The Tangible Rewards Of Persecution

Logo 071414In response to my post last week on greeting reports of increased Christian persecution with leaps of joy, my esteemed friend Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia and noted historian of the Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, recounted a story for me that Rev. Wurmbrand would often share in his preaching about the tangible rewards of leaping for joy amidst persecution:

Richard explained how he preached a sermon every day in solitary confinement. He said there was nobody there to listen to him, but he knew the Angels liked a good sermon so he preached to them.

He would sing, he would preach, he would pray and meditate. Then, he said, one day he remembered what is written in the Gospels: “Rejoice and leap for joy!” So he thought to himself, that is something I have not done. So he began to leap up and down around his cell and rejoice. A guard looked through the peephole in the door, saw Richard leaping and jumping and concluded he had gone mad. The guard did not want trouble, so he came in to try to calm Richard down, and told him to be quiet and to be calm and he would bring him something. So Richard sat quietly, and a few minutes later the guard came in and gave him half a loaf of bread. Richard said that at that time their prison ration was one slice of bread a week. This was like Christmas!

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You Won’t Believe What My Bible College Professor Said – Share This On Facebook!

social-media-432498_640Post by Pastor Tim – Twenty years ago I was sitting in my Bible college dorm room with a cassette recorder, chuckling along with five of my classmates.  We were laughing because someone had recorded one of our professors and spliced his phrases together to make him sound like a heretic.

In the privacy of our room it was truly funny, but we also realized how potentially dangerous something like this could be.  After enjoying it for a few minutes, we decided that we shouldn’t do anything like this again and we destroyed the tape.

I thought it was dangerous, not because I worried what would happen to me, but I worried what would happen to my professor.  What was meant to be a joke could easily end up being construed as a heretical Bible teacher that was leading impressionable young minds at a once respectable Bible college.  Can’t you imagine the comments if something like this were to get out on social media today?

I’ve supported this Bible College for 12 years, but no longer in good conscience can I be a part of something so anti-biblical! ~ Sally G.

If this teacher is a heretic, than so is the whole student body and staff.  Guilt by association. ~ Tom S.

You know what the Bible says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.”  Enough said!  ~ David W.

And if this happened in 2015, you can be assured that the technical quality of spliced audio would be much better than when I did it in 1995.

A few weeks ago I finished reading Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande, and I was reminded of the wonderful principles that God has laid out in regards to resolving conflict.  Ken lays out four questions to ask in every conflict that are solidly grounded in Scripture.  He says,

  1. How can I focus on God in this situation? (Glorify God)
  2. How can I own my part of this conflict? (Get the log out of your eye)
  3. How can I help others own their contribution to this conflict? (Gently restore)
  4. How can I give forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution? (Go and be reconciled) (pg. 43)

While we may or may not be practicing this in our families and churches, I am troubled by our lack of this practice in the online community – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TV and radio!

Reading the comments of Christians on everything from Christian issues to secular issues often grieves my heart!  I admit that a good deal of the blame should be directed at news organizations and blog sites (even Christian ones) who print articles with spurious headlines . . . or even those who re-print articles from other sources when they haven’t confirmed the details.

Regardless of the blame that can be directed towards the news itself, the bottom-line is that you and I must take responsibility for applying Biblical rules of conflict resolution in our own online interactions.  We must refuse the desire to negatively comment without knowing the situation and without first speaking to those involved.  And we must also allow for the fact that people, preachers and organizations make mistakes . . . just like I do.

Imagine that you were one of those people who commented about my professor and Bible college without knowing the truth!

And as I wrote about last year, even when we are 100% right in our social media interactions, our comments still have a tendency to be taken the wrong way.

That’s not to say that it’s never right to comment or even to challenge someone in this venue – it certainly is!  Only that the Biblical practice of doing good to your enemies and to the household of faith must be seasoned with grace, humility, a willingness to overlook one another’s faults, forgiveness and a commitment to engage in Biblical conflict resolution . . . even in our online interactions!

 

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Persecution Of Christians Is At An All-Time High And Growing. Have You Leapt For Joy Yet?

Logo 071414This month saw the release of Open Door’s 2015 World Watch List, its annual report on the state of Christian persecution worldwide. The press release on the Open Doors site reads in part:

While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era, current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come….This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased.

First things first: I love the report. You can dispute the criteria or the measurement if you like (those debates can be healthy and helpful), but the need for good data–the need for any data–in this area is immense.

So my focus here is not on the report but rather on your reaction to it: Knowing that we are experiencing the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era, and that the worst is yet to come, how do you respond? By calling your legislator? By exposing the dangers of Muslim extremism? By engaging in imprecatory prayer?

How about by leaping for joy?

Mother Nina asked [Rev. Richard Wurmbrand] how to bear suffering. He said that he had always been afraid of suffering, but then he began to be joyful in suffering. “Be joyful!” he exclaimed, “leap for joy!” As Mother Nina remarked later, as he said this his eyes seemed like a sea of light opening into eternity.

“Only forgiven sins are committed against me,” Rev. Wurmbrand once wrote in reply to a letter from a former antagonist asking for his forgiveness. In the letter, he explained:

In Greek, the words in “Our Father” are “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgave (afekamen, the past tense) those who trespass against us”. I have forgiven on the day of my baptism all those who have offended me and those who will offend me until the end of my earthly life… In prison I got beatings which I had forgiven years before.

I do not pretend to know how Rev. Wurmbrand would respond to this latest World Watch report. But it would not be hard to imagine that rather than (or in addition to) words like publicize, protect, or prevent, he might talk about our natural fear of suffering, our need to leap for joy in it, and the vital importance of getting word to our persecutors that the only sins they can commit against us and our brothers and sisters around the world are forgiven ones.

So try not to look sad as you read the report. Remove the furrow from your brow. Wash your face and leap for joy in public. Jesus taught us this would happen, and, as Rev. Wurmbrand reminds us, Jesus taught us how he expects for us to respond when it does:

 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

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