Sunday, June 28, 2020

Day of the Christian Martyr 2020

Tomorrow marks the annual Day of the Christian Martyr, and many Christians are paying special respect and honor this weekend to the legacy of those who have sacrificed their very lives for the advancement of the gospel. This day is chosen based on early church tradition that the Apostle Paul was martyred on June 29 in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero in the mid-to-late sixties of the first century AD.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an interdenominational Christian missions organization that has been serving our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide for over fifty years, maintains a memorial to Christian martyrs at its Oklahoma headquarters. This year's special inductee is Central African Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui (Graphic courtesy of VOM).

Pastor Sankagui’s inspiring story is courtesy of the Voice of the Martyrs:

Pastor Jean-Paul Sankagui planted a church in a Muslim neighborhood outside Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, in 1993. He maintained good relations with the community for years.

But civil war between Seleka rebels, government forces and anti-balaka militias changed everything.

Most of the pastor’s church members fled the area as hostility increased toward Christians. And even the pastor’s wife, Mary, urged him to leave the area and work someplace safer. But Pastor Jean-Paul stayed in obedience to what he believed God had called him to do.

On Feb. 7, 2017, Islamists shot Pastor Jean-Paul to death outside his church in Ramandji before looting and burning his house and church. Mary said they killed her husband because the community no longer wanted Christians in the area. She and Pastor Sankagui had been married 48 years and had 11 children and 17 grandchildren. After losing not only her husband but also her home and all her possessions, Mary had no choice but to leave the area.

Five other evangelical pastors in the region also were killed in the first five weeks of 2017. Pastor Jean-Paul knew the risks, counted the cost and willingly stayed to shepherd his small congregation and serve as a witness for Christ in the neighborhood.

For those who would like additional information and resources about Pastor Sankagui and/or the Day of the Christian Martyr, we encourage you to visit the VOM website for the Day of the Christian Martyr 2020 podcast, and a prayer guide for the Central African Republic. There are also additional resources for your church or small group.

We have supported our friends at VOM for years and believe them to be one of the most vital ministries for our modern turbulent times. In particular, we'd like to alert our readers to a particularly urgent need of our sisters and brothers, not only in the Central African Republic, but also in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Laos and several other African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern nations. The number of Christian families forced out of their homes and villages in recent years has increased dramatically. Most are forced to flee with no food or provisions, only the clothes on their backs. They survive by sleeping on the ground and eating whatever edible plants they can find in the forests.

This is due not only to Islamic, Hindu and other militarists, but to superstition as well. The vast majority of many villagers worship the “gods” or “spirits” of nature (the river, forest, livestock, household idols etc). Many Christians are banished from their villages by their superstitious neighbors to avoid angering or offending these false gods or spirits. For those who would like to aid these displaced Christian families, VOM has set up a Help Christians Driven from their Homes campaign that delivers items for their basic needs. Thank you and God bless.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

Although we should remember our fallen heroes each day of the year, Memorial Day is set aside as a special day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. As a very small token of gratitude, we've created our latest annual tribute page at 2020 Memorial Day Tribute.

As I was making this year’s selections of pics, memes etc, I noticed several that urged everyone to have a “Happy Memorial Day”. While these were like done with the best of intentions, and I’ve probably used this phrase several times without thinking in the past, I always pass these over in preference to other phrases. Although Memorial Day is partly a celebration of the good times we’ve had with our military families and friends, it is primarily a day of somber remembrance of those who gave their lives for us. Thus, we must be grateful for the sacrifices made by the families of these heroes, who let them go off in service to our country so that our families can live in safety.

We must also remember the fellow soldiers who were able to return home, many with physical and psychological handicaps that will last the remainder of their lives. One might wonder how a soldier can charge into a deadly situation that would paralyze a non-soldier. We can call it love for country and families back home, and that's certainly part of the answer. But I'm told time after time in conversations that, a primary concern during these moments is their fellow soldiers, their “brothers in arms”. However many years may pass, a soldier never forgets each of his fallen comrades, and Memorial Day is particularly difficult.

Memorial Day is made even more difficult for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In my opinion, PTSD is a falsely named term for their condition. It should instead be called simply PTS, or Post Traumatic Stress. After surviving under the extreme conditions that a soldier faces constantly during wartime, the disorder (or abnormal condition) would be to not have PTS. PTS should be considered completely normal under these conditions. Yet, despite knowing this going in, and the fact that a major political party, with all their leftist activist judges, are continually working to undue the freedoms that our brave men and women are fighting for, the soldier continues in his or her duty to family, friends and country.

One final thought for this day, Christians also remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for us. Just as many a brave soldier laid down his life for our physical, civil, and political liberties, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for our spiritual freedom so that believers are co-heirs with Him to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Below is a tribute made of the 3/7 battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Several years later, my son did two tours of duty with the Third Battalion - Seventh Marines in Afghanistan. We were very fortunate that he came back safely, but he lost several of his friends. Please continue to pray for, and express our sincere gratitude to the members and families of our brave military.

