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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Price Tower, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
"The tree that escaped the crowded forest."
Do any of our readers know what is distinct about this building?
Inform us if you know and we will provide the answer in tomorrow's message!

"Remembering The Persecuted Church"

Note: We are in the Midwest visiting family and friends and attending three family gatherings in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Last night Brooksyne enjoyed a gathering of friends (mostly former neighbors) from her Elementary years. We do not expect the messages will be daily during this time but depending on our schedule, internet connection and so forth we hope to post several along the way. Due to travel we will not be preparing the daily podcast.

Message Summary: Today help us all to remember the persecuted church around the world. Let us, like Peter, hear and heed the words Christ spoke, "Follow me." We are all called to follow. Let's do it, regardless of the cost! Are you prepared to be an 'N' Christian?

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"'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, 'Follow me'" (John 21:18,19).

Voice Of The Martyrs exit signYesterday we toured "The Voice Of The Martyrs" headquarters in Bartlesville Oklahoma. For many years we have appreciated this ministry that calls attention to and assists victims of persecution all around the world. We'll share some photos from our visit with additional notes below today's message.

The photo to the right is visible as you depart from the "Voice Of The Martyrs" property. It would be a good sign for all of us to remember the persecuted.
It is a regular practice in our home to remember but it's also easy to get caught up in our own "stuff" and simply forget. We often remember them when we express thanks to God and count our blessings.

N Christian markingWe read this on their website: "In northern Iraq, radical Muslims (ISIS) spray-painted the Arabic letter ن, or “N” on the homes and businesses of Christians. (Such as seen on the photo.) The ن stands for Nasara or Nazarenes, a pejorative Arabic word for Christians. The property owners were publicly identified as Christ-followers and given a choice to convert to Islam, leave or die. The courageous believers refused to deny their faith, and more than 100,000 fled with little more than the clothes on their backs."

Our daily text is the final recorded personal exchange between Christ and Peter prior to Christ's ascension to heaven. Jesus told Peter how he was going to die.

I wonder how Jesus' blunt and detailed revelation of truth might have affected Peter. Here he is, gloriously restored after his ignominious denial. He's ready to take on the world. But our Lord's final words to him were in regard to the troubling manner in which he would one day die! Yet Peter went on to live and faithfully minister for Christ another 30 years before he was crucified upside down (as tradition asserts).

Consider how the knowledge of his future death might have crippled him. He could have become an emotional basket case! But there is no hint in his apostolic preaching recorded in Acts or in his two epistles of this being a factor at all. In fact he never mentions it.

I wonder about this when I read the account of his imprisonment in Acts 12. His long-time friend and fellow apostle, James, had just been beheaded and Peter surely knew that Herod was in a killing spree mood. Yet he is soundly sleeping when the angel awakened him for his deliverance. Perhaps he had laid down his head and reasoned, "I'm not old yet so the death Jesus foretold will not take place at this time."

The purpose of this revelation to Peter was that he might know the way in which he would glorify God in his death. Consider people who have glorified God in their death. I'm inspired each time I read of Stephen's bold proclamation of faith at the very time of his stoning. Some of the greatest stories ever passed down are of those who remained faithful in their final hour, whether it was suffering at the hands of other people or suffering from the pain of death. 

When I read their stories I'm all the more determined to remain true no matter the difficulties I might endure before I transition to the other side. It seems to me the right outlook is seeing death as merely God's appointed means of transition from this life to the next. Surely this is a time when we can, as believers, indeed glorify God. Quite frankly as I see current conditions it seems that various types of persecution, and even death hitherto unknown in America, may be coming. Am I prepared to be an 'N' Christian?

Today let us, like Peter, again hear and heed the words Christ spoke, "Follow me." We are all called to follow. Let's do it, regardless of the cost! Are you prepared to be an 'N' Christian?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, help me to determine in my heart that Your words, "Follow Me" will far surpass the importance of any other mission I am called to in my lifetime. Like the words of an old hymn, I am resolved no longer to linger charmed by the world's delights. Things that are higher, things that are nobler these have allured my sight. I pray that my goals, achievements, and ambitions do not conflict with Christ's calling in my life to deny self, take up my cross, and follow Him. I want to build a firm foundation where my faith will grow so that I bring glory to Your name, both in life and in death. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Voice Of The Martyrs Tour

Yesterday we visited the headquarters of the "Voice Of The Martyrs" ministry in Bartlesville, OK.

Voice of the Martyrs tour, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
Our tour guide did an outstanding job of explaining the exhibits.

Voice of the Martyrs wall, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
This wall is on the outside of the building with an inscription for many martyrs.

Chet Bitterman, Voice of the Martyrs wall, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
Chet Bitterman was from Lancaster County.

Dirk Willems, Voice of the Martyrs wall, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
Dirk Willems is well known to the Amish and other ana-Baptist groups. We wrote about him this spring in a message with a similar theme to today's message.

Watchman Nee, Voice of the Martyrs wall, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
Nigel Lee, a Chinese-American friend of ours, is related to Watchman Nee.
Nigel, along with his wife Laifong, are longtime recipients of our daily encouragements.

"Known But To God", Voice of the Martyrs wall, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
The Martyr's wall only has a minuscule fraction of those martyred for Christ. One source states that every five minutes around the world a Christian is killed for their faith.

Richard Wurmbrand quote
We were inspired by the powerful quotes of the founder of the ministry who himself was persecuted.

Voice of the Martyrs display, Bartlesville OK 8/2/17
The exhibition area has many remarkable photos such as this actual example of persecution in Vietnam. The soldier with the baton is apprehending the man with his back turned. Some scenes in the display area are too graphic to share such as this one which is sobering.

Brooksyne with PK 8/3/17
This morning we had a colorful and joyful 72 year old petite server who was vibrant in sharing her faith, including singing "Everybody Ought to Know Who Jesus Is" while she worked! She referred to Brooksyne as Sunshine when she came to join me at breakfast since she sees the wife as sunshine to her husband. Brooksyne is wearing a shirt we each purchased yesterday at the Voice Of The Martyrs with a thought-provoking message. We will share more of what's on this shirt tomorrow!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Voice Of The Martyrs

"We Stand As One"  Video   Greg Sykes  This is a powerful song used in the introductory video for our tour at "Voice Of The Martyrs" yesterday.

Some additional "Voice of the Martyrs" articles and videos:

"I Am N" Description of N Christians

"I Am N"  Video 

"Sacrifice"  Video 

Persecution Blog

Finally today:

Bartlesville Oklahoma is a small city about 50 miles north of Tulsa.

Home of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips 66 Oil, Bartlesville, OK 8/2/17
Home of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips 66.

Bartlesville painted buffalo 8/2/17
In our area painted cows are popular but Bartlesville has lots of painted Buffalo!

Eagle on Oklahoma Wesleyan University campus 8/2/17
Leaving Bartlesville we saw a sign for Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I am not sure I ever paid much attention to this university till I read a short blog article by Dr. Everett Piper, the college president, titled, "This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!  (A great read in light of the craziness going on at so many campuses including Christian ones!!!) May the Lord give us more leadership like this in Christian circles!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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