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:

Do Not Pray for This People

From our pulpits we hear constantly how God is merciful and forgives sin.  Often a mark of “success” of a sermon seems to be how good people feel about themselves as they leave a meeting or church service.  Pastors do not want to hear complaints or negative comments; they only want to be told how many attended and how large the offering was.  Would it meet the budget and have money for the programs?  The polish and prominence of the parish is the paramount proportion to show we are doing “the Lord’s work.”  This is not to say all pastors or church leaders are out of the loop of what Father may be planning, but there seems to have been so much emphasis in the last few decades on love that we have not heard any warnings about ignoring God’s goodness.

How rarely does one hear of God’s anger, even though there are over 150 references to God’s judgment in the Bible and only about half that in reference to God having mercy?  Of course, a word search does not fully reveal the themes of Scripture and certainly, God IS merciful.  The concept of His desire for none to be lost, and for all to come to repentance is rife throughout the Word.  The Bible is God’s love letter to us, that we can be saved from judgment!  Yet, one of the chief motivations to appeal for His mercy, is that unless we entreat Him for it, He WILL pronounce judgment on the recalcitrant.  His mercy is for anyone who requests it, but what of those who refuse to ask or do not even know that they should!?

God is certainly more patient than we are.  Within the book of Judges, there is a pattern of disobedience followed by punishment, followed by repentance, followed by deliverance, followed by repeated disobedience . . . over and over and over and over!!  This pattern continued throughout the Kings of Israel and Judah, until finally God’s patience wore out.  All along the way, He raised up many prophets to warn the people that judgment would come, until finally, He told Jeremiah to stop praying for the people!

How far down the path of calling good evil and evil good can we go before we have exhausted His patience again?  How many innocents who have not yet been born can we kill, sacrificing them to the gods of convenience, fame and money?  What does one make of an elected governor who says abortion is the way to love your neighbor!? (Ezekiel 16:35-3823:37-43).  How long can we keep putting darkness for light and light for darkness; how long can we exchange bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; how long can we be wise in our own eyes, promote heroes for how much wine they can drink, and take bribes to acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of their rights?  (Isaiah 5:20-25).

Is the USA past a point of no return?  Is God telling His people to stop praying for our nation?  When you pray for our leaders and the condition of our country, do you get a sense that Heaven is brass, and God will not listen anymore?  Who will warn the society that famine may be a season away, that a sword is being sharpened to cut off the life of the republic?  Should we not be concerned when the choices for our leaders have devolved so low, when Supreme Court Justices must fear for their lives because of ruling in favor of protecting the unborn?  Are the following warnings given to Jeremiah about Israel equivalent to God’s words to the United States?  Who will warn our people?

“Do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.  Do you not see what they are doing in the cities and in the streets?  The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven.  And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.  Is it I whom they provoke?  Is it not themselves, to their own shame?”  Therefore, thus says Yahweh-Elohim, “Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 7:16-20)

“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words.  They have gone after other gods to serve them. …” Therefore, says Yahweh, “Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape.  Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.  Then they will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble.  For your gods have become as many as your cities, and as many as your streets are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.  Therefore, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?  Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom?” … Yahweh once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’  But with the roar of a great tempest, He will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed.  “I, Yahweh-tzavot [The LORD of hosts], who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil you have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”  (Jeremiah 11:10-17)

“Yahweh said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.  Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer … offerings, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”  Then I said: “Ah, Yahweh-Elohim, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’”  And Yahweh said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them.  They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.  Therefore, thus I, Yahweh say concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.  And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters.  For I will pour out their evil upon them.” (Jeremiah 14:11-16)

May Yahweh, The God Who Is, have mercy on us.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Boiled Frogs and Insidious Cooks; CBDC’s Warming of the Water

You may have heard about the way to “cook a frog.”  I do not mean frog legs, or actually cooking for consumption, but cooking for the purpose of killing.  As the story goes, if you drop a frog into very hot water, it will immediately jump out of the pan and scramble away as fast and as far as possible.  BUT, if you gently set the frog down in cool water and very gradually increase the heat, it will sit there almost smiling until its heart stops beating and it dies.  Now, before PETA or other animal activists start protesting in my neighborhood, allow me to clarify, I, personally, have never done this nor witnessed it done.  Never in my house!  However, videos on YouTube (gotta watch it to the end!😉) suggest dropping the frog into boiling water will immediately kill it, and in the other case, unless the heat is VERY gradually increased, the amphibian will jump out as its thermoregulating nerves signal danger, even though it is cold-blooded.

