Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is the Gospel worth?

My heart has been so heavy lately. My spirit is weary. The past two weeks God has been turning my world upside down as he has challenged every aspect of my life. Where is my heart? How do I spend my time? Is my life truly being lived out in a way that brings glory to the Lord and points others toward the Savior? Does my faith cost me anything? Because it should!! Every day all over the world Christians are secretly meeting to fervently study God's word. They sit for hours on dirt floors without cushioned seats, without fancy lights and professional worship bands. They don't even have comfy air conditioning. They just long for the word! Why do they meet in secret? They meet behind closed doors because their faith could get them thrown in jail. Their faith could cost them their lives. I live too comfortable a faith. Sometimes I wonder if it could be called "faith" at all.

November 17th marks the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Allow the Lord to stir you out of your comfort zone to have a genuine heart for the nations. Pray for unreached people, pray for hearts to be softened, pray for missionaries, maybe even ask God if you have been called to go...are you willing to ask? Are you willing to listen?

Take a few minutes out of your day and encourage a brother or sister in chains for the Gospel. It's not much of a sacrifice...only about 96 cents....are you willing to sacrifice 96 cents? My heart is burdened. Will you join with me in asking God to show you how to live a life of sacrifice for Him? What is the Gospel worth to you? What is the Gospel worth to me?

Youcef Nadarkhani

Location: Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Arrested: October 2009
Days Imprisoned: 737

Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old pastor from Rasht, about 750 miles northwest of Tehran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required children, including his 8- and 9-year-old sons, to study the Quran in school. Youcef told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice. As a result of his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him for protesting. The charges were later amended to apostasy and evangelism of Muslims. Youcef was tried on Sept. 21–22, 2010 by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal and sentenced to death on Nov. 13 for apostasy.

The pastor is imprisoned in Lakan prison, where authorities have used various methods, including medication, to convert him back to Islam.

After Youcef refused to convert to Islam, his wife was arrested, put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. She was later released after an attorney appealed her sentence. The Nadarkhanis’ children were cared for by a relative while they were both in prison.

Verdict Referred to Supreme Leader
VOM contacts report that Pastor Nadarkhani's verdict has been delayed again by the court in Gilan province. The reason for the delay, according to his attorney, