Monthly Archives: September 2011
UPDATE – 10/5/2011: The International Business Times reports that Youcef is safe from execution, for now:
It appears that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will avoid the hangman in Iran for the time being. Nadarkhani, once the leader of a 400-person congregation in Rasht, was previously convicted of apostasy — the crime of abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity — but Iran now claims that the death penalty reports that circulated around the world last week were unsubstantiated.
“Youssef Nadar-Khani [sic] has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday, according to Iran state news agency Press TV. ”There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added. Read more…
Here’s a letter from Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who currently faces the death sentence for apostasy. Please continue to pray.
(This message has been translated from Farsi to English.)
Dear brothers and sisters, Salam
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continuously seeking grace and mercy to you, that you remember me and those who are bearing efforts for his name in your prayers. Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement.
For I know well that you will be rewarded; as it’s stated: blessed is the one who has faith, for what has been said …
Seven links for your weekend reading:
“I watched Courageous with my wife and was thoroughly engaged. I like action, and I like reflection, and I like affection—explosive moments, wrack-your-brain moments, and break-your-heart moments. Rarely do movies combine them all. For me this one captured me. Does the movie preach? Well, it sure has a point. But about the time you think you might get preached at, a bullet may cut through your car door. I would willingly take anyone to see this film, assuming they can handle suspense. And I think the conversations afterward would not be superficial.”
For three years now, I have been steadily gathering a number of definitions of “the gospel” in an ongoing series entitled “Gospel Definitions.” As far as I know, this is the largest grouping of gospel definitions on the internet today. Here is a recent definition put together by Mike Mercer (Chaplain Mike) at InternetMonk.com.
The Gospel (Good News) is the divinely-authorized proclamation that the appointed time has arrived and God has come to restore his blessing to his broken creation.
The Gospel announces that the climactic act of God’s story has been accomplished through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, his promised King who fulfilled the story of Israel and inaugurated the Messianic Age. Christ’s finished work atoned for sin, defeated the powers of sin, evil, and death forever, and reconciled this lost and dying world to God.
The Gospel invites all people to turn from their own wisdom and ways that separate them from God and his blessing, and to trust Jesus for forgiveness and new life in the Holy Spirit as members of his new community of faith, hope, and love.
The Gospel promises that God’s Kingdom inaugurated in Jesus will be consummated when he returns to raise the dead, pronounce final judgment on all evil, and transform this fallen creation into a new creation in which heaven (God’s realm) and earth (the human realm) are one.
Or more simply, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
All you ever wanted to know (and probably more!) about Joan, the cross-dressing female pope:
Of all the scandals with which the Christian faith has been plagued, one of the most peculiar has nearly been forgotten. After all, how many people have ever heard a female pope who posed as a man? To add to the strangeness, most stories about her argue that her secret was only revealed when she went into premature labor and gave birth to a child during a public processional from St. Peter’s to the Palace of the Popes in Rome.
Matthew Anderson’s open letter to college freshmen – “The World is Built on Discipline” contains six suggestions that all of us should heed:
The environment, for all its problems, presents an opportunity to broaden your horizons and enrich your soul through the cultivation of virtue and the pursuit of the permanent pleasures. There will be many distractions, many lesser goods and easier pleasures offered to you along the way, but if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, then college will provide to you a season of journeying into the deep things of God that you will savor and delight in for the rest of your life.
I believe the time is ripe for men (and women) to receive the message of Courageous. The recent church history in America includes a lot of good men …
Today, I’m happy to welcome a pastor-friend of mine, J.D. Greear, to the blog to discuss his new book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh, NC. Gospel also includes a small-group companion piece called Gospel Revolution.
Trevin Wax: J.D., few people would be so bold as to call their book Gospel. (I can think of four other books with this title, but they’re all in the Bible!) But that’s what you’ve done. You’ve expressed in laypeople’s terms the type of confidence and security that comes from believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, what is the insight into the biblical gospel that has revolutionized your spiritual life in the past few years?
J.D. Greear: Ha, yes. I figured with a title like “Gospel,” no one could really critique it. I hope readers will forgive the hubris.
The burden behind the book is that many of us who grew up in conservative, evangelical churches have failed to avail ourselves of the power of the gospel. We know it as the forgiveness of sins but not as the power of transformation.
The Great Commandment leaves us in a dilemma: it tells us that God’s expectation of us is that we love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. But how can true love be commanded? Obedience without desire is drudgery, both to us and to God.
