PASTOR BRUNSON IS FREE!!!

It is with great joy that I am able to report that AMERICAN PASTOR, ANDREW BRUNSON, HAS BEEN SET FREE!!!

After a little more than 2 years in Turkish prison for “Christianization,” Pastor Brunson was freed yesterday thanks to the efforts of the ACLJ, President Donald Trump, and most of all, the fervent prayers of those praying for his release! Please pray with me in celebration of his freedom!

“Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You for all You have done! Thank You for proving Yourself to be faithful, true, sovereign, and mighty in Pastor Andrew’s life and in the life of his loved ones. Please help him to be re-situated as a free man in the United States!
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen!”

Learn more about Jesus, the One who truly sets us free, here.

Justice & Mercy

On February 13th, 2018, a man by the name of Haruna Yahaya, aged 35, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for taking part in the Chibok school girl kidnapping. Yahaya, having a paralyzed arm and a deformed leg, confessed to being a part of the kidnapping; his lawyer, though, asked the judge for leniency, because Yahaya was “forcibly conscripted into the group and he acted under duress.”1 The judge did not agree to leniency, stating that Yahaya still could have chosen not to participate in the kidnapping of these women.1

Reading this article, I can’t help but suspect that Yahaya did act under duress— that he gave in to the pressure and fear around him, and chose to help take his fellow human beings captive. Perhaps I am wrong; perhaps he committed this crime in complete agreement with Boko Haram’s leaders, malice filling his heart. Maybe it was a bit of both; or maybe I shouldn’t even try to look at his motives. After all, only God can see a person’s heart (1 Kings 8:39).

But there are three things that I glean from this, that I feel are worth mentioning:

  1. How vulnerable all of us are to fear and to outside social pressure,
  2. That Jesus is fulfilling His Promise, in that those who have caused the Chibok girls suffering will get Justice for their actions; and that
  3. Perhaps this man is repentant (possibly shown by how he confessed to kidnapping the Chibok girls, and for maybe being under duress); and, because he might be truly repentant, he might now need mercy.

It brings to mind John 8:1-11, when an adulterous woman is brought before Jesus, and the Pharisees try to put Him in a trap. Instead, Jesus tells the Pharisees something very pointed: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NIV).

It is incredibly important to point out what Dave Miller of Apologetics Press says concerning this passage of scripture:

“this motley crew [speaking about the Pharisees]—with their notorious and repeatedly documented hard-heartedness—would not have been deterred if Jesus simply had conveyed the idea that, “Hey, give the poor woman a break, none of us is perfect, and we’ve all done things we’re not proud of.” These heartless scribes and Pharisees had the audacity to divert her case from the proper judicial proceedings and to humiliate her by forcibly hauling her into the presence of Jesus, thereby making her a public spectacle. …Paul was especially specific on the very point with which Jesus dealt: ‘You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?’ (vs. 22). In other words, [Jesus was saying that] no person is qualified to call attention to another’s sin when that individual is in the ongoing practice of the same sin.”
(Dave Miller, “The Adulterous Woman,” Apologetics Press, words in brackets mine)

At the core, Jesus was not waving away this woman’s sin to show her mercy. He actually dealt quite lawfully with her, and showed her that she wasn’t to be condemned to death because her case, as mentioned by Dave Miller in “The Adulterous Woman,” lacked the necessary requirements for that to happen. Why bring this up? Because Jesus is a God of Law, Order, and Justice—after all, He (being part of the Trinity) created the Law of Moses to begin with.

As this woman is saved from death, Jesus tells her, “’Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11). Lawfully, Jesus kept her from death—and then told her to completely leave behind the sin (adultery) that put her there in the first place. Jesus did not wave away this woman’s sin in order to show her mercy; He showed her mercy, lovingly telling her the Truth, while plainly seeing her sin.

It is Jesus’ heart for “genuine Justice,” as Christian Rapper Odd Thomas puts it in “The Size of Sin,” that introduced the need for Him to come to earth in the first place. But, in light of the need for true Justice, Jesus also came down to earth out of mercy.

Both Justice and Mercy are borne out of Love. However we have gotten ourselves into sin—whether it would be through thoughtlessness, a genuine mistake, caving in under pressure, or planning it out with exact evil intent, the Gospel shows us that it is God’s desire to both look at the sin committed and bring it to Justice, and to—when one is repentant of their sin—show forgiveness, grace, and mercy to even the worst of sinners.

Whatever this man—and tens, if not hundreds of other men coerced/recruited into Boko Haram—intended to do, they still inflicted pain and created anguish for countless people, causing irrevocable harm. May Jesus show them what their actions have really wrought; and, with hearts that are truly repentant, may they come to Jesus, receiving the forgiveness and mercy only He can offer.



 

Do you know Jesus?

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.’”
(Jeremiah 17:9-10, NIV)

You may intend to be a “good” person, and you may even consider yourself to be very good, enlightened, and spiritual—but yet, you do not know Christ.

