On Sunday, Oct. 6th, our church will start a weekly evening worship service (5-6 pm)! Why come? Here’s a great reason:
I saw this article (HT: Christian Daily Reporter) - which includes these quotes: “Xi Jinping’s Quotes Replace the Ten Commandments in Churches” and “Implementing its ultimate goal of becoming the sole deity revered in China, the CCP [Communist Party of China] continues to smother the Christian doctrine, replaces it with the party line.” And if congregations don’t conform?
[S]ome Three-Self churches [have] been shut down for not implementing the government’s demand to replace the Ten Commandments with the president’s quotes. Some congregations have been threatened to be blacklisted by the government, meaning that their travels will be restricted and schooling and future employment of their offspring will be impeded if they refused to overhaul their churches according to the current national policies. Disobeying the orders means opposition to the Communist Party, officials claimed.
I listened to a great podcast a few days ago: Jonathon Van Maren interviewing Kristen Jenson, author of “Good Pictures Bad Pictures,” a book helping parents porn-proof their kids. I highly recommend the interview for all parents.
Kristen Jenson actually has two versions of the book: one for older kids and one for younger kids (aged 3-6). We plan to use the appropriate versions for all our kids. The church has also purchased copies and are available for all the parents to borrow.
This story is so sad (here and here). The pro-abortionists have a monopoly on using violence to silence those with whom they disagree. The most vulnerable and weak in our society are those babies in the womb who can’t defend themselves or speak up for themselves. Medical imaging and scientific advances increasingly show that human life begins at conception.
May God open eyes, change hearts, defend the innocent, and oppose the violent.
“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” - Psalm 139:13-14
I mentioned about a month ago that the Church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the world. Apparently such growth is not very welcome news to the government. “Iran Violently Arrests 8 Christians.”
Here’s an interesting article explaining how a “hymn sung by Christian groups participating in the ongoing anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong has caught on and become the quasi anthem of the movement.”
Alarmed by reports of police brutality, many church groups galvanized to participate in peace protests, calling on the authorities to stop the violence.
Their presence on the front lines of the protests were helpful in making the demonstrations look more like an outdoor worship service rather than the “organized riots” the government said it had to crack down on to bring back law and order.
I saw this great story and shared it on Facebook yesterday. According to this article, the fastest growing Evangelical church in the world is in Iran; the second fastest is in Afghanistan. The article gives a couple of reasons why (discontent with violence in the name of Islam; evangelism in the face of persecution) and shares a few stories of the conversions.
In our church Sunday School class, we’ve been going through a great book looking at what are called the imprecatory psalms - those psalms in which the psalmist prayed for God’s justice to come against the wicked.
Here is an example of a pastor who just prayed such a prayer in the state of Illinois’ House of Representatives:
“God, we have made our appeals to the leaders of Illinois this week on behalf of those innocent babies who do not yet have a voice. We have been a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves as You have commanded us,” Musgrave stated. “Those appeals were denied, but we have one final appeal left and that is to the courts of Heaven.”
“God Almighty, I make an appeal to Heaven today, to You the perfect judge, the One who presides over Heaven’s court. I ask you to rise up, O God, and judge Illinois for the sanctioned destruction of the innocent unborn,” he said. “For when Your judgments are in this state, the inhabitants of Illinois learn righteousness.”
Here is a good & interesting article about famous atheist Christopher Hitchens exploring Christianity before his death, entitled: “Atheist hero Christopher Hitchens studied Bible before his death, Christian friends reveal.”
Here’s a good article about the very differing tactics of the pro-life vs. pro-choice activists in Canada: “How can you tell it’s a pro-abortion protest? Nudity and middle fingers.” Especially sad is that an MP from Ontario joined in the name-calling. Van Maren’s observations match our own experience advertising a pro-life meeting.
A UK government report finds that “Christians are the most persecuted religious group.”
“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”
The issue has been avoided by the government “partly because of political correctness.”
So, we want to introduce a new psalm at church. We listed one a few days ago. But we’ve got two more songs to choose from. Which of the three is most singable?
In my last sermon (Apr. 28th), I mentioned what was happening with a church in China called Early Rain Covenant Church. Here is a good summary of the church and its situation. And updates are available here.
Here’s a great new song that we hope to start singing at church - Psalm 8 by My Soul Among Lions:
From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Duty of Hearkening to God’s Voice”:
The most assured Christians are commonly those that turned to God in their youth; they find, as it were, a heaven upon earth. They have the pleasure of thinking that they, for their parts, have given God the best of their days, their youth, their strength, the bloom of their life, and have for God’s sake resisted the temptations of youth, and those violent lusts and temptations which are most powerful then, of any time. This is an acceptable sacrifice to God, and he graciously rewards it with abundance of joy and comfort, and much assurance–which late converts seldom attain to, but rather travail all their lives’ time with bitter reflections on their having given the best of their days to the devil. (Yale Works, vol. 10, p. 447)
From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Nakedness of Job”:
Almost every man will doubtless say that, if they knew they should lose all their great estate and be deprived entirely of all their outward prosperity, as Job was, they would entertain no thought of striving and laying themselves out for a great estate in the world, seeing they must certainly in this manner be deprived of it, and they know not how soon….
Perhaps, when you read the history of Job, you read it as a strange thing that happened but once in the world; but, for the time to come, read it as a thing that happens daily, and frequently, for every man at death is as much deprived of all his worldly goods as Job was. The great men in the world, as kings, princes, and lords, when they die are as much deprived of all their outward prosperity as Job was: ‘tis lost at once, and gone forever, never to be possessed more. Job’s losses came indeed sudden, and in a little time one messenger came after another in a very strange manner, but the dying man is deprived of all his external prosperity and world good at once, at one breath, even his last breath. This history of Job is only a shadow of death; it is no more than happens to every man in the world. (Yale Works, vol. 10, pp. 403-404)
From Jonathan Edwards’ great sermon, “Glorious Grace” (when he was only 19!):
The mercy of God is that attribute which we, the fallen, sinful race of Adam, stand in greatest need of, and God has been pleased, according to our needs, more gloriously to manifest this attribute than any other. The wonders of divine grace are the greatest of all wonders. The wonders of divine power and wisdom in the making of this great world are marvelous; other wonders of his justice in punishing sin are wonderful; many wonderful things have happened since the creation of the world, but none like the wonders of grace. “Grace, grace!” is the sound that the gospel rings with, “Grace, grace!” will be that shout which will ring in heaven forever; and perhaps what the angels sung at the birth of Christ, of God’s good will towards men, is the highest theme that ever they entered upon…
No less than salvation and eternal glory are the fruits of this grace of the gospel; adoption, union with Christ, communion with God, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the heavenly happiness, the pleasure of the eternal paradise, the new Jerusalem, the glorious and triumphant resurrection of the body, and an everlasting reign with Christ in the height of glory, and pleasure and happiness: no less than these are the effects of this marvelous grace. (Yale Works, vol. 10, pp. 390, 396)