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)

Guest Blog about the Ukraine Crisis

This is a guest blog from Christianity Today; always good reading and accurate information.
As Russia Invades Ukraine, Pastors Stay to Serve, Pray … and Resist

(UPDATED February 24, 2022 01:55 PM) Prayer requests from Donetsk: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”
by Jayson Casper

2022-02-26 Death in Ukraine

As Russia invaded Ukraine today, pressing near even to the capital of Kyiv, a Baptist home was destroyed and a seminary shaken by nearby blasts. Local sources told CT, however, that no churches or Christian buildings had been attacked so far. Top of Form

President Vladimir Putin announced his forces were targeting only military installations. He also asserted that Ukraine does not truly exist as a nation.

Igor Bandura, vice president of the Baptist Union, the largest Protestant body in Ukraine, heard about collateral damage to the home of a Baptist in Donetsk during a Zoom call with his 25 regional superintendents. Minus one. On the front lines of the eastern Donbas region, the Baptist leader from the occupied territory of Luhansk was unable to join.

But from the town of Chasov Yor on the front lines in neighboring Donetsk — in an area then still under Ukrainian government control — Bandura learned the local assessment.

He was told, “People don’t want to be under Russian control. But they feel helpless. What can ordinary people do? Pray and remain calm.”

This was the message put out by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), a day after its appeal to Putin went unanswered. Ukraine’s chief rabbi invited Christian leaders to recite Psalm 31 together.

The UCCRO stated, “We urge you to remain calm, not to give in to panic, and to comply with the orders of the Ukrainian state and military authorities. The truth and the international community are on the Ukrainian side. We believe that good will prevail, with God’s help.”

Thousands of Ukrainians fled west as Russian missiles hit targets throughout the nation. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs reported hundreds of instances of shelling.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced by video shortly after midnight that 137 Ukrainians died during the invasion’s first day. “They are killing people and transforming peaceful cities into military targets. That’s villainous and will never be forgiven,”  he said, according to The New York Times.

Valentin Siniy, president of Traviski Christian Institute (TCI) in Kherson, about 50 miles from Crimea, had to evacuate his seminary along with a team of Bible translators as Russian helicopters attacked local targets.

He told CT, “The majority of old pastors of the churches stayed in the cities. Youth leaders started evacuating young people. We managed to purchase a van with 20 seats in order to evacuate people. About 30 people are in a safe place now, in western Ukraine. There are about 40 more people driving west [in] vehicles that are in bad condition.” Meanwhile his church has opened its basement to shelter neighbors living in multi-story buildings from bombings.

Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church said, “I and all ministers stay in Kyiv. We continue our intercessory prayers, talk to people to reduce panic, and help those in need.”

In Kamyanka, 145 miles south, Vadym Kulynchenko of Our Legacy Ukraine reported that his church had already started to receive refugees from the east. Temporary shelter will be provided, and the main needs are food, medicine, fuel, hygiene products, and air mattresses. Bombs hit three infrastructure centers in his city.

Kulynchenko asked, “Please pray for disciple-making in the country, safety for our people, and generosity in the midst of war, and also for discernment, as there is a lot of fake news.”

Kyiv Theological Seminary (KTS) had earlier issued a general warning. A communications professor wrote on Tuesday, “Generating panic through the spread of manipulative false information is exactly what the enemy seeks. This war is not as much for our territories, as it is for our soul and our mind.” On Thurs, KTS cited Isaiah 41:10 as it urged its Facebook audience “not to panic, but to remember how many times God in His Word says ‘don’t be afraid.’” The seminary noted that fear equals paralysis, while prayer, trust in God, and love of neighbor all give strength.

With a “leaden heart,” Taras Dyatlik. the Overseas Council regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, wrote to supporters of theological education of the many prayer needs currently facing his fellow church and seminary leaders in Ukraine — including receiving refugees into their dorms. “Many of them are thinking about evacuation of their workers and faculty and students within Ukraine, and some do not have any possibility to evacuate.” He asked for prayer for families, including his own, as Ukraine’s announcement of total mobilization “means many students, graduates, faculty will be called for military duty to serve in the army and participate in the combats.” And he requested prayer for the spouses of male leaders. Since all men ages 18 to 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country, he said many wives are staying as well. “Today I talked to [my wife] about evacuation out of Ukraine. She immediately refused and said: ‘I will be with you to the very end.’”

