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Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Government actions cast doubt on Morocco's commitment to religious freedom.
Morocco, one of the most moderate Arab Muslim countries, has sent shock waves throughout the expatriate community there. Since March 6th more than 40 foreigners who have been living in the country have been unexpectedly expelled or deported. Many were detained and questioned before their expulsion. This happened in a variety of places throughout the country, to people of at least 8 different nationalities.
Those who were expelled were not given reasons for the actions taken. They were all told simply that their residence permits were being revoked. On March 11th, the Moroccan government made a public statement that they were guilty of proselytizing.
Some of those expelled were engaged in humanitarian work, such as the orphanage workers in Ain Leuh. Others were there engaged in business. Many worked with Moroccan partners and were highly respected in the Moroccan communities where they worked.
The accusation of the government that these people are guilty of proselytism came along with an assertion that Morocco tolerates all faiths and upholds "freedom of religion." The accusation of proselytism indicates the government believes that these people violated the law by using enticements or pressure to influence Moroccans to change their religion .
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Justice Minister says Article 301 defendants ‘presumed innocent’ until verdict.
ISTANBUL, May 28 (CDN) — The 11th hearing of a case of alleged slander against two Turkish Christians closed just minutes after it opened this week, due to lack of any progress.
Prosecutors produced no new evidence against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal since the last court session four months ago. Despite lack of any tangible reason to continue the stalled case, their lawyer said, the Silivri Criminal Court set still another hearing to be held on Oct. 14.
“They are uselessly dragging this out,” defense lawyer Haydar Polat said moments after Judge Hayrettin Sevim closed the Tuesday (May 25) hearing.
Court-ordered attempts to locate and produce testimonies from two witnesses summoned three times now by the prosecution had again proved fruitless, the judge noted in Tuesday’s court record.
Murat Inan, the only lawyer who appeared this time on behalf of the prosecution team, arrived late at the courtroom, after the hearing had already begun.
The two Protestant Christians were accused in October 2006 of slandering the Turkish nation and Islam under Article 301 of the Turkish criminal code.
The prosecution has yet to provide any concrete evidence of the charges, which allegedly took place while the two men were involved in evangelistic activities in the town of Silivri, an hour’s drive west of Istanbul.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
- If Glenn Beck the Mormon ran for office as a Mormon, I could vote for him.
- If Glenn Beck the Mormon ran for office as a Christian, I could not vote for him.
- If Glenn Beck the Mormon hosted a political rally, I could attend.
- If Glenn Beck the Mormon put on a religious rally, I could not attend.
HT: Wretched Radio
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
However, we do not have to go through life without the assurance of salvation. In 1 John 5:13 the apostle says, "These things have I written unto you...that ye may know that ye have eternal life." How then can we have this assurance? This is the most important question we will ever face in life because our eternal destiny is at stake! The Bible teaches that those who remain unsaved will spend eternity in a place of perpetual torment (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 14:9-11). The reason for this is because their sin has not been paid for, and God's perfect justice requires that payment be made for sin (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, it is vital that we know the answer to this question. This is why the Apostle Peter wrote, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10).
It is true that we must believe in Christ in order to become saved (Acts 16:31), but how can we be sure we have genuinely believed in Him? Certainly we cannot rely upon our feelings since feelings can be misleading. Some might suggest we can be sure by acknowledging the facts of the gospel or saying the sinner's prayer. However, the Bible indicates it is not possible to believe without being regenerated because by nature we are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1 cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). This is why Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Therefore, we cannot know we have truly believed until we know we are born again.
But what does it mean to be born again? Is this some kind of emotional experience? No, the Bible teaches that being born again means our life is changed. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The Bible also tells us what changes will take place in our life when we are born again.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Do your kids have big questions that are stumping you? Could you use a helping hand from a reliable resource?
Then you'll want to check out Got Questions Kidz.
Monday, May 24, 2010
There is a kind of science out there—evolutionary science—masquerading as a reliable, objective guide to the truth. But strip away the white lab coat, turn the microscope around, and make the subject the object of your study. Guess what you’ll find? It’s just another false prophet proclaiming his false religion, evolution.
Here’s the question for discussion: If a Christian wouldn’t try to integrate the Bible with a Mormon, Hindu, or Satanist worldview, what justifies that approach when it comes to evolutionary theories about origins?
HT: Grace To You Blog
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Defense lawyers’ absence also prolongs case that court wants closed.
MALATYA, Turkey, April 21 (CDN) — On the eve of three-year commemorations of the murders of three Christians in southeast Turkey, defense lawyers’ absence and new evidence kept a Malatya court from concluding the case here on Thursday (April 15).
Two defense lawyers excused themselves from the hearing, rendering the judges unable to issue a verdict to the five defendants charged with the murders of three Christians in Malatya on April 18, 2007. Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske, who worked at a publishing house that distributed Christian material in this southeastern Turkish city, were found murdered three years ago.
