“Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.” – (Philippians forward in NIV Study Bible)
Paul had plenty of reasons to be unhappy. He wrote Philippians while imprisoned in Rome, yet the concept of rejoicing or joy appear sixteen times in this four chapter letter he had written to the church in Philippi. At a time when most would have been miserable, Paul was proudly preaching boldly before anyone who would give ear to what he had to say. Paul recognized that his purpose was far more important than his comfort, and he embraced every opportunity to speak truth before those who were around him.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. – (Philippians 1:14)
Local believers were challenged and encouraged by Paul’s faithfulness, (even while he was imprisoned and in less than ideal circumstances), and compelled to rise up and reach out to share the good new with courage and fearlessness that they had not previously known.
When life presses down,
hope seems far away;
do we reach for Christ,
to show us the way?
For in Christ alone,
true freedom is found;
where joy shall reside,
even when we’re bound.
only when life’s good;
but joy’s eternal,
when Christ’s understood.
Let’s run to the Lord,
whether free or chained;
so His joy may dwell,
and His hope sustain.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our joy is not dependant on what happens around us, but rather joy depends on You alone. Thank You that we may have joy, despite the most desperate of circumstances, when we are rooted and established in You. Thank You that You utilize our faithfulness in the trials to touch hearts and minds of others. Thank You for those You have placed in our path who have encouraged us, and for the opportunities You provide for us to do the same. Forgive us for our search for happiness, or for depending on our circumstances to bring us joy. Thank You that You are our Source, and NOTHING can separate us from You. Help us to be courageous, as we move fearlessly where You call us to go. Let the lost be found in You, as they come to know You personally, as their Lord and Savior. Be glorified, O God, as we encourage others, even in the midst of our unfavorable circumstances. Let us bring Your love and light to dark spaces that are desperate for Your touch. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me.
– Psalm 69:16
THE TWELVE APOSTLES:
1. Andrew – crucified
2. Bartholomew – beaten then crucified
3. James, son of Alphaeus – stoned to death
4. James, son of Zebedee – beheaded
5. John – exiled for his faith; died of old age
6. Judas (not Iscariot) – stoned to death
7. Matthew – speared to death
8. Peter – crucifed upside down
9. Philip – crucified
10. Simon – crucified
11. Thomas – speared to death
12. Matthias – stoned to death
(source: Fox’s Book of Martyrs)
Chart courtesy of Every Student.com
Do you want to follow Jesus Christ? How much? What are you willing to give up? Your life? Will you stand in civil disobedience when you are told to obey the laws of whichever government in power over you?
We are quickly coming to a point where here in America, although we are supposed to have freedom to practice our faith, we are being restricted on how and where we can do so. The current administration argues that if you are a business, even though you have always used Christian principles for your business, that you should not be exempt from laws that violate your belief. This includes providing abortion services, along with honoring marriages between same sexes, to just name a few. Whether this will stand we don’t yet know. There are currently arguments before several judges with some of the cases either at the Supreme Court or on there way.
Then there is the school system. Our children are taught at church and at home that certain things are unacceptable in the eyes of God, yet when they are as school, these things are often promoted. Our children are taught that both their parents and their churches are wrong, bigoted, racist and evil. Schools are becoming less a place to teach our children what they need for the future and more a place for those who have differing values to indoctrinate our children. They are also being taught that the government comes before God.
Even as individuals we are not safe, we are being forced to pay for abortion in the insurance that we have, even though this practice is abhorrent to us. Recently Pastors that speak out in public or hand out tracts have been arrested. Even praying in public has been a cause for arrest and harassment.
Our men and women in the military have lost the ability to even talk about their faith to their fellow men and women. They are told to shut up and be quiet or they will face a court martial. We have in the last six years seen Veterans families told that they cannot say Jesus name in prayers at funerals, in hospitals, or anywhere on federal land.