Whether there is truth in the tales of cooking frogs, the illustration holds for the truth that gradual degradation of society is much more effective than revolution in changing what the general public believes.  Revolution may change a society’s politics or governance but will do little to change the standards of morals or beliefs of the culture.

A 23-year-old I knew in the early 80s thought the end of the world was approaching when he reported his employer would no longer issue his paychecks to him at the end of the week, but would directly deposit them into his bank account!  Old hat, we might say.  After all, that was over 40 years ago.  In fact, I remember as a child seeing the first Master Card commercials and my parents thinking “The Only Card You Will Ever Need” was pure evil!

A decade ago pressure was building to use paperless billing, and direct deposits and direct payments to various businesses was all the eco-rage.  Electronic transfers between accounts were assured to be more secure than writing checks or paying cash, and think of all the forests we could save!

Fast-forward to the current age, and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will get all the attention soon.  It will make financial record-keeping very simple; no need for cash or risk of getting mugged . . . except the thieves could steal your access card and PIN (Private Identification Number).  But the record of every transaction would be almost self-regulating.

The problems with cards are that they can be stolen, you can lose them, or they can be damaged or forgotten.  The simple solution will be a biomarker that will be unique to you, maybe a fingerprint or iris scan.  Facial ids on phones and other tech gadgets are gradually warming the water for us so that this will seem the next logical step.  Of course, then there are the stories of fingers stolen or pushing a dead man’s eye up to a scanner that make exciting theater for spy movies.

But overall, CBDCs promise is to be safe, secure and most importantly, convenient.  They will almost eliminate money-laundering once they are the most common form of currency.  They will guarantee that if your access is somehow forged (Lost another finger!? You need a new neighborhood! 😱), the government will make sure your “money” is restored.  And, easy!?  You can travel anywhere in the world, and with simplest computer access, you can reach into your account no matter where it is based.

As I type this, once the ongoing trials are over, we will see CBDC introduced in America as an option, the way the Chinese are initiating their digital yuan [¥] (or renminbi [RMB]) to several provinces.  It may take many years to make CBDC in America the “law of the land” that must be used in lieu of other media of exchange including crypto currencies and barter.  However, watching China will provide an index for how quickly the US could move as we become more dominated by an autocratic leadership, whatever party holds the White House or the Congress.

This is a major step in The Great Reset, a socialist globalist plan to transform the world economy guided by the “brains” of the World Economic Forum.

So what has this to do with our spiritual welfare and our ability to follow Jesus?  A great deal.  While concludes his article about the ABCs of CBDCs with several “I don’t knows” and that no one can predict the future, what he fails to see is the Biblical narrative that CBDCs are all precursors to a global monetary system to be invoked by a Man that the Apostle John referred to as “The Beast.”

2023: The ABC’s of CBDC, the Great Reset(s) & MORE Centralized Control

VERY importantly, we must recognize that no one can be secretly given The Mark of the Beast, even though it will not likely be called that, just as the Man will not be called The Beast.  He will deceive people into taking this Mark based on his economic policies and the world’s crises that will make his global policy look inviting.  But it will be only by one’s choice that they will subscribe to his system and receive his Mark.

The next step in the process to get us to a global monetary system is to use CBDCs in various countries, eventually to include all 193 nations of the world.  Watch for more advanced nations to assist third world countries to do this.  Thus, accepting a CBDC in any country, even using biomarkers to access your account, will NOT be taking the Mark of the Beast.  No one can inject it into you, nor can it be administered without your knowledge.  But there are “insidious cooks” who are warming the water, whether Klaus Schwab of the WEF, Xi of China, Congress or Presidents of the USA or any financial advisors assuring you that CBDCs are “safe, secure and convenient.”

Love the Truth, both the concept of it and the Person who called Himself that, and you can rest assured that you will not be deceived.  Refuse to love Truth in any form, and it will leave you warming up to becoming a boiled frog.

American pastor delivers message of coming ‘dark wave’ of persecution.

At ICEJ Feast, Andrew Brunson delivers challenging but vital message gleaned from his own experiences during two years in a Turkish prison.  This is a guest blog about Andrew Brunson by Nicole Jansezian – October 18, 2022.