At Thursday’s hearing, prosecuting lawyers presented a 28-page detailed request that the Malatya case be joined to a plot called Cage Plan, believed to be part of Ergenekon, a “deep state” operation to destabilize the government led by a cabal of retired generals, politicians and other key figures.
The Cage Plan centers on a compact disc found a year ago in the house of a retired naval officer. The plan, to be carried out by 41 named naval officers, termed as “operations” the murders of the three Christians in Malatya, the 2006 assassination of Catholic priest Andreas Santoro and the 2007 slaying of Hrant Dink, Armenian editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos. The aim of the Cage Plan was to destabilize the government by showing its inability to protect Turkey’s minority groups.
Last week newspapers reported that the Cage Plan, aimed at Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities, not only contained a list of names of Protestant Christians who would be targeted, but also named some of their children.
Judges will announce a decision on whether to combine the Malatya murders with the Cage Plan at the next hearing, scheduled for May 14.
Hearings for the Cage Plan are expected to begin on June 15.
“If you ask me, unfortunately at this exact moment we are exactly where we started,” said prosecuting lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz. “I’m not talking about public awareness. In terms of public awareness, of course our contribution is something substantial. But in terms of evidence and exposing the real network, we couldn’t get anywhere.”
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Muslim hardliners pressure government; nationals fears they may be next victim of ‘purging.’
ISTANBUL, May 21 (CDN) — In a second wave of deportations from Morocco, officials of the majority-Muslim country have expelled 26 foreign Christians in the last 10 days without due process.
Following the expulsion of more than 40 foreign Christians in March, the deportations were apparently the result of Muslim hardliners pressuring the nation’s royalty to show Islamic solidarity.
The latest deportations bring the number of Christians who have had to leave Morocco to about 105 since early March. Christians and expert observers are calling this a calculated effort to purge the historically moderate country, known for its progressive policies, of all Christian elements – both foreign and national.
“I don’t see the end,” said Salim Sefiane, a Moroccan living abroad. “I see this as a ‘cleansing’ of Christians out of Morocco, and then I see this turning against the Moroccan church, which is already underground, and then persecution of Moroccan Christians, which is already taking place in recent days.”
At least two Moroccan Christians have been beaten in the last 10 days, sources told Compass, and police have brought other Moroccan Christians to police stations daily for psychologically “heavy” interrogations.
Authorities are enquiring about the activities of foreign and local Christians.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I came across this video and it looks like it's going to be really informative. Several minutes in, you'll see that it is also endorsed by Ravi Zacharias.
Check back for our regular weekend edition of Watchmen On The Wall where we keep you informed on our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The differences between Protestants and Catholics demonstrated by the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation:
Scripture Alone, knowledge of salvation comes from the Bible alone; it teaches all that is necessary for salvation and holy living. Scripture is the final authority on all matters of doctrine and practice. This is contrasted with the Roman Catholic view of Papal or Magisterial infallibility. This doctrine is violated when any authority is placed alongside or over the Scriptures.
Faith Alone, salvation is through faith alone. Faith is the only instrument through which the benefits of Christ’s atonement are applied. This is contrasted with the Roman Catholic view of faith and good works. This doctrine is violated when any other instrument becomes necessary for salvation.
Grace Alone, salvation is by grace alone. Salvation is entirely gracious. Sinners are saved without any merit in themselves. This is contrasted with the Roman Catholic view of cooperation and merit. This doctrine is violated when anything is added to or taken away from the unmerited favor of salvation.
Christ Alone, salvation is in Christ alone. Christ is the exclusive author and mediator of salvation. This is contrasted with the Roman Catholic view of the intercession of saints and mediation of priests. This doctrine is violated when any man or institution is made necessary for salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria
To God Alone Be the Glory, salvation is to the glory of God alone. Salvation, from beginning to end is exclusively the work of God. Therefore, the credit and glory belong to God alone. This is contrasted with the Roman Catholic view that God and man cooperate in salvation, thus giving credit or glory to both God and man. This doctrine is violated when any merit, value, effort, credit or glory is ascribed to any other but God.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
From the blog, (and creative mind) of Marcus Pittman. Amen, brother!
This story continues to on. Now it's hit the mainstream secular media.
Now Ergun Caner is being investigated by the Lynchburg, Va., university — founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell — over allegations that he fabricated or embellished his past.
An unlikely coalition of Muslim and Christian bloggers, pastors and apologists has led the charge with video and audio clips they claim show Caner making contradictory statements.
Caner has since changed the biographical information on his website and asked friendly organizations to remove damning clips from their websites, but the questions are not going away.
"There are those of us who aren't going to be quiet until we find out why integrity is being compromised," said Debbie Kaufman, a member of a Southern Baptist church in Enid, Okla., who persistently blogged about Caner. "Integrity should never be a question in the church."
