Christian Joy

The abiding message of Philippians concerns the nature and grounds of Christian joy. For Paul, true joy is not a surface emotion that depends on favorable circumstances of the moment. Christian joy is independent of outward conditions, and is possible even in the midst of adverse circumstances, such as suffering and persecution.

Joy ultimately arises from fellowship with the risen, glorified Christ. Throughout the letter, Paul speaks of joy in the Lord, emphasizing that through Christ alone is Christian joy realized, as are other Christian graces. Essential to this joy is the confident conviction of the lordship of Christ, based on experience of the power of His resurrection. Because of this conviction, life for Paul attained meaning. Even death became a friend, because it would bring him into a fuller experience of the presence of Christ (1:21-23).

The joy presented in Philippians involves eager expectation of the near return of the Lord. That this expectation was dominant in Paul’s thinking is seen in his five references to Christ’s return. In the context of each reference is a note of joy (1:6, 10; 2:16; 3:20; 4:5).

Paul further describes a joy that springs from fellowship in the spreading of the gospel. He begins the letter by thanking the Philippians for their partnership in spreading the gospel through their monetary gifts. The gifts, however, are only an expression of their spirit of fellowship, or as he puts it in 4:17, “the fruit that abounds to your account.” So Christian joy is an outgrowth of being in the active fellowship of the body of Christ.

This letter reveals the timeless message that true joy is to be found only in a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus Christ and in the assurance that God is able to turn adverse circumstances to our good and His glory. Because he was united to Christ by a living faith, Paul could claim contentment in all circumstances. His unadorned testimony was “I rejoice … and will rejoice” (1:18), and his unqualified command was, “Rejoice . . . again I will say, rejoice! (4:4).

Introduction to The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Spirit Filled Life Bible, General Editor Jack W. Hayford, Litt.D. (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), pp. 1800-1801

Recognizing The Change

Christians must understand the nature of the change that has occurred in our culture. No longer do the secularists just mock Christians from afar. They are now actively campaigning to indoctrinate children in an anti-God philosophy—to teach them to be secularists and atheists. 

—Ken Ham (born 20 October 1951, Australian Christian fundamentalist, young Earth creationist, and apologist)

Source: Berean Call

Anglican school chaplain fired for not caving to LGBT indoctrination warns of ‘soft totalitarianism’

WASHINGTON — An Anglican chaplain who was fired and reported to an anti-terrorism program for preaching Christian doctrine on sexual ethics during a chapel service is warning about the totalitarian ideologies actively at work in the West. 

At a breakout session at the International Religious Freedom Summit, a panel on “polite persecution” — a phrase coined by Pope Francis — assembled by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, described how secular abortion and gender activists are gutting cherished freedoms in countries that have historically championed religious liberty. Often, religious persecution is state-sanctioned.

This so-called polite kind of hostility is often experienced by practitioners of faiths that adhere to more traditional views about human life, marriage, and the material reality of biological sex.

In his remarks, the Rev. Bernard Randall recounted how just over three years ago, he, as an ordained chaplain, was reported to authorities and investigated as part of a government anti-terrorism probe for espousing Christian sexual ethics during a chapel service in a Church of England school. 

The school had invited LGBT activist Elly Barnes, founder of Educate & Celebrate, an LGBT education charity, to a staff training session to introduce a new curriculum under the guise of anti-bullying education, he said, noting that no one objects to protecting students from bullying. Yet, he soon found out that there were aspects of this training that were not about bullying but the indoctrination of LGBT ideology. It went so far that at one point the trainers had the staff chanting about the need to “smash heteronormativity.”

“That’s something well beyond not bullying people,” Randall said. 

The LGBT group further taught staff that there are nine characteristics that are protected under British law, among them “gender” and “gender identity.” But that is not true, Randall stressed, noting that the trans movement has coerced the public into believing such claims.

Since the aim of the Educate & Celebrate curriculum material is to “embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric of your organization,” students asked Randall to address the issue at a chapel service. 

After doing so, he was summarily dismissed from school for gross misconduct and reported to the counter-terrorism program after he told students, aged 11 to 17, that they were not compelled to “accept an ideology they disagree with.” He also told the students that they could make up their own minds about gender identity and sexuality.

Randall added that students could either choose to adopt the thinking of LGBT activists or adhere to Christian sexual ethics — that marriage is only between a man and woman and that sex is confined to that context. Most importantly, he advised students to show respect for those who disagree.

“I was summoned into what I can only describe as an interrogation by the senior leadership,” he said. “I was suspended. And I was fired for gross misconduct for doing my job as per the job description.”

Randall was also reported to Child Protective Services and a British government anti-terrorism program as a potential violent extremist. 

“I’d like to think that I’m a reasonably moderate sort of chap,” he said, reiterating how he left the question of believing the claims of LGBT activists open-ended in his chapel remarks. UnmuteAdvanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next

But his firing and being reported to the government anti-terrorism task force was a revealing moment showing how far the school’s administration had gone to the other extreme. 

He is now suing the school for religious discrimination but noted how astonishing it is that he has to take legal action against a Church of England institution, for proclaiming Christian beliefs in a sermon during a chapel service. The Christian Legal Centre has since been representing him.

Speaking of the relevance of the international religious freedom summit, the Anglican chaplain stressed that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. The Marxist progressive ideology at work functions much like a religion and people should be free from that if they wish to be. 

