Jan 302016
 

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJ“Two weeks ago today I was released from an Iranian prison after being held captive for three-and-a-half years. My crime? Being a Christian and refusing to renounce my faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout my imprisonment my wife Naghmeh drew national attention to my case and encouraged millions of people to pray for my release. God answered those prayers and brought me safely home. Naghmeh has been a hero to me and suffered enormously as a result of being 7,000 miles away from me and being a single parent to our two precious children while traveling and leading a crusade on my behalf. I will always love her for her sacrifice.

Last November, Naghmeh began to write about our marriage on her Facebook page and suspended her public advocacy for me. Her Facebook reports have been widely reported in other media outlets, raising questions about me, and the state of our marriage. As a prisoner in Iran I was not able to respond to her comments and accusations. I have chosen not to respond in the two weeks I have been back in America because I believe personal issues are best dealt with personally.

When I arrived in America I went to the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina with my parents and my sister, fully expecting Naghmeh and our children to join me there. She chose instead to remain at home in Idaho, and when I arrived there this week I was met with news that she had filed a domestic relations case, apparently in order to ensure our children could remain in the state. Of course, I had no intention of taking our children away from our home or our state.

This latest development, which Naghmeh first made public, leads me to offer this brief statement.

1. Our marriage is under great stress and I am hoping and praying for healing and restoration.

2. I love my wife and want God’s will for both of our lives.

3. I am a sinner, saved only by the wonderful grace of God. While I am far from perfect—as a man or as a husband, I am seeking every day to submit to God as He molds me into what He wants me to be.

4. Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s posts and subsequent media reports is not true. But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media. Naghmeh wrote this week, “We are taking personal time to work on very serious personal issues.” I intend to do this hard work in private.

5. The God I serve today is the same God I served while being interrogated and beaten in some of the harshest prison conditions in the world and He is capable of restoring a marriage that has withstood unbelievable pressure. I ask for prayer for another victory.

It is not my intention to speak further publicly—through social media or any other channels—at least until I believe we have made significant progress in private. I thank you for your understanding and support.”
Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/community/boise/article57514008.html#storylink=cpy

Jan 302016
 

Christianity tourism destinationsHebrews 11:8-19

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

  • He stepped out in faith – he left Ur (hometown). Can you imagine waking up to a call from God that says “Pack up and I will tell you where to go.” I mean you don’t even have a map.
  • The author shows that Abraham consistently trusted God- taking him at his word and following his direction even when there really was nothing to see.
  • Now it’s not like Abraham didn’t have his faith failures (otherwise known as doing things his own way
  • 1.) He was told to leave Ur and to not take family. The stories about Lot are a reflection of that mistake.
  • 2.) He as told to dwell in the land , actually told to stay put ( Dwell)  to persevere – instead he ended up going to Egypt and pimping his wife for his own protection
  • 3.) And that whole Hagar & Ishmael thing did not work well either.
  • But you don’t read about the failures of any of these guys in Hebrews. This is pure pep talk.

By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

  • Faith the way we use it in a worldly sense is not the same as faith used in a Kingdom sense.
  • We all have faith in something or someone based on past history and experience.
  • But kingdom faith is based on no previous experience or knowledge.
  • Based on things NOT seen.
  • V.10 dispels the notion that the OT saints were looking only for “eternal” Earthly rewards – this is not so.

11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

  • Various translations;
  • NIV = And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise
  • KJV = Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
  • Mounce  = By faith Abraham was enabled to become a father—even though Sarah herself was sterile and beyond the normal age of childbearing— because he regarded as faithful the one who had made the promise.
  • Like Abraham leaving all to go into an unknown land, like Sarah believing she was going to have a child – even knowing it was physically impossible.

12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

  • The promise to Abraham

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

  • (V13-16) An aside – Don’t hang on to this world too much
  • We are Pilgrims, just passing through
  • God has built for us a better city
  • Again – keep the faith –keep on keeping on
  • This message is definitely for us all these centuries later.

14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

  • What kept Abraham going, why didn’t he just chuck it, pack up his wagon, put on the bumper sticker ‘UR or Bust’ and go back home?
  • But Abraham wasn’t looking back at where he came from, but looking forward. He knew that heaven was the ultimate purpose.
  • This is the message throughout Hebrews – don’t go back or you will miss the good stuff.
  • For the Hebrew Christians the going back was going back to their UR – Temple Judaism. What will they lose??? Their salvation.