Caner, a barrel-chested man with a goatee and a shaved head, has been a celebrity in the world of evangelical Christianity since 2001, when he and his brother began appearing on news shows and other venues to discuss Islam in the aftermath of 9/11.
The prolific author and charismatic speaker became president of the seminary at Liberty in 2005. Since then, enrollment has roughly tripled to around 4,000 students.
Much of his celebrity comes from his exotic background.
He told The Associated Press in 2002 that he was born in Sweden to a Turkish father and Swedish mother, who brought the family to Ohio in 1969, when he was about 3 years old. He said he accepted Christ as a teenager at a Baptist church in Columbus, and then pursued ministry, getting a degree from Criswell College, a Baptist school in Dallas.
It's difficult to verify the depth of Caner's faith as a Muslim when he was a child. His father is dead and information about his mother couldn't be immediately found. His brother Emir, also a Christian convert and scholar, responded in a brief e-mail that he has not decided whether to speak publicly.
While few doubt that Caner was raised as a Muslim, they question changing biographical details in his speeches and whether he was a believer to the extent he told audiences.
In a 2001 sermon at a church in Plano, Texas, he said, "I was born in Sweden, raised in Turkey, came to America in 1978. When I came to America I came through Brooklyn, New York, of all places, which is where I learned English."
Later, he told the audience, "I'm not just a Muslim, I'm not just a Sunni, and I wasn't just involved in the Islamic jihad. I was the son of a muezzin," referring to the person who calls Muslims to prayer.
It's not immediately known if his father was a muezzin at any point or what the basis is for his claims that he trained for jihad. His father, Acar Caner, belonged to the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, according to a death notice, but calls to that group and a mosque linked to it were not returned. A call to his widow, Acar's second wife, was not immediately returned.
In an undated interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network's website, Caner said: "The only thing I ever learned about Christianity I learned from my imam and the scholars in the mosque. Then when I began to be trained in Madras we heard even more about Christians, that they are our enemies."
It's not clear if the transcript should read "madrasas," a type of religious school for Muslims, or "Madras," a city in India. Neither makes sense in the context of a 1970s boyhood in central Ohio.
Initially, Caner dismissed the criticism as typical attacks by Muslims on converts. The first to prominently question Caner was London-based college student Mohammad Khan, who began posting videos of Caner's sermons and criticizing him on points of Islamic theology and Arabic pronunciation.
"We Muslims can spot his lies with ease," Khan wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "He is hindering the spread of the Christian faith, not helping it."
Before long, James White, director of Alpha & Omega Ministries in Phoenix, had joined in. White debates Muslim scholars along with atheists and members of other faiths, and was irked at Caner's claims to have debated a number of prominent experts on Islam. White couldn't find any audio or video record of the debates, and felt rebuffed when he sought clarification from Caner. Then he began to dig.
"Ergun Caner goes around pretending to do what I do," said White. "If someone's going around claiming to be an expert on Islam and he really isn't, I have to point that out."
Liberty's inquiry is overdue, said the Rev. Wade Burleson, pastor at Kaufman's church. Burleson said he was pressured to have Kaufman take down her posts, including by a phone call from Caner to Burleson's father.
"Liberty University, until the announcement about the investigation, was acting as if they weren't a Christian university," Burleson said. "They were covering up sin."
Liberty University officials say they won't speak publicly until the probe is complete, expected June 30.
While they wait, some of the bloggers say good could still come out of it. Burleson said Caner can become a stronger advocate for the gospel if he comes clean about his past.
Kaufman and Khan, meanwhile, have forged an improbable friendship across thousands of miles and religious differences, exchanging e-mails daily and asking each other about their respective faiths.
"I'm hoping that Muslims and those that aren't Christians will see there are those of us who believe what the Bible teaches," she said.
Caner, who remains the president of Liberty's seminary, remains publicly silent. On the day the university announced its inquiry, he posted on Twitter: "Unshakable faith at midnight makes the dawn that much sweeter," he wrote. "God is still God in the darkness!"
Ergun Caner's website: http://www.erguncaner.com/
Liberty University: http://www.liberty.edu/
Mohammad Khan's website: http://www.fakeexmuslims.com/
Alpha & Omega Ministries: http://aomin.org/
Debbie Kaufman's Ministry of Reconciliation blog: http://debbiekaufman.wordpress.com/
Source: The Associated Press
HT: Marcus Pittman via FaceBook
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I caught this segment on Wretched Radio awhile back. Todd Friel featured a message by John MacArthur that answers the question beautifully. Please take a few minutes to listen here . Please consider both infants, the very young as well as the precious unborn that don't make it into the world.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The old rugged cross on which Jesus died
Is foolishness to those not made alive
Its bloody details cause them to grieve,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The Greek thinks it nonsense to accept the risen Christ,
The skeptic thinks the disciples pulled off the greatest heist
The New Atheist wishes all Christians would leave
And you say it is easy to believe?
