The Legacy Coalition – The Next Wave?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a sample of the promotional video from 2022:

Thank You for the NO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope In Dark Times – Guest Intermezzo Blog by PK Adams

Hope in Dark Times – by Blue Skies and Green Pastures

It’s feels much easier to be cynical these days than to share the ‘good news’ of Jesus. But isn’t that why the good news is so good? As evil grows more powerful, and the narrative of death and fear is used constantly to push people towards the state to ‘save them’ with technology, the unsaved world becomes less willing to hear about an unseen savior that tells them that suffering is inevitable and that they should be looking forward to a ‘kingdom’ that seems too far away. But this is the truth and the truth is better than false hope.


Our lives on this planet are very short compared to the eternity we will experience after death. The suffering we may be experiencing now on earth, while it can be terrible and seem like it will last forever, is mercifully limited. And if we know Jesus, we can have supernatural peace even in the midst of suffering. Not ‘happy feelings’, but the assurance that God will work all things together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. Our ultimate hope is not in the state or technology, but in the knowledge that God through his holiness and justice will make things right for his children.

Some of us are actually suffering in our own lives due to pain, illness, loneliness, death of loved ones, lost jobs, precarious living arrangements, or the loss of hope that things will get better. It is the last one that we must try to change. We must remember the promises of God, continue to trust Him, keep looking for ways to serve him and others. Others of us are struggling because of the growing evil in the world and the fear that has taken over our hearts and minds. We fear for our children and grandchildren and our own lives. We are called to continue doing good, loving others, sharing Jesus, giving to the church, studying the Word, and not let the world steal our hope and joy.

Many generations of believers have gone before us. Compared to them, most of us (at least in the West) are living in a rich, free, and comfortable world. We can be thankful for the inventions that God allowed men and women to make that have made life so much easier. I am glad we no longer have to hunt and gather food daily to survive or fight off invaders in our village or die from childbirth or a simple illness or accident. Yet, greed, idolatry, rebellion, and pride are still a constant threat that manifests as statism, wars, violence, crime, immorality, and ideological narratives that attempt to control the public. There is nothing new under the sun, as it says in the Ecclesiastes. Until we live in the kingdom, we will deal with the fallout of sin.

While we wait for Jesus to return, let us not grow weary, lose hope, or let our hearts grow cold. This is the true test of faith, can you keep hope alive? Paul tells us in Philippians 4: Let the peace that passes understanding rule in your hearts and keep you focused on Jesus who is near to you and even inside you. We can do all things, even suffer, when we abide in Him. Our job as believers is to show this hope and faith to the world and each other.

Guest blog by B.G. O’Neal: God Will Turn It Around!

As we wrap out another year, let me encourage you with BG O’Neal’s blog of encouragement.  I also hope with Jews around the world who proclaim each Passover: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”  Perhaps we will attend next year in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21).  So as we end this year and move into 2023, consider where you are on your faith journey.  “When we all come to die, does it make the slightest difference which political party we belong to?  Does it matter whether we are rich or poor, learned or otherwise?  There is only one fundamental distinction, and that is whether we belong to the world or to Christ.“  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come.
I’ve added some graphics and an additional YouTube link.

by Flip Side – Word Up, BG O’Neal 

We live in a most precarious time when trust seems to be pendulous. It feels like so much is just hanging in the air. There are so many variables to consider. Oh, the look on sad ashen faces! It is like a generation lost. And we thought we had it so bad growing up in the 50s to 70s.

How does a person, young or old contend with the affairs of this day? Political unrest! Church attendance! Divorce rates! And sadly a society that loves to escape to fantasy! Be whatever you feel like! Be a furry, be a dog! That may provide a temporary mirage of an escape. Wait until you get treated like a dog!!!

A dog’s life is not always about being loved and cared for. Sometimes they get abused, starved, killed. What about just being what your loving Creator, “Yahweh,” made you to be? Man up! Woman up! No wonder the world is so forlorn, so torn, so sad! But are we praying for our world, or do we seek only our own good?

