Five Ways to Prepare for the Days Ahead
"We need to make the decision that we won't compromise the word of God, even if it costs us."
Wasting away in a Turkish prison wasn’t how Andrew Brunson would have chosen to spend two years of his life — but after watching turmoil of the last two weeks unfold, he’s more convinced than ever: God was preparing him for this moment. Persecution is coming, he believes. And there’s no greater burden on his heart than to make sure Americans are ready for it.
Looking back, Pastor Brunson never imagined his life’s mission would be advocating for religious freedom. “I thought I’d be in Turkey the rest of my life doing church planting,” he admitted on “Washington Watch.” God had other plans. When Andrew was wrongfully charged and sentenced to life behind bars, he’s pretty candid: it broke him. Nothing, he said, equipped him for the kind of persecution he experienced. “I had counted the cost for some pressure, but certainly not for prison.”
Like most pastors, he’d studied the great leaders of the faith – but none of them really talked about how they coped with the suffering. Over time, Andrew says, the despair broke him. “And every time I broke, I had to get up again and learn perseverance at a deeper level.” But there was a purpose to the pain. “God allowed me to be broken like that so that I could be an encouragement to other people who are going to face persecution.” People, he warns, like Americans.
“I’ve really had something burning on my heart, especially in the last few weeks,” he shared. The waves of hostility are coming, and he believes God has sent him to give the church in America a message. “There’s a real sea change taking place in our country and this generation… The hostility toward followers of Jesus Christ is going to rise,” he warned. “The pressure is coming, and it’s coming very quickly now.” Thinking back over the horrible images of the last two weeks, Andrew said he feels a sense of urgency. “Pastors, especially, and influencers and parents need to prepare.”
“I believe a great sorting is coming to the church, and there will be a lot of division.” There will be a temptation to compromise, Andrew senses. And it’s already happening. “One thing I want to underline from my experience is that those who persecute [are] going to justify it by saying that we’re hate groups, that we have a message of hate.” That’s going to be tough to take. “People are going to say that [Christians] are a threat to safety. ‘You can’t work here. Your views make people unsafe. You can’t use social media. You can’t use your bank account, your credit cards,’ things like that. And churches, ‘You can’t keep your designation as a tax-exempt nonprofit…’” Compromise will be the easy way out.
Jesus tried to steel his followers against that impulse by reminding them that He was hated. He said, “Look, they hated me, they rejected my message. So they’re going to hate you and reject your message. The servant is not greater than the master.” He was preparing them. “That’s why it’s so heavy on my heart,” Andrew insisted. “I feel like we’re not ready. And it’s going to shock people.” So what can we do? What practical steps, as believers, can we take?
1. Talk about persecution
For starters, Andrew says, be aware that people have suffered – and are suffering – persecution in many countries. Americans have been spared from that fate because, despite the sins of our country, generations were still faithful to God. That’s changed. “So let’s talk about persecution, be aware of it, and begin to prepare for it by equipping your children and people in your church.”
2. Pursue Intimacy with God
Cultivating a love for God doesn’t necessarily come naturally, Andrew says. We have to grow it. “This is the number one thing that fueled my perseverance.” Back in 2007, Andrew remembers, he began to pray that God would draw him closer to His heart – never realizing how badly he would need it. “This is what prepared me for the difficult assignment that I had… God knew I was going to break. He knew that I would go right up to the point of failure — but because I had spent years running after His heart and drawing close to Him, He also knew that even in my most difficult time, that I would turn to Him. It’s this intimacy that fuels perseverance.”
3. Develop the Right Perspective: Fear of God, Not Man
“Jesus said very clearly: ‘Don’t fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body and health.’ That wasn’t empty rhetoric,” Andrew insists. “He was saying this to his disciples, and most of them were killed for their faithfulness to Jesus. So he was setting it up very clearly. We have a choice. We have to have the right perspective and determine that we are willing to pay a price –because there may well be a price.”