Students at Ukraine Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS) outside Kyiv were instructed to shelter in place as military battled at a nearby airport, according to the school’s director of English language services, Josh Tokar. Those on campus are scared but not panicked, he said. The seminary president sent out a message from Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?”

Bandura did not resonate with the call for calm. He said of Putin’s rhetoric, “Who are you to say our nation doesn’t exist? The truth is with us, and God is with us. We want to live in peace, but if Russia wants to take this from us, let us fight.”

While some Ukrainians favor Russia, he said, half the population is ready to personally defend their nation. Pictures have circulated of grandmothers with guns. A recent CNN poll, meanwhile, found 13 percent of Ukrainians in favor of Russia’s use of force to reunite the two nations. Only 36 percent of Russians were in favor. (73 percent and 43 percent disagreed, respectively.)

The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) conveyed its support for the UCCRO appeal for peacemaking initiatives. Vladimir Vlasenko, REA general secretary stated, “All evangelical Christians pray every day and ask the Almighty to give wisdom to all, to preserve the fragile peace and not to plunge our countries into fratricidal conflict.”

“We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos, and misery that will result,” stated Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance, according to Evangelical Focus. He stated, “The invasion of Ukraine is both unjustified and unprovoked. It has been claimed that the attack is necessary to protect ethnic Russians within Ukraine and to stop Ukraine from threatening Russia. These claims are untrue. This disaster has been provoked into being by President Putin for wider geopolitical purposes.”

In Rivne in western Ukraine, local officials directed all churches to remain open, with church leaders staying in touch with residents to help coordinate aid as well as military equipment as needed. Many in Ukraine are showing resilience.

Siniy said, “Our prayer today is that God’s will spreads on Earth as it is in Heaven. I encourage my staff and other Christian leaders that the mission stays the same even if we have to change geography.”

Staff at New Life Radio in Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, watched missiles fly past their homes. They told Evangelical Focus they are taking actions to hide equipment and preserve broadcasting, in case the station is raided in the near future.

Vasyl Ostryi, a pastor at Irpin Bible Church 18 miles northwest of Kyiv and a KTS professor of youth ministry, has also decided to stay. He wrote for The Gospel Coalition, “When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”

YouVersion noted a spike among Ukrainian and Russian users of its popular Bible App over the past three weeks: searches for “fear” increased 11 percent; searches for “peace” increased 44 percent. People are praying in city streets.

2022-02-26 Ukrainians Praying in the Street

“We printed Bibles for 2022 and we are now in second month of the year and the stock in our warehouse is almost gone,” Anatoliy Raychynets, deputy general secretary of the Ukrainian Bible Society, told Eternity News shortly before the invasion. “In our churches — whether it is Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical churches — there are more new people. Not only on Sundays or Saturdays, but also during the week,” he told the Australian Bible Society news service. “On evenings when we have a Bible study, new people are coming. They want to pray, to hear something that brings hope or comfort.”

Rick Perhai, director of advanced degrees at KTS, said the international church he pastors in Kyiv has several leaders recommending the congregation continue its worship this coming Sunday. Some of their expat members have fled; others want to stay and join the fight. He laments that the enemy is seeking to destroy Ukraine as its Christians grow more and more poised to carry the gospel to surrounding nations. Nonetheless, he is praying for the Russians, asking for God to grant them repentance.

But his petition is also imprecatory. He said, “Pray that the nation of Russia would tire of their tyrant’s rantings at home and abroad and that they would remove him.”

Dyatlik also requested prayer for “the truth,” citing all the “perspectives” in the media. “We did not invite the war. The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin brought it to Ukraine. … There is moral evaluation of the acts of aggression like this,” wrote the theological educator. “These acts have biblical definition and biblical evaluation. Please pray for the spiritual discernment about these things.” Dyatlik closed his prayer letter with requests for believers on both sides of the conflict:

“Please pray about Russian Christians that they would raise their prayers and voice toward Russian government to stop the aggression; [that they] would not keep silent; please pray for the Western governments, of the US and European Union.

