Persecution, One Christian To Another

I thought this had a lot of truth in it, especially relevant to those of us who live in the West — a good call to consider how we treat our brothers and sisters in the Lord…

Brother Yun, a Christian from China, after being attacked in an article by someone he’d never met who was saying all kinds of false and negative things about him, said this:

“In China I had been used to beatings, torture with electric batons, and all kinds of humiliation. I guess that deep in my heart I had presumed that now I was in the West my days of persecution had ended.

“I couldn’t understand how someone who had never met me could write such a nasty article. I complained to my Christian friends, ‘Why don’t these people call us and read the documents? I don’t understand! Why don’t they find the truth out for themselves? It’s right here for them to see!’

“My translator told me, ‘Brother Yun, these people don’t want to know the truth. That’s why they’re not calling you or wanting to meet you. In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonment. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians.'”

Dang…

And that’s the sad state of our world today — we would rather strike down our own and openly slander them or gossip about them than choose to suspend judgement and talk to that person directly.

As James tells us, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” (James 4:11)

Instead, if we really think a brother or sister is in the wrong, we need to speak to them personally:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” (Matthew 18:15)

It’s only after they personally refuse to listen to you that we have any right to get other people involved:

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:16-17)

If you look for it, you can find bad things about anyone. But that should not be our goal. We need to be willing to /love/ others and give them the benefit of the doubt. For,

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)

Do you see that? “Always trusts.”

So may that be the attitude of our hearts — to trust that our brothers and sisters are in the right. And if we have any reason to doubt their walk or doctrine, may we come to them personally and seek out the truth for ourselves, knowing that we will all be judged someday:

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:10)

Following God is Serious Business

You know, walking with Jesus is serious business… A lot more serious than we make it out to be. I believe now is a good time to acknowledge (myself included) the weight of this calling.

As Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Or, a little further on, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (vs. 33)

That’s /everything/, y’all. Nothing can take precedence above Jesus. If Jesus isn’t your everything, then you’re missing the point.

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

There are a lot of people who are walking around, deceived. They may be religious, they may even claim to know Jesus, but when it comes down to it, if they don’t come to God on His terms, they will perish.

Jesus puts it rather plainly, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Seriously, think about it, if you saw someone who was operating in the power of God — prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles, and doing so “in Jesus’ name” — what would you think of that person? Perhaps, depending on your denomination, you may be skeptical about what they’re doing, but nonetheless you would probably not think them a bad person — after all, they’re doing it all in the name of Jesus. Yet Jesus Himself tells us that they can do all these things… and still not be right with God. Without a real commitment to God, they would literally die and go to hell.

It’s serious business.

As it is written elsewhere, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

See, Jesus doesn’t just want our lip-service (1 John 3:18). He wants our hearts. He wants our life.

For, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

And, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

God owns us. Don’t you think that means we ought to serve Him?

Think even of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They were well-regarded and highly-esteemed. Just about everyone thought they were the pinnacle of right-living. But what did Jesus say about them?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

It’s time for people to wake up! It’s not about merely professing to know God; it’s about actually knowing Him and living and abiding with Him in true fellowship and obedience.

As Jesus said, “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, as I also 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.” (John 15:1-4)

And, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

We need to remain in God. Do you see it? “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (vs. 4b)

So, let’s remain in Him, and we’ll see Him produce in us all kinds of fruit for the glory of His Name.

Hear this final word from the Scriptures:

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,

“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”

And,

“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39)

May it be so! Come, Lord Jesus, and find us as your spotless bride (Ephesians 5:27), unpolluted by the world (2 Peter 1:4). And help us, Father, to remain in the love of Jesus, even as Jesus Himself remains in Your love (John 15:10) and lives in perfect harmony with You (John 10:30). Unite us also in harmony with You (John 17:21) that we may live the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:19) and not be deceived (Galatians 6:7) by all the enticement of the world (1 John 2:15-17) and the deception of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Amen!

Life thoughts after watching “The Song”

From a journal entry on August 28, 2016, Sunday, after watching the movie, “The Song,” about King Solomon’s life in a modern portrayal.


