Archive for the ‘FREEDOM’ Category
By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
Over the last several years since Lighthouse Trails began, we have been contacted by many who love the Lord and were struggling with great challenges: Some were ostracized by their churches, which had gone Purpose Driven, contemplative, or emerging; some had division in their families; some had financial concerns; and others were worried about health issues – whether their own or that of loved ones. Beyond all of this, many have expressed a sense of uncertainty or foreboding of what the future will bring.
The Bible indicates that in the last days perilous times shall come. And for those of you who have read our review article of The Harbinger, you may remember that our conclusion is that by all indications America is racing toward judgment. Researching for and writing that article quickened to me the realization that something serious or catastrophic could easily come to our country, and we are unprepared. Whether it be nuclear attack, economic collapse, or natural disasters, America appears to be getting only closer to that day.
I know that for the average American (including the American Christian) the idea that mighty America could stumble and fall simply does not register. After all, how could a loving God bring calamity on a nation that has stood so tall for so long? But in considering this, we can see that it is not God who has rejected us but our nation that has continually rejected Him. A case in point is a pastor in a small Oregon town who shared with me how occasionally his church would be permitted to hold an assembly at the local public high school, but one day the mayor approached him and said, “If you even mention God at the assembly, I will have you out of here so fast . . .” But what is a pastor supposed to talk about if he cannot talk about God? Yet, what is even more grievous than our lost freedom is that so many churches have become apostate as they welcome immorality, mystical practices, and false doctrines while often viewing the atonement as outdated and dogmatic.
When judgment comes upon America, it will not be because of a hateful God entertaining Himself with calamity but rather because we, as a nation, have brought judgment upon ourselves. While this nation has a heritage of many who, through great personal sacrifice and a love for God, invited God into the affairs of our nation (and our nation has known prosperity and peace on all our borders) we forget that these blessings all came from God. Now that we have pushed God aside and booted Him out of the country, we have also booted out the blessings and protection we have long known.
None of us really knows what our nation will become if judgment befalls us, but frankly, I feel much more ominous about how corrupt and lawless it will become if God does not judge us. While the call to repentance has been going out for decades now, things have clearly only gotten worse. And while churches are beginning to muster up for national “repentance” and “revival,” God has already moved on to the next step. It is a true saying that those who have sown to the wind will only reap the whirlwind.
Unfortunately, there is much apathy when it comes to warnings of judgment or cataclysmic events. While many prosperity prophets tickle the ears of those who want a soft feel-good gospel, others, in contrast, give warnings of such horrendous proportions (even offering specific dates) of events that could annihilate vast portions of the planet; the net result is that many are being conditioned into indifference.
When perilous events will come, be it judgment or persecution, will we as Christians be ready for it? Such changes can come very rapidly and seemingly overnight; ask Anita Dittman or Diet Eman (Lighthouse Trails’ two Holocaust-survivor authors) if this is not true. They know; they saw it firsthand. Jesus said that men’s hearts would fail from fear of seeing the events happening around them (Luke 21:26). In Luke 21 and Matthew 24, Jesus gives a basic outline of the peril that will precede His return; He did not give specific calendar dates of what will happen, but He did teach us (as do the apostles and prophets) how we can be ready to face the future.
I’m sure we have all seen the ill effects that fear and worry can have on a person’s life, both spiritually and physically. Fear and worry, over an extended period of time, stagnates one spiritually, cripples one emotionally, and breaks one down physically. The enemy (Satan) uses fear whenever possible to thwart the progress of Christians and to promote his agenda. Whole societies have been controlled through fear. When we consider what happened in Nazi Germany, it’s true that great numbers were mesmerized by a charismatic leader with a demonic anointing, but overall he was able to rule the country through fear. Today, we already see the reemergence of fear and intimidation both in our politics and in many churches where fundamental Christianity is marginalized, if not villainized, while immorality and corruption is given special sanctions and promotion.
How can a Christian believer stand under this kind of pressure we see today? Fear is already at work eroding the values we have long held sacred. In many churches, just the pressure to remain popular or contemporary is enough to introduce Yoga and mind-altering meditation (formerly called an occultic practice but today repackaged as “contemplative prayer”) into our churches.
Will the Christians who are still holding back from this landslide of compromised Christianity eventually cower and be absorbed into the system? Will we, like Judas, proceed to give Jesus a kiss while undermining everything He taught? Or, will we like Peter deny that we even know Him? The fact is Jesus is being betrayed and denied on a massive scale today by proclaiming Christians through their embracing of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, which has an underlying message of rejecting the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s the worst kind of betrayal.