What the law cannot do, however, the gospel does. It is only as we learn …
What would you do with a $1000 gift card to LifeWay? This Friday at noon (CST) there will be a live webcast with Ed Stetzer and Selma Wilson about taking a “Fresh Look at the HCSB Bible.” Visit here for details. During the webcast, winners will be announced for $1,000 LifeWay gift cards, three $500 LifeWay gift cards and access to the Holman Old & New Testament Commentary set at MyStudyBible.com. You can register for the giveaways here.
Jared Wilson has the best take on the Perry Noble discussion about using opportunities to make “religious people” mad:
“Pharisee,” “legalist,” “religious person” is the church version of racist or Nazi. It is the rhetorical nuclear option specifically designed to shut up anyone with questions and paint them among their brothers and sisters as graceless jerks. But I think it actually works the other way around:
Employing the “religious people” boogeyman ironically indulges in what it professes to decry. It is a great way to pray along with the self-justified pharisee, “I thank you God that I’m not like those religious people.”
If you’ve got real legalists in your church — and you do — the only way to intentionally offend them is by preaching the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. Everything else is just vain posturing and prideful provocation.
News from Narnia. It looks like we might we waiting awhile for the next film:
The ball is entirely in the C.S. Lewis Estate’s court at this point, and they have to wait …
Many American churches take time once or twice a year to recognize and honor veterans for their service to the country. Most of these churches also recognize law enforcement officers at the local level. We lift up the heroes among us, men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way for the good of their neighbor.
This kind of practice can be fruitful for a local congregation. It is good to point out clear examples of self-sacrifice. After all, the Scriptures tell us to give honor to whom honor is due.
But what puzzles me about some of these churches is the lack of public honor given to people who have served as missionaries. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a church service where the pastor asked all those who have served at some point as a missionary to stand and be recognized. Why recognize warriors for the country and not for the kingdom?
Why We Overlook Missionaries
There are several reasons why we might overlook our missionaries:
1. In one sense, every Christian is called to be on mission. The Great Commission is given to all believers, not just to an elite few. In recent years, evangelicals have come to realize that we should all be missionaries. All Christians should be consciously on mission, witnesses for Christ wherever God puts us. Some church leaders may fear that if we were to honor our foreign missionaries or full-time missionaries publicly, we might send the signal that missions is something that happens somewhere else …
Here’s your chance to get the eBook version of Counterfeit Gospels for free. Head over to Moody Publishers’ Facebook page, sign up, and claim your copy. (The maximum number of giveaways is 100.) UPDATE: The 100 copies have already been claimed.
Scot McKnight is spot-on in this article about “lifestyle” versus “verbal” evangelism:
Is a life that embodies what Christ calls us to a gospeling event? I’d like to say we are treading here onto turf that gets farther and farther away from what “gospeling” means in the New Testament. The NT terms about gospeling are verbal terms and not behavior terms.
What I fear is that so many contend that behavior alone or community alone are evangelism. I doubt it, because, as Paul puts it in Romans 10, if they don’t hear how will they know? The ineradicable form of evangelism is to declare the Story of Jesus. All other dimensions gain their only clarity once that declaration is clear. Without that proclamation, there is no gospeling or gospel.
Wycliffe Bible Translators agree to new standards in the debate over contextualization in Muslim countries:
In the basement of a hotel in Istanbul, 30 people from around the world met in August to talk about how to translate the phrase “Son of God” and “God the Father” in Muslim contexts.
Wycliffe Bible Translators and a close partner, Dallas-based SIL International, called the private gathering, which included its own translation staff as well as outside scholars. The issue on the table—translation of the …
“Get ready for snowfall! A north wind will come and bring snow that will cover this land. The world will be like new, but you must be prepared for the day it snows!”
Even though you live in a town that has never seen snow, people believe the strange message – that snow will fall and blanket the town.
The people who believe in the coming snow begin to prepare the town for Christmas.
Some put up Christmas lights.
Others design snow plows.
Still others cover their plants.
Even if most people scoff at the snow-watchers, the group maintains their belief that everything will be made new. And mysteriously, whenever the snow people come together, a cool breeze begins to blow and it flurries just a bit, giving them just a taste of the glory that’s coming.
The church of Jesus Christ is like a flurry before the great snow. Christians live in light of the coming reality. When we gather together, we sense the Spirit of God blowing through our midst, changing us and renewing the world around us.
We also warn people of the judgment that will accompany the presence of God on that day. We are a colony of heaven, and our life together makes the announcement: Repent, trust in the Messiah-King who has died for your sins, and be ready for the coming kingdom!
- from Counterfeit Gospels (166-167)