Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

woman reading bibleSome might believe that Cardinal Francis George was prophetic when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Although blessed my entire life with religious freedom, these words challenge me to ponder civil disobedience. The reason why is explained by C.P. Krauth who said, “Error first seeks tolerance, then it seeks equality, then it seeks dominance.”

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue another ruling on same-sex marriage as it pertains to states’ rights. The Court could: 1) Leave the issue of same-sex marriage up to individual states; or 2) Rule that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or that states must recognize the same-sex marriage of out-of-state couples.

Do we who profess Jesus Christ really understand the implications of re-defined marriage? Do we understand the impact on our children, employment, church, community, and daily life in general?

Gay columnist Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times that it’s time Christians get with the program and “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Bruni suggests that we free “religious people from prejudices that they can indeed jettison . . . rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.” (Quoted by Eric Metaxas http://www.breakpoint.org 4-13-15). But I take my stand with Rev. Richard Eyer who writes, “It is not our human prerogative to redefine marriage for the sake of political correctness, social justice or as an accommodation to the changing times. As God does not change, but is ever faithful, so marriage does not change and ever proclaims the faithfulness of God to His people . . . Marriage cannot be whatever a society wants it to be. We as Christians bear witness to the truth, and the dark ages of sin will not change it.” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

I am free to take such a stand but, soon, will it require opposing Caesar? As laws on marriage, parenting, and hate speech are set in earthly stone, what will happen when I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, cannot obey them? What will happen when I’m told I can’t mentor a young woman at my local pregnancy center because, like the Navy Chaplain was told, it is “inappropriate counseling” to use God’s Word on sex outside of marriage or the practice of sodomy?

Black Americans once engaged in non-violent civil disobedience in the face of Jim Crow laws. If I would have been old enough, I think I would have joined them. I have joined the ranks of non-violent pro-lifers who rallied in public witness against legalized abortion. While we have opportunity, Christ-followers should speak with confidence and refuse to compromise biblical faith as a parent, student, employee, or business owner.

The Christian photographer, cake-baker, and florist did not compromise their faith. When asked to provide their services for the wedding receptions of gay couples, they refused to participate in something they believed contrary to God’s Word. Law suits quickly followed. We will see more of this as marriage deconstructionists and the media try to intimidate and silence Christians. But if the Supreme Court rules that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize the “marriages” of same-sex couples from other states, will I urge my pastor to teach in the way of Christ and contrary to the Supreme Court even if it means his possible arrest? Will I continue to publicly mentor using God’s Word even if it means speaking against “Caesar”?

Silence is preferable to many Christians. “I believe in Jesus,” I’ve been told, “but my faith is a private thing.” Or, “I don’t want to know what’s going on out there. It’s too overwhelming. I just want to be left in peace.” A follower of Christ will find contentment on this earthly journey because of the Holy Spirit within him, but he will most surely never be at peace with a world that despises the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Why is it that homosexual activists who used to be somewhat libertarian (“all we ask is that you recognize our affection for the same-sex”) have become more boldly totalitarian (“participate in our wedding or we will shut down your business”)? Is it possible that in seeking friendship and peace with the world, Christian denominations that were already acceptant of child sacrifice through abortion and now ordain practicing homosexuals and bless same-sex marriages offer no resistance?

But when Christians refuse to submit, will the anger of those seeking dominance turn to persecution? Even genocide? It has in the past. It is today in Iraq, Egypt, and Kenya. It may be coming to America soon. And what then? My pastor reminds me that the Church grows stronger under persecution. Unlike with any other religion, hope abounds as people live for Jesus Christ.

Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Then he continued, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the Church has done so often in human history . . . God sustains the world, in good times and in bad . . . only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, Savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb . . . are on the right side of history. Those who lie about Him and persecute or harass His followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up bringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about sin, even when it is promoted as ‘enlightened.’”  (www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed)

Will I be willing to disobey Caesar if it means obeying Christ? I pray for courage to do so. For now, there are things I can do that don’t oppose Caesar. I can pay attention to my own marriage and, as Rev. Eyer says, “make it an example of truth.” I can openly discuss the fact that children do best, not with two dads or two moms, but when mentored by a faithful mother and father. I can point out that man and woman are distinct and complementary, yet they are one: so also are Christ and His Church (John 17:22-23). I can be active in my church and encourage my church to be active in the world through its members. “If we can’t be bothered to attend church when there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of doing so,” writes Rev. Peter Speckhard, “can we credibly complain if it becomes slightly more difficult to attend the church we weren’t attending anyway?” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

The error of redefined marriage demands tolerance and equality. But if the Supreme Court allows this error to dominate, then civil disobedience may be required. Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

Marriage is of God. I must resist its counterfeit.

Read Full Post »

???????????????????????????????We recently returned from a week on the northern shore of Lake Superior with our sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. Paul and I wanted to celebrate 40 years of marriage with the family that matters so much to us. Hundreds of photos testify to the fact that precious memories were made.