We are told that instead of the Constitution saying we have freedom of religion, that instead it is a document that protects all others from having to either hear, or even know that we are a people of faith and follow Jesus. At the very same time we are told that Muslim’s should not be insulted, their prayers’s need to be respected and special places allowed within schools, and that laws that apply to everyone else, such as head covering when you are photographed at the DMV.
You read the history of the apostles and how they were treated, we know that they were tortured and killed because they followed Jesus, but how often do you consider what they were doing when this happened and who did it? It wasn’t always at the hands of the Jews. Often it was because they angered the government of the time. Consider the Apostle Andrew:
Concerning the cause and manner of his death, the following is contained in Apophthegm. Christian. Baudart., page 3: AtPatras, a city in Achaia, he converted besides many others, Maximillia, the wife of Aegaeas, the governor, to the Christian faith. This so enraged the governor against Andrew, that he threatened him with death of the cross. But the apostle said to the governor, “Had I feared the death of the cross, I should not have preached the majesty and gloriousness of the cross of Christ.”
The enemies of the truth having apprehended and sentenced to death the apostle Andrew, he went joyfully to the place where he was to be crucified, and, having come near the cross, he said,”O beloved cross! I have greatly longed for thee. I rejoice to see thee erected here. I come to thee with a peaceful conscience and with cheerfulness, desiring that I, who am a disciple of Him who hung on the cross, may also be crucified.” The apostle said further,”The nearer I come to the cross, the nearer I come to God; and the farther I am from the cross, the farther I remain from God.”
The holy apostle hung three days on the cross; he was riot silent, however; but as long as he could move his tongue, he instructed the people that stood by the cross, in the way of the truth, saying, among other things, “I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, that He, having used me for a time as an ambassador, now permits me to have this body, that I, through a good confession, may obtain everlasting grace and mercy. Remain steadfast in the word and doctrine which you have received, instructing one another, that you may dwell with God in eternity, and receive the fruit of His promises.”
The Christians and other pious people besought the governor to give Andrew unto them, and take him down from the cross., (For it appears that he was not nailed to the cross, like Christ, but tied to it). When the apostle learned of this, he cried to God, Saying,”O Lord Jesus Christ! suffer not that Thy servant, who hangs here on the tree for Thy name’s sake, be released, to dwell again among men; but receive me. O my Lord, my God! whom I have known, whom I have loved, to whom I cling, whom I desire to see, and in whom I am what I am.” Having spoken these words, the holy apostle committed his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father. M. W. Baudart. in Apophthegm Christian. lib. 1, super Andream, ex August. de Vera et Falsa Poenitentia., cap 8, Bernhard. in Sermon. de Andrea. Lanfrancus contra Berengar. Niceph., lib. 2, cap. 39, and lib. 15, cap. 39. Remigius in Psal. 21 and 40. Johan. Strac. in Festo Andreae, p. 23, haec et alia. Also, Konst-tooneel van veertig, by N. D. C., Concerning the Life of Andrew. MARTYRS MIRROR
But it wasn’t just the Apostle’s who faced the wrath of the rulers or Synagogues. It was almost any Christian that came to the attention of the leaders of that time. Paul himself was one of those who participated in imprisoning and killing followers of Christ. Consider the case of
FELICITAS WITH HER SEVEN SONS, JANUARIUS, FELIX, PHILIPPUS, SYLVANUS, ALEXANDER, VITALIS, AND MARTIALIS, PUT TO DEATH FOR THE FAITH, AT ROME, A. D. 164
Felicitas was a Christian widow at Rome, and had seven sons, whose names were Januarius, Fe-
lix, Philippus, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis. These lived together with their mother in one house, as an entire Christian church. Of the mother it is stated, that by her Christian communion, (conversation) which she had with the Roman women, she converted many to Christ. The sons, on their part, also acquitted themselves well by winning many men to Christ.
