Kande Mudu. (Image credit: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
The persecution of Christians in India is on the rise with a report of one believer being murdered for his faith by Hindu radicals in his own village.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Kande Mudu, 27, was attacked and murdered by a group of armed men in the Khunti district of India’s Jharkhand state on June 7. He had converted to Christianity four years ago.
Mudu’s family were the only Christians living in their village. They had faced threats to their lives and had survived one violent attack on their home two years ago.
Mudu was killed when the mob showed up at his house, broke down the front door, and attacked him with weapons. During the brutal attack, his throat was cut.
Bindu Mudu, Mudu’s wife, told CSW, “After hearing the men at the front door, my husband knew that our lives were in danger and that the men had bad intentions.”
Mudu then reportedly told his wife, “He might be killed but assured her to remain strong and never to give up her faith in Jesus even if they killed him.”
Bindu Mudu and the couple’s two daughters fled the village after her husband’s murder since none of their neighbors would give them shelter.
The police investigation into Mudu’s murder is ongoing. No suspects have been arrested in his killing.
“Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to Mr. Mudu’s wife, Bindu, and his family for the loss of a husband, father, and son. Mr. Mudu was murdered on account of his faith. We at CSW are increasingly concerned by the relentless harassment, discrimination, and suffering that Christians in India face, simply for exercising their right to practice a religion that is different from the majority of their fellow citizens. India’s constitution clearly states that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion,'” said CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.
“The culture of hatred towards religious minorities and the impunity which surrounds attacks against them is rampantly spreading across India. This must be addressed urgently and we urge the authorities in Jharkhand and the central government to develop a plan of action. Christians and other religious minorities must feel safe and be able to live in their homes and have livelihoods as equal citizens without fear of violence or harassment from any segment of the community,” Thomas concluded.
Ninth Indian State to Pass Law Allowing Radical Hindu Groups to Attack and Intimidate Christians
Meanwhile, India’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the state government of Haryana would implement a bill against religious conversion by force, marriages, or through inducement for the specific purpose of adopting a religion.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports Haryana will become the 9th Indian state to pass this law in the legislative assembly, empowering Hindu radicals to attack and intimidate Christians in the region.
Eight state governments have not defined the terms “inducement,” “coercion,” “force,” or “fraud” in the context of religious conversions. Due to this legal ambiguity, these laws have been widely abused and empowers radical Hindu nationalist groups to attack and intimidate Christian minorities claiming to be acting under the state law.
The chief minister said that various steps were being taken by the government to maintain the brotherhood and social harmony among communities. However, this bill will divide the people of Haryana who lived in unity for ages, according to the ICC.
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT2) 27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
It was Christmas in Bethlehem—THE VERY 1ST CHRISTMAS—THE CHRISTMAS THAT STARTED ALL CHRISTMASES!
Such a wonderful event was too much for Heaven to hold back!
– An Angel choir broke through the mystic, intervening veil and burst into joyous caroling.
What Praise those shepherds must’ve heard!
– There’s never been such a concert before or since.- Think how it must’ve sounded echoing through sky and valley, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
BUT HISTORY’S MOST WONDERFUL EVENT PASSED ALMOST UNNOTICED!
– The multitudes slept through that wonderful night.
There are 4 things to notice about this wonderful event:
1. THE WORLD MISSED ITS 1ST CHRISTMAS.
2. MANY SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED IT WAS CHRISTMAS.
3. WHY THEY MISSED IT.
4. THAT CHRISTMAS IS A LOT LIKE WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY.
1. THE WORLD MISSED ITS 1ST CHRISTMAS!
– Only a few people even knew it was Christmas — 12 or 15 at the most!
– The rest of the people slept through that wonderful night.
It’s easy to get so set in our routines that we miss many wonderful things around us.
– When we lived in Grand Coulee it was the dam.
– When we lived in the Columbia Gorge it was Multnomah Falls and all the other falls and spectacular views.
– In Seattle it was the Space Needle, MT. Rainier, and the Puget Sound.