“If Western countries cannot protect their own religious groups from discrimination there is absolutely no reason that the other countries at which we might point the finger” who are violating religious freedom, and they can say to the West and say, “You’re not taking it seriously, so why should we?” he said.

When asked by The Christian Post why gender ideologues won’t even allow a disagreement, Randall pointed to its philosophical roots. 

“It seems to me that if you look at the Marxist-type origins of this sort of thing, what’s going on is that they are objecting to what they regard as religion — the opiate of the masses — this sort of false consciousness, and they just have to educate us into true consciousness,” he said.

“But anybody who says ‘Oh no, I’m quite happy with my religious ideas, I’m quite happy with this consciousness I’ve got already’ is a real threat to the whole set of concepts. They are a threat to the idea that what everybody believes is false and the Marxists will take us to this new wonderful, enlightened utopia.”

“And they cannot tolerate that kind of threat. It’s a very totalitarian system,” he added. 

What Randall experienced three years ago in England is what he and others have called “soft totalitarianism,” whereas what people endure in China is “hard totalitarianism.”  

“But the difference between them is not as much as we might like to think,” he stressed. 

Send news tips to: brandon.showalter@christianpost.com Listen to Brandon Showalter’s Life in the Kingdom podcast at The Christian Post and edifi app Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter Follow on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

“Heavy Hatred for Christian Values” In Western Society

Following is from the July 2, 2022 Christian Post (United States).

Finnish lawmaker Päivi Räsänen, prosecuted for voicing her traditional Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality, believes that a “heavy hatred for Christian values” in Western society will cause many Christians to censor themselves for social acceptance.

The former interior minister who has served in Finnish Parliament for nearly three decades was one of several global political figures to speak at the annual International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., this week.

The event aims to increase “the public awareness and political strength for the international religious freedom movement. The summit is led by former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who led similar events at the State Department headquarters during the Trump administration.

In March, Räsänen was cleared of hate speech charges for repeatedly asserting her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But her legal battle continues as the prosecution has appealed the ruling to a higher court.

She spoke with The Christian Post ahead of her participation in a panel discussion at the summit focused on religious freedom in the Western Hemisphere Thursday.  

As she faced a possibility of up to six years imprisonment, the 62-year-old politician attributed her prosecution to Finland becoming a “post-Christian world” where “Christian values are, in fact, a minority.”

“The change has been so fast that it is difficult to understand what is happening,” She said. 

As the wife of a Lutheran pastor and former chair of Finnish Christian Democrats, Räsänen believes Christian values are “targeted” in criminal court as part of the “breaking of the virtue and the challenging of Christian values” that is now “very visible in our societies.”

In Räsänen’s case, she faced hate speech charges over a book she wrote 18 years ago titled Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity and a 2019 tweet taking issue with the Finnish Lutheran Church’s promotion of LGBT “pride month.” She faced a third charge for comments she made on a radio show about homosexuality.

Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland was charged with hate speech for publishing Räsänen’s book. 

Räsänen insists that she has no ill will toward homosexuals and suggested that those accusing her of practicing hate speech are the ones dabbling in hatred.

“We all are sinners and we need Jesus. But now, I think there is a heavy hatred against Christian values in our society,” Räsänen said. “If you speak about gender issues — that there are two genders or that marriage belongs to one woman and one man — it arouses hatred against you in our society.”

Räsänen told CP that she “never thought” she would face prosecution for expressing support for “classical Christian doctrines about marriage and sexuality” as she openly discussed her “Christian values” and beliefs about “marriage and sanctity of human life” throughout her time in Parliament.

“Nothing has changed in my faith and in my conviction, but suddenly I was like a criminal because of this hate,” she said. 

“The world has changed,” she concluded. “I think that my conviction has not changed but the world has changed very [quickly] in Finland and I think that also in other Western countries, post-Christian countries.”

Describing the cultural shift as “very alarming,” Räsänen believes Christians must “wake up to see what is going on” because her experience proves that “it is more and more difficult” for Christians to express their faith publicly.

“I’m afraid that this leads to some kind of self-censorship. If you are labeled a conservative Christian, it would hinder your career or your social acceptance,” she stated. “So, these kinds of problems are very topical in Finnish society.”UnmuteAdvanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next

Although she “hoped that the prosecutor would have been satisfied with the acquittal,” she sees her case moving to a higher court as an opportunity “to get a precedent and to get a more heavy guideline for possible further similar cases in Finland and also in Europe.”

She praised her acquittal of hate crime charges by a Helsinki District Court as “a victory for me.” Still, She said a “possible victory from Appeal Court and especially from Supreme Court” is an “even bigger victory for freedom of speech … and freedom of religion” because it would create “legal guidance for other cases.”

“I think that this is all in God’s hands, and I believe in His guidance that there is some meaning that this process continues,” she added.

Räsänen said the ordeal and her platform with the Finnish media provided an opportunity to “hold up the biblical values in public and also testify about Jesus” and give people “the answer to the problem of sin that Jesus has died for all people and that this is the way to salvation.”

Although Finland has a Constitution that “guarantees the freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Räsänen is concerned that “the influence of LGBT ideology is very strong in Finnish society and some kind of woke culture is creating cancel culture in our society and it is narrowing those freedoms.”