16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

  • A heavenly country – the New Jerusalem
  • Who makes the city? … God!
  • Read Revelation 21 – Let’s take a guided tour of heaven.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,

  • When his faith was tested, he offered back up the one promise that God had actually delivered on
  • This one Abraham did not fail at.
  • God gave Abraham the faith first so that he could go through this.

18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

  • The whole family was to come through Isaac
  • God not only gives the promise – he doesn’t just say “come and get it” – he comes down and gives it to us.
  • On the other side – God gives the promise and gives us the capacity to believe the promise

19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

  • To Abraham, Isaac was already dead … at least in his mind
  • Funny, the Bible said that it took them 3 days to get there.
  • How many days was Isaac dead in Abe’s mind before being raised back up?
  • What kind of faith did Isaac need to have? How old was he?
  • He could probably take the old man, tie him up on the altar and sacrifice him.
Jan 302016
 

istock_000015991944mediumOn Wednesday, an article of mine was posted here speaking to the importance of telling the truth.

To avoid the ends justify the means mentality.

To avoid biases and dishonest manipulations to get what you want. To strive to be honest and straightforward and rely on God.

 

An hour or so later, a story was posted detailing Naghmeh Abedini’s latest Facebook posting.

What was already quite a tense and tenuous situation very soon exploded.

Many of us are left feeling dizzied and confused and distraught. And more than that, we feel exploited.

The story that so many of us had supported and become invested into has quickly become wrought with all kinds of doubt. It has become painfully obvious that there are some serious mis-truths and deceptions and cover-ups in this whole drama. We don’t yet know who all is culpable and to what degree each and every party is guilty of the fallaciousness and deceit. We don’t know what all is true and what isn’t. We may never know the whole truth of the situation.

The bottom line is that a bad situation has become decidedly worse because the truth has not been told.

I am not speaking to the fact that Naghmeh didn’t make her claims of abuse known until recently. It is understandable when an abused wife does not want to disclose such information. And I’m not speaking to the fact that it wasn’t previously disclosed that Saeed had a phone while in prison (assuming the claim that he had a phone is true). The desire to not disclose such information for safety and security concerns is understandable.

But I am speaking to the fact that we have been told one large and consistently driven narrative for most of the past 3+ years, only to now be told something very, very different over the past couple months, most especially the past couple days.

Some wonder why some of us can become very cynical. Well, here is Exhibit A. Oh, and for Exhibit B, how about Gospel for Asia. And Exhibit C…….well, you get the idea. No need to badger the point. But when you get burned advocating for a pastor who has been wrongfully imprisoned and tortured in a foreign country under an evil regime, it can really mess with your psyche.

Our prayers and support were not in vain. God knows our hearts and intents. And we know that ultimately we must look to Him and not man. Because man will so often let us down. Even those who are supposed to be representing God. Lord, help us to do so.

I am much inclined to believe that Naghmeh has suffered abuse. I hope and pray she gets the help and protection she needs. And I pray that God can miraculously heal their marriage. And the children. Oh, the children. I pray that God will work in their lives to heal them from the wounding and tearing that they have experienced, with surely more to come in these shambles.

If only people could have stuck to honesty and truthfulness and genuineness.

If only…..

Now, it’s all yours today…

Jan 292016
 

IMG_0027Miss Kitty has her schedule down.

4:00 AM- Stand on his head and purr loudly to alert to the need for a snack. Bite head if necessary.

6:00 AM- Breakfast…in a clean bowl with packaging opened in front of me to insure freshness.

 

6:15-11:00 AM- Post breakfast nap.

11:00 AM- Snack. Different snack from 4:00 AM, please.

11:15- 11:30 AM- Morning constitutional outside. Give him time to make the bed properly.

11:30 AM to 1:00 PM- Rest in properly made bed. Take computer chair if not completed.

1:00 PM- Brunch. Prefer a buffet.

1:15- 3:30 PM- Post brunch nap

3:30 PM- Lunch. New buffet, please.

3:30-5:00 PM- Social engagements outside. May stop back in for snacks.

5:00 PM- Dinner. Snacks and buffet, please.

5:15- 9:00 PM- Lap time. Petting, two hand petting, grooming, and general adoration. Snacks.

9:15- Bedtime…we have to get up at 4:00 AM.

Lately, she has added something else to this grueling schedule.

It used to be that when it was time for snacks or a meal she would stand by her dish(es) and eat as soon as the first morsel hit porcelain.