“Finally, please pray about Ukrainian Christians, that we will serve and live as the community of hope in a full sense of this term; that during these terrible times we would invite more and more people to the relationships with God and His children, to the relationships of love, hope, encouragement, support; that our minds and characters would continue to transform into the character of Jesus Christ.”

Western nations have roundly condemned Putin, and readied sanctions. Reports circulated of Russians lining up at ATMs to withdraw their cash, fearful the nation would be cut off from the international banking system.

Meanwhile in Donetsk, where 25 missionary teams have been working to establish churches, gas lines require a wait of hours for a rationed supply of five gallons. Grocery stories suffer empty shelves, as Ukrainians stock up on emergency food and water.

Bandura conveys his supervisor’s two main prayer requests: “First, to stop the aggressor. But then for peace of mind, to respond with Christian character and not from human hate.”

Guest Blog: Biden Administration Making Lists of Religious Vaccine Objectors – And So It Begins

According to Aaron M. Renn’s analysis of contemporary evangelicalism as he reported in “The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism,” there have been three distinct stages in the secularization of American culture.  Views on Christianity and, I believe, religion in general have followed the culture.

  •       Positive World View of devout religionists (Pre-1994): Society at large retained a mostly positive view of Christianity.  Publicly being a Christian was a status-enhancer both for business and political aspirations.  Christian moral norms were the basic moral norms of society and violating them resulted in negative consequences.
  •       Neutral World View (1994–2014): In the late 1990s, society began to take a neutral stance toward Christianity.  Being a good, church-going person no longer held privileged status, but it was not particularly disfavored.  Being known as a Christian had neither a positive nor a negative impact on one’s social or political status.  Christian moral norms retained some residual effect, but were considered along side of other moral norms for other religions and atheists.
  •       Negative World View (2014–Present): However, by 2014 American society developed a negative view of Christianity.  Being known as a Christian has now become a social negative across large swaths of the country, particularly in the elite domains of ­society.  Christian morality is expressly repudiated in main stream media, in universities and across almost all grades of education.  A Christian is seen as bigoted, closed-minded and a threat to the public good and the new public moral order.  Subscribing to Christian moral views or repudiating the secular moral order can have significant negative consequences, from job loss, dis-invitation to speaking venues, failure to get elected or even subjected to vandalism or attack without consequences for the perpetrator, similar to what happened to Jews in Germany just prior to WW2.

So now we are on the cusp of such severe negative views of Christianity that it is being targeted by government agencies for identification as to who claims exemption from government mandates based on religious convictions.  While this discrimination may apply to many religious views, Christianity is being carved out as a special case of resistance to ‘normal moral orders.’
___________________
And So It Begins:  Guest blog by Sarah Parshall Perry  & GianCarlo Canaparo
@SarahPPerry / @GCanaparo / January 11, 2022

2022-01-15 Vaccine Registration

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

A tiny administrative agency in the District of Columbia announced a new policy Tuesday that will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a Covid-19 vaccine.

The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia — a federal independent entity that assists officers in the District of Columbia courts in formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and services to defendants awaiting trial — announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

The announcement does not explain why the agency needs to create this list except to say that it will “assist the Agency in the collecting, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency.” In other words, the list will help the agency make a list.

The announcement also does not say what the agency will do with this information after it has decided an employee’s religious accommodation request. And neither does the announcement explain why the Biden administration chose to test this policy in an agency with a majority-black staff, who are both more religious and less vaccinated than other groups. So much for the president’s commitment to “racial equity.”

We are starting to suspect that President Joe Biden is not keeping his promise to have the most transparent administration in history.

What is really going on with this announcement at this tiny agency? Likely, the Biden administration is using it to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government. Almost nobody has ever heard of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, and very few people pay close attention to it or are covered by its policies. Indeed, at of the time of publication of this article, the announcement has been viewed only 16 times.

However, had Biden announced, for example, that the Department of Labor intended to adopt this policy, it would be big news. The Federal Register where announcements like this are made would be flooded with comments that the department would have to address. That would, of course, delay the policy’s rollout. With the Pretrial Services Agency, Biden likely expected that the policy would land quickly and without a splash. As it is, the notice of a new announcement provides less than 30 days for public comment. Biden may not be winning points for transparency, but he is doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment.

