Updated: May 17, 2021
Friday, May 14, 2021 -
A believer who has embraced Christ’s redemption for his sins as the basis of his salvation gladly must be willing to suffer for Him if he is a true disciple. Is this not what Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24-26 say? That if I am unwilling to lay down my life for the Master I will forfeit my soul? But, if I lose my life for His sake, I will find it! This is the ultimate cost of denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Him. And when we take up our cross, we willingly take on Christlikeness and a desire to please Him by doing what He desires, even if it means suffering for Him.
I have had so many of those who confess Christ and who I felt were strong Christians express amazement that I would willingly go to prison for helping a desperate mother and her child I did not even know, as Scripture dictates (Proverbs 3:27-28). Yet, according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16 one’s willingness not only to suffer by going to prison, but to die for Him is indicative of our being a true disciple. Becoming a follower of Christ means surrendering all to Him, even our freedom or lives. This includes all of our resources and wealth, as Jesus just a few chapters later indicates to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22).
Philippians 1:29-30, Matthew 24:9-10, and 2 Timothy 3:12 also indicate that those who thus surrender everything to Christ, or take up their own cross, will suffer persecution. But with this comes many blessings and promises (Matthew 5:10-12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 3:13-17, 4:12-14, 5:6-10; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4, 12) if we endure. Most of these blessings are eternal, but I can testify that even in this present life suffering for Christ comes with many blessings. Suffering is a major theme of the New Testament and is promised for all believers as you find in the passages I’ve cited. We are to rejoice in it and this persecution of believers will intensify in the last days before Christ’s return especially as many in the church are deceived by false prophets and false teachings. I believe such deception has begun because too many in the church who believe they are true followers of Christ are being deceived by believing there will be a great revival before Christ returns. But the Bible teaches just the opposite, that there will be a great deception, a great falling away, and immense persecution will come upon those who are faithful to the Word of God. If you doubt me, I challenge you to read through the New Testament again and search specifically these things, something I have been blessed to do many times while in prison.
Promises of prosperity are nice, and we do see those blessings sometimes, but we must place them all on the altar and take up our cross and follow Christ, surrendering everything to Him. We must test every teaching and every so-called revival with the Scriptures, as did the Bereans, and be willing to go against the crowd – even those who profess to be believers. Suffering and persecution, we are told, may come thenceforth from those we least expect, even our own families. But no matter what, we must be true to God’s Word, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Even if it be to prison or perhaps death. That my friend, is merely a stepping stone to a glorious eternal life ahead!
I am pleased to report that on Monday, May 24, the day before Kathie and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, I will be on home detention for one month, and then on June 24 I will be free, albeit on “probation” for one year.
There is still no word from Judge Arcara as per my motion for him to vacate my sentence due to ineffective council. It has now since 10 months that I have answered all of his questions and responded to the attorneys and government response to the motion. Please keep praying that he will vindicate me.
Praise the Lord, the civil trial has been stayed once again, this time pending Lisa Miller’s criminal trial. Please also pray for her acquittal, as according to the statute under which we were charged we broke no law since she and Isabella were fleeing what was believed to be sexual, mental, verbal and perhaps even physical abuse.
As of June 24 Kathie and I should be able to come to your church or small group and share if you’d like. Thank you once again for your prayers, letters, calls and notes of encouragement, and help with our vast legal expenses. May God restore what you have blessed us with abundantly!
In His service,