One day, she sat and just stared at me after I gave her food.

I assumed she didn’t like the food and got a different food.

Twice.

It wasn’t until she nuzzled me and purred that I realized she wanted more than food.

She wanted attention and assurance of my affection.

I petted her and after a minute she ate.

This is our new routine.

It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it.

My cat is wise.

Somehow she has come to understand that the provision isn’t as important as the provider.

She has understood that if the provider loves her than there never need be a worry about provision.

Provision without love is a business arrangement, love that provides is a relationship.

Love…is the greatest provision of all.

My prayer life indicates that my cat is smarter than me.

I run into the throne room boldly with an empty dish in hand and yowl, then run back out to wait for it to be filled.

It rarely crosses my mind that my Provider fills it because He loves me.

It seldom matters that love is the greatest provision He desires to give.

I’ve heard that even dogs get this…

Make your own application…

 

Jan 272016
 

The-Spirit-And-The-Word_BalancedA couple weeks ago an incident occurred in my city which made national news.

A man walked up to a police officer in a squad car and shot at him many times, hitting him with several of those shots and seriously injuring him.

The man was captured and confessed to the crime, plainly stating that he did it because of his Muslim faith and his support of ISIS.

As is the pattern of some today, our newly minted mayor along with some other politicians stubbornly stated that this crime had nothing to do with Islam.

They chose to ignore the truths of reality in order to further their political agenda.

There are many crimes and terroristic acts committed in today’s world expressly in the name of Islam.

Conversely, one is hard pressed to find many instances at all, at least in Western or many Middle Eastern cultures, where these types of travesties are done directly in the name of any other religion. Additionally, while the majority of Muslims may disagree with these types of violent acts, there is a minority that accepts and incorporates them.

And this minority is destructive and significant and influential. In many places, the percentages of Muslims who agree with these violent acts are in the double digits.

And so, while it is wrong to label all or even most Muslims as violent, one who argues that Islam has nothing to do with these terrible actions is arguing with reality.

Radical Islam is real, substantial, and to be reckoned with.

Intentionally ignoring truth and reality isn’t right no matter what ends one is trying to achieve. It’s dishonest and wrong and I do not believe God honors this type of approach. Even if it is done in an attempt to accomplish some kind of good ends.

But wait, I’m not done. Because the point of this post is not to bash those dishonest political liberals.

For no matter what our political leanings are or aren’t, I believe we are all guilty of the same types of transgressions at one time or another. And many times it doesn’t even have anything to do with politics. Politics is just the easy example here.

Just to even the political scales for a moment, I bring up as an example, David Barton.

This man, who has been spoken about here before, is a politically conservative Christian culture warrior who has been exposed for regularly bending, stretching, and obfuscating the truth in order to make his political points and further his agenda. Even when he is criticized by other politically and/or theologically conservative Christians, Barton and his supporters will try to smear and misrepresent the opposition as some kind of crusaders of political correctness or as “liberal bastards”.

Now, I know that not all conservatives act like or support David Barton and people like him, They don’t all parrot Barton and his ilk and choose to ignore the truths that they misrepresent. Just as I know that not all liberals duplicitously ignore the connections between *some* segments of Islam and violence. And I know others yet would even reject the liberal or conservative label and would take on some other label, or would reject any label at all.

All that notwithstanding, I believe we all have our biases and will at times allow those biases to misrepresent or cloud the truth of the matter at hand.

Whether it be governmental politics, or church politics, or really any argument or issue of life with which we’re dealing. We don’t like those little inconvenient truths from getting in the way of what we want or the argument we’re trying to win or the ends we’re trying to achieve.

Let us strive to be honest and straightforward. Let us not intentionally skew the truths of reality. Let us not try to achieve the ends we think God wants with disingenuous means. Rather, let us be true and upright and rely on God to see things through.

Jan 272016
 

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJDearest Friends,

Saeed landed in Boise yesterday and had a wonderful reunion with the children. They will be spending more and more time together in the coming days. I am so happy for this long waited reunion and for the joy that I see in my children and in Saeed. Nothing can make me happier than seeing those whom I love be happy and free from the pain that they had been under for the last 3.5 years.

I am so thankful for the thousands of people who have responded to my pleas and helped work toward Saeed’s release. His imprisonment was unjust, and was an extremely difficult ordeal for him and all of us who sought for his release. I worked tirelessly night and day toward that end for three-and-a-half years. Nothing has made me happier than seeing Saeed freed from his chains and in American soil. Thank you for all of you who stood with us and made this happen.

