Finish Strong With Fearless Faith

Persecution Is GOOD??? #73

November 14, 2022 Fearless Faith Season 2 Episode 73
Persecution Is GOOD??? #73
Finish Strong With Fearless Faith
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Finish Strong With Fearless Faith
Persecution Is GOOD??? #73
Nov 14, 2022 Season 2 Episode 73
Fearless Faith

We love to talk about God’s blessings and we love to talk about God’s faithfulness.  But do we enjoy talking about persecution?  That is exactly what we talk about in this episode of “Finish Strong!”  (I can almost hear the needle on the record sliding across and bringing everything to a screeching halt.)

Jesus talked about persecution during his public ministry.  In fact, he said that we are blessed when we are persecuted during his famous Sermon on the Mount.  Have we got your attention?

Christians are suffering in many countries around the world.  Believe it or not, it is even beginning to happen in the United States of America.  But don’t let your heart be troubled.  Our Fearless Faith crew explains how persecution  and suffering can actually be a good thing!

Support the Show.

Fearless Faith Website
ffaith.org

To leave a review - Open Finish Strong on the Apple Podcast app and scroll down until you see "Ratings & Reviews". There will be a link to click so that you can "Write A Review"

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Show Notes Transcript

We love to talk about God’s blessings and we love to talk about God’s faithfulness.  But do we enjoy talking about persecution?  That is exactly what we talk about in this episode of “Finish Strong!”  (I can almost hear the needle on the record sliding across and bringing everything to a screeching halt.)

Jesus talked about persecution during his public ministry.  In fact, he said that we are blessed when we are persecuted during his famous Sermon on the Mount.  Have we got your attention?

Christians are suffering in many countries around the world.  Believe it or not, it is even beginning to happen in the United States of America.  But don’t let your heart be troubled.  Our Fearless Faith crew explains how persecution  and suffering can actually be a good thing!

Support the Show.

Fearless Faith Website
ffaith.org

To leave a review - Open Finish Strong on the Apple Podcast app and scroll down until you see "Ratings & Reviews". There will be a link to click so that you can "Write A Review"

Facebook
YouTube
Instagram

Dan Wheeler:

Welcome to finish drawn. In our podcast today we're going to talk about a topic that may not be our most popular one. We've done a lot of subjects over the past two years. But this is not something that most people enjoy talking about, and that is persecution. persecution of the church is certainly happened in Scripture. We know that many great people great. People in the Bible suffered a lot of persecution. And yet, you turned it into greater good, and the church actually thrived. I'm your host, Dan Wheeler. I'm with Brian Rowland and Terry Steen today, our producers, John Matarazzo. And we're talking about a tough subject, guys. Let's face it, we love talking about God's blessings, his goodness, things that we're thankful for. But persecution, wow. In Yeah, yeah. The Bible says it's coming in the last days, doesn't it? Yeah. And

Terry Steen:

it's interesting that he also says he works all things together for good in Scripture. So even though we don't like the idea of persecution and suffering, hopefully, by the end of this podcast, we can maybe change the light a little bit on how we look at it.

Dan Wheeler:

Yeah, well, every disciple was actually crucified or, you know, killed or stoned for his faith, with the exception of John. And then you look at Christ Himself. He suffered, He didn't come to be ministered on to he came to minister, and then he laid down his life. So Brian, I think it's natural that we can expect to suffer if we are truly following Christ.

