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Archive for the ‘Persecuted Church’ Category

2 Thessalonians 2:7:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

from Pulpit & Pen:

What We Know

Today, a mad gunman burst into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and killed (at least) 26 people and shot approximately 20 more. Average attendance for the church is in the fifties, meaning that almost everyone was shot. The youngest victim was reportedly two and the oldest is in their 70s. The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter was murdered. The gunman was Devin Kelley, a 26 year-old with a dishonorable discharge from the military. Reportedly, he was a registered Democrat, former VBS instructor, and by some reporting, involved with Antifa (no one knows at this point how valid the reporting has been in its earliest of stages). Also, Kelley had posted a photograph of his AR-15 rifle on Facebook in late October. It is unknown what his connection is with the church, but it is not believed he had one. One Citizen grabbed his rifle when seeing the shooting, and took up pursuit with another Citizen who stopped and let him in his vehicle. They pursued Kelley until he ran off the road, and they kept point until police arrived. It is unclear if Kelley was shot by the Citizen or by his own hand.

What Else We Know, and What We Expect

We know that this little town near San Antonio is reeling in agony. For them, this tragedy is Apocalyptic in scale. An entire church was wiped off the face of the Earth, entire families were decimated, an entire community for the rest of time will be remembered as the place where it happened. No doubt, this little hamlet of civilization has been flooded with news agencies from around the world, agents with the FBI and ATF, ambulance-chasing opportunists of the worst varieties, and well-meaning helping hands (who often get in the way).

Whenever schools resume, they will need an army of people trained in crisis therapy. Life will not get back to “normal” in this town for a long, long time – if ever. Likewise, we can expect for liberals to call for gun control (in fact, they already have started) and conspiracy theorists will find reasons to explain that this is a “false flag” designed to confiscate firearms. If Kelley is indeed an activist with Antifa or a registered Democrat, conservatives will claim this is the fruit of an increasingly anti-Christian culture. If Kelley was on psychotropic prescription drugs, it will be used as further evidence that we are medicating people into sociopaths. Anti-military activists will claim that the army is creating killers. If Kelley was a conservative, liberals will seek to draw him to some kind of militia movement and perpetuate the stereotype of dangerous white men. All of those conversations will be had in coming days.

It will be easy to get sucked into the political volleying back and forth between conservatives and Marxist fascists who want to disarm America. It will be easy to make that the substance of our concern. We can expect political opportunists to take as much advantage of this situation as ambulance-chasing lawyers at a horrific crash scene.

What We Should Do

Clearly, the first thing we must do is pray for the survivors and loved ones of the deceased at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Our petitions should be made to the God of mercy without ceasing in coming days (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We mustn’t just drop a short, drive-by prayer – a “God be with them” – a prayerette in passing, but repeatedly throughout the day drop our heads and pray for those who are left behind this tragedy, who must slowly but surely pick up the pieces to their shattered lives and figure out how to move forward with their loved ones buried in the ground.

We should pray that the Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26), because in a time like this, words fail us. Certainly words are failing those in Sutherland Springs this evening. Sometimes there is little to say, and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when our spiritual brokenness exceeds our mental ability to convey those thoughts into words. We should also give supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving to the city, county and state officials who have to clean up the mess (1 Timothy 2:1-4), distribute justice, dispense mercy, and provide law and order in the midst of tragedy. Likewise, we should force our flesh to cry out in prayer for the wicked, which would include the shooter (if he weren’t already gone to his own place) and those capitalizing on the tragedy for their own political agenda, being instructed in Scripture to even pray for our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). Finally, concerning prayer, we should mourn with those who mourn and enter ourselves into a time of grief and grieve with and alongside Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Secondly, we should preach the Gospel. We are told to preach the Gospel in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). This means that the Gospel had better be on our lips in the midst of turmoil, trouble, and suffering. If anyone thinks that it is not a proper time to preach Gospel and repentance, they should be reminded of Luke 13, when Jesus was interrupted by the news heralds proclaiming that there had been a massacre in the temple (sound familiar?) and Jesus responded in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no! Unless you repent, ye likewise will perish.”

People are especially receptive to the Gospel in times of terrible travesty. We are not Gospel opportunists because this would imply we only share the Gospel when times are bad. In fact, we simply share Gospel in all seasons, which include seasons of suffering. This world is a broken mess and life is short and full of sorrow (Job 14:1). There is no better time to discuss these matters than when examples of their truthfulness are still fresh in our minds.

Third, we should take note. While tragedy creates emotionality, emotionality clouds wise judgment. While liberals cry out that it is now time to discuss gun control, we know that policy decisions are best made when people are thinking rationally, and not thinking emotionally. Without being rash, we should nonetheless take note of the lessons here, and make future use of them when we have fully thought out their implications. For example, we should take note that this was a small church, with probably few enemies in the world. This was not a megachurch that might attract throngs of people with perverse political agendas or mental disorders. And yet, a madman decided to approach this small church and wage war against it, ambushing it on a bright Sunday morning. What this means is that any church, at any time, can be attacked, for any reason.