[Andrew Brunson speaking at the Garden Tomb during the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration, Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo courtesy ICEJ)]

Andrew Brunson’s message is straightforward, but it is far from simple: The Western Church needs to brace for a dark wave of persecution that is coming.

Imprisoned for two years on false charges of terrorism in Turkey, the seasoned missionary says he quickly “broke,” lost any sense of God’s presence and became suicidal during his incarceration.  “I began even questioning God’s existence,” Brunson said.  Hardly inspiring.  But sobering for those who have ears to hear.

Brunson and his wife Norine – who had been missionaries in Turkey for 23 years prior to the arrest – were in Israel this month for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration where Brunson taught what he believes Christians must know in order to face trials and tests that are sure to come.

In an interview with ALL ISRAEL NEWS, Brunson said this is not the message he prefers to carry but it is the one God gave him.  He foresees a cultural and social persecution coming to the United States in which the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to salvation will become a controversial stance.

“Most of the institutions of society are supporting things that a faithful follower of Jesus cannot embrace… and that’s how they will justify persecuting us,” Brunson said.  Believers who stand for this truth will be marginalized in schools, jobs, banks and more, he added.  Testing believers’ resolve, the pressure to conform will manifest socially and eventually financially.

“What has emerged as the main flashpoint is gender identity and LGBT.  And wherever that is intersecting with religious freedom, LGBT is winning,” he said.  “Now there is a requirement that people not only tolerate, but that we embrace and celebrate this ideology.  And if you don’t, you are seen as someone who is hateful.”

The younger generation of believers and even many churches are shying away from these issues, Brunson said, “not (only) because it will bring pressure from outside but because it will divide the church.  There is already a measure of deception in the Church.  The church is pulling back on teaching truth, the next generation is going to be confused,” Brunson warned.

“In the States, we have an issue where it is a majority-Christian culture with Judeo-Christian values.  But our culture is post- and anti-Christian,” he said.  “Do we fight this and try to continue to have influence?  This is where the real tension is right now.”

One of the difficulties will be persecution couched in accusations of hatred and bigotry rather than directly connected to one’s faith.  In Brunson’s case, he was slapped with false political charges.  “When I was in Turkey, if they had said, ‘Andrew Brunson is a church planter,’ I would have worn it with pride.  Instead, they said, ‘He’s evil and he’s a terrorist,’ so I was made into a hate figure,” he said.  “People who are going to remain faithful are going to be seen as a people of hate.  The same thing happened to Jesus.  They said He was demonic, and eventually they killed Him.”

What Happened In Turkey?
Brunson was swept up in a crackdown on activists and military leaders who were accused of attempting to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.  Norine was also arrested and released after two weeks.  Their children – all in America at the time – had no news from their parents at the beginning.  In the subsequent two years, Norine remained in Turkey since she was the only person allowed to visit Andrew in prison.

Initially facing not one or two, but three life sentences, and despite experiencing prior persecution in other forms as a missionary, Brunson said he was unprepared for the spiritual desert he faced in prison.  He was at times placed in solitary confinement and at other times endured isolation as the only Christian among 22 Muslims in a cell made for eight people.

Brunson’s arrest captured the attention of the White House as well as the church.  Former U.S. President Donald Trump took personal interest in the case and repeatedly mentioned Brunson’s name in a meeting with Erdoğan.  After this initial contact, Brunson said a flood of propaganda was published in the Turkish media accusing him of being an American spy or even the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[Then-U.S. President Donald Trump poses with Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine, outside of the Oval Office of the White House on October 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Reuters)]

Former Vice President Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian, also kept up the pressure on the Turkish government at the time.  “If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” Pence tweeted in July 2018.

Indeed, the U.S. did impose sanctions.  When the Turkish stock market lost $40 million and the nation’s currency, the lira, collapsed, more propaganda sought to blame that on the imprisoned Brunson.

In late July 2018, Brunson was remanded to his home in Izmir, Turkey – where he had led an Evangelical church – to await trial.  Then, on Oct. 12, 2018, Brunson was convicted – partially based on the false testimony of long-time acquaintances from his ministry.  But in a dramatic finale, Brunson was sentenced to time served.  That same day, he and Norine left Turkey.

The last thing we said was, ‘We love Turkey.’  It was not a naive love, but more it was us saying that God put His love in us.  It is not a love expressed emotionally, but in commitment and wanting to see good come to that nation.  We want to see God’s blessing on Turkey, to see people become aware of Jesus.  We left Turkey blessing it.”