I look back on the simple days,
Before “cool” things or trying to be unique,
Back when I didn’t know any better
And life was a mystery;

When love for You meant writing simple words,
In the hope I could set them to a tune;
The days before production + perfection,
Special niches and education in marketing,
When all that mattered was You + me.

I didn’t know any better back then,
And I almost wish I didn’t know any better now.
I wrote from the heart,
And it didn’t always matter if it rhymed.

They say not to call them the “good old days,”
But sometimes I need to remind myself why I’m alive.

It’s not for me,
It’s not for money,
It’s not for getting the girls,
Being popular,
Or having my own unique spin on life.

It’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry for thinking otherwise.

Set me back on the good course.
Strip away the extra things
That distract me from Your Name.
Oh, speak to me, God,
And make it clear what I must do.
I don’t want to be cool,
I want to follow You.

So I’ll set my screaming aside
And put away my dreams of being a rock star;
I’ll stop the cryptic language
And speak clearly from my heart.

I think You’re calling me to tear away
Other things I don’t want to give up.
Oh, change my heart and make it like Yours.
Make me restless to do Your will.
Set my soul on fire for Your Name.
Burn me with the pain
Of desiring to know You more.

Keep my eyes from distractions,
And hold my hand, oh God.
I am weak, and my feet are prone to slip.
I can’t even breathe without You;
How can I live without You?

And even in this my heart finds
The twisted purpose to pursue my aims!

May my songs see no sunlight,
May my voice choke in my throat,
Unless my only boast
Is in Christ my King.

Jesus, sweetest Name on the earth;
Jesus, dwelling in Heaven’s majesty,
“What a travesty,” some may say,
To make Yourself a curse
For my everlasting gain.

Grace, marvelous grace!
But for that grace I’d be long since lost.
Oh how grateful I am for the cross!

These words of my heart are coming to a close,
But the tune of Your voice through eternity rolls,
And some sweet day I’ll sing it afresh with You.
What a marvelous day!
‘Til then,
Inhabit my heart with Your song.

Amen.


(And, continuing later that night…)


…My new album is going to be called:

“Back To The Basics”

The premise is to return to the
Simplicity that’s found in Christ,
The natural beauty of who He is
And who He’s made me to be.

No microtonalism,
No metal,
No screaming,
No hard toiling after the wind

— only the simple beauty of a heart in love with Jesus.

People don’t care about the spit + polish,
Much less does God care.
He just wants my heart.

Ryan Vegh


(And continuing one more time that night…)

It’s time I honor my parents…
My parents prefer my hair short.
My parents prefer my beard trimmed/shaved.
My parents prefer me not to do metal screaming.

Why do I like to go against what they desire?

Break me, Holy Spirit,
And shape me into the image of Jesus.
Make me like You, oh God,
That we may be one,
Even as You are one.


Thus ends the journal entry… Certainly, as you can see, the movie “The Song” stirred up a lot of thoughts in my heart. If you have not seen this movie before, go ahead and check it out. It helps you to see the harsh reality of life and realize what is truly most important. Men and women can screw up and fail, but God is ever faithful.

Amen.

Thinking

Oh, how I miss, on most days,
the chance to think!
To sit in silent reflection,
To ponder the infinite cosmos
of whim, and fancy, and fact.
To laugh at the odds of inconceivable chance,
To let my mind run wild,
and free my mind to dance!

Then I see an open chasm
in which I can dive headlong,
or into which I can endlessly pile
new ideas which stick
along some wall or rock
and present grand avenues
of exploration and achievement.

To go where no mind has gone before!
Or rather, to discover the Creator’s blessed shore.
For though I might think to be the first to clear the brush,
yet His footprints I find e’er before me!

“Where can I flee from Your presence?”
Indeed, even my mind is no escape.
For thought itself is a gift from Your hand,
and no avenue newly uncovered
has not been explored by Your gaze.

Yet raise us up to think more and grander!
In seeking truth, surely You will return as the answer.
But if in ignorance we continue in our fancies,
little caring if we are right or wrong
–nay, giving the question no thought at all–
we are deserving of a judgment.
But worse yet the judgment
for those who take the time to think
yet turn their back on the answer
after it has appeared!
For what reason would there be to do such a thing,
unless we didn’t like that Answer?