Take the Department of Defense, for example — which has failed to grant a single religious exemption on behalf of any service members requesting one for the federal vaccine mandate. A group of Navy SEALS was recently successful in its federal lawsuit against the Biden administration on claims that its conscience rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were violated.

From the outset of his administration, Biden voiced support for passage of the patently faith-hostile Equality Act — a bill that would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act entirely when it intersects with LGBTQ+ protections and entitlements in public accommodations.

The president also swiftly revoked the Mexico City policy that had been reinstated by former President Donald Trump, thereby ensuring that religious Americans would be forced to fund abortions overseas by way of their tax dollars, despite their religious objections to the act.

While employers, employment agencies, or unions with 100 employees or more are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from engaging in disparate treatment and from maintaining policies or practices that result in unjustified disparate impact based on religion, this administration does not seem to have received the memo.

That, at the bottom, is what this policy is about.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo are legal fellows in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

An update on January 15 revealed that 18 other agencies in the US government are also tracking people who maintain religious objections to covid vaccinations.  These include the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Treasury, to name only a few.

Where Is The Promise Of His Coming? Part 4: God Will Not Send Anyone To Hell.

“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

2021-10-16 I AM GOD“God won’t send anyone to hell, He’s too loving and nice to do that.”  This is an opinion uttered by many who believe God is all-loving and compassionate.  And with good reason: He IS.  However, those who express this view do not seem to understand the depth of His mercy: He will not violate anyone’s free will.  THAT is how loving and compassionate He is.

Many people will articulate this viewpoint in one breath and then in the next condemn someone who has done something they consider wrong, especially if it was done to them.  They do not like the idea of living next door to a witch, a rapist or child-molester, a murderer, or a greedy thief or liar.  How would they enjoy sharing Heaven with one such as these?

There are evil people in the world, those who get pleasure out of watching others suffer.  There are those whose only joy is to feel powerful over another or to use people as their toys.  Many a shoplifter or liar has stolen or told a fib without any need, but just for the delight of it.  These are the ones Revelation 22:15 calls dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters and practitioners of falsehood.

“But,” they will say, “when they have learned their lesson by suffering for a while in hell, God will let them out.”  True enough.  In fact, God’s mercy is SO immense that if Lucifer, the devil himself, ever apologized and admitted that he was wrong to try to take God’s place, God would even forgive him!  How soon will that happen?  Try never.  The devil is so self-deceived that he continually thinks that somehow, someday, in some way, he will be able to overthrow The Uncreated One.  Even into the eons of eternity he will continue to plot, plan and program what he believes will be his ultimate win: I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14)

2021-10-16 The LiarIn the same way, those who have believed his lie, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (Genesis 3:5) will follow him to their doom.  It is true that if they would learn their lesson, if they would turn from their selfishness, enjoyment of others’ pain, their immorality or greed, Father would forgive them and allow them into Heaven.  But habits are hard to break, and the older habits get, the more set in the avenues of our minds they become until they are unbreakable, even for God.  Thus Revelation 22:11 says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

We see this in the judgements of Revelation 16:9, 11, and 17.  Even when they are facing unquestionable judgements of God, instead of repenting and asking for mercy, people curse God and blame Him as though all the problems being visited on them are HIS fault.  Even then, if they would just ask, God would be merciful, but they simply refuse to see what should be plain in front of their eyes. “They did not repent and give him glory.

2021-10-16 Heaven Or HellThe bottom line is that God will not send anyone to hell.  In fact, He did not even make hell for humans“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)  But God is so merciful, He will not allow anything evil to enter into Heaven.  In His Final Mercy, He will isolate the recalcitrant sinner so they cannot go on sinning, injuring others and themselves.  And that final separation from all others who live in God will be hell.

In this series on The Promise of His Coming, I have presented The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice, details of what The End might look like, and how the enemy of our souls has deceived the whole world with pseudo-science to deter people from believing that Jesus will come again.  It is my sincere hope that someone reading this will begin to investigate: Did Jesus arise from the dead?  What are the implications if He did?  Will He come again?  What will the End Times look like, if not like our present troubles?

There is always hope for anyone, no matter what you have done, how you have lived your life, how ignorant of The God Who Is you have been, how far from God and any goodness you have moved.  All you need is Jesus.  He will forgive; He will restore what was broken; He will give you eternal life . . . if you will receive Him. (John 1:12)

Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.