Likewise, we should take note that a lot of people were murdered in a very short period of time. Reaction time, for those of us who steward churches, is very limited. We are simply not afforded time in such an active shooter scenario. Our churches must be prepared to protect the flock against imminent threats, guard and lock doors, and fire back at a moment’s notice (for a Biblical defense of self-defense, read this post, “Why Some People Need A Good Killing“). There are fewer ideas with less Biblical warrant and less historic support among orthodox churches than the absurd notion of pacificism, which has largely been relegated to sub-Christian cults. Christians have always been people who fired back in order to protect the innocent, and we must be prepared to do so.

What We Should Definitely Not Do

We should not be armchair quarterbacks when it comes to church security. We do not know if anyone in the congregation was armed (or if its armed members had a chance to return fire before being sucker-punched with semi-automatic gunfire through the wall). We do not know if that church had a security plan in place. And frankly, you and I (probably) do not know what it is like to use a firearm in a crisis situation, and we do not want to pretend that it is as easy as we’ve made it out to be in the movies. The fact is, a madman with a gun can kill a lot of people before he is stopped, even in a community with lots of Citizens carrying their own self-defense firearms – especially when he attacks without warning.

We should also not forget that at the very center of this mess are approximately 50 victims, some of whom are alive and some of whom are dead. People are important, and the people of this community are hurting. Remember that when you are tempted to use the facts surrounding this tragedy to bludgeon the political enemy. That club is covered with blood, so be conscientious about how (or if) you swing it.

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from theblaze:

Homosexuality is welcomed, if not pervasive, in women’s basketball culture.

So, when New Mexico State University’s head coach saw a video in which Camille LeNoir said she was no longer gay, he rescinded the offer for LeNoir to become an assistant coach at the school.

Now, she’s suing the school for discrimination.

LeNoir’s background

LeNoir was a former player at the University of Southern California and with the Washington Mystics in the WNBA. She had been working with young players since her playing career ended, and she finally got the breakthrough offer she wanted from New Mexico State.

Mark Trakh, NMSU’s coach at that time, offered LeNoir the job, and she booked travel to New Mexico. But two days before she left, Trakh called her and told her the offer was no longer on the table.

 ‘Not worth losing your soul’

Trakh rescinded LeNoir’s offer after seeing a video interview recorded in 2011 that’s still on YouTube.

In the video, LeNoir talks about how her Christian faith led her to renounce her lesbian lifestyle.

“I would say, it’s not worth it. If you are in a same-sex relationship, it is not worth losing your soul,” she said in the video. “Whoever you’re in that relationship with, like the Lord told me, it will be the death of you. I just believe that you can overcome it. You can overcome and defeat sin.”

“If you believe something that you were born gay or homosexual or whatever — if you feel you were born that way — I would say that you weren’t. God wouldn’t create you homosexual, then say in the Bible that it’s wrong, and then send you to hell. He doesn’t operate like that.”

‘Take down the video’

Trakh left LeNoir with a warning during the call when he rescinded his offer. (Trakh left NMSU in April to return to the University of Southern California.)

“Take down the video or you’ll never be able to work in this industry,” LeNoir said Trakh told her.

Trakh and the university said LeNoir’s public stance on homosexuality would make it difficult for her to recruit, and cited that as the reason for not hiring her.

From the Washington Post:

In court filings, New Mexico State says that LeNoir’s feelings about homosexuality shared in the video “would have had an adverse impact” on her “ability to effectively coach and recruit players who identify as LGBT.”

Legal battle

LeNoir is suing New Mexico State in U.S. District Court for discriminating against her sexuality and religious beliefs. NMSU has denied the charges, and a judge in California will preside over the case.

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from the College Fix:

A Christian student leader is demanding an apology after a poster distributed by Kent State University asked if stating “You need Jesus“ could qualify as hate speech.

The public university’s Center for Student Involvement created and circulated the posteron Twitter last week. It was designed to promote an event on free speech issues as part of Kent State’s KENTTalks, which are intended to “provide a safe place for discussions and transformational experiences for our student body” and promote “civil discourse.”

Silhouetted activists on the posters hold a range of placards with messages, overlaid with the rhetorical question “free speech or hate speech?” Alongside provocative expressions including “No More Gays,” “Women Need To Serve Their Man” and “Build a Wall,” the fourth placard bears a nonviolent, basic expression of the Christian faith: “You need Jesus.”

Jared Small, president of the Campus Ministry International student organization, told The College Fix that the poster was inappropriate.

