Be Very Alert! No 201

Apologies for the delay in releasing this (and the previous) edition. Our internet service was down for a month while we moved premises. Going forward, this should all now return to normal.

Be Very Alert!- By Val Hollard (NZ)

On Watch at the Door.                                                                                 No 201, August 18, 2015

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim 3:12)

There is a rapid rise in reports of severe Christian persecution in many countries and of discrimination against Christians in Western countries. Accompanying that is a rise in books and sermons on how to prepare for persecution and how to respond to it when it happens. In Matthew 24, Jesus says that in the end Christians will be put to death and hated by all nations because of Him. We appear to be reaching that time rather rapidly, and we need to be prepared for it.

Michael Snyder says that there is very little that the entire world seems to agree upon, but there is one very frightening trend that is now taking hold literally all over the globe. This is the passionate hatred of Christianity which is sweeping the planet. Very few global leaders have been willing to step forward and speak out against the rising persecution of Christians. He says that in North America and Europe the persecution is more subtle. Christian beliefs are being undermined by new laws, comedians and television shows regularly mock the Christian faith, and many employers will immediately mentally disqualify a potential candidate for a job if they discover that an individual is a Bible-believing Christian.

Some recently reported cases:

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, more Christians are facing religious persecution in the Middle East than at any time since early history.

With the rise of ISIS, we are seeing what may become a ‘genocide’ of Christians in the Middle East, yet the UK has closed its doors to them, according to the Barnabus Fund director. The Polish government, however, has agreed to give visas to Syrian Christian families to resettle in Poland. Although Christians compose about 10 percent of Syria’s population, only 5 percent of Syrian refugees being admitted into the US are Christian.

The US continually denies or downplays attacks against Christians, and has prevented Christians from testifying about Christian persecution by Muslims.

The US state of Kentucky has come under fire for forcing ministers who volunteer as counsellors at youth prisons to sign a policy which asserts that homosexuality is not sinful. One minister has already been dismissed.

Rollins College in Florida has determined that a Christian student organization is in violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy because the group requires its leaders to be followers of Christ. This has happened in other colleges too.

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel have been told to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.

Thanks to Islamic immigration into Italy, there are increasing accounts of assaults on Christians. And in Canada attacks on churches are becoming more common.

Even in Israel, normally considered a safe haven for Christians in the Middle East, church leaders have blamed anti-Christian violence on a lack of action by the government.

What do we do when faced with persecution or discrimination?

What we are seeing now is just the beginning. Hatred towards Christians in the West will increase and they will be faced with difficult choices, choices such as your job or your relationship with Jesus, or even between your life and your relationship with Jesus.

Recently I have been disturbed by what some pre-trib speakers have been saying. In one instance the speaker produced a picture of a battered woman and said that positions that say that Christians will have to go through any of the last 7 years are like beating your wife, while thumping his fist forcefully on the podium. In another case, the speaker said he had been able to comfort a woman who was concerned about having to make a choice about receiving the mark of the beast. He assured her that she would never be around to face that decision.

The sad truth is that at the moment thousands of Christians are having to make difficult decisions about being obedient to Christ or denying their faith. Most Christian leaders are failing to prepare their flocks for the hard times that are coming. Pre-wrath believes that Christians will not face the wrath of God in the Trumpet and Bowl judgments, but will suffer severe persecution before then.

Maria Kneas has a new book out called How to Prepare for Hard Times and Persecution. In it, she gives helpful advice, especially for Christians in the West. Suddenly finding oneself being discriminated against can be a fearful and shocking experience. Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised when these things happen. (1 Pet 4:12-14) Remember too, all things work together for the good. (Rom 8:28) We need to take God at His word. You are blessed when you are persecuted and reviled.

It is important to build up your faith now. Now is the time to prepare for the battle. Jude instructs us to build ourselves up in your most holy faith. (Jude 20-21) We get our faith from being immersed in the Word of God, by prayer, praise and worship, and thankfulness. Maria Kneas says that she finds it helpful to read books about the lives of great men and women of faith. There are many available now.

Paul endured great hardship and suffering, yet was able to call them a “light affliction.” Rejoice in the Lord always, and remember that eternity is far more important than any trials we may go through now. Are you willing to suffer for Jesus and to die for Him?

TEMPLE MOUNT TENSIONS – HOW COULD A THIRD TEMPLE BE BUILT?

As a result of the six-day war in 1967, the Jordanian forces were repulsed and the Temple Mount landed in Israel’s hands. Israel decided to retain security of the Mount, but handed back to Jordan the administration of the Islamic structures on the Mount. The Jordanian Muslim Waqf limits Jewish access to the Temple Mount to certain days and times of the week and bans Jewish prayer and Bibles there. Muslims often throw stones at Jews who enter the Temple Mount. Recently their stockpile of weapons included Molotov cocktails. Jews who would like to see the Temple rebuilt have demonstrated over the limited access and attacks by Muslims.

