Persecution by 1000 stones

The messages I have been sharing at church recently centered on the persecuted church.  Here in the U.S. we look at the persecution we see our brothers and sisters face in other parts of the world and pray it does not come here to greet us.  But, has it not already visited us?

The purpose of persecution is to accomplish:

  • To create fear in our hearts, to fear the ones that can injure our body or our status in society.
  • Intimidation through this fear to hinder the sharing and spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Demonizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through lies, misstatements and half truths and in effect minimize the words Christian will share.
  • To physically kill those that will not stop sharing the Truth

Here in the U.S. we presently do not fear prison, torture, or physical death, but there are key elements of persecution that are occurring.  We may not fear the bullet or sword, but we are fearing the stones that are being thrown.  We are being persecuted by 1000 stones instead of one big element as a bullet or beheading.

Is persecution by a 1000 stones actually occurring?   (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)

  • Intimidation – Look at the increase in fear and anxiety we have regarding sharing our faith in public, work, and school.  Just sharing the name of Jesus Christ in public will make many people wince.  We now often fear what people say about us when we share our belief and faith.  We are told it is “unlawful” to share.  We are told that if we disagree with teachings of evolution, homosexuality and gender issues we have no right to share our views or even believe in them, and in many cases are told we are breaking the law.  Have we have moved closer to acting as an “underground” church in many respects keeping our faith and beliefs out of the public eye?
  • Demonizing- You would be hard pressed not to agree that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word have not been demonized and minimized over the past several decades.
    • Share your belief and faith, share the truth of what God has written to us in His Word, and many times what are we told?  We are called haters, small minded, weak minded, brain washed, judgmental, intolerant….the list can go on.
    • The political process has entangle the Gospel and made it a part of a political system…something it was never intended to be.
    • Our news media, History channel and other venues on TV and the internet have done all they can to share manipulated information to minimize Jesus, His Word, and His church.

There are more examples that can be drawn out, but just looking at the two items above is it not clear that persecution by a 1000 stones is occurring?

If this is persecution, is it effective?

This type of persecution has been tied into a society that has worked for 60 or more years to rid itself of belief in God.  Add to this the belief that man is in charge and more recently the earth is in charge and man is the problem.  Compounding this with our lives of materialism and this has created a perfect scenario for the type of persecution we see here in the U.S. to be extremely effective!

Here is some data that supports this thought:

Christian growth

These are the annual growth rates (AAGR) of those claiming to be Christian in countries where severe persecution of the Christian belief occurs.

Here in the U.S. the number of people claiming to be Christians has declined by over 7% from 1990 until 2012.  I am sure that the decline has increased in the six years since 2012.  The enemy’s plan of tactics and persecution are showing to be more effective here in the U.S.  than the outright brutality of persecution used in the 10 countries that have shown the greatest increase in Christianity in the world.

So, what should you do?

  • Read 1 Peter (Peter’s letter to the persecuted church on how the body should act)
  • (Mark 8:38) Determine in yourself and your heart if you are truly a citizen in His Kingdom that will not deny his/her citizenship.
  • (Romans 12) Find a body of believers that truly care for one another, support one another.  The number in the congregation is not important, but are the fruit of the Spirit of God occurring among those in the body.

And stay tune, I am sure I will share more on this in the near future.

Tolerance or Intolerance?

Intolerant to our views but we must continue in tolerance

I just read an email from Frank Viola discussing the new environment of “tolerance” that Christians are now facing. What Frank shared hit home with me.  First, I need to share the definition of tolerance before I move on.

Tolerance:  the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with

On the surface society preaches tolerance and respect for one another.  I see bumper stickers, signs and even great looking commercials preaching the message of tolerance.  Unfortunately, what I have experience in recent years is anything but tolerant when I am asked about my Christian beliefs and views if they go against the present views of our culture and society.  My views are based on Biblical truths that often fly in the face of our present society’s moral beliefs.  I am finding that the tolerance that has been preached by many non-Christians actually means the are intolerant of everyone who doesn’t bow to their values and beliefs.

Frank Viola puts the new “tolerance” this way. “If you don’t agree with my beliefs and my value system, then you’re intolerant. “Which being interpreted means: “In the name of tolerance, I’m intolerant of everyone who doesn’t bow to my values and beliefs.”  Or   “I’m intolerant of everyone except those who agree with me, and in the name of tolerance, I will brand them intolerant.”

How should we deal with this change in culture?  We must remember the rules and parameters we live by as believers has not changed simply because society around us has and is changing.  The biblical principles of loving our neighbor as yourself, loving others as Jesus loved us (even when we were sinners and opposed to Him) should direct our actions when confronted with intolerance.

When you find that your views come in conflict with another person, we can land in a place where we agree to disagree and not bring it to a place of strong judgement and breaking a relationship apart.  After all some of us not long ago may have espoused the same views of the person you now find opposing and judging you.

So, what happened to change our minds?  Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word and Holy Spirit worked the changes in us.  For almost all of us that started by another Christian’s love and care for us.  Love enough to not give up on the relationship.  Love enough to pray for our soul.  Love enough to trust in the Lord and His time.

We will find in the future the number of times our Christian views and beliefs come into conflict will most likely increase more each year.  Don’t retaliate, but stay the course with how Jesus Christ wishes us to act.

As the poem Mother Theresa had hanging on her wall said.

  • People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway
  • If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway
  • If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
  • What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
  • Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
  • In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


Bible Truth – If it is on the internet it must be true!