“The university should apologize because it appears to be targeted toward one political and religious side,” he wrote in an email:

They could have included hate speech against president Trump or hate speech against Christians as examples. In my opinion, free speech protects hate speech to an extent. However, the university appears to show a bias against Christians and conservatives.

Small later clarified he was speaking personally, not for his organization.

Prof. Amy Reynolds, the dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, moderated last week’s KENTTalks panel discussion on free speech.

She told The Fix in an email that she had no involvement in creating the poster for the event: The Center for Student Involvement “created all of the promotional materials … I’m not sure what the process is/was.”

Neither Eric Mansfield nor Emily Vincent, the executive director and director of Kent State media relations, responded to repeated Fix queries. Neither did Kristan Dolan nor Rick Danals, assistant director and assistant dean of the Center for Student Involvement.

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from MSN:

nationwide coalition of more than 150 conservative Christian leaders signed a statement, released Tuesday, affirming their beliefs on human sexuality, including that marriage is between one man and one woman and approval of “homosexual immorality” is sinful.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s list of 14 beliefs, referred to as the Nashville Statement, is a response to an increasingly post-Christian, Western culture that thinks it can change God’s design for humans, according to the statement.

“Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be,” the statement from the coalition members reads.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood convened a meeting of evangelical leaders, pastors and scholars Friday at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference in Nashville. The coalition discussed and endorsed the statement.

In a press release, John Piper, co-founder of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, called the Nashville Statement a “Christian manifesto” on human sexuality.

“It speaks with forthright clarity, biblical conviction, gospel compassion, cultural relevance, and practical helpfulness,” Piper said. “It will prove to be, I believe, enormously helpful for thousands of pastors and leaders hoping to give wise, biblical, and gracious guidance to their people.”

Among the signers who have been involved in national politics: James Dobson, founder of the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in the District of Columbia.

Dobson and four others — Senior Pastor Ronnie Floyd of Cross Church, which has four campuses in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri; Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; President Richard Land of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.; televangelist James Robison, founder of Fort Worth-based Life Outreach International — also are members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board.

In a series of tweets, Pastor Brandan Robertson of MissionGathering Christian Church in San Diego, an LGBT activist who helped organize a protest at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission conference, called the statement an affront to God’s creative design.

Christian author Jen Hatmaker of Austin, Texas, who come out in favor of same-sex marriage and whose books have been removed from the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Stores because of that philosophy, called the timing of the statement callous because of the Aug. 12 Unite the Right white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., and protester Heather Heyer’s death.

“If the fruit of doctrine regularly & consistently creates shame, self-harm, suicide, & broken hearts, families, & churches, we shld listen,” she tweeted.

Each of the Nashville Statement’s 14 beliefs include one sentiment the signers affirm and one they deny. They cover a range of topics from a prohibition on sex outside of marriage to the connection between biological sex and gender identity.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who as a councilwoman officiated some of the city’s first same-sex marriages when they became legal in Tennessee, took issue with the statement’s moniker. In a tweet, she called it “poorly named.”

Its name is derived from the meeting location. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s founding document — the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood — was signed about 30 years ago during a summit at a resort in Danvers, Mass.

Founded in 1987 and based in Louisville, Ky., the council’s website said it has helped several religious groups, including the 15 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, promote “gospel-driven gender roles.”

Some members of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention that played host to the coalition last week, signed the statement.

In the news release, the commission’s president, Russell Moore, said it is “urgently needed.”

“The sexual revolution cannot keep its promises, and the church must stand ready to receive with compassion the many who are in need of a better hope,” Moore said. “The Nashville Statement is part of that mission, and my prayer is that it will help anchor churches and Christians to the gospel of Jesus Christ for years to come.”

This year, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference focused on parenting, including how to talk to your kids about their biblical view of sex, same-sex attraction and gender identity.

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from Zero Hedge:

Last week D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), a Christian-based missionary ministry based in Florida, filed a lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Amazon after being added to the SPLC’s list of “hate groups” and excluded from Amazon’s charitable donation program, Amazon Smile.  Apparently, at least in the SPLC’s estimation, verbally expressing a religously-based opposition to same-sex marriage and transgenerism is enough to get yourself labeled an “Anti-LGBT hate group.”  Per PJ Media:

 “We embarked today on a journey to right a terrible wrong,” Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO at DJKM, said in a statement Tuesday. “Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as ‘hate’ groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful. In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter.”

 The SPLC has labeled DJKM an “anti-LGBT hate group” for its opposition to same-sex marriage and transgenderism. “These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith,” Wright declared.

 “After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans,” the DJKM president concluded.

 The lawsuit laid out charges against the SPLC, GuideStar, and Amazon. “SPLC acted knowingly, intentionally, and with actual malice in publishing the Hate Map that included the Ministry and in publishing the SPLC Transmissions to GuideStar that included the ministry,” the suit alleged. “SPLC’s conduct in making these publications was beyond the reckless disregard for the truth standard required by Alabama law for punitive damages.”

