The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice

“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:4

We are such a short-sighted race, we humans.  There is no distinction here for black, yellow, white or polka-dotted.  After all, God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26)  We are all directly related, and should treat each other as brothers and sisters, because that is what we are. 

The Lie
2021-09-18 Serpent in GenesisBut we are also all sinners, because Adam and Eve preferred to believe they had a better idea of how to live than their Creator did.  They believed The Lie with which the father of lies continues to bewilder mankind: God is holding out on you, and YOU can be like Gods.

Some atheists have said, “Well, if there IS a God like Christianity teaches, I don’t want anything to do with Him.”  They drank from satan’s cool-aid and believe lies about God’s nature, His intentions, His abilities, His power, or now even His existence.  Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Or they have listened to false teachers with an agenda of self-gratification, selfish ambition or worse.  Such false teachers are going to their well-earned destruction; do not go with them!

Would you reject a teacher who wants to do good for you, just because one of his students said bad things to or about you?  Do not reject a God who loves you just because someone ‘claiming’ to know Him does something bad!

My heart aches for so many who are separated from The God Who Is, who has revealed Himself most clearly in Jesus, the Christ (or Anointed One).  He does not want anyone to miss the eternal life with joy unspeakable and full of glory, a life without pain or disease or death or separations.  However, He will not force anyone to trust Him – it must come from our choice of who to believe: the devil whose only goal is to steal and kill, or Him whose only desire is to bring more abundant life.  He leaves that decision up to each of us, and no one can force or convince another if they are unwilling to believe.

The Truth
Jesus IS coming soon, and we do not know the hour or the day, suggesting that His “rapture” (or catching away) of the Church could occur at any time.

2021-09-18 The TruthSome refer to the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church as a “secret rapture.”  However, according to reliable resources there are more than 2,300,000,000 (2.3 billion) “Christians” in the world, making it the world’s leading religion.  Add that it is the fastest growing religion, most of the new converts coming out of Islam according to Al-Jezeerah in 2020.  Africa and the Middle-East are the fastest growing areas of Christianity, even though the risks of claiming to be a Christian are greatest there.

Grant that some so-called ‘Christians’ are weeds among the wheat, even if only half are true believers in Jesus, the instantaneous and simultaneous disappearance of 1,150,000,000 (1.15 billion) people collected from every nation on earth would constitute a global catastrophe unlike anything the world has ever seen!  And this number could be a significant underestimate because of many “underground” Christians who cannot yet publicly claim the Name because of persecution.  Imagine up to 2,000,000,000 (2 billion) people or more disappearing in the twinkling of an eye!  This would hardly be a “secret rapture.”

The End
2021-09-18 The EndThis would instead be the most ripe situation imaginable for a “Man” to come onto the global stage, and with “ten horns,” or ten major world powers backing him, initiate a global authority to regulate emigration/immigration, establish peace in the world’s worst trouble-spot, Israel, and begin to institute a global digital currency.  This global currency will not become mandated until three and a half years later when this “Man’s” false prophet comes onto the scene to enforce it.

By then it will be too late for tears, wishing you had put your trust in Jesus before this global currency is the only way to buy or sell.  But it will still not be too late to put your faith in Him; it will just be much more costly, because you will not even be allowed to get groceries without a ‘Mark’ that will allow you to do so.  And to get this ‘Mark’ you must swear allegiance and loyalty to the Man ordering it.  Even if the false prophet, charged with excuting anyone refusing this “Mark,’ fails to find you, no one is going to help you out.  But the promise Jesus gives is that some will refuse the ‘Mark” and be saved, though through death.

Your Choice
The Creator of life and all that you see in the universe would do anything to bring you into the Truth if you will trust Him.  But He will not force anyone; He will not ‘prove’ Himself beyond what He has already done by raising Jesus from the dead. 

2021-09-18 The Truth Will Set You FreeThe slogan of several universities around the world is The Truth Will Set You Free.  However, this slogan is not really referring to scientific or mathematical, or even philosophical truth.  It comes from the words of Jesus in John 8:32, where the whole quote is, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

My friends, the time is short until Jesus will return.  I appeal to you, that if I am wrong and Jesus is not God, if He did not arise from the dead, if He is not coming back to take us to Heaven, then none of this matters.  BUT, if what I have presented is true, the most important thing in your world is to know Him and be found in Him at His return.

“This I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.  Yet He is actually not far from each one of us . . .
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by [Jesus,] a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul, on Mars Hill, Acts 17:24-30

Boring Christianity? – Wordless Wednesday

2021-09-15 WW - Is It Boring Being a Christian

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

10 Common Signs That Are NOT Signs of the End

2021-09-07 The Parable of 5 Wise and 5 Foolish Bridesmaids“There were ten young women, the equivalent of bridesmaids in our time, who were waiting for a bridegroom to show up outside the bride’s house.  In their culture, the groom would host a big ‘bachelor party’ for his friends while the bride waited in her home.  Sometimes, in his anxiety to join his bride, that party would be minimal and over quickly. 

“However, other times the party with the guys could go on a looooong time.  No one had a wristwatch to keep track, so it was up to the groom to decide.  When he finally showed up with his entourage, the bridesmaids would join the procession of groomsmen into the wedding feast and marriage ceremony.

“Five of these young women knew the groom might be a long time and planned ahead.  They had lamps to illuminate the wedding feast, and being wise, they brought extra fuel for their lamps.  Five were not so diligent and only brought the fuel in their lamps.

“As the day wore on into evening, the less attentive girls asked the wise ones for some of their fuel.  Prudently, the wise ones simply responded they could not give their fuel away or they might not have what they needed.  This was not greedy, but simply the way it was.  So the five “foolish” ones went into town before the shops would close in order to buy fuel.  But by the time they got back, the groom had arrived, the feast had begun and the lights were blazing inside the walls of the bride’s home.