Eph 4:11-16 NKJV  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  (12)  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  (13)  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  (14)  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  (15)  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (16)  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

One of the challenges of being a pastor in this age of information is dealing with all the information that is out there.  One hundred years ago sharing a strange or heretical teaching was more difficult and time consuming than it is now.  Presently between Facebook, thousands of websites all spouting their brand of theology, and YouTube, Christians are being inundated with teachings that many are ill prepared to determine if they are true or not.  To further complicate the situation the general mindset of of laziness and not digging into what is heard or being taught.  I am not saying people are lazy, but we are definitely accustomed to getting things easy and quick.  This can lead to the hearing that tickles your ears that is incorrect or inaccurate leading to something you believe but never taking the time to study it out.  It guess worse when the person now feels they have become the expert and shares it with another ignorant person that does not take the time to study.

For a pastor and a teacher, it is challenging because what people come across on the internet can carry more weight than what a pastor or teacher that Jesus Christ has called to minister to them may teach. It is not just the internet, it includes radio and TV.  I am not saying everything they hear or see on these lines of communication are wrong, just that so many Christian take this information as coming from and expert and can begin to minimize the local ministry.  Christians can become glib and without knowing it can slide from a believer in the truth standing on the foundation of the Word and prayer, to becoming a “fan” supporting what someone is teaching without understanding what the Bible actually says.  Christian are to study and interact with the other believers the Lord has place around them.  Unfortunately, from here it gets worse.  A person can easily slide into the view that only the expert they have lined up with can understand the Bible and totally minimize their own ability to read and understand what God has shared in His Word.  This is dangerous ground for a Christian to stand on.

As a pastor of a small church, I realize most people want to take a mental shortcut and skip the study and prayer involved with understanding the Bible and they simply gravitate towards ministries with large numbers behind them.  A person can begin to trust in the numbers and not actually understanding the Word. The Bible’s teaching on numbers paint a dark picture. Mat 7:21-23 NKJV  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  (22)  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  (23)  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ and again Mat 7:13-14 NKJV  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  (14)  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Many begin believing Biblical Truth is based on the numbers. The more that attend a church, the more valid the ministry can replace how a ministry should be validated.  As a small church pastor this can be challenging.  Let us not forget those that have not studied the Bible yet thinks they are an expert because of what they have read or heard in a favorite book, internet, radio, TV, or favorite pastor.

I am fortunate that the saints I am a pastor for dig in and search the scriptures discussing with one another what is stated in the Bible and what it means.  This was not the case when I first became a pastor.  I tried many approaches to have a meaningful discussion with those that thought they were experts without taking the time to study.  The process I now use with people like this is simple and I think more effective.   I simply talk and ask questions and it goes like this:

  • I ask what it is they believe. I let them tell me what it is and I do not try to argue a point if I see it differently.  I let them talk.
  • I then ask if that is what the Bible says. Again, I let them talk and share what they believe the Bible says about the topic.
  • I them ask if that is fully what the Bible states and we check it out. (having the Bible on the smart phone is a great tool)
  • If I believe differently than they do I ask if they would “consider” a different take on the subject and study it out so we can talk about it in a day or so.

I have found allowing them to do most of the talking has allowed me to share a different view on a subject without them feeling they need to challenge it.  Many during the next time we get together admit they really had not studied the subject out and appreciate being able to get into the Word and study it out.  Slowly they grow in confidence in their knowledge of the Word and become less susceptible to falling for “every wind of doctrine”.

Eternal life and the Roulette Table


All human beings know what life is and we all have to answer the question of what happens after death. Looking around and seeing how people address the issue of what happens after our last breath reminds me of placing bets at a roulette table.   Some place their bet that once our life ends we become nothing. Others place their bet on one of the many religions that populate the beliefs we find in this world. I am amazed at how many people spend about the same amount of time determining what they believe will occur upon their death as they would be making a ten-dollar bet at the roulette table.

At the roulette table, as long as the little black ball has not dropped there is time to place your bet or move your bet. Once the black ball drops it is too late and you will either lose the money you bet or take your winnings if you placed your bet on the right number and color.  If you guessed wrong and you still have some money left you can give it another try and hopefully win on your next bet.  Unfortunately, this is not true regarding your life.  If a person is breathing, it is as if the little black ball of the roulette table has not dropped and you can place your bet on what will occur upon you last breath.  When that little black ball drops, once you take your last breath, you will find out if what you believed and invested your life in was a winner or loser.  Unlike the roulette table in life you do not get a second chance.  The bet you place is your life, everything you have.  Once you die, you do not get a second life to give it another try.

My point in this thought is to encourage you to truly dig in and know what you believe and why you believe it.  So many people don’t spend a moment really thinking about this issue and not realizing they are actually placing a bet.  Most of these people are assuming there is life after death and everything will be fine, they will not really be held accountable for what they have done.  Others place their bet based on the area of the world they are a part of, the color of their skin, the traditions of their families or the beliefs they were raise in.  My message to all these people do not assume that what you are thinking is correct just because you are comfortable with it.  Please dig in for yourself.  Weigh the evidence that is out there.  The decision you make now while you are living will determine the reality of your life after death.  In the scope of life, it is the most serious decision you will make.

Some key items I had to answer while I was making my decision:

  • Did God create all that I see around me and how interconnected it all is or was it totally by chance?
  • If God did create all this, what was the purpose, is there a right and wrong?
  • Why am I here, for what purpose?
  • What about this sin issue, the Jesus Christ issue and payment for my sin and what happens if my sin is not paid for by the time I take my last breath?

God Bless and if I can help in your journey to find these answers please contact me by clicking on this link: PJ@rolcloquet