Of course, given that “same-sex marriage and transgenderism” generally do not comport with the views of most religious entities, it’s unclear exactly how/why all churches, mosques and synagogues in the U.S. managed to avoid being added the SPLC’s list…maybe DJKM just got lucky?

In all, the SPLC says there are 917 “hate groups” in the United States which they divvy up into the following categories:

  • Anti-Immigrant
  • Anti-LGBT
  • Anti-Muslim
  • Black Separatist
  • Christian Indentity
  • General Hate
  • Hate Music
  • Holocaust Denial
  • KKK
  • Neo-Confederate
  • Neo-Nazi
  • Racist Skinhead
  • Radical Traditional Catholocism
  • White Nationalist
 Only in the U.S. can a peaceful Christian group end up on a “hate” list with “Neo-Nazis” and the “KKK”.  Be that as it may, here is where the SPLC says the “hate groups” of America are located

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from Breitbart:

More than 90 per cent of Christians in the UK believe their faith is being marginalized in British society, a survey has revealed.

It also found a majority of Christians thought their faith was not given the same respect as other religions in the UK, with most feeling it was considered unacceptable for them to share their beliefs in public.

The survey, conducted by Premier Christian Communications, questioned more than 12,000 “ordinary Christians” as part of a ‘State of the Faith’ study.

93 per cent of respondents said they “believe that Christianity is being marginalized” in Britain, and half said they had experienced prejudice because of their faith.

80 per cent of respondents said “Christianity is not given equal respect” compared with other religions and worldviews, and 67 per cent said they did not think it was considered acceptable in society for Christians to share their faith with others.

Younger Christians were more likely to say that they experienced prejudice for their faith, with 70 per cent of respondents aged 15 to 19 reporting negative experiences.

“Partly because of illiteracy [and] partly because of those who have a very different agenda, we may be moving into a period when debate is shut down — where you can’t have an honest debate and agree to differ,” said Nola Leach, head of a Christian lobbying group Care.

Premier CEO Peter Kerridge said in a statement that “It’s clear we are not the liberal accepting society we think we are if we don’t tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.”

He added that the survey “clearly indicates how it feels to be an ordinary Christian today … This is not the clergy talking, or academics theorising, or politicians making a case.

“These are ordinary Christians who feel overwhelmingly that their Christian beliefs are being marginalised and that as a result, it is becoming far more difficult to live as a person of faith in the UK.”

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from PJ Media:

penly gay LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has poured $422 million into the homosexual movement since the 1990s, recently told Rolling Stone why he won’t allow Christians to opt out of participating in same-sex weddings.

“We’re going to punish the wicked,” Gill told Rolling Stone. After the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage across the country, Gill turned his activism apparatus against religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs) and toward a legal mentality that would penalize Christians, and anyone else in business, who refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding.

“In the wake of Obergefell, … some donors and activists declared victory and moved on,” Rolling Stone‘s Andy Kroll explained. “But Gill insists the LGBTQ civil-rights movement is far from finished: In 28 states, it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodations like restaurants, hotels and restrooms.”

It may not be surprising to see Rolling Stone so misrepresent the situation like this (see “UVA rape scandal”). But the record needs to be set straight: The “public accommodations” push is exactly the line LGBT activists use to undercut Christians’ freedom to opt out of serving same-sex weddings.

Concrete court cases reveal the falseness of this “discrimination” narrative. A Washington state florist and Oregon bakers were fined for refusing to serve same-sex weddings, but they each gladly served the lesbian and gay people who requested wedding services. In both cases, they refused to serve a wedding, fearing that such service would be a public endorsement of something they believed a perversion of marriage.

Under Obergefell, same-sex couples can get married. But a wedding ceremony is still a private event, and people should not be forced to celebrate it, if such a ceremony is opposed to their convictions. This isn’t just an issue of religious freedom — it also involves free speech and free association.

But public accommodation laws have become a cudgel by which LGBT activists attempt to force people to violate their consciences. Indeed, an LGBT group in Ohio actually announced plans to try to force churches to host same-sex weddings on their property. A Christian farmer and his wife in Michigan were excluded from a farmer’s market because they posted on Facebook that they would not host a same-sex wedding on their own property.

In March, the ACLU sued a Sacramento Catholic hospital, even after the hospital helped a transgender patient find another hospital at which to have “his” hysterectomy. The ACLU’s lawsuit makes it clear that this debate isn’t about access — it’s about forcing people to violate their religious convictions.

Last month, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who also refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Like the Washington florist, the Oregon baker, and the Michigan farmer, Phillips gladly served LGBT people, he just would not endorse a public event which violated his beliefs.

 

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