Operation Iraqi Freedom 3-7 Marines

Sunday, March 8, 2020

How does a True Christian’s Life Differ from other People?

Guest Post by Melisa Marzett:

Note: The following article is partially written from a Roman Catholic / Eastern Orthodox theological perspective. The main concern of the article however, is proper Christian living rather than doctrinal teaching. Although the theological views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of ad Dei Gloriam Ministries, this article presents an excellent picture of true Christian living on this temporary earth as we look forward to our glorious eternal home.

Image Source: Pexels / Pixabay
bible with rosary A true Christian is a completely different person compared to other people.

He is distinguished by thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds; he is among others, as the world star. Compare a true Christian with a non-Christian or with people who only bear the name of Christians and live in a disproportionately high rank, and you will see a big difference.

For example, people usually think about how to live in peace, to have prosperity in everything, how to live life happily.

But the Christian does not think much about the temporary, he has the main and, for the most part, the only concern about how to please God and appear in the next world with the hope of eternal life and bliss.

Others, according to the Savior, believe in time, but fall away during temptation (Luke 8:13), consider themselves to be among the believers, and if by faith there would be at least the slightest danger of losing either honor, or gain, or simply attention and disposition of the highest, ready to hide their faith, in the case of open persecution and completely abandon the faith.

What about a Christian? The Christian stands firmly in his confession; he is not shaken by any circumstances. In the case of extremes he is ready to endure exile, and torment, and death; he finds solace in sorrows and torments in the words of the apostle Paul: for me, life is Christ, and death is gain (Phil. 1:21).

Others just think about how to improve their condition, increase benefits and get rich, at least sometimes not entirely righteously and honestly, even with fraud, with harm to one's neighbor.

What about a Christian? God save you! And what is wealth to him? He knows well and firmly remembers that maybe he will not be in the world today. Will the wife and children remain? Why, they are the same people, the same Christians!

All must live for God and their salvation. Having food and clothing is not rich and luxurious, but necessary – it is not difficult, and having them, we will be happy with it (1 Tim. 6:8).

And look again, what a marvelous generosity and patience Christians have! For example, a person is subjected to contempt, resentment, harassment, persecution. What is it like to endure? Others in such circumstances are discouraged, complaining, trying even, if they can, to take revenge on their enemies.

What about a Christian? He tolerates everything with pleasure. Indeed, he says, people acted with saints. But they all endured and in patience blessed God. They blaspheme us, says the holy Apostle Paul about himself and others, we bless; persecute us - we endure; blaspheme us - we pray (1 Cor. 4:12-13).

And the true Christian, bearing in mind these examples, not only does not harbor hatred for his enemies but loves them and is charitable to them.

Take poverty again: how bitter it is for a person, and who is calm and indifferent to it!

What about a Christian? He is calmer and happier in poverty than any rich man. He well understands that poverty is the best and most reliable way to acquire celestial treasures, and with wealth - that and see that you forget and die forever. If misfortune happened to him, ruin, loss of those dear to the heart, then what?

Do you think he will complain, like others, grieve, cry, torment, or, worse, grumble at God, despair, curse his birthday? Oh no! He sees the will of God in everything: it has been given to him — he thanks God and uses for the benefit of others and for the glory of God, is taken away — he does not regret and plunges himself into the will of God, saying after the righteous Job: the Lord gave, the Lord took; as the Lord pleased, so it was, blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21).

Is death threatening him? Oh, how terrible it is for a man! It is hard to part with life, with the light, with family and friends.

What about a Christian? The Christian is calm in this case too. What is death to him? He always thought about her, always expected and prepared for her; for him, she is a transition to a better life, to the Creator, his Redeemer, and God. He had nothing to regret: he had nothing, and if he did, he did not stick to anything, he considered everything to be temporary and as if the other (Nordov, “Holy, blessed.”, Vol. 2, p 489-491).

Here, Christians, what a high rank we have and how many we differ from other people, non-Christians! It is only necessary to try to be worthy of him; one must be Christians not only by name but also by life, by the internal arrangement of the heart.

About the author: Melisa Marzett is an article writer who is freelancing and traveling for quite some time now. Currently writing for english writing, she provides her grateful audience with good reading. Being much of a reader herself, not a day goes by without her reading a few pages of some book and practice both physically and mentally.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Ministry Update and Shout-outs for Leap Day 2020

Here are a few random items to close out February for this leap year.

Updates you may have missed:

We’ve finished and uploaded our Introductions to the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, and the book of Galatians is in progress. When we first started this section, my original goal was to complete all the Bible’s books and sections by the end of 2012. Obviously, we’re not going to make that overly ambitious goal, but we’re now over halfway there and hope to pick up the pace. This is still one of our top priorities and we’ve expanded each article to include not only general information, key verses, authors, timelines, themes and purposes, but also brief surveys, historical backgrounds, theology, and interpretation hints and challenges. These articles have also resulted in many spin-off writings.