Räsänen lamented, “we have now some kind of totalitarian, ideological totalitarianism.” She cited efforts to convince social media companies to censor “hate speech” in the Finnish Parliament and the European Union as examples of this ideology’s emergence.

Räsänen hopes that her remarks at the IRF Summit will “encourage people to use their rights and speak openly,”

“At first, when the trial in January started, [the] prosecutor said that this will not be about [the] Bible,” Räsänen recalled. “She started to ask questions about [the] Bible, about theological issues, she even cited some verses from the Old Testament, and she wanted to show that there is a lot of hate speech in [the] Bible.”

Räsänen maintained that the prosecutor classified the Christian doctrine of “love the sinner, hate the sin” as “insulting and defaming” because “according to her, you cannot make a distinction between the person’s identity and his actions, so if you condemn the act, you also condemn the human being and regard him inferior.”

She pushed back on this analysis, classifying the idea of “loving the sinner” and “hating the sin” as “the core of Christianity and the message of the Bible.”

“If this is denied, if this kind of speech and teaching is denied, then also the core of Christianity is dead,” she contended.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

Preparing The Church For Persecution- From Believers Who Have and Are Being Persecuted

(The following is written by four Chinese pastors from the underground church in Communist China. They have or are experiencing persecution from the Communist China government simply because they are born again Christians. They have spent a combined total of 47 years in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. The source of the article is omitted due to security issues. Carl)

“In recent years—especially since the start of the Covid pandemic—many believers around the world have contacted us to ask if we can share insights or do interviews into how Christians can survive persecution, as they see the storm clouds of persecution gathering on the horizon in their countries.

First, we point out that we have written more than a dozen books on the Church in China, each containing principles and testimonies of how God has not only helped His children survive six decades of persecution, but has caused them to thrive, so that China is still experiencing the greatest revival in Christian history.

When we try to help church leaders and believers in the West prepare for persecution, after more dialogue it usually emerges that they are not really looking for straight answers. Often, what people mean when they ask these questions is: “How can we survive persecution in our current church structures, so we don’t have to suffer or change?”

The answer to this is… you cannot!

True, physical persecution (e.g. when Christians are being arrested, beaten, imprisoned, or even killed) will not leave most current church structures intact. It will completely dismantle them!

Gone will be the denominations, emphasis on church buildings, Reverends, division between “clergy” and other believers, and all kinds of church traditions and outward imagery that are not found in Scripture. They will be swept away.

This pattern is what happened when persecution was ramped up against believers in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and other countries we work in.

We don’t know if severe persecution is coming to your part of the world soon, but we must be prepared. The Lord Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9), while the Apostle Paul told Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

We would like to conclude by sharing five important truths about persecution, which we hope will bring encouragement and focus to our fellow believers:

  1. God is always in control! If He allows persecution to come, it’s for the good of His kingdom. In China, believers only experienced the full joy of intimacy with Jesus when they were in the furnace of affliction and after they came out the other side.
  2. Persecution is the last thing our flesh desires, but our faith must rest on the fact that the Lord Jesus will not let us down, and He will never leave nor forsake us. Persecution cannot destroy our relationship with Him: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35).
  3. Importantly, when intense hardship comes, we shouldn’t see only the hand of Satan in persecution. In China, God’s people looked back later and realized that it was actually the Lord Jesus overseeing the entire process out of love for His children. He is zealous to remove the dead religious structures that trap people in bondage and keep millions of unbelievers from being able to see the true Gospel.
  4. Persecution is a pruning process, when the Holy Spirit removes half-hearted believers from among the flock. In China, when fierce persecution first broke out in the 1950s, around two-thirds of churchgoers fell away from the faith. The Lord Jesus told us this would occur: “When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:17). Friends, if two-thirds of Chinese Christians fell away at the onset of persecution, how might things be in your part of the world?
  5. For those who do not give up, persecution often brings great revival. In China, the number of Christians has grown from less than one million to over 100 million after 60 years of brutal Communist persecution! All glory to God. When that realization dawned on believers, many learned not only to grimly endure persecution, but to embrace it as a special blessing from God.

May God Almighty continue to bless and multiply His church in Communist China. May the church in the West return to its New Testament roots before the fires of persecution makes it return to that unchanging guidance He has given us! Carl

A Famous Painter’s Insight

Of chalices they make helmet and sword and sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord. Michelangelo

What a shocking statement! When I initially read this, I was shocked by the second part, “sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord.”

The author of this famous quote is Michelangelo, the famous painter hired by pope Julius II (1503-1513) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. He also painted the Last Judgement. The chapel is in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City which is the residence of the pope and where the new popes are decided.

The chapel is named after and was built by pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484). You may remember him from your study of church history as the pope who taxed the numerous brothels in Rome with a Church tax. He added to this considerable profit by charging a tax on mistresses kept by priests, though he paid no tax on his own mistresses. This revenue stream was a side “benefit” of the Vatican’s doctrine of celibacy.

The word ‘they’ in the quote refers to the pope of his day, Julius, and his passion for fighting “holy wars” to extend the papal territories. Unfortunately for those who resisted the popes and their errors, Julius was not the only pope who believed the killing of those who disagreed with them was approved by Jesus Christ. It is estimated by credible historians that approximately 50 million true Christians, Jews, even some Catholics and others died during the 605 years the Roman Catholic popes operated the Inquisition.

