“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Jude 3-4
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
The Scripture above is unsettling. What should I do?
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:5
Do you remember the scene from “Jaws” where father and son were sitting at the kitchen table and the son copied the actions of the father? As the old adage goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
When we stand for Christ in our community, the neighbors start watching our actions. Testimony is vitally important. Satan is always trying to shoot holes through it- to point out our shortcomings, to give people an excuse not to believe in Christ.
The West has greater responsibility than we realize. As the East develops, it mimics the West. For example, many in Southeast Asia see our actions on media and copy.
We were recently asked if Christmas is celebrated or even acknowledged in Cambodia / Thailand. Even at a Chinese restaurant in America, you might see a Christmas decoration on the wall and wonder why it is still hanging in June. Generally speaking, many associate Christmas with happiness. Happiness is endorsed. And many identify something that comes from the West as cool.
Like many Americans, many Cambodians also do not have a problem agreeing that, “Jesus is good!” People typically do not even rebuttal the deity of Christ. Then again, even the word for the sun comes with “Preah” before it, which means god. Adding Christ to a multitude of other gods who are worshiped is not a problem. Rejection of the gospel comes at the point where we assert that Jesus is the ONE true God and the ONLY way to heaven (the “exclusivity” of Christ).
Imitation of the West is not limited to popular culture. The church of the East also follows the church of the West. The fall of the American church is having a much greater impact than many of us realize. The world is watching. Since the gospel in recent generations came to much of the world through American missionaries, the tendency is to continue to trust / listen-without-filter whatever is broadcast through that same pipeline today. American false teachers, especially those with a large following, are quickly endorsed.
False teachings manufactured in the West are adopted in the younger, quick-to-follow-without-filtering church of the East. Survival of your brothers and sisters overseas depends in part on what you say and do.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6
Wherever we are, we must be like the Bereans and compare what we are being taught against the inspired Word of God.
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11
Praise the Lord for His Word.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105
Strange as it sounds, I think there is value in being encouraged by the level of opposition we face. Somebody said, ‘If there weren’t significant (spiritual) opposition to what we are doing, it would be an indicator that we’re not moving in the right direction.’
A German Sunday School teacher took his teenage child to visit a Christian university in the U.S., and this is what he said upon return:
‘In Europe, the (spiritual) war has been decided, and it’s over. People have made their decision. For the most part, no one wants to hear about Jesus anymore. In America, the war rages on. And that is what was thrilling to me- the fact that there still IS a war.’
Testimonies of the men Castaway serves can be knock-down / drag out. Just when you think the game is over and the man will be ushered off this earth into eternal darkness, the Lord steps in. Just because it looks bleak doesn’t mean the war is over. As my Dad used to say, ‘Maybe the Lord just hasn’t spoken yet.’
On American Independence month, let’s be encouraged that Satan still considers the U.S. a significant enough threat to load our churches, universities and media outlets to the brim with his troops.
We’re at war. Stay in the fight!
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:11-12
Preview for a new Hollywood thriller sends chills up our backs with a one-liner, “Some conspiracy theories aren’t theories at all!”
These days, it is increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. People are constantly whispering something crazy into our ears. We don’t know what to believe or whom we can trust.
For Americans, the daily grind can be our worst enemy. Ups and downs, or the perception of them, keep us in fear of what might be. Comparing where we once were to where we are now, we are discouraged.
Illustration: Desks form a semi-circle in a classroom high above the busy streets of Bangkok. It’s the first day of Thai language class. Round robin introductions begin- ‘My name is Ti. I am from South Korea,’ ‘…Zigo, …Poland’, ‘…Eante, …Iran’, ‘…Vlad, …Russia’, ‘…Rebecca, …America’
‘America?’ the teacher exclaims. The room goes silent in honor for a couple of seconds.
Another American… same happens.
Outside class at break, Brazilian engineer speaks of how although the younger generation may seem a little lost, America is considered the gold standard.
Election coverage was all over the news in Thailand, and people from all over the world in Bangkok were talking about it. Turn on the TV in a foreign land, and they are often analyzing America- knowing that when she does well, we all do well.
The church abroad still views the United States as a Christian nation.
Pakistani Christians in mass seek asylum due to persecution from Muslim extremists. Recent video posted on social media questions, “Where is America?”
At a recent church lunch in Thailand, Filipino brothers shared strong opinions about the outcome of the U.S. election and foreign policy.
In Cambodia, a pastor preached a sermon using the U.S. Army as an example of the best of the best. U.S. Army clothes and hammocks are proudly sold all over Southeast Asia.
In Peru, there was a palpable respect when the U.S. was mentioned.
Point is- Keep your head up, America. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. All is not lost. Praise God.
Let us be thankful this Thanksgiving.
Let us walk worthy of the call. The entire world is watching.
“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 106:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2