Brian Roland:

It's true. And even following Christ as we do today. I mean, this is where people they're they, especially nowadays, where they're standing up for what they think, and they don't want to hear what you have to say, and they don't want to hear about Christ. And that is something that's happening in the last days, too, is that people will be shut off from it, their, their eyes will be blinded, and that you can see that happening every day. And it's not just going up and talking to somebody and say, let's talk about Jesus anymore. It's has to be an opening in a way to to introduce yourself to somebody to the word, I find how things are changing constantly. Like I mentioned, you guys, before, when I was in high school, that pretty much junior high, it did say can you go into the dance? And I'd say no, I'm not. And they say when I was against my religion, of course, that was okay. It was everybody. So that's fine. But then by the time I got the high school, it was, I was in auto shop, but I was sticking fliers in the guys lockers, and that I had to be a Christian and had to get saved. And so they started calling me the Reverend, you're gonna miss the river. So it's it has changed since then, if I did that now, it's like, can they be my face? So

Dan Wheeler:

you wonder if they would I mean, you know, we're going to talk about examples of the Bible. We're going to talk about what's going on worldwide, because there are many countries in the world where Christians are in danger and are being persecuted daily. And then we're going to talk about persecution in the United States and things that we're seeing that are very concerning. And yet, we know that God has a plan. I think of Daniel, in the book of Daniel Meshech shed wreck in a Bendigo. I mean, they were thrown into the fiery furnace, that they did not back down on their faith and God delivered them. Paul and Silas jail beaten, Paul was shipwrecked. I don't know how many times beaten three times with rods five times 39, stripes, stone three times. You think of Stephen. I mean, these are not things that most of us want to go through. I

Terry Steen:

know. And, you know, it's, it comes back to the risk that a Christian is willing to take, doesn't it? And these guys, they stepped up, they were not fearful. And because of that, they had the more excruciating persecution. And I think that applies to us today. If we're not if we're walking without any persecution, if we're walking without any suffering as Christians, then we're probably missing the mark a little bit. And if I were to be totally honest, i i have not been persecuted, or desire persecution, like I probably should. I've observed it

Dan Wheeler:

up close. 1980's was in Bogota, Colombia, and we saw a meeting of Christians being disbanded by a bunch of soldiers and in fact, I ended up in jail for even being a part of the crew that was videotaping it so I guess I did suffer a little persecution there. 10 hours in jail. Oh, France. How was the food? The food? We didn't get any?

Terry Steen:

Okay. Oh, that is persecution. That is really we did have water but

Dan Wheeler:

you don't want to drink the water. Second, Timothy 312 says, in fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. You know, I'm not sure I really paid attention to that verse until we started planning this podcast. Yeah, it says right there. We're going to be persecuted If we love Jesus, it's true. So what is persecution? It's hostility ill treatment, especially based on ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, or sexual orientation. But boy persecution of the church, Terry, how prevalent? Is it around the world?

Terry Steen:

Well, it's it's a great question. And I did a little research on it, because I think it's important for us who, primarily, most of our listeners are in the United States. And we don't have the same perspective as some of these other countries do we have, there was an account given in I was reading it out of Christianity today. But it was the 2021 World Watch List. Listen to some of these statistics. It said that 13 Christians are killed every day, worldwide. 12 churches are the church buildings have were attacked every day. 12 Christians were unjustly arrested or imprisoned every day. And five Christians have been abducted every day. That's that's over 40 people per day, that have had some type of very specific from abduction, to attack to kill to imprison. I mean, these are heavy duty things that are going on in our world, every single day. It's it's a little bit sobering isn't

Brian Roland:

sure if you know, it's interesting, I was looking up persecution of Christians and, and how we're not being persecuted anything like they were before, but how things are coming. But what I learned was that it was called the D A colletion, or the great persecution was the last most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. And it was in ad 303, that the emperor is the occasion Maximian Gala. Arios. And Constantius issued a series of edicts, rescinding Christians legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. And of course, if they didn't, we saw what happened, they were killed. And how, how is that not happening today? I mean, you could see it, that how Christians rights, you can, they can't decide if they want to make a cake or not, you know, things like that. And it's, it's, it's just, it's coming, and it's coming rapidly full.

Terry Steen:

If you go on through that report, it basically says that 12 and a half percent of the Christians in this world are facing persecution. And that is larger in Africa. It's up to 17% in Africa, and then move into the highest continent with that persecution. It's Asia, at 40%. So if you look at the top 10 countries, they they talked about the worst countries for persecution, and the top one was North Korea, followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya. So there you've got a lot of it in Africa. There's Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran course we know of Iran and Nigeria, and then India, those are the top 10. And then Nigeria has the largest Christian population, but it's second only to Pakistan, in terms of violence, and in the Christians being killed. So Nigeria and Pakistan are very, very violent right now.