To the Jews it is a block of stumbling,
It provokes the educated toward grumbling,
A story no one could ever conceive,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The Lord invited man to take up his cross,
To count the cost and consider all things loss -
Things the natural man cannot receive,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The scriptures say salvation is of the Lord,
A supernatural work man’s hands cannot afford
To think man can raise the dead is very naive,
The results of these methods can only deceive
Regeneration is the work of the Spirit,
Otherwise men would never hear it
You say that it is easy to believe?
Saving faith is only something God can achieve!
HT: Return To Biblicism
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Employer charges non-Muslims at least 400 percent interest.
LAHORE, Pakistan, May 14 (CDN) — A low-wage Pakistani Christian said his Muslim employer last week forced him to sell his kidney in an effort to pay off a loan his boss made at exorbitant interest rates charged only to non-Muslims.
John Gill, a molding machine operator at Shah Plastic Manufacturers in the Youhanabad area of Lahore, said he took a loan of 150,000 rupees (US$1,766) – at 400 percent interest – from employer Ghulam Mustafa in 2007 in order to send his 17-year-old daughter to college.
“I kept paying the installments every month from my salary, but after three years I got tired of paying the huge interest on the loan,” Gill told Compass.
The employer denied that he had received payment installments from his Christian worker, although Gill said he had receipts for monthly payments.
Mustafa confirmed that he took over Gill’s home last week after giving the Christian two weeks to pay off the outstanding interest on the loan. Then, on May 6, Mustafa came to Gill’s home with “about five armed men” and transported him to Ganga Ram hospital, where they forced him to sell his kidney against his will, the Christian said.
“They sold my kidney and said that they will come next month for the rest of the money,” Gill said.
The value of the kidney was estimated at around 200,000 rupees (US$2,380), leaving Gill with outstanding debt of about 250,000 rupees (US$2,976), he said. Recovering at home, Gill said he did not know he would repay the rest of the debt.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
DUBLIN, May 14 (CDN) — In spite of assurances of religious rights by officials in March, Lao Christians expelled from a village in Saravan Province in January are suffering from a prolonged lack of adequate food and clean water.
The lack of basic resources has led to diarrhea, dehydration, eye and skin infections, fainting and general weakness for the Christians expelled from Katin village, and one person has died, Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) reported.
A Christian who went by the single name of Ampheng died suddenly in April while praying for one of two other Christians who were hospitalized with illnesses caused by their living conditions, an HRWLRF spokesman told Compass. The exact cause and date of Ampheng’s death were not immediately known.
Expelled from their village at gunpoint on Jan. 18 for failing to renounce their faith, the 48 Christians were forced to build temporary shelters at the edge of the jungle, about six kilometers (nearly four miles) away from the village.
They have since survived on food found in the jungle and water from a hand-dug well that is unfit for cooking or drinking, sources told HRWLRF.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- The Proverbs are designed to be general principles that typically make life better.
- Proverbs are not individual promises that guarantee you will always succeed.
- From a practical standpoint, many Godly Christians have starved to death, or worse.
- When I read this verse with the rest of the Bible in view, I know that this single verse cannot be a guarantee I will never starve and the wicked will go hungry.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
However, that is not always the case. Of course, our Lord Himself gave the instruction to be anxious for nothing to His disciples and, by extension, to the church. His awareness of human frailties expressed in our fears was manifested by His most common greeting to His friends: "Fear not." Still, we are creatures who, in spite of our faith, are given to anxiety and at times even to melancholy.
As a young student and young Christian, I struggled with melancholy and sought the counsel of one of my mentors. As I related my struggles, he said, "You are experiencing the heavy hand of the Lord on your shoulder right now." I had never considered God's hand being one that gave downward pressure on my shoulder or that would cause me to struggle in this way. I was driven to prayer that the Lord would remove His heavy hand from my shoulder. In time, He did that and delivered me from melancholy and a large degree of anxiety.
On another occasion I was in a discussion with a friend, and I related to him some of the fears that were plaguing me. He said, "I thought you believed in the sovereignty of God." "I do," I said, "and that's my problem." He was puzzled by the answer, and I explained that I know enough about what the Bible teaches of God's providence and of His sovereignty to know that sometimes God's sovereign providence involves suffering and affliction for His people. That we are in the care of a sovereign God whose providence is benevolent does not exclude the possibility that He may send us into periods of trials and tribulations that can be excruciatingly painful. Though I trust God's Word that in the midst of such experiences He will give to me the comfort of His presence and the certainty of my final deliverance into glory, in the meantime I know that the way of affliction and pain may be difficult to bear.
The comfort that I enjoy from knowing God's providence is mixed at times with the knowledge that His providence may bring me pain. I don't look forward to the experience of pain with a giddy anticipation; rather, there are times when it's necessary for me and for others to grit our teeth and to bear the burdens of the day. Again, I have no question about the outcome of such affliction, and yet at the same time, I know that there are afflictions that will test me to the limits of my faith and endurance. That kind of experience and knowledge makes it easy to understand the tension between confidence in God's sovereign providence and our own struggles with anxiety.