Fletcher Spruce told about his visit to Bethlehem.
– To him it was a moment never to be forgotten while to the men who lived there it was nothing special.
There were several thousand in Bethlehem and hundreds of thousands in Palestine.
– Only a few shepherds, a few wise men, and 2 old prayed-up saints knew anything out of the ordinary was happening.
2. MANY SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED IT WAS FINALLY CHRISTMAS.
They should’ve been watching for Him.
– The Jews had the books of Moses and the writings of the prophets.
– They’d been taught to respect and study these writing since they were children.
– They were to teach them to their children.
Genesis told about man’s fall into sin and God’s Promise to send a Messiah to bruise the serpent’s head.
They knew the Promise given to Abraham—“In thee and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.”
They had the record of Jacob’s special blessing given to his son Judah. —Genesis 49:10 —The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.
Isaiah had written — Isaiah 7:14 — All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
– He lived in a dark day, but could see beyond that and wrote
Isaiah 9:6 —For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
The Prophet, Micah, named the very town where the Messiah would be born — Micah 5:2– But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
Daniel gave the time of the Messiah’s coming. — Daniel 9:25– Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.
Even if there was some uncertainty of the exact date, the time was so near that the Jews should’ve been on the alert.— 483 years.- We know they had access to that information because they looked it up for Herod.
3. WHY THEY MISSED IT?
– How were they so blind that they didn’t recognize Jesus, their Messiah?
The Scribes and Pharisees missed Him because they’d substituted legalism for spirituality, and ceremonialism for vital experience.
– They were self-righteous and complacent and didn’t feel a need of a Savior……
THEY MISSED HIM BECAUSE THEY WEREN’T LOOKING FOR HIM!
The Innkeeper missed Him because of material interests……………………
– Millions today are missing Christmas for the same reason.
Wicked old Herod said he was interested in finding Jesus (tell story).
– Herod didn’t find Him because of selfishness and insincerity.
What made the difference between those who found and those who didn’t find the Savior?
Simeon and Anna found Baby Jesus because they were looking for Him.
– Faith is the key if we are to find Christ — FAITH IN GOD!
If we’re to find the true meaning of Christmas we must get beyond the $ Billions commercialized, tension-filled holiday season that the average non-Christian celebrates.
The shepherds found Jesus because of their simplicity and humility.
– God loves simplicity and sincerity.
– God hates sophistication and pretense.
– Door to the Nativity is so low that everyone has to bow to get in.
The Wise Men found Jesus because they were willing to seek Him.
Mary found Christmas by an unquestioning submission to God’s Will and Purpose.
It’s God’s Greatest Gift to men that made Christmas — God expressing His Love and forgiveness to all who will accept it!
God revealed His fathomless Love through a Person, His Son.
– Lady at Home Depot saying “Without Christ, what are they celebrating?”
The true spirit of Christmas is a spirit of unselfish giving — Jesus gave His all!
– Too often our giving is calculated on what we can get back………….
4. THAT 1ST CHRISTMAS WAS A LOT LIKE TODAY!
With all the Bible warnings of Christ’s 1st coming, most people missed it.
Scripture warns He’s coming again.
– I HOPE WE DON’T MISS IT!
– 578 references to 2nd Coming in the Bible.
– 260 in the Old Testament and 218 in the New Testament.
– Christ’s return is mentioned 50 times in the Epistles.
– 1 out of every 23 verses in the Bible mentions His return.
There are indications that suggest Christ’s return to restore Israel and establish His millennial reign may be in the very near future. These are: – Israel’s return to the Land Promised to Her. – Lawlessness is abounding. -Apostasy will be well entrenched. – A Religious appetite for an ecumenical one world church. – The rapid physical decline of the world via: war, earthquakes, and potential human annihilation of which all will require Christ’s return before these events run their determined course and bring the world to an end.
While it is true, that many awful things are happening today… they don’t compare to the awful things that will happen during the Great Tribulation.
Matthew 24:21 (NLT2) 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.
Revelation 1:7– Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!
