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Issue No: 588     Published: 21 Jan 2013

TRANSITION FROM 'THE CHURCH' TO 'THE KINGDOM'

A new series, looking at the some of the changes we need to make to move from a 'church' to a 'kingdom' mindset. (See the last 10 weeks of PGIM)

FROM “SIZE” TO “COMMITMENT”

One of the greatest challenges in the church today is the emphasis placed on size over commitment. Almost inevitably, the first question one asks when meeting a new pastor is, "How large is your church?" For the answer to that question largely determines the pastor's perceived 'success' in God and his or her ranking in the hierarchy of the church system. It is a measurable physical criteria related to The spiritual world. Yet the two worlds do not relate in terms of measures of effectiveness.

In a worldly sense, more 'bums on seats' brings greater influence on more people, both inside the church and in the community, along with the prestige that goes with it. More people means more income for the church - more payments to pastors, greater programmes and buildings, etc.. People who 'come to church' are generally regarded as Christians, without reference to the lives they may be leading the other 167 hours a week.

This emphasis on numbers has led to the expansion of 'user friendly' churches designed to meet the needs of the people rather than action the purposes of God.

This concentration on numbers is very antithesis of what the Bible teaches. Jesus was not a 'popularity preacher', preaching a heavenly nirvana (with a painless unbiblical 'rapture'!) for minimum commitment (saying the unbiblical 'Sinners Prayer!). Even during His initial ministry period of popularity when thousands came to hear His teachings, Jesus warned.....

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

And He continued, watch out for popularity preachers, preaching self-centered, easy living type messages.....

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

And there is more! Jesus went on to say that verbal acknowledgement is not enough! True believers must live godly lives and be obedient to the Father's will!

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matthew 7:21-3)

Wow! How often is this message preached today? Certainly not one designed to make for a comfortable congregation!

Later in His ministry His teachings were even more urgent and harder to accept.....

53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:53-7)

The result was.....

Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:60-66)


Jesus even challenged the twelve.....

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:67)

Peter reiterated their commitment to Him.....

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-9)

Jesus desires, indeed requires, disciples who will be prepared to give their all to Him at the expense of worldly acceptance.....

The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)


The transition from the church to the kingdom is one from membership or attendance to that of discipleship, of laying our lives down for Jesus.....

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:8-14)

This is the way of the kingdom.

(Continued next week)

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FROM THE WORD

Jesus the Bread of Life

"When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Many Disciples Desert Jesus

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)" (John 6:25-70)

The Vine and the Branches

"“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

The World Hates the Disciples

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you." (John 15:1-16:4)

Read the Bible (NIV Version) online at...

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DAVID'S DOODLINGS

KNOWING GOD

351. The more I discover about God the more I realise there is to know.

352. The closer I get to God, the more I realise how big He is and how small I am.

353. While God graciously accepts me as I am, His desire is for me to become more like Him.

354. When God moves, the results are beyond our imagination. Why then do we try and do His work ourselves?

811. Sanctification is 'the means', holiness 'the end'.

Please feel free to quote these quotes. Acknowledgement of David Tait as the author would be appreciated. There are now over 1300 David sayings for you to view at ...

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CARTOONS FROM TOON FEVER

Visit the Toon Fever website for more cartoon fun..... http://www.toonfever.com TO READ THIS CARTOON AND SEE THE OTHER PICTURES IN THIS EMAIL YOU NEED TO BE ONLINE. Check it out at...

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TUESDAY TEACHINGS

THIS WEEK: THE NEW COVENANT concludes

THE 3 KEYS TO SALVATION


To complete our study, we will look at 'THE 3 KEYS TO SALVATION'.

For without genuine salvation we are without hope, both now and for eternity.

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LAUGHING AT OURSELVES

***Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused***

*** Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others. ***


593. MURPHY'S CHURCH LAWS
1) If it wasn't for committee meetings, nothing would ever get done.

2) If you can't get a sermon done working 20 hours a day, work nights.

3) When the Deacons talk about improving the churches spiritual life, they are never talking about their own.