Please realize that we are not alone in facing the issues in our world. The same rain falls on us all! The same sun shines on us all! We all have to deal with life! We all face the same perplexities. They have not changed much but rather intensified: suicide rates; political unrest; a broken economy with unfathomable debt!

So many broken marriages. Unemployment on the rise! We live in a lazy co-dependent society. Lack of customer service and disrespect is one of the results of a godless society. Anger and hatred against God and Christ is rampant! Have you ever seen such rudeness and ignorance? It’s sad to say that these same attributes exude from our pulpits at times! No wonder there is so much anxiety in the world!!!

I know it seems that I have painted a very bleak picture. However, there is hope! God was in Christ reconciling the world back unto himself. This same Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life! He is the Savior for all who accept him. As the song says, “The only real peace I have dear Lord is in you!” You also can have that peace of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior!

Accept him today and be filled with the Holy Spirit who gives true peace. Life will still be tough! Things will at times be difficult to understand! You will make it through your trials! And oh, the joy that God gives!!! The ‘pseudo’ happiness the world offers is just that! Fake! Would you now consider praying and seeking the Lord for salvation?

Let God turn some things around for you. Experience His grace and mercy! Rest in his ever abiding peace and love! Listen to the heart cry of the Psalmist in this passage below:

“I’m worn out with my weeping and groaning. Night after night I soak my pillow with tears, and flood my bed with weeping. My eyes of faith won’t focus anymore, for sorrow fills my heart. There are so many enemies who come against me! Turn from me, all you troublemakers! For Yahweh has turned to hear the sound of my weeping. Yes! Yahweh my healer has heard all my pleading and has taken hold of my prayers and answered them all.” Psalms 6:6-9 (TPT).

 

 

Advent: What Will Happen Soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marantha, even so, come again, Lord Jesus.

CBDC – Faster Than You May Expect

Recently this blog warned of persecution coming via Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).  This will make the Respect for Marriage Act look like protection of religious liberties. . . which it is NOT!  In a previous blog I noted how President Biden authorized any and all government agencies with a vested interest in a CBDC to explore the actions required to launch a United States CBDC if doing so is deemed to be in the national interest.”

When did a government ever invent a program that it then dumped?  Just search for “obsolete federal programs still on the books” in a search engine and watch the boondoggles your computer will find!

So now, just eight months after executive order 14607 was signed, the NY Federal Reserve is rolling out a test of these actions.  “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and major banks will launch a three-month test of a digital dollar in hopes of studying its feasibility.”  (The Washington Examiner)

“Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, [BNY Mellon, PNC Bank, TD Bank, Truist, and U.S. Bank] are the [nine] financial companies participating in the experiment alongside the New York Fed’s Innovation Center, they said in a statement. The project, which is called the regulated liability network, will be conducted in a test environment and use simulated data, the New York Fed said.”  (Reuters)

The U.S. dollar will be represented as tokens and transactions will be settled through simulated central bank reserves on a shared multi-entity distributed ledger.  This pilot will be conducted in a test environment and the participating parties have stressed that this experiment is not intended to advance any specific policy outcome or hint that the Fed is planning to make any big decisions about a central bank digital currency in the near future.  😉 Wink, wink, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 😨 (Ronald Reagan)

As noted, the US is behind the curve of other countries, so much so that there is discussion about whether the dollar is becoming less important in international transactions.  If we fall behind advancing nations like China, India and …Jamaica (??😳) the dollar will lose its slot as the world’s reserve currency!  The rise of the Euro and China’s Yuan increasing presence in the global economy all feed into this idea.

China has tested its digital yuan in several provinces, and the currency is even available to users on the popular app WeChat.  It recently added four provinces to its list of regions for the CBDC trial.  Nigeria also launched a digital currency, the eNaira.  The governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank said it was responsible for more than $9,000,000 (in USD millions) in transactions in the past month.  Earlier this month, France, Switzerland, and Singapore jointly conducted a trial for their digital currencies, one of the first of its kind.  These cross-border trials are also an important agenda item in CBDC development as one of CBDC’s promises is to expedite international trade between financial agencies.

