Dec 242014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

This is his Christmas letter…

Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Soaking in the lava love of Christ

 

Dec 232014
 

timthumb.phpTrouble brewing at Capo Beach Church? My inbox and other media were full of inquiries about this article that Pete Courson posted last night. I consider P.J. a friend and part of the family here and I reached out to him this morning. It sounds like a very difficult situation and we’ll see if P.J. wants to add anything to what he’s already written.

Mark Driscoll has a new website…already.

No room for Jesus in Scotland…

Christmas in a minor key…

Pastors have little training in domestic violence, don’t preach on it much…

Newsweeks ridiculous cover story on the Bible…

Rick Warren to preach last sermon at Mars Hill…

Salon predicts the end of religion, forgot to interview God…

Synagogue where Jesus preached uncovered in Israel…

Christians unhappy with “Unbroken”…

Christmas hope for those who mourn…

Archbishop of Canterbury’s ecumenical Christmas greeting…

Preaching as though we had enemies…

Steve Brown on the coming of Jesus, past, present, and future…

Sarah on how the relentless God meets Advent failure…

The real story of Santa Claus?

The holiness of being still…ht to EricL…

Fostering the church…

Grace and sin…

Christianity Today’s top twenty stories of 2014…

Dec 232014
 

Calvin's Corner headerOn this edition of Calvin’s Corner, Grinch East and Grinch West discuss how to get through the holidays when you’re not as holly jolly as the rest of the world.

Dec 202014
 

thumbnail.aspxWe give you thanks for the babe born in violence.

We give you thanks for the miracle of Bethlehem, born into the Jerusalem heritage.

We do not understand why the innocents must be slaughtered; we know that your kingdom comes in violence and travail.

Our time would be a good time for your kingdom to come, because we have had enough of violence and travail.

 

So we wait with eager longing, and with enormous fear, because your promises do not coincide with our favorite injustices.

We pray for the coming of your kingdom on earth as it is around your heavenly throne.

We are people grown weary of waiting.

We dwell in the midst of cynical people, and we have settled for what we can control.

We do know that you hold initiative for our lives, that your love planned our salvation before we saw the light of day.

And so we wait for your coming, in your vulnerable baby in whom all things are made new.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 149). Kindle Edition.

Dec 192014
 

IMG_0027When Miss Kitty first arrived at my home, she came here because she needed something.

Food.

Feline acquaintances had told her that a starving cat could find enough to survive from me and when she had no other options she came to me.

She was a wild looking, wild acting mess, with long, dirty, sticker filled hair.

I would feed her because I’ll feed any stray, but my son loved her for reasons known only to him.

For some time she would only show up when she was desperate, but over time we started to build a relationship.

She slowly started coming into the house for a bit, and she would allow me to help her clean the mess she was wearing.

She wouldn’t stay long though…

There were other cats in my home already and while they acted like she was welcome, there was always some tension in the air…she hadn’t quite learned how to act like a cat who lived in this house.

It was still more comfortable in the uncomfortable environment she was accustomed to.

Today though, things are different.

She is sleeping on my lap as I write this, having slept with me all night.

We got up together as we always do, had breakfast together, and started our day.

She doesn’t much care what the other cats think, she just wants to be with me.

Food is still important, but not as important as being with someone she knows loves her.

When I’m gone somewhere, she waits outside the door for me.. or waits in my chair because she knows that’s where I’ll be when I’m home.

She’s learned to behave like she lives here because I loved her until she could trust me enough to change.

Now, she’s my constant companion.

I enjoy her being here as much as she enjoys being with me.

Now, this is where I usually come up with an ending sentence and slap “make your own application” on the end of another parable about the relationship we have with God as modeled by a cat.

There’s a problem though…a few problems.

After decades of knowing God I still only show up when I’m desperate.

I still have a lot of dirt and a bunch of stickers.

I still haven’t learned to trust enough to find His lap as wonderful as His food.

I’m not completely convinced He loves me like I love the cat.

I’m really not sure about all the other “cats” in the house…

He still feeds me though…He does it for His son.

Now…make your own application…

 

Dec 182014
 

155547_468929542642_7884233_nFirst, thanks to you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

Support our advertisers…especially when they are part of the online community.

My book is now free when you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, 2.99 for the Kindle version if you aren’t.

You can also make direct donations by Paypal using the “donate” button on the top left side of the site.

We covet your continued support and your prayers for what we do here.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

Thank you!

 

Dec 172014
 

HannahAfter five years in prison for the murder of her foster son, Hannah Overton is free on bail.

She was accused of force feeding the child salt as a disciplinary act, causing his death.

 

Through the arrest, trial, and conviction of Overton I was asked repeatedly to advocate for her release based on the fact that she was a Christian.

I didn’t believe I had enough information to do so, but the church and community she came from have worked tirelessly for her release.

Now, she will have that second chance to prove her innocence.

The Texas Monthly has more on this case including a very damning look at the prosecution.

 

Dec 172014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

This is his Christmas letter…

Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Soaking in the lava love of Christ

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