Romans 8:28, which is a favorite for many of us, states that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (NKJV). There's no other text that demonstrates so clearly and magnificently the beauty of God's sovereign providence than that one. The text does not say that everything that happens to us, considered in and of itself, is good; rather, it says that all things that happen are working together for our good. That is the master plan of God's redemptive providence. He brings good out of evil. He brings glory out of suffering. He brings joy out of affliction. This is one of the most difficult truths of sacred Scripture for us to believe. I've said countless times that it is easy to believe in God but far more difficult to believe God. Faith involves living a life of trust in the Word of God.
As I live out the travail that follows life on this side of glory, hardly a day goes by that I am not forced to look at Romans 8:28 and remind myself that what I'm experiencing right now feels bad, tastes bad, is bad; nevertheless, the Lord is using this for my good. If God were not sovereign, I could never come to that comforting conclusion - I would be constantly subjected to fear and anxiety without any significant relief. The promise of God that all things work together for good to those who love God is something that has to get not only into our minds, but it has to get into our bloodstreams, so that it is a rock-solid principle by which life can be lived.
I believe this is the foundation upon which the fruit of the Spirit of joy is established. This is the foundation that makes it possible for the Christian to rejoice even while in the midst of pain and anxiety. We are not stoics who are called to keep a stiff upper lip out of some nebulous concept of fate; rather, we are those who are to rejoice because Christ has overcome the world. It is that truth and that certainty that gives relief to all of our anxieties.
Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and president of Ligonier Ministries, and he is author of the books The Invisible Hand and Surprised by Suffering.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Pastor John Piper began his eight-month leave this past weekend.
Stokes, who previously served as the church's Downtown Campus pastor, was approved unanimously by the elders at the Minneapolis church last week to serve as Interim Pastor for Preaching while Piper is away.
The elders determined that continuity, consistency and stability were most important and thus decided to have one primary preacher – rather than a rotation of varied speakers – to serve as the temporary shepherd.
"Few things are more important in the life of a church than the faithful preaching of the word of God," said Piper in his final written commentary to his church of some 9,000 attendees. "I trust Kenny."
"Under Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, I am happy to leave you under his preaching," he added.
Piper, 64, announced late March that he would be taking his first-ever leave of absence from ministry this year to focus on his marriage, his family and his soul. His break was not prompted by a particular sin but by "ongoing character flaws" – including pride – and the stresses they have caused to others.
He told his congregation that he felt his marriage, soul and ministry pattern needed a reality check from the Holy Spirit.
The renowned preacher and author stopped tweeting just after making the announcement and has also let go of other forms of online communication, including Facebook and blogging. During his leave, Piper will also disengage from book writing, preaching and speaking at events (with a few exceptions).
In his last sermon on April 25 to Bethlehem, Piper cited Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th century minister in the Church of Scotland who also took eight months away from his parish in 1839.
M'Cheyne asked William Burns to take over the pulpit and wrote to him: "I hope you may be a thousand times more blessed among them than I ever was. Perhaps there are many souls that would never have been saved under my ministry, who may be touched under yours; and God has taken this method of bringing you into my place. His name is Wonderful."
Revival did come to St. Peter's Church while he was away.
With that, Piper left the Bethlehem pulpit with the same hope and prayer:
"O Lord ... show your great power in my absence. Send a remarkable awakening that results in hundreds of people coming to Christ, ... wayward children coming home, long-standing slavery to sin being conquered, spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy, weak faith being replaced by bold witness, disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession, boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word, disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.
"[B]less this church beyond anything we have ever dreamed."
Just as M'Cheyne returned to his flock and served nearly four more years before he died at the age of 29, Piper hopes to return to the Minneapolis church to preach for at least five more years.
HT: The Christian Post
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Greetings in the name of Jesus
Christians in Iraq have requested our prayers following an attack on Christian university students travelling in a convoy of buses near Mosul. On Sunday morning, 2nd May, two bombs exploded near three of the buses. One appears to have been a roadside bomb, the second a suicide car bomb attack. One student was killed, and more than eighty injured, three of whom are reported to be in a critical condition.
Of more than 20 buses travelling to Mosul on Sunday, the three carrying students from Christian areas were targetted. Many of the students’ families are understood to have left Mosul due to violence against Christians. However, the students remain enrolled at university in Mosul.
Fides, a Catholic news agency, quotes a senior priest, Father Basha Warda, as saying, “The attack has raised many questions. First of all it happened along a road set between two security force control posts. As an Iraqi citizen I ask myself, we all ask ourselves, how can such a thing happen? How do our security forces work? As citizens we demand an inquiry and clear answers”.
Sectarian tensions have risen in several parts of the country due to the delays in forming a new government after the parliamentary election held on 7th March.