A news release referred to the experiment as a “proof-of-concept project” in which the largest banks in America will work with the Fed’s New York Innovation Center to simulate digital money representing the deposits of their own customers and settle them through simulated Fed reserves on a distributed ledger.

Of course, this is all for our own good: Safety, Security, Convenience!  Those are the three catch words that will be used to draw us in.  If you know you are not a bad person, but you enjoy convenience, it will be tempting to say to yourself, “I have nothing to hide.”  Are you living a “sustainable lifestyle” and helping to fight alleged climate change?  Do you support government views on race, abortion, marriage and even democracy?  Are you a team player?  If not, your participation in society may be affected.  Although financial institutions claim a digital dollar boosts speed and convenience, the real motives are surveillance and control.

This is exactly how the recent vaccines were rolled out, through coercive policies enforced, not just by governments but by their corporate partners.  John Kerry, at the COP27 conference in Egypt said that this is the model that can be used to enforce compliance with the sustainability agenda being pushed by the United Nations and its myriad partners in the private sector, headed by the World Economic Forum.

Once digital programable money is in place, you may not get to spend your money on certain things and may be limited to certain areas of commerce.  A digital ID will be required for everything!  Eventually, you will not be able to access any government or public services without that digital ID; you will not be able travel across national borders nor access healthcare nor the internet.  You will be required to prove your identity through a digital program containing your unique biometric markers, a thumb print or a facial scan.  Cellphones are already prodding us for this information.  Many new driver’s licenses require biometric markers.  Your face will be linked to a new digital CBDC account.  Without it, you will be locked out of the system – no job, no healthcare, no social security check, no buying or selling . . . nothing.

The World Economic Forum wants to achieve this by 2030.  After digital money backed by government is in place, cash can be all together eliminated.  In June 2020, many world leaders gathered to announce the launch of a plan to “reset” the entire global economy, a proposal ominously named the “Great Reset.”  Among the elites from around the world and powerful institutions that pledged their support for the Great Reset were the International Monetary Fund, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Prince Charles and CEOs from major international corporations.  A frequent mantra of The Great Reset is “equality of outcomes,” a concept foreign to democratic “equality of opportunities.”

“Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. …In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism. Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, wrote.

New York Fed Announces Phase I Results of the New York Innovation Center’s Project Cedar – FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK

“The U.S. Federal Reserve has tightened the window for the launch of its FEDNOW instant payments platform to between May and July of 2023.  According to a press release, FedNow will be open to financial institutions of any size, allowing them to facilitate instant payments for consumers and businesses, giving customers immediate full access to funds. The platform is currently in pilot phase with more than 120 organizations participating, including lender U.S. Bank and payment processor Alacriti Payments among them.”  (Forbes)

Some people herald crypto-currency as the money of the future.  Its blockchain accounting system made it attractive to investors who valued privacy and speed of transaction.  Libertarians liked its independence from government or banks and saw it as a parallel system that would eventually replace modern monies.  But the joke’s on those who thought the privacy and independence from government were its salient features.  It will soon be Big Brother, more pervasive and intrusive than George Orwell ever imagined.

Once CBDC becomes the medium of exchange in our nation, China and others, it will be a short hop to a global cabal who will control our finances; one more step toward a global government.  All it will take will be a cataclysmic event more astounding than the recent pandemic, and One Man will come along with the rest of the solutions.  As Jesus warned His followers, do not “get ready.”  Rather, BE READY!  Christ-followers have nothing to fear, For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:27-18)

Thanxgiving Approaches

Thanxgiving later next week remains the last of America’s truly “family holidays.”  There was a time when almost all holidays were family times, oriented around a dad, mom and progeny that were born to them; perhaps some extensions with uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents if one was fortunate enough to meet the octogenarians of previous generations.  As a child, if a family did not have their groceries and details in order for any holiday, from New Years Day to Independence Day to Christmas, you could anticipate sitting at home for the day with nothing to do or eat!