“The foolish young women begged to be let in, but the Master of the wedding told them, “Truly, I do not know you.”  And so they were left outside, out of the party and uninvolved in the wedding.”  (paraphrased; Matthew 25:1-13)

Sound harsh?  This is the story Jesus told His disciples after He had just answered their tri-part question: “When will [the destruction of the Temple] be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and [what will be the sign] of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)  This also was not a pretty picture, so for those who think of Jesus as a gentle, mild-mannered, sweet-guy teacher, all roses and lovey-dovey, Matthew 24 and 25 can be eye-openers!

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” (Matthew 25:13) and He was not going to tell them.  In fact, His loving Father, the “I Am” who revealed Himself to Moses, is the only one who knows.  Even Jesus is out of the loop for His return date (Matthew 24:34).

All New Testament references to Jesus’ return to rapture the Church out of the world emphasize that there are no markers we can lay down and say, “Okay, Jesus will come in three and a half years,” or “Jesus will return in seven years.”  These views are referred to as mid-Tribulation and post-Tribulation rapture.  If Jesus’ return to “catch away His bride” was on this schedule, we could pretty much count the days: precisely 1,260 days, or 2,550 from whatever event begins the first half of the Tribulation.  (See Revelation 11:3, 12:14, Daniel 7:25, 12:7)

Furthermore, before He returns He noted that life would be pretty “normal,” at least as normal as they can be with all kinds of alarms going off and false prophets spouting “wisdom” in WordPress blogs about how to be happy, how to have a fulfilling life, how to make lots of money, etc.; “as it was in the days of Noah.” (Matthew 24:37-42, 2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Jesus specifically said these are NOT signs of the end of this age:

  1. People claim to be a Savior or to have all the answers to the world’s problems.
  2. Wars and rumors of wars.
  3. Famines.
  4. Earthquakes.
  5. Persecution of Christ-followers to death.
  6. Many leave faith in Christ and betray and hate other Christ-followers.
  7. False “prophets” who claim to have special knowledge.
  8. Deception: calling “good” evil and calling “evil” good.
  9. Lawlessness.
  10. Lovelessness; exaltation of self-love; love of pleasure.

Then WHAT IS the sign of the end? “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24:14)

With over 7000 languages in the world, most now have some of the Bible in their “heart language” and Bible translations societies are closing in on the most obscure of these.  However, we do not know what God considers a language or “nation” in the Great Commission.  In any case, there is no reason to suspect that this Gospel will not reach every nation of the world within the immediate future!

2021-09-07 Bible Translations

Therefure, Christ followers must not only Be Ready, but help everyone we can to Get Ready to meet Jesus!

 

 

Guest Blog: Dry Bones on Wordless Wednesday

2021-09-01 Wordless Wednesday

Just as in the story of Ezekiel 37 and the dry bones, you may sometimes feel disconnected, lifeless and despairing. But Jesus can bring your life back together. He can make even dry bones dance again.

So, don’t quit. Don’t give up. The One who reassembled the dry bones and got them moving again can do the same for you.

All of us need to be reminded, especially when life seems hopeless, of God’s plan to restore us and give us a second chance — a divine reset.2021-06-19 Tony Evans Signature

Jesus IS Coming Soon. Who Will You Tell Today?

Returning to a theme of Prophecy, it is important for Christ-followers to not take a laissez-faire view of the rapture.  “I’m saved and ready, so I can relax.”  Father will hold us accountable for what we know and do not share with those who need to know.  “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) 

2021-08-28 Four Lepers

Consider the four lepers of 2 Kings 7.  The Syrian army was besieging northern Israel such that there was a famine, possibly because the enormous Syrian army was taking all the grain and animals that would normally be food for the Jews of Samaria, possibly inflicted by God for the sinfulness of the northern tribes of Israel, led by Ahab’s second son, Jehoram (aka Joram).  Miraculously, God had chased the Syrian army away in a night of confusion and they had left everything in their camp, fleeing on foot.

Since “lepers” were considered unclean and could not go into the city, the four decided to go into the Syrian camp and settle their fate by letting the Syrians kill them rather than die of hunger outside a city that was also famished.  When they found the camp deserted they started taking spoils of war from various tents and hiding their new-found wealth somewhere nearby.  

Realizing that they were blessed and the city was still assuming it was under siege, they went to the gate of the city and reported that the Syrians were gone and everyone could come out and plunder the camp.  Suspiciously at first, the Israelites came into the camp, but when it was confirmed that the Syrians were not laying a trap, the whole city rushed out to grab food, drink and all the goods left behind.

But our focus is on the four lepers.  They realized that they had stumbled onto something wonderful and fearing Yahweh, the God of Israel, they recognized that to enjoy God’s blessing and not share it would result in punishment.  “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:9)

2021-08-28 Saved By GraceFellow Christ-follower, learn a lesson from the lepers!  If we are saved by the grace of God and our faith in Him, we do not have to fear judgement.  However, when Jesus returns to take us who believe in Him to be with Him forever, we need to be busy about our Father’s business.  We have this good news: freedom from punishment for our sins, deliverance from demons of oppression and fear, knowing that we will live forever whatever suffering we may endure here on earth; and to NOT share it would be like those four lepers if they had continued living in the luxury of the abandoned Syrian camp while people in the city continued to starve!

