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Pastor Saeed’s Easter Message

Pastor Saeed’s Easter Message

American Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote the following Easter message from his hospital room while serving an eight year sentence for his Christian faith in Iran.  Each of us could learn much from what Saeed says regarding dead faith.   I know I did.

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Crucifying the resurrected “self” with Christ and resurrects our death faith with Christ.

Happy Resurrection Day.

On the Eve of Good Friday and Easter I was praying from my hospital room for my fellow Christians in the world.  What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in prayer was that there are many dead faiths in the midst of Christians today.  That Christians all over the world are not able to fully reach their spiritual potential that has been given to them as a gift by God so that in reaching that potential, the curtain can be removed and the Glory of God would be revealed.

Some times we want to experience the Glory and resurrection with Jesus without experiencing death with Him.  We do not realize that unless we pass through the path of death with Christ, we are not able to experience resurrection with Christ.

We want to have a good and successful marriage, career, education and family life (which is also God’s desire and plan for our life).  But we forget that in order to experience the Resurrection and Glory of Christ we first have to experience death with Christ and to die to ourselves and selfish desires.

Jesus said to His Disciples:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

This means that we should not do things that we like to do (that God does not want us to do) and to do things that we do not like to do (but God wants us to do) so that He may be glorified.

So in addition to spending our days and night in doing the works of faith as described above, we should also transform our death faiths into living and active faiths through the resurrection of Christ which is an active and constructive love that is effective.

In conclusion, let us resurrect our Dead faiths to living faiths by first dying to our selfish “resurrected” self and experiencing the cross of Jesus.  Then we are able to experience the Glorious resurrection with Christ.

A Glorious life with Christ starts only after a painful death (to self) with Christ.

We will start with Christ.

Pastor Saeed Abedini
Prisoner in the Darkness in Iran, but free for the Kingdom and Light

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Praying for Judgment to Fall on America

Praying for Judgment to Fall on America

elijah-lgHe came from nowhere.  No warning, no advanced notice, nothing.  One day, he just showed up and spoke a few words that brought an entire nation to its knees… literally.  Without any fanfare, pedigree, entourage or press agent, this strangely-clad man with intense, piercing eyes stood among the lunchtime traffic, raised his arms, and bellowed:

“As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”*

And just like that, the sky dried up, the three and a half year drought began, and our lives were changed forever.  Thus was our introduction to Elijah the prophet— the Elijah of Mount Carmel fame.

You must understand that a drought in Elijah’s day was much different than a drought today.  There was no water rationing or voluntary restrictions.  There were no, “You may wash your car on even numbered days and water your lawn on odd numbered days”— type of official pronouncements.  No, it was nothing like that.

drought-cattleA drought in Elijah’s day meant crop failures, the death of all livestock, systemic famine, and disease that ran unchecked among a starving population.  It meant that people, innocent people— the young and old and infirmed, died.  It meant the loss of homes and farms and families and futures.

It meant an economic upheaval many times worse than the Great Depression or the plagues of Europe.  Drought brought prolonged suffering to tens of thousands of people with no end in sight.  It led to hopelessness, depression, despair, and suicide.

When Elijah spoke those 26 words of divine judgment he literally pronounced a death sentence on their society and culture.

But, why?  What was his reason for shutting up the sky for an indeterminate amount of time?  What was he trying to accomplish by calling for the destruction of Ahab’s kingdom?  What was Elijah, and God, trying to do?

You know the answer.  As the late Paul Harvey would say, “And you know the rest of the story.”  Elijah was hoping to bring the land of Israel to repentance and back into fellowship with the God of the land— the God they had long ago rejected and abandoned.  He was hoping, once the people of the land were stripped of their pride, sin and self-sufficiency, they would repent “in dust and ashes” and be drawn back into a dependant relationship with the Creator of the land.

Elijah’s goal was not destruction, but repentance.  And that’s just what happened in 1 Kings 18.

Did it ever dawn on you that, like Elijah of old, God may have some of His holy ones praying for judgment to fall on America in order to bring her back to repentance?  That maybe, after a three year drought, we as a nation may experience our own Mount Carmel encounter with God?

Remember the words of Elijah to the nation of Israel, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” *  In other words, now is the time to choose… for them and for us.