Iraqi Christians request our prayers that:
- The bereaved family will know the comfort of Jesus
- The injured and traumatised will know the healing presence and peace of Jesus
- The perpetrators will know the Spirit’s conviction of their sin, and be drawn to the Father’s forgiveness and eternal life through the death of the Son
- Officials in Mosul and elsewhere will take effective action to provide security for Christians and other minorities
Saturday, May 8, 2010
The body of a Christian bookshop manager kidnapped over the weekend was found Sunday morning.
MIDDLE EAST, October 8, 2007 (Middle East Concern) - The Palestinian Bible Society (PBS) announced on Sunday that Rami Ayyad, 30, had been found dead near the Bible Society Bookshop in Gaza early that morning. Mr. Ayyad was kidnapped on Saturday, October 6th by an unknown group after he closed the doors of the bookshop at around 16:30.
His body was found at 6:25 on Sunday, October 7th with signs of bullets and knife stabs.
Mr. Ayyad, the director of the Teachers’ Bookshop which is run by the PBS, had noted that a vehicle with no plate numbers had been following him on Friday. Shortly after his kidnap his family received a telephone call from him saying that he had been taken by a group of people and that he would return home late that evening. The Police in Gaza were informed of the incident.
Mr. Ayyad leaves behind two young children: George (2) and Wisam (9 months). His wife, Paulina, is pregnant. The funeral took place with a police escort on Sunday at 16:00. No group or party has claimed responsibility as of yet.
Ayyad and the other staff at the bookshop had received threats two months ago from radical Muslims who accused them of conducting missionary activities and the bookshop and the Palestinian Bible Society had been the target of repeated attacks over the past two years. The last attack took place in April.
This attack has shaken the Christian community in Gaza and several sources who spoke to Middle East Concern mentioned a great fear and apprehensiveness among the community.
HT: Middle East Concern
Friday, May 7, 2010
Ahead of the National Day of Prayer, Franklin Graham expressed dismay at how Islam is receiving preferential treatment by the Obama administration.
The evangelist, who was recently disinvited from a Pentagon prayer event over past comments he made about Islam, pointed to the violence against Muslim women.
“It’s just horrific,” Graham said to Newsmax.TV this week. “If you just take women alone … I just don’t understand why the president would be giving Islam a pass.”
Graham wants the president to speak up for women and minorities living in Muslim countries instead of one-sidedly praising Islam.
As a result of Graham speaking up for oppressed women and minorities himself, the army disinvited him from its Pentagon National Day of Prayer event. An army spokesman said Graham’s remarks about Islam were inappropriate and contradicted the military’s inclusive message.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Graham called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” Then in an interview with CNN’s Campbell Brown in December 2009, he said:
“True Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries.”
In an interview with The Christian Post last week, a former devout Muslim-turned-women’s activist confirmed Graham’s criticisms of Islam. Sabatina James, who is the granddaughter of a mullah and used to read the Quran in Arabic every day, pointed to verse 34 in the fourth Surah (chapter) in the Quran that said if your wife is not obedient then you are allowed to beat her.
Her bestselling book, My Faith for Faith and Freedom, details the gross mistreatment of women in her homeland of Pakistan. As a convert to Christianity, she has endured nine years of continuous death threats. James currently lives under police protection in Germany and has moved 16 times since 2001
“Is there a different Quran? No they are teaching the same Quran where it is written 'beat your wife if she is not obedient.' They are teaching the same Quran where it is written 'the Christians and Jewish people are evil.' It is written in the Surah Al-Maidah. It is written there 'don’t take Jewish and Christian people as your friend.' That is what you are taught in the Quran schools,” James told The Christian Post.
James said she “can’t imagine” Graham not getting upset if he read or heard those passages.
“We are living in a democracy and everybody can say his opinion,” she stated.
She also defended Graham and said he, like others, are criticizing Islam, not saying they hate Muslims.
“Make the difference between sin and sinner,” she said
In the interview with Newsmax this week, Graham again stated that he “certainly” loves Muslims.
However, he added, “that (Islam) is not the faith of this country. And that is not the religion that built this nation. The people of the Christian faith and the Jewish faith are the ones who built America, and it is not Islam.”
Graham said the rescinding of his invitation to speak at the Pentagon this week was like “a slap at all evangelical Christians.”
During a recent visit to Billy Graham’s home in North Carolina, President Obama told Franklin that he did not know about the Pentagon incident until two days before the visit. The younger Graham said in the interview with Newsmax that he believes the president, but he also believes that people in the White House knew about the situation and gave the green light to disinvite him.
“This whole secularization [in the government] has come in, creeping in, and it’s getting more and more and more,” the evangelical leader warned.
Graham is still scheduled to speak at the National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol on Thursday.
HT: The Christian Post
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I had just finished my “Why I Am a Christian” talk at Calvary Chapel Chino Valley’s youth conference in April. After talking with a few students and leaders, a young man approached. He challenged me with this question, explaining his atheist friend had asked it earlier in the week. And he had no answer for his friend.