We’ve-formatted our Bible Reading Plans section for easier navigation and clarity for those who’d like to start a new plan this year. Our Bible reading plans are setup so that anyone can start and end anytime, not just at the start of a new year.

We also added SSL encryption to our main website and our Real Issues Blog for additional reader security by encrypting all data passing back and forth between our server and the browsers of our readers.

Personally, I’ve finally been able to cut back my hours on my regular job to free up more time for research, writing, and additional website updates. For the handful of readers that may be interested, I recently posted a A Personal Mini-History regarding my work over the past ten years or so.

A Couple of Shout-outs:

The first one is about 18 months overdue. In 2018, I received a very cordial email from Evan Plant, director of Mainsail Ministries. Evan has also been serving as a question responder for over ten year at Got Questions Ministries, one of the top Christain sites on the web. He notified us that he had used one our articles on the intermarriage of Ruth and Boaz as a resource for the question Should Ruth's being a Moabite have excluded David from being king?

We were very excited to hear this, and after exchanging a few emails, I also learned that Evan and I had similar technical backgrounds before he retired to concentrate full-time on his ministries. Hopefully, I'll be following him along a similar path soon. Thanks again Evan for using our article in your work. I highly recommend that our readers visit the Mainsail website for additional fine articles.

The second shout-out goes to Emerson de Oliveira of Logos Apologética Cristã (Christian Apologetics Logos). Emerson translated and published our article Benefits and Blessings of Studying Theology at Os benefícios de estudar teologia. This was also done in 2018 but I only stumbled onto it recently by accident.

I’ve always wanted to get some of our articles transferred into other languages but haven’t had the knowledge or the resources. I’ve issued engineering documents in Spanish and German in the past, but only did the technical terms myself. I always had to get help in creating sentences with proper grammar. Thanks so much Emerson for translating our article. We highly recommend Emerson’s site to our Spanish speaking readers.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Born this Way?

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Webmaster Note: Jim wrote this excellent article after the Lady Gaga song and album came out, but his writing had been previously rejected by others as being “too controversial” and/or anti-gay. Yet, an honest reading of the article makes clear that Jim is addressing a universal condition that affects each of us, both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.

“Baby, I was Born This Way!” - Lady Gaga, 2011

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV).

It was the incident in the Garden of Eden that gave each of us all our sinful nature. In Romans 5:12, Paul says “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”. Jeremiah 17:9 explains “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” David said in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins”, and in Romans 3:23, Paul said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

While I don't think that anyone’s theology should be based on some pop/rock song of the past, Lady Gaga does make a good and true point that we're all “born this way” (I can't say that I agree with the rest of the song though, but you can find the lyrics on your favorite search engine and judge that for yourself).

We’re all “born this way”, myself included, which is to say we’re all born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature grows differently in different people and manifests differently in each of us - blossoming into different “flavors”, one might say. A thief is “born this way”, as is an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, a gossip, a greedy person, a swindler, a fornicator, or anyone who oppresses the poor and feeble are all “born this way” (Ref: 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-6 and other passages).

God does not want us to stay “this way”, however, as is made abundantly clear throughout scripture, in fact we are at enmity with God when we are “this way” (Genesis 3:15).

God does love us however, and offers us all a way out of our bondage to this sinful nature! Jesus is quoted in Mark 2:17 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. Paul also tells us “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), and although we are “born this way” God gives us the opportunity to change all that!

Matthew 3:3-5 says that Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Nicodemus then asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. The way to change from being “born this way” is to be “born again”.

So although all of us were truly “born this way”, we don't have to stay this way! Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Personal Mini-History and Notes

We began our blog (in its current form) in the summer of 2009. As longtime readers have probably noticed, the frequency of our posts steadily decreased after the first few years due to the external workload of the primary blogger (me) sharply increasing. In 2012, I took on several new electrical engineering design projects such as the largest shipping terminal in Costa Rico, a new Substation for the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico, a Naval Base in Florida, and a major maritime port in New Jersey. Then, from 2013 – 2016, I took on the Substation, Transmission and Distribution, and Telecommunication design of several industrial cities in the Middle East, during which a veteran engineer and great friend whom I’d been splitting some of the work retired.

After getting a few weeks break in the summer of 2016, I then took on several major Ports and Maritime projects along the East Coast, with scarcely a day off (including weekends and holidays) for the next two years. I was then contemplating retirement, but took on another project for the Navy in which the design phase ended last week. So, I’m once again seeking God’s will whether to retire in order to research, write and minister full time, or to continue working. Whatever happens, I’m hoping to at least cut back on my engineering work, perhaps to a part-time consultant, so that I may spend more time on our website, blog, and other ministries. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.