Life Unscripted

Sometimes life is great, and sometimes, not so great. Sometimes we’re so excited about what tomorrow holds, we can barely sleep, and other times, we can’t wait to hit the bunk because of exhaustion, weariness, discouragement, or fear.

Occasionally, life has moments that are very rich, and as Christians, we learn to accept both good and evil from the hand of the Lord, as Job did. Still, God often sees fit to bless his children with precious memories, and along with those memories, valuable lessons.

Read more here.

 

Paula White Attempts to Lead Donald Trump to Christ, Gets Lost

Hopefully, you enjoy our first attempt at satire! 🙂

Paula-White-vs-Donald-Trump

In a shocking turn of events, world famous televangelist, “pastor”, and author Paula White has not been heard from since she gave the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention on Monday, July 18. According to Gary Braun of the Daily Times, White met with Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump after the event in order to lead him to Christ “for real this time.”

According to Braun, a wild-eyed White confronted Trump in the bowels of the Quicken Loans Arena and exclaimed, “I’m giving the closing benediction, and by the end of it, you’ll be a Christian!” She continued, “Everyone knows it was just a publicity stunt on my part when I leaked the report that I led you to Christ. This time, it will be for real.” Braun said she attempted to convert Trump right then and there but apparently became stumped while leading him in a “sinner’s prayer.”

As media members rushed to gather around the two, she began, “Lord Jesus, thank you for making me so awesome. I pray that you make me even more awesome and make me a champion as I fulfill my destiny in becoming the next president of the United States.” Braun said she suddenly began fumbling for words. “I ask you, Father, to forgive me…for..uh…not…being the champion that I could be…and for…uh…not fulfilling my destiny sooner.” Reports from Braun and other correspondents in the vicinity said that both White and Trump appeared awkward and uncomfortable. White abruptly ran away, screaming, “Stay tuned for the benediction!”

A bewildered Trump reportedly asked his aide, “What was that? Was she even on the list?”

“Whatever, just go with it,” the aide responded.

Braun obtained an impromptu interview with an onlooker who wished to speak to the media but wished to remain anonymous. “Nowhere in the Bible does this resemble the prayer of a penitent sinner repenting of his rebellion against the holy creator God of the universe. No true Christian will accept this as a genuine conversion.”

At the time of writing, neither Braun nor others who witnessed the scene was aware of Mrs. White’s current whereabouts. “She’s been lost the entire time,” Braun stated.

Polycarp Movie, Character Sketch: Anna

Today, we (finally!) begin our series of character sketches from the movie “Polycarp: Destroyer of gods.” We will begin with Anna, written by Rebecca. Next, we will cover Germanicus and Cicero, followed by Elias and Melina. We’ll end with Irenaeus and finally, Polycarp. We hope you enjoy it!

Anna

Anna was rescued by Polycarp in the marketplace before being sold into slavery. She was adopted by a Christian family who shared their faith with her and loved her as their own daughter. As Anna learns her new family’s ways and the practices of these strange Christians, questions about who God is arise within her. She began to learn more and more about the God who loved her and knew her by name, and that the gods of the Romans were not real. She is surprised to learn that Polycarp was also a slave but was taken in by a Christian woman and taught about Christ. Anna learns to thank God and talk to him personally as she begins to experience what living in a family is.

Anna becomes concerned for Polycarp’s safety when the decree to worship the gods of the Romans is passed and Polycarp’s boldness comes to a head. In an attempt to soften Quadraticus’ stance toward Christians, she attempts to talk to the proconsul, but the soldiers’ roughness toward her forces her adopted brother Germanicus to get involved, and he is captured, ultimately leading to his death in the arena when he refused to deny his Lord. When a manhunt for Polycarp ensues following Germanicus’ death, Anna runs to a friend’s house with Polycarp’s treasured scrolls – manuscripts of Scripture that he had copied by hand and his letters. Polycarp retrieves the scroll, and Anna returns to Smyrna only to find that it is not safe for Polycarp to return. Anna runs with all her might to warn Polycarp – fulfilling her dream of becoming a “runner” (someone who ran to deliver the scrolls) and filling the void left by Germanicus – but the Roman soldiers are tipped off to pursue the elderly saint to Ephesus. After Polycarp is escorted by the Roman guards back to Smyrna, Anna journeys home to see her old friend’s fate. Polycarp is martyred. Years later, Anna is martyred for Christ also, but she transmits her faith to the next generation, encouraging them so they can also take a stand.

