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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stone house in Strasburg, PA
Stone house in Strasburg, PA

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"Being Hated"

"All men will hate you because of Me" (Luke 21:17).  "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18,19).  "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13).

Awhile back I read an editorial cartoon from a newspaper.  In the first panel the cartoon showed a thoughtful, respectful looking man in a suit pondering with this caption: "It's a central question in the abortion debate:  When does life begin?  At conception?  At birth?"

The next panel shows the same man dressed in camouflage as a wild-eyed sniper smirking, "I know when it ends."  He is wearing buttons that declare "I Love Life" and "Right To Snipe".  It was another cheap effort from the secularized view point to characterize the view of Christians as violent extremists which I earnestly believe will contribute to future persecution for the believer.

It wasn't long ago that a popular entertainer said, "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam." That's an astonishing statement and has been repeated often by others in the media.  It is one more indication of the direction our culture is headed and the world's increasingly hateful attitude toward followers of Christ.

I am quite certain that I would be considered a radical Christian by those who made the above statement and that's just fine by me.  Indeed I am a radical Christian in the sense of commitment, seriousness and being sold out to the cause of Christ. I take the words of my Lord and the Bible seriously and seek to obey them.

Actually I don't think I'm nearly as radical as I should be based upon what I read in the New Testament and the complete surrender to Christ that we are called to make. In complete honesty, I'm still holding on to this world more than I should.  I am certainly not as radical as scores of my dedicated brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are really paying a price for following Christ and experiencing the hatred of the world.

"All men will hate you because of me" is a statement made by our Lord Jesus Christ found in all three of the synoptic gospels.  Have you ever thought much about it?  Actually we have lived most of our lives during a time of religious freedom and forbearance.  Few reading this actually know what it means to be hated by the world.  But that is rapidly changing.

I don't want to be hated. I want to be loved and accepted by everyone or at least as many as possible. I certainly don't want to intentionally offend, but I do want to be true to my call in faithfully proclaiming the Name of Jesus Christ to a dying world as I uphold Biblical standards of morality.

In the second daily text the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to His disciples just prior to his death. These final instructions in John's gospel are among the most familiar portions of God's Word. Many of us who have followed Christ for any length of time have memorized some verses from John 13-17. This portion is a sea of red in my red-letter reference Bible (which places the words of Christ in red type).

Dominant culture shows an increasing disdain for Jesus Christ and His serious followers. This expression of our Christian faith is increasingly being called radical and perceived as dangerous by the world system.

One distressing area of accommodation in which I see this is when believers seek to find acceptance with the world and avoid offense by eliminating what seems to be the greatest source of offense; the Name of Jesus Christ.

Join me this day in boldly and unashamedly proclaiming the Name of Jesus Christ! And as we do so quite frankly we must prepare to be increasingly hated.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Lord, You know the spiritual pulse of our hearts.  The allurement to go with the popular and trendy way of thinking is ever before us.  This is especially true since we're barraged with these kinds of messages each day. Some of our readers are subjected daily to these same messages in their own families.  Help us to be intentional in taking a bold stand as we go against the waves of humanism and false religious systems.  May our love and devotion to You rise up and overtake any fear or intimidation that would paralyze our witness in settings where Your name is not revered.  We love You, Jesus, and since we no longer belong to this world we will never find a comfortable place here.  Give us grace and endurance to be a faithful witness in this world even when hated and maligned by others.  Amen.

Mike & Kathy Matangelo
Last night our longtime friends Mike and Kathy Matangelo, along with their daughter Tina, stopped by and spent the night at our place. We met the Matangelos 32 years ago when we started a church in northern PA.  They were in the first service and became a vital part of our church impacting many for Christ and they continue to be a vital part of our lives. They now live in the Hickory, North Carolina area where Mike is a Realtor. Apart from being very active in their local church they are both involved in a prison mentoring program known as Yokefellow Prison Ministry.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"All I Once Held Dear (Knowing You)"  Video  Robin Mark

"Be Thou My Vision"  Video  4Him

"Before The Throne Of God Above"  Video  Selah

PS: Here's a response I submitted to the paper concerning the tasteless editorial cartoon mentioned in the first paragraph (they only allowed a short response): "As a pro-life minister I am deeply insulted by the mindless editorial cartoon in the Daily Gazette implying that the pro-life movement is behind clinic shootings or other acts of violence. The leadership in the mainstream pro-life movement has uniformly condemned these acts of violence and such perpetrators in no way represent the movement. SCW 

If you sense a certain passion in the encouragement message today you are absolutely correct. Let me recommend a book that really clarifies this issue; "The Name" by Franklin Graham. (In fact just doing a search to verify the information about this book revealed the disdain held for Christ's Name and message.) The other current threat is syncretism, which is "the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing, principles, practices or parties as in philosophy or religion. (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.)

Thoughtful links on worldview issues and apologetics related to today's message:
Just yesterday I received this insightful article titled "Back To The Oppressive Future" by Dr. Robert Gagnon, a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary concerning another front. (pdf)
Probe Ministries 
Christian Information Ministries
Leadership University 
Stand to Reason

Here's the testimony of a daily encouragement reader who has suffered persecution.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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