Now, when the heathen priests complained of this to Antonius, the Emperor-who had resumed the persecution which had begun with Trajan, but had subsided-saying, that there were not only men, but also women, who blasphemed the gods, despised their images, trampled under foot the Emperor’s worship of the gods, yea, turned away many from the old religion of the Romans; that this was principally done by a certain widow, named Felicitas, and her seven sons, and that, therefore, in order to prevent this, they must be compelled to give up Christ, and sacrifice to the gods, or, in case they should refuse to do so, be put to death, the Emperor, prompted or instigated hereby, gave . to Publius, the provost, or chief magistrate of Rome, full authority over them.
Publius, willing to spare Felicitas, as being a highly respectable woman, first secretly summoned her and her sons into his own house, where he entreated them with fair words and promises, but afterwards threatened to punish them with severe tortures, unless they would forsake the Christian religion, and readopt the old Roman worship of the gods. Felicitas, remembering the words of Christ,”Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven,” did not seek to evade the issue by using dissimulating or indirect words, but answered briefly thus, “I am neither moved by thy flatteries and entreaties, nor am I intimidated by thy threats; for I experience in my heart the working of the Holy Ghost, which gives me a living power, and prepares me for the conflict of suffering, to endure all that thou mayest lay upon me, for the confession of my faith.”
When Publius could not move the mother from her steadfast purpose, he said to her, “Very well; if it seems pleasant to thee , to die, die alone, but have pity and a mother’s compassion for thy sons, and command them, to ransom their own lives at least, by sacrificing to the gods.”
Thereupon Felicitas said to the judge, “Thy compassion is pure wickedness, and thy admonition is nothing but cruelty, for, if my sons should sacrifice to the gods, they would not ransom ‘their lives, but sell them to the hellish fiend, whose slaves, yea, whose serfs in soul and body, they would become, and be reserved by him, in chains of darkness, for everlasting fire.”
Then, turning away from the judge, to her sons, she said, “Remain steadfast in the faith, and in the confession of Christ; for Christ and His saints are waiting for you. Behold, heaven is open before you; therefore fight valiantly for your souls, and show, that you are faithful in the love of Christ, wherewith He loves you, and you Him.”
This filled the judge with rage against her, and he commanded them to smite her on the cheek, while he at the same time upbraided her vehemently, saying, “How darest thou thus impudently exhort thy sons in my presence, and make them obstinate to disobey the commands of the Emperor; whereas it would be far more proper for thee to incite them to obedience toward him?”
Felicitas, notwithstanding that death had been threatened her, answered with more than manly courage, saying, “If thou, O judge, didst know our Saviour Jesus Christ, and the power of His Godhead and majesty, thou wouldst undoubtedly desist from persecuting the Christians, and wouldst not seek to draw us away from the Christian religion by blaspheming His holy name; for whoever curses (or blasphemes) Christ and His faithful ones, curses (or blasphemes) God Himself, who, by faith, dwells in their hearts.”
Thereupon, though they struck her in the face with their fists, in order to silence her, she did not cease to admonish her sons to remain steadfast, and to fear neither tortures nor rack, nor even death itself, but to die willingly for the name of Christ.
Therefore, Publius the judge took each of her sons separately, and talked first to one and then to the other, hoping by this last resort to draw away from the faith, by promises as well as by threats, some of them at least, if not all. But as he could not prevail upon them, he sent a message to the Emperor, stating that they all remained obstinate, and that he could in no wise induce them to sacrifice to the gods. Thereupon the Emperor sentenced the mother together with her seven sons, that they should be delivered into the hands of different executioners, and be tortured and put to death in various ways; yet, that the mother was first to see all her sons die, before she herself should be put to death.
In accordance with this sentence, they first scourged Januarius, the first-born, to death, in the presence of his mother. The scourges were made of cords or ropes, to the ends of which balls of lead were attached. Those who had to undergo this mode of torture were scourged with them on their necks, backs, sides, and other tender parts of their bodies, either to torture them, or in order to martyr them to death as was the case in this instance. Felix and Philippus, the two brothers next (in age), were beaten to death with rods. Sylvanus, also called Syllanus, was cast down from a height. Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis were beheaded. Last of all, the mother was beheaded or put to death with the sword. This took place under Emperor Antonius Pius. A. Mell. 1st book of the Hist., fol. 33, col. 4 and fol. 34, col. 1-3, ex Prudent. in hincentio. Also, Acto. Adon. Mart., 23 Novemb. Greg. P. in Natali. S. Felic. Homil. 3, in Eu. Bet. Chrysol. Serm. 134. Arta apud Mombrit. MARTYRS MIRROR
Could we stand the same type of persecution? Many in the Middle East are doing so now. We have heard and read of people even in the last few weeks being crucified or dismembered. And yet there are those in this country who think that we should just go along with the government because the Bible tells us to obey them. They ignore the part of the Bible that tells us in all things God comes first.