Why I Love Church History

I admit, I am a bit of an aficionado of Church history – the fathers, the creeds, the councils, the martyrs – all of it. I’m not an expert on it by any means, but I do love it and love learning about it. And reading Hebrews 11, also known as the Hall of Fame of Faith chapter, recently helped me realize why.

Hebrews 11 summarizes the history of some of the great men and women of faith in the Old Testament. After giving synopses of some of their exploits, the author sums it up this way:

 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

~Hebrews 11:32-12:3

Why do I love Church history? For several reasons. It is the story of how God worked in history throughout all generations. It shows God’s power, sovereignty, and rule over history which culminates in Jesus. Through studying history, we see the faithfulness of God to His servants, whether they experienced deliverance (v. 33-35) or not (v. 36-39). Some demonstrated their faith and experienced deliverance, and others demonstrated it though they were not delivered.

From Abel to Enoch; from Noah to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; from Moses to Rahab; from the Godly judges to the good kings of Judah, the Prophets, and the OT saints; from the Apostles to Stephen and the rest of the NT saints; from all the martyrs from the first century to the present day, those whose names are recorded in history and those whose names are written only in heaven. All who have ever trusted in God are a part of this story, His story.

And we are a continuation of their story, the story of Faith. As in a relay race, they have passed the torch to us, though I confess that I cannot hold a candle to them.

May we heed the exhortation in Hebrews 12:1-2. Let us lay aside anything that hinders us in this race, and let us run in faith looking to Jesus, as those who have gone before cheer us on.

Simon vs. Simon

Did you know that Acts chapter 8 wasn’t the only time Simon Peter and Simon Magus crossed paths? According to Clement of Rome, they held many debates that lasted for days. In fact, it was almost as if Peter was following Simon from city to city. In many ways, they were rivals. Naturally (or should I say supernaturally), Peter won these debates. Consequently, Simon lost followers. Upon hearing the Gospel, people deceived under his false teaching were healed and set free. A portion of one of those debates, I think, holds apologetic value for us today as we face the objections of professing atheists, skeptics and unbelievers. I highly recommend reading these debates in their entirety if you have the opportunity.

In explaining how he could know from the Law what the Law does not teach, Simon Magus blasphemes God saying, “But even if the law had not given indications from which it might be gathered that the God who made the world is imperfect, it was still possible for me to infer from those evils which are done in this world, and are not corrected, either that its creator is powerless, if he cannot correct what is done amiss; or else, if he does not wish to remove the evils, that he is himself evil; but if he neither can nor will, that he is neither powerful nor good.” (Recognitions of Clement, Book II, ch. LIV)

“…there is no new thing under the sun.” ~Ecclesiastes 1:9

Professing atheists in our day use this same argument against God’s existence, though Magus used it to proclaim “another God more excellent and more powerful than all,” (ibid) namely, himself.1 But the argument is fundamentally the same: the God of the Bible is somehow imperfect because evil exists in this world and He apparently does nothing about it. Let’s examine Peter’s rebuttal:

Peter answered, ‘O, Simon, they are wont to conceive such absurdities against God who do not read the law with the instruction of masters, but account themselves teachers, and think that they can understand the law, though he has not explained it to them who has learned of the Master (i.e. Jesus). Nevertheless now, that we also may seem to follow the book of the law according to your apprehension of it; inasmuch as you say that the creator of the world is shown to be both impotent and evil, how is it that you do not see that that power of yours, which you say is superior to all, falls and lies under the very same charges? For the very same thing may be said of it, that it is either powerless, since it does not correct those things which here are done amiss; or if it can and will not, it is evil; or if it neither can nor will, then it is both impotent and imperfect. Whence that new power of yours is not only found liable to a similar charge, but even to a worse one, if, in addition to all these things, it is believed to be, when it is not. For He who created the world, His existence is manifest by His very operation in creating the world, as you yourself also confess. But this power which you say that you alone know, affords no indication of itself, by which we might perceive, at least, that it is, and subsists.’” (Recognitions, Book II, ch. LV)

Peter turns Simon’s argument on its head, demonstrating its self-defeating nature. And when unbelievers, professing atheists in particular, use the same argument, it fails in the same way. First of all, it is absurd, and I love how Peter points that out! The anti-God arguments of those who reject God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are, in fact, absurd. Next, Peter explains how Simon’s argument falls by the very logic he employs. We can do the same when unbelievers today use this objection. Whatever power (big bang, evolution, natural selection, etc.) the professing atheist credits with the existence of our universe is liable to the same charge by their own logic, since it does not correct the evil that is done in this world either and hasn’t shown that it has the power to do so. Our God, on the other hand, has the power. He displayed it in three ways: 1) in creating the world without evil; 2) in judging the evil in the world, both in this life and the next, and; 3) He will show it again when He remakes the world without evil. Their “god” – whatever they credit for the existence of our universe – has no such power; it “affords no indication of itself, by which we might perceive, at least, that it is, and subsists,” to use Peter’s words.

