Here’s how North Koreans celebrate Christmas story

As Christmas Day nears, North Korean defectors who are Christians are reminding the world of the reason for the season.

The defectors risked their lives in order to leave North Korea, where practicing Christianity means prison and perhaps death.

Pastor Eric Foley of Seoul USA has talked with people able to escape to neighboring China during the Christmas season.

“They draw a contrast between the Christmas lights that they’re seeing in China and then they look back over their shoulders at North Korea and see utter blackness,” Foley observes to OneNewsNow.

Seoul USA operates an underground training school for North Korean Christian missionaries in South Korea, where participating students wanted to video their own presentation of the Nativity story.

 

 

“And remaining faithful to their text portrayed it in the same way that a North Korean drama would be done, and so as we saw that drama coming together, we knew it was something that we needed to put on video and share with the rest of the world…,” says Foley.

The organization is also responsible for flying Bibles and Christian literature and dropping it over populated areas in North Korea by balloon.

– See more at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/persecution/2013/12/24/heres-how-north-koreans-celebrate-christmas-story#.UsVfuvRDs8w

Continue in prayer. Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob-there a Daniel who prayed three times a day-and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing?Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of His love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/morningandevening/

TOZER DEVOTIONAL-Sin and Death

Men and women try to ignore the fact of spiritual death. The Scriptures do not. Paul has a classic one-sentence commentary on the subject. He says the woman “who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). She was not dead physically, but spiritually she was cut off from God. Her form of existence was such that she was not related to, but separated from, God.

The apostle also warns us that death is one of sin’s fearful consequences. Sin came into the world and brought death with it. The soul that sins will die. So the Bible declares.

Another thing we see in the Hebrews Scripture earlier quoted is that God has a very simple way of dealing with sin. God terminates sin in death! I lived in Chicago when the notorious killer gangster, John Dillinger, was being hunted. The police printed pictures of Dillinger with warnings about his violence with guns. Always he was shown with a cynical, sarcastic smile on his face. But the final picture indicated that he had stopped sinning. He was lying on his back, toes up. He was covered with a sheet. Dillinger was dead.

Sin ends at death. When a person dies, he or she will sin no more. That is God’s way of ending sin. He lets death terminate it.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer

31 Days Of Thanks

January, according to many US calendars, is National Thank You Month. This, of course, is easily transferable everywhere, so perhaps it should be Global Thank You Month.

In order to make the best use of this celebration of gratitude, let’s begin by seeing what Scripture says about thankfulness.

One place to start is Psalm 136, which begins and ends with the words, “Oh, give thanks” (vv.1,26). Again and again in this chapter we are reminded of a single, overriding reason to bestow our gratitude on our great God: “His mercy endures forever.” We could spend the whole month learning about gratitude from Psalm 136.

The psalmist reminds us of God’s “great wonders” (v.4). He tells us of God’s creative work brought on by His wisdom (v.5). He moves on to rehearse the great exodus of His people (vv.10-22). As we think through these pictures of creation and deliverance found in Psalm 136, we can easily find something to thank God for every day of this Thank You Month.

What better way to start off a new year than to concentrate on conveying gratitude to our Lord! “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1).

How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,
To show Thy love with morning light,
And tell Thy faithfulness each night! —Psalter
When you think of all that’s good, give thanks to God.

TOZER DEVOTIONAL-Two Forms of Death

I am amazed by the number of people who do not seem to know that the Bible speaks of two forms of death. We believe the Bible when it says physical death is the reality facing every person born into the world. But there is also a very evident condition among us described as spiritual death. We trace it back to the Garden of Eden and the warning of God to our first parents: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam and Eve did not heed the warning; they ate of the forbidden fruit. And on the day that they transgressed the law of God in disobedience and self-will, they died spiritually.

Death is not annihilation. Death is not cessation of existence. Death is a changed relationship in a different form of existence.

When Satan, a creation of God, rebelled in pride and disobedience, he was saying, “I will arise and put my throne above the throne of God!” And right there Satan died. But he did not cease to be. God expelled him from heaven and from fellowship with Himself. He cast him down to earth. And after all these centuries, Satan is still around. He was not annihilated, and his eternal judgment is still to come.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer

TOZER DEVOTIONAL-Change of Residence

The living soul within each of us can never be subject to annihilation. There is only a change of residence at the time of death. The soul will change its location, but it will never cease to be. That is the crux of the Bible teaching on the worth and infinite nature of the God-breathed human soul.

Consider this human situation—one many of us have witnessed at one time or another. A mother lovingly holds a tiny baby in her arms, a baby who is alive, cooing, alert, healthy. Then tragedy! Raging disease strikes down that same baby. The mother holds the infant form in her arms, but she is sobbing in grief. Death has robbed her of the object of her affection.