A Sobering Message
Brunson believes that God orchestrated his time in jail so that he could bring this message of preparedness to the Church.  “God gave me the assignment to prepare people for hardship,” Brunson told AIN.  “It’s not what I prefer to carry, but it’s what He’s given me.”

Recently, Brunson filmed a teaching series called “Prepare to Stand” in which he shares lessons that he hopes will help believers survive a coming wave of persecution.   Brunson said Daniel 11:32 is a critical passage of scripture, but it must be taken in the correct order: “…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”

“It is not the time to think about the exploits,” Brunson said.  “Focus on that first part – otherwise you’re not going to be standing to do the exploits and the assignments that God has for you in a much darker environment.”

In his teachings, both in his videos and during the Feast of Tabernacles here in Jerusalem, Brunson emphasized he was surprised he broke so quickly, to the point he even questioned God’s existence.  “I made it a discipline to declare, ‘God, You exist,’” he recalled.

[Andrew Brunson speaking at International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration, October 2022. (Photo courtesy ICEJ)]

Brunson also made it a discipline to pray, worship and declare God’s faithfulness each day.  And he had to come to terms that God’s will may not have included his release from prison.  While in prison, Brunson grappled with an ever-present fear and feeling offended by God.  “The reaction is to become distant from God, to have the heart grow so cold you lose the relationship,” Brunson said.

But focusing now on preparation of the heart can hopefully help us stand during persecution, Brunson said.  That includes aligning our hearts and determining to stand for God’s moral standards which Brunson said are “now are seen as harmful to society.”

God required Brunson to prove his love by staying faithful even when he felt abandoned by Him, he said during a service at the Garden Tomb on Saturday.  “There is a difference between real love and an unproven love,” Brunson said.  Brunson taught that there is an aspect of Jesus we cannot know without partaking in the fellowship of His suffering.  “But,” he said, “even if we don’t feel His presence, God will not abandon us.”

“As we head into a time of great turbulence and face difficulties and tests, He will shepherd your heart.  Lean into Him because He is committed to taking you through,” Brunson said.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

This is a follow-up to last week’s blog about a likely route of persecution via CBDC.

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)

How to Pray When Someone is EVIL!

I have often wondered how our worship songs always reflect on the mercy, the glory or the forgiveness of Father for our sins, and neglect the “imprecatory psalms” that call for justice or destruction of those who refuse His grace. (To imprecate is to invoke or call down curses, as upon a person”.)  A recent article in Christianity Today sheds some light on this idea, and I seriously doubt we will see many songs like “I Will Sing Unto the Lord” coming along again, “the horse and rider thrown into the sea,” sometimes cheerfully sung by children.

No one seems to be writing Psalm 109 hymns for the worship team:
8May his days be few; may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!

And perhaps this is okay, in that there are times we tend to excuse our own inclinations to vengeance, when it is God who is the Judge, not us.  In these times of polarization where even families cannot gather because of differing views on everything from masks, vaccines, border control and anything political, it may be more vital than ever that we focus our worship times on God’s mercy for the undeserving… like me.  Remember “Standing in the Need of Prayer?” 😉

2022-07-16 The Woman Caught in AdulteryIn line with this, often our reluctance to condemn the guilty is lodged in our own guilt because we do know we are not without sin.  Like the accusers in John 8 who wanted to condemn a woman “caught in the act of adultery” (so where was the man who was also committing sin???), none of us wants to cast the first stone, knowing that we have been just as bad.  But it leaves a sour taste in our mouths when someone does something so heinous that we would never do (or at least we think we would never do).

Then we feel justified in condemning the sinner, and therein lies the deceit of our enemy.  OUR tendency is to condemn the person, more than the action.  And that is the reason Father tells us to leave vengeance up to Him!  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:19-21)

But what we do in reaction to a person’s sin can be quite apart from how we pray for a person caught in sin!  Leaving the actual judgement up to Father does not mean to ignore the sin, and we may even be called to justify or condemn an action based on the Law, not on our personal guilt or absolution.  Jury duty, anyone?  If we absolve a criminal driving offense because we have been guilty of the same, we abuse the law intended to protect us and others from criminal effects.

However, this is very different from personally attacking the person who has violated the law.  Rather, it is allowing the law to proceed as it was intended.  And it should serve as a warning to us to not abuse that law… again.