Like the last gasps of a dying patient before he leaves the world of the living, Turkey Day is getting a small reprieve from the incessant march of materialism and identity politics that are trampling the “old world” underfoot.  Many stores are closing this Thanxgiving, more than in previous years.

Walmarts, even though started by a man who claimed to be a Christian, have been open on TG Day since the 1980s, but like many retailers, closed for the holiday during covid’s run in 2020 and ’21.  Now, they and others like Target have decided to keep the fourth Thursday of November as a true holiday with closed stores.

Yahoo News reports that stores closed for Thanksgiving 2022 will include Aldi’s, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, HomeGoods, Penney’s, Kohl’s, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Walmart.  Even the entire Fayette Mall will be closed!   And Lowe’s and Home Depot have always been closed on TG Day since their founding, so no surprises there… yet.  Only a handful of national chains like 7-11 or drug stores plan to open this Thanksgiving.

But do not let this small respite this year deceive you.  The retailers are boasting all kinds of “Black Friday” deals and special times of openings on the day after.  And I suspect it will only be a matter of a few years before they start competing again for Thanxgiving Day dollars, opening earlier and earlier until it will seem as ludicrous to be closed on Thanxgiving as Kohl’s found it when they started opening in Lexington at midnight as Thursday turned into Friday.  Now the stores all offer “Black Friday Deals” starting the week before Thanxgiving!

Add to that the constant slowing of the beep-beep of the nation’s heart-monitor as the family becomes more distant and dissected by unmarried young people who, though living together, are divorced from real family relationships that call for commitment and tenacity to maintain the vitality of a tribal identity.  And many people are actually getting tired of the battles for in-person best deals on Black Friday as online shopping has taken off so well over the past two years.

It may seem bleak to those of us who remember gathering with family for all of the holidays past: Christmas at Grandpa’s farm in Paradise, Kansas; New Year’s Eve at a “watchnight” service in a local church that would find people at the altar praying instead of counting down the ball-drop with Dick Clark on TV; President’s Day that combined Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays into one day in February; St. Patrick’s Day parades downtown; Easter with pageantry of the Crucifixion and Resurrection played out by Sunday School teachers dressed in bath robes; Memorial Day when we would decorate the graves of deceased family members; Independence Day with parades and fireworks; the long eventless summer with only family and sometimes a week at camp.  Then the fall would kick off a new season with Veteran’s Day parades and honors for our war dead as we went back to school; Halloween would push us into “THE holidays” with Christmas decorations still in storage until after Thanxgiving Day.

And every one of these “holy-days” were spent with family, whether at a graveside or cheering a high school band in a parade; whether at a church meeting or dressed in Dad’s overalls and washable dots for whiskers for a costume.
We were always together as a family.

But those days are gone, and likely not coming back.  These are not just the musings of a man reaching old age.  It is an observation of the desert of relationships to which society is inexorably moving, and of the times in which we live.

History is reaching a tipping point from which there is no return.   We will not be like gods, the way many are expecting.  From TED talks to Disney productions, mankind has drunk from the devil’s kool-aid, and Father in Heaven is getting ready to say, “That is quite enough of that.”   The devil’s lie is still what it was in the Garden of Eden: “YOU can be like GOD!” (Genesis 3:5)

Whether it is age-defying creams for sale at Walgreen’s, diets to prolong life in Men’s Health or movies that portray survivors of cataclysms (Greenland), humans still want to believe they are limitless.

History is not repeating itself (though it does rhyme); i.e., no century on earth has ever seen the technological and global developments we are witnessing.  At no time in our past have we every reached the 8,000,000,000th person, which ethnographers believe we attained on November 15.  Before our time, no one even expected this until Robert Frolich wrote The P-Bomb in 1968, which proved to be a farsical over-simplification of human resourcefulness.

