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Nothing New…

Are Christians “Intolerant Haters”? The Charges are Not New

In the midst of the high-octane cultural wars of the last five years—particularly the debate over homosexual marriage—evangelical Christians have been slapped with all sorts of pejorative labels. Words such as “bigoted,” “arrogant,” “exclusive,” “dogmatic,” and “homophobic” are just a few.

But there are probably two labels that stand out the most. First, Christians are regularly regarded as intolerant. Christians are not only regarded as intolerant religiously—because they affirm the words of Jesus that “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)—but they are regarded as intolerant ethically because they refuse to approve any and all behaviors as morally good.

Second, Christians are regularly (and ironically) regarded as haters. Apparently, our modern world regards the act of telling someone they’re wrong as a form of hatred—it is a slight against mankind (of course, it is never explained how the charge does not apply equally in the other direction, since those who make this charge are telling Christians they are wrong; but we shall leave that issue unaddressed for the time being).

Needless to say, such a situation can be very discouraging to Christians in the modern day. We might be tempted to despair and think that the church is entering into dark days. But a little historical perspective might be useful here. Truth be told, this is not the first time Christians have received such labels. Indeed, they were given to Christians from the very beginning.

Pliny the Younger: Christians are Intolerant

It is well known that in the Greco-Roman world there was a pantheon of gods. Every group had their own deities, and they were easily and naturally placed alongside other deities. For the most part, no one objected to the existence of other gods. It was a polytheistic world.

Of course, the earliest Christians were as monotheistic as their Jewish predecessors and quite unwilling to play along with the standard religious practices of Greco-Roman culture. For Roman rulers trying to keep the peace, the Christian intolerance of other gods was a perennial frustration.

Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bythinia (writing c. 111–113), expressed his own frustration over the fact that Christians would not “invoke the gods.” In a letter to emperor Trajan, he lamented their “stubborness and unyielding obstinancy.” In other words, he was angry over their intolerance.

Why was Pliny so bothered by this? Because the influence of the Christians had caused the pagan temples to be “deserted,” and, thus, “very few purchasers could be found” for the sacrificial animals.

In other words, they were losing money.

To fix the problem, Pliny decided to force Christians to worship the pagan gods and curse Christ, and if they refused they were put to death. He says, “As I am informed that people who are really Christians cannot possibly be made to do any of those things.

It is interesting to note that Pliny, while torturing these Christians, acknowledges their high moral standards: “[Christians] bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so.”

Apparently, intolerance of the Roman gods is a enough of a reason to kill Christians, despite their holy lives.

Nero: Christians are Haters

In the late first-century, the Roman emperor Nero made himself famous for his persecution of Christians. The Roman historian Tacitus tells us that under Nero,

Mockery of every sort was added to their [Christians’] death. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, as exhibiting a show in the circus.

So, what awful crimes did Christians commit to warrant such unthinkable torture? Tacitus acknowledges that Christians weren’t really guilty of the trumped up charges of setting fire to the city. Instead, he admits they were killed for “hatred against mankind.”

What had Christians done to warrant the charge of “haters”? Again, they refused to condone the pantheon of gods and religious practices that went along with them.

In sum, the stories of Pliny and Nero are both encouraging and frightening at the same time. They are frightening because they sound eerily similar to the kind of language and accusations being used today against Christians. But instead of Christians being asked to pay homage to the Roman gods to prove their acceptability, they are now being asked to pay homage to the gods of tolerance or homosexual marriage or what have you.

At the same time, these stories are encouraging. They remind us that this sort of persecution isn’t new. Indeed, this persecution was not the end of Christianity, but was the beginning. In the midst of it, the church grew, and thrived, and expanded.

As Christ said, “I will build my church. And the gates of hell shall not stand against it” (Matt 16:18).


For more, visit Dr. Kruger’s website: Canon Fodder.

No “B” Plan

God Doesn’t Have a Plan B

One of the hardest places to be in life is where you don’t want to be. Whether you are working inside the home, and that’s not where you ever thought you would be, or you’re working outside the home, and that’s not where you ever thought you would be—it’s one of the hardest things to come to terms with. We all have to come to terms with the reality of our lives looking different than we intended them to look.

