(Matthew 14:6-11)

***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, during a recent 60 Minutes program interview with Sheryl Sandberg (CEO of Facebook), she used the words G.D. I was very dismayed and have sent an email to 60 Minutes expressing my disappointment that they did not bleep those words. I tolerate more than I should of bad language, but using the Lord’s name in vain is extremely offensive to me. It is a shame we can’t even watch the news without having to hear that.

ANSWER: Sadly, there is no longer a fear of God. The use of the Lord’s name in vain, the glorification of perverting God’s plan for marriage and the family, the acceptance of infanticide, ALL demonstrate the sad spiritual state of our nation. More important, these are the issues that unless reversed, will bring God’s wrath and punishment on our nation!

I’ll never forget sitting in my office a decade ago when I heard the sad news that Paul Johnson, the American worker kidnapped in Saudi Arabia who was brutally murdered by having his head cut off. Unlike the brutal beheading of American Nicholas Berg several weeks prior, there was no video of the savage killing, but there were pictures and they were already circulating fast and furious on the Internet.

Earlier that week, I forced myself to watch and even worse, listen to the beheading of Berg. That Friday I forced myself to view the photographs of Johnson. You have to realize that I am a person who NEVER goes to movies where there is lots of blood, guts, and killing. I detest those movies. But these incidents were not movies, they were real life. I wanted to never forget that there is a very real enemy out there who has the very real goal of destroying this nation and seeing all of its people dead.

As horrible as it was to watch the events of 9/11 unfold, it happened in New York City, far away from 95% of the nation. 12 years later, those memories have faded and the enormity of that moment are all but forgotten. Since we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, never before have we had such extensive coverage of any war in our history. But the fact is, these wars are being fought half way around the globe and have no real impact on the daily lives of the vast majority of people in this country.

Let me remind you of this important fact. There are incredible numbers of people throughout the world who HATE the United States and all that it stands for, hate the people of this great nation, and have, as their goal in life, the destruction of this country and the death of everyone who lives here. That is the reality of this world we are living in. We can never take this war on terrorism lightly or do everything we possibly can to protect ourselves from a very real enemy who would love to wipe this nation, and all of its people, off the face of the globe.

THERE IS A PRICE FOR FREEDOM!

Beheading is not a new way to kill someone. In today’s Scripture, we read of the beheading of John the Baptist. What did he do? Shared the truth of God’s Word. As a matter of fact, if you study church history, you will see that in was routine for Christians to be killed for their faith. I would suggest that you read, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. You will read how the apostles and many of God’s choice servants throughout the years were brutally killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. It has not been uncommon for those who follow Jesus to be tortured and killed as they took the Gospel to different parts of the world.

Even today, in 2013 there are many places in the world where people are killed for their faith in Christ. That is why I laugh when people in the United States claim to be persecuted for their faith. While we struggle to get up on Sunday morning, put on nice clothes, drive our cars to multi-million dollar state-of-the-art luxurious churches, there are brothers and sisters in Christ in parts of the world today that are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and killed for proclaiming Jesus Christ as their Lord!

THERE IS A PRICE FOR FAITH!

Let me wake you up today with a scenario, one that is not as far fetched as you may think. In the Old Testament, when God unleashed His judgment on the children of Israel, it was often done by allowing their enemies to invade their land and take them captive. We see this form of judgment on Israel many times for their rebellion to God. I have shared with you, in the past, that this nation is not only due, but OVERDUE, for God’s judgment because of our rebellion to Him.

Now, imagine if God allowed one of the enemies of the United State to invade our land and take us captive. I know you are saying it could never happen. After all, we are the greatest power on the planet. We have the greatest armies, the greatest weapons, a tremendous nuclear capacity. You don?t have to be a history major to realize there have been many great nations over the course of human history, and at their height, I am sure ALL of them said the same thing. Where are those great nations today? Only a fool does not learn from history.

I wonder what would happen if God allowed a Muslim nation to invade and successfully take over the United States. I can guarantee you that the first thing on its list will be to ban Christianity. All of the churches will be burned to the ground and those who claim Christ will immediately be imprisoned, and ultimately killed. It would actually be interesting to see how many people would still stand for Christ under such a scenario. If people have such a hard time just going to church on Sunday, have to be almost forced to serve God in some small way, are they actually going to die for Jesus???

Let me ask you a question that only you can answer. Think about it before you do. If you were taken prisoner, and told you can denounce Christ and be free, otherwise you will have your head cut off, what would you do?

I love you and care about you so much. The good news is that we know how the story ends. GOD WINS! For those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, we have the assurance of everlasting life. Jesus said in Luke 12:4, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” For the Christian, evil men can kill your body because of your faith, but your everlasting soul belongs to the Lord! THAT is why those great men and women of God throughout the ages had no fear of losing their life for the Gospel. They knew they would be spending eternity with their Lord after this brief journey was over no mater how it ended.

I will be praying for you today. We can never lose sight that we live in a sin-filled and lost world, full of people who have chosen to live their lives in rebellion to the God of the Bible. God has blessed us with a great nation that has great freedoms. It is because of those freedoms that we have the ability to share our faith in Christ with people here as well as with those around the world. We can never take that freedom for granted, and have to make the most of each day. We never know if we will have these same freedoms tomorrow.

Pray today for those who pay the price for our freedom, and pray today for those today who pay the price for our faith!

In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,

Bill Keller

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