Are you praying for the same?  Should you be?  Should I?

*1 Kings 17:1; 18:21

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Listen while we look at Praying for Judgment to Fall on America. This is a study of Revelation 14:8-11.

Download this episode (right click and save)

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What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

Good question.  What does happen?  What does it mean when false prophets actually do what they claim they can do?  What does that mean?

What happens when “signs and wonders”— no, real signs and wonders accompany the preaching of a false prophet?  What are we to think?  What does that say about what they are saying?   The implications are mind-boggling.

For example, does it mean that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t false prophets anymore?  Maybe they’ve repented and finally seen the light and God is confirming their ministry with “ooo la la” kind of stuff.  Or maybe we were too judgmental towards them in the first place and had them all wrong.  Worldly logic would conclude, “If God weren’t blessing what they say, then their churches wouldn’t grow so large and they wouldn’t be so popular.”

So, maybe the problem is with us, and not them.  After all, as the mantra of false prophets go: “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!”  Maybe we’re just too blind and deceived and misguided and don’t recognize that God is moving and doing a new thing in our generation.  Or possibly God just lowered His standard of truth so as not to offend the post-modern culture in which we live.  Remember the enlightened by-line of most false prophets, “Doctrine divides, but love unites.”  Maybe the Scriptures are not the standard of truth today and God is using these men to teach us that He is not the same “yesterday, today and forever” but actually changes with the times and adapts, like a divine chameleon, to whatever culture He finds Himself in.  Maybe the false prophets are right.  Maybe God is nothing more than a cosmic genie in a bottle waiting to serve us, bless us, prosper us and make us the “head and not the tail.”  And maybe, just maybe, these men the Scriptures define as false prophets are really God’s pied pipers to the New, and better, 21st Century Christian.

Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

So, if a false prophet delivers the goods, does it mean that we slide them into the category of “Former False Prophets” or rename them as “Prophets formerly known as False”?

I think not.

Have you ever read the following words from Moses?

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods whom you have not known and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” *

Oh, so it could be a test— a testing from the Lord to see if we love Him more than we love the cool things the false prophets are saying about us, our finances and our future. Looks like another classic battle against our flesh, doesn’t it?

Are you prepared for that battle?  Are you prepared to win?  Because the age of false prophets is upon us.

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You want to go grab a grub?

You want to go grab a grub?

Remember the dream Pharaoh had about the seven cattle and the seven ears of grain?  It seems that in Pharaoh’s dreams he saw seven cows, full, fat and healthy, and then seven other cows, gaunt and sickly-looking.  As he watched in his dream, the gaunt cows devoured the fat ones.  Why?  What did this mean?

Then, right on the heels of dream one came dream two.  It was the same principle repeated— only now the characters are seven plump ears of grain and seven thin, sun-scorched ears of grain.  Ah, I see, “second verse, same as the first.”  Now, in dream two, the seven thin, sun-scorched ears of grain swallowed up the fat, plump and healthy ears.

Again, why?  What does this mean?

Enter Joseph.

gauntcows-300Joseph, as you remember, tells Pharaoh that God is revealing to him what He is going to do in the very near future.  God is giving Pharaoh a glimpse into the future, so to speak.  I’ll let Joseph tell you in his own words.

“Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.  The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same.  The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine.  It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.  Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land.  So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe.  Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.” *

Get the gist?  Bad times are soon to be upon Egypt like a raging storm and there is nothing Pharaoh can do about it.  And I mean bad times!  Real bad times.  In fact, they were to be so bad that no one will even remember what life was like before the famine. Serious stuff.

What was Pharaoh to do when faced with the certain economic meltdown of their society?  What should he tell his people to do knowing that the collapse of the Egyptian dollar is imminent?  How can he, the ruler of Egypt, prepare his government for hyper-inflation and food and fuel shortages?  What should they do?

For one thing, listen to the advice of Joseph.

“Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.  Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance.  Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it.  Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.” *

In other words, during the times of abundance… prepare!  Get off your rear, take your head out of the sand, quit listening to the pundits who are lying to you and prepare!  It’s not that hard.  Follow this simple rule: If you have today, store for the time when you won’t have.  Like, duh.  Be smart and prudent and wise and prepare for coming uncertain times.  Otherwise… flash forward to gaunt cow.  Get the picture?

