Persecuted For Righteousness’ Sake

ThePreachersWord

Meriam  Ibrahim

“I am a Christian,” Meriam Ibrahim told the judge at her sentencing hearing in May, “and I will remain a Christian.”

The case of the 27-year-old Sudanese woman sparked international outrage when she was sentenced to die by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. At the time she was eight months pregnant and has since given birth to a baby girl. 

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Little Things?

Preacherpollard's Blog

Neal Pollard

Look what one look at a woman bathing on her rooftop cost a man, his home, and his country.  The pronunciation of one word spelled the difference between life and death for a nation of people.  One word inserted by a serpent changed the course of human history forever.

One visit to a website, one indiscreet email or phone call, one moment of anger and fury, one rash and foolish decision made before a new Christian, or one “white lie” can create unbearable consequences to the heart, destiny, and influence of a person.  Rationalization that it’s only once or only a little can be fatal, both to self and others.

But this “little thing” principle applies to attitude, too.  A brief, gossiping conversation may seem harmless, but discourage or devastate the subject of it.   Small, snide comments about the elders, Bible class teachers, deacons, or others may divide…

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IT’S FRIDAY. BUT SUNDAY’S COMING! The Man Who Won’t Go Away

ThePreachersWord

The Bible

“On the day after Jesus’ death, it looked as if whatever small mark he left on the world would rapidly disappear. Instead, his impact on human history has been unparalleled.”

These are the opening words by John Ortberg in his book “Who is this Man?” This was a father’s day present from my daughter and son-in-law. It’s going to be a good one! 

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WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST WEAKNESS?

What is Christianity’s greatest weakness?  Actually, many reading this probably immediately thought, “Christianity has no weakness’s because it is from God.”   And you are exactly right.  Christianity was planned by God and instituted by His Son, Jesus Christ.  Has God has no weaknesses, Christianity has  none either.

Then why does it often not seem to be accomplishing much?  Why do atheists and other liberal-minded people seem to be having such an easy time destroying our religious freedom of practice and expression?   It is because there is a weakness, not in Christianity, but in Christians! 

Too many of those who profess to be Christians are not acting like New Testament Christians.  New Testament Christians, as described in the New Testament, But God, His Son, His church, and service to Him at the very top of the list of priorities in their lives!  Jesus said,   So Jesus says that His followers must put God’s kingdom (church) and righteousness first – even ahead of the most basic necessities of life – food, drink and clothing!  Really? Yes!  He said two verses earlier,  “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt 6:31-32).  

 

Now, how many Christians do that?  Do most not rather use the necessities of life as an excuse for not putting God’s kingdom and service first?  Worse yet, do they not even put the luxuries of life ahead of God’s kingdom and services?  Actually shouldn’t the question really be, “Do we not put life’s necessities, luxuries, and pleasures ahead of God’s kingdom and service?  

That’s the problem.  Christianity’s greatest weakness is Christians – the very ones whom the Lord entrusted with the work and message of Christianity.  Christianity for many is something we do if we have time.  To many it is something that “somebody ought to do.”  Do you know what happens when everybody says somebody ought to do something?  Nothing!

Now, be honest.  Are you one of Christianity’s greatest weaknesses?  Now, what are you going to do  about it?

 

ARE SCHOOL OFFICIALS RIGHT IN FORBIDDING RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION BY STUDENTS IN GRADUATION SPEECHES?

By now you have probably heard of the latest attempt by school officials to sensor a graduating student’s religious comments in  his graduation speech (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/06/16/god-redacted-from-high-school-graduation-speech/?cmpid=NL_tadspth).    Brooks Hamby wanted to thank Jesus  in his salutatory address.  But, Brawley Union School District in Brawley, Calif., said the references to Jesus and prayer in Brooks’ graduation speech were “inappropriate” and violated “prevailing legal standards.”  Brooks had to go through four revisions to his comments before he was able to make his comments without being stopped by school officials.  They even threatened to turn off the lights if he made religious comments!  

