Paris, Beirut, Cancer, and the Word of God

Through this portion of MULTIPLY discipleship we are focusing on the need to study the Word of God. We need this anchor. In a world gone mad, we need this anchor.

If there isn’t something deadly serious going on in the world (as in ISIS bombings in Beirut and Paris) there is always something ready to offend us (like crazy social media outrages). We can so easily be upset with so many things… real or imagined.

This past week came news of a wife who has faced cancer and beat it… and it’s back again and this time the faith is a bit harder to “muster up.” Treatments aren’t going well, more tumors are showing up… Lord! Hear our prayers!

We need anchors.

We hear news of bombings and the fear can mount up. We pray against cancer and the fear can mount up.

It is the steady diet of the Word of God that can keep us anchored. We need his presence in a powerful way and the Word can lead us into that powerful presence.

In a week gone crazy from the idiotic (like the great Christmas controversy of the Starbucks cup) to the deadly (like cancer returning and the horrific news out of Beirut and Paris), we can let all other voices dictate our “responses.”

We can lose focus.

It is today I found myself in Psalm 73. It is a psalm dealing with that very theme: the temptation to lose focus.

For the psalmist, the deal was with the wicked and the wealthy. They always seemed to “get away” with things! Why follow God? Why bother?

It was desperate!

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence. Psalm 73:13 (NIV)

But then there is the turn:

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny. Psalm 73:16–17 (NIV)

We need the anchor of the Word. We need the presence of the LIVING Word calling us out to gain perspective. It will save us from fear, from hatred, from normal “worldly” responses… and in a day like today, that is precisely what we need.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Help us care. Help us pray!

More persecution. How we need to lift up the Body of Christ in prayer!

Bishop Angaelos, the general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, underscored the Ethiopians’ testimony.

“Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith,” he said in a statement.

“As Christians, we remain committed to our initial instinct following the murder of our 21 Coptic brothers in Libya, that it is not only for our own good, but indeed our duty to ourselves, the world, and even those who see themselves as our enemies, to forgive and pray for the perpetrators of this and similar crimes,” he said. “We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they may be reminded of the sacred and precious nature of every life created by God.”

The devaluing of human life

Usually when it comes to war and use of force, especially use of troops, media sources like The New York Times are fairly pacifist. (Depending on the president in office at the time and their political party, of course.) Generally speaking, many media outlets back off the calling for use of force.

But this editorial in The New York Times was strident.

They want force against ISIS. NOW. Tough words are laid down in this piece:

Will the world do nothing to stop extremist groups…

And this:

But the United Nations says it is largely powerless to deal with the threat, and Western governments claim they have more urgent military objectives.

This is dangerously wrong.

And this:

Why hasn’t the international community responded?

I’ve certainly asked questions like this of the media before. Where IS your outrage?

The difference is this: I am burdened over the loss of life. There is a systematic persecution raging in many part of the world against Christians. Thousands displaced. Thousands killed. Slaughter every week that should shock us. Al-Shabaab killed 148 Christians in Kenya last week. Targeted them in a university and shot them.

The outrage The Times has over ISIS? National treasure… STUFF… is being destroyed. It took the destruction of artifacts for the paper to shout, “Why aren’t we nuking these people???”

Not one word in this piece about the extreme loss of human life. It’s not even that they’re silent on Christians being slaughtered. It’s any religious group. The silence, as they say, is deafening.

It is the height of hypocrisy and it is revealing of a soul all at the same time. I could call it an “elitist” attitude or a “liberal” attitude, but that’s just too narrow. What it is… is scary. People of influence, people of means, people of persuasion who sit back and say nothing about the loss of human life… and if they do they will hesitate to show the loss is due to religious affiliation… but destroy a painting and they are ready to call for nuclear war.

This is the world they want. A world without religion in the public square. They don’t want people going “all moral” on them about the value of human life. This is a world where “freedom of religion” is about the “individual” and their right to keep their religion to themselves… just don’t drag it out there for the public to see.

This isn’t about conservative or liberal theology, or conservative or liberal Christianity. This is about a deep desire in those spouting off a false belief in the “progressive improvement” of humanity without religion getting their ultimate way. The value system is warped, and it’s on full display in this ridiculous opinion piece. Center stage.

Religion at its core isn’t the problem. It’s the insistence on not having religion in the public square adding to the debate that is the problem. Without religion in the public square, there is the false belief that humanity will only get “better and better” and if there are problems in this world, it is religion that is at fault.

It is not religion. It is human. Humanity has a problem. At our core, we want to be the little gods. We want to be in ultimate control. And left to our own devices… we don’t improve ourselves very well. We tend to start world wars and find more ways to destroy people than ever before. That’s not religion. That’s humanity.

But a world with less religion, and by that if it means fewer religious people, so be it, is a GOOD thing… in their view. Just save the artwork!

Muslim apocalyptic literature

THIS ARTICLE is by a Muslim and speaks to the extremism he observes in ISIS.

It is interesting to see more and more public views of how Muslims view Jesus and the end of time. I am also noticing what I call “evangelical” Islam. It’s an approach that speaks more “evangelical” language. The author mentions his own approach to Jesus toward the end of the article.

Bottom line, I have served God and loved Jesus my entire life, and I followed Jesus into Islam when I realized I became a worse man by worshipping Him and a better man by following him.

Why ISIS can’t win

The Kingdom of God is unshakable. Any false notions of “taking down Rome” doesn’t mean the Church of Jesus Christ is defeated.

What looks like “defeat” in this world isn’t the true report of the Kingdom of God.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28,29)

21 martyrs were not defeated. The Church is not defeated. The Kingdom of God is not defeated. Our King will bring it all into account. That may mean something tough for us in this time period, but that is not the ultimate story.

Let the King settle the accounts.

ISIS comes out on the losing side of that equation.

How long, O Lord?

We need to go deeper in prayer for brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. Persecution seems to be increasing, and it is certainly getting more bold.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Rev. 6:9-11)

Let our prayers matter!

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Rev. 8:1-5

Overcome by the blood of the lamb and the power of their testimony

Yet again, ISIS strikes and martyrs more Christians.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.” (Rev. 12:7-12)