Apparently, it’s a question atheists make a big deal about. There is even an entire website dedicated to it (www.whywontgodhealamputees.com). The website claims “this is one of the most important questions we can ask about God.” Sometime, somewhere I had heard the objection but had never given it much attention. Now it was staring me right in the face. Immediate attention was required.
I proceeded in usual fashion—by asking clarifying questions. “What conclusion does your atheist friend draw from this question?” I inquired. He responded, “Well, if God doesn’t heal amputees when we pray for them, then He doesn’t exist.” I followed with a few more questions, gathering the gist of the atheist’s argument.
The atheist claims that alleged healings, like the disappearance of a cancerous tumor or diagnosed disease, seem to be ambiguous. Did God supernaturally heal the person or is modern medicine responsible? Both causes could be offered and both could be disputed. But according to the atheist, if an amputee grew back a missing limb after intercessory prayer was offered on his behalf, this would be a clear case of the miraculous and thus proof for God’s existence. On the other hand, no new limb means no God. A fail-proof test, right? Wrong.
First, I pointed out this atheist’s argument is guilty of a logical fallacy called a non sequitur. The fallacy is committed when a conclusion or statement does not logically follow from a previous argument or statement. If amputees do not grow back limbs when we pray for them, does it follow God does not exist? Of course not. His existence is independent of what actions He would or would not take.
But why limit myself to amputee miracles? Any miracle will do. A million dollars in my bank account today. World peace starting tomorrow. And if these miracles don’t occur, then God doesn’t exist. Well, I think you can see the irrationality of such claims. God’s failure to perform a miracle at my request says nothing about His existence. In fact, even if we granted the atheist his assumption that amputees are not healed, at the very most we could only conclude God does not heal amputees. Not a profound conclusion.
Second, I pointed out his atheist friend simply assumed no amputees have been healed. But just because an atheist says there’s never been an amputee healing in thousands of years of human history doesn’t mean it’s true. Now, I’ve never researched this question but I wanted this young Christian to catch a healthy bit of skepticism, particularly when it comes to anti-Christian claims. Research is now in order but my point was you cannot simply assume what needs to be proven.
But we also have to test the intellectual honesty of the atheist asking this question. If we can produce a credible report of an amputee’s missing limb being healed and replaced, is the atheist willing to accept that evidence? There are credible reports of miraculous healings in our own time and in the Bible, but he dismisses these wanting further evidence of a particular kind of miracle. So is this an honest question or an insincere request for evidence when no evidence will suffice?
You see, our essential problem is moral, rebellion against God. Asking for evidence is legitimate, but evidence doesn’t guarantee belief because sinners don’t want to bend their knee to the Lord. So the question actually arises from a wrong understanding of the atheist’s fundamental problem. It’s not lack of evidence, it’s sin and rebellion to the Truth.
Fourth, even if God never performs a miracle it doesn’t negate all of the positive evidence we already have that He exists. This challenge – even if you can’t answer it satisfactorally - doesn’t sweep away the rational basis we already have for believing in God, the Bible, and that Christianity is true.
Fifth, I reminded this young Christian that God does not promise He will answer every request with a “yes.” Many times he says “no” or “later.” And it could be there are some requests He says “no” to all the time. Might God have a morally sufficient reason for doing so? Absolutely, even if He never reveals those reasons to us in this lifetime. As a dad, there are things I do for the good of my kids—taking them to the doctor for shots, punishing them for wrong behavior, or forcing them to eat their vegetables—which they don’t understand right now. The same is true between God and us.
And this last response requires a bit of maturity to understand. Frankly, many atheistic arguments are childish. “If God doesn’t do what I ask right now, I don’t have to believe in him.” Well, I don’t think God is really interested in becoming a magic genie. He’s interested in something much deeper and more profound. He’s interested in the kind of human being you become. Indeed, Jesus suggests voluntary “amputeeism” for the sake of character development: “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:30). Better to lose a hand than have your moral choices drag you away from God, forever.
After our conversation, the young man thanked me and walked away with a look of relief. An atheist’s challenge was turned into a teachable moment. And a teachable moment strengthened this student’s trust in God’s existence and character.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
When a man about his life and the impact he wants to have in ministry, he needs to ask himself questions like, “As a minister of the gospel, what is going to take me to the highest level of excellence and effectiveness? As an ambassador for Christ, what will help me be most effective for His kingdom? As a workman who does not want to be ashamed, how can I be best equipped to teach the Scripture?” The answer is to acquire the best and highest level of training that you can. That is what makes seminary so valuable.
The primary goal of a seminary is to train men to handle the Word of God with passion and precision. The church today—and in any age—needs men who are committed to preach the Word, in season and out of season. If pastors are going to be faithful to their calling, they must faithfully teach His Word to His people through the power of His Spirit and for His glory. A man trained at a seminary that is committed to these convictions will be an effective minister of the gospel.