4) In a committee meeting, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.

5) There will always be empty soft drink cans rolling on the floorboard of your car when your head deacon asks for a ride home from church.

6) No matter how many sermons you prepare, you never prepare enough.

7) You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard, a camera, or a Bible.

8) You are always doing something trivial when the Deacon Chairman drops by your office.

9) People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

10) It doesn't matter what you do, it only matters what you say you've done and what you're going to do.

11) Keep the deacon chairman's wife off his back and you will succeed as a pastor.

12) Everything can be filed under "miscellaneous."

13) Never delay the ending of a meeting or the beginning of a fellowship activity involving food.

14) Real Deacons/Elders realize that a clean desk is not necessarily a productive desk.

15) Any church employee can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he/she has been assigned to do.

16) Any great Sermon that contains no errors will develop errors when transmitted to your printer.

17) If you are good, you will be assigned all the work. If you are really good, you will get out of it.

18) The more garbage you put up with, the more garbage you are going to get.

19) After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.

20) When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.

21) Following the rules will not get the job done.

22) Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules.

23) A Youth Pastor with a clean desk has way too much free time.

24) Every sermon idea shalt beget another sermon idea.

25) When confronted by a difficult problem you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, "How would Batman handle this?"

26) The last person that quit or was fired will be blamed for everything that goes wrong for at least a year.

592. WITH A 'G'
The pastor of a local church was well known for using acronyms in his sermons. He'd use things like Go N.U.T.S. (Never Underestimate the Spirit) Week. Most often his stories would have something to do with Jesus like the term WWJD.

One Sunday he was preaching about the creation. Referring to the Earth, the young pastor asked the congregation, "Who made what we're standing on?" After a few moments of silence he said, "Come on folks, you know the answer, who made what we're standing on?" Again silence. Wanting to keep the sermon moving the pastor said, "OK, I'll give you a hint, it starts with a 'G'".

Much to the amusement of the congregation an elderly lady in the back suddenly yelled out, "I know, I know, it's Geezus."

" FREE DOWNLOAD: You can now download the book 'Laughing At Ourselves' in PDF format at LAUGHING AT OURSELVES One of the most comprehensive sources of Christian Humour on the Net with 800 sermon fillers for your entertainment and use at ...

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FACTS FOR FUN

LAST WEEKS QUESTION: What is the fastest time someone has climbed 102 flights of stairs?

ANSWER: The fastest time, at least in 1999, is 10 minutes, 15 seconds. The person who made that record was participating in a contest sponsored by the Empire State Building. He had to climb up a total of 1,860 steps to make it from street level to the 102nd floor. The average person climbing one stair every 2 seconds would take 1 hour and 2 minutes! (Maybe you could try beating this record?)

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: When did Mother's Day first come into being?

Answer Next Week.

SOME FUN FACTS

921. KEEPING IT CLEAN
Antiseptics, used to prevent infection, were not used widely, even in hospitals, until the late nineteenth century. Up to then, many patients died after successful surgeries from infections they contracted in the hospital. (And the anesthetics weren’t wonderful either. We’re lucky to live today!)

922. SNAIL MATING
The snail mates only once in a lifetime, which many believe is a good thing. However, it makes the most of it, as the act itself can take more than 12 hours to consummate. (The ultimate ‘snails pace’!)

923. A MILITARY CITY
Because of its huge size, the Pentagon operates much like a small city within a city, having it's own shopping mall, bank, power plant, water and sewage facilities, fire station, police force, fast food restaurants and even a "mayor". (and fights battles with the Legislature and White House to fund itself.)

A WORD PUZZLE FOR YOU

Make another word from this word using all the letters.

STRAYING

Answer at the end of A David Musing

FREE DOWNLOAD: You can download the full version of our Trivia Book at TRULY TRIFFLING TRIVIA Or view all 1232 online at...

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66 BOOKS... 66 QUESTIONS

35: Habakkuk: In Habakkuk the Lord says “the righteous shall live by his” what?

a. Love
b. Faith
c. Deeds
d. Hope

Source: http://biblequizzes.org.uk

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IF ONLY I'D THOUGHT OF IT!