I do deeply regret that I hid from the public the abuse that I have lived with for most of our marriage and I ask your forgiveness. I sincerely had hoped that this horrible situation Saeed has had to go through would bring about the spiritual change needed in both of us to bring healing to our marriage.

Tragically, the opposite has occurred. Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children.

I long more than anyone for reconciliation for our family and to be united as a family. Since Saeed’s freedom I have wanted nothing more than to run to him and welcome him home It is something I dreamed about the last 3.5 years. But unfortunately things did not work out that way and our family has to work through reconciliation. I want our reconciliation to be strictly based on God’s Word. I want us to go through counseling, which must first deal with the abuse. Then we can deal with the changes my husband and I must both make moving forward in the process of healing our marriage.

In very difficult situations sometimes you have to establish boundaries while you work toward healing. I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved. I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer. We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed. I believe in a God who freed Saeed from the worst prisons can hear our plea and bring spiritual freedom.

I love you all. God will see us through. Thank you for your prayers and support. We need them more than ever.

Love

Naghmeh

Jan 272016
 

If this is still working, this is a live feed from the BLM compound in Burns, OR where some “patriots” are holding out after their compatriots were arrested last night.

One man was killed in that police action.

They are awaiting other militias they believe will come as reinforcements.

Why should you care?

God told them to do it.

Jan 262016
 

timthumb.phpYohannan to speak at conference, will undoubtedly lie…

Millennials and abuse…

Letter to a young theologian…

Dietary laws and the Gospel…

On science and religion…

Why it’s wrong to take Gods name in vain…

Worship wars aren’t new…

Raising kids in a confused culture…

Wheaton faculty supports hajib wearing prof…

Is modern unbelief rooted in Christianity?

Our addiction to anger…

Grand jury indicts anti-Planned Parenthood filmmaker…

Poll says evangelicals flocking to Trump…

Stetzer and Pew on religion in America…

Charismatic Christianity thriving among migrations…

Entering the kingdom like a child…

Religious identity shifting in Latin America…

Crumbling consensus…

5 reasons to keep politicians out of the pulpit…

WW on new SGM article…

Do dinosaurs go to heaven?

A different approach to abortion…

Sights, sounds, and smells, matter in worship…

Michael Brown on the Anti-Christ…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on Christian plagiarists and other matters…

How the justice movement is changing…

How then should we defend?

How Saeed survived…

Excellent article…sexual abuse in the church and our place in the village…

Big thanks as always to EricL…support him at top right.

 

Jan 252016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.””(Matthew 11:2–6 ESV)

John the Baptist was asking two questions I think.

The first was probably personal… why he was still in prison if Jesus came to “set the captives free”.

The second was wondering when Jesus was going to fulfill the political desires of the people.

John would lose his head and Jesus would be crucified by the political authorities that he wanted overthrown, but the kingdom of God was breaking out everywhere.

We still are asking those same two questions.

Why isn’t Jesus meeting our personal and political expectations?

The kingdom is still breaking out everywhere.

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Him…

2. The death of Glen Frey was just the latest in a series of departures of musical icons from our youth. Instead of trying to discern their eternal state it should remind us to make our own calling and election sure…

3. I have some very strong opinions over some of the issues in this election cycle. I have decided that it’s better to keep them to myself than to offend half the people that may need to hear something about Jesus that I could say…

4. We seem to forget that our fellowship is based on the cross, not our political affiliations.

5. The most important spiritual discipline I’ve learned is the transfer of my burdens from my shoulders to Jesus. I’m trying to learn to do so before they have crushed and incapacitated me. Practice, practice, practice…

6. All manner of evil in the church has been excused because “the Gospel is going out”. Jesus said he could raise up the rocks to praise Him…so the ends do not always justify the means…

7. I envy those who believe that their sect of Christianity has all the answers. One of the few things I hold certain is that we’re all wrong about something…we just don’t know what we’re wrong about yet.

8. I’ve spent most of my Christian life trying to learn the right doctrines about God. With each bad report from the doctor, I’m trying to learn more about Jesus… go and do likewise.

9. The Blessed Hope of the second coming should inspire us to holy living…not because of the threat of judgment, but because of the anticipation of being with the One we love. You dressed up for your wedding, didn’t you?

10. The ministry of Jesus was about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted…while accepting affliction Himself and eschewing the powers of this world. I think our job description is the same…

 

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