4. Determine ahead of Time to Follow Jesus
“If we make the decisions now, then we’re more likely to have an anchor to hold on to when the winds come, when the storm comes. Whereas if we don’t make those decisions now, then when we are under pressure, we may not have the strength to make them. So you have to decide ahead of time: Am I willing to pay a price and began to cultivate the heavenly perspective in order to be faithful?” Or, Andrew wonders, “Are we going to fear the Twitter mob? Are we going to fear the consequences of obeying God and persecution? Or are we going to fear more the consequence of not obeying God, which is standing before Him someday?”
5. Stand on the Word
“We need to make the decision that we won’t compromise the word of God, even if it costs us,” Andrew urges. Of course, to do that, we have to know what the word of God says. That means we’ve got to be in the word of God. One of the things lacking most in the Christian community today is a biblical illiteracy. We know the word. We can read it – but we don’t understand it, because we’re not in it. We’ve got to be in it daily. It’s daily bread. We wouldn’t eat just one day a week, so we shouldn’t just study God’s word one day a week. We should be in it constantly. To hear the entire message that God laid on the heart of Pastor Brunson, I encourage you to listen to our whole conversation. The goal isn’t to create a spirit of fear. It’s to remind Christians that God alone will sustain us — but we have to do our part and stay vigilant, prayerful, and steadfast. “Listen to me my people,” Isaiah 51 says. “Hear me, my nation… My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way… Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength!”
Originally published here.
Keep the Light Burning
According to the latest undercover video of CEO Jack Dorsey from Project Veritas, Twitter plans to censor even more conservatives. “This is going to be much bigger than just one account [Donald Trump’s, which they permanently suspended], and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week, and the next few weeks, and go beyond the inauguration… I don’t believe this is going away anytime soon,” said Dorsey.
This revelation comes just days after Twitter lectured Uganda about the danger of blocking social media ahead of its elections. Apparently, they think they are the only ones allowed to silence dissent.
It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Conservatives have been warning about big tech’s penchant for censorship for years. Still, the sheer brazenness of Twitter’s hypocrisy is astounding. In fact, not even their falling stock (which stock has lost more than 15 percent of its value since January 4) seems to shake their resolve to bury conservatives for good.
It looks like conservatives are finally fed up with Twitter enough to leave. But no sooner had they found an alternative in the social media app Parler than Amazon, followed by all their other vendors, kicked them to the curb. If a corporation, or several, can wield the power to strangle their competitors in their sleep how is that not an unacceptable monopoly or cartel?
No one knows yet whether Parler will ever return. Meanwhile, here at Family Research Council, we’ve decided to be pro-active about making sure big tech censorship can’t totally strangle us. Already, multiple tech vendors left us hanging in the wind by canceling contracts at critical moments.
Let me be clear. We will NEVER stop striving to make the truth heard. So, if you ever find that Family Research Council has gone dark, then look for us to speak out on another platform. Here’s how to (possibly) find us: first, as long as we can, we will publish content on YouTube, Facebook, and now, Rumble. Second, text the word “Stand” to 67742 to receive updates directly to your phone. If we’re cut off, we’ll alert you. Third, you can listen to our radio program online or via the Stand Firm app, which (so far) you can find in the Google and Apple online stores. If Parler ever returns, we’ll be there, too.
I never would have thought I’d have to issue a notice like that. These are dark times indeed. In light of that, please join me in setting aside this Sunday to pray for our nation.
Here are seven things to pray for:
1) Pray for the unity of our nation, not a false unity, but a unity based one truth.
2) Pray for the Lord to confuse and confound the plans of those who operate counter to the truth.
3) Pray that the church (followers of Jesus) would be the light of the world.
4) Pray that our federal government leaders would recognize, understand, and yield to the truth.
5) Pray that state legislatures will take up their responsibility to review state election systems and expose any corruption or manipulation.
6) Pray that God’s people would resolve to stand firm and unwavering in the power of God’s might.
7) Pray for the leaders in the church and its members, that we would demonstrate the love of Christ to our neighbors and to one another.
Let’s be encouraged that God can see the big picture, and He’s doing something we can’t understand. Meanwhile, we are called to simply be faithful and testify to the truth. For those of you within driving distance of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I’ll be preaching on how the church should respond to these tumultuous times at Jefferson Baptist Church in both morning services (8:30 and 11:00 a.m.).