"""OTHER'S SAYINGS TO ENLIGHTEN, AMUSE, OR BEMUSE""" SAYINGS FOR YOU TO PONDER

!!!!!!! When an egotist meets another egotist, it's an "I" for an "I". Really, they are both I-sores.

!!!!!! He who fiddles around seldom gets to lead the orchestra.

!!!!! He who throws dirt loses ground.

!!!! Some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week.

!!! In God we trust ~ all others pay cash.

!! Church membership does not make you a Christian any more than owning a piano makes you a musician.

! You don't test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible.

100'S MORE TO BE FOUND AT...

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PETS RULE

75. THE SECOND OPINION
A man runs into the vet's office carrying his dog, screaming for help. The vet rushes him back to an examination room and has him put his dog down on the examination table. The vet examines the still, limp body and after a few moments tells the man that his dog, regrettably, is dead. The man, clearly agitated and not willing to accept this, demands a second opinion.

The vet goes into the back room and comes out with a cat and puts the cat down next to the dog's body. The cat sniffs the body, walks from head to tail poking and sniffing the dog's body and finally looks at the vet and meows. The vet looks at the man and says, "I'm sorry, but the cat thinks that your dog is dead too."

The man is still unwilling to accept that his dog is dead.

The vet brings in a black Labrador. The lab sniffs the body, walks from head to tail, and finally looks at the vet and barks. The vet looks at the man and says, "I'm sorry, but the lab thinks your dog is dead too."

The man, finally resigned to the diagnosis, thanks the vet and asks how much he owes. The vet answers, "$650."

"$650 to tell me my dog is dead?" exclaimed the man....

"Well," the vet replies, "I would only have charged you $50 for my initial diagnosis. The additional $600 was for the cat scan and lab test."

76. FELINE FUN
What happened when the cat swallowed a silver dollar?
There was money in the kitty

What do you call a cat that travels by train to catch mice?
A com-mew-ter

What did the cat rest its head on when it went to sleep?
A Cat-er-pillow

What do you call a cat that likes to eat lemons?
A sour-puss

Sam: I wish I had enough money to buy one of those
pedigreed hairless Sphynx cats.
Bill: Why do you want one of those?
Sam: I don't - I just wish I had that much money.

77. ANIMAL ALPHABET
There's a little known animal that begins with the letter X. It's actually a Greek swordfish, spelled X-I-P-H-I-I-D-A-E, and it's pronounced ZIFF-EYE-IH-DEE. As Paul Harvey might say, "Now for the REST of the story." I'd like to present an ABC primer on animal puns.

AARDVARK a million miles to put 26 animal puns in alphabetical order. I'd BADGER you and I'd keep CARPing on the subject, until I have no i-DEERs left. I'd have no EGRETs, however, as I FERRET out more animal puns. If necessary, I'd even GOPHER broke. Some may say it's a HARE-brained attempt; but, IGUANA tell you, I'm no JACKASS -- and I KID you not. I'm not doing this for a LARK (although maybe just a MITE). So don't NAG me. In fact, you OTTER try to PARROT me. But don't QUAIL from the challenge. After all, you don't have to be a RACCOONteur. So just SALMON up some courage, before you take a TERN for the worse. Don't be afraid of people saying to you, "UNICORNiest person I know." Stop crying and VIPER nose. Then say, "WALLABY a son-of-a-gun," and start singing, "Zip-a-dee doo-dah, XIPHIIDAE ay." Soon you'll be a YAK-of-all-trades, and can put all of these animal puns in a book called "Who's ZOO."

More about your pets here.....

http://wwj.org.nz/pets.php

BIBLE TRIVIA (Festivals and Holidays)

WITHIN THE HEBREW CALENDAR.....

..... there are also 12 months of the year. However, the Hebrew calendar starts in Tishri (September). The other months of the year are Heshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, Adar, Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av and Elul.