All indications point to a mark in history soon to occur: the return of Jesus, called the Christ, at which time the Last Age of the Earth will begin.  This is not the fantasy of Hollywood movies, but the trajectory of God’s timeline revealed in the Bible, where not a single prophecy has ever been demonstrated to not occur.  The only ones left to be fulfilled are those that refer to this final chapter of this world’s story.  So gather with your family this Thanxgiving and thank The God Who Is for revealing His love, holiness, grace and truth in Jesus, and for promising to come back and take those who have put their faith in Him to be with Him forever.

If you do not know Jesus, please, please, please, consider praying to Him to invite Him into your life today.  Contact me if you want to know more or to find out how this will radically affect your life, relationships and future . . . while there is still time.

Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.

Pray for Persecuted Christ-followers Around the World – A Guest Blog from Morgan Lee, Christianity Today

When persecuted Christ-followers ask for prayer, I find it intriguing how very few ask for financial aid or release!  Most ask for holy boldness to continue to fulfill the Great Commission.  How will you pray when persecution comes to your neighborhood?  These prayers should NOT be just one or two Sundays per year.

If we cannot go, we should give; if we cannot give, we should write letters of encouragement or support through legal action.  But in ALL cases, if you love Christ’s Church, we should pray DAILY and CONTINUALLYThese are your brothers and sisters who are being imprisoned, tortured and killed because they name the Name of Jesus as their savior.

They are not anarchists nor government agitators nor agents for foreign powers.  They only want their families, friends, neighbors and persecutors to go to Heaven when they die and the freedom to tell them how to do this.

How the Persecuted Church Wants You to Pray

Leaders in six countries explain how Christians can best support and rejoice with fellow believers suffering for their faith.  Compiled by Morgan Lee for Christianity TodayNovember 10, 2022

The first two Sundays of November, as part of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Christians around the world intentionally intercede for their brothers and sisters in Christ who face violence, prison, arson, kidnapping, bureaucratic restrictions, and shunning because of their faith.

Around 309 million Christians live in places with very high or extreme levels of persecution, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List. Shortly after the release of last year’s list, Christians from around the world shared their joys and concerns. We encourage you to use the praises and requests of Christians from the six countries included here as a tool to guide your prayers today.

China:  We praise God:

  • for God keeping his church faithful in meeting for worship in spite of the pandemic and persecution.
  • that, using new technologies such as Zoom, many churches have been able to develop creative evangelistic opportunities that were not previously available.
  • During strict government pandemic control, many urban churches have been closed. But some of these believers have been able to transfer to house churches and continued to grow spiritually there.

We pray:

  • Some house churches are still under severe persecution. Preachers are being arrested on trumped-up charges. Pray for the preachers’ perseverance and for their families.
  • Internet meetings in some churches are often interfered with and disrupted by the government, and many elderly believers need training for using new technologies.
  • In Xi Jinping’s third term, the church is facing even greater challenges and more serious persecution. Many Chinese people who feel threatened, including believers, will choose to leave China if they are capable of immigrating elsewhere. Pray that God will keep and guide those who choose to leave as well as those who choose to stay.

A* C* (name changed for security reasons), a house church pastor in Hubei

Egypt:  We praise God:

  • for protecting our ministry to women in rural Upper Egyptian villages. He has provided for all the needs of this team and its beneficiaries. God is faithful and good all time with us.
  • for the start of construction of our community center at El Minya in Upper Egypt.
  • Our first community center, known Oasis Center, was badly affected by COVID-19. Now all activities at the Oasis have returned, including conferences, the vocational training courses, and the retreats.

We pray:

  • for ending trafficking of girls in El Hawamdeya, where parents often sold their daughters to rich old men. We continue to pray for the protection for women and for more awareness for parents.
  • for inflation in Egypt and how the poor people are affected by this. Every time we distribute sacks of food, we find that the poor people are increasing. We pray that God will provide.
  • for planned demonstrations on November 11 by opposition groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. We pray for security for the whole country and for stability and protection for churches.
    Submitted by Bassem Fekry, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Egypt

India:  We praise God:

  • that in spite of anti-conversion laws in certain states, hundreds of new believers have come to know the saving grace of our Lord.
  • Due to the pandemic we didn’t have VBS for several years, but this summer we were finally able to conduct it! Due to an unexpected rainy season, we had to postpone it several times but thank God we could finally accomplish the task.
  • that he enabled us to reach out to the interior tribal villages in the eastern part of India. More than 700 school teachers received training about how to teach students to adopt Christlike character. We also trained 350 gospel workers in church planting.