And this is very different from participating in national or tribal action against one acting criminally as in warfare, but that is a subject for another blog someday.

Anyway, I thought you might do some introspection on the theme of this article from CT, Go Ahead. Pray for Putin’s Demise.”  It is less “imprecatory” than the title suggests. Good reading in the magazine when you subscribe.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/march-web-only/prayer-ukraine-russia-putin-imprecatory-psalms.html
And check out these acapella Amish boys reminding us how holy Father is!

Today is The Day of the Christian Martyrs

The links on this paint file will not work, but you can get to the site if you go here: https://www.persecution.com/.

2022-06-29 Wordless Wednesday - VOM

For more on John Chau, see https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2022/06/18/who-will-take-my-place-the-john-chau-story/ or for the full story see https://capost2k.wordpress.com/who-will-take-my-place-the-john-chau-story/.

Unless You Repent…

2022-05-13 You Will Likewise Perish

Not my words, but the words of Jesus: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)

Everything in the western church and in churches around the world who have copied Willow Creek, Saddleback or Hillsong radiates love and blessing.  “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is the message of hope, relief from pain, provision for expenses, all the health and wealth that comes from living a godly life consistent with Biblical principles.  And up to a point, this happens.

But sometimes I wonder if we are actually applying Biblical principles that we have “cherry-picked” and avoided those that do not make good upbeat Hillsong tunes.

Jesus talked to the crowd around Him who were calling His attention to some Galileans who Pilate had insulted by mixing their blood with their sacrifices.  Some zealots had recently rebelled against Rome and tried to reestablish Jewish rulership in Jerusalem.  When the rebellion failed, Pilate showed Rome was still in charge by desecrating their sacrifices that had been made to Yahweh by adding the zealots’ blood.

But then Jesus expanded the despair of His listeners by suggesting not just human evil but even circumstantial evil: Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4)

His point was that bad things are going to happen, and unless your heart is in tune with the Creator of the universe, you will not understand the events that are coming.

Isaiah was a godly prophet and served Yahweh faithfully.  Yet, when he “saw the LORD high and lifted up” he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5)  Then the angel “helped” him by giving him third degree burns on his mouth.

It is not enough to sit back and condemn the unrighteous of our generation: those perverts, those abortionists, those transgenders, those hateful people, those ballot liars, those gamblers, those drunkards, those people who don’t use their blinkers to change lanes.

We must look beyond our own viewpoints and silos of righteousness and realize we are as much a part of the problems of our society as those with whom we disagree, because our hearts… my heart… has not been in tune with Father’s heart.  I am a man of unclean lips.”  Not the other guy, not the protestor, not the deceived.  ME!

Until we see the LORD, high and lifted up, we will not be able to speak to our generation of His ways and compassion.  Unless we repent, we will all likewise perish.

May The God Who Is have mercy on us all.
yours and His,
c.a.

2022-05-14 Repent or Perish

Guest Blog by PK Adams: The Digital Revolution IS Coming! What Will You Do?

Paula Adams covers this territory very well with excellent research and a conservative Christ-honoring perspective.  I will have more to say on this theme soon, but this is enough to get you started thinking about what YOU will do when the government can track EVERY transaction by way of digital money.  China is already rolling out a digital yuan in select cities.  This was Paula’s March 17 blog:

When I wrote this post about biometrics and the mark of the beast, I was still a little unsure what the dangers were with this idea of ‘digital identity’. I knew that it seemed dangerous for some reason, but I couldn’t put it into words yet.

Now that governments and banks are putting out more propaganda of how having an ‘identity’ is a human right and will be so wonderful and convenient, I think I can see the plan more clearly. This has been in the works for long time and is part of the digital transformation.

If you don’t know anything about this topic, I suggest listening to this podcast or watching the video.  Or you can watch this video from ID2020. Actually, I urge you to watch both videos. They are very informative.

The main selling point for these biometric identity systems are that they will help the poor participate in the economy. A secondary selling point is that digital identity is necessary to prevent fraud in the increasing digitally connected world. And also important they say is that we need identity so we can have easy access to government services. On the surface the arguments for these IDs sound reasonable.

But let us ask ourselves, how have humans managed to function all these 5,000 years or so without them? James Corbett says that people used their reputations to do business before the invention of birth certificates and social security cards. Many people were born at home and had no legal birth certificate before industrial times.