At the end of the day, we all have to accept the fact that God has no Plan B in our lives. Where you’re at is Plan A, as hard as that may be. And you also have to understand that whatever God has given you to do in your work is the work that he has ordained and designed for you, and you are there for good purposes; whether you’re in an office or you’re in the home—you are there to bring vital contribution to society through the work that you’re doing.

We need women in both of those places. Whether you want to be there or not, that’s where God has you. It’s a good place to be. You can find value in the work you’re doing there, even if it’s hard and it’s not what you anticipated, because you can know that it’s been given to you by a loving and good God who doesn’t make mistakes.

At the end of your life, you will see what all your work was intended for. You might not see it now, and while it might be disappointing and hard, you’ll know that God did it for your good, and for the good of so many people—people you might not even know you’re impacting today.


Courtney Reissig is a wife, mother, and writer. She has written for the Gospel Coalition, Boundless, and CT Women, where she is a regular contributor. She is also the assistant editor for Karis, a women’s blog hosted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the author of The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Don’t Put it Off

Don’t Put it Off

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion”  (Hebrews 3:7-15ESV).

On Sunday night, October 8, 1871, D. L. Moody was preaching the gospel in downtown Chicago. He challenged the listening crowd to go home and “think about what I’ve said about the gospel and come back tomorrow and tell me what you’ve decided about following the Lord.”

Sounds OK, right? “It’s a big decision. Don’t rush into it. Weigh your options.”

About the same hour that meeting was breaking up, a few blocks west of downtown, a blaze had begun in Patrick O’Leary’s cow barn. By midnight the fire had jumped the Chicago River’s south branch and by 1:30 a.m., the entire business district (where Moody had been preaching) was in flames. By 3:00 a.m., the inferno had raced northward, jumped the main river, and devoured over 100,000 homes. Not until after midnight the following day was the fire extinguished as a steady rain left Chicago smoldering and in rubbles–with hundreds dead.

Many of the people who had heard the gospel on Sunday night perished in the flames. By not deciding to follow Jesus the moment they heard the invitation, they had missed their opportunity to respond to God’s good news.

D.L. Moody’s ministry was changed forever. He said, “From now on, every chance I get I will urge upon people a decision today, today. Today, sir, make a decision today. Although you can choose your actions; you cannot choose the consequences.”

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”The writer of Hebrews repeats that warning three times (3:7, 3:15, 4:7). And while it applies to those who would respond to God’s call of salvation, it also applies to followers of Christ at some point of obedience.

It all comes down to this: when you hear what God’s Word says, do something about it. If you want to go further with God than you have in years gone by, decide today that every time God shows you something, you’re going to get after it. If He lays it out for you, don’t put it off.

Get on doing God’s thing right away. You don’t know how long the opportunity will be yours.

Journal

  • What action or point of surrender has God been prompting you to make that you haven’t acted on yet?
  • What are you waiting for? 

Pray
Lord, I feel the weight of obedience right now and am tempted to ignore Your prompting. Give me the strength to persevere in faith. As I face challenges, by Your Spirit help me walk in faith and obedience. How quickly this life will end; how soon eternity will begin. Might I be faithful to You to the finish line. I pray this in the enduring name of Jesus, amen.

For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on OnePlace.com

Take the Risk!

Monday May 22nd, 2017

 

But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed.

 
2 Chronicles 22:11, NLT
 

Desperate times call for decisive people. Jehosheba made a moment’s choice that changed the course of a nation. Ruthless queen Athaliah was about to murder every prince in the royal family. The murderess was probably Jehosheba’s own stepmother. Further, there was another twist of fate—Jehosheba’s brother Ahaziah, the recently dead king, had been the only survivor when king Jehoram’s sons were all murdered years before. History was about to repeat itself in a gruesome way.

Jehosheba decided to rescue at least one of the children. She kidnapped her nephew Joash and hid him away in the temple with her husband Jehoiada, a priest. For the next six years they became his parents-in-hiding. When he was old enough, he was declared king, and Athaliah’s reign was brought to an end. Jehosheba will be remembered as a key link in the chain of royal descendants of David. She preserved by a single life the ancestral line into which Christ was born.