Many of the ways in which we have to make decisions everyday are not even known by many people. Take a recent case where nurses were required to take part in abortions even though it is against their faith to murder. Or Pharmacists who are forced to give drugs that cause abortions. Or Doctors who are forced to provide abortions. The same with hospitals, especially under the new laws, if they don’t they are forced to close their doors in many instances because the government will not pay for patient care at them and they cannot get by without it.
Or consider teachers who are not allowed to wear a cross and are made to participate in practices at school that promote homosexuality. They are often fired if they pray with their students. Instead of protecting our ability to practice our faith. We are being pushed further and further into secrecy.
And yet if those early Christians had listened to the rulers of the day, they would not have lost their lives. For those who say that we should not practice “civil disobedience”, I must ask, what was the beginning of Christianity if it was not “civil disobedience?” The definition of civil disobedience is “the refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.”
While these early Christians did not go to battle to change peoples and we should never do that, they did stand when those in power tried to force them to kneel to whomever was in control. They didn’t cease converting people to Christianity. They didn’t sacrifice to the false gods of the time.
Even before Jesus we have examples throughout the Bible of men and women of faith who disobeyed the rulers of their times. Daniel didn’t bow down. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, did not either. We have only to look to these to see examples of civil disobedience.
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
The setting of this beautiful verse is after the resurrection of the saved to everlasting life, and the unsaved to eternal shame (v. 2). Its glorious promise to those who are “wise” and who “turn many to righteousness” through Jesus Christ is that of “shining” forever like the stars.
Evolutionary astronomers believe that stars evolve through a long cycle of stellar life and death, but this idea contradicts God’s revelation that He has created this physical universe to last forever. Speaking of these stellar heavens, the majestic 148th Psalm, centered on God’s creation, says that God “hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass” (Psalm 148:6).
It is true that, because of sin, “the whole creation groaneth . . . until now” (Romans 8:22), and the heavens “shall wax old as doth a garment; . . . and they shall be changed” (Hebrews 1:11– 12). In fact, the earth and its atmospheric heaven (not the sidereal heaven) one day will “pass away” (Matthew 24:35), and then will be transformed by God into “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) which will never pass away.
But the infinite cosmos of space and time, created in the beginning by God, was created to last forever, and God cannot fail in His purposes. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
The stars are innumerable, each one unique, each one with a divine purpose, and they will shine forever. We can never reach them in this life, but in our glorified bodies, we shall have endless time to explore the infinite heavens. HMM
Catholics burned alive by Muslims in Nigeria — where’s the MSM? – The Brenner Brief (Warning Graphic Images)
Why in the world isn’t the mainstream media covering this? Because it doesn’t fit their perfect little meme that the Christians are mean and evil to the innocent Muslims. A few blogs have covered this, but that’s all.
The Catholic Church has responded:
Statement by Father Juan Carlos Martos
This is a brutal example of how far the struggle between muslims and catholics in Nigeria has reached. Muslims are determined to impose their ‘religion’ all over Africa as well as in other continents and countries of the world. Islam has but one goal: rule the world at any cost!
And where are the International Human Rights Organizations? Christians are burnt alive in Nigeria: a horrific Holocaust right in front of International indifference! As denounced by Father Juan Carlos Martos, on behalf of the Missionari Clarettiani, via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, Rome, Italy.