Adapted from: '1001 Surprising Things You Should Know About The Bible' MacGregor & Prys

Africa rises on World Watch List of worst persecutors of Christians

Arab Spring empowers militant Islamist movements

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Africa, the continent of my birth, where Christianity has spread fastest during the past century, now is the region where oppression of Christians is spreading fastest, a new report says.

According to World Watch Monitor (http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org), the two-year-old Arab Spring has toppled autocrats across Northern Africa, but it also has energized militant Islamist movements that have killed hundreds of Christians and endanger thousands more, according to the annual World Watch List, released Tuesday.

The list, published by Open Doors International (http://www.opendoors.org), a ministry to persecuted Christians, ranks the 50 countries it considers to be most hostile to believers during the year that ended Oct. 31. The countries on the list are home to about a quarter of the world’s 2.2 billion believers.

The story says that for the 11th straight year, North Korea tops the list, and Open Doors says it figures to stay there as long as its combination of “communist oppression” and “dictatorial paranoia” remains in place. The ministry estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians live in the country, where they face arrest, torture and even execution if exposed. It is the only country where the list says “absolute persecution” reigns.

See interactive map of World Watch List countries here ( https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?snapid=S82790 72eB1 )

But down the list, the story is Africa.

Mali, a west-African country never before included in World Watch List, was No. 7 in the 2013 rankings. Predominantly Muslim, Mali had long accommodated Christians peacefully until March 2012 when groups linked to al-Qaida seized power in the northern half of the country and imposed a regime based on sharia, or Islamic law. Open Doors said its contacts in the country reported that most Christians fled the north, abandoning homes and churches that later were confiscated or destroyed.

“If you stayed, you were killed,” said Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, who directs Open Doors strategy and research. “All the churches were closed. There were house-to-house searches. It was pretty clear they were looking for Christians to kill.”

Two other African nations, Somalia and Eritrea, are included among the World Watch List top 10. In all, 18 African countries are included on the list of 50 nations. Five are ranked closer to the top than they were in 2012. Five others — Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Niger — are on the list for the first time.

The addition of new African countries, and the ascension of several already on the list, can be traced to Islamist parties gaining power in places where regimes had fallen, or where a hardline, Wahabi version of Islam made inroads against more tolerant, Sufi forms, according to Open Doors. In some cases it was linked with gradual expansion of Islamist influences in local governments or societies; or plain terrorist violence; or a combination.

The trend isn’t confined to Africa. In Syria, rebel forces ignited by the Arab Spring in early 2011 already considered Christians as aligned with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Christians fled Homs, the city where many were concentrated, and the 2012 arrival of foreign jihadists only intensified the pressure on those who remained in the country. Result: Syria made the biggest jump up the World Watch List, from No. 36 to No. 11.

One country that didn’t move up on the list was Egypt, even though Islamist political parties have made deep inroads there as well. They won the presidency in 2012 and produced enough votes to pass a constitution built partly on the principles of Islam. Yet about one of every nine Egyptians is Christian, and at about 10 million, they comprise the largest Christian community in the Arab world. The new constitution, nearly unanimously opposed by Christians and liberal allies, was approved by voters in December, and its effect on Christian life has yet to be seen.

Various private and government agencies monitor persecution, but Open Doors claims its World Watch List is the only annual survey of Christian religious liberty around the world. Based on a mix of face-to-face interviews with underground Christians, surveys of church leaders, opinions of Open Doors field workers and external experts, and review of publicly available data, it claims to measure “the degree of freedom of a Christian to live out their faith in five spheres of life: private, family, community, congregation and national life.”

It also measures the degree of violence experienced by Christians, a category that thrust Nigeria, where I was born to British missionary parents, to No. 13. Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria was ranked No. 27 as recently as 2010, but has ascended partly because it has become, by the World Watch List measure, the most violent place on Earth for Christians.

The militant Islamic group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous mass killings of Christians and other Nigerians in an attempt to impose an Islamic system over Nigeria’s north. Two churches in northeastern Nigeria were attacked on Christmas Day, leaving eight worshippers dead. Authorities openly suspect Boko Haram.