Revelation 22:12-13: “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Peter speaks of His coming and warns about scoffers
2 Peter 3:3 — Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.
James 5:8 — You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Paul says — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 — 13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 — 51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Jesus came the 1st time over 2000 years ago just like God said He would and most people missed it.
– God’s said He’s coming a 2nd time — most people will miss that one too.
Twas the Night Before Jesus Came
‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house Not a creature was praying, not one in the house. Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care In hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed, Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head. And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.
When out of the East there arose such a clatter, I sprang to my feet to see what was The matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here. With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray I knew in a moment this must be The Day!
The light of His face made me cover my head It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said. And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His Hand Was written the name of every saved man. He spoke not a word as He searched for my name; When He said “It’s not here” My head hung in shame!
The people whose names had been written with love He gathered to take to His Father above. With those who were ready He rose without a sound While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late; I had waited too long and this sealed my fate. I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight; Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear; The coming of Jesus is drawing near. There’s only one life and when comes the last call We’ll find that the Bible was true after ALL!
Only those who are watching will know it happened and go to be with Him.
THE DUMMIES WERE SO PRE-OCCUPIED THAT THEY MISSED THE FIRST CHRISTMAS AND THE DUMMIES TODAY WILL MISS HIS SECOND COMING AND BE LEFT BEHIND!
Do you trust God with all your heart? Can you ever imagine trusting any man with all your heart? You have only one heart. So, it’s a clear choice.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Can I survive if I do not trust man?
We are fragile human beings, emotionally weak. The crippling effect of sin caused a deadly damage to our emotions too. Sin destroyed our ability to believe good. Who is good? Only God is good. Sin corrupted us to believe lies, fake news, gossip, etc. easily. Think how fake “forwards” have caused much chaos in the world today.
When a loved one passes away, many are often lost for years. Rather than be happy for them who went to be in the Lord, many stay buried in deep sadness and in a state of loss. Trusting in God fuels our faith.
God desires we love all, but trust Him alone.
God directs our hearts to trust when necessary (Psalms 37:23).
Those who trust God never fear evil news
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. (Psalms 112:7)
When Daniel heard he was going to be cut into pieces, he did not fear. Instead he went to the king asked for some time so he could ask God to reveal the king’s dream. His trust in God enabled him to receive the interpretation and reveal the dream too, saving many lives.
I thought I’d share more examples, then realised this word is good enough for today’s post considering the times we are in. All we hear is bad news. Evil news.
God gifted us the good news in Jesus Christ by grace. Now is the time for the world to turn to Jesus. To hear the good news of the gospel. To hear about the Saviour who still saves all those who seek Him. His precious blood gives us victory over sin, sickness, fear and death!
What a loving Father, what amazing love! Dear reader, Jesus is real. He is alive and desires your heart. All those who seek Him will find Him. Call out to Him, He will hear you. It’s a love you’ve never experienced ever.
“The ‘kerygma’ is the essential proclamation of the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and rule of Jesus Christ, as well as a call to conversion and repentance.”
The church of the twenty-first century faces many crises. One of the most serious is the crisis of preaching. Widely diverse philosophies of preaching vie for acceptance among contemporary clergy. Some see the sermon as a fireside chat; others, as a stimulus for psychological health; still others, as a commentary on contemporary politics. But some still view the exposition of sacred Scripture as a necessary ingredient to the office of preaching. In light of these views, it is always helpful to go to the New Testament to seek or glean the method and message found in the biblical record of apostolic preaching.
In the first instance, we must distinguish between two types of preaching. The first has been called kerygma; the second, didache. This distinction refers to the difference between proclamation (kerygma) and teaching or instruction (didache). It seems that the strategy of the apostolic church was to win converts by means of the proclamation of the gospel. Once people responded to that gospel, they were baptized and received into the visible church. They then underwent a regular, systematic exposure to the teaching of the apostles, through regular preaching (homilies) and in particular groups of catechetical instruction.
