Defending Our Freedom

Word cloud for Religious persecutionWe have all heard for years about people being persecuted for their faith. In the United States, many of us have been lulled into complacency, thinking such things could never happen here. But they are. Christians are being threatened, losing their jobs, losing their businesses, and suffering other such treatment for living and sharing their beliefs. In many people’s eyes, Christians have become the “bad guys.” Anti-Semitism is also raging.

In a nation uniquely founded upon the Judeo/Christian ethic and “Freedom of Religion”, Americans have been witnessing committed Christians being persecuted in their own country. Over the last six-plus years, there have been rapidly expanding attempts to marginalize, demonize, and criminalize the free practice of the Christian faith in the US Armed Forces and in the United States in general. Restoring Liberty

I hope you will take a few minutes to read this eye-opening article from Liberty First: “10 Ways Hostility to Religious Freedom Has Hurt These Americans.”
Each of us has a choice. Will we turn a blind eye? Will we wait until it affects us personally before we take a stand? This is a good time to recall Edmund Burke’s words: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

What can we do? First, stay informed. Read the Tweets listed on our website and others like them. Subscribe to pertinent newsletters. Take action by helping others stay informed . . . serving as you find opportunity . . . donating to organizations you feel are making a difference . . . whatever the Lord leads you to do. And above all, pray.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power
and produces wonderful results.
James 5:16 NLT
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How Can We Thank Him?

lightstock_64377_xsmall_user_6214500When I try to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins, I realize there are no words. I can never repay him for what he has done. Saying “thank you” is so inadequate. But I can begin to thank him by living for him.

When we think of living for him, our mind may turn to a flurry of service, perhaps in a church or another ministry. While that is good and important, I think we need to begin by loving him. Drawing close to him. Getting to know him better through prayer and his Word. Jesus explained the most important commandments this way:

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

When we love him with our whole being, his love will flow through us to touch others. And in all that, we honor him.

Loving him means trusting him, no matter what our circumstances. “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Loving him means communicating with him. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). It’s good to pray with others in church. It’s important to pray during a quiet time each day. But he wants us also to be more aware of his presence throughout our day and night and chat with him as we go. What a privilege!

Valentine's Day Bible Verse with Red HeartLoving him means getting to know him better through his Word. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). We need to be sure we are not doing a daily Bible reading so we can check that off our to-do list. We need to read because we yearn to know him better. “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (1 Peter 2:2-3).

Loving him means obeying him. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them” (words of Jesus in John 14:21).

Loving him means using our God-given gifts to serve him and one another.God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).

Loving him means telling others about him, not only through the words we say but also through the life we live.Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

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Jesus, help me to thank you for dying on the cross for my sins by loving you and living for you. Because of your gift of life, I am forgiven and will spend eternity with you.

 

Family Entertainment

Recently I blogged about movie reviews. Like me, you probably are shocked at much that is on TV and in the movies. When considering what you and your family should be watching, you may ask yourself, “How much is too much?”

As I pointed out in the previous blog, perhaps instead of “how much is too much,” we should ask ourselves, “Is this a positive thing for our lives or our children’s lives? Does it teach us something? Does it leave us with worthwhile thoughts or ideas? Is it healthy, harmless entertainment? Would we invite Jesus to watch it or listen to it with us?”

In Philippians 4:8  we are admonished to “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Let this, instead of “how much bad is too much,” be our guide.


PureFlix FREE Trial

One way to evaluate the movies is to check out movie reviews with a Christian perspective. Another way is to purchase or rent videos from a company with Christian goals. Once such company I just added to Find Christian Links is Pure Flix. Here is what Pure Flix has to say: “Our mix of family-friendly and wholesome entertainment includes movies for all ages, kid’s animated titles, documentaries, how-to’s, hobbies, educational, health & fitness, sports, outdoors and travel plus many inspirational and devotional titles. We provide a wholesome viewing experience for your entire family. We believe that given a choice, people want to be able to stream wholesome, family-friendly titles that carry a great message.”

I hope you will check them out. You may also want to check other options to buy, rent, and stream here.

Are you living free?

logoLiving Free is a non-profit organization that helps people overcome life-controlling problems. When we hear “life-controlling problems,” we may think of issues such as substance abuse or gambling or pornography addictions. Those are definitely life-controlling problems, but how about anger . . . depression . . . grief . . . and similar issues? If any of these issues get out of hand, they can control our lives as well. Even good things like work, ministry, or ambition can take over our lives if they become too important to us.

Living Free offers small group training and curriculum that address these and other issues. I served on their staff a few years ago and ever since have continued doing some contract writing for them. I never cease to marvel how God works through Living Free to change lives. When you read below about some of the exciting things He is doing, you may think that the Living Free staff is in the thousands, or at least in the hundreds. No, just a few people based in a small, simple, office complex. But they are joined by “tens of thousands of local team leaders, facilitators, trainers, representatives, support staff, donors, directors, and prayer partners. This team extends across international boundaries with members living on every inhabited continent.”

I’d like to share some excerpts from a letter I just received describing some highlights of the past few months of Living Free ministry.

The United States and Canada: State and local governments are asking churches to help with the addicted. 230 counties are establishing Living Free. The goal is 2000 counties by 2024.