Jesus IS coming back, probably sooner than later.  Certainly, the Second Coming of Jesus to take His Church to be with Him is closer than when Paul, Peter and John wrote about it in the first century after Jesus’ resurrection.  Bible translation into almost every language on earth, global activities of politics and armaments, social structures of developing nations catching up to developed ones, conflicts for which there appear no solutions – all are setting the stage for the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) who will attempt to establish a world-wide government, and only allow people with a “Mark” to buy and sell.

All he needs is a global event that will cause so much confusion, chaos and fear that the leaders of the nations of this world will be happy for anyone who seems to know what to do.  This event could easily be the “rapture of the Church,” resulting in billions of people leaving the world in “a twinkling of an eye.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6)

You have the best news the world has ever heard.  You have an anointing of God’s Holy Spirit.  You have the guardianship of angels.  Do you dare to NOT share such good news with a friend who does not know there are provisions that can feed the hungry soul, quench the desperate thirst for Truth, and satisfy the heart with knowledge of the Holy?  “This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us.” 

Who will you tell today that Jesus is coming back and they can come along?  Be ready.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Update on Afghanistan

As Biden’s humanitarian and military crisis in Afghanistan proceeds, friends in Afghanistan are trying desperately to find a way out of the country, mostly over land into neighboring countries.  Imagine thinking “escaping to Iran” would be an attractive option!

In spite of the small number of Afghani Christians, missions agencies report that for several years Afghanistan has had the fastest growing population of Christ-followers, second only to Iran.  This story is from the son of an imam who hated Christians when he was 17, but found out that Christians were offering peace and life while the Muslims of whom he was part were threatening him with death for simply reading the Bible.  The following is a transcript from a Christianity Today podcast called Quick To Listen.  Good reading and information in Christianity Today.
__________________________________________

‘My Heart Is Broken’: An Afghan Pastor Grapples with the US Withdrawal
America’s departure and the Taliban’s ascent is forcing Christians out of the country.
Morgan Lee, August 20, 2021

2021-08-23 Taliban in KabulTaliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced that after close to 20 years, the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. Last week, as the military began its exit, the Taliban was ready and within days had seized control of the country. The ascent sparked widespread fear and led to thousands arriving at the airport only to find their flights out of the country had been canceled. Some even grabbed hold of an aircraft in desperation.

Biden defended the decision, arguing that Afghanistan’s leaders “gave up and fled the country.” He also said: “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments in the past week reinforced ending that US military involvement Afghanistan now was the right decision.”

He did concede: “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.” As the government fell, it was not clear if the US had done anything to protect those who had worked with the military as translators. Plans to resettle Afghans as refugees seemed to be formulated in real time. The rights of women and girls, which were suppressed under the Taliban’s previous time in power, also appeared in jeopardy. And the lives of Christians, who according to official numbers only make up a minuscule number of the country’s nearly 40 million people, seem in peril as well.

David Paiman is an Afghan pastor and evangelist. You can follow his ministry herePaiman joined global media manager Morgan Lee and news editor Daniel Silliman to discuss how he converted from Islam to Christianity, the withdrawal’s consequences for the church in Afghanistan, and how we can best support the country and people during this time.

The transcript is edited by Faith Ndlovu

Highlights from Quick to Listen: Episode #277

David Paiman: Thank you for your concern about Afghanistan. We are grieving and our hearts are heavy. We see the news that Afghanistan is blaring and everywhere in the street, we can see hopeless people are left behind. But we see the reality more when we talk to people inside Afghanistan.

I’ve been talking to many believers inside Afghanistan. They are crying out for help, and they are crying out for the American army, and some of them sent me a video of many women and girls.

They have been to the airport and they’re crying out to American soldiers to help them. They have been there to serve them and help them but that is over. What we are seeing is too much and my heart is broken.

We are here in America, we see what we see on Twitter or television, but generally speaking, what do you find that Americans don’t know about Afghanistan that you really want them to know? What do they maybe misunderstand about what they do know?

David Paiman: Americans should know about Afghan believers, those who have converted to Christianity. Their lives are in danger, especially for people who are registered as Christians in Afghanistan. There are about many families there and they already got their identity. Many other Afghan believers only registered but they don’t have their identity cards yet; it’s still being processed. Suddenly everything has turned in a different way and they are in desperate need of help. Many people just heard the Taliban say very good news using soft words to say, “we forgive everyone, and we will do our best to build the country.” That’s not the truth. The truth we heard from inside is that they are going from house to house to search for people. They have been to many Afghan believers’ houses, and they took their Bibles. Praise God that the Afghan believers were not at their home. But they’re still searching for them.

Did President Ghani’s government require Christians to register?

David Paiman: They were not required to register, but they registered for the next generation. They don’t want their children to be called Muslims, they want their identity to be Christian.

Is your religion something that is printed on your ID cards?

David Paiman: Yes. But what the system did, because they don’t like Christians, when they printed out the cards for Christians they print out “other.” If they print out “Christian,” they face trouble with their own family, they cannot go to the bank, they cannot get a license, they cannot get anything. In reality they are Christian but they print out “other,” not Christian.

So, this was a big step historically for people to start declaring themselves in this official way, that they’re Christian and making public their faith, sometimes at great risk.

Afghanistan is a big country. Was this happening in Kabul? Was this happening in the villages? Where were these Christians deciding to take the stand?

David Paiman: All the Christians that registered are in Kabul. Today I heard the news, which I hope is false news. But I heard that three Christian families were taken by the Taliban and their houses were burned. We don’t know where they are, but I’m not sure yet that that is exactly what’s going on there.

There are very few Christians that live in this country. How did people end up hearing the gospel?

David Paiman: There are a lot of Christians during these two, three years. I am in media and get many calls every day, at least 10 calls from Afghanistan.