Taken as a whole, Boyd-MacMillan said, the 2013 list describes a world where persecution of Christians has intensified overall, mostly because of the rise of militant sectarian movements, not only in Africa but in some of the world’s most populous countries, such as India, where Open Doors says Hindu extremists routinely assault Christian worshippers.

Other monitors of religious freedom have documented a similar global pattern. A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life concluded that government restrictions on religion rose worldwide during the year. Sub-Saharan Africa was one of three regions where the report said both government restrictions and social hostilities toward religion increased. The Pew forum is concerned with all religions, not only Christianity.

“Our study found, for instance, that in Nigeria, violence between Christian and Muslim communities, including a series of deadly attacks, escalated throughout the period,” said Brian Grim, senior researcher and director of cross-national data for the Pew forum.

Even so, the World Watch List did detect a decline in persecution in some areas.

China fell furthest in the rankings, down 16 spots to No. 37. Its Christian population is growing faster than anywhere, and the government’s direct suppression of the Mao era has evolved into a wary watchfulness, according to Open Doors.

“There does seem to be the possibility of greater rapprochement,” Boyd-MacMillan said, as Communist Party leaders begin to regard the church’s ability to moderate social tensions as an asset during and age of rapid economic and societal change.

Source: Assist News Service
Via OpenHeaven.com

DAVID'S DOWNLOAD

UP THE MOUNTAIN

An exciting yet challenging allegory of one man’s spiritual journey and his participation in the fulfilment of God’s plan.

Check it out and download your free PDF File here.....

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WAXING LYRICAL

Normally writing verse takes longer than writing prose. But not this time!

IN A HURRY!

Time is short,
Too much sport!

Bad attitude,
No gratitude!

Put Jesus first,
Develop thirst!

Do come aboard,
Jesus is Lord!

More of David's offerings at...

http://www.wwj.org.nz/waxing.php

A DAVID MUSING

The past few weeks here in our city of Napier, New Zealand, have been hot. Well, hot for us, at least. Temperatures are 30-35 degrees centigrade. My friend Asher Peri, who visits regularly from India, thinks that New Zealand temperatures are very hot, even though he lives in the tropics. For the Ozone Layer over New Zealand is now very thin and doesn't offer as much protection from the sun's rays as it used to. Sunburn is more severe here now than it used to be, if protection is not worn.

This summer reminds me of the summers of my youth when it seemed to be sunny every day for months on end.

Unfortunately though, memory is not necessarily a very good indicator of reality. For we remember things through rosy colored spectacles, if they were good, and broken glasses, if they were bad. The 'good old days' or the 'bad old days' are ingrained in our memory.

Spiritually too, it is so easy to look back at the rosy past, particularly if we are going through a dry period now. Yet my experience has taught me that God is interested in us now, today, at this very minute. The past cannot be relived. God is a God of the present, and one of future hope. The past is gone, both good and bad. We are as we are, right now.

Each day has a new dawn, a new hope, a new experience of its own. May we not live in the past any more. Let us give our lives 100% to our Lord today, tomorrow and forever.

Until next week.....

MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU BLESS GOD

His servant and yours

David Tait

Today's 'Word Puzzle' Answer: STINGRAY

TODAY'S 'BIBLE QUESTION' ANSWER: b. Faith (Habakkuk 2:4)

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ABOUT US

WALKING WITH JESUS MINISTRIES is a non-profit, non-denominational, Bible based ministry located in Hastings, New Zealand. A ministry dedicated to developing discipleship, fostering unity amongst God’s people to achieve the Great Commission, and in doing so, preparing for Christ’s return. It is securely based upon the foundational principles of the Apostles Creed while recognising the wide and rich diversity of beliefs amongst Christians in other areas. In accordance with the Lord’s direction, materials produced by the ministry are available, free of charge, to genuine enquirers upon request. The ministry is solely funded by donations, as the Lord provides. A list of materials available (plus some fun!) is obtainable and freely downloadable from our website
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