Tensions on the Temple Mount have reached high levels. Scores of Palestinian religious leaders, both Muslims and Christians, have signed a declaration stating that Jews have no right to enter the Temple Mount. On the anniversary of the destruction of the two Jewish Holy Temples in Jerusalem, Tisha B’Av, an Israeli Arab lawmaker insisted in a radio interview that neither ever existed.

However, the Temple Institute now has everything ready to build a Temple and expects to be able to do so. Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John indicate clearly in Scripture that a third Temple will be built. We seem to be so close to that time, but with the present tensions it is hard to see how that could possibly come about. The Temple Mount is the third holiest site for Muslims. Can you imagine them allowing the Jews to build a Jewish Temple there? Nevertheless, a Temple will be built.

Israel will confirm some covenant involving the Antichrist which will lead to a period of false peace. John Haller of the Fellowship Bible Chapel believes that the nuclear deal which is due to go into formal effect 90 days from the 20th July, may lead up to this. Iran got all it wanted out of the nuclear deal, but it poses an existential threat to Israel. Israeli PM Netanyahu understands clearly Iran’s plans to destroy Israel. The Iranian leadership believes that it must create a catastrophe to bring back their Mahdi, and is developing nuclear weapons to help it do this. The nuclear deal will not prevent it from doing so. Russia is now helping them too.

Israel may only have a short time period in which to destroy or set back Iran’s crazy plans, as in the nuclear deal Obama has agreed to supply Iran with a defence system to protect its nuclear sites from attack. The Iranian leadership says that even if half of Iran is destroyed, Allah still wins.

Israel has done miraculous feats in the past, including destroying nuclear facilities and a daring rescue of Jewish hostages. Israel has also been rehearsing for an attack coming from three fronts. If Israel’s existence is threatened, they will give everything they have and UN resolutions or anything else will not stop them. Even if the nuclear deal does not lead to an attack by Israel and a devastating war in the Middle East, it will still take some seismic change in the Middle East to build a Temple on the Temple Mount. Somehow, Muslim opposition must be put down. When this happens, we can only marvel at the truth of God’s Word.

NEWS BRIEFS

Hillsong Church in New York City, which attracts over 7,000 worshippers every week, now has an openly homosexual pair leading the choir during worship services. They are planning a wedding for some time in 2016. The pastor is Carl Lentz who has a half-shaved head, ripped jeans and tattoos.

More than 1.5 million people are expected for the Mass with Pope Francis in Philadelphia in September during the World Meeting of Families. Some of the speakers listed include Cardinal Tagle of Manila, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Scott Hahn, Rick Warren and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Underlining the ecumenical and interfaith element of the meeting, Archbishop Chaput said 30 percent of the speakers would be non-Catholic. The Vatican continues to look for compromisers in the evangelical church and Rick Warren of Saddleback has been an easy target.

Darlene Zschech, who has published many popular worship albums, is calling for her followers to unite with Roman Catholics. Her most popular Christian hymn has been “Shout to the Lord.” Recently, she performed on stage as a headliner at the Vatican’s Renewal of the Holy Spirit rally. On her Facebook page she said she was honoured to be singing with Pope Francis and thousands of worshippers gathering in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican. “This is a celebration of unity and peace in the Renewal of the Holy Spirit. Amazing days for the Body of Christ.”

In the US, a Planned Parenthood executive admits in an undercover video that her doctors alter abortion procedures and she manipulates prices to accommodate specific foetal tissue harvesting requests – including delivering fully intact foetuses – though doing so may violate federal law.

A Tory MP has argued that Christian teachers who tell pupils that gay marriages are “wrong” should have anti-terror banning orders used against them. Mark Spencer has called on Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs), which were introduced by the Government to crack down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists, to be used to stop children being taught that same-sex marriage is a sin.

Some Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State sought safety and freedom in America. But instead of being welcomed in as religious refugees, they were arrested and sent to a San Diego prison. A Syrian archbishop said the United States’ reluctance to offer asylum to persecuted Christians is ‘unjust’ and appealed for help withstanding Islamic militants fighting to root out their faith.

In Boston, a school district has apologised to parents after children were taken to a mosque to learn about the architecture but ended up being given a lecture about Muhammad. In Tennessee, students were taken to a mosque and given copies of the Qur’an. A student who opted out of the trip was given a worksheet that alleged Muslims treated their conquered people better than the US treated minorities.

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