In the initial outreach to the Gentile community, the apostles did not go into great detail about Old Testament redemptive history. That knowledge was assumed among Jewish audiences, but it was not held among the Gentiles. Nevertheless, even to the Jewish audiences, the central emphasis of the evangelistic preaching was on the announcement that the Messiah had come and ushered in God’s kingdom.
If we take time to examine the sermons of the apostles that are recorded in the book of Acts, we see a somewhat common and familiar structure to them. In this analysis, we can discern the apostolic kerygma, the basic proclamation of the gospel. Here the focus in the preaching was on the person and work of Jesus. The gospel itself was called the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is about Him; it involves the proclamation and declaration of what He accomplished in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection. After the details of His death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God were preached, the apostles called the people to be converted to Christ — to repent of their sins and receive Christ by faith.
When we seek to extrapolate from these examples how the apostolic church did evangelism, we must ask: What is appropriate for the transfer of apostolic principles of preaching to the contemporary church? Some churches believe that a person is required to preach the gospel or to communicate the kerygma in every sermon preached. This view sees the emphasis in Sunday morning preaching as one of evangelism, of proclaiming the gospel.
Many preachers today, however, say they are preaching the gospel on a regular basis when in some cases they have never preached the gospel at all, because what they call the gospel is not the message of the person and work of Christ and how His accomplished work and its benefits can be appropriated to the individual by faith. Rather, the gospel of Christ is exchanged for therapeutic promises of a purposeful life or having personal fulfillment by coming to Jesus. In messages such as these, the focus is on us rather than on Him.
On the other hand, in looking at the pattern of worship in the early church, we see that the weekly assembly of the saints involved a coming together for worship, fellowship, prayer, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and devotion to the teaching of the apostles. If we were there, we would see that the apostolic preaching covered the whole of redemptive history and the sum of divine revelation, not being restricted simply to the evangelistic kerygma.
So, again, the kerygma is the essential proclamation of the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and rule of Jesus Christ, as well as a call to conversion and repentance. It is this kerygma that the New Testament indicates is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). There can be no acceptable substitute for it. When the church loses her kerygma, she loses her identity.
400 years ago this month, a weary band of Christians from England came ashore in New England after a grueling 66-day voyage aboard the Mayflower.
The Pilgrims came for one purpose, which they spelled out in writing: “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
It was all about religious freedom. They wanted to worship Jesus in the purity of the Gospel.
150 years after the Pilgrims came, the founders of this nation enshrined religious freedom in our national charter, the Constitution.
When the Constitution was first written, there were some hesitations toward ratifying it. Many of those who accepted it did so upon the assurance that religious freedom would be guaranteed. Thus, the founders amended the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, the document’s first ten amendments.
First and foremost among these was religious freedom. The first two freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment deal with religious liberty. In effect, these liberties were understood to mean there would be no national denomination, and people were free to practice their faith as they saw fit. Implied in that is that the non-believer would be free to practice his lack of faith.
Jump forward to today, 400 years after the Pilgrims arrived, and in the land for which they sought refuge, religious freedom is at risk. With tongue and cheek, one wag asked, “Can we uninstall 2020 and install it again? This version has a virus.”
That virus, Covid-19, has been the excuse many anti-Christians bigots have used to try to hamstring churches. We have seen in the last several months an unprecedented assault on religious freedom.
Just consider a few examples:
•Last week a judge in California ruled that strip clubs should be allowed to re-open, despite the pandemic, because the First Amendment is not nullified by a virus. And yet at the very same time, officials in California insist churches must be closed or severely limited because of the pandemic.
•The Supreme Court ruled in the Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak case (July 24, 2020) out of Nevada that it was okay for the state to limit how many people could attend worship services, but the casinos were allowed to operate more freely. In his dissent on this case, Justice Neil Gorsuch declared, “…there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.”
•Abortion clinics have been deemed “essential services” by a number of liberal governors, while churches are categorized as “non-essential.”
Rev. John MacArthur is one of the most listened-to and respected Bible teachers in our time. His church is in the greater Los Angeles area. He is generally not one to speak out on political matters. But after months of the pandemic and the way many state officials impair churches because of it, MacArthur decided that enough is enough. He reopened his church—despite threats from state and local officials.