Dan Wheeler:

Wow. There was a time I read in 2021 and 200 days, 3462 Christians were killed, worldwide. 3000 abducted and 300 churches attacked. And that's according to third mill in 2021, as I mentioned, so, I mean, it is worldwide. And it's funny, because I would have guessed maybe three of those countries you listed North Korea, Iran and Nigeria. Yeah, but surprised to hear some of the others. Let's talk about biblical examples of of persecution. Paul, in Second Corinthians 12, verse 10, he says, That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses in insults, in hardships and persecutions, in difficulties for when I am weak than I'm strong. And I think that's so amazing that Paul, delighted in those I mean, he was able to have such an eternal vision of things and realize that our suffering now is for a short time, no matter what we go through guys. It's a very short time compared to eternity. And I guess it helps to keep our eyes on that. So

Brian Roland:

true. And I think that to that when people are even today, say somebody says something to you, and it's not that nice and that you would want to take offense to but you know, you let it go. But what you do too is you don't go home and tell your wife about or tell somebody else about it. this just leads to them being upset. Always take it to the Lord and say, I'm just giving this to you. And that's the same thing that happens in any kind of persecution that's coming or that you receive. Just take it to the Lord, and close it off right there. And that's how you defeat that.

Terry Steen:

Yeah, yeah. Even before the Christian church, if we go back to the Old Testament, and you look at the prophets, they were men of God, but yet, they were severely persecuted for being the voice of God. Right? And sometimes that's the problem. The I think, Jeremiah, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet his entire life. All he did was speak what God told him to, and all he had for his whole life was people that abused him, punished him, beat him, put him in a well or a pit, and many tried to kill him. And that was his reward for listening to the voice of God, and then set the precedents for the New Testament in

Dan Wheeler:

Yeah. And speaking of the New Testament, Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament was his most prolific writer said in Second Corinthians 1124, or Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes minus one, three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea, guys, I'm not sure I would have wanted to be Paul. Have an easy life.

Terry Steen:

Like, I am not a good swimmer. So I would probably be dead right now.

Brian Roland:

Oh. You know, I think it's interesting that Paul, he was the one that helped Stephens jacket when Stephen was stoned, to death, yes, and the thing and he and then he went on to kill Christians until he Damascus Road experience. And then of course, he was accepting that he accepted it. He just knew that this is coming. I just need to give it to the Lord. We gotta accept this. And you said his outlook, which is great about it. The one thing I thought was great, I think that you and I talked about this over the weekend, is that when Stephen was persecuted when he was stone, he was looking up and all he saw was God in the Sutton the Father and Jesus. Just welcome him. I don't think he saw a stone or felt anything. No, yeah. And because that's what he did. He turned it over right there. And that's what we need to do. And persecution, turned it over.

Dan Wheeler:

That's an interesting observation. You know, the funny thing is following Stephen stoning. That was a real turning point for the church because they were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. And if they wouldn't have been scattered like that, they would have had the global impact. They really took the church and Christianity into so many places. So the church thrived and experienced a lot of growth. And we're going to be talking about that a lot later on in the program. Yeah. But is it happening in the US? Tara, you you did a thing the other day, a morning cup of inspiration. And you said that this term now Christian nationalism, people are starting to call that a bad thing. Tell us about?

Terry Steen:

Yeah, it's a sense that they're associating Christians with patriotism. And they're automatically making it something that's an extreme thought, it's it's extreme patriotism. I don't know how you can be extremely patriotic, and that be a bad thing. But they're making those connotations to where they're just trying to dissuade us. I think this is just me talking from loving our country and doing everything we can to make it follow God follow those principles follow the forefathers that set our country up with biblical principles and God fearing and it's just that's a form of persecution, obviously.

