A Response To The Horror in Florida

FloridaVigilThe recent tragedy at the Florida high school has once again left Americans in agony to deal with the violence within our culture. Christians are often forced to deal with these headlines in a mix of their faith, the latest claims screaming for their attention on social media, their own cultural biases, and more.

I’ve found the following links helpful for thinking about the recent tragedy.

Nikolas Cruz And the Unmasking of Sin and Evil
Tom Ascol writes concisely:
“The reason that people carry out murderous rampages is not because of poverty, mental illness, guns, lack of education or any other social ill. At the root of such actions is the consistent outworking of sin—blatant rebellion against God.”
Founders Ministries Article Continue reading

New Letter from Youcef Nadarkhani

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Youcef Nadarkhani – Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran – has now been in jail over . You can read the original letter in Farsi here (PDF).

Greetings from your servant and younger brother in Christ, Youcef Nadarkhani.

To: All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation.

First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And in these days which are hard in order to prove your loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God’s commandments. Continue reading

Update on Pastor Youcef

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested and sentenced to execution by hanging for refusing to recant his Christian beliefs and apostatizing from Islam. Read our first post here. More and more has surfaced about the persecuted pastor, and you can read more about his plight and legal case (see Christianity Today and ACLJ).
Pastor Youcef wrote the following letter last summer. (HT: WHI)

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. Continue reading

Iran Changes Charges on Pastor Youcef

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested and sentenced to execution by hanging for refusing to recant his Christian beliefs and apostatizing from Islam. After considerable international pressure (finally) began denouncing and condemning Iran’s actions, now the charges are being changed. “Iran said on Saturday that Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for rape, not for the crime of abandoning Islam.”“His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” Gholomali Rezvani, the Gilan province deputy governor, told Farsn news agency. “He is guilty of security-related crimes.” (source)

Of course, the only problem is the record of Pastor Youcef’s trial that doesn’t hint at any sexual crimes and explicitly mentions only the religious “crimes.” A December 2010 court ruling issued and signed by Supreme Court judges Morteza Fazel and Azizoallah Razaghi mentions the religious charges against Nadarkhani and nothing more.

“Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32 years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan, is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,” the document states.

You can read the full release here.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

On August 24, 1572, one of the more tragic events occurred in the wars of religion throughout France. Especially within Paris, France, tensions between the Papist Parisians (the majority) and the French nobility and laity that held to the Reformed faith – referred to as Huguenots – were at a premium. After a failed assassination attempt on Admiral de Coligny, a noted Reformed Christian, on August 22, the animosity reached an all time high.

The Huguenot Cross

Catherine de Medici was the queen mother, and by urging her son Charles IX that Reformed Huguenots were a political threat to the stability of Paris and France, de Coligny was assassinated just before dawn on August 24. Following his death, rioting broke out in Paris, which then swept through the country, where neighbor turned on neighbor, and the Catholic majority looted and murdered their Reformed countrymen in a tragic event for the Reformed faith. Continue reading

Singing Through Tears

When the wounds and scars of this world come, we have several options in front of us. Numb the hurt by denying reality (drugs, drunkenness, other-worldly asceticism)? Wallow in the pain and let it consume us? Lash out in rage at that which causes pain?

Or, we can join the Psalmist and cry out to God, singing through the tears and waiting for the Lord to arise and banish our foes and fears. If you’re suffering, consider the two songs below as good examples of ultimately looking to the Lord through the pain. Your Good Shepherd does not promise to keep you from the valley of the shadow of death, but He does promise to bring you through to the green pastures and still waters on the other side.
Continue reading