Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jesus Did It All

Why Did Jesus Die?

Some literary compositions present the death of Jesus as if it were only the death of a martyr, as if He was just a victim of evil men’s cruel deeds.  Though it is true that Jesus was unjustly condemned by perverse judges, still He freely chose to die, thereby finishing the work that His Father gave Him to do:  Which is the only work that can save humans from their sins. 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,”  
Ephesians 2:8.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5.

In the Gospel according to John, in particular, the Scripture points out that there was this certain calm determination that Jesus had at the moment of His seizure in the Garden of Gethsemane, John 1:1-12.  When the soldiers came to capture Jesus, He didn’t try to escape.  He stepped towards the soldiers and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”  They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Twice Jesus answered them saying that He was that man.  The soldiers then suddenly felt the Presence of something majestic or divine and stopped, retreated a bit and then fell to the ground.   

“When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell,” Psalm 27:2

Then, at such an extreme moment, He protected His disciples, saying to the Roman soldiers, “If you are looking for me, let the others go.”  With these words, Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, but ordered that the soldiers let His followers go free.

Why would Jesus keep His disciples from being arrested with Him?  He answered that question when Peter drew out his sword and tried to defend Him, “The cup that my Father has given to me, should I not drink from it?”  Jesus didn’t resist this arrest and by so doing, made sure that the Love of God could reach out to all that would come to Him by faith.  The Bible clearly states the mission of Jesus, 

“For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. 

“And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us,” Romans 5:5.

 “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, ‘Whom seek you’?” John 18:4.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved," Acts 4:12.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him,” Hebrews 2:3.

We might ask, “What is Salvation?”  Well, Salvation is a choice set before us by God.  We respond to the truth of God and the acts of Jesus, His Holy Son, choosing to either to believe in Him, accept what the Bible tells us or we choose to refuse to accept the truth of God and therewith choose to spend eternity separated from Him, in hell, with satan.  Salvation is the free gift of God, in Christ, allowing us to go to Heaven.  It is the choice between an eternal life with God in Heaven or an eternal life of suffering in hell.  Salvation is a gift of forgiveness and life and it is FREE and cannot be earned.  We simply and honestly believe to receive. 

More Violence In México Against Evangelical Christians

San Cristóbal de Las Casas.- Una comunidad indígena del estado mexicano de Chiapas liberó hoy a 33 evangélicos que fueron golpeados, torturados, rociados con gasolina, colgados del cuello o amenazados con ser quemados vivos durante 14 horas.

La comunidad de Los Llanos, a unos 20 kilómetros de San Cristóbal de las Casas y habitada por unos dos centenares de indígenas católicos tradicionalistas, retuvo -el martes 25- y torturó a 33 evangélicos cuando éstos intentaban volver a sus casas, luego de que hace tres años fueran expulsados violentamente.

Los indígenas evangélicos, que forman cuatro familias, habían sido expulsados de esa comunidad el 10 de enero de 2010 por profesar una religión distinta a la católica; sus viviendas fueron incendiadas y sus pertenencias destruidas.

Familiares de las víctimas informaron ayer miércoles 27 que las 33 personas fueron rescatadas por una comisión del Gobierno del estado después de pagar una “multa” de 600.000 pesos (49.200 dólares) y con la promesa de no presentar denuncias, no exigir castigo ni relatar las agresiones de que fueron objeto.

El grupo de católicos interceptó, rodeó y capturó ayer de manera violenta a los indígenas evangélicos y logró alejar a los acompañantes.

Colgados y rociados con gasolina

“Llegando a Los Llanos, ya estaban esperando los católicos, nos agarraron, nos quitaron los zapatos, tuvimos que caminar sobre las piedras, llegado a la escuela nos vendaron los ojos, nos amarraron de las manos y nos amarraron de la cintura”, relató el pastor evangélico Amado Catalino Gómez López, quien permanece hospitalizado por múltiples golpes y lesiones por ahorcamiento.
Añadió que ahí los mantuvieron con los ojos vendados y les empezaron a derramar gasolina sobre el cuerpo, con gritos de que los iban a quemar, “mientras a los otros compañeros los estaban torturando y maltratando”.

Afirmó que los católicos se enfurecieron más con el presidente de la Organización de Pueblos Evangélicos de los Altos de Chiapas, Manuel Collazo Gómez, y con el abogado y pastor de la Iglesia Alas de Águila, Esdras Alonso González, quienes acompañaban al grupo.

