The Only Martyr’s Death Worth Dying


'The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer' by Jean-Léon GérômeChristians in the United States are increasingly alarmed at the rise of the martyrdom of fellow believers across the world. When dying for our faith comes to our own shores, it’s even more troubling.

Jesus said this:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
—John 15:18

We often think of the tossing of Christians to the lions in ancient Rome when we think of being hated for the Faith.

A list of Christian faith and practice that drew the attention of the Romans:

  • Rapidly spreading the Faith throughout Rome
  • Caring for infants otherwise left to die
  • Caring for the sick, infirm, and elderly
  • Affording women rights ordinarily not given to them
  • Expressing monotheistic beliefs about the nature of God

Only one of the above, though, convinced Roman leaders to send Christians to die a martyr’s death in the Colosseum.

Today, the following beliefs and practices of Christians in the United States raise the ire of those who might hate us:

  • Espousing a pro-life / anti-abortion stance
  • Supporting conservative politicians and politics
  • Opposing same-sex marriage
  • Making wild predictions about End Times
  • Opposing permissive cultural mores

Can you spot the telling difference between the two lists?

What got Christians martyred in Rome? Their monotheistic view of God. It was how Christians depicted the nature of God that Roman leaders saw as an immediate threat. The other factors may have contributed, but they were not the final cause. (I would recommend Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity for further details.)

Today, fellow believers in other countries are martyred for the same reason as ancient Christians in Rome. Consider too the message of the apostles. It was their view of who God is, talking about Jesus, and putting Him above all else that enraged others enough to kill them.

If you and I must die a martyr’s death, the only real martyrdom, the only genuine reason to die for the Christian faith, is the person of Jesus. Be hated because we believe Jesus Christ is Lord.

Being hated for anything on that second list is not the point. Being hated for being opinionated about social issues, or voting for conservative politicians, or for homeschooling, or for anything else that is not Jesus is not martyrdom for the Faith.

Meditate on that earlier Bible verse for a moment.

I write this today because of my concern that we may be unclear on this. The way we talk about why people might hate Christians has little to do with the person of Jesus Christ and what we think about Him. Instead, it seems to be about our opinions on everything else.

There’s enough scandal in the person of Jesus and what He said and did to rock anyone’s world. But, in the United States, is Jesus truly the primary reason people hate Christians? If not, then we need to change the focus of our rhetoric.

One day, if they do come us, let’s ensure we die for the right reason.

Blood Moons, Shemitah,, and Last Days Nonsense


Four Horsemen of the ApocalypseWhere I live, everyone has been running around like crazy, preparing. Kids are off school. People have been buzzing about how it might all go down, and who will be chosen and who will not. Some have been anxious, others elated. What has long been awaited is finally upon us.

In other words, it’s the week of the county fair.

You thought perhaps I was speaking of something else?

Like that blood moon thing. Oh, that’s yesterday’s news. Who’s going to win Best of Show in cattle is more important right now.

As for me, I’m not so much a county fair person. I’m more concerned with the aftermath of this month of September within the pathetic prophetic community in charismatic and dispensationalist Christianity.

An unhealthy fascination with the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which fall within September, is an area of concern. This year is also a Jubilee year in Judaism, which happens every 50 years (7 X 7 Shemitah years plus one) and marks a time of the forgiving of debts and the releasing of those in bondage of any kind. Add in the blood moon tetrad we just experienced, and all manner of End Times craziness afflicted us in 2015.

Over at Charisma magazine online ( and it’s sister site,, it’s business as usual, save for a few rare posts wondering why nothing happened. For the last year or so, these sites have been spewing predictions about this month’s eschatological “certainties.” I know this because my Facebook pages have been strewn with Christians posting End Times articles sourced from these two websites.

What was supposed to happen as prophetically announced through various pricey books, DVDs, teaching seminars, and other big money generators was the end of the world, the Second Coming of Christ, the exposing of the Beast and Antichrist, the Last Battle, all manner of Israel-related stuff, signs in the heavens, and signs on earth.

