We Dwell in a Fiery Furnance

We dwell in a fiery furnace, but we do not bow the knee.

Consider the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Daniel 3:1-30; the three having been previously mentioned in Daniel 1:1-20 and 2:48-49).  These three young men survived the fiery furnace because there stood in their midst a fourth “like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25 KJV).

There stands in our midst the Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we shall not be burned…and not even the smell of smoke shall cling to our clothes (Daniel 3:27).

When the king of Babylon and his servants demand that we worship the image they have set up (Daniel 3:14-15), we respond:

“[W]e do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
–  Daniel 3:16-18

Open your eyes, O child of God, and recognize that we now live in Babylon, and that we are daily – and increasingly – being asked to worship falsehoods.  Rather, it is being demanded of us to worship falsehoods.  Yet the God of truth will be with us…if we will remain true to Him.

Though we dwell in a fiery furnace, we will not bow the knee.

The State of Religious Liberty in America

The video below was recorded Thursday, February 25, 2016 at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee.  It was one of the sessions held at the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, this year called Proclaim 16.

Although I was familiar with most of the information presented in this hour-long panel discussion, it still struck me with great force.  There were three reasons for this impact: 1) religious liberty in America has reached a twilight stage, 2) the three protagonists on the panel are such profiles in courage, and 3) it made me think of all the other tee shirt makers, pharmacists, florists, and workers from other occupations who are suffering real loss in life for the name of our Savior but about whom there are no videos.

If this issue of religious liberty has not yet touched your life, it will.  I hope you will find an hour to watch this video (56:46).  We can be light for the Lord in this cultural moment, but only if we understand how dark things have truly become.  Please give your greatest attention to Greg Stormans (the grocery store owner from Olympia, Washington), Blaine Adamson (the tee shirt maker from Lexington, Kentucky), and Barronelle Stutzman (the florist from Richland, Washington).  Also, the lawyer Kristen Waggoner speaks quite eloquently on their behalf.

Christian Father in PakistanTortured for Refusing to Deny Christ 

Excerpt:

A Pakistani man refuses to renounce Christ despite being tortured by Muslim co-workers who tried to convert him to Islam.

Patras Hanif, a construction worker and father of five, was targeted because of his Christian faith. His co-workers tried to pressure him into converting, even threatening false blasphemy charges.

“They very often called me ‘kafir,’ which means unfaithful, and they threatened me that they would resort to false accusations of blasphemy if I refused to convert to Islam,” Hanif told Fides News Agency. “A blasphemy charge in Pakistan is very serious and usually results in the death penalty.”

(2-minute read; 385 words)

Source: Christian Father Tortured for Refusing to Deny Christ — Charisma News

Blessed is David Daleiden, and Woe to the Nation That Persecutes Him

Opening paragraph:

A grand jury convened to investigate whether a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic had sold the organs of aborted fetuses on Monday cleared the clinic and instead indicted the undercover videographers behind the allegations, surprising the officials who called for the probe and delighting supporters of the women’s health organization.

This latest development in the Planned Parenthood scandal is not merely wrong – it is bizarrely and cruelly wrong.  By this logic, the person who calls the police to report that a crime is taking place can be prosecuted for committing the crime.

Planned Parenthood, with the complicity of the mainstream media, has continued to deny what is obvious to anyone who has watched the Daleidon videos: that Planned Parenthood negotiated the price of body parts it was selling.  The claim that the videos are “heavily-edited” is ridiculous given that the full unedited videos were posted at the same time as the shorter versions – a degree of disclosure that mainstream media do not achieve in their own undercover work.  (How often does 60 Minutes post the full unedited versions of its exposes?)

God cannot continue to protect a nation that will prosecute and persecute its truth tellers, but He will honor the David Daleiden’s of this world.