The shocking, second part of the quote stated, “sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord”, refers to the pope’s selling “salvation” for gold, silver, precious gems, mammon or service to whatever cause the pope was promoting. Pope Urban II in 1096, who inspired the first ungodly, unchristian crusade to retake Jerusalem, promised “salvation” to those who killed the heretics (Muslims and Jews) or died in battle. Martin Luther, himself a Catholic monk, lit the fuse of the Reformation in the 1500s because pope Leo X was selling “salvation” through indulgences in what we now know as Germany. Leo used the money to rebuild Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The apostle Peter said this about the blood of Jesus: “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.”

The Lord’s blood is precious to God the Father and is the ransom paid for the salvation of those who repent and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ.

Woe to those who think they can trade on it!

Carl

Is There Enough Evidence?

If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself on his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death.”

This quote comes from an ancient writing (1100 AD) of the Waldenses entitled the Nobla Leycon (Noble Lesson). The Waldenses are a very ancient branch of the True Church that left the “wreck of primitive Christianity” (Church of Rome) in the 800s AD.

J.A. Wylie in his The History of The Waldenses states, “Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.”

They are today the largest Protestant faith in Italy though the past popes had attempted to exterminate them for over 600 years. This persecution is what the end of the statement “he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death” is referring to.

But enough history!

If I were to be dragged before the Inquisition today, would my conduct and speech produce enough evidence to convict me of being a True Christian?

The Waldenses way of life and speech revealed that they were very different from the contemporary culture they lived in. Can you and I say that about our conduct today? Or do we just say one thing at church and just blend in with the wicked and immoral culture that surrounds us the rest of the time, laughing at the same dirty jokes, looking at the same filthy entertainment, hating and being unforgiving, our cruel and wicked speech revealing our cruel and wicked inner man instead of a Holy Spirit controlled new man in Christ?

The apostle Paul believed in examining yourself to make sure your following Christ’s example in conduct/teaching and not your religious, fleshly, sin nature. That is why he told Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16). We should heed his instructions.

Carl

Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) was a Roman Magistrate appointed by the emperor Trajan over Bithynia, now in modern Turkey. In 112 AD he wrote the emperor requesting direction on how to handle the many Christians that were brought before him. The English translation of Pliny’s letter and Trajan’s response was published by William Harris, Prof. Em. Middlebury College.

Harris said the Christians were brought daily before Pliny for refusing military service, refusing to worship the Roman emperors and for being members of a strange new and secret religion which although harmless, seemed dangerous to the established Roman way of life. I would add “revenge” to this list because of the change in temple economics due to Christians forsaking the idols.

This is the first documented evidence of the “Christian Problem” in the Roman world.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, Pliny the Elder was his uncle who died trying to rescue people from the Pompeii disaster. Here is the translation from Latin:

Gaius Plinius to the Emperor Trajan

It is for me an important point of responsibility to refer to you as Head of State, things about which I have questions, since you are the person best able to set straight my hesitations and correct my lack of information.

Actually I have never been present at a Examination (cognitio) of Christians, so I do not know what punishment is required or how far it is to be carried out. Nor do I understand the legal grounds for a prosecution, or how stringently it is to be prosecuted. I am not clear about prosecutions in respect to the age of the persons, whether no distinction should be made between the young and the old, and furthermore whether a pardon should be granted in cases of recanting, or if there is no advantage for a person completely ceasing to be a Christian. Or is it the name “Christian” which is prosecutable, even if not involved in criminal actions, or is that “criminality” is automatically attached to the name?

In the meantime, I now handle it this way with those who are turned over to me as Christians. I ask them directly, in person, if they are Christian, I ask a second and third time to be sure, and indicate to them the danger of their situation. If they persist, I order them led dispatched (= executed). I have had no trouble with this, since whatever it was they admitted or professed, I decided that their obstinacy and unyielding inflexibility should be sufficient reason for punishment. Some others who were virtually insane with this cult, but Roman citizens, I sent back to Rome for trial.

As I continue with this handling of the situation, as often happens, the numbers and kinds of incriminations are becoming more widespread. An anonymous List has been brought out which contains the names of a great many persons. I decided to dismiss charges again any on this list who stated that they were now not, nor had ever been Christians, if they repeated after me a prayer of invocation to the Gods, and made an offering of wine and incense to your statue, which I had brought in to the court along with the statues of the Gods, for this purpose. And in addition they were to formally curse Christ, which I understand true Christians will never do.

Other named by the anonymous List said they were Christians, and later changed their statement. Some said that they had been and then stopped, some three years before, some longer, some even twenty years before. All these reverenced your statue and those of the Gods, and cursed Christ. They stated that the sum total of their error or misjudgment, had been coming to a meeting on a given day before dawn, and singing responsively a hymn to Christ as to God, swearing with a holy oath not to commit any crime, never to steal or commit robbery, commit adultery, fail a sworn agreement or refuse to return a sum left in trust. When all this was finished, it was their custom to go their separate ways, and later re-assemble to take food of an ordinary and simple kind. But after my edict which forbids all political Societies, they did in fact give this up.I thought at this point that it was necessary to get information from two slave women, whom they call Deaconesses (ministrae) about the actual truth, by means of torture. I found nothing worthy of blame other than the blind and over-wrought nature of their cult-superstition.

