREP AND FIRST CONTACT
As the time approached for John’s trip to the island, Mary Ho received a four word e-mail from another member of the All Nations executive team: “Mary, are you sure?” Her response was equally to the point, from Romans 10:14: “How are they to hear without someone preaching?”

On the afternoon of November 14, before boarding a fishing boat and heading toward the island, John wrote this prayer in his journal: “Thank you, Father, for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be your ambassador. … Holy Spirit, please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in Your hands, O father, so into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

The next morning he kayaked along the shore, hoping to show his good intentions by delivering fish and other gifts to the Islanders. “My name is John,” he called out. “I love you and Jesus loves you.”

2022-06-18 John at the Island

The first islanders to appear carried their bows with unstrung arrows. Later, when they strung arrows in their bows, John paddled out of range and back to the boat. He approached again that afternoon, delivering more gifts and getting close to an islander before a young Sentinelese launched an arrow that lodged firmly in the waterproof Bible he was carrying.

The tip of the arrow stopped on a page that ended with the first two verses of Isaiah 65: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’ to a nation that was not called by My name. I spread out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.”

On that second contact attempt, John got out of the kayak, hoping to appear less threatening. But when the islanders, one with a bamboo knife, got between him and the kayak, he had to leave it behind – with his US passport inside – and swam back to the boat. After that eventful day, he poured out his heart in the pages of his journal, which the fishermen later delivered to Christian friends.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 1

Later that evening, John added another entry.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 2

According to his notes, John planned for the fishermen to drop him ashore the next morning. John hoped he would seem less threatening without the boat waiting offshore. And he also hoped to protect the fisherman: “If it goes badly on foot, the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death,” he wrote. John closed most of his journal entries as well as letters to friends and family with the Latin phrase Solo Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone).

ON THE BEACH
On November 16, 2018, John went ashore on North Sentinel Island for the last time. When the fisherman returned the next day, according to the police report, they saw “a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appear to be the body of John Allen Chau.”

Following his death, a storm of vitriol was unleashed on John, his family, All Nations and, at times, anyone who would dare to think of sharing the gospel with another human being. The fisherman who took John to the island were arrested, as were other Christians who had spoken with John in the Andaman islands. Their trial began in November 2021.

The story of John the adventure bro quickly turned to John the misguided missionary, the colonizer, the thoughtless disease spreader. The mocking memes on social media and criticism in a variety of media came in waves. Some comedians even used the story of John’s murder in their acts.

More concerning was the criticism from Christians who attacked John’s [mis]perceived lack of preparation and insensitivity to the culture. Some even questioned whether the Great Commission might be outdated in 2018; perhaps they posed, it does not apply to tribes that have no contact with the outside world.

NOT THE END OF THE STORY
“I believe the measure of success in the Kingdom of God is obedience,” John said a few months before his death. “I want my life to reflect obedience to Christ and to live in obedience to him. I think that Jesus is worth it. He’s worth everything.”

John followed in the footsteps of faithful Christians throughout history, beginning with the martyrdom of all but one of the original 12 apostles. In the 1800s, only one in four missionaries survived his first term in the Congo (see From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker). In 1866, Robert Thomas died on a riverbank outside Pyongyang while trying to take the gospel to Korea. Five men were speared to death in 1956 while trying to share the love of Christ with the “Auca” (now called the Huaorani) tribesmen. A willingness to “die trying” has always been a requirement for taking the gospel to places it’s never been heard.

The end of John’s life on earth should not be viewed as the end of the whole story; we know how that story ends. In one of John’s last journal entries, he wrote “The eternal lives of this tribe are at hand. And I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9–10 states. Every tribe, every people, every language, worshiping King Jesus together.” John longed for the day when he would introduce his Sentinelese brothers and sisters to other members of the body of Christ.

Perhaps in eternity, we will see John standing among the Sentinelese gathered around the throne, crying out in a loud voice with them, “Salvation belongs to our God!” Those who knew John well on earth will expect a toothy grin on his face, a twinkle in his eye and a thumb raised in his trademark “It’s all good” gesture.

2022-06-18 John Chau Thumbs Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNksqCzMKkk&t=206s

https://www.persecution.com/martyr/?_source_code=WEBI19E2

https://www.persecution.com/free-magazine/

What is the sign of the end of the age? Do NOT be DECEIVED!

“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  (Matthew 24:3)

2022-05-21 Do not be deceived

Many people read the words of Jesus following this question, and without looking at what He really said  think false prophets, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of Christ-followers, betrayals and lawlessness are the signs of the end of the age. 

But we must pay attention to what Jesus actually said: All these are but the beginning of the birth pains,” NOT the signs of the end.  He provided ONE and only one sign of the end of the age:
“This gospel [good news] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mathew 24:14)

Now we do not know exactly what Father evaluates as a “nation” or ethnicity (a more accurate translation of this word, ἔθνεσιν).  Could it include the Sentinel Indians that John Chau was trying to reach?  Nor do we know what the “testimony” involves: someone announcing it on a soapbox or a Bible translation in the native language?

Deception Island's Whaling RemainsIn any case, we should not think that because Russia is invading another country, THIS is it.  The tragic 2015 earthquake in Nepal was not an indication that Jesus was coming soon.  The 21 Coptic Christ-followers that were beheaded by merciless ISIS Muslims was not the end.  The summer riots of 2021 in Seattle, Portland and other cities of the U.S. were not indications of Jesus’ return any more than the Watts riots of 1965 or the Dead Rabbits riots of Irish immigrants of 1857. 

2022-05-21 DeceivedJim Jones was one of many false prophets to flit across our television screens depicting crazy guys who led many people to their deaths when they “drank the cool-aid” quite literally.  He simply followed the path of previous devious leaders like Joseph Smith of Mormon fame and Pope Julius who sold indulgences to enrich the coffers of his organization.  Such wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters and false teachers will continue until Jesus returns.

Jesus main emphasis in describing all this was to say, “See that no one leads you astray!”  He mostly wanted His followers to be careful not to be deceived by miracles and false prophecies.  He laid down a basic principle for future prophecy in John 14:29: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.”  Though this was in regard to specific things coming the next day at His crucifixion, the postulate is applicable across the board for all Bible predictions of coming events.

We need to study the future prophecies of the Bible to have some ideas of what to expect, but we likely will not be able to predict stock market crashes, where the next riot will occur, when the tsunami will break over the Northwest coast or who the Anti-Christ is . . . until he is revealed.  (BIG hint: he’s probably not Donald Trump nor Joe Biden.🙄) The important thing is to keep in tune with the Spirit of God and be able to understand what is happening in the world as it unfolds.  And BE READY!   Scripture (Matthew 24:17-20) suggests events will occur so rapidly that one will not even have time to grab an extra coat!  It will happen as fast as lighting‼️

So what is The Sign?  Tell everyone that Jesus is returning.  Tell everyone that sin is forgivable.  Tell everyone that there is hope, even when the world seems to be reeling out of control.  Tell everyone that Jesus is God, that The God Who Is has revealed Himself in Jesus who died to take away our sins, MY sins, YOUR sins.  Preach this Good News to all the world all the time until everyone has had an opportunity to accept or reject the claims Jesus made.  Then the end will come and the redeemed will be saved, the blind will receive sight, the oppressed will be set free and God’s will will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.

Whatever we believe about the End Times, they will happen according to God’s timeline, not ours.  They will happen according to His plan, not any man’s.  But the End Times will happen. 
Know and love the truth.
Do not be deceived.