And, as you know, Pharaoh took Joseph’s advice and not only survived, but thrived and prospered during the seven years of famine.  Are we at least as smart as Pharaoh?  I sure hope so.

Since we are going to spend a great deal of time talking about how to prepare for the coming collapse of our economy, the unraveling of our society, the possible declaring of martial law and, quite honestly, the greatest ministry opportunity we have ever had in our lifetime— I thought I’d preface all this with a word picture. No, make that more of an object lesson.

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Now, go buy some extra groceries at Wal-Mart the next time you go shopping and we’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

Rest easy… and go grab a grub.

*Genesis 41:25-36

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The Flawed and Sinister Manhattan Declaration

The Flawed and Sinister Manhattan Declaration

The following post is from November 2009 regarding the Manhattan Declaration and the reluctance of some to sign on to this joint venture.  The pressing political issue may have changed but the principle behind that reluctance remains the same today as it did then.  It would be a good reminder to revisit the underlying reasons that only true Christians can stand together as one man for the faith (Phil. 1:27).  Only true Christians.  Read and remember.

From November 26, 2009:

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As many of you know, the Manhattan DeclarationA Call of Christian Conscience was drafted on October 20th of this year and released a month later on November 20th.  “What’s the Manhattan Declaration?” you ask?  From their own website they state the following:

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them.  These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable.  Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them.  We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Sounds noble, doesn’t it.

In fact, almost 200 well-know and influential Evangelical leaders, with a clear conscience, signed the document.  Some of them include:

Randy Alcorn
Leith Anderson
Kay Arthur
Gary Bauer
Steve Brown
Chuck Colson
Dr. James Dobson
Jerry Jenkins
Dr. Richard Land
Josh McDowell
Dennis Rainey
Dr. Joseph Stowell
Joni Eareckson Tada
Dr. Michael Youssef
Ravi Zacharias

But there are a few names that are missing— John MacArthur for one.  And John Piper, Franklin Graham and David Wilkerson to name just a few more.  Did you ever wonder why?  Why are these names conspicuously absent from the Who’s Who of notable Christian signatories?  Maybe they weren’t asked to sign.  Or, maybe they couldn’t make the trip to New York for the conference?  You know, maybe it didn’t fit into their ministry schedules.

Or maybe, just maybe… they had a problem with the opening statement of the Declaration that blurs the lines between authentic, Biblical Christianity and the heresy known as Catholicism?  Remember the documents opening salvo?

“We are Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical Christians…”

Uh, exactly how can that be?  How can both Catholics and evangelicals be Christians when their foundational core beliefs about Jesus, the Scriptures, the Atonement, Heaven and Hell, Biblical Authority and many other non-negotiables are opposed to each other?  How can these groups join together under the flag of Christianity when the Gospel they preach is not the same?  Both cannot be correct, can they?  Of course not.  Then both cannot be Christian.

Biblical Christianity is not some big, political tent where we willingly ignore our core differences and try to agree on whatever we can just to get along.  This is not about numbers or unity at the cost of truth.  One view of the Gospel, as Jesus taught in Matthew, is the wide road that leads to destruction and the other view is the narrow turnstile that leads to eternal life.  There is no third way.  There can be no compromise or common ground on the Gospel.

There is only one Gospel, one Lord, one message and only one way to heaven.  Period.

It appears this sinister blurring of the lines between the true and false Gospel is why John MacArthur refused to compromise and sign the document.  The following is his position statement that clearly gives his reasons for not adding his signature to the next ecumenical Magna Carta, the Manhattan Declaration.

I’ll let John tell you in his own words.

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Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

  • Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season”— and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.
  • This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously. It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.
  • Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.
  • The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.
  • This is neither a novel approach nor a strategic stand for evangelicals to take. It ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades. (It is not without significance that his name is nearly always at the head of the list of drafters when these statements are issued.) He explained his agenda in his 1994 book The Body, in which he argued that the only truly essential doctrines of authentic Christian truth are those spelled out in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. I responded to that argument at length in Reckless Faith. I stand by what I wrote then.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue.  That is the wrong way— perhaps the very worst way—  for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time.  Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.

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Amen.  Thanks John.  Thanks for standing for what is true and of greatest importance: the Gospel.  I totally, wholeheartedly agree.

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