They want to receive Christ. Many house churches inside Afghanistan have started sharing the gospel with each other. Some families have been openly sharing the gospel with people and others heard from media, from Facebook, YouTube, and TV. But whenever they receive Christ, we try to connect them with them to get discipled and to grow in Christ, inside Afghanistan.

Take us back to 2001 when America invaded, what was that like for you? What was that like for Christians in the country?

David Paiman: Yeah, that’s what I call false hope. I will never forget in 2001 when the American army came and took over, everyone was celebrating, everyone got freedom and people were praising and thankful to America. Exactly 20 years later we see what’s happening now.

Where were you living at that time?

David Paiman: I was in Saudi Arabia.

With the hope that you experienced, what did you think might happen?

David Paiman: The real hope is Jesus Christ. Afghanistan has been trying many ways to get hope, to get peace inside Afghanistan, but they did not try Jesus Christ. They did not try God. They did not try His love and His mercy. My prayer and zeal are to share Christ with them. They can receive Christ and they can get the real hope, the living hope that never ends.

How old were you back in 2001?

David Paiman: I was about 17 years old.

What did you hear about the American military during that time?

David Paiman: I was very excited because I was a Muslim from Hazara tribes. My tribe experienced the pressure of the Taliban, because mostly Hazara from Shiá Muslim and all Taliban from Sunni Muslim. I saw many Hazara killed by the Taliban in those times and when America came in 2001, I was so excited that we got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of everything that we could practice in Afghanistan.

Did that happen when the US first showed up in the first year or two?

David Paiman: From 2001 to 2006 it was good. From 2006 to 2010 it changed a little. From 2010 to 2021 it was not a good situation in Afghanistan as well because the government was corrupt. However, America helped the Afghanistan government, the Afghanistan government did not do what they were supposed to do. I don’t want to go into politics. I’m angry with Joe Biden because he said Afghanistan was not willing to take care of their country, yet billions of dollars have been used to help them.

It’s painful that many Afghanistans leave it behind and now we see that Afghanistan is bleeding and people are crying out for help, but it’s because they don’t take care of their own country.

Talking about the issue of women and girls, how did you notice how they were treated before the Americans arrived?

David Paiman: The girls could not go to school and the women could not go out without any man and there was trouble. Now Taliban is a little bit different, but this morning I heard the news that the girls and the women cannot go out without any men. I don’t know what to say about the Taliban 20 years ago and now, I don’t think they have changed. It’s still the same, the Sharia never changes.

But under the past 20 years though, you saw girls going to school, which was not happening under the Taliban. And you saw way more women working?

David Paiman: Yeah exactly.

Did you have any women who were leading churches or doing evangelism, or did they show up in church leadership too?

David Paiman: Yes, my sister-in-law, who is leading a house church there under the men’s leadership. She tries to help other women, does Bible study with them, and leads them woman to woman and men to men; under the men’s leadership which is what the Bible says.

Now the fear is that the schools that were open to girls are going to be closed and as you said, women may not be able to leave the house without men?

David Paiman: Yes. They cannot leave the house without the men. A few schools are open, but only girls under 14 years can go to school. We don’t know yet about college. In Herat city last week, the girls were supposed to go to college, but the Taliban stopped them.

You mentioned that in 2001 you were a Muslim. How did Jesus find you?

David Paiman: I didn’t want to come to the faith. I hated Christians and didn’t want to be one because I’m from a very religious Muslim background.

My father was an imam. They taught me how to be a good Muslim. I have been to Mecca six times, and I practiced my religion very well because I thought the Muslim religion is the only religion, the only way to God. But after my sixth pilgrimage to Mecca, a stranger came to me from Syria and he shared his testimony, how he received Christ inside the Mecca, how he saw the vision of Christ during his pilgrimage in Mecca. That made me get angry with him. I tried to fight with him. I wanted to kill him. But after 45 minutes of our conversation, he asked me, “Would you please let me pray for you?”

I was very proud. I said, “Okay, you pray for me. I will pray for you.” When he started to pray, I closed my eyes to listen to him and it seemed that he knew my problem. He knew my heart. He knew that I’m searching for real peace and that prayer led me to Christ. After he finished his prayer, the big questions came to my mind.

I said, “If he is an infidel, how could he know my heart?” He then gave me a New Testament Bible. I read but I didn’t accept it because my father taught me that the Bible is corrupt.

Six months later I went to Afghanistan, and I shared this experience with my best friend. He then gave me a Bible in my language. He said not to worry about the New Testament I should just start from Genesis. When I started reading from Genesis, I knew inside my heart that something is true here because God Himself is reaching humans, to bring them back to Him. It was so clear to me that this is God Himself wanting human beings to come to Him. I then took the Bible from him.

I started to read the Bible in my city Ghazni, which is about 250 kilometers from Kabul, and I started comparing the Bible and Quran. With two of my friends, every day we started comparing the Bible and the Koran to try to find which part of the Bible is corrupt.

While I was still reading the Bible, I was still a Muslim practicing Muslim, and I got caught by the police because somebody reported that I was reading the Bible. They took the Bible from me. I found myself in the mosque and there were about 60 or 70 people there and they started asking me why I was reading the Bible. I argued with the imam and started asking him a question from the Quran himself, he could not answer me. He started a claim that he proved that I was a Christian. I was not a Christian. I was Muslim. I did not want to become a Christian.

They started beating me until I became unconscious. I then found myself in a police station. I gave them a lot of money and then I ran away from the police station. I went to Kabul. I was hiding in a safety house, which had a lot of Americans.

A lady from Canada who was a missionary helped me to escape from my country to India. I didn’t know she was a missionary at that time. In India, I met Afghan Christians and I was very angry with them. I started to fight with them. One of the guys I fought with is now inside Afghanistan and is sharing the gospel there.