A brief service of loving memory will follow. In the tiny casket, the lifeless baby looks like a still, white angel.

What has happened?

Annihilation?

No! But there has been a change of form and existence—for the parents, a shocking change. The soul within that baby, the active mind, the intelligence, the cooing and laughter—all appear to have passed away. The lifeless body will be laid tenderly in the earth, where it finally will return to dust. But that living, individual soul will not be annihilated. Never! The soul has changed its place of existence, but it has not ceased to be.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer

Is the Bible Really True?

The wonder of creation

“When the Bible describes the origin of life in the Book of Genesis, there are those of us who believe it actually happened just that way — just as the writers of the NewTestament believed,” note the authors of Already Compromised. “Observational science today has strengthened the case for understanding the creation account.”

Reliable in all ways

It is not a stretch to say that the Bible is the most historically reliable book in human history. Sadly though, our survey confirms that many scholars today are dismantling belief in the Bible — and it is creating havoc in our churches and culture.

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Unquestionably, we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has given us a mind, and our lives can be transformed by the renewing of that mind. Will we be conformed to the world? Or will thetransforming power of God’s living word become our final authority?

You are worth defending

“We want you to know that the reason we have taken up this issue at all is because we believe that you are worth it,” note Ken Ham and Dr. Greg Hall in Already Compromised. “Your hearts and minds are worth defending.”

A long, productive, and prosperous life

Think of it: You are promised victory when you honor God’s Word. You will be protected, for God Himself will become a shield for you. He guards you and guides you and protects you. You will find a long, productive, and prosperous life.

Designed to go for it!

God has designed you to go for it! You have an unprecedented opportunity to allow the Lord to workthrough you to minister somewhere in some specific way. Pursue this with brothers and sisters in the Lord who share your passion.

Prepare yourself

The surveys that were conducted by America’s Research Group for this bookclearly showed that the biblical worldview is under attack. We are in a battle with the world’s system. You must prepare yourself, no matter where you go.

Beyond your wildest imagination

If you are in Christ, God is for you today and willing and more than able to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. He alone is able to heal all your hurts, to forgive all your sin. He alone has written a personal plan for your life. He knows you and calls you by name.

A life of joy and enthusiasm

“One of the greatest blessings of wisdom is that it alone will open the door for you to a life of significance – something that God puts in the hearts of the creatures He loves,” write the authors of Already Compromised. The Bible teaches that “we are destined for a life of purpose… It is a life of joy and enthusiasm.”

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Galleries/Is-the-Bible-Really-True.aspx?nlsource=11&source=NEWSLETTER&utm_campaign=Bible&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=NL&utm_term=yahoo.com

TOZER DEVOTIONAL-Change Not Annihilation

One thing that I notice immediately is the mysterious relationship between blood and life. God had instructed Israel about this link. “The life of a creature is in the blood,” God said, “and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). This instruction concerning blood and the atonement was at the very heart of Israel’s religion and her relationship with God. The blood was considered mysterious and sacred. Israelites were never to ingest blood.

The second thing I note is the relationship between sin and death. As human beings, we do not know all there is to know about death. There are religious groups who claim to believe in the annihilation of the human soul and the end of all existence. (Annihilation means to withdraw something from existence.) In the scriptural account of creation God made something out of nothing. But there is no instance in Scripture where God reverses the process of creation and calls an existing thing back into nothingness. Nor is there the concept of annihilation in nature. It is hard, then, to understand why some people want to introduce annihilation into the kingdom of God.

Matter can be—and regularly is—changed. But matter cannot be annihilated. If I strike a wooden match and let it burn to ashes, I can pinch the remaining ash into a smudge on my fingers, but I have not annihilated the elements that were in that match. They merely changed form. Part of the match went up in smoke. Part of it turned to ash. The part that became gaseous continues to possess invisible form in the atmosphere.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer

The Importance Of Being Willing To Learn

The lips of the wise speak knowledge,
But the fool does not understand.
A fool’s way seems right in his sight,
But a wise man listens to advice.
A fool despises his father’s correction,
But he who regards reproof acts wisely.

Listen to advice and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your later life.
Advice in a man’s mind is like deep water,
But a man of sense will draw it out.
Hold fast instruction, let it not go;
Keep it, for it is your life.

My son, reject not the discipline of the Lord,
And do not spurn his reproof,
For whom he loves he reproves,
Even as a father the son of whom he is fond.
He who rejects correction despises his own self,
But he who listens to reproof gains understanding.

http://kids.ochristian.com/Childrens-Bible/The-Importance-Of-Being-Willing-To-Learn.shtml

The Rabbi and the Duck Hunter

In the aftermath of the allegedly “homophobic” comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, the man known as “America’s most famous rabbi” has offered a dissenting opinion. Between the rabbi and the duck hunter, who got it right?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, dubbed “America’s most famous rabbi” byNewsweek magazine, is a close personal friend of mine and a frequent debating opponent on theological and social issues. It is his opinion that evangelicals in America have overstated their case against homosexuality, making it the scapegoat for many of our greatest social ills as well as exaggerating its sinfulness in the eyes of God.

