Thursday, September 29, 2011

The face of a hero

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

Christian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani faces execution tomorrow in Iran. Peaceloving, tolerant Islamic courts have decided that it is a crime punishable by death for this man to convert to Jesus. Their idea of tolerance was to give him three chances to recant his faith in Christ. He boldly refused to recant his faith each time. Now he is slated for execution sharia judicial murder in the morning. Please pray for him.

When people wonder about the end game of Sharia law and the rule of Islam, they need to ask how the largest and most influential Islamic countries can kill people for conversion -- how husbands in these countries can beat and imprison wives and kill daughters for supposed acts of dishonor... etc. ad infinitum.

Islam does not mean peace like you and I understand the word; it means submission. If you submit to it, you may be left alone -- relatively speaking, that is. That is what Islam means by "peace."

Pray for this hero of faith who is caught in the iron grip of darkness masquerading as light.


NOTE: Below is the text of a pastoral letter he wrote while imprisoned in Lakan Prison, Iran, for refusing to renounce his Christian faith and adopt Islam. Translated from the original Farsi and offered by Donald Sensing.

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 to him by God, will be carried out. As we believe, heaven and earth will fade but his word will still remain.

Dear beloved ones, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few verses, although you might know them, So that in everything, you give more effort than the past, both to prove your election, and for the sake of Gospel that is to be preached to the entire world as well.

I know that not all of us are granted to keep this word, but to those who are granted this power and this revelation, I announce the same as Jude, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

We are passing by special and sensitive days. They are days that for an alert and awake believer can be days of spiritual growth and progress. Because for him, more than any other time there is the possibility to compare his faith with the word of God, have God’s promises in mind, and survey his faith.

Therefore the true believer does not need to wonder for the fiery trial that has been set on for him as though it were something unusual, but it pleases him to participate in Christ’s suffering because the believer knows he will rejoice in his glory.

Dears, the “ judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Therefore those who are enduring burdens by the will of God, commit their souls to the faithful Creator. Promises that he has given us, are unique and precious. As we’ve heard he has said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

How can it be possible for a believer to understand these words? Only if he is focusing on Jesus Christ with adapting his life according to the life Jesus lived when he was on earth. As it is said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
Have we not read and heard: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there are who find it. Many attempt to flee from their spiritual tests, and they have to face those same tests in a more difficult manner, because no one will be victorious by escaping from them, but with patience and humility he will be able to overcome all the tests, and gain victory.

Therefore in the place of Christ’s followers, we must not feel desperate, but we have to pray to God in supplication with more passion to help us with any assistance we may need. According to what Paul has said: In every temptation, God himself will make a way for us to tolerate it.

O beloved ones, difficulties do not weaken mankind, but they reveal the true human nature. It will be good for us to occasionally face persecutions and abnormalities, since these abnormalities will persuade us to search our hearts, and to survey ourselves. So as a result, we conclude that troubles are difficult, but usually good and useful to build us.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must be more careful than any other time, because in these days, the hearts and thoughts of many are revealed, so that the faith is tested. May your treasure be where there is no moth and rust.

I would like to remind you of some verses that we nearly discuss everyday, (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven), but as long as our human will has priority over God’s will, his will shall not be done. As we have learned from him in Gethsemane, he surrendered his will to the father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

What we are bearing today is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because neither he has tested us more than our faith and our endurance, nor does he do as such. And as we have known from before, we must beware not to fail, but to advance in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, And consider these bumps and prisons as opportunities to testify to his name. He said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

As a small servant, necessarily in prison to carry out what I must do, I say with faith in the word of God that he will come soon. "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Discipline yourself with faith in the word of God. Retain your souls with patience. For there is no man who does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly.

May you are granted grace and blessings increasingly in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.

Yusef Nadarkhani
Lakan Prison in Rasht

Monday, September 19, 2011

A note of beauty and the victory of light

It happened one day in Möttlingen, where my father stood in a fierce struggle with spiritual darkness, that he was walking in the countryside with several others from his congregation. He was so weighed down and agitated by the spiritual battle that his heart was ready to burst. Their path lay through a wood and across a large clearing. There they paused and my father said, “Let us sing a song I have written. It will encourage us.” He then recited to them the verse, “Jesus is the victorious King.”
Jesus is the victorious King
Who o’er all his foes has conquered;
Jesus, soon the world will fall
At his feet, by love o’erpowered;
Jesus leads us with his might
From the darkness to radiant light.

