Can Persecution be a Good Thing?

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 99,650 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

In our current promotion the winner will be the person who is the 100,000th subscriber will win some nice prizes. We are down to the last 350. It will go very fast. This is a huge milestone for us. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Look for updates here.

UPDATE!!  In the final stages of having the book finished. Much of it is already sent off to my editor. The countdown begins!!

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We have a special guest blogger today. Taylor Wilkins ison staff for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is reaching out to the local high schools in my area, and Taylor (with God) is the reason for all of its success. This post will show you why.

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Signs of Hope- The Honor of Persecution

“they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” -Revelation 12:10-11

Have you ever been put down, persecuted, or physically abused for your belief?

I’m sure to some extent all of us have experienced this; but for most of us, we don’t consider persecution a blessing—At least not yet!

Throughout this past week God has been highlighting to me Persecution. In John 15:20 Jesus tells his followers; “no servant is greater than his master, if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” and again in John 16:33 Jesus says; “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As I asked God to search me and show me the places in my life that need to grow, the fear of persecution has been revealed to me as a weakness. This is not good because this causes a compromise in my obedience to the Holy Spirit’s voice and leading in my walk with him.

The reason to fear persecution usually comes from a lack of understanding about the treasure behind it. Jesus says that blessed are you when you are persecuted for my names sake. Even when the world comes against us for our faith we are blessed by our father in heaven. The weight of being persecuted by man compared to being blessed by God is of no comparison, yet we often fear the latter!

It could be that what I’ve been describing above is resonating with you—or maybe you have been abused for things completely unrelated to faith. We live in a world that often tears people down better then it builds them up. Your story could be of broken trust, abuse, bullying, an affair, sexual abuse, or abusive parents. My heart breaks thinking of the terrible things that are happening to wonderful innocent people—and often the ones who can’t defend themselves. If your story of persecution is along these lines, I want you to know it is the glory of God to redeem that which was lost. God has been through everything with you and he will not let your tears fall to the ground unnoticed. He loves you, and He will redeem your life.

Today this is a Sign of Hope, that no matter the circumstance you are in, or the breakthrough you need, God is near to you and He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Taylor Wilkins

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all….never, ever, give up!

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From My Perspective

First of all I would like to thank you for  all the prayers that have gone up for me. I really appeciate them and they are much needed.  I am doing a little better, still awaiting surgery, probably will be after first of year, left arm still real sore from the muscle spasms and pain caused when they tried to inject the remicade for chrons, right leg black, blue and sore from the wire they inserted trying to reach the porta cath to dislodge the blockage, they were unsuccesful due to scar tissue, so the risk of a clot breaking loose is still possible, but they have injected medication to limit those possibilities, they have also suggested I not use my arm much to put it under pressure. These things I am use to, dealing with chrons for as many years as I have, but I was truly overwhelmed by the prayer request and the words of encouragement sent to my inbox and else where. They still frustrate me when they occur, but I find relieve in knowing there is a purpose or something to be learned, so I’ve been spending my time praying and asking God what he would like be to learn from this term of events. It all comes down to our perspective and how we perceive things that happen in our lives. The following post looks at a situation that occured 2000 years ago, and how one man perceived the event that changed the world. Not only look at it from the perpective of Joseph but also of the parents involved, how would you respond if your teenager came home and said she was pregnate or that their girlfriend was pregnate. Granted we will never see another Savior born, but what will God use this for, How would he want us to respond, Myself a father, probably would not respond favorably if placed in that position, and I pray I never will. But I would also have to realize while our teenagers make mistakes ultimately God creates the life, so there is a purpose in the life created, His purpose…I pray I remember that if I am ever faced in a similiar position.
 
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”  Matthew 1:18-19

(This is adapted from a first-person message by Pastor Colin-in the character of Jesus’ father, Joseph)

I have a marvelous story to tell you.  I had a ring-side seat for the greatest event that has ever happened in the history of the world.  Of course, you know that I was the one who was pledged to be married to Mary.  I knew that she was the one for me from the first time I saw her.  What I didn’t know was that she had been chosen by God to bear the child who had been promised since the beginning of time.

Why I was devastated

The first thing you need to know about Mary’s child is that His birth had nothing whatsoever to do with me.  For us, the union of a man and a woman was sacred.  It was to be kept for marriage.  There’s a purity about the union of a man and a woman in marriage that isn’t found anywhere else.  A lot of people in your day have lost sight of that, but I tell you, we see the pain and the insecurity that comes of it all the time.

Of course, we never faced the pressure of advertising that assaults your eyes and your minds.  But I can tell you that I have no regrets, about the choice that we made.  If you choose to obey God in this, you won’t have any regrets either.  I had kept myself for Mary, and Mary had kept herself for me.  That’s why I was completely devastated when she came to me with the news that was to shatter our whole world.  

I may have lived 2,000 years ago…

I don’t even remember how she started the conversation, and I can’t imagine the trauma that it was for her to try and tell me.  All I remember is that she said the word “pregnant,” and when she said it, I just about went through the roof.  She told me a story about an angel appearing to her, but I would hear none of it.      I remember saying to her, “It would take an angel to make me believe what you’re telling me.”