According to the American Bar Association, birth certificates arrived around the end of the 19th century. “The idea that a government should also record this vital information is a relatively modern development. The United Kingdom was the first country to mandate collection of birth data at the national level in 1853. The United States began collecting birth data at the national level in 1902, via the U.S. Census.”

But even now, though many people do have drivers licenses and social security cards or other type of identity cards, many people do NOT, and they still EXIST and live their lives. Proof of identity is provided by the fact that you are alive and interacting with someone else, not a card or digital record.

And really, why does anyone need to know who you are if you buying and selling? The relevant information is your payment which could be cash, credit, digital currency, or even bartering. When I go to Walmart and pay cash, no one cares who I am. When I sell something on Marketplace or eBay, I do not ask for ID!

In my mind, the only reason to provide ID when transacting business is to keep a record of it for tax purposes or to provide proof of ownership. But in the past this has been accomplished fairly easily with a signed receipt or bill of sale or other contract. To make the claim that people cannot do business without a digital ID is nonsense. I’m sure the people in developing countries would agree.

My point is that a digital identity RECORD does not create your IDENTITY. Humans have life, dignity and worth apart from any assigned number from the state.

Second question, why does everyone need easy access to government services? Obviously they intend for government to play an even bigger roll in our lives in the future. Cradle to grave control.

I think many of my friends and followers will easily see the dangers of digital identity system. You are the same people who instantly saw the dangers of the Covid passport, mandatory vaccines, and forced lockdowns. It started with a ‘state of emergency’ and continues under the guise of ‘public health’, which will continue to be an excuse for increasing control. Governments should not have this much power over our lives.

The idea of a digital identity system that we are told is absolutely an essential human right because people can’t buy or sell in the marketplace should set off some warning bells if you know your Bible.

In the prophecies about the time period before Jesus returns to judge the world, which is called the End Times, the Last Times, the Tribulation or ‘that day’, and is interpreted differently by different people, there is a verse that says that when the Anti-Christ comes into power, people who do not worship him will not be able to buy or sell unless they have the ‘mark of the beast‘ and they will be killed. These same prophecies also discuss the immensity of the global market during this time and the fact that people are still being sold as slaves.

In my opinion, it’s not biometrics per se that are the mark of the beast, it is the digital identity system itself. And I believe that fingerprints, selfies, and retinal scans are only the beginning. In fact, I am starting to wonder if the ‘beast’ will actually be a computer or Artificial Intelligence that is used to control over the whole economy. Have you heard of algorithmic trading?

My guess is that eventually everyone’s genetic information will be part of their digital record and your data will be somehow attached or implanted or tattooed to your skin. This will be needed to buy, sell, go to school, conduct any kind of government business, travel, communicate, you name it. There is already a problem with people using masks to thwart facial recognition and crooks can cut off your finger to use it for fingerprint ID systems. So, oh well, I guess we will have to have a sample of your DNA!

What is the problem with giving them this information? Why should I care if the government can not only track my every move, but also send me helpful reminders to get my vaccines, and make sure that I have everything I need? Isn’t the government just trying to help me have a better life? If you have to ask that question, I will assume that you have never had to deal with bureaucrats or pay taxes or noticed the immense corruption in every level of government. Lucky you!

What could happen if you do not agree with something the government says to do? I think having a digital ID will seem very convenient and safe and logical to most of the public, until one day, the trap is sprung. By then it will be too late to take back the DNA that you freely handed over or have the chip implant removed or find alternative ways of doing business. And what is the ultimate goal? To make you worship the beast. No mark? You will be beheaded.

If this all sounds too sci-fi for you, I hope you’ll do your own research, and do some thinking about what could happen when you give up your right to privacy. One of the claims these digital ID people love to make is that your ‘privacy’ will be protected. Hahaha! From who? Not from them. Privacy means something very different to them.

You have nothing to hide, you say? Neither do I, yet. But if these eager economic/tech/medical/NGO/UN-funded/one world government types get their way, the world is going to be very different in the future. Your personal goals, moral values and religious beliefs will have to be realigned with what’s ‘best for the world’.

I think someone in power has noticed that not everyone is excited about this idea because the IRS website has at least temporarily changed it’s plans to require ID.me to use their website. But they are not going to stop with this. Billions are being invested in digital identity in all kinds of industries. But this is a sign that protesting can make a difference.