“Tenían a Manuel Collazo, le quitaron toda la ropa y lo estaban golpeando, le quebraron una mano, después empezaron también a torturar al abogado Esdras Alonso González”, indicó.
“Luego vinieron por mí -añadió-, me llevaron y empezaron a golpear, me echaron gasolina, me pusieron un lazo en el cuello y me arrastraban, me llevaron a un lugar y me empezaron a colgar, para que yo dijera la verdad, para que dijera quienes éramos nosotros, que confesara si teníamos armas”.

Cinco personas internadas

El director del hospital donde fueron atendidas las víctimas, Marco Antonio Flores, informó que mantienen internadas a 5 personas, de las cuales hay dos mujeres (una de 60 años y otra de 37), “todos con múltiples golpes y lesiones por ahorcamiento.

El médico explicó que se realizan diversos estudios para ver si no tienen otra lesión más importante, y “dependiendo de los resultados se podría dar de alta más tarde o mañana”.

Otros evangélicos explicaron que las autoridades estatales sólo decidieron intervenir luego de que ellos mantuvieron bloqueada la carretera entre San Cristóbal de Las Casas y la capital del estado, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, desde la tarde de ayer hasta esta madrugada, cuando sus compañeros fueron rescatados.

Según la Coordinación de Organizaciones Cristianas en Chiapas hay al menos 21 comunidades que presentan conflictos religiosos, y en algunos casos las familias evangélicas llevan cerca de cuatro años fuera de sus hogares.
Fuente: EFE

(I will soon translate this article about continued violence against Evangelilcal Christians in México into English)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hate Against Christians

Another evangelical Christian pastor was assassinated last Friday near the town of San Juan Chamula in Mexico’s troubled southern state of Chiapas, while on his way to a prayer service.

Mariano Díaz, 38, was a minister of the indigenous Tzotzil Evangelical Church, he was traveling near the village of Botatulán around 3 p.m. when heavily armed assailants made him stop his automobile.  Witnesses said that it appeared that Diaz got out of the car and attempted to run away from his attackers before they shot him to death.

Díaz is the second evangelical pastor to die in the space of two weeks.  According to sources in Chiapas, Jairo Solís López was recently killed in the municipality of Mapastepec.

The circumstances of Solís’s death were not clear, but sources in Chiapas believe the murders are the most recent chapter in a 30-year saga of severe persecution of evangelical Christians by local caciques, or powerful community chieftains.  Caciques practice a “traditionalist” religion, a semi-pagan mix of Roman Catholic beliefs and an ancient Mayan religion.

Since the advent of evangelical Christianity in the Chiapas Highlands in the 1960s, caciques have constantly used violent tactics to discourage the spread of Christianity in indigenous regions. Literally scores of evangelical Christians have been killed and even hundreds more have suffered injury.  About 35,000 evangelical Christians live in ghettos surrounding the district capital of San Cristóbal de las Casas, and have been driven from their ancestral homes by caciques and their henchmen.

Caciques have enjoyed near impunity while carrying out the anti-Christian campaign.  In three decades, only six caciques and their accomplices have been punished for these crimes.

The Chiapas newspaper Cuarto Poder reported that Diaz’s funeral procession, in which about 500 evangelical Tzotzils participated, turned into a march calling upon authorities to put an end to the aggression.

Leaders of the Regional Organization for the Welfare of Evangelicals of the State of Chiapas (ORBECH in Spanish), a non-governmental organization that defends the rights of evangelical Christians, issued calls to Mexican officials to capture and punish Diaz’s murderers.

ORBECH director, Agustín Gómez Patishtán, told mourners that the state’s justice attorney should conduct an exhaustive investigation to solve the case, else, “I think we are going to take other action.”

“But we trust in God and the authorities, that they will get to the bottom of this,” Gómez said, “I believe they have the power to do justice according to the law.”

At the same time, Gomez lamented official failure to protect evangelicals against continuing attacks.  He reminded officials that caciques had issued threats in San Juan Chamula.

“(They said) that our (church) leaders are going to fall one by one.  I think they are carrying out those threats; I think we are seeing that with clarity.”

Veteran human rights attorney, Esdras Alonso, expressed fears that the caciques are stepping up attacks against evangelical Christians.

According to the report in Cuarto Poder, Alonso told mourners, “These are messages that the (caciques) are sending to the evangelical community in Chiapas.  The conflict is radicalizing, and more violence is seeking to surface.”

Alonso called upon the justice attorney’s office to renew investigations into recent cases of aggression against evangelicals in the communities of Mitzitón and Flores Magon, where arsonists strike Evangelical homes in Chiapas, with regularity.