Dan Wheeler:

What are you seeing Brian?

Brian Roland:

I was just thinking when Terry was saying that about how being persecuted daily is something that is coming. It's something that we feel not, but we don't realize it at times, when He's tying into government, and Christianity, a lot of that, I look at that and say that people hear all the time that we need a revival here. And we need to turn our ways back to God and they don't want to hear that. But knowing if they did, if you look at past experiences, when things like that have happened, the country got stronger. You know, then that's, that's what we need to be doing now. But they don't they everybody wants to fix it themselves. Or think that they can fix themselves a little gods, you know, they think that they can do that. And that's where we're coming to. There's a lot of problems with that because people need to just give it to the Lord they need to sacrifice and, and ask him to take over and do it. Well, it's

Dan Wheeler:

Terry's said earlier, it's like Christians are being portrayed as backward, unintelligent. out of date. Many Millennials view themselves as God, they don't want to be told they can't do anything. And, Brian, you were telling me about a story of a child in a school shooting that really had a lot of really bravery and courage.

Brian Roland:

Yeah. pulling that up to tell you, it's the story of Columbine. And that's when the kids went in there and shooting, shooting up the students and killing their fellow students. But the one was a girl named Cassie Brunel. And she was in the school library. She was with other kids, she was hiding under the desks and that are in the tables. And one of the teenage killers came in and held a gun to her head, and asked if she believed in God. In case he said, Yes. And as soon as he said that, she just got the words out. And he blew her away. He shot her in the head. And people say, okay, that that really happened. A lot of friends said that that's what happened. They saw it. I mean, they were, they were just traumatized by it. But she stood up. She said, Yes, I do. And just like that, she was instantly standing with Jesus

Dan Wheeler:

kind of reminds me of Steven, Steven has seen Jesus. And you mentioned, he probably never felt the stone. I'm sure that little girl was in Jesus arms.

Terry Steen:

You know that. So? So Brene I think it's good for all of us to sit back and reflect on a situation like that. For us, where what if that happened to us today? Where would our commitment be? Where would our mindset be? Could we in that immediate second, right, say what she did with a gun pointed at our head? If we can't, then we need to take a little time to evaluate our position and our love for God and our willingness to suffer? What ever is required to have our eternal home?

Brian Roland:

If they can't, if they can't answer that question, too. It's because they have too much invested here in themselves. Hmm, good point. So so it's like, no, I can I give this up? I know, I've worked so hard for this. Can I give this up? I just have to say no, and I can walk away. But yeah, I still believe in. But no, that's not there. They lost the opportunity.

Dan Wheeler:

I read a story a few weeks ago, a young man there was a conservative speaker was going to be giving a speech. And it was in Madison, Wisconsin. And there was a Christian there that was reading over a microphone reading passages from the Bible. And far left wing activists came up and started ripping the pages from the Bible and eating them. I mean, it's just evil behavior. And that's, that's persecution right there. I mean, they're basically just saying, Hey, God, I dare you to punish me for this, I'm going to do whatever I want. That is the epitome of someone that says, I am God. And no one's going to tell me what I can or can't do. Yeah, no respect for the Word of God. But you know, it's amazing. And I'm not sure how much time I'm gonna check with our producer, how much time we've got. But I'd like to really take some time right now and delve in to this concept that persecution is not about oppression, but resilience. It leads to the growth of the church. And it's happened time and time again in history.

Terry Steen:

Yes. Started in the New Testament, didn't it? Yes, I mean, the minute they began heavy persecution, it scattered the church. And it was for the ultimate good, it was all part of God's plan to get those Jews and the Christians into these other countries to begin planting the churches that we now have today.

Dan Wheeler:

Well, I was just gonna say I read a statistic that there's a number up, according to a study that 309 million Christians are now living in one of those countries or places of high levels of persecution. But that number is up in just one year from 260 million. So on one year, another 49 million Christians in the highest places of persecution against Christians. That's amazing growth. That's almost 20% growth.