The crucial moment in Jehosheba’s life demonstrated one important lesson: Even when events are filled with evil; we are still called to do good where we can. We may not be able to change everything, but if we can take even one positive action, we ought to do so. Since we don’t know how great an effect a single act will create, our challenge is to do the best we can with the opportunities before us. It does take courage to act when we aren’t assured of the outcome. It takes courage to trust God in the face of danger and despair. But these are the times when trust, faith, and courage matter. Sooner or later the choice to do good must be made in the face of risk.

Your “to do” list today may be filled with mundane actions. But there may be at least one that will require courage on your part. In any case, like Jehosheba, you can’t know what God will accomplish through small faithful actions on your part. You simply need to do your part.

Just for fun…

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandmother About current events. The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought About the shootings at schools, the computer age, and Just things in general.

The Grandmother replied, “Well, let me think a minute, I was born before:

‘ television
‘ penicillin
‘ polio shots
‘ frozen TV dinners
‘ Xerox
‘ contact lenses
‘ Frisbees and
‘ the pill

There were no:

‘ credit cards
‘ laser beams or
‘ ball-point pens

Man had not yet invented:

‘ pantyhose
‘ air conditioners
‘ dishwashers
‘ clothes dryers
‘ and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and
‘ man hadn’t yet walked on the moon

Your Grandfather and I got married first, and then lived together. Every family had a father and a mother.

Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, “Sir.”

And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man With a title, “Sir.”

We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.

We were taught to know the difference between right and Wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was A bigger privilege.

We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with Your cousins.

Draft dodgers were those who closed front doors as the Evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the Evenings and weekends — not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CD’s, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.

We listened to Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on our radios.

If you saw anything with ‘Made in Japan ‘ on it, it was junk.

The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and instant coffee were unheard of.

We had 5 &10-cent (5 and dime) stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.

And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Ford Coupe for $600, but who could Afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:

‘ “grass” was mowed,
‘ “coke” was a cold drink,
‘ “pot” was something your mother cooked in and
‘ “rock music” was your grandmother’s lullaby.
‘ “Aids” were helpers in the Principal’s office,
‘ “chip” meant a piece of wood,
‘ “hardware” was found in a hardware store and.
‘ “software” wasn’t even a word.

We were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby.
We volunteered to protect our precious country.
No wonder people call us “old and confused” and say there is a generation gap.

How old do you think I am?

Read on to see — pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

Are you ready?????

This woman would be only 61 years old.
She would have been born in late 1952.

GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.

LOVE recipes!! Come FOLLOW ME! I am always posting awesome stuff on my timeline! Julie!

WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 NIV
 

The kingdom of God is a central theme of the Gospels as well as other New Testament books. It is the message that John the Baptist declared in preparation for Jesus (Mt 3:2Mk 1:14-15), what Jesus taught the disciples in the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension (Ac 1:3), and what Paul is recoded as proclaiming at the conclusion of the book of Acts (Ac 28:31).

A kingdom is a place where someone has rule or governance. The same is true of the kingdom of God. Jesus said in his prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). The kingdom of God is where God’s will is carried out.

The Old Testament theme of Yahweh’s rule and reign is another way of describing the kingdom of God. The psalmist speaks of Yahweh’s kingdom as an everlasting realm that endures throughout all generations (Ps 145:13). Isaiah declares that Yahweh will save (Isa 33:22) and speaks of a time when God will be worshiped in all the earth (Isa 2).

During the first century AD, many Jews believed that the Messiah would initiate this reign, which is based on passages like Malachi 3:1-5Zechariah 9:9-10Isaiah 9:1-7; and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. They also believed that the kingdom would be established through political or military means (compare Mt 26:51-53Lk 22:47-53) – but Jesus ushered in the kingdom in a radically unexpected way. He announced that the kingdom had come upon those whom he freed from demons (Mt 12:28); he taught that the kingdom should be received like a child (Mk 10:15) and explained that it belongs to the impoverished (Lk 6:20). Jesus declared the kingdom of God as a present reality that could be experienced by those he taught and to whom he ministered.