I may have lived 2,000 years ago, but that doesn’t make me naïve or foolish.  I know that no woman has a child without a man.  I know that you have scientists experimenting with all kinds of genetic engineering, but this fact remains true-no woman has a child without a man.

Put yourself in my position

I have often smiled when I hear people say that they can’t believe in the virgin birth.  They say it’s a real struggle for them.  How do you think it was for me?  You may think that you are more sophisticated in your scientific age than we were, but I tell you, nobody ever had more problems over this than I did.  Nobody ever found it more difficult to believe that a virgin could be with child than I did. 

Put yourself in my position.  What would you have thought?  Of course, now I know the truth of what she was trying to tell me.  But at that time, she was telling me something that I found impossible to believe. Then the angel appeared to me………

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Biblical Approach To Addiction

Until about 20 years ago, psychologists searched for the “addictive personality”.  What type of person became an addict?  Was it the dependent, or the impulsive, or the weak-willed, or the depressed or anxious, or the “type A” person who was predisposed to develop an addiction?  To their surprise, they didn’t find a definitive profile of an “addictive personality”.

Addictions, possibly more than any other human malady, portray in loud and living color the battle with sin that takes place in every human heart.  Current estimates are that 27% of Americans will at some point in their lifetime abuse or become dependent on some substance.  These estimates do not even include two other behavioral addictions: pornography and gambling.

Who are the Addicts?

Addicts come in all shapes and sizes and smells.  Some are CEO’s, white collar professionals, deacons and Sunday school teachers.  Others are homeless street people and bag ladies whose aroma lingers in your office long after they’ve left.  But, if you peer into the soul of any of these addicts, or your soul or mine, you smell the same thing: desire, thirst, hunger, longing, craving and lust.  Addiction and the human condition live in the same family.  The difference between you, me and the addict is wafer-thin.

Currently, the medical disease model and 12-step recovery programs dominate both the discussion and the response to addictions.  There is one problem with the medical disease model, however.  The cause of the “disease” has never been identified.  There is no gene or virus or bacteria or metabolic deficiency or neuropathology that has been conclusively proven to be the cause of any addiction.  Do addicts have a disease like cancer or diabetes?  Or, is disease only a metaphor for sin-sickness and the devastation that follows? 

According to clinical psychologist, Ed Welch, “The disease theory persists because there are no other readily available explanations…If Scripture doesn’t guide us, something else will… An addiction is a worship disorder.  Instead of worshiping the divine King, addicts worship idols that temporarily satisfy physical desire.”[1]

From a biblical perspective, something has gone wrong with the desires of an addict; they’ve been hijacked and taken hostage.  What began as a friendship becomes infatuation, then a love affair and eventually the addict is captive to a fatal attraction.

An idol that was originally intended to serve him and do his bidding, turns the table until one day the addict wakes up and recognizes, “I’m hooked.”  Choice by choice the addict forges the links in his own chain.

The Wonderful Counselor knew this, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8.34 HCSB).   

Saint Paul put it this way, “Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6.16 HCSB)

Worship and its perversion, idolatry, are biblical categories that capture both the life dominating and the against God nature of addiction.  The Bible’s concept of sin matches up perfectly with both the voluntary/purposeful/rebellious and the enslaved/deceived/out-of-control aspects of addiction.  Addiction is a form of bondage that you voluntarily sign up for, and then realize you got something you didn’t want.

If addiction is expected then these basic steps should be followed

  1. Detection and Confirmation.  Whenever an addiction is suspected, wise and loving friends or family look into it rather than avert their eyes because of fear or busyness.
  2. Loving confrontation. The 12-step world calls this “intervention”.  We must directly and gently address those who are overtaken by life-dominating sin.  It’s simply a matter of convening a few relatives, friends, and church leaders who love the addict, calling them to repent, and presenting a plan for change.   See Galatians 6.1-2.
  3. Triage. In cases of severe and long-standing addictions, radical intervention may be necessary.  This may take the form of a Christian residential program which provides intensive around the clock supervision and counsel for 30-90 days.  Know beforehand what your local resources are and how financial arrangements can be made.
  4. Counseling. Following are critical issues that must be addressed when counseling an addict.
  • Assess the lifestyle. It’s important to know the details of their addiction and their daily life.
  • Obtain a commitment to change.
  • Engage accountability and prayer partners (usually several times per week).
  • Help prevent relapses. Develop “ways of escape”; construct “walls and fences” to minimize opportunities to backslide. 
  • Teach spiritual truth and disciplines. Instruction and life-on-life discipleship about how to do spiritual battle and fight the good fight for faith and obedience.  This should include practical biblical teaching on sanctification and important concepts like putting off/putting on and renewing the mind.  The addict must understand the wrongs and sanctification.
  • Replace idolatry with worship of the true God.  Addicts must learn how to worship.  Augustine said that the root of all evil is wrongly directed desire.  Desires and affections must be redirected.
  • Encourage love for others.  This would include confessing sin to others and seeking forgiveness, reconciliation and restitution whenever possible.
  • Deal with deception.  Addictions and lies are bedfellows.  Teach the importance of honesty
  • Get others involved in the plan for change.  This is a job for the church,  or faith based recovery program, not one person.

Lastly, do not get discouraged with relapses.  They are all too common.  Those who have successfully conquered addiction usually fail several times before they achieve victory.

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