Fear is not something you can merely put the brakes on – like pressing a pedal in your car. Peter, who so adamantly insisted to Jesus that he would never deny Him even unto death did so three times in the course of one night. How then does one stem the tide of fear (and worry) in his own life?
Over a period of three years, Jesus taught His disciples how to live without being overcome by fear and worry. On one occasion, He told them:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)
Jesus said all of this after having just said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment. . . . Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matthew 6:25, 27).
Now let me explain what I believe Jesus meant and did not mean by these passages. First of all, in saying what He did about taking no thought for our lives, I do not think Jesus was advocating for personal neglect or for unpreparedness. On a personal note, Deborah and I have always been advocates for preparedness. Let me give an example. Back in 1999, we helped organize the Y2K task force in our hometown. During that year, we helped many families in our community learn how to be prepared for disaster (not just Y2K). Then, when nothing significant happened on New Year’s Day, some mocked what we had done. I heard one well-known Christian leader say, after the fact, on his radio program that he had known all along that nothing was going to happen, and that those who had prepared were a bunch of idiots. As I listened to him speak, I wondered why during the year prior, when technical experts and those considered computer savvy were giving out warnings about computer crashes, that this leader with a public forum had not raised a voice to counter the efforts at preparedness. Be it as it may, our involvement with Y2K was not really about a catastrophe happening on a specific calendar date, but for us it was a wake-up call in realizing that our society has become so dependent on the local supermarket and our power grid that most would have scarcely enough food, water, and fuel to last only a few days even in a small-scale crisis. A case in point happened about a year ago in the town I was in when some teenagers were seen playing around the city-water site. The authorities then became concerned that the water could have been tampered with and instructed the townspeople not to drink, cook, or bathe in that water until it was tested. Needless to say, the bottled water in the grocery stores disappeared from the shelves by that afternoon. And this was not even a big scare, and the water proved to be safe.
Jesus’ words about the lilies of the field were a much-needed exhortation to trust God in all aspects of our lives. At the same time, however, Jesus was talking to an agrarian people who knew and practiced preparedness as they utilized their skills in growing and properly storing food for the winter. If this were not true, Solomon would not have praised the ordinary ant in saying, “consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Personally, I think it is an embarrassment to our federal government that they would go so far as to vilify people who harvest and store their food for the winter as “hoarders” when this has been common practice in the world practically from the beginning of man until now.
If you have followed our ministry for any length of time then you know that we have never yet talked about preparedness. Yet in by-gone days, it used to be a very normal task for people to cut firewood, tend the livestock, and plant or harvest the fields; so while it is not my intention to get into a lengthy discussion on the practical matters of life, let me say in passing that it would not hurt to consider the situations in which we live. While many of us may be locked into situations or locations that make change nearly impossible, it doesn’t hurt, if you have the opportunity, to consider what would be best for you and your family in the future. Especially if you live in a highly populated city, it does not take much imagination to think of the crime and looting that could ensue after a serious power failure or disaster.
Now, having said all this, let’s return to the words of Jesus when He said that we should take no thought for our lives. The fact is, we are only as safe as the Lord enables us to be. Hence, regardless of our situation in life, our only real option for safety is to place our lives and our futures in the hands of the Lord. While it would be wise to make whatever practical measures we can for the future, none of us are immune from disaster, loss, or theft. To be truly prepared to face the future means above all to be spiritually prepared – and that means having a right relationship with the Lord.
Now is the time for Christians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). In other words, like the athlete set out to run a race, we need to strip off any excess baggage that would hinder us from giving the Lord our very best. God’s overwhelming desire for us is that we walk with Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30).
I would like to finish with some thoughts about what it means to walk in God’s peace.
First of all, let me say that just as the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), it is also the avenue to peace with God: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
All of us who have entered into union with God through believing the Gospel – namely that Jesus purchased our salvation fully through His death on the Cross – have God’s peace available to us. Today, it seems that many proclaiming Christians do not really have a sense of God’s peace (which I believe is why so many are turning to contemplative prayer and other mystical practices), and I am fully persuaded it is because they have become removed from the simplicity of the Gospel. The modern-day church leadership has left today’s Christian with a sense of insufficiency of the Gospel and has instead presented an array of substitutes to include such things as relaxation exercises, breath prayers, lectio divina, yoga, and contemplative prayer all with an empty promise of delivering peace and God’s presence when in fact the Gospel is all sufficient for that purpose. Through the Gospel, Jesus opened the door of salvation, promising to live (abide) in us: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) and “hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).