Jenna Ellis, MacArthur’s attorney from the Thomas More Society, said “Our position has been that L. A. County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.
Kelly Shackelford of First Liberty, which also fights for religious freedom, told D. James Kennedy Ministries: “All people have to do is look at the ‘experts’ saying, ‘Well, you can’t sing at church, but oh yeah, the [BLM and Antifa] protests, we’re okay with that because that’s important.”
It would appear that Christophobic bigots are using the pandemic to curb religious freedom in a country that was born for religious freedom.
Author and speaker Bill Federer once told me in a TV interview: “Tolerance was an American Christian contribution to the world. Just as you drop a pebble in the pond, the ripples go out, there was tolerance first for Puritans and then Protestants, then Catholics, then liberal Christians, and then it went out completely to Jews. Then in the early 1900s, tolerance went out to anybody of any faith, monotheist or polytheist. Finally, within the last generation, tolerance went out to the atheist, the secular humanist and the anti-religious. And the last ones in the boat decided it was too crowded and decided to push the first ones out. So now we have a unique situation in America, where everybody’s tolerated except the ones that came up with the idea. And so when people say Christians are intolerant, we really need to correct them and say, ‘No, we’re the ones that came up with the idea of tolerance.’”
The Pilgrims sacrificed everything they had to practice religious freedom. It would be horrible to see the gift they bequeathed to the world uprooted in our time by secular fundamentalists.
Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value. They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare. This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.
When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify. However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.
Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless. This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.
But God values every life. His love is freely given.
“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).
“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).
Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims. If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.
This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others
Jonathon Moseley on how the Pilgrims intended to bless all people of the New World
North America was dedicated to Jesus Christ when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock nearly 400 years ago. That covenant with Jesus Christ endures today. God will not forget when we hold to His promises.
Dec. 21, 1620, is an important date for Christian prayer intercessors. This was a solemn covenant sealed by the sacrifice of lives, fortunes and in the deaths of the first winter. The dedication to Jesus Christ was intended for the blessing of all the continent’s inhabitants. The Pilgrims – unlike many settlers who followed – came to these shores partly to evangelize the natives, with a determination to love and befriend them.
There are many dates revolve around the 400th year anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower carrying the Christian Pilgrims to the Cape Cod region.
The Mayflower arrived severely off-course on Nov. 9, 2020. Realizing they were not under the king’s jurisdiction, the non-religious Strangers among them threatened to abandon the expedition and go their own way. On Nov. 11, 2020, the Mayflower Compact was worked out and signed. It was a foundational document of self-governance. But the task of searching for a suitable place to land and start building was just beginning.
It was not until Dec. 21 when the rowboats pulled ashore at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. The boats were dragged alongside Plymouth Rock so the women could step off. But as a matter of oral history, the Pilgrims also used Plymouth Rock as a Christian altar.
We know for certain from Gov. William Bradford’s massive historical diary that the Pilgrims dedicated the continent to Christ, for the spread of the gospel, and to demonstrate a city set on a hill for the world. It is believed that that eternal covenant with God was offered actually on Plymouth Rock as a makeshift, natural altar. (Arriving in a New England winter, the Pilgrims barely had enough supplies or resources to do more than use whatever was available.)
They researched the Separatist congregations from Scrooby, Gainsborough and Sturton-le-Steeple in England. They literally retraced their paths, hence the name of their book.
I joined them on one trip. We explored where the Pilgrims lived in Holland, near Leiden. We stood on the quay at Delftshaven where The Speedwell departed on July 21, 1620. Four days later, the Speedwell carrying the Pilgrims’ leaders joined the Mayflower in Southampton, England. The two ships were scheduled to cross the Atlantic during the calmer summer months.