Three months later, one of my friends had epilepsy. I called the pastor and his friend, and they came and prayed for my friend who had epilepsy. At that moment he got healed and I saw the power, actually, I felt the power. I knew then there was power in the name of Jesus. I went to the bathroom, and I received Christ and asked Him to come into my life and I received Him. I gave my life to Christ in 2008.

Why did you go to the bathroom?

David Paiman: Because I didn’t want to receive Christ in front of them because I didn’t want to become a Christian.

I didn’t want them to know that I am receiving Christ. I wanted to receive Christ very secretly.

How did that practically change your life in 2008?

David Paiman: On that night after I came out from the bathroom and had washed my face as I had been crying, I proceeded to make tea for my guests and the pastor knew something had happened to me. After the tea service, the pastor came to me and asked if he could pray for me.

I said, “of course.” He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. I started to cry and confess my sin. The next day everything changed. I felt different. I talked differently and everything changed in my life. I saw things differently. I could see people differently and I started sharing the gospel the next day, right away.

I started sharing the gospel with people. I told them only Jesus could save their lives. Only Jesus can give you peace only Jesus can give you hope.

When you started telling people did anyone believe you? Did anyone decide to learn more about Christianity?

David Paiman: At first believers didn’t believe me because I had been persecuting them.

They thought maybe I had come from the Afghan government because I had a very close friendship with the embassy. They thought maybe I was a spy from them. But later on, they believed me.

But yeah. I saw many people come to Christ in India. I received Christ in India in 2008.

And then you started telling people in India for many years?

David Paiman: Yes. I was in India for five and a half years, and then I moved to Indonesia. I was in Indonesia for three years.

We started house churches there and then we baptized about 72 Iranian people. During those three years, 17 Afghan Muslims converted to Christ, and we baptized them. In 2015, I moved to Australia. I started an Afghan church in Sydney, Australia till 2019.

In 2019, I moved here and now we have a ministry. We are helping refugees and we started our house church here in Memphis, Tennessee.

What do you find about God or Jesus resonates with Afghans? What do they love about Christianity?

David Paiman: I heard many people like my friends, especially here saying they see the reality of love in Christian life.

They love you unconditionally. They don’t expect you to do something. They love you just as you are. In Afghan culture when you love some people you expect them to love you back but many of them say they see true love here in American people and Christian people.

That love has now opened the door for us. We can share the gospel with our Afghan friends here.

What’s your sense of what American Christians should be doing out of love right now?

David Paiman: For me, all Christians should practice at least two things, go, and give. If you cannot go, you should give. If you’re a believer, you have to share the gospel, go, or give, giving and supporting it’s all the one part. Christians in America can also pray and help financially. Send them food to eat. This morning I talked to one leader and he’s ready to go to Christ and what he asked me was, “after I go will you please take care of my family.”

He shared Philippians 1:20 (Phil 2:20) which says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said, “to die, I get my life. I start my life with Christ” and that encouraged me. The only thing for me is the burden of his family. He has given his life to Christ.

I have a burden in my heart to take care of his family and it’s the burden for all Christians in America and to cry out to God and pray for them. If you know people in Afghanistan help them out of Afghanistan. That’s the greatest help.

So, you would say American Christians should also support welcoming thousands of refugees here.

David Paiman: Exactly.

What type of long-term impact do you think that the withdrawal will have on the mission field in Afghanistan?

David Paiman: To help Afghan believers inside of Afghanistan. The missionary can easily come out of Afghanistan, but Afghanistans are left behind.

If they are discipled well, they can share the gospel inside Afghanistan. That for me is long-term, helping Afghan Christians inside Afghanistan. It should start from inside of Afghanistan not from outside Afghanistan, that’s my opinion.

Because now Afghans will be leading these churches, not foreigners?

David Paiman: No, Afghans should start leading the church. They should start discipling people and that’s all Afghans are doing now.

How do the Christians that you meet find Christianity? Who tells them about it?

David Paiman: It’s mostly from media, from Facebook, YouTube, radio, TV, those are the four sources that we have inside Afghanistan. Now it’s not too difficult we can give them the bible. When they’re sleeping in the bed, they can hear the gospel, and no one can stop that.

This past week has been demoralizing. How has it affected your faith in God?

David Paiman: Whenever I talk to believers inside Afghanistan, I find that their faith is very big and mine is very low, and they give their life to Christ. Jesus said, “if you don’t take your cross, you are not worthy to follow Me, if you don’t confess Me in front of people, I will not confess you in front of My Father. That’s exactly what they are doing now. They took their cross willingly and they tried to come under the grace of God, joyfully give their life to Jesus.

Daniel Silliman: Yeah. That’s compelling, that’s what we all believe as Christians and that’s our call daily to take up our cross and the challenges that they’re facing are serious. Thanks for sharing that with us.

David Paiman: The other thing that American believers and Americans should know is this word about the church. In Afghanistan, people know they are the church, and they understand that. But here, mostly most of America, they say the building is a church. There is a building with a cross on it that’s what they call church but, in Afghanistan, the real church is going on.

I’m so encouraged by their ministry.

What are you praying for as you speak to people back in Afghanistan and Afghans here?

David Paiman: To be honest in the first two, three days, I didn’t know how to pray, and I could not pray because my heart was so heavy and when I saw the news, I was so upset with Americans, I was so upset with the missionaries. I was so angry and that’s my human nature. I could not pray but praise God when I talked to them, they encouraged me. They said, “Jesus is with us now.” Now my prayer for Afghanistans, especially for believers is for the grace of God to be always over them because they cannot do anything out of the grace of God. With the grace of God, they can do all things. That’s my prayer.