There is no real mystery to the value of seminary training. Seminary education is not a substitute for a call to ministry, nor is it more important than character and conviction. The man of God is not made by theological education, and there have been phenomenally faithful and powerful preachers who lacked formal theological education. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine how a man can be satisfied with less theological and biblical education than is available to him. In other words, seminary is not the answer to every need for theological education, but where a faithful seminary education is available, the question clearly shifts to this: Why would I not pursue the most intensive and faithful program of preparation in order that I may faithfully and accurately teach the Word of God? Charles Spurgeon never attended seminary, but he grew up on the Puritan classics and serious works of biblical and systematic theology from the time he was able to read. In his case, the exception proved the rule, for one of his major concerns in ministry was the formation of a pastors college that would train men to do what he so faithfully did week after week—preaching and teaching the Bible to God’s people. My advice to a pastor who is not seminary trained is to gain the greatest level of theological and biblical education that is available to him in his context of life and ministry. Thankfully, this is where the technological revolution has given us some new advantages and opportunities. In reality, there is no one who is outside the reach of truly faithful theological education, whether by Internet, residential study, or other means.
The importance of seminary training can hardly be overstated. It is through such concentrated study of God’s Word that men are trained for the preaching and teaching ministry to which they are called. The study of the original languages, systematic theology, biblical theology, church history, biblical exegesis, Bible exposition, preaching, counseling, and other areas are indispensible for any man in ministry. These academic disciplines are necessary for a lifetime of successful ministry. Certainly, history reveals extraordinary ministers who were self- taught and who never had formal training in a seminary, such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon. But such men are an exception to the norm. Without a formal education, one would need the genius of Spurgeon in order to be self-taught, a gift that few have. To be sure, for the masses, the best way to be best equipped for the ministry is by thorough training in a doctrinally-sound seminary.
This is a tough question. If given the opportunity I would encourage any man to go to seminary. It’s not an overstatement to say that my seminary years were the most important years of my life. Nothing duplicates the depth and intensity of study in seminary. I’m not sure that Greek, Hebrew, Theology, and Exegesis can be learned any better than by giving three or four years of your life to them. Having said this, the history of the church is a living testimony to the fact that seminary is not a requirement for successful ministry. Any survey of church history will identify men, very successful in ministry, who never had formal theological education.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
by Tullian Tchividjian
In preparation for my sermon this past Sunday, I re-read the opening lines of Michael Horton’s book Christless Christianity. He writes:
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached.
There is a great difference between moralism and the gospel. Moralism, in fact, inoculates us from the gospel by giving us something of “the real thing” ensuring that we miss out on the true gospel all together. We must remember that Christ came first not to make bad people good but to make dead people live. If we forget that, our Christianity will turn out to be Christless.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Imprisoned for his faith, 43-year-old dies in solitary confinement.
LOS ANGELES, July 27 (CDN) — Another Christian imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea has died from authorities denying him medical treatment, according to a Christian support organization.
Sources told Netherlands-based Open Doors that Yemane Kahasay Andom, 43, died Thursday (July 23) at Mitire Military Confinement Center. A member of the Kale-Hiwot church in Mendefera, Andom was said to be secretly buried in the camp.
Weakened by continuous torture, Andom was suffering from a severe case of malaria, Open Doors reported in a statement today.
“He was allegedly further weakened by continuous physical torture and solitary confinement in an underground cell the two weeks prior to his death for his refusal to sign a recantation form,” the organization said. “It is not clear what the contents of the recantation form were, but most Christians interpret the signing of such a form as the denouncement of their faith in Christ.”
Andom is the third known Christian to die this year at the Mitire camp, located in northeastern Eritrea. Mogos Hagos Kiflom, 37, was said to have died from torture at the same center in early January. On Jan. 16, Mehari Gebreneguse Asgedom, 42, died in solitary confinement at the Mitire camp from torture and complications from diabetes, according to Open Doors.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Air Force police illegally detain 14-year-old, relatives after allegations of theft.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 29 (CDN) — Local authorities on Monday (April 26) recovered a 14-year-old Christian girl from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) police who allegedly tortured her and her family for five days here as Christian “soft targets” over false theft allegations, sources said.
Islamabad police in predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan removed Sumera Pervaiz from a PAF hospital, where she was recovering from injuries that a doctor said could cripple her for life. Earlier this month, according to family and police sources, PAF police were said to have illegally detained her and members of her family after PAF Wing Commander Faheem Cheema, who had hired Sumera as a maid, found gold ornaments and other valuables missing from his home in PAF Colony, Islamabad.
Cheema filed a theft complaint with local police without naming any suspects, but without informing local officers the wing commander on April 15 allegedly directed PAF police to detain Sumera and four members of her family – Pervaiz Masih, Sana Bibi, Parveen Masih and Kala Masih – who live in PAF Colony in Islamabad. PAF police allegedly failed to inform local police about detaining the family.