Oh, and that Catholic leader guy visited America. Surely he had to fit into all that too. Had to. Gotta read all the signs.

Here’s the scorecard:

Blood moon tetrad events – FAIL

Wonders related to Shemitah – FAIL

Attacks on Israel – FAIL

Armageddon – FAIL

The Second Coming of Christ – FAIL

The Rapture of the Church – FAIL

Wow, that’s surprising, isn’t it? Not one of those things either happened or signaled anything.

What gets me is that we’ll go on about our business, get ready for fairs, go to work, cheer or lament our local football teams, and nowhere will there be an admission from all these “prophets” who made a fortune hocking End Times nonsense that they were ultimately dead wrong about everything they predicted. And nowhere will there be an apology from the editiorial staff at Charisma that they rode this nuttiness for all it was worth and that they’re sorry for having done so.

I fully believe that Jesus will return one day. I fully believe it will be during a time of great unrest and turmoil. I fully believe that a war between the forces of God and the forces of Satan will erupt sometime in the future.

But all these End Times predictions by self-anointed prophets in polyester suits seem more like astrology, numerology, divination, and outright witchcraft than anything Christian that proceeds from the throne of God Almighty.

God is not a god of error, confusion, and fear. He is not found in earthquakes and windstorms, but instead speaks in a still, small voice, yet one that carries devastating and lasting authority.

My advice to fellow believers is to stop funding and promoting charlatans who attempt to make money by peddling loud, scary predictions. Just stop. Please. Don’t buy their materials and don’t repeat their silliness in social media and elsewhere.

I also hope you will consider that today will be no different than yesterday, and that no apologies will come from those who spoke wrongly. Consider that sometime in the next year we will get another run-up of predictions heading into next September, and by the same “prophets,” and they will be wrong then too.

Whatever we do, we cannot and should not forget or excuse these failed prophetic words. We cannot go on as if the failure of these predictions does not matter. The only way the Church can be strengthened is if we stop supporting the predictions and predictors. One reason lost people no longer look to the Church for answers is because of this nonsense. It must be dealt with.

If any of us fell for all this, we should not lie to ourselves that we didn’t. Instead, we should get before God and get real with Him about our obsession with all things End Times and our tendency to fall for related nonsense. My fear is, if we don’t deal with it, should the Liar of All Liars arise in our lifetimes, we will believe his or her lies just as readily as we believed all these mistaken “prophets.”

I will add that perhaps we should examine the truthfulness of our eschatology. Is falling for this again and again a sign that perhaps what we believe about the End Times is flat-out wrong? Christians have held many differing views of the End. Perhaps the one we currently hold is incorrect.

In conclusion, I offer this.

The smartest religious people of Jesus’ day completely blew both the prediction of His first coming and its means. They got everything so hopelessly wrong that even when the anticipated Messiah stood before them, they could not see.

I believe Christ’s Second Coming will be just as surprising and confounding. It won’t occur the way we think or at the time we believe is most perfect. Yes, we are in the Last Days, but God has not stated to us the exact number of those days.

Until that Final Day of these Last Days, keep doing the work of the Kingdom and relax in letting God choose when and how He will bring it all to its conclusion.

Sleeping with the Enemy, American Church Edition


church demolitionIt’s hard to know where to begin to unravel the craziness behind the fallout of a Kentucky clerk of court saying she’s standing on the Word and refusing to issue–or let anyone else in her office issue–marriage licenses to homosexual couples. After a while, weariness is about the only emotion one can feel.

Yet not weariness that this has happened, but more the kind that comes from repeated efforts to awaken a sleeper who just refuses to wake up.

Christians who quote the Old Testament a lot are yelling about religious liberty and wringing their hands about the end of America. Christians who like to think they are more New Testament quote verses about obeying government authorities and seem bored with the whole fiasco. Solid Christians inhabit both groups, so it’s sad to see that neither group seems to understand the other.

I sit here somewhere in the middle, wondering if both sides are missing the point.

For me, the distress is not that this is the end of Christian dominance in America. It’s not that various Christian groups can’t come to consensus on the events in Kentucky.