I have therefore postponed further Examinations (cognitiones) and made haste to come to you immediately for consultation. This situation seem to demand serious consultation, especially in view of the large number of people falling into this danger. A great many persons of every age, of every social class, men and women alike, are being brought in to trial, and this seems likely to continue. It is not only the cities, but also the towns and even the country villages which are being infected with this cult-contagion.

It seems possible to check and reverse this direction at this point, for it is quite clear that the Temples of the Gods which have been empty for so long, now begin to be filled again, the sacred rites which had lapsed are now being performed and flesh for sacrificial rites is now sold again at the shops, although for a while nobody would buy it. So it seems reasonable to think that a great many people could be persuaded to reform, IF there were a legal procedure for Repentance.

Emperor Trajan to Pliny:

You have done the right thing, my dear Pliny, in handling the cases of those who were brought to you under the charge of being Christians. But it is not possible to make hard and fast rule with one specific formula. These people must not be searched out, if they are brought before your court and the case against them is proved, they must be punished, but in the case of anyone who states that he is not a Christian and makes it perfectly clear that he is not, by offering prayers to out Gods, such a one is to be pardoned on the grounds of his present repentance, however suspect he may have been in the past. But anonymous lists must not have any place in the court proceedings. They are a terrible example and not at all in keeping with our times.


William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College


Go to the Chronological List of all Early Christian Writings

Free Audio Book Recommendation

I am currently listening to several FREE audio books from The Berean Call and would like to recommend them for your consideration. They are also available as podcast, and I believe they are available on YouTube.

The Berean Call is a Christian biblical discernment ministry out of Bend, Oregon, USA founded by Dave Hunt. Brother Hunt, along with Ed Decker, authored The God Makers (1997) which is a shocking expose of what the Mormon church really believes. After Mr. Hunt went to be with the Lord, T.A. Mahon assumed the leadership. He and Mr. Hunt authored several books together such as The Seduction of Christianity (2013). Mr. Mahon is a former Roman Catholic.

I listen to the following books using The Berean Call’s free app. They also have a free newsletter for those that may be interested.

The audio books are

  1. A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt – the following description from Apple Podcast:

“In Revelation 17, the Apostle John describes in great detail the characteristics of a false church that will be the partner of the Antichrist. Was he describing the Roman Catholic Church? To answer that question, Dave Hunt spent years gathering research and indisputable historical documentation (primarily Catholic sources) providing information not generally available.

Are you missing half the story about the last days? Virtually all attention these days is focused on the coming Antichrist—but he is only half the story. Many are amazed to discover in Revelation 17 that there is also another mysterious character at the heart of prophecy—a woman who rides the beast.

Who is this woman? Tradition says she is connected with the church of Rome. But isn’t such a view outdated? After all, today’s Vatican is eager to join hands with Protestants worldwide. “The Catholic church has changed,” is what we hear.

Or has it? In A Woman Rides the Beast, prophecy expert Dave Hunt sifts through biblical truth and global events to present a well-defined portrait of the woman and her powerful place in the Antichrist’s future empire. Eight remarkable clues in Revelation 17 and 18 prove the woman’s identity beyond any reasonable doubt.”

  1. What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt – the following description is taken from Apple podcast:

“Many sincere, Bible-believing Christians are “Calvinists” only by default. Thinking that the only choice is between Calvinism (with its presumed doctrine of eternal security) and Arminianism (with its teaching that salvation can be lost), and confident of Christ’s promise to keep eternally those who believe in Him, they therefore consider themselves to be Calvinists.

It takes only a few simple questions to discover that most Christians are largely unaware of what John Calvin and his early followers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries actually believed and practiced. Nor do they fully understand what most of today’s leading Calvinists believe.

Although there are disputed variations of the Calvinist doctrine, among its chief proponents (whom we quote extensively in context) there is general agreement on certain core beliefs. Many evangelicals who think they are Calvinists will be surprised to learn of Calvin’s belief in salvation through infant baptism, and of his grossly un-Christian behavior, at times, as the “Protestant Pope” of Geneva, Switzerland.

Most shocking of all, however is Calvinism’s misrepresentation of God who “is love.” It is our prayer that this volume will enable readers to examine more carefully the vital issues involved and to follow God’s Holy Word — not man.”

  1. East Wind by Ruth Hunt – the true story of Maria Zeitner Linke, a German Christian, who was born in Russia prior to the Russian Revolution and, after her family escapes Siberia and returns to Germany, they endure World War II and she spends nine years in Stalin’s Gulags.

These are only three of the many free audio books offered. If you are looking for a book to listen to, I hope you can find something in their offerings.

Thank you for stopping by the blog! I hope you are enjoying sweet, daily fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Carl

Christians Murdered and Tortured by Muslims in Kenya

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor

Suspected al-Shabaab militants tortured and killed at least six Christians, five of whom were reportedly beheaded, in a terror attack on a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region that borders Somalia, according to reports.

“It is an ugly sight of people’s bodies lying dead and houses smoking with fire. This is undeniably an awful terrorist attack,” said Pastor Stephen Sila, who was at the site of the attack in Widhu village in Lamu West on Monday morning, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported

“I counted seven houses that were torched down, four bodies of people burned beyond recognition inside the houses,” he was quoted as saying. “A body shot dead right outside a burned house and another beheaded body next to it. Other villagers escaped into the dark and the police are still looking for them.”

