Book Review : Persecuted – The Global Assault on Christians

persecutedWestern Christians enjoy many freedoms when it comes to their freedom. They are free to assemble in the houses of worship unhindered and free from the threat of physical harm. Christian radio, television, and publications stand beside mainstream secular media and is enjoying success and influence. Christians outwardly wear visible symbols of their faith in their clothing and jewelry without fear of reprisal. They are able to carry a Bible anywhere and engage people with the message of Jesus Christ. However, Christians around the world do not enjoy such freedom and luxury. In their new book, “Persecuted; The Global Assault of Christianity”, authors Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea bring to bear on the minds of the reader what the Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and other research authorities have found to be true through extensive research. In their words, “Christians are the single most widely persecuted religious group in the world today.” They show us that the persecutions Christians around the world face are not the western picture of persecution. Western Christians feel persecuted if they cannot pray in school, display their Bible in the office, or are rejected when they present the gospel to a lost person. Again, in the author’s words, “what we mean by persecution in this book is that there are Christians in the countries of focus who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith.”

“Persecuted” takes a sobering look at the conditions that Christians are living in around the world. They acknowledge that all religions experience types of suffering (natural disasters, disease, famine, etc.). When it comes to persecution, their focus is “solely on the suffering inflicted on people at least in part because they are Christians  – suffering they would not have had to endure if they were not believers in Jesus.” Before the authors share stories and examples of worldwide persecution, they give the causes of such persecution. They write, “Most persecution of Christians springs from one of three causes. First is the hunger for total political control, exhibited by the Communist and post-Communist regimes. The second is the desire by some to preserve Hindu or Buddhist privilege, as is evident in South Asia. The third is radical Islam’s urge for religious dominance, which at present is generating expanding global crisis. The chosen layout of the book is most helpful and interesting. Forms and types of persecution are specific to countries and individual customs. Basically the five primary subsets of the world’s population are highlighted.

The first subset, seen in chapter two: Caesar and God, highlights countries such as China, Vietnam, and North Korea. Christianity is a threat here due to the absolute rule of government leaders. The second subset, seen in chapter three: Post-Community Countries, highlights such countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. The freedom of Christianity is a threat here due to the practices of rule consistent with communism. The third subset, seen in chapter four: South Asia’s Christian Outcastes, highlights countries such as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The evangelical nature of Christianity is a threat to the intense belief of Hindus and Buddhists that the people and land are ties to a specific faith. The fourth subset, seen in chapters five through eight: The Muslim World, highlight countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, and Indonesia. Christianity is at odds with the fastest-growing religion in the world today: Islam. The fifth subset, seen in chapter nine: Cruel and Usual Abuse, highlight such countries as Burma, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. In these regions that have a heavy militarized government, Christianity’s desire for an independent church is directly opposed to the wishes of self-serving governments.

“Persecuted” gives dozens and dozens of cases of persecution. There are too many to list them all. Here is a summary of the types of persecution that Christians are enduring simply because they are Christians: torture, rape, false imprisonment, seizure of personal property, homes burned, oppressing registration requirements, church raids, harassment, separate laws for Christians, no benefit of legal systems, church bombings, anti-conversion laws, and public execution. At the conclusion of the book, the authors offer a Call to Action: a list of activities everyone can be involved in to support the persecuted church worldwide. Such activities as prayer, reporting, legal action, and financial support to organizations working to stamp out persecution are offered. “Persecuted” is a marvelous work. It is informative, humbling, well-researched, and convicting. I believe it is a must read for all Christians. By doing so, the reader will be reminded of how blessed the Western Christian church is and how genuine sacrifice and surrender to the will of Christ is being lived out through the persecuted church. Too good to miss.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review : The Invested Life

Of all the Christian disciplines and practices, personal discipleship, the intentional one-on-one process of growing closer to Jesus Christ, is one that is perhaps the most easily neglected. This can be case for many reasons: too busy, lack of motivation, fear of failure due to a lack of knowledge, too messy, and a myriad of others. That being the case, the pages of the Bible as littered with references to, procedures for, an benefits of personal discipleship. In The Invested Life; Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time, authors Joel Rosenberg and T.E. Koshy have written a thought-provoking look at this subject. They have crafted their book around two foundational questions: “Who is investing in me?” and “Who am I investing in?”

Rosenberg and Koshy write, as a premise for their book, “Christianity is not a solo sport. It’s about building strong healthy teams of fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ whom God can use to change the world. It’s about older believers taking younger believers under their wings to love them, help them grow in Christ, and help them reproduce their faith in the lives of other younger believers.” They develop their case intentionally by dealing with such topics as Christ’s model for discipleship, selecting a person to disciple, seeking out a discipler for yourself, and the subjects that should be part of an investing relationship. The Invested Life is grounded in scripture and pulls examples from within of disciple-making relationships and principles. They cite the relationships between Jethro and Moses, Jesus and His disciples, and Paul and Timothy.

This is a 270 page how-to, nuts and bolts look at discipleship. The authors give many lists, points, and checklists to get their point across to their readers. For me, this is great. I learn better by those methods. This may be a drawback to other readers. Woven into the scriptural mandate are personal testimonies and study questions to further develop their burden of discipleship. All in all, a good book that worth your time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Giveaway : Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

It is time for me to give away another book from my bookshelf.  I am giving away a copy of John Maxwell’s  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Maxwell is arguably the world’s most respected expert in the area of leadership. In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Maxwell shows what effective people do differently in the area of communication that make them successful. You can read my review here.

To be entered to win, you must do (2) things.

1. Follow my blog by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page.

2. Answer the following question by leaving your answer in the comment stream.

It’s that simple. Contest will stay open until midnight Thursday, September 20th.  I will choose a winner based on the most unique answers given. The winner will be announced winner here on Friday, September 21st. Good luck, here is your question.

In 20 words or less, what do you feel is the greatest barrier to effective communication?

 

Summer Reading 2011

Just thought I would share what I am reading over the summer.

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture

The late Francis Schaeffer was one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of the twentieth century. He wrote and studied the decline of western culture. Schaeffer gives a personal analysis of the key moments throughout history which have formed our present culture, and the thoughts of the men who brought those moments to pass.

God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation

Dr. Andreas Kostenberger serves as professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  This book tackles the latest debates and cultural challenges to God’s plan for marriage and the family and urges a return to the original biblical foundation.

Futurecast: What Today’s Trends Mean for Tomorrow’s World

George Barna serves as president of the Barna Research  Group. Barna presents a timely look at the world in which we are creating every day and offers solid data to show the path and direction country is heading.

Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise

Dr. Carol Swain is a college-professor, award-winning author, and regular contributor to FOX and CNN News. Dr. Swain thoughtfully examines the religious significance of the founding of our nation and the deceptions that have infiltrated our daily lives and now threaten traditional families, as well as our government.

Real-Life Discipleship: Building Churches That Make Disciples

Jim Putman is the Senior Pastor of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho. Real-Life Discipleship explains what should happen in the life of every Christian and in every small group so that the church becomes an army of believers dedicated to seeing the world saved.

The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life

Robert Morris is the founding pastor of Gateway Church in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex. Morris clearly explains that the Holy Spirit’s chief desire is for relationship–to offer us the encouragement and guidance of a trusted friend.

What are you reading?