Do I Have What It Takes to Face Persecution?

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to suffer persecution?

Yesterday, I heard a Christian talk show host field a question from his listening audience. The caller asked, “I’m afraid that if I ever had to suffer persecution like some Christians in other countries, I won’t be able to stand strong. That terrifies me! What if I fall apart? What if I can’t take it?”

You can read the rest of my article here at The Bottom Line …

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s Third Reich: A Wake Up Call To America

flag-650x400What does the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich have to do with America’s current sociopolitical climate?

An interest in German martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has resurged, perhaps because of parallels with Christians in the current United States. Bonhoeffer’s biography crystallizes the spiritual nature of Hitler’s rise to power. Here are a few ingredients trending in current culture that have a troubling precedent in Hitler’s rise to totalitarianism …

Read the rest of this article by Emily Tomko here:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s Third Reich: A Wake Up Call to America

Ultimate Pain

Privileged Pain.

Privileged pain might mean that no matter how well-off one is, how wealthy or comfortable or perfect the family – pain plays no favorites. Or, Privileged Pain might explain the ultimate, beautiful outcome that suffering has the potential to produce.

Just mulling these thoughts over, I considered the polishing of a pearl, the rain before a rainbow, the pressing of a grape and the squeezing of citrus. Most of those are not new metaphors but true nonetheless and sometimes we forget the most common affirmations of difficult truths.

I think one thing that suffering accomplishes is to kill any remnants of dead religion that sometimes cling to Christ followers. I heard of a book that I’m dying to read, Jesus Hates Dead Religion, by Eric Metaxas. This book follows on the heals of his New York Times bestseller, Bonhoeffer. Both books have been added to my Kindle’s to-do list.

No one can testify to the privilege of pain as can a martyr. Bonhoeffer died for his faith – he was certain that the weight of glory prepared for him was greater than any momentary suffering. I want to endure like that!

As to the other book, James says that faith without works is dead. If Jesus truly hates dead religion, then the effectual proof of my faith must be a consistent growth in Christ-likeness. And if pain slays nothing else, it will slay dead religion. It will destroy the trappings of false charity, disguised pride and shallow empathy.

Faith and religion are not the same thing. Sometimes they are bitter enemies. Think of Jesus, and then think of the Pharisees. Think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and then the German religious establishment enslaved to Hitler and the Führer principle. Think of William Wilberforce, and then his complacent countrymen, piously permitting the traffic of people whose skin was darker than their own. Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce stood against the evil of their times, evil so easily peddled as religious. Will we do the same?

This is a Bonhoeffer moment, as Eric Metaxas says. Modern culture offers us comfort, distraction, even piety to keep us from a living faith in the God of the universe. But Metaxas’s rousing message calls readers to follow in the steps of men like Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, godly men who lived the gospel instead of following the path of dead religion to the approval of their respective societies.

Real prayer is only possible with living faith. And living faith is the only kind that can be used by God for transformative change in our world. But dead religion is a deceptive substitute. Jesus came to deliver people from dead religion. Let’s not be its defenders. – Amazon book description of Jesus Hates Dead Religion

Whether or not the day ever comes that I will be asked to suffer the ultimate pain for Jesus, I want to have such a living, vital, ready-to-die faith, that I can stand next to Bonhoeffer and James in heaven.

Under Fire On Facebook

Who knew the dangerous tendrils of Facebook? It’s no surprise that Facebook has been related to a plethora of illegal activity in the United States.  Last year, I must have read a dozen surveys in women’s magazines asking, “Would you let your ‘tween’ have a Facebook page?”

But these infractions seem ridiculously small when compared the true story of a young Coptic Christian in Egypt who was arrested, convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for something he posted on Facebook. [from: persecutionblog.com] His home and those of four other friends and relatives were torched.

“For a Muslim to stand on a street corner and say bad things against Christianity, or even to broadcast them on the radio, on the television, on their Facebook page or whatever — that would go without punishment. But this Christian, who has been accused of posting something that was offensive to Muslims on his Facebook page, is now sentenced to three years in prison for insulting Islam.” Todd Nettleton

This story insists that we teach our children the absolute value, the death-worthy value of our faith. Few adults know and live by this truth:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.a Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-3

It’s time that changed. Let’s start with this generation.

What’s Coming Up This April

I swear I just did this. It seems like two days ago that I filled a page with ideas for a whole new month. But, there’s no rest for the weary and now it’s time to plot April. April showers, right? April doldrums, bleary days, cloudy skies and itchy impatience for the rewards of spring. Well, let me brighten the days of your April. Let’s allow the Son to

Blind us with His glory

Cast rainbows in the falling orbs

Speak peace in pattering showers

And thunder truth in blackened skies.

This month I owe a review to Moody Publishers for Trevin Wax’s book Counterfeit Gospels. Because of the way the book is written, highlighting six prevalent, modern (or postmodern) counterfeit gospels, I want to spend two weeks here. This is an excellent topic for Predatory Lies – unveiling the ultimate lie that destroys all lives: a fatal misinterpretation of THE ONLY SAVING GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRST.

If someone handed you a counterfeit $100 bill, what would you do? Is there any chance you would attempt to pass it off as real; reap the benefits of deception? Is there any benefit to be gained by facilitating a deceptive gospel? I admit, I have turned away after some uncomfortable conversations with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I took the benefit of maintaining a friendship, not rocking the boat, being agreeable, and passed on a counterfeit gospel to a bankrupt spirit in desperate need of the real currency: Jesus Christ and the  immutable truth of His death and resurrection.

The following week, the third week of April, we’ll lighten it up a bit. Kristen and I will be two weeks into our new endeavor Moms Who TRI. My motivation for starting Moms Who TRI, a personal training company with a niche in moms and kids bootcamps, is to preempt the cultural lies about body image and health before they seep unconsciously into the minds of youth. I am also determined to counter the lies that have already invaded the minds of women; lies about dieting, exercise, personal value, and other things.

During the third week of April, I am going to let you vicariously reap the benefits of training with Moms Who TRI. I will tell you the truth about eating healthily, simply and affordably and share several resources and recipes with you. I will dispel the myths of long exercise programs, and give you a quick, ten minute program that you can do at home. (Also, Moms Who TRI can provide you with fresh programs whenever you need them and offer accountability. Please contact us through our Facebook page or our website if you have any questions.)

The fourth week of April, we’re back to the deeper, more sobering elements of the Christian life. It is the truth that living a bold, Christian life is getting harder in the United States; but it cannot be denied that we remain a blessedly free people. I listen regularly to In the Market with Janet Parshall. Janet often covers the issues of the persecuted church world-wide. Each time I hear a broadcast exposing the terrible truth about “over-there,” my heart breaks and little shards of it prick my spirit – why cannot I not remember to pray? If I can do so little physically (which is not so little after all) how is that I allow a slothful heart to hinder my prayers for my persecuted brothers and sisters?

So this week, I will introduce you to Voice of the Martyrs.  Together, we will become more aware and accountably committed to praying for them.

I look forward to April’s showers with you. May God shower you with His grace and a deeper knowledge of Him.