As we live by faith, we will enjoy the benefits of God’s peace. And as I mentioned earlier, when Jesus pointed out that we should take no thought for our lives, He indicated that our lives should be free of fear and worry. God wants us to strive for this goal and attain it as well. Jesus then ended His statements with the clause, “O ye of little faith” (Matthew 6:30). In other words, our freedom from fear and worry are only available to us as we allow our faith and trust in the Lord to grow. A perfect example of this is where Jesus, while walking on the water, welcomed Peter to come out and meet Him. Peter, whose life was a mixture of self-confidence and faith, was OK as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but as he turned his eyes to the wind and the waves, that confidence soon left him. It was the same self-confidence that led him to tell Jesus that he would never deny Him only to be dashed later, causing him to weep bitterly. But it was a good thing for Peter that his self-confidence was so utterly dashed because he was later able to become a great hero of the faith as he found he had abundant and sufficient grace through Christ (even to the point where he was able to go to his death for the sake of Christ) as he put his confidence in Jesus alone. In this one illustration of meeting Jesus on the water, we find the secret of faith that enabled Peter to walk in an abiding peace. Isaiah was inspired by this same kind of faith when he penned the words:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
In closing, if we can make ready for the future in practical ways, it would be good to do so. But, above all, we must not neglect spiritual preparedness. We will all need spiritual strength (that only God can give) to face the future. That means drawing strength from God by reading His Word. Then, it means applying that Word to our lives. My prayer is that the words of Scripture, like that from Isaiah 26 above, will be a reality for you and I; but this can only happen as we forsake the phony comforts of this life and trust the Lord to be our strength. Yes, walking through this life can be heartbreaking and terrifying at times, but as we keep our mind stayed on Him, trusting Him, we can walk forward in His peace.
The Bible says that those who trust the Lord shall not be disappointed (Psalm 34:22). As we watch the world falling apart, there really is no other option than to trust the Lord; thus, may our resolve be to trust Him as fully as we can, even though things will not always go the way we want or hope for; but we can be comforted and assured in knowing that for those who “love God” and are “called according to His purpose,” “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). God has His best intentions in mind for us, and He will not be prevented from accomplishing it. One thing that can give us a sense of stability and peace of mind is knowing that even though God allows evil to happen in the world, when we are “sealed” in Christ, He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5: 1-2
by Berit Kjos
“These [World War II soldiers] came here to storm these beaches for one purpose only… to preserve freedom.” Former General Eisenhower remembering D-Day.
“We’re at the beginning of a long process of breaking down the walls of national sovereignty.” Assistant Secretary of State William Benton, 1946.
“The future society will be a totally new civilization which will synthesize the experience of Socialism and Capitalism [the Third Way]…” Mikhail Gorbachev, 1996.
“The Third Way agenda, to which Bill and Hillary Clinton have made a fundamental contribution, is the new agenda of our time.”
“If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.” William Penn
What does the word “freedom” mean in the context of today’s corrupt culture? Amoral license? Liberty to follow feelings rather than facts? A ban on Christian expressions of faith? Mandatory “tolerance” for homosexual lifestyles?
To conform young minds to the vision of global solidarity, pluralism must replace God’s unchanging Truth. So seventh grade World History text books promote Islam and demean Christianity. Social Studies are used to “normalize homosexuality.” And propaganda for “social justice” seems more acceptable than loyalty to our sovereign God — even in churches!  As God warned us long ago,
“…when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them… when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God. … Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods… you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 8:12-14, 17-19
But few heed such warnings in these times of cultural “Christianity.” No wonder we are losing the God-given freedom that helped make America a strong and moral nation.
Roots of Oppression
Back in 1994, Thomas Sowell made an interesting observation. Click here to continue reading.
From the Editors at Christian News Network
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two historic rulings today ruling against Obama’s abortion pill mandate, upholding the right of Christian business owners to refuse to provide contraception drugs that may cause abortion to employees in a 5-4 decision.
What will go down in history as two of the most important rulings that will affect Christian business owners and their businesses for many years to come was decided today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government cannot force owners of closely-owned corporations to provide contraceptive drugs to employees if they hold religious beliefs that oppose them.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the main dissent.
