Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Attack Attributed to Islamic Cleansing

If the so-called shoe was on the other foot, you would likely not be hearing about this tragic story here first. In fact, you have likely not heard about it anywhere for that matter. This, too, is tragic in its own way. Meanwhile, the media is reporting stories like the 13-year old boy and some of his friends who were suspended for playing with air soft guns in his front yard while waiting for the school bus to arrive.

But on this past Sunday, a real-life act of incredible violence came upon a Christian church as some 600 members were exiting their service. All Saints Church in Pakistan had just concluded when two Islamic suicide bombers set off their sinister and deadly hardware. The blast killed approximately 100, many of whom were women and young children. Another 150 were badly wounded and will carry with them the emotional and physical scares for a life-time. It is reported that some entire families were together wiped out. The victims of the slaughter were buried in three mass graves on Sunday night. The attack was the single deadliest on Christians in the history of the country according to the U.S.-based organization International Christian Concern.

It would be rather hard to dispute that had this been a Christian upon Muslim act the entire world would know along with half of the Middle-East rising up in protest. But when it comes to Christianity versus any other world religion, no level playing ground seems to exist in any form! Some will argue that this latest attack was done by just a fringe group and therefore not representative of the whole. But imagine the reaction to that defense being offered up, again, if the shoe was upon the other foot? 

Why is this so considering that Christianity's head never remotely suggested, hinted or sanctioned that any be persecuted or killed in His name? And why would His love and sacrifice be a cause for anger, mocking or even extreme violence? What is it that separates the Christian faith from all others and makes it the acceptable target it obviously is?

The answer to that question begins and ends with two connected words, both of which start with the letter C.  It is all about Christ, and it is all about His cross. In Philippians 2:7-11 the writer records, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus  every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This should be good news, should it not? It was Christ and His cross that made salvation and heaven a reality and a possibility for all. But that same news is also highly “exclusive” and therefore makes it highly explosive! When Scripture confirms that Christ is a name above all others, and that all will someday admit who He is and what He did, a match is quickly struck and directly tossed into the religious kerosene.

The Bible contends that the symbol of the cross itself is seriously offensive in Galatians 5:11. That is because it clearly convicts man of his sin and of God’s exclusive demand that he deal with it and how. While the cross is the ultimate act of a loving God, it again tends to irritate or anger those who chose to reject it for the reason best spelled out in 1 Corinthians 1:18. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And it is when people are told they must respond positively to something they view as utter foolishness, the reaction will typically be negative – sometimes to the level just witnessed in Pakistan.

We cannot look into the hearts and motives of those who brutally murdered and assaulted scores of Christian brothers and sisters in the Lord. But we can look directly into the heart of our Lord and see exactly how He lived and what He taught in His word.

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

Pray for God’s grace for the survivors of the Pakistan attack and other assaults that will inevitably follow. And pray, as difficult as it may be, for those whose response to the Christ’s offer of forgiveness through His cross is hatred and violence - some of the many wrong things He came to make right!  

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Syria and The End Times

Syria is in the news and has piqued the interest of the entire world. While it is no real surprise to have the Middle East grabbing such negative attention, it is somewhat unique for it to be this particular nation. A recent poll reveals that almost one in three Americans feel that an escalated conflict with Syria could literally bring global conflict and the end of the world as we know it. Some believe it could even the usher in Armageddon itself. That is a stunning statistic considering all that has happened, and continues to happen, in that troubled part of the world.

In addition to the current gruesome slaughter taking place in the civil war there, Christians have been specifically targeted and are in need of fervent prayer from their brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide.

But with all of that said, very few know much at all about Syria itself and especially its biblical and prophetic significance.  For instance, how many would know that it has been called the literal "Cradle of Christianity"? So in order to fill in the blanks, two programs of "The Word and The World" are taken from a recent message on the subject.We trust this will help broaden your understanding and also heighten your awareness of a current event that may be serving to signal the soon return of Christ for His church. To hear both broadcasts, simply click here.

 Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the day that literally changed the modern world. It seems like just yesterday that the bluest September sky morning ever turned to bright red fire and dark thick smoke when the mighty Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan came crashing down. To this very day,  watching the grisly scene is nearly as horrifying as ever and congers up vivid the reminder of the depths that human sin can lead to.

An addition to the yearly events held to remember the victims killed at all three sites on that horrible day, a special memorial is set to open in the Spring. It will provide an official spot where those who recall, and those who may not, can reflect and try grasp the enormity of the devastating and historic day.

But when looking at this indescribable moment in spiritual terms, there was another day that changed the world far more  - only on the opposite end of the spectrum. It really occurred over a period of three days. It began with the vilest and most unjust action ever perpetrated, but ended as the greatest single event in all of history and eternity!

This of course was the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. His sacrifice provided the forgiveness of sin, no matter how horrific it may be or what form it make take. And He rose to provide eternal life for all that would believe and trust him by faith. This amazing promise is recorded in perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible - and rightly so. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

The bottom line is that the events of 911 serve to reveal just why Christ had to come and die and what man needs to do to be forgiven of sin and reunited with God. The two pictures here actually sum up well both the  level of man's great hate and the depths of God's greater love!

Despite having fresh memories of that awful day even now, it is sometimes good to relive those moments through the perspective others who perhaps had a more personal connection.  In order to do that, and should you be interested, please go to our radio broadcast found here. You may listen there to the words of those who have a special recollection of the day that changed the world through evil, but who also have a spiritual connection to the One that changed the world for eternal good!

Bill Breckenridge