Listen: I am not here to call into question whether you are a good person or not. You may be a very wonderful, kind, loving, warm person, with noble motives and ideals!

But, unfortunately, one cannot know God simply by being a great person. God knows our hearts; and no matter how pure and spiritual we may seem, nothing we do will ever be enough to gain eternal life.

Jesus said that the true work of God is to believe in the one He has sent (John 6:29). It’s not about you! Learn more about who it is about—and what He did for youhere.



Prayer Requests (print out a copy of these “Prayer Points” here):

  • Please pray for the Chibok girls; that each and every one would be able to come out of Boko Haram captivity, into a free and abundant life, with Jesus as their Lord and Savior (John 10:10)!
  • Please pray, even for those who have caused so much evil and suffering. I know this can be one we wrestle with… especially in light of the school shooting that just occurred on February 14th. But I encourage you to be real with Jesus in that completely justified anger and pain.
  • Pray that those who are facing worldly Justice would receive their punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Praise Jesus for the fact that He has set law enforcement over us (Romans 13:1)! More about how Christ has instituted law enforcement for our good in another post.
  • Please pray for each person who has been so deeply affected by the recent school shootings. Pray that Christ shows Himself to people through it.

Thank you for your prayers!!!

 

 

Footnotes:
1 https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/chibok-girls-kidnapper-jailed-for-15-years-nigeria-20180213

 

Praise Report: The Sweetness of Freedom

Saeed-Abedini

Pastor Saeed and his family: His wife, Naghmeh, and their two children, Rebekkah (now age 9) and Jacob (now age 7).

A personal note from the author:

Hello followers and fellow bloggers! I have some amazing news.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born pastor from Idaho, USA, traveled into Iran to “visit family and help create plans to build an orphanage” in a city called Tehran. In September of 2012, Pastor Saeed was detained, and imprisoned, in Iran.

Now, over 3 years later, Pastor Saeed has been freed!!! Along with 4 other men of dual-citizenship, Pastor Saeed Abedini was freed from this Iranian prison in the morning hours of January 16th, 2016!!! For all those who have been praying– and for his family and loved ones– this is an amazing, moving answer to prayer!!!! PRAISE JESUS!!!

The ACLJ has said in this video that Pastor Saeed is not currently in the United States, but is in a “safe zone,” along with the four other men who have been freed (Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Nosratollah Khosrawi, and Matthew Trevithchick [source]). Praise be to Jesus!! The number of days in captivity these men endured have been entirely counted and known by Him– and the days of captivity the Chibok girls, and all other captives, must endure, are in His hands as well. Pastor Saeed being freed has shown me something important: that nothing is impossible with Christ, and that prayer truly does work!

Although Christ has given him victory in this, the fight in Pastor Saeed’s life is far from over. In November of 2015, Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, sent emails to friends, describing Pastor Saeed’s abuse towards her in their marriage, and an addiction to pornography. After writing the emails, they were somehow made public. Naghmeh, a day after they were shared, said that she regretted writing the emails, and was “taking time off to heal and to rest and to spend much needed time with my kids” (ACLJ). Although this is a very dark

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Rebekkah and Jacob, Saeed and Naghmeh’s children, ages 6 and 7 (source). 

thing, Saeed is still loved by Christ in and through all of this. Naghmeh believes that Saeed can be freed from these things, too– and truly, this woman of God is completely correct. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible‘” (Matthew 19:26).

Please continue praying for Pastor Saeed, his wife, Naghmeh, and his children, Rebekkah and Jacob– especially as his wife, Naghmeh, and his children, see their husband and father for the first time in three years. 

As Pastor Saeed has been freed, there are still many in captivity; more than can be numbered. As of January 16th, 2016, thousands lie captive to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram, while many more thousands lie in prison cells because the government above them wants to do away with Christ followers completely. Will you continue to pray for these men and women, including Pastor Lim and the Chibok girls?

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). As long as there are Christians in prison, we must pray for them– not only that they will be released, but that Christ would use them mightily while they are in prison to bring others (even their persecutors!) to Him. As we rejoice in the freedom we have in Christ, and as we enjoy His near Presence, let us do all we can– in prayer, and in action, as Christ leads– to help liberate our brothers and sisters. 

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
(Hebrews 13:3, ESV)

To take further action, you can read, sign, and support these two petitions by sharing:

I praise and thank Jesus for your prayers and support. Let us not give up in doing good (Galatians 6:9)!

Be blessed! 🙂

Holding His Hands in the Storm

Bomb blasts filled the main markets all across Northern Nigeria. Markets in Jos, Maiduguri, and Yola, just as they were starting to be rebuilt and basic infrastructure re-attained, vicious, insane men senselessly killed themselves, murdering many, and ruining the lives of hundreds more, in mere seconds. These things– the shocking sounds of exploding bombs, the sudden panic and pain inflicted, and the oppressive, haunting psychological and physical trauma received by its victims– are exactly what the people of these ravaged, war-torn areas were terrified of in the first place.  Continue reading