As we close our conversation, is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know, any information you’ve heard from your friends and family back in Afghanistan that you want to share, or anything we didn’t ask you about?

David Paiman: Yeah, please pray for believers. They are leaving the country, especially pray for two families who just arrived in Pakistan, three families that are in Iran now, and four families that are in Tajikistan. Please pray for them and specifically pray for four families inside Afghanistan. I think I already mentioned their life is seriously in danger.

In their new countries, what should we pray for them, that they get connected to a church community and build their lives someplace new?

David Paiman: Yes, we are praying for them to make contact with other believers at churches and their second countries. Pray for us here that we can make decisions wisely and that we don’t give them false hope or false promises.

Would you be willing to end our show in a word of prayer?

David Paiman: Sure.
Dear Father. You are a good father. I know you know everything about my country. You love my people. You love the Taliban. You love even the people persecuting us. Lord. You command us to love them back. Please help Afghan Christians, especially those inside the country to love them and share your words with them. Lord, I pray for your protection over believers inside Afghanistan I pray for my people, they’re hopeless. They just see the darkness. Lord, I pray that your light will shine on them. Open their minds and their hearts to see you and to see that you love them to see that You died for them. Lord, open their eyes so that they can taste and see that you are a good God.

You are a merciful, God. Lord, I pray for the American army in Afghanistan. I pray that you protect them from evil. Help them, give them the wisdom to choose the right people, and bring them out. Lord, I also pray for my brothers and sisters outside Afghanistan. I pray for the churches. Thank you for my spiritual family here, Lord, they encourage us. Lord. I pray that you give them wisdom and knowledge to help us in Your way, not in their way. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

HaHa! Death, So What!?

Again, a diversion from my blogs on prophecy and end times (i.e. eschatology; ); next week.  This came up from a recent discussion with a couple dear friends about death.

2021-08-21 The Resurrection and the Life

Are You Afraid of Death?
Why are we Americans, in particular, so terribly concerned with NOT dying?  Granted I do not look forward to the process of death; disease, disability, reduced physical and mental capacities.  However, death itself will be a welcome relief from the cares of this world. 

Please, do not take this too far.  Christians are opposed to euthanasia and suicide.  These are not in our playbook!  We are the people who follow the Lord of LIFE!  He is the One who has created us, and He made us for His own pleasure. 

However, if following Jesus calls for suffering in this world, James has laid down for Christ-followers this mandate: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)  Or if you prefer the KJV, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

Do not complain when things are difficult or do not go according to our plans.  Look instead for Father’s hand in how our suffering will lead us to understand the suffering of Jesus more clearly.  Look for the opportunity to represent Jesus to a watching world, differently than the reactions of people who do not know Him.  Look for “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) to guard your mind against fleshly or demonic influences that will rage against our inconveniences.

And if death is on the horizon for a Christ-follower, we who know the Lord of Life, should be the last to moan and groan, “Why me!?”

2021-08-21 Grim ReaperHow much better to recognize the Spectre with his scythe to collect souls, and laugh at him!?  “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?”  This is the victory of LIFE OVER DEATH!  Do we believe Jesus or not when He says, Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”? (Luke 17:33)  Or in John 12:25,  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”?

Dying in the Lord
Christ-followers, we have become far too attached to this world when we resist the idea of dying in the Lord.  The apostle Paul noted to a young church,It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better! (Philippians 1:20-23)  Of course, Paul left the timing of his departure up to the Lord, but his point here was that death held no fear.  He was laughing at the Spectre’s face!

The fictional demon, Screwtape, when instructing his young protégé, Wormwood, taught,  “Prosperity knits a man to the World.  He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.  His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home on earth… You will notice that the young are generally [more willing] to die than the middle-aged and the old.”  (Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)

Have we been fooled into thinking THIS is the life that matters?  Do we really feel “at home on earth”!?  Who would want to spend eternity watching “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” reruns on television, or seeing what Hollywood will come up with next to entertain us?  Do we really want to continue playing video games or working for companies that minimize our contributions in order to maximize profits?  What is THIS life for?  Francis Chan asked, “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?”

So friend, if you love life, you will love what Jesus offers: eternal life, perfect health, a Home in Heaven more astounding than any beauty this world can show, friends who will never desert you, no more cruelty or death.  Most of all HE will be there, seated on His throne, ever available to hold us in His arms and reveal all that He has planned for us for eternity!  It almost makes one want to die to begin that wonderful LIFE and “be with Christ which is far better.”

But Father has set the times for each of us, and we need not rush it.  But neither should we fear it.  He will call our names and we will rise when He is ready for us.  Laugh at Death and tell him, “Come and get me if my Lord allows!”  Because when we “die in the Lord,” we will live forever with Jesus (Revelation 14:13).

“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

2021-08-14 When Will These Things Be

Jesus was intentionally vague about when He would appear for the purpose of taking His bride, the Church, away from the world, and when He would return to establish His kingdom on earth.  What He was very clear about was that we should not set dates or think He was appearing in some secret place or time.  Both His appearing and return will be global phenomena that no one will be able to avoid.