We hiked, biked and dove into the cold waters together. We bumped heads and dried tears. We sat at table together. Laughed together. Prayed together. We are three generations not randomly thrown together by chance but purposefully knit together by the God of design.

On Sunday morning, we gathered in the great room of the cabin to read God’s Word, sing, and encourage generational faithfulness. It seemed fitting for me as a grandmother to speak to the eldest of the grandchildren Jaden, Ethan, Andrew and Max because they will always have the privilege of setting examples for their younger brothers and sisters Kate, Leah, Sam and Lane.

To get their attention, I asked: “What do worms, mosquitos, bedbugs and flies have to do with being a Christian and following Jesus?” Then I shared with them the true story of Darlene Diebler.

Darlene was born in Boone, IA. She was raised in a Christian home and knew Jesus Christ as her Savior. Encouraged by parents and pastors, she memorized Scripture and words of hymns. As her love for the Lord grew, so did her desire to become a missionary. When Russell Diebler, an experienced missionary, asked her to marry him, she said “Yes!”

The newlyweds settled in New Guinea before their first anniversary. Darlene was excited by the possibilities of living among people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. But Darlene did not become the kind of missionary she had dreamed of. A world war broke out and, together with other missionaries, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Men were put in one camp; women and children in another.

Darlene spent her days caring for the sick, comforting the fearful, working in the gardens or pig house, and repeatedly shared the hope of God’s Word—even with the camp commander. On the day when he called her into his office to tell her that her husband had died, a strange thing happened. Instead of breaking down in despair, Darlene witnessed to her captor about why her faith in Jesus Christ would sustain her. Her confidence and uncommon behavior caused the man to leave the room, but not before Darlene saw his eyes glisten with tears.

The only personal item not taken from Darlene was her Bible. God’s Word was light in her darkness. When she got mad at God, she read. When she questioned His will, she read. When she felt sorry for herself, she read. We might wonder: Why didn’t she just give up? Why continue fighting for life when all seemed so hopeless? Darlene didn’t give up because God’s Word was life to her! In meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit overcame doubt and turned her eyes to the goodness, faithfulness and promise of God. She was reminded that God had already gone before her and yet, at the same time, was right beside her.

Fear rose up again when Darlene was accused of being a spy for the American army. She was taken away by angry men who had no respect for her as a human being. They placed her in solitary confinement and took away her Bible. Her meals consisted of rice infested with worms. There was no way to protect herself from the flies and mosquitos that carried diseases. Bedbugs bit her flesh all night. Soon, Darlene became very ill. Malaria, beriberi, and dysentery ravaged her body and drained her physical strength. At times, words of prayer failed her. But the Holy Spirit was interceding for her with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). He brought to mind Words of the Lord she had committed to memory and verses of hymns sung as a child.

When Darlene was feverish and quite possibly near death, a man appeared with a little bit of medicine. She never saw that man again; in fact, no one else saw or knew of him. To this day, she is convinced he was an angel. Within a very short time—and without a doctor—Darlene regained her strength.

All the worms, flies, mosquitos, and bedbugs tortured her body, but they did not kill her. The Japanese soldiers treated her worse than an animal, but they could not remove her identity as a daughter of God or take from her the Holy Spirit who dwelled within her.

What does this story have to do with my grandchildren? I believe that the prince of this world, the devil, and the culture shaped by his deception will pester my grandsons and granddaughters like so many mosquitos and flies. God’s Word is their only defense. Jesus says,

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you . . . your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20).

I believe the names of my grandchildren are written in heaven. As baptized children of God in Jesus Christ, I believe they have power over the enemy. I also believe that when they live their faith, they will have an uncommon effect on the people around them.

Darlene’s faith in Christ had an effect on the Japanese prison commander. When he saw that she was not crushed under her load of suffering but had the strength to speak of Jesus even to him—her enemy, his attitude toward her changed. He became her advocate and, even though she was removed from under his authority into the hands of others, he did everything he could to keep her alive during her time in solitary confinement.

It won’t be easy for my grandchildren to live their faith; to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Even their friends may taunt them or abandon them for not “fitting in”. But God does not want His children to be common and malleable in the hands of just anybody. He wants them to be uncommon and malleable in His hands and for His purpose.

To help my grandsons and granddaughters, I want to be what my grandmother was to me. She was my encourager. My comfort. My example of faithfulness.

When I think of my grandmother, the words of one of her favorite Scripture passages speak to me. They are also words to a hymn. Because I pray my family will fight the good fight, I asked my husband, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to sing it with me:

Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Your joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changes not who holds you dear;
Only believe, and you will see
That Christ is all eternally.

(LSB 664 “Fight the Good Fight” –
Text: John S.B. Monsell – 1 Timothy 6:12)
This post inspired by Darlene Deibler Rose
Evidence Not Seen:
A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
A Ruth Graham Dienert Book, 1988

Read Full Post »