“This aggression must not go unpunished,” Alonso said.  “Years ago, (Chiapas governor) Pablo Salazar, was one of the first to witness, as a lawyer, these assaults in Chiapas and become acquainted with the background of this situation.”

“As leaders of social organizations, we are still awaiting official action.  We want to see results.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

El Amor De Dios

Algo Que Es Dogmáticamente Gratis

Un jefe de negocios mandó instalar cámaras fotográficas en ciertas secciones de una cadena de tiendas.  Su propósito era observar y analizar la conducta de los compradores con el fin de estimularles a comprar más cosas.  Las tácticas de venta son cada vez más adulteradas.  Las mercancías están orientadas en una sucesión exacta teniendo en cuenta la peculiaridad de las clientelas.

La manifestación de los mismos está escrupulosamente trabajada.  Lo que corresponde es que el cliente capitule, que llene su carrito hasta arriba.  Las palabras regalado, promoción y ganga están en todas las tiendas.  Todos anuncian que el cliente tiene albedrío para decidir, sin embargo éste está a la mira, encauzado, hasta que llega a la registradora.

Y, en nuestra vida, ¿a menudo no sucede lo mismo?  El planeta es como una inmensa tienda de autoservicio.  Su mercado contesta a todos nuestros apetitos.  Nos pensemos libres, pero si esta independencia se reduce a compensar nuestras codicias o locuras, empobrecemos nuestras vidas.

Hay muchas maneras de malgastar la vida, pero sólo hay una que puede salvarla.  Esta forma es brindada gratuita por Dios.  La dádiva de Dios es Su Hijo Unigénito.

Desde ahora Jesucristo nos redime de la trivialidad del mundo y de nuestras viles avaricias; y para el mañana nos afirma el Cielo y la Residencia Divina.  El regalo de Dios es gratuito para aquel que lo recibe, pero para Dios fue de un costo incalculable.  ¡No lo rehusemos!

“Fuisteis rescatados de vuestra vana manera de vivir, no con cosas corruptibles, como oro o plata, sino con la sangre preciosa de Cristo, como de un cordero sin mancha y sin contaminación.”   
1ª Pedro 1:18-19.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No Vacation Bible School This Year

This year we didn’t have any offers of help for our Summer Bible School Program.  Which is sad, but maybe, if we get things ready now for next year, we’ll have plenty of folks coming down to help us with this timely outreach.  

Vacation Bible School, VBS, is for our children, from four years of age to early teens.  We try to make these educative days, "the place to be," we want the boys and girls to experience God's love in this unique, fun and personal way.  

The peaceful ambiance when electrically filled with activities, songs, goodies and plenty of adult attention brings a lot of joy and affirmation to the lives of these poor and needy youngsters.  Our desire is always to fill up the boys and girls spiritually with God’s childlike love and acceptance.  We want the children to sing and yell-out in praise of the Lord and to learn that He loves all of His children.  Even though preparation and structure is important, the daily meetings do not have to be overly elaborate, the goal and objective is that we all experience more of God’s Love each day.
We need and can always use quick quiz games to help children learn about the Bible events and people mentioned in the Word of God and prophecy.  Also, different comparison-hunt charts or cards.  The children enjoy making novelty jewelry with Bible themes.  Even having a Questions and Answers time is fun for the children.  We like to present a five day program, lasting about two hours a day, Monday through Friday.  Of course, VBS crafts and handiworks are always a winner, as is playing with appropriate toys, like checkers, chess, even making classroom decorations for Christmas of summer birthdays.  It does take a lot of goodies to make each day something special, like cake decorating, popping corn, bags of candy to take home to the rest of the family.  Just making the days an awesome Christian adventure is the goal, everything being focused on knowing Jesus and leaning about God.  These are the summer days that little children remember, days that can change their lives forever.  Craft kits, classroom supplies, stickers and party favors don’t have to be expensive.  The simplest things work wonders in the lives of these poor boys and girls. 

Summertime offers us the opportunity of experiencing the clear-cut things of our faith: experiencing God is a lifelong process, and learning about God can be enjoyable and fun.  Each of the five days is a time for study, play, and prayer.  Five days of storytelling, Bible study, arts & crafts, refreshments, playing with friends, praying together, and worship.  Five special days that are just a lot of fun and gifts; closing each day with a good amount of singing and music.  These days are like the cherry on top of a hot summer-long vacation.  Maybe next year, you can help make this a reality.  Thanks and God Bless You.