Some definitions are in order:

  1. The Church is not an organization. It is composed of everyone who has put their faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, repented of their sins, and participate in His rulership in their lives (Colossians 1:18).
  2. The “last days” or “end times” are synonyms and refer to the Church age following the first coming of Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In our day, we use these terms to refer to the end of the Church age.
  3. The Church age began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), after Jesus ascension and 50 days after the Passover which coincided with His resurrection.
  4. The “rapture” is when Jesus will take the Church out of he world, described in Matthew 24:32-50, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He will appear in the sky in the same way as the disciples saw Him leave in Mark 18:19, Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:6-11. The term “rapture” comes from from rapio (“Latin: “to snatch away”), which is found in the Latin Vulgate Bible in 1 Thessalonian 4:17 (translated “caught up” in English translations).
  5. The Second Coming is when Jesus will return to set up an earthly kingdom described in Matthew 24:15-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 and Revelation 20:1-6. Sometimes this term is used to refer to all the events from the rapture to the end of the Tribulation.
  6. The Great Tribulation is the last half of seven years of tribulation while the Anti-Christ is ruling the earth. It will be a time of judgments poured out that will be worse than anything mankind has ever experienced (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 15-16)

In Acts 2:17, Peter told the assembled crowd,And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” quoting Joel 2:28.  And Peter said, “This is it!”  I.e., these are the last days, beginning in Acts 2, about 2000 years ago!  This is what Joel prophesied 800 years earlier, and NOW, Peter said we were entering the last days of which Joel spoke.  But some of what Joel prophesied did not begin to happen that day.

Peter continued quoting Joel:
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (2:19-20; see Joel 2:28-32)

These are things that have not yet happened but are waiting for “the Day of the Lord.”  That specific day, referred to also in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will be when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom on earth, seven years after He has taken the Church out of the world.  This is not the same as His “appearing” referenced in 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1 and Titus 2:13. 

In these references, Jesus appears in the sky to catch away His Church, those who have put their faith in Him, repented of their sins and are living for Him.  The rapture (or “being caught up”) is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and will occur “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Note also, the “last trumpet” mentioned in Corinthians is not one of the trumpets of judgment listed in Revelation 8, but a reference to the last trumpet the Church will hear on earth.

We should not confuse The Day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 with the rapture.  The rapture is described by Jesus in Matthew 24:32-50, after He had answered the disciples’ questions about  “the coming of the Son of Man,” the time at which Jesus will come to earth to set up His rulership.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessnes is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)  

This “coming” is distinguished from “our being gathered,” but is referenced here together because of false teaching that claimed Jesus had already come to establish His kingdom “in men’s hearts.  (On a side note, this heresy was also promulgated in the 20th century and continues in some fringe religions.)  As I have described, the “gathering” is a reference to the rapture.

A final note: Whatever we believe about the timing of the rapture, there are two realities all Christ-followers must keep in mind.

  1. First, no difference of opinion among Christians justifies unkindness toward those who hold different views.  Jesus commands us to love one another, just as He loved us.  He also said that our love for one another would be the evidence to all people that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).  Wrangling over issues such as the timing of the rapture does not exhibit Christ’s love (Titus 3:10).
  2. Second, the most important aspect of the end times is not the timing of the rapture but the absolute certainty of the return of Jesus Christ to the world in these last days (Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16).  The timing does not alter the fact that those who belong to Him will enjoy eternal life and those who do not will be separated from Him for eternity (John 3:18).  Only faith in Jesus as the our savior will distinguish the saved from the unsaved, regardless of our views on the rapture.  So pray earnestly for those who do not know Him yet!  They need Jesus.

We shall behold HIM!!  Maranatha, even so, Lord Jesus, come.

The Beauty of Spiritual Language

I was planning to write about prophecy of end times again, but in prayer felt a ‘nudging’ of the Holy Spirit to address a subject that in times past has been a source of division and conflict within the Body of Christ – speaking in tongues under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  I was covering some prophecy ideas on the weekend of Pentecost, , so here is the trade-off.

2021-08-07 - The Holy Spirit

From the early 1900s (I read about this; I am not THAT old! 😅), when the Holy Ghost (as He was called back then) began moving in lives to experience what the apostles and disciples of the book of Acts experienced.  A common feature of these more modern day disciples was to first experience “speaking in tongues” similar to what occurred in Acts 2, 10 and 19.  The experience was called “being baptized into the Holy Spirit” as John the Baptist had prophesied Jesus would do to His followers.  “After me comes He who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  (Mark 1:7-8)  This theme was reiterated by Luke in his introduction to the Acts of the Apostles.  And it is clearly this “baptism” that began the Church Age in which we now live.

However, many mainline churches at the turn of the last century were upset by the emotionalism and lack of coherent theology of many of these “tongues-speakers” and repudiated these phenomena as being emotional excitement and works of the flesh; some even declared them demonic.  But the clear dedication to Jesus on the part of many of them, and the missionary zeal exceeding that of the mainlines resulted in the formation of new denominations that welcomed and encouraged people to seek God for “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” with an initial evidence of speaking in tongues.

In the 1960s a “neo-charismatic movement” began to take hold with people within more traditional mainline churches and almost every denomination world-wide found itself addressing “praying with the Spirit.”  (See also Romans 8:26 and Ephesians 6:18.)  Episcopalians led this transformation but Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and most other denominations adjusted from their “‘Tongues’ is of the devil” stance to honor Paul’s explicit instructions in 1 Corinthians 14:39, Do not forbid speaking in tongues.”  Baptists were a little late to get on board, but leaders like Bill Gothard honored this scripture in his presentations and made headway among his almost entirely Baptist audiences of thousands.

The excesses of some in groups like the Assemblies of God, The Foursquare Church and others who insisted that speaking in tongues will accompany the baptism into the Holy Spirit as an initial evidence of such infilling led to almost a two-tier system of spirituality.  But the sincerity of most in these denominations, and their patient defense of speaking in tongues and development of Biblical theology of the experience, combined with their missionary zeal, resulted in phenomenal growth and world-wide acceptance among Christian denominations.