Terry Steen:

Yeah, in one year. And I just to add to that, I was just reading this morning that charisma magazine, and shout out to John our producer who works for charisma. But I was reading that magazine and there's an evangelist named Chris Mickelson, and he spent two years in Pakistan. He's been there as an evangelist for two years and in that period has seen 1 million salvations said the hunger of that country is unbelievable. And as we talked earlier, Pakistan is one of the top two countries of violent persecution of Christians. God turns that violent persecution around for His glory. It's unbelievable.

Dan Wheeler:

But I think we should try and track that guy down from that article and get him on and our producer, China's saying, Yeah, that's possible when he be a great interview. I mean, someone has witnessed that up close and personal. We don't know what persecution is really like in this country. But we know that it's, it's coming and we need to be ready, and we need to be strong. And, Brian, as you said, we need to answer that question. If somebody came up to you and held a gun to your head, and said, You'll live if you renounce Christ, but if not, you're dead. I mean, we have to be ready to say, I'm not pronouncing them. I'll never announce them. But you

Brian Roland:

know, what reminded me of to Dan is Matthew 1022, where it says in you will be hated by all from my namesake, but the one who endures to the end will be saved. And that's what happened to Cassie.

Dan Wheeler:

That's true. And you know, there's another verse I'd like to read here near the end of this podcast in Romans 818, where Paul says, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And that brings us back to what we were talking about in the first part of the podcast that heaven is going to be so great, and that is for eternity. This is just such a small period of time that we're in right now. And it's, it's so important that we make the most of every day and live for Christ and spread His Word, regardless of what may come our way.

Terry Steen:

So true, Dan, and two other thoughts that I had, as we talk about this is a couple more things that this persecution does that I found in Hebrews two is it perfects us, because the Bible says there in the 10th verse, God made Jesus perfect through suffering. So that's where we mature, that's where we complete ourselves as Christians is through that suffering. And then you go down to the 18th verse, and it says, because he suffered when he was tempted, He was able to help those who were being tempted. So as he suffered, he was able to help others who suffer. And that's the same with us, we can be more empathetic, we can be encouragers. If we go through suffering, we can help others suffer.

Dan Wheeler:

But it's so true. And I think God has given us so many great examples in the Bible, one that's close to my heart, because my mom named me Daniel, after Daniel in the Old Testament, and boy, that's a big name to live up to, but it means God is judge. And in Daniel six, we read how Daniel learned that there was a decree that whoever prayed to any god or man other than King Darius for 30 days, would be killed. And when Daniel heard it, he knew they would come after him. But he continued to do what he always did. He went upstairs to his home, he had the windows wide open toward Jerusalem, and three times a day got on his knees, and he prayed to Jehovah, to the true God. And we all know what happened. He did get thrown into the den into the lion's den. But God closed the lion's mouth. God is with us, and will be with us throughout persecution. And, you know, we need to finish strong guys knowing that if persecution comes, we need to stand our ground and keep sharing Christ and make a difference and not waste time because Satan doesn't waste his time on us if we're not doing something for the Kingdom. Right. Amen.

Brian Roland:

That's when you know, when you're being attacked, you know you're doing something right.

Dan Wheeler:

Absolutely. Well, it's been an interesting discussion. And I hope you guys will tune into our next episode, because our producer John Matarazzo has got some big news that we'll be sharing with you. And that podcast is going to be all about Thanksgiving, please share this podcast, with your friends, with your family, tell them about finished strong, because we know that God has called us for a time such as this and we want to inspire you and your loved ones, to just go hard for the kingdom and not waste. Another moment. We don't know how much time we have left. And right now we're out of time. So God bless and we'll catch you next time.

John Matarazzo:

Thank you for listening to finish strong. For more information about finish strong and fearless faith. Check out their website eth faith.org. Make sure that you rate and review this podcast to help more people accomplish their God given purpose so that together we can finish strong