India: Living Free allied ministries are developing in Mumbai and Ludhiana (Punjab). In Punjab 70% of the youth abuse drugs. Living Free will be used by churches to help those looking for freedom.

The Philippines: The government has threatened addicts with death if they do not find help. Many churches are using Living Free to bring hope to these desperate persons.

Caribbean: The first Living Free groups are meeting in the Cayman Islands. Spanish language groups meet in Antigua, and Living Free training was done in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Australia:  Living Free is offered as an alternative sentencing program in the courts serving the indigenous people in rural areas. Two new locations were established in March.

Undisclosed: Groups meet in 4 countries hostile to Christians. One friend of Living Free narrowly escaped death when his automobile was riddled by shrapnel from a car bomb.

The letter also revealed just a few of many events on the Living Free horizon.

250 African leaders from 10 countries will be trained in Rwanda in late April.

8000 churches in one African country are considering adopting Living Free.

Training is scheduled in Belarus to establish nonresidential rehabilitation ministry.

Three leaders are working to begin Living Free ministry in Greece.

Living Free training is scheduled in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and other Balkan countries.

Please visit the Living Free website to learn more about this ministry, and consider getting involved! Here are a few ways . . .

  • Find out how your church or other ministry could reach more people and open the door for God to change their lives. Living Free says, “It can happen–and it can start with you.”
  • Perhaps you are involved in a small group and looking for suitable curriculum. Browse through the terrific selection of topics available from the Living Free online store.
  • Consider subscribing to Living Free Every Day® devotions. You’ll receive a short devotion by email every weekday based on the various curriculums. Join the thousands of people are finding encouragement for themselves and a good word to share with others.

“Why Israel Matters”

 

flag-israelIsrael is at the center of biblical history. Israel is at the center of biblical prophecy. And Israel is at the center of world events today as we watch the fulfillment of those prophecies unfold.

Christians in Defense of Israel (CIDI) and Liberty Counsel are offering us two ways to learn more about why Israel matters to the world today . . . to the church . . . and to each of us.  The first is an exciting TV series called Why Israel Mattersfeatured on TBN. CIDI describes the series this way:

Why Israel Matters is an original series presented by Christians in Defense of Israel and Liberty Counsel in association with Impact Productions and TBN. Why Israel Matters explores the many facets of the Holy Land, from ancient to modern Israel. From the novice to the expert, each viewer will learn something new and exciting about Israel. Full of moving stories, thought-provoking questions, and inspiring takeaways, this original series will strengthen the viewers’ faith and empower viewers to thoughtfully engage in the global conversation about Israel.

See a summary of all thirteen episodes.

See Airing Schedule

Ask for your free booklet: “Why Israel Matters to You and Your Family

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Their second presentation is an exciting new book by Matthew Staver with John Aman.

Click here to learn more about the book and place your order.

“This lavishly illustrated guide to all things Israel reveals why Israel is so significant to the Muslim world, the global economy, America, the church, and you.”

Movie Reviews with a Christian Perspective

482295_origAs Christians, we may ask ourselves, “Should I see that movie? How about this new game my teenager is wanting? Is that video OK for my six-year-old?” We try to assess if it has too much bad language, too many offensive sex scenes, too much violence, or too many bad life examples for our kids.

Where do we draw the line? How much is too much?

If we compare movies or television programming or even music today with that of a decade or two decades ago, most of us are horrified to realize how far we’ve come. With  gradually increased exposure to explicit sex, mockery of Christianity, efforts to normalize homosexuality,  occult phenomena, and violence beyond imagination, our threshold of tolerance has increased. Things that  we once would never have considered watching or listening to have somehow become acceptable. Our scorecard of “how much is too much” has changed dramatically. We have allowed ourselves to be conditioned.

Perhaps instead of “how much is too much,” we should ask ourselves, “Is this a positive thing for our lives or our children’s lives? Does it teach us something? Does it leave us with worthwhile thoughts or ideas? Is it healthy, harmless entertainment? Would we invite Jesus to watch it or listen to it with us?”

In Philippians 4:8  we are admonished to “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Let this, instead of “how much bad is too much,” be our guide.

One way we can know which movies or videos or music are positive and worthwhile is through Christian movie reviews, Christian video reviews, and Christian music reviews. In checking the Internet, I have found many excellent sites offering such services, but some stood out to me as being especially worthy. I listed a few of the sites here that seem to approach their reviews and comments from a heartfelt biblical perspective. Please visit Find Christian Links to view them. I hope you find them helpful. As always, I welcome your input.

Please visit Christian Cinema: Buy, rent, stream Christian movies!

Reaching Out to Our Military

Young boy soldiers
Our U.S. troops and their families make sacrifices, most we never hear about, to protect us and our loved ones. And yet how often do we go about our busy lives without giving them a second thought? If you would like to get involved by praying . . . donating . . . serving the troops and their families in practical endeavors . . . please visit these two pages for ideas:

Support Our Troops

Pray for Our Troops

Visit these sites if you . . .

  • Are in the military or part of a military family and would like to find a source of help and encouragement
  • Want to give time or money to a ministry reaching out to military personnel and their families
  • Would like to learn how you could start a ministry to the military in your community

Please contact me if you have a link you’d like me to add. Also, I’d love to hear from you if you have had experience with any of these organizations.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:18 NLT)