Originally published here.
The 1786 Lesson That Could Save 2021
Now that some of the shock of the last two weeks is starting to wear off, most Americans have the same question: can we actually pick up the pieces and move on? With 80 percent of the country worried the nation is falling apart, there’s a lot of concern that the nation’s days are numbered. These are the times when the only way forward is looking back and rallying around the principles that made America exceptional in the first place. Luckily for us, there’s a day this weekend that gives all of us the chance to do just that.
If anyone understood how fragile democracy is, it was Thomas Jefferson. Like everyone else in the country, he experienced some dark days after the revolution. The colonies won, true, but the country was in deep debt – and even deeper disagreement about the kind of government they wanted. To a man, there were moments when they probably wondered if the experiment they’d staked their lives on would survive. But survive it did, thanks to a document we celebrate Saturday: the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
Of all the things Jefferson accomplished in his life, he was never prouder than January 16, 1786 when his vision of giving every American the right to practice their faith became a reality. In an era when the government regulated and monitored churches, liturgy, and doctrine, it was a radical idea to suggest that religion wasn’t an issue for the state to regulate – but a personal matter between an individual and God. In fact, it was such a serious departure from the world they knew under British rule that Jefferson wasn’t taken seriously at first. But his persistence paid off, and 10 years later, the statute that paved the way for our First Amendment finally passed the general assembly.
Asked later why he was so passionate about it, Jefferson said his Virginia statute “is a true standard of Religious liberty: its principle the great barrier against usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected,” he insisted, freedom would be safe. More than two centuries later, Jefferson’s words have rung true. “It’s a concept,” Dr. Daniel Dreisbach insisted on “Washington Watch,” “that is deeply woven into the fabric of our nation.” And ultimately, the pursuit of religious liberty wasn’t just a pursuit of Jefferson’s day, but the brave men and women before him who left everything for the new world. And 400 hundred years later, it’s still drawing people to America’s shores.
Protecting Jefferson’s vision hasn’t been easy. Even Saturday, as we celebrate Religious Freedom Day and the signing of that world-changing statute, there’s incredible pressure on Americans to abandon it. The radical factions in this country would much rather force us back to a policy of “religious toleration,” where a government “in its benevolence would say to its people, ‘We will allow you to practice your religion so long as we allow you.’” But, Dreisbach warned, “if the government can grant you a privilege of practicing your religion, it can take it away. And Americans in the founding era rejected that idea. They said, ‘No, religious liberty is not about mere toleration. It’s about liberty. It’s a natural, inalienable, fundamental right that’s placed beyond the reach of government officials. Government can’t take it away from you. And sadly, I think we’re losing this distinction in our society today between toleration… and this idea from the founding, which is that religious liberty is a natural, inalienable right that can’t be taken away.”
Jefferson would have been horrified at what’s unfolded in this last decade, when the government decided to crack down on Christians and faith-based groups because of their views on marriage, human sexuality, or life. His belief was that what should be protected isn’t simply “thoughts that you have in your head – it’s the ability to act on your beliefs [and] the dictates of your conscience,” Dreisbach explained. “And I think what we find when we hear people to say today saying, 'Well, you can worship, but you may not be able to act on your beliefs,’ that’s a fundamental departure from the literal language of our Constitution and this most important of rights.”
The founders often said that “our survival as a republic, our survival as a free people, is dependent on frequent recurrence to fundamental principle. And so I think that on this Religious Freedom Day on January 16th this year, we need to commit ourselves to recurring to first principles. Go back and study the bill for establishing religious freedom of 1786. Go back and study what the First Amendment has to say,” Dreisbach urged.
That’s especially important now, at a time when so many of our problems are spiritual. Yes, we’re in a cultural and political dilemma, but the answer isn’t going to come from Washington, D.C. or higher education or Hollywood. The answer is going to come from the church. And if the church loses its ability and freedom to address those problems, then trust me: America will be much worse off than it is now.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.