Although most current arguments against speaking in a “spiritual language” refer to Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 14, an honest appraisal of these instructions to a church that was getting too enthusiastic will reveal he was NOT discouraging speaking in tongues, but rather trying to preserve the practice through correction, balance and guidance, not prohibition.   He even begins the subject with an affirmation, Now I want you all to speak in tongues…” (1 Corinthians 14:5).  The point is to make a distinction between tongues as a gift for ministry in the meetings of the Church and tongues as a grace by which any believer can draw closer to The God Who Is, such that Paul could assert, I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:18).  Obviously he was not doing that in meetings of the Church but in his personal prayer times. 

2021-08-07 The Beauty of Spiritual LanguageTo summarize some points from Jack Hayford’s superb text (The Beauty of Spiritual Language) on this subject, speaking in tongues is not unbiblical nor outdated.  It is not a “transcendental experience” as with cult meditations or surrender of the will in a mystical stupor.  It is not a “status symbol” as though one who speaks in tongues is better than one who does not.  It is not a ‘cure-all’ for difficulties in living for God nor a badge of holiness.  It is not a substitute for spiritual growth or Bible study.  As one Christ-follower told me, there is one and only ONE evidence of the infilling of the Holy Ghost given in the Bible: You will be witnesses!” (Acts 1:8).  So “if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is essentially coming to a place of wanting such intimacy with The God Who Is that one becomes open to anything He wants to do in and through you.  It is wanting “to know that you know that you know” who He is and that your testimony of Him will not be based in dry lifeless theology of book knowledge but in experiential knowledge so intimate that the only human comparison is that of a marriage where two become one flesh (Ephesians 5:32).  When you know Him the way Adam knew his wife and she conceived (Genesis 4:1), you cannot help but talk about it.  Who ever heard of a married man who loves his wife that did not want to tell you about her!?  The nature of a good marriage is such that a man can not speak very long with anyone before his wife comes into the conversation. 

Jesus is the baptizer into the Holy Spirit, an action that all four of His biographies assert (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33).  If you come to Him with this request, He assures us He will not turn us away nor let us be deceived, but meet our heart’s desire to know Him better. (Luke 11:13)  So just come to Him and ask, because the promise is for YOU and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39). 
Worship Jesus as you listen to the Maranatha Singers sing the Spirit Song and invite Him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

 

Life In Abundance, Even In Death

2021-07-24 Fall in Kentucky

“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10 (CSB))

It always intrigues me when discussing death with some ‘Christians’ that they demur and say, “Let’s talk about something nicer.”  And I wonder, what is ‘nicer’ than death?  True, I do not look forward to debilitating disease or pains and problems of aging, but the end of this life on earth is not something awful for us to fear.  Even in death, there is abundance of LIFE!

The Christ-follower daily faces paradoxes.  Jesus announced very clearly, For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)  The “sermon on the mount,” Matthew 5-7, has many of these oxymorons, starting with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12).  The most pointed of these are the last two: “Blessed are those who are persecuted (?)” “Blessed are you when others revile you (?) and persecute you (?) and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely (?)  What kind of invitation is this to follow this guy!?

Far too many Christ-followers have been sold only half of the bill of goods.  Prosperity preachers abound with promises that if you just buy their books and listen to their sermons, you will have unending health, wealth and comfort.  If things do not work out to make your life its very best, it must be your lack of faith, or something wrong with you, because God only wants to do good for you.

But just thinking of how the love of parents requires them to sometimes do something painful to their children should eliminate any confusion here.  No child ever said, “Oh, goody, I get to have a vaccine shot today!”  But a loving parent will vaccinate their children against DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus) to protect them from these much more harmful diseases, no matter how much the child may scream.  Love constrains parents to make their children eat their vegetables even though the dessert cake is sweeter.

So, yes, our Father only wants what is good for us.  C.S. Lewis began to understand this as he matured in his trust in God, writing “We are not doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  And “there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said.  The maturity to which Jesus calls His followers is not the nursery school comfort of warm milk and cookies.  It is the challenge to come to Him and DIE so that you can truly live.

The Christ-follower, like Jesus, lives in a culture of life-affirmation.  Thus abortion, the unwilling taking of an unborn child’s life is anathema to His people.  Euthanasia, the execution of those who no longer are “contributing” to society (whatever that means), is also viewed as something more demonic than beneficial.  Suicide, in societies that have honored God’s word, has always been viewed as counter-productive.  Even suffering, when viewed as a means to draw us closer to the One who suffered more agonizingly than we can imagine, becomes life-affirming and a channel for God to bring glory to Himself.  Our rewards will wait, but they will come.

Thus, we are instructed that when we are persecuted, we can move to another place (Matthew 10:23), but not to retaliate against our persecutors, but to pray FOR them (Note: NOT against them).  We are not to fear death or its agencies that try to murder us (Matthew 10:28).  Francis Chan, just as he headed to Hong Kong to set up ministries in Southeast Asia, noted, “It is crazy to me that it is perfectly normal to be a Christian in America and to be obsessed with staying alive.” (February 7. 2020)  Jim Elliot penned in a letter to his bride, He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Someone observed once, that unless one is willing to die for something they can not really live for it.  We who follow Jesus view death not so much as an enemy of life, but as a ferryman who will one day transport us out of his reach.  Following Jesus may involve pain, suffering, or apparent loss in the world’s eyes.  We may lack in comfort or have greater difficulties than those who just go with whatever cultural stream is flowing.  But there will come a day when it will all be worthwhile.

We must not serve God just for His rewards (another blog coming soon), but He does promise great rewards for those who give up their lives to or for Him.  Our confidence in Him assures us that there is nothing for the Christ-follower to fear.  He came to give us LIFE, and that promise is as certain as His resurrection!  There is no historical event more certain than that Jesus arose from the dead.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)