Today, people often have mortgages. But back then most people could only mortgage themselves. Investors in the voyage demanded that the Pilgrims sell themselves into indentured servitude for seven years, working six days a week for the investors. These negotiations hit snags, including that the Sabbath should be a day of rest and the congregation would need at least one day of work for their own sustenance. The investors insisted on adding non-religious craftsmen and guards, whom the Pilgrims called “Strangers.”
Finally, on Aug. 5, 1620, the Speedwell and Mayflower sailed from Southampton, past the Isle of Wight, and Westward out through the English Channel. But after four days of beating against unfavorable winds, the Speedwell developed severe leaks. Tragically, the Speedwell had been “improved” with a larger main mast and sail. The ship’s frame, however, could not bear the greater power. The Speedwell began to sink.
The ships put into Dartmouth for repairs, then again sailed West. At sea, the leaks reappeared. The expedition set in at Plymouth, England. The Speedwell could not be repaired. This was tragic because in the New World, it was to help explore the coast and help feed the colony and repay investors by fishing, hunting and trapping. Many supplies had to be left behind, and members of the expedition turned back. But the adventurers were so touched by the warm hospitality that in their honor they named their settlement in the New World Plymouth.
Now alone, the Mayflower set out on Sept. 6, 1620, dangerously late in the year for the treacherous North Atlantic. The 10-week voyage – that should have taken six – was unimaginably terrifying. The Pilgrims were jammed below decks during the constant pounding from violent waves of powerful storms. Just eating seemed impossible.
On Sept. 27 there was a loud crack. The bowsprit of the ship had buried itself in a very large wave and the stress cracked a heavy beam supporting the main deck. It was possible that they all might sink to a watery grave. The beam was fixed using what is said to have been the screw of a printing press but probably a tool for raising roofs.
At (New) Plymouth, they began building homes, starting with the church/meeting hall. But this was now into the end of December during one of New England’s bitter winters. Illness quickly crippled the group. The desperately sick sheltered in the Mayflower and the meeting hall. The Mayflower had been scheduled to depart, but Capt. Christopher Jones could not muster enough crew free of illness to man the ship. Only a few, often teenagers, were well enough to diligently care for the entire company bedridden in misery.
Ultimately, half of the expedition’s people died that winter. Widows and widowers remarried for the sake of children. The dead were buried unmarked so that the Native Americans would not realize how small their remaining numbers were.
Still, friendship and diplomacy was an urgent priority, though later trampled by subsequent waves of settlers. In a meeting of diplomacy, Bradford presented Chief Massasoit his bright red coat as a much-treasured gift. (No, the Pilgrims did not wear black clothes.) New friends celebrated many days together as the first Thanksgiving, including sports and hunting, not just one day. The hard-won friendship unfortunately fell apart over 50 years as recent arrivals disrespected what the Mayflower band had built.
Although we value our Constitution, it can only give form to the covenant of Plymouth Rock. This nation belongs to Jesus Christ from its very foundation. And this was always intended to benefit all human beings of North America. Just as the Law of Moses could not alter the Lord’s covenant with Abraham 400 years earlier, the Plymouth covenant predominates today.
Deuteronomy 7:9 promises: “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” And in Mark 10: “So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.”
God yet has more blessings for this land that we have still not fully experienced.
Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth 1620
Mayflower Compact Manuscript from the State Library of Massachusetts
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.
IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
King Solomon says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21. Imagine how important it is for us to not only keep our words few, but also watch what comes out of our mouth!
What did Delilah’s Words do?
Delilah destroyed Samson with her words. Samson was a mighty man of faith and valour. A few days of nagging and coaxing brought down the might of Samson — And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. Judges 16:16-17
What happened in the garden of Eden?
The serpent beguiled Eve with much talk. She, in turn, indulged her husband, Adam. What happened? Like Samson, the very word of God was removed from their hearts and replaced with the subtle deception of the devil (serpent). Genesis 3:4-6.
What can we do as believers?
Dear child of God — How are your conversations today? Are your words of faith or fear? Do you uplift others or tear them down? Are you speaking words of faith even to yourself? Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue!
Will there be faith when Jesus comes? Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Be careful of subtle words of fear and lies that seep into your daily conversations. Think, meditate on Gods word daily and speak life. May the Lord help us!