Jesus’ teaching also assumed the kingdom was a future reality. While his disciples expected the kingdom to appear immediately, Jesus changed their expectations by telling them a parable about a ruler who had to leave before he could return to his kingdom (Lk 19:11-27). He described what good and faithful servants could do in the meantime. Paul spoke of the kingdom as something that could be inherited (1 Co 6:9-10) and that does not perish (1 Co 15:50). These examples testify to the kingdom of God as a future reality.

To borrow the phrase made popular by George Eldon Ladd, the kingdom of God is “already/not yet.” God’s kingdom has a dual dimension. Jesus initiated the kingdom of earth, and wherever God’s will is carried out, the kingdom is a reality. The kingdom, however, had not been fully manifested in Jesus’ day – nor has it in ours. We do not yet live in a world where God’s will is a complete reality. We feel the tension of experiencing God’s kingdom in our lives and communities before it is fully realized. We still see unbelief, brokenness and sin, telling us God’s will is not yet fully expressed.

Many believers neglect to focus on the kingdom as a present reality. Their concern centers on the future reality of getting to heaven – but this focus can easily sever the relationship between the Christian life and the life here and now. When Jesus prayed, “You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10), he asked that God would bring the experience of heaven to earth. Through Jesus, God’s reign, rule and power are available to us today, not just in the distant future. The present reality of the kingdom of God should prompt us to examine our lives and ask what areas we have not yet surrendered to God’s rule.

On a larger level, the notion of God’s kingdom should lead us to examine both out neighborhoods and the global community and ask what lies outside of God’s desires. Where are people not being treated with the dignity and honor they deserve as God’s image-bearers?

As we anticipate the time when all things will be made fully new (Rev. 21:4-5), we can actively participate in the kingdom of God now (Mt 4:17). As we surrender to the reign of God, we will begin to experience the kingdom of God now – as God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10).

What questions does the present reality of God’s kingdom prompt you to ask about your community?

 

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Pray Together, Stay Together!

Dear Reader,

If I had one thing to tell couples that would improve their marriage and keep it strong, it would be this: You have to pray together and trust God together.

In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus says, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Jesus is reemphasizing a point He just made a few verses earlier about the authority God gives believers through prayer. The phrase “if two of you agree,” comes from the Greek wordsumphoneo. This is where we get the English word symphony.

A symphony makes beautiful music when different instruments play together in harmony. Jesus is saying that if two people synchronize their faith in agreement toward something, God will do it—and Jesus will be present.

That’s an incredible promise, but it’s one He makes not to an individual but to two or three people. Why? Because God doesn’t want us to be alone. He wants us to come together as a couple or as a family. The more we join our faith with other people, the more miracles God performs.

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The devil wants us by ourselves. The wolf always goes for the stray sheep. When we are isolated, we get discouraged. But when we join with a fellow believer—with our spouse—we enjoy the power of God and the presence of Jesus.

Beyond this promise in Matthew, why does praying together keep a marriage strong? Consider another promise. This one is from Philippians 4:6-7.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Paul says people who pray will have better emotional health. When you pray, you don’t worry. You don’t have anxiety. Did you know the number-one marriage killer on earth is stress? It’s also the top reason for doctor’s visits and medication. God didn’t design the human body to operate well under long-term stress.

Stress depletes us emotionally and robs us of the energy to love each other. Anxious individuals tend to end up fighting and having disagreements within their marriage.

“Be anxious for nothing” is a command, and the Bible would never command us to do something we are not equipped to do. So the next part of that passage tells us how to follow that command: We have to pray. We have to give our requests to God.

If you’re worried about money, about your kids, about your health, about your parents, about your job, about your marriage—that’s your new prayer list. Let those worries be known to God, and do it with thanksgiving that He will hear and answer your prayer.

When you do, He will give you peace. He will guard your heart and your mind. He will bring you to emotional health.

Karen and I were several years into our marriage before we prayed together for the first time, but it changed everything. Today, we don’t worry. We don’t allow anxiety into our home. Because of our agreement in prayer, God has filled our home with His peace and protects the emotional health of our marriage.

Every single couple can access that same promise. All you have to do is pray.

Blessings,

Power of a Praying Couple