This is a half-hour film that I wish everyone would watch and consider. Give it a chance. It could be a life-changer for you or someone you know. Warning: it does contain some graphic images.
Witnessing to the culture
Two items in the news today, only seemingly unrelated. First, the story of a mighty woman of God, Cindy Winters, whose pastor husband was gunned gown as he preached a year ago today. Her story is one of being cast into a pit of deep darkness immediately upon learning that her husband had died, only to find the Lord there with her. The Lord told her that it was pure evil on the part of satan that had taken her husband, and Cindy’s reaction was, “Then Satan will not win. He will not win”.
The guy who killed Fred Winters is schizophrenic, couldn’t know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah, and our criminal “justice” system will process him as it is wont. But testimonies like Cindy’s, where a person is thrown into severe trial but continues to attest to the goodness and faithfulness of God, are the real story here. It’s easy to flip out and pull a coward’s trigger. It’s takes real quality of soul to stand up for God when you’ve lost something dear.
On the other side, Oklahoma is evidently near to offering elective courses on the Bible. They will be culturally framed, under the rubric that one cannot understand our culture and history without understanding the book that so deeply shaped it.
(Way) back in college, I had a sociology professor who said the same thing. But he did so with flushed face and with a conviction that approached rage. In my stupidity back then, it took me a long time to conclude that this guy was not supportive of the Bible, a book I was entirely unfamiliar with at the time, but I did instantly discern that there had to be much power in the book for it to elicit such a response. And that always stuck with me, and would prove to save my life when the need finally arose a few years later.
Bible courses in the public schools are good things. The sociological angle is very valid, and the coming generation would be greatly enriched by a deeper understanding of our history and culture. And quite frankly, I’d be glad for any exposure to quaint notions such as, say, the sanctity of the marriage bed.
But we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that political changes alone are going to turn the tide in our nation. It’s only a matter of time before liberal groups demand comparative religion courses which depict the Bible as one option among many – and not the best one either. And under humanistic relativism, what’s to prevent religions such as satanism from requesting facilities for their after-school activities, just as our kids have Bible clubs?
Sanctified political action is a good and even necessary thing which should be pursued. But if we don’t change the hearts of the people we are going to lose the culture, and then the nation itself, and no law or politics will be able to stem that tide. The church can function without government support. It’s terribly undesirable, inconvenient and painful, as we abundantly see in persecuted nations, but it can be done. But the church cannot function with the personal testimonies of the saints.
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. – Rev 12:11
That is why the real heart of Kingdom advancement lies in the costly personal testimonies of the Cindy Winters. We don’t all have to lose a loved one in order to have a powerful testimony. If we’ve been Saved we by definition have a powerful testimony. Jesus has saved us from hell and sin and condemnation and death. He has given us power to live a victorious life now, and remains with us even in this darkened world’s deepest pits. And we await the glorious New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven.
We don’t need to lose a love one to have a powerful testimony, we only have to lose ourselves in Him. In doing so, we may even save the culture in the bargain.
This amazing tale comes from Voice of the Martyrs, USA’s Facebook page, which I follow. Always good, they’ve been having some very interesting stuff lately. Following VOM on Facebook or Twitter is a good way to stay connected to the church persecuted in other lands and to check one’s own discipleship quotient.
Watchman Nee has long been one of my top favorites. No one, and I mean no one, explicates the Gospel as he does. Though his writing is intellectually advanced and satisfying, its real strength comes from his deep submission to the lordship of Christ. Simply put, he walked the talk.
Nee began writing at only twenty-three years of age, if my memory serves, and his writings are unparalleled for depth and clarity. But this is the first I’ve ever heard of his doings later in life while in prison in China for the Gospel. His dedication, insight and power in the Gospel amaze and humble me.
Watchman Nee, the Chinese church leader, had only six hours. He must lead the guard in front of his prison cell to Christ so that his letter of encouragement to Christians outside the prison could be delivered.
Chairman Mao’s government was infuriated by the spread of Christianity in China. In order to stop the spread of this “foreign cult,” they had forced out or killed all foreign missionaries and had sent thousands of Chinese church leaders to prison or to “re-education through labor” camps. But the church still grew.
When the police discovered that Nee’s beautiful, powerful letters of encouragement were making their way out of the prison and into the hands of Christians, they doubled the number of guards and never allowed a guard to stand outside Nee’s cell more than once. They shortened shifts to six hours, hoping Nee would not have time to convert the guard.
Nee told the guard about the Father’s love and willingness to give up his own flesh and blood so the guard could live forever in heaven. “Communism cannot get you to heaven,” he said. “Only the blood of Jesus Christ can do that.”
Five hours into the sermon, with tears streaming from his eyes, the guard accepted Christ. Yet another soul was won for the kingdom, and yet another of Watchman Nee’s letters would be safely delivered.
If Christian martyrs teach us anything, it is that we must use creative energy in order to promote the gospel. Their ingenuity, courage, and even craftiness ought to awaken our own spirit for spreading the Good News. While not everyone has the opportunity to smuggle Scriptures into restricted areas, we can still be willing servants for the kingdom. It might mean having a cookout in the driveway for neighbors. It may mean signing up for golf lessons or another community class in order to meet nonchurched people. A new method of witness always risks consequences. But we should always be willing to take the risk instead of settling for mediocrity. Which describes your evangelistic life today? Mundane and mediocre? Or creatively energetic for Christ?
I’m in a zany mood, maybe as an aftereffect of that last post, but I just came across two items that made me crack up.
First, the inimitable Ramirez from IBD:
Then, a slightly offbeat but hilarious exposition of the Gospel by Ann Coulter. Here’s the end, but if you have the time don’t peek. Enjoy.
Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies — no doing what all the other kids do.
And no more caring what the world thinks of you — because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.
With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don’t deserve it. It’s the best deal in the universe.
In part 1 I laid out my need to explicate the Gospel in its basics. Most already know the basics, but sometimes a fresh perspective helps shed new light in the heart. That’s my hope. And especially I would like to help people who are new to the Lord, or who do not know him, to understand him better.
So far, in Part 1, we imagined a God who is absolute in knowledge and power, and who perfectly possesses such character qualities as righteousness, peace and joy. And to that we then added a most amazing aspect to his nature: love.
Love is amazing because it is the one quality that takes a person out of himself and focuses on seeking the good of others in a highly personal way. There are many aspects to love by which this can occur – mercy, admiration, empathy, etc. – but they all fall under the rubric of love.
God exists perfectly content, but if he had a way to express his love others would be blessed as well, and his love would be more fulfilled. He would take joy is seeing others happy. It’s not that he needs it, it’s purely generosity toward those he would love. I don’t have a better way to say it than that, and I suspect it’s ultimately a mystery that we can’t understand.
So God set into motion a plan. He would create. He would create inanimate objects, he would create living creatures, and ultimately he would create beings made in his own image and likeness, who could commune with his spirit. He would create man. Read more…