Is he correct?

Writing in the <href=”#ixzz2ojnnqoic”>New York Observer on December 23rd, he claims that “No country in the world is more obsessed with homosexuality than America. And judging from the constant religious attacks against gays, you would think it’s the only sin in the entire Bible.”

As for it being called an “abomination” in the Torah, Rabbi Shmuley notes that the word “appears approximately 122 times in the Hebrew Bible, including eating nonkosher food (Deuteronomy 14:3) . . . and bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar (Deuteronomy 17:1).”

He also notes that the word “abomination” can refer to moral sins like “envy, lying and gossip” in Proverbs, while in the New Testament the equivalent terms “seems to be implying that love of money is an abomination, which might give some of the televangelists flying in G5s pause before going after gays.”

Is there anything controversial in what he has written here in terms of the meaning of the word “abomination” in the Bible? Not to my mind, based on studying these texts for decades myself.

But his next claim is certainly controversial (and it is one that he and I have previously debated at length). He writes, “I am an orthodox Rabbi, and I freely acknowledge that the Bible clearly labels homosexuality a sin. However, it is not a moral sin but rather akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread on Passover. It may violate the divine will, but there is nothing immoral about it.”

Homosexual practice is “not a moral sin”? Really?

He further explains that, “The essence of an ethical violation, as opposed to a religious infraction, is injury to an innocent party. This is not the case with two unattached adults entering a consensual relationship that is not based on deception or lies.”

Rabbi Shmuley has espoused this position for many years now, and it is an opinion that has been strongly renounced by other Orthodox rabbis and academics.

More importantly, it seems clear that the Torah itself is against his views, since: 1) Out of all the sins listed in the book of Leviticus, only homosexual practice is singled out as an abomination (sometimes among an aggregate list of abominations) and, as such, it is the only “abomination” punishable by death in Leviticus (see Lev 18:22; 20:13). Can the seriousness of this under ancient Israelite law be trivialized?

2) According to the Torah, when the surrounding nations engaged in this sin (along with sins of incest, adultery, bestiality, and sacrificing their children to idols) they incurred God’s wrath and were driven out of the land (see Lev 18:1-30). If these were not moral sins in God’s sight, why would he punish pagan nations for them? Only Israel was held accountable for ritual laws like abstaining from unclean foods.

3) It is the Torah which placed homosexual practice (not same-sex attractions but male-male sex) next to bestiality (see Lev 18:22-23), meaning that Rabbi Shmuley’s greater argument is with his own sacred Torah (which I believe he truly reveres), despite his protestation that, “Hardly a week goes by without some religious guy in America blathering on about how homosexuality is like bestiality.”

As for Phil Robertson’s comments, while crudely expressed, it seems that he was not likening homosexual practice to bestiality any more than he was likening heterosexual promiscuity to bestiality. He was, it appears, simply stating that once you violate God’s norms for marriage and sexuality, virtually anything goes. (To cite his now famous words, “Start with homosexual behavior, and just morph out from there—bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”)

And from a biblical standpoint, a man and a woman (not just two people) are uniquely suited for each other (see Gen 2:18-25, where the woman derives her name by being taken “out of the man,” and so their relationship truly reunites them as “one flesh”). This is why the one and only paradigm for marriage in the Bible is male-female based. It is also why the violation of that paradigm is so grave in God’s sight.

As for making homosexuality the scapegoat of our social and marital ills today, Rabbi Shmuley is certainly correct in pointing out the many sins that have plagued evangelical Christians (and others) for decades now, including rampant no-fault divorce, pornography, materialism and greed.

But what he fails to realize is that the reason we have made such an issue about homosexuality is not because of the act itself but rather because of the pervasive gay activism that came knocking at our doors – in our children’s schools, in our places of business, in the courts, in politics, in the media, in our communities, and even in our congregations – to the point that we can say without exaggeration that gay activism has become the principle threat to our freedoms of religions, speech, and conscience. (For more on this, see my 700 page study A Queer Thing Happened to America.)

And so, despite Rabbi Shmuley’s brilliance and his often astute cultural analyses, when it comes to the seriousness of homosexual practice, the learned and eloquent rabbi got it wrong and the duck hunter (not lacking in shrewdness himself) got it right.

 

Michael Brown

Michael Brown Follow @twitterapi

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, including Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, and he hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2013/12/27/the-rabbi-and-the-duck-hunter-n1768939/page/full