The attack took place at about 4 a.m. local time while people were still sleeping, Lamu County Commissioner Samson Macharia told local media.

Five of the six killed had their hands tied from behind before they were beheaded, reported Kenya’s The Standard newspaper. “All the deceased persons had their hands tied from behind. Also several houses were torched within the locality and property of unknown value burned,” it said, citing a police report.

The pastor who spoke to ICC added: “The residents have gathered and are asking why the security officers were not doing enough to protect the Christians from being attacked by the Somali militants. There is a standoff now, but more police officers are arriving to pick the bodies and also evacuate those who need emergency medical attention.”

Commissioner Macharia also called it a terror attack and said security forces were hunting for the militants in a nearby forest, where they might have disappeared after the attack.

In the country’s northeast, the al-Shabaab terrorist group has been a constant threat.

Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group. UnmuteDuration 23:59/Current Time 1:29Advanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next

In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack.

Kenya was ranked 49th on Christian support organization Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

While it’s a Christian-majority country, persecution has spread in Kenya, Open Doors says. “Particularly, Christians with a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack — even from their closest relatives. Our research revealed that Christians were attacked and forced to flee their villages, and Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab has infiltrated the local population to monitor the activities of Christians in those areas.”

Organized crime is also a serious problem in the country, Open Doors adds. “Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors — increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians.”

A church leader overseeing the Lamu West Africa Inland Churches told ICC that believers are still at risk in the country. “The enemy is still roaming free within our region,” he said. “We are saddened that six Christians have lost their lives and left their families, and the entire body of Christ is hurting. We call upon the government to heighten its commitment to protecting the people of this great nation of Kenya.”

Dear Reader: please remember in your prayers our brother and sisters in Kenya who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Also pray for the salvation of their persecutors and that they would be brought to justice.

Carl

An Example of The Difference in Western Christianity and Asian Christianity

During the years when I spoke in hundreds of meetings around the world, I found it increasingly difficult to effectively communicate testimonies from the church in Asia to believers in “free” countries. Often when I spoke in meetings, people looked at me as if I had just dropped in from another planet.

I became aware that the spiritual dynamics of the persecuted church in Asia were completely different from those in western Christianity. The differences were so stark that I sometimes felt I was interacting with two different faiths. Even the most basic understanding of God’s character appeared to be fundamentally different.

For example, on one occasion in China I shared a powerful testimony from the Mru tribe of Myanmar. The Mru number about 25,000 people, most of whom are Buddhist. The gospel had recently experienced a breakthrough among them, and several Mru villages had turned to Jesus Christ. The Buddhist monks were furious when they heard about it, so they hired two gangs of thugs and sent them to the Christian villages to beat the believers, rape the women, and burn down their houses.

Armed with chains and machetes, the first group of thugs made their way on foot to the Christian area. Before reaching their intended destination, however, a freak electrical storm descended on them as they traversed a mountain pass. All of the men were killed by lightning. The lightning also struck the 400-year-old Buddhist temple in the Mru township, burning it the ground.

The second mob of would-be persecutors traveled to the Christian villages aboard a large raft. As they made their way down the river, a thick fog suddenly enveloped them, making it impossible to see where they were going. A barge sliced through the fog, struck the raft, and hurled the thugs into the rapids, where they all drowned.

When news of these events reached the Mru communities, the fear of God fell on them. Realizing that the Living God had displayed his awesome wrath, hundreds of people turned to Christ and repented of their sins.

When I shared this testimony with the Christians in China, they literally jumped up and down with joy and shouted “Hallelujah!” at the top of their voices. They rejoiced in the judgments of God, as the Bible says, “Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, Lord” (Psalms 97:8).

Just a few weeks later I found myself standing in front of a congregation in Texas. As I shared the same testimony from Myanmar, I looked out at a sea of grim faces staring back at me. There was no rejoicing in that meeting and not a single “Hallelujah” was uttered.

After the service, an elderly lady came forward to confront me on behalf of the other church members. She strongly rebuked me with the words, “Our God is not like that brother. Our God is a loving God!” I noticed many people behind her nodding their heads in agreement

Like that congregation in Texas, many believers imagine God to be a cuddly, teddy bear-like figure whose main purpose is to encourage and bless them. They think God is so gentle and loving that he would never harm a fly, and Christians who dared to mention his wrath or coming judgments are often pushed into a corner and considered a threat to the peace of the church.

With such a skewed, chummy attitude toward God, it is no wonder that many Christians no longer fear Him. They love to hear about how John reclined at the dinner table by leaning against his best friend Jesus, but few remember that the two men met again many years later. This time the resurrected Lord was dressed in the robes of a Roman judge. John, who was absolutely terrified, wrote, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” Revelation 1:17.

Source: Paul Hattaway, An Asian Harvest (Monarch Books, 2017), p.262-264 (Excellent book which I recommend and can be ordered at Asia Harvest.)

Making Cowards

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” – Abraham Lincoln

Speak up for righteousness in your area of influence while you still have the opportunity before the grave and darkness completely overwhelms our society.

Carl

9 negative consequences of living unthankful lives

As Christians we are mandated to live lives of praise and thanksgiving. This is the most countercultural thing to strip the devil of his power over our families and us.
— Read on www.christianpost.com/voices/9-negative-consequences-of-living-unthankful-lives.html

The Christian Revelation

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrew 1:1-2 NASB)

…it was really the Ruler of all, the Creator of all, the invisible God himself, who from heaven established the truth and the holy, incomprehensible word among men, and fixed it firmly in their hearts. Nor, as one might suppose, did he do this by sending to men some subordinate –an angel, or principality, or one of those who administer earthly affairs, or perhaps one of those to whom the government of things in heaven is entrusted.