In the 5-4 decision, the majority of the justices ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties which argued against the mandate. Click here to continue reading.
LTRP Note: As we are preparing for the release of our latest book, The Gospel in Bonds by former Soviet religious prisoner and pastor Georgi Vins, we are reminded of this article by Berit Kjos that discusses the danger America is in of becoming another socialist, Marxist-type government. We must keep in mind, that whether it is Islamic terrorism, communism and Marxism, or mystical spirituality and the New Age, Satan has an agenda throughout the world to deceive man into thinking his way is better than God’s way. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope for any person. Let us, as believers, work to defend this Gospel message and to help keep its integrity and purity intact. And as we have learned from stories like Pastor Vins, even if we lose our freedom and must be imprisoned for our faith, we cannot be separated from our Lord.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 35, 38-39)
By Kjos Ministries
An article in the Russian Pravda titled “American capitalism gone with a whimper” has been spreading a somber view of America. Unlike it’s old Soviet-era namesake, this new Pravda may actually be telling the truth. Most of this message can be verified, as you will see in the links and facts that follow these excerpts:
“…the American descent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple…. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was…. Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.
“First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture…. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their ‘right’ to choke down a McDonald’s burger… than for their constitutional rights….
“Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches… were for the most part little more than Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more than happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the ‘winning’ side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another….
“The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. … His spending and money printing has been record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more than another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe….
“These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more than a whimper to their masters.
“The proud American will go down into his slavery without a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.”
We have listed many of these transnational power-brokers in “A Chronology of the Revolutionary Roots of the UN.” Some are obvious participants in the seventy-year-long “partnership” between Russian Communism and leading American capitalists. As you ponder these examples, remember that today’s transformation is no “conspiracy theory.” It’s really happening!
1913. President Woodrow Wilson wrote: “Some of the biggest men in the U. S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
1919. After Lenin had established his bloody reign in Russia, Colonel Mandel House, President Woodrow Wilson’s main advisor, cabled the president the following message from Paris: “There have been… published here statements made by American papers to the effect that Russia should be treated as an enemy. It is exceedingly important that such criticism should be suppressed.” For references, links, and to read the rest of this article, click here.
By Associated Press
KHARTOUM, Sudan — A Sudanese woman on death row for apostasy had her sentence canceled and was ordered released by a Khartoum court on Monday, the country’s official news agency reported.
SUNA said the Court of Cassation canceled the death sentence against 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim after defense lawyers presented their case. The court ordered her release.
Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, a crime punishable by death.
Ibrahim married a Christian man from southern Sudan in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. Click here to continue reading.
By Garrett Haley
Christian News Network
As states across the country grapple with the controversial ‘Common Core’ educational guidelines, many Christian homeschooling families and organizations are leading the charge against the standards, asserting that they threaten parents’ rights to educate their children.
Several states—including Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, and, most recently, Louisiana—have all taken steps to partially or completely opt out of the Common Core curriculum. The nationalized Common Core standards would require schools to meet certain learning benchmarks at each grade level, but some educators and lawmakers are skeptical about the program.
“We’re very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stated in a recent press conference.
In addition to educators and lawmakers, many Christian homeschooling families and homeschooling organizations have expressed opposition to Common Core. BJU Press, a leading publisher of Christian homeschooling materials, strongly condemned the motive behind the new standards. Click here to continue reading.
LTRP Note: The following article is posted for informational and research purposes.
By Michael Paulson
New York Times
BRUNSWICK, Me. — For 40 years, evangelicals at Bowdoin College have gathered periodically to study the Bible together, to pray and to worship. They are a tiny minority on the liberal arts college campus, but they have been a part of the school’s community, gathering in the chapel, the dining center, the dorms.
After this summer, the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship will no longer be recognized by the college. Already, the college has disabled the electronic key cards of the group’s longtime volunteer advisers.
In a collision between religious freedom and antidiscrimination policies, the student group, and its advisers, have refused to agree to the college’s demand that any student, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, should be able to run for election as a leader of any group, including the Christian association.
Similar conflicts are playing out on a handful of campuses around the country, driven by the universities’ desire to rid their campuses of bias, particularly against gay men and lesbians, but also, in the eyes of evangelicals, fueled by a discomfort in academia with conservative forms of Christianity. The universities have been emboldened to regulate religious groups by a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that found it was constitutional for a public law school in California to deny recognition to a Christian student group that excluded gays. Click here to continue reading.