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Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog and Commentary

URGENT: You've planned for your future. Now protect it.

Dr. James Emery White

Dr. James Emery White's weblog

Editor’s Note: This blog is a favorite of the Church & Culture Team and has become a Thanksgiving tradition. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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The barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsy, were kept in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck were terribly overcrowded and flea-infested.

Corrie and Betsy had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible they had read that in all things they were to give thanks and that God can use anything for good.

Betsy decided that this meant thanking God for the fleas.

This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking Him even for the fleas.

Over the next several months a wonderful, but curious, thing happened: They found that the guards never entered their barracks.

This meant that the women were not assaulted.

It also meant that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp.

Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.

Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter their barracks:

It was because of the fleas.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to God for every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), but also thank Him for how He will use all things for good in the lives of those who trust Him (Romans 8:28).

In a time of economic uncertainty, in a time when many are facing physical and emotional challenges, there can be little doubt that such a trusting prayer of gratitude will be challenging to consider.

But when you feel that challenge, take a moment and remember the fleas of Ravensbruck.

And thank God anyway.

James Emery White


Sources    

Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place.


About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

Photo Credit: ©Pixabay

Money is a touchy subject. It’s been said that the last thing that gets converted in a Christian’s life is their wallet. But we also know that the Bible teaches generosity, and specifically, to the local church of which we are a part.

Many do give.

Many don’t.

Why is that?

Here are four reasons for each, beginning with why people do give:

1. They want to obey out of love.

The commands to give are clear and unambiguous. Obedience in the Christ life is always about the heart. It’s wanting to find out what God wants, and then wanting to do it. It’s the wonderful dynamic of having Him as both Forgiver and Leader. It’s like being in love with your spouse and wanting to do things that you know would please them. Giving is always a reflection of where your heart is positioned.

2. They want to express gratitude.

When you are given much, you are compelled to show your gratitude by giving back. If, as the Scriptures teach, “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17), then every good and perfect gift in your life is from God. That’s a lot to be grateful for. This includes a child’s love, a roof over your head, your very next breath.

3. They want to experience God’s love poured out through blessing.

I do not believe in the “health and wealth” idea that if you give, you can expect to get rich. I do believe that there is direct blessing on our lives that can very well be financial in nature when we give the way God asks. Specifically, that our giving will never outpace our supply. The larger picture is to want everything God would bring to bear on our life that is in the “blessing” category, and there is arguably more in the Bible about blessings flowing into human lives through financial obedience than almost any other submission we offer.

4. They want to make a difference for the One they love and the ones they’ve been called to love.

God has called to us to serve the least and the lost and to do it through the church of which we are a part. That has a dollar sign attached to it, and appropriately so. There are homes to build, food to supply, clean water to provide… there is outreach to be made, creative strategies to be pursued, resources to be put in hands. The check you write is arguably among the greatest differences you can make with your life for Christ and the ones He’s called us to care about.

So why on earth would anyone not give?

That’s easy, but not pleasant.

1. They don’t love enough to obey.
2. They don’t appreciate enough to be grateful.
3. They don’t care about God’s financial blessing.
4. They don’t want to make a difference with their life.

This Thanksgiving week is a good time to reflect on what choices you are making in light of all you’ve been given.

I know what I want mine to be.

Editor’s Note: This blog first ran in 2019. The Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again this year.


James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Serhii Ivashchuk

I’ve often heard Christians in the U.S. speak about being “persecuted” for their beliefs, or for being marginalized as a result of their convictions. While I believe there have been isolated cases of Christians in America being wrongly prosecuted for taking various stands, I’m not ready to call anything any American Christian has suffered persecution.

Not when real persecution exists around the world in ways that can only be deemed unconscionable. As in imprisonment, torture and death. Currently 2,983 Christians are killed every year. In other words, eight Christians are killed for their faith every day.

A study just released by the Pew Research Center has found that government restrictions on religion have reached their highest level globally in more than a decade. The total number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions has risen to 56, representing 28% of all countries/territories in the world.

Most of these countries are in the Asia-Pacific region (25 countries, or half of all countries in that region) or the Middle East-North Africa region (18 countries, or 90% of all countries in the region). Of the two, the Asia-Pacific region has the largest increase due to a greater number of governments in the region using force against religious groups, including property damage, detention, displacement, abuse and killings.

China continues to have the highest score on the Government Restrictions Index (GRI) out of all 198 countries and territories in the study. The Chinese government restricts religion in a variety of ways, including banning entire religious groups (such as the Falun Gong movement and several Christian groups), prohibiting certain religious practices, raiding places of worship, and detaining and torturing individuals. 

Of particular interest to Christians would be the rising number of “anti-conversion” laws—not simply in Muslim countries, but in places such as India in regard to Hinduism. In all, 21 countries currently criminalize what they deem “apostasy” (e.g., a Muslim or Hindu becoming a Christian).

The good news?

Consider China, where the Protestant church has grown from 1.3 million members in 1949 to at least 81 million members today. The Catholic Church in China has grown from 3 million members to more than 12 million during the same 50-year period.

Though Christianity is “harassed” in 145 nations (representing 260 million Christians worldwide), the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be contained, nor the spread of its message intimidated.

But make no mistake:

American Christians are not being persecuted,

… but Christians in other countries are.

Sources

“In 2018, Government Restrictions on Religion Reach Highest Level Globally in More than a Decade,” Pew Research Center, November 10, 2020, read online.

Jayson Casper, “Pew and IDOP Agree: Religious Persecution Is Worsening Worldwide,” Christianity Today, November 10, 2020, read online.

International Day of Prayer (IDOP), read online.


James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

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