Rather, he sent the Designer and Maker of the universe himself, by whom he created the heavens and confined the sea within its own bounds—him whose hidden purposes all the elements of the world faithfully carry out, him from whom the sun has received the measure of the daily rounds that it must keep, him whom the moon obeys when he commands her to shine by night. And whom the stars obey as they follow the course of the moon. He sent him by whom all things have been set in order and distinguished and place in subjection—the heavens and the things that are in the heavens, the earth and the things in the earth, the sea, and the things in the depths and in the realm between;

 God sent him to men.

Now, did he send him, as a human mind might assume, to rule by tyranny, fear, and terror? Far from it! He sent him out of kindness and gentleness, like a king sending his son who is himself a king. He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men. He willed to save man by persuasion, not by compulsion, for compulsion is not God’s way of working. In sending him, God called men, but did not pursue them; he sent him in love, not in judgement. Yet he will indeed send him someday as our Judge, and who shall stand when he appears? …

Do you not see how they are thrown to wild animals to make them deny the Lord, and how they are vanquished? Do you not see that the more of them are punished, the more do others increase? These things do not seem to come from a human power; they are a mighty act of God, they are proofs of his presence.

As a matter of fact, before he came, what man had any knowledge of God at all? Or do you really accept the idle nonsense talked by those plausible philosophers, some of whom asserted that God was fire—the very thing that they are on the point of going to, they call God! —while others claimed that he was water, and others said that he was yet another one of the elements created by God? And yet, if any one of these lines or argument is acceptable, then each and every one of the other creatures could in the same way be shown to be God. No, this is just quackery and deceit practiced by wizards. No man has ever seen God or made him known, but he has manifested himself. And he manifested himself through faith, by which alone it has been made possible for us to see God.

Excerpt from Letter to Diognetus by Quadratus of Asia Minor from his Apology to Hadrian (AD 129?) – Taken from Early Christian Fathers – Translated and Edited by Cyril C. Richardson, Washburn Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1996, Simon & Schuster Publisher(Scripture, two paragraph breaks and bolding added for emphasis)

Evangelical families in Mexico lose access to water, services for refusing to deny their faith

Two evangelical families in central Mexico have been threatened with being cut off from essential services or expelled from the community if they continue to refuse to deny their faith and pay a fine illegally levied against them, according to a report.

The families of Nemesio Cruz Hernández and Eligio Santiago Hernández, who are from the First Baptist Church in the La Mesa Limantitla area in Hidalgo state’s Huejutla de los Reyes Municipality, were threatened during a community meeting on Monday, the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.

At the meeting, the evangelical families were forbidden to even speak as they were threatened.

On Aug. 3, community leaders, identified as Jose Marcos Martínez and Julio Alvarado Hernández, had made similar threats and instructed them to stop holding worship services in the home of Bartolo Martínez Hernández, who was also fined for allowing services in his house.

In January 2019, many evangelical families were forced to sign an agreement renouncing their faith. While eight families signed it, the families of Cruz Hernández and Santiago Hernández refused to do so.

The community leaders then blocked the two families’ access to water, sewer services, government benefit programs and the community mill for over a year until they were forced to sign an extra-legal agreement on Jan. 15, 2020, in which they renounced their right to hold religious services.

The agreement said each family would be ordered to pay an illegal fine of $3,000 ($57,700 Mexican pesos). State authorities paid part of the fine, but the families have continued to be threatened with forced displacement in several follow-up meetings throughout 2020 and this year, CSW said, adding that the amount of the fine is based on the costs incurred by community leaders in their efforts to halt any investigation into crimes or human rights violations associated with the case.

In Mexico, such extra-legal agreements are often used in lieu of appropriate justice mechanisms when the rights of religious minorities are violated.

The state officials must intervene “as a matter of urgency,” CSW’s Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl, said. “If the state government refuses to protect the rights of religious minorities, the federal government must intervene.” Stangl added: “The government, at both state and federal levels, must address the culture of impunity which has allowed violations like these to go unchecked for far too long, ensuring that families like those of Mr. Cruz Hernández and Mr. Santiago Hernández are free to practice any religion or belief of their choosing without being forced to pay illegal fines or facing pressure to renounce their beliefs under threat of criminal actions including the cutting of basic services and forced displacement.”

This is not a one-off incident of Christian persecution in Mexico, which has risen due to drug cartel violence, persecution by traditionalist Catholics and violent discrimination by anti-Christian left-wing groups, Open Doors USA previously reported.

“Last year, Mexico was [No. 52 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List]. It’s jumped up a bunch,” Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry told The Christian Post in an earlier interview. “That would most certainly be around the issues of violence and drug cartels.”

Traditionalist Catholics often persecute Mexican Christians, too, he said. In this way, they resemble many small, rural groups of people practicing ancient folk religions around the world. Open Doors calls this kind of persecution “clan violence.”

“These rural indigenous groups see Christian churches as an outside force. They can harass and bother churches and believers who might be in the community,” Curry said. “It’s within these four states in Mexico: Chiapas, Hidalgo, Guerero, Oaxaca. It’s very localized.”