We pray:

  • for our Christmas outreach ministries to people with leprosy, blind people, commercial sex workers, and tribal and slum street children
  • Due to anti-conversion laws we were unable to baptize 350 new believers in various communities as we needed to obtain official approval from the government authorities through the court of law. We need to wait 40 to 60 days in order to get approval from the court and the local police. Pray that everything goes well with the legal process.
  • We have 2,500 church planting and Christlike character training books. We need funds towards imparting training gospel workers throughout India. Please uphold us in your prayer for the needed funds and other training logistics.
    David K. Dass, national director, India Gospel League

Iraq:  We praise God:

  • for his work through the church because he blessed us during this year by being able to visit one of the displaced people’s camps in Ramadi. We provided families with food baskets and presented a message of love to the children at the camp.

We pray:

  • for the stability of the political and security situation in Iraq and that this stability will bring comfort and peace to the country and citizens of various secondary affiliations, such as race, religion, sect, clan, and tribe. (Many challenges in Iraq are related to the dominance of sub-identities over national identity.)
    Ara Badalian, senior pastor of the National Evangelical Baptist Church in Baghdad

Laos: We pray:

  • that the church will grow and be strengthened so that it can be administratively, evangelistically, and financially self-reliant and be a blessing to the development of the nation.
  • for unity among believers, church leaders and between every church.
    The Protestant church community in Laos

Mali:  We praise God:

  • Mali has been going through a multidimensional crisis for a decade. This has greatly affected the church, especially in the north and center of the country. Despite this growing insecurity, God continues to watch over the local churches.
  • for the commitment of the churches in the witness of Jesus Christ despite their difficult context. Evangelism initiatives like the distribution of Christian tracts, evangelism messages on radio stations, and evangelism through personal relationships continue to move forward.
  • because the church is making its voice heard by the authorities of the country through the Association of Groups of Evangelical Protestant Churches and Missions in Mali (AGEMPEM) and the Episcopal Conference.

We pray:

  • for churches to grow and engage in holistic acts of witness. Pray for the unity of the body of Christ in the current context of Mali, which is marked by an increasingly visible Islamic extremism.
  • for Christian families displaced because of the conflict. May God grant peace and courage necessary for spiritual, psychological, and economic resilience.
  • Kidnappings continue in northern and central Mali. Pray that God will preserve the lives of the church members and that the churches will be protected from terrorist threats and attacks. Pray that the church will continue to be a powerful instrument in God’s hands to bring peace, restore wounded hearts, and ease downcast spirits.
  • that the church in Mali will emerge victorious from this situation and continue to proclaim and manifest God’s unconditional love.
    Josue Djire, faith, development, and peacebuilding advisor at World Vision Mali

Pakistan:  We praise God:

  • for the churches and seminaries who are faithfully serving the Lord and expanding the kingdom of God.
  • for blessed spiritual senior leadership and the development of young pastors and evangelists.
  • for the Pakistani church and Christian NGOs being salt and light during the current flood disaster.

We pray:

  • for the underage forced marriage and forced conversion of Christian teenage girls.
  • for illiterate Christians to obtain education as they are below the poverty line and are mostly persecuted.
  • for the victims of false blasphemy cases.
  • for the unity and purity of the Pakistani church, so they become bold witnesses of Christ through their words and actions.
  • for the great movement of the Holy Spirit to revive the church through the Word of God, miracles, and conversions.
    Ujala Hans, lead pastor at CPM (Christ for Pakistan Ministries) Church Pakistan, Lahore

With additional reporting by Jayson Casper, Angela Lu Fulton, and Sean Cheng.

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.