By publishing this graphic document on Facebook, I have intended to make the world aware of certain terrible events totally ignored or minimized by the mainstream media; an authentic genocide so cruel and inhuman only comparable with the most hateful and vile acts in the Nazi extermination camps.
To my great surprise, Facebook has criticized me for the publication of this graphic document as a proof of the Holocaust that Christians have been suffering in Nigeria in the last ten years. According to Facebook’s Security policy of the ‘social’ Network, this photo has been classified as ‘pornographic’, ‘violent’ or ‘inappropriate’ and hence I was disallowed to publish any picture for a week. And I was threatened drastic measures if I insist publishing any document that prove the terrible violations of Human Rights in Nigeria. This attitude by the (Spanish) Facebook Management is an attack to the freedom of expression as much as a shameful insult to the 500 victims (only in this horrible episode) slaughtered by Islamic terror only for being Christian.
I thought that this social network, originated in the United States, would not bend its knees in front of terror. Especially, when still healing their wounds suffered in the gruesome 9/11 attack, just as our own 3/11 at Madrid railway station, all innocent victims of the wild fury and insanity of Islamic terror.”
This seems even more unacceptable in Spain, a Democratic state, where the rights of opinion, expression and religion are guaranteed by the Constitution (Art. 16 and 20), if there is an attempt to limit such rights, let alone through threats and coercion thus weakening their freedom of expression by condemning as “inappropriate” a graphic document (not a photomontage) which reflects a brutal reality in all its crudeness.
Contrarily, the Administrators of Facebook Spain should welcome this public protest advocating that such a barbarian act will never be replicated and that its perpetrators will be brought to justice. This is a right and duty of every citizen: a service to society, ultimate goal, I feel, of any network that defines itself as ‘social’.
Regrettably, if the murders continue, this is greatly because truth is always hidden to the sovereign people, so that they may not be aware and ‘disdained’ by it: complicit silence by the mainstream media leads to the indifference of the
international political community facing this unspeakable Holocaust! Let alone the cowardice already rooted in the western world facing the islamic terror. A consequence of the stupid “Alliance of civilizations”: another regrettable incident of our former Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.
Can you imagine the reaction of the Islamic terrorist organization in the (impossible) case of a massacre of Muslims in a mosque, by the hands of Christian terrorists? And how widely would our media cover and condemn the crime and the criminals?
Therefore, from this modest blog, I ask a favor from all people who are reading me: please distribute this photo and its comments using all the media you have. If only for commemorating these martyrs since, unfortunately, Facebook seems to be on the side of the executioners by preventing the publication of such tragic events.
~ Juan Carlos Martos cmf Segretariato di PVMissionari ClarettianiVia Sacro Cuore à Maria-500197-Rome (Read the rest at Catholics burned alive by Muslims in Nigeria — where’s the MSM? – The Brenner Brief.)
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
For this reason I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermongenes.
The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiporus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain;
but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very diligently and found me.
The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day— and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.
|Marco Polo traveled in 1271 to meet Kublai Khan, grandson of Ghengis Khan, who was Emperor of China, Korea, North India, Persia, Russia and Hungary. Emperor Kublai Khan had requested Christian teachers, but only two preaching friars were sent by Pope Gregory X, and they turned back in fear when crossing an area being attacked by Turkish Muslims. Marco Polo was employed by Kublai Khan as an envoy for 24 years. Upon his return to Italy, Polo was captured at Genoa, where he dictated his travels. In 1492, Genoa born Christopher Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain: “Concerning the lands of India, and a Prince called Gran Khan…how many times he sent to Rome to seek doctors in our Holy Faith to instruct him and that never had the Holy Father provided them…Your Highnesses…devoted to the Holy Christian Faith…resolved to send me…to the said regions of India, to see the said princes…and the manner in which may be undertaken their conversion to our Holy Faith.” On OCTOBER 10, 1492, Columbus’ Journal records: “Here the people could stand it no longer and complained of the long voyage…but the Admiral…added that it was useless to complain. He had come to the Indies, and so had to continue until he found them, with the help of Our Lord.”|