(4 minute-read; 1,076 words)

Source: Planned Parenthood cleared, but 2 indicted over videos – Houston Chronicle

German Refugee Camps Prove Dangerous for Christians

An asylum is supposed to be a place of protection.  Yet Muslim migrants are threatening Christian migrants in German asylum centers.  Here’s an excerpt of the article:

 It appears that little progress is being made in protecting the Christians, as many are still suffering brutal attacks and some have even returned to the Middle East.  Daniil wrote: “Many Christians who came from the Middle East are suffering from such a strong harassment that they want to come back home, because their situation there seems to them a lesser evil as compared to the circumstances at German refugee accommodation centers.”  Others, particularly converts from Islam who face an increased threat of violent attacks, have taken to sleeping outside the centres rather than access their food and shelter, he said.

Adding insult to injury, the German government apparently will not help these Christians because they are Christians but would be willing to help them if they were homosexuals:

Meanwhile a British Home Office Minister has told a Catholic Peer that the government will not discriminate on grounds of religion when helping refugees from Iraq and Syria.  Lord Alton wrote to both the Home Office and the Prime Minister expressing concern over the government’s policy of taking in Muslims from “formal camps” along the border of Syria while ignoring displaced Christians — most of whom are not living in such camps thanks to the threat of persecution — and cited the government’s willingness to prioritise gay people as a vulnerable group. A “total annihilation” of Christians was underway in the region, he said.  Home Office Minister Lord Bates responded to his pleas with a letter informing him that the government would not “discriminate” on the grounds of religion. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, is yet to reply.

(2-minute read; 552 words)

Source: Christians ‘Frequently’ Suffer ‘Injuries and Threats of Death’ in German Asylum Centres – Breitbart

While we are enjoying Christmas, Christians in China are being hounded 

This excerpt reveals why China’s Communist Party is renewing its coercive power against Christians:

Foreign scholars estimate that there are 67 million to 100 million Christians in China — compared with 87 million Communist Party cadres. Yang estimates that China will be home to 250 million Christians by 2030. Evangelical Protestants…are the fastest-growing group.

The least we can do is remember their suffering and thank God for their witness to the truth.

How much worse would China be without the true Christ followers in its midst?  You can find an answer to this question by looking at ISIS.

(5-min read; 1,196 words)

Source: Christians in China feel full force of authorities’ repression – The Washington Post

The Stormans Family and Kristen Waggoner Are Americans Worth Admiring

From the YouTube caption:

The Stormans family has been in the small-town grocery business for over 75 years [Ralph’s grocery store]. Well-known throughout their Olympia, Washington community for their kindness and hospitality, the family now faces the potential of having to close its doors after the Washington State Board of Pharmacy banned religiously motivated referrals, which allow pro-life pharmacists to refer customers to other nearby pharmacies to obtain abortifacients.

It’s hard to believe things like this are happening, right under our noses – that is, people being deprived of a livelihood because their Christian convictions will not allow them to obey the current secular orthodoxy.  Very, very sobering.

It’s all the more upsetting when you realize that it’s not as if the customers who want abortifacients have no other means of getting them.  Ralph’s pharmacy has no monopoly in Olympia.  There are many pharmacies where these abortion-inducing drugs can be purchased.  And it’s not enough that the store has already lost 25% of its business – the store and its pharmacists must be forced to find new livelihoods when there is no public benefit other than society’s satisfaction in making Christians do what is morally repugnant or them to do.

This video, produced by Alliance Defending Freedom, also profiles attorney Kristen Waggoner of that organization.  She, too, is having to pay a price for her convictions.

This video clip (10:51) is titled “Kindred Spirits” – which is certainly what Waggoner and the Stormans are.  May we be kindred spirits with them.

 

The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and Why So Little of It Gets Reported

I’ve written before on the persecution of Christians outside the U.S. and how little of it is being reported to us.  Just browse the “Persecution” category to the right to see some of the post titles.

Today, I offer this 22-minute podcast by Terry Mattingly and Todd Wilken of GetReligion.org (“The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East“), which does a highly-commendable job of explaining why such news is hard for us to get.

I commend it highly because it give a fair-minded answer to this question.  It’s not simply a matter of the media blacking out news about Christians, though the general bias against biblical Christianity in society today is certainly part of the answer.

It’s a very informative 22 minutes.