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14
In Oregon, you can have cocaine, but not cranberries. Heroin, but no ham. Meth, but not mashed potatoes! Amazingly, a state that just legalized drugs wants to criminalize Thanksgiving! Talk about a double helping of hypocrisy–just in time for the holidays.
Of course, Governor Kate Brown (D) wasn’t exactly winning any popularity contests as it was. Now, after her ridiculous orders–which would force families of seven or more to turn away their own children from the meal–she’s become a national punchline. So let me get this straight, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted: “You can be jailed for having too many people over for Thanksgiving. But if you want to riot and loot in Portland, no sweat!” That’s right, Jason Rantz mocked. “In Oregon, they’re tougher on families than they are on Antifa!”
The optics certainly aren’t great for the state–threatening criminal sanctions against people for eating turkey together, when they let locals shoot themselves up with killer drugs. And yet, Brown didn’t shy away from the harsh rhetoric. “I am not asking you [to limit gatherings],” the governor said last week. “I am ordering you.” Charles Boyle, the governor’s spokesperson, was just as threatening. “If people aren’t going to take this virus seriously, we are prepared to offer consequences.” And those consequences, they aren’t shy to say, include jail time.
It’s an incredible government overreach. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf (D) is demanding that families wear marks in their own homes! That’s absurd, especially, PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil pointed out, when a lot of these liberal leaders (like Gavin Newsom, D-Calif.) aren’t even following their own rules. It’s not the government’s business to tell Americans how they can set their Thanksgiving tables–or if you can set it for that matter.
It might make more sense if they showed half as much care about people’s lives when it comes to drug addiction or the STD pandemic. You don’t see Governor Brown racing to stop the risky sexual activity that’s infecting 20 million new people each year and costing taxpayers $16 billion to treat. People die from that too. And what does the Left say? “Stay out of our bedrooms.” Fine, then it’s time they get out of our dining rooms!
LifeNews Note: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.
Interview with John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org
Today we have a very specific question, but one that I think draws attention to much larger questions we all face with Bible interpretation. The specific question on the table is this: Why does the author of Hebrews belabor Christ’s supremacy over angels? It comes in from a young man. “Pastor John, hello! Why do you think the writer of Hebrews spends so much time declaring that Jesus is greater than the angels? This is especially the case in the first two chapters. You would think that identifying Jesus as God and expounding upon the Trinity would be a better way of declaring the truth of Jesus’s greatness, so that the writer of Hebrews wouldn’t need to compare Jesus to angels. The emphasis on angels is for a reason; I just cannot figure out why.” Pastor John, what would you say?
I’m not sure, but it may be that the assumption of this question is that there is some key to answering the question from outside the book of Hebrews in the first-century milieu. I’m not sure, but that’s often the case, so let me just say a word about that assumption. I want to say something about the role of information from the first century coming from outside the Bible and used to interpret the Bible.
Gold Mine Under Your Nose
What I want to say is this: in, I dare say, 99 percent of the cases where something from outside the Bible might inform the meaning of what’s in the Bible, it’s the precise details and context of the biblical text itself that finally determine whether information from outside the Bible is decisive or not. That’s very crucial.
“The gold mine is under your nose, and it’s in English.”
Usually, what we read from first-century documents applies very generally, rather than with any precise specificity, to our particular New Testament author or our particular document or our particular text and context. When it comes down to deciding on the meaning of the text, it’s almost always the case that the words and phrases and flow of thought in this book, combined with what the author has said elsewhere, decide the meaning.
And I say that so that the average reader of the Bible doesn’t operate on the assumption that there’s this gold mine of discovery just waiting to be had about the meaning of this text outside the Bible. “If I just had hours and hours and knew some languages! Oh, I could mine this gold mine of insight for the text from outside the Bible.” No. The gold mine is under your nose, and it’s in English. It’s in English! And if for every hour you spend poking around in first-century documents outside the Bible, you spend one hundred hours ransacking the details of the author’s words — the New Testament author’s words and phrases and sentences and logical connections and flow of thought and wider views in his writings — you will find vast riches of gold you would never find if you switched and spent an hour with the Bible and one hundred hours outside.