Educate your friends and family if you agree with me that digital identity is a bad idea. Send them to the www.corbettreport.com. Let’s all open our eyes so we can see the world of illusion being built before it’s too late.

And while you’re busy fact-checking, have a look at this video https://rumble.com/vwxxi8-ukraine-on-fire.html and this one. Remember that the beast hates God’s people, especially Jews.

For Paula’s blog and other great reading, you can go here: https://blueskiesandgreenpastures.com/2022/03/17/digital-identity-dangers/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01UjW_ogmLw

Are You Ready for What Is About to Happen?

2022-04-09 If the world hated me it will hate you“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:18-20

In the western world, dominated for over a century by the USA, religious liberty has been one of our rock-solid principles, delineated in the Constitution of the United States, in the First Amendment.  It was not, as many have portrayed it, a “separation of Church and State,” but rather a constraint on government to not regulate religion.  However secularists and those with aberrant religious views (e.g. Church of Satan, etc.) have modified the principle of the first amendment to mean that no religious views… except that of the secularists… are to be tolerated.

Aberrant religious views from Jim Jones style cults to some mainline churches have contributed to this confusion by making absurd claims and trying to defend themselves with the First Amendment.  Claims by religious “organizations” that investigations by government agencies constituted intrusion into “Ecclesiastical Abstention” muddied the waters so that sexual abuse or drug use that was condoned or tolerated within an organization could be hidden from public scrutiny and legal consequences.  Now, the “public good” is at stake when someone claims “religious exemption” from vaccination, and those who truly believe they should not be vaccinated are left struggling for an argument that will hold up in court.

All of this is to say that views that were once mainstream in America are soon to be considered deviant and dangerous.  Marriage, universally and trans-culturally, has always been between a man and a woman, as is Biblically mandated.  A child was a human from conception historically in almost every part of the world.  Gender followed the science: if you have a penis, you are male; if you have a vagina, you are female.  Espousing these views now is labeled as homophobic, patriarchal, anachronistic and damaging to others who disagree.

2022-04-09 Päivi RäsänenThe recent court case in Finland where Päivi Räsänen was charged with “hate speech” for sharing her faith-based views on marriage and sexual ethics, in a 2019 tweet, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet ended well… so far.  The prosecutors may appeal.  But the fact that she and a bishop of her church were faced with having to defend what they believed to be Biblical teaching under threat of fines and imprisonment is telling; this in a country known best for its limited government and respect for basic human freedoms.

Here in the USA, we still have a large voting block that is “Christian” in name, but lacking in the zeal of previous generations of believers.  And the tide continues to turn, especially as globalism goes “global.”

The privilege and freedoms associated to being a Christian in a “Christian nation” are going to evaporate faster than snow in the Arizona desert.  In their place will be lawsuits (think Jack Phillips), job losses (the Navy finally had to allow religious exemptions over the government’s protests), and ostracization by those who claim moral superiority based on cooperation with a secular view of history, biology, and culture.  And this is the world that either hated or did not care about Jesus.

When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” he was admitting to his lack of perception that there was a right and wrong.  To him, there was only political expedience and this life, one of getting whatever one can and enjoying the ease that comes with advancement in the world’s systems.

If you are a Christ-follower, you need to be thinking about what it may cost you in the near future to identify as a disciple of Jesus.  When laws are passed allowing “abortion” to be committed up to 28 days AFTER birth, when a man can go into a public restroom that your wife wants to use because today he claims he is a woman, when you are challenged to state what you believe in the middle of a PTA meeting about evolution, what will you do?

Make no mistake.  We are not called to take up weapons of the world, but we must be prepared to identify ourselves as followers of Christ.  Many pastors and churches are still teaching so much about the love of God that they are about to miss the opportunity to call their congregations to follow Jesus in His suffering.

Paul invited the Philippians to this fellowship that most Americans would find strange: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11)

We want the love and protection of God; we want to be able to walk through fiery furnaces unharmed; we want the prosperity and blessings, but we hate the idea of suffering for the sake of Christ.  But that is what some of us will be appointed to; to bear the Name before a hostile world that will persecute us.

This is already true in most of the world.  More people have been murdered because of their stated belief in Jesus in the last 100 years than in all the 1,900 before combined!  Prepare your children, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces and any that are coming behind you!!  We must be ready for what is certain to come.

Be warned, as the apostle Peter said, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
(1 Peter 4:12-17)