The first draft included the unthinkable prayer, “Heavenly Father, in all times, let us always be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.”  When he was forbidden to use these words, he wrote, “Certain interpretations of the law, school policies and conditions have stifled my ability to speak freely to you this evening and prohibited me from doing otherwise. However, if I could pray with you this evening, I would say something along these lines.”  That, too was censored!  A third revision was also rejected.   Shortly before the time of the graduation, he submitted a fourth draft.  By time to make his speech, he had not heard from the Superintendent.  

He decided to continue with the fourth draft.  He said to his fellow graduating students, “In simply coming before you today, I presented three drafts of my speech – all of them denied on account of my desire to share my personal thoughts and inspiration to you in my Christian faith.  In life, you will be told no. In life, you will be asked to do things that you have no desire to do. In life, you will be asked to do things that violate your conscience and your desire to do what is right.”  He concluded with the words, “May the God of the Bible bless each and every one of you every day in the rest of your lives.”

These words violated the the school administratos’ warnings.  But, were they right in censoring his religious speech?  Of course, we realize that he was well within his First Amendment rights both of freedom of religious overexercise and expression.  But, he was also acting in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education policy:

U.S. Department of Education in 2003 that directly deals with this issue is entitled “Prayer at Graduation.”

School officials may not mandate or organize prayer at graduation or select speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech such as prayer. Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content. To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate, neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech (whether religious or nonreligious) is the speaker’s and not the school’s. (http://aclj.org/education/student-rights-at-graduation-school-events).

Further, he was acting within the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Though lower courts have made contradictory ruliings on the matter, the most recent recent Supreme Court ruling:  1992: USA: Supreme Court ruling: In the case of Lee v. Weisman [U.S., 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)], the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees of a public school district may not induce, endorse, assist, nor promote prayer at their graduation ceremonies. This would forbid prayers presented by a school principal, a teacher, or a clergy person from the community. Judge Anthony Kennedy prepared the majority opinion. He wrote that the “Constitution forbids the State to exact religious conformity from a student as the price of attending her own high school graduation.”  (http://www.religioustolerance.org/ps_prae.htm).  So, schools officials cannot initiate prayer in a graduation ceremony.  However, the court has yet to rule on whether students may do so. 

So, Brooks Hamby neither violated the Constitution, U.S Supreme Court ruling, nor U.S. Department of Education policy.  On the other hand, his Constitutional rights were violate.

Brooks Hamby should be commended for standing up to over-reaching school officials, and doing the right thing!

L. John Bost

PURER YET AND PURER

Preacherpollard's Blog

Neal Pollard

While this song is not one of our “toe tappers,” it is meant to be reflective. What a challenge it presents to us, too! Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote the poem during Napoleon’s heyday and Anne R. Bennett translated the lyrics a full decade before the Civil War, but the words are perhaps more timely today than they were in her place and time. While the song is about more than just holiness and purity, the idea is about aspiring to greater, better service to God. Goethe’s original poem had four verses, talking alternately about finding duty dearer, calmness in pain, peace and confidence in God, greater nearness to God, running the Christian race swifter, and the like. All of these endeavors are tied together, but I want to focus on that first phrase: “Purer yet and purer, I would be in mind.”

Do you feel like you are…

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BASEBALL IS IN THE AIR!

Baseball is in the air in the Shenandoah Valley!  The Strasburg Rams are playing for state championship against Virginia High School.  Athletics is important to many people, including many Christians.  That is fine.  I am listening to the game as I write this.  It is fine as long as it does not interfere with our service to God.

But, did you know that athletics is mentioned in the Bible?  Paul mentions racing in 1 Corinthians 9:24:  “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?”  Then he gives the spiritual application:  “So run, that ye may obtain.”   In the next verse he alludes to various games such as wrestling or boxing, in the phrase, “striveth for the mastery,” that is, agonizes to win.  “is temperate in all things.”  He makes the spiritual application:”Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”  In verse 26 he sets himself forth as an example:  “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air,”  that is not as one that merely shadow boxes.  

Paul concludes in verse 27:  “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  Or, as the New King James Version renders it,, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

The Rams and Bear Cats have striven to hone their baseball skills all season.  Now they put forth their best efforts to win.  Are you striving to win the greatest crown – heaven?