Unlock the Riches of Scripture
Some scholars will go on debating until doomsday how much angel worship there was in the first century as a possible background to Hebrews, and what form it took, and how much the apostles may have encountered it. But we know that already from Colossians 2:18: “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels.” And from John’s temptation in Revelation 22:8–9: “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! . . . Worship God.’”
But is that the background for the book of Hebrews? Do we know for sure that the churches this book was sent to were dealing with that temptation? No, we don’t know that. It would be sheer guesswork to draw, from the general fact that there was such a thing as angel worship in the first century, the specific conclusion that that’s the reason there’s such focus on putting Jesus above angels in the book of Hebrews.
Now, here’s where it gets really practical: a preacher who stands up and makes a big deal out of first-century angel worship as the background of Hebrews is like a miner carrying scraps of gold shavings into the gold mine of Hebrews, where the walls are bright with veins of pure gold, waiting to be dug out.
Jesus and the Angels
So, let me mention several veins of gold for our friend who asked this question — veins that he can dig into when we’re done.
1. Jesus is not merely the angel in chief.
First, he suggests that it might be better for the writer to focus on the deity of Christ than to focus on his superiority to angels. Hmm. Well, evidently not, because that’s not what he did. And I think the author of Hebrews would respond by saying, “I’m not talking about angels as an alternative to talking about the deity of Christ; I’m talking about angels as a means of talking about the deity of Christ. One way to teach the deity of Christ in my situation is to disabuse people of any notion at all that he’s a top angel.”
So, he says in Hebrews 1:6, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Whoa, I love that sentence. That sentence is not an alternative to talking about the deity of Christ; it’s a thunderclap showing the deity of Christ. Let every angelic being in heaven and hell fall on their faces and worship Jesus, very God of very God. You don’t dare worship what is not God.
2. Jesus, not angels, brings the gospel.
The author takes an Old Testament idea, which might lead some people to elevate angels more highly than they should, and he turns it around so that it has the exact opposite effect. He refers in Hebrews 2:2 to the Mosaic law coming to us through angels. And then he says that since the law through angels came with such authority and consequence, how much more the message declared to us by the Lord (Hebrews 2:1–4)? In other words, if you’re impressed with the role of angels in giving the law, be a thousand times more impressed with the role of Jesus in giving the gospel.
3. Angels serve for our salvation.
“Who knows what cultures are waiting for this message about angels that may blow things wide open for the gospel?”
In exalting Jesus above angels, he helps us know the proper place not just of Jesus, but of angels — angels themselves — and the proper place of ourselves. In other words, more is going on here than just the superiority of Jesus over angels. So, for example, in Hebrews 1:14, when you demote angels from competing with the Son of God for glory, then they can have their true glory, which is — amazingly — to be our servants. Amazing. He says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”
So, these competitors with the Son of God for glory turn out to be our servants. Oh my goodness. More is going on than we think. The author has multiple reasons for talking about angels.
4. The Bible speaks across cultures.
Final observation (and I’m leaving out some really juicy ones, by the way): keep in mind that sometimes the Bible says things that seem very foreign to our experience, and we wonder why such an emphasis might be there. For example, not many people in the West today are wrestling with whether Jesus’s relationship to angels is this or that. But don’t assume that will be the case when the Bible is translated and read in hundreds of other cultures where this particular emphasis might be exactly what the Holy Spirit will use to awaken an entire people group to the reality of Christ’s greatness.
And the reason I point to that is because I remember the story of how useless one missionary thought the genealogies were in the beginning of Matthew, and then he read them to a Stone Age tribe, and they were all ears; they were riveted. And in the end, they said, “Well then, he’s not just a spirit!” And it was the genealogies that broke the back of unbelief and a thousand years of darkness. Who knows what cultures are waiting for this message about angels in Hebrews that may blow things wide open for the gospel?