Source: Christian Post

Going The Extra Mile

“Throughout the years of brutal suppression, the Christians in Henan often asked the Lord to give them an attitude that would enable them to embrace suffering as a gift from God. With that outlook, they were willing to go the extra mile, and there was little that evil human beings or the world could do to destroy them.”

Henan – Inside the Greatest Christian Revival in History – Paul Hattaway – describing the Chinese Church during the 1960s and 70s

There is much the Christian Church can learn from the suffering Chinese Church. They have endured much and not only survived but multiplied. So much so, that the Communist Chinese consider them a great threat to their goals and aspirations. But the truth is that righteous people are a blessing to any nation and the truths of Christianity should be encouraged, not hindered.

We need to be listening and learning and praying for our Chinese brothers and sisters.

Why don’t you say a prayer for them right now. Thanks and God bless you.

Carl

Chinese authorities paying citizens to spy on neighbors, report ‘illegal’ Christian activities

China’s communist regime has ordered citizens in the country’s northeastern region to spy on Christians and report any “illegal religious activities,” including preaching and religious house gatherings. Informants will be rewarded with $150 for each tip, according to a report.

The administration of the Meilisi Daur District in Heilongjiang Province’s Qiqihar city released a document titled, “The Reward System For Reporting Illegal Religious Activities Offences,” saying informants would be paid up to 1,000 yuan ($150), China Christian Daily reported.

Officials, it says, are looking for any information — through a phone call, email or letter — on unqualified religious personnel, unauthorized trans-regional activities, preaching and distribution of printed religious literature, audio-visual products outside places of worship, unauthorized donations or private house gatherings.

The objective, it adds, is to “strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district, prevent any COVID-19 cluster resulting from religious gatherings, mobilize the public to engage in preventing, suppressing illegal religious activities, and ensure a harmonious and stable religious landscape.”

The document was released this month by the Meilisi Daur District United Front Work Department of Qiqihar.

Similar reward systems were later introduced in Zibo city’s Boshan District and Weihai City’s Shandong area.

Previously, such rewards have been offered in Fujian, Guangxi, Henan, Hebei and Liaoning.

“While they do not specify which religion they are targeting, it is self-evident that house churches are being suppressed,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern commented.

Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, estimates that there are about 97 million Christians in China, a large percentage of whom worship in what China considers to be “illegal” and unregistered underground house churches.

According to recently-released reports, religious persecution in China intensified in 2020, with thousands of Christians affected by church closures and other human rights abuses.

Under the direction of President Xi Jinping, officials from the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, have been enforcing strict controls on religion, according to a report released in March by the U.S.-based group China Aid.

Authorities in China are also cracking down on Christianity by removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect this year.

China is ranked on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. 

The U.S. State Department has also labeled China as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

Source: Christian Post-August 23, 2012

Please pause what you are doing and ask the Father to send extra grace to the church in Communist China so they can remain faithful during this horrible time of Communist persecution. God bless, Carl

Watch What Your Heart Goes After

“One thing I must warn you of, Beware of Antichrist. Tis ill done of you to fall in love with Walls. Tis ill done of you to reverence the Church of God in Buildings and Edifices. You do ill to rest in such things. Or, can you question, that it is on these Antichrist will fix his throne?”

Hilarius, Bishop of Rome from 461-468 AD, quoted in History of the Crusades Against the Albigenses by J.C.L. Simonde De Sismondi – 1826

Origin of Song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

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For more than 20 years we have supported Garo evangelists from northeast India through our Asian Workers’ Fund, as they have taken the Gospel to unreached people groups in their part of the world.

Often, Christians are unaware of the origins of many of the songs we love to sing. In this brief email we would like to share the little-known background of one famous song: “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

In the hills of northeast India live the Garo tribe, who number more than one million people. For centuries they were feared as a primitive head-hunting tribe, but in the most recent Indian census, over 95 percent of the Garo declared themselves to be Christians. Here is one reason why…

In the late 1800s, many missionaries came to Assam in northeast India to spread the Gospel. They succeeded in converting a man named Nokseng, his wife, and his two children. Nokseng’s faith proved contagious, and many villagers began to accept Jesus.

The village chief, angry at the prospect of losing control, summoned all the villagers. He demanded Nokseng’s family to publicly renounce their faith or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Nokseng said: “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

Enraged at his refusal to deny Christ, the chief ordered his archers to shoot the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the ground, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife also.”

But Nokseng replied: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”

The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered Nokseng’s wife to be shot with arrows. In a moment she joined her children in death. Now the chief said for the last time: “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” In the face of death, Nokseng did not waver, and made his final memorable statement:

“The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.”

He was killed like the rest of his family, but a miracle took place. The chief was moved by Nokseng’s faith and he wondered, “Why would Nokseng and his family die for a Man who lived in a far-away land some 2,000 years ago? This God must have remarkable power, and I too want to taste that faith.”

In a spontaneous confession, the chief declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Later, Nokseng’s words became a beloved song of the Garo Christians, and was later translated into English and sung around the world.

May the Lord Jesus bless you as together we serve the Church in Asia,

The team at Asia Harvest
www.asiaharvest.org

Remember in your prayers our brother and sisters in foreign lands who face persecution everyday.

God bless you and yours,

Carl

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