The voices of the people rang out heartily. But as they were singing they could barely believe their ears — they noticed that they were not singing alone but that an invisible chorus grew louder and louder around them. It was as though an unseen host of angels was surrounding them and singing together with them. Amazed and elated, they hurried home, where yet another wonderful thing happened. As my father entered the house of Gottlieben Dittus, who had been under demonic oppression and who had been so much a part of my father’s fight against darkness, she sang him the same song. It was as if the invisible singers had gone ahead of them to bring the verse to her.

This verse has become my battle cry and song of victory. True, the battles of that time have quieted down, but they have never ceased. Each year there are new battles, but Jesus continues to be felt daily, not only in our hearts, but also outwardly.

We can easily lose sight of this, the way things are going in the world. What we see today is not God’s salvation but mass corruption. Things have become so twisted that it is hard to even mention the gospel. The more time goes by the more the powers of sin and unbelief, of death and hell, ensnare the world. All the more must we be convinced that God really has the world’s salvation in mind. And all the more must we gather courage to oppose the devils of this age and deny them their prey. For it is not God’s intention that anyone or any part of his creation should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The final generation will not be one of doom, but will consist of a people who shall be a blessing to the earth—a people who possess the Promise in joy and hope and are a light to the nations.

Even if our age has become riddled with evil, even if death runs rampant on the earth, we will not accept these as final facts. We must not sleepily say, “It is the Lord’s will. What will be, will be.” No, we must resist and, like Moses, throw ourselves into the breach. Just as Moses strove with compassion, patience, and faithfulness for the people of Israel, rebellious as they were, so we, with the same courage, and certainly also with the same repentance, must proclaim that light has broken into the darkness. Salvation and healing are the will of God. To the devil and to all the powers of hell, which accusingly proclaim the hopelessness of our situation, we will cry out, “You will not win! We know this because we know Jesus, who is victorious over every devil.”


An excerpt from Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Jesus is the Victor, 6-8. Copyright 2011 by The Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A kingdom awareness: the battle itself is our joy

Joy sees the battle as a privilege and not a hardship

There are at hand battles against evil that must be carried through. God assigns these battles to us, and for that reason we must not think that things always have to go well with us. Our existence is justified only if we will fight against evil and make a pact with the good against the evil...

Then, at a future time, this battle will resolve itself into a victory in which we can rejoice—that is our consolation. For the present, however, the battle itself is our joy. And even when the going gets hot, we will remain loyal in battle—that is our calling. It is because the entire human race is not in a position to do so that God entrusts this battle to particular individuals, individuals who can intercede on behalf of everyone.


Johann Christoph Blumhard, Thy Kingdom Come.

Think of this kingdom reality in light of the American dream: health, wealth and the pursuit of happiness. The insatiable American desire for comfort is an incessant idol that ever wars against the in-breaking kingdom of Christ in this country -- even to the point where it's become a popular stream of American theology that God desires our personal riches and comfort, and anything that calls a person beyond comfort, beyond culture and family is not from God...

Think about it!

A need for someone to carry the kingdom in her spirit

A saint is a person who understands the times yet carries the kingdom in spirit

When we look back over the history of mankind, we see a forest where trees once grew but where the storms have passed, laying it waste. In this, in the whole unhappy course of humankind, our dear God is still the manager who allows people—who must belong to him—to be his saints. These are people in whom he is a power and to whom he simply says, "You must go my way and demonstrate that, even under evil conditions, a way is to be found which can be traveled without becoming entangled."

Always, when things are to move forward, God must have saints who also stand in their
own times; who understand the times; who know how to live among the people of the times; but who, even though the times be ever so perverted, still carry the high thoughts of the kingdom of God in their spirits.


Johann Christoph Blumhardt, Thy Kingdom Come.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A scene in the Florida heartland

Trees, sky, clouds and cattails, Lake Okeechobee lurking in the background -- a glimpse of the
real Florida! Enjoy!

Our destiny lies in obedience

Sovereignty, obedience and destiny

If we refuse to do these things, and other actions that our principles dictate, then we have very little hope or right to expect a restoration of our liberty. But if we obey our Lord, we have every hope and promise of success. Our economic and political future rests not in the hands of foreign powers or governmental bureaucrats in our own land, but in our own hands through obedience to God.


Marshall Foster and Mary-Elaine Swanson, The American Covenant: The Untold Story.