If anything, what troubles me is that no one seems capable of understanding that the government of the United States is not the friend of Christians that Christians have always thought it has been, and that the Church has been doing nothing to distance itself from sleeping with the enemy, nor preparing for that day when the truth about that relationship finally crystalizes.

Friend Rick I. noted a case of the frankly delusional state of thought by some Christians. From the Answers in Genesis folks behind the Creation Museum (also, coincidentally, in Kentucky) comes this:

“Bowing to the pressure of anti-Christian secularist groups that have actively opposed AiG in the culture, the state was intimidated last year to withdraw a tax incentive for our Ark Encounter project that had already received pre-approval (see In order to receive the tax incentive, the state is now demanding that our future Christian facility open its hiring to everyone (which then would include applicants who agressively oppose the Christian message of the Ark project), and that the gospel message not be presented at the theme park. Christians increasingly are being treated as second-class citizens in this nation. Essentially it comes down to the fact that regardless of what the Constitution clearly states about freedom of religious expression, those who don’t have a Christian worldview will reinterpret the Constitution to make it fit with their own secular worldview. The Ark issue is a battle of worldviews.” (Source: AIG’s “Not Just Acceptance, But Coercion—Christians Now Being Told to Embrace Gay ‘Marriage’ or Else“)

It’s astonishing to me that any Christian organization can go to the government for money and NOT think there will be stipulations. Or that the government might bow to pressures from “enemy” groups. AIG looked for a handout and got its hand slapped instead. Wow, how utterly unexpected.  :-/

The even better question is to ask why a Christian organization is going to the government at all.

Rather than wringing our hands about what was surely the outcome the Bible predicted, why have Christians in America not been preparing for the day when the court of public opinion turns against us?

If we needed any preparation, Roe v. Wade provided the handwriting on the wall. Despite Christian groups’ repeated attempts to leverage supposedly pro-life forces in the House and Senate, Roe is still here, even when those forces held a majority. Despite the heartbreaking Planned Parenthood videos that should have galvanized our leaders, nothing has changed. Fact is, the powers that be don’t want it to change, no matter what they say they believe.

Yet Christians in America remain shocked at this. Shocked. Meanwhile, AIG is PO’ed that they may not get tax money to build their ark. We act as if Jesus never warned us that the world would hate us. That there would be consequences, difficult ones, for our faith.

The next battleground will be tax exemption for churches. I can almost guarantee that exemption will go away sooner than the Church thinks. Again, it was never a guarantee, but we have foolishly acted like it was.

What happens when the spawn of the Church Growth Movement, all these monster-sized churches with cathedral-like buildings sitting on a plethora of acreage, suddenly gets a million-dollar property tax bill?

What does it look like when a church goes bankrupt?

Whatever the outcome, it won’t look pretty.

I’ve been writing this blog since 2003. In that time, I’ve written extensively on the lack of preparedness by the American Church for times of want and for the day of persecution. Regardless of whether you or I think that time is now, we still are not getting prepped.

I’m not sure what it’s going to take, but I’m beginning to suspect the only way to wake up the Church here is the same way you wake of the board of directors of your typical Fortune 500 company: a string of brutal financial losses. I hate to think that for the Church in America it’s all about the money, but nothing else seems to be jumpstarting our efforts to future-proof the best we can.

Perhaps it’s time to sell off massive church buildings on gargantuan properties. Perhaps it’s time to stockpile food. Perhaps it’s time to draw up plans to secret ourselves. In countries where the church is actively persecuted, wise leaders have taken steps to survive. What are we doing here? Better yet, when are we even going to start talking about this in our churches?

Let’s get something straight, too: This is not panic mode anymore than is having a family escape plan should a fire break out in your home. It’s called being wise.

The American Church has slept with the federal government for a long time. Now we’re seeing that the lover is more a frenemy. Soon, the relationship will degrade even further.

Church, how are we being wise in all this? Does complaining about loss of funds for our fake ark really show any seriousness about the future? Yet that is where we seem to be as Christians in America 2015.

Time to wake up and start prepping for something worse.