I believe this is an excellent example of ‘answering a fool according to his folly’ (Proverbs 26:5). Peter masterfully dismantles Simon’s argument, turns it on its head, and uses it against him. He continues on to defend and proclaim the goodness, righteousness, and justice of God. Not bad for an “unlearned and ignorant” fisherman!

1 As a side note, whenever a person claims that there is no God, they are also proclaiming another god, i.e. him/herself. How? In order for the ‘atheist’ to know there is no God, they would have to be everywhere and know all things for all time. In other words, for them to know there is no God, they would in essence have to be God. Needless to say, that is a self-defeating proposition.

Rejoicing in Affliction: Blessings of Persecution

This will be the first of several parts in a series called “The Blessings of Persecution.” Since persecution is usually viewed as a negative topic, I want to turn the tables and show that God can – and I believe will – use persecution for our good. This series will also tie into our Blogging Through Acts series.

With the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that homosexual “marriage” is a right that cannot be refused, many Christians are talking about encroaching persecution. Some believe it will happen in the coming weeks and months, while others believe it is years, or even a generation away. Regardless of when it happens, as our country becomes more and more Godless, persecution of true Believers will come. These times are described in 2 Timothy 3:

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In this context, verses 12-13 add:

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But my goal is not to condemn the reader to doom and gloom. On the contrary, I believe we can experience great joy despite increasing persecution. We, as members of the Body of Christ, can shine in this dark hour. While suffering for Christ does not feel good to our flesh, I believe we can and will experience several spiritual blessings in the midst of our suffering, which will be both the root and the fruit of our joy.

But before I show how we are blessed by persecution, I want to show how our persecution relates to God. The first and most important aspect is that Jesus is glorified. Using Stephen (Acts 7) as an example, his accusers had attempted to blaspheme Jesus, saying, “For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us” (Acts 6:14). They believed Jesus was dead and could do nothing, let alone destroy the temple, discounting Stephen’s and the Apostles’ testimony (and the fact!) that Jesus had risen from the dead. They also took a shot at Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, having the same attitude as Nathanael when he pejoratively asked, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). However, despite their mocking, as he is dying, Stephen is granted a vision into heaven and sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God, the highest position of authority in the universe! In the same way, though we may not be granted a vision like Stephen, Jesus is glorified in our suffering for Him. And many of the remaining blessings will flesh out exactly how Jesus is glorified.

The second blessing of persecution – and another way God is glorified – is, the justice of God is plainly revealed. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-7 says, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels…” When Jesus returns (leaving the debate about exactly when He returns aside 😉 ), we will be vindicated and rewarded by Him, and His enemies will receive retribution. Then we will rejoice even if we have to endure temporary pain and suffering. “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke (reproach, scorn) of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” -Isaiah 25:8-9

Please stick with us as we continue this series on the Blessings of Persecution. God bless!

Faith’s Checkbook – July 17

5003-FaithsCheckbookBanner_600w_tn

On our About page we tell you why we named our blog “Valiant for Truth.” In today’s Faith’s Checkbook, Charles Spurgeon does it far more eloquently.

July 17

Valiant for Truth

“The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits”   (Daniel 11:32).

The LORD is a man of war, Jehovah is his name.” Those who enlist under His banner shall have a Commander who will train them for the conflict and give them both vigor and valor. The times of which Daniel wrote were of the very worst kind, and then it was promised that the people of God would come out in their best colors: they would be strong and stout to confront the powerful adversary.

Oh, that we may know our God: His power, His faithfulness, His immutable love, and so may be ready to risk everything in His behalf. He is One whose character excites our enthusiasm and makes us willing to live and to die for Him. Oh, that we may know our God by familiar fellowship with Him; for then we shall become like Him and shall be prepared to stand up for truth and righteousness. He who comes forth fresh from beholding the face of God will never fear the face of man. If we dwell with Him, we shall catch the heroic spirit, and to us a world of enemies will be but as the drop of a bucket. A countless array of men, or even of devils, will seem as little to us as the nations are to God, and He counts them only as grasshoppers. Oh, to be valiant for truth in this day of falsehood.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear (and here’s what God did!)

 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… -1 John 4:18 NKJV

Something that I never really thought would happen to me has happened.

Just a little over a week ago, God answered my prayers, prayers that came from the desire he put in my heart ten years ago.

I started the path to become a missionary full-time.

But what’s amazing about this is not just one thing. It’s this and everything that has led up to it. God truly paved the path for me and showed me with crystal clarity the decisions I had to make.

He opened up doors of opportunity for me I never could have opened on my own. He helped me (and is helping me) to conquer my fears. He has given me the desire of my heart.

Years ago, I had such a hard time saying anything to anyone about Jesus. I grew up in church and was saved at a young age. But I regret to say, I was seized with fear. And I knew I was wrong, because fear is not from God and operating in fear is sin. So I prayed to God that he would release me from my fear and would give me a love for the lost. In his mercy, God touched me and never let go. I began to share the Gospel with people and give out Gospel tracts. Soon, it was all I thought about. And about a year or two later, it was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

God showed me a wonderful organization called Open Air Campaigners (OAC), whose mission is to proclaim the Good News in the open air for all to hear. After volunteering for them for over two years, one of the evangelists on staff told me he felt led to ask me if I would want to come on staff with them (thanks Zane!). I had been praying about the same thing prior to then! Although I was still unsure at the time about whether I should join or not, God showed me time after time that this was what he wanted for me by continually answering my prayers. As of last week, I am officially on staff with OAC. God is merciful and good, and he has shown me he is greater than all my sins, doubts, and fears.

So right now, I am asking for prayer. Prayers and pleadings to our God for humility, strength to fight spiritual warfare, wisdom, love, the Holy Spirit, and endurance to run this race. If you want more info, updates, and prayer requests from me as I start this journey, feel free to shoot me an email at becblast@gmail.com.

Reblog: Savoring Gifts

Occasionally here at Valiant for Truth, we will reblog posts from other great blogs and websites from around the web. We hope that these links encourage you.

This post is by a missionary couple who have recently moved to Taiwan to share the Gospel with the working class people there. They have some interesting insight into what the missionary life is like from their perspective as Christians living far away from what they have known all their lives, while depending on the Lord for the increase and not taking anything for granted. I hope this piece about transition and trust in God’s Word blesses you.

Savoring Gifts

Jesus Speaks to His Church: Ephesus

We’re going to take a little break from our “Blogging Through Acts” series to study the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. We will look at the circumstances those churches faced, what Jesus had to say about them – good and bad – and see if there’s any way we can apply His remedies to our circumstances today.

In Acts, Jesus directed His Apostles “through the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:2). Now, let’s hear what the Lord Jesus, through the same Spirit, is saying to the churches (Revelation 2:6).

Revelation 2:1-7

In Revelation 2:1, Jesus introduces Himself to the Ephesians as “he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” As with many of Jesus’ self-descriptions in these letters, this one hearkens back to the vision of the Glorified Christ John writes about in chapter 1. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man…” John continues his description, “And he had in his right hand seven stars” (Rev. 1:12-13, 16). We don’t have to guess or wonder what these mean; Jesus tell us. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20)

So Jesus is the One Who holds the “angel” of this church, and by extension all churches, in His hand. Many commentators see the term “angel” not as a heavenly being, but as referring to the church’s leader, i.e. its pastor or elder, since “angel” literally means messenger. Jesus walks among the churches examining them with his all-knowing, penetrating gaze, testing their works.

First, He commends them for their tireless work for Him and their perseverance in that work. What was that work? Primarily, it was the testing of those who claimed to be Apostles and exposing those who weren’t. They heeded Paul’s admonition:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31)

But they had forgotten about “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15); they had forgotten Paul’s tears. Once known for their love (Eph. 1:15-16), they had left it.

Sound doctrine is important (later, we will see a church that was the opposite; it had love but tolerated false doctrine), but so is love. We must contend for the faith (Jude 3) while speaking the truth, and we must do so “in love.” Out of love for the Lord Jesus, to preserve the purity of His Word and to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). Out of love for the saints, so they will not be caught up in false teaching (Acts 20:29-31). And out of love for those who are caught up in false teaching, so they will hopefully escape the snare of the devil (2 Tim. 2:26).

To the overcomer, Jesus promises that He will “give [him] to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). Later in his apocalyptic vision, John writes of the Tree of Life:

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-5)

This is in the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:1-2).  Chapter 22 continues: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (verse 14). So the promise to overcomers is citizenship in the heavenly city, dwelling with God eternally.

Who are the overcomers? John tells us in his first epistle: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5) We who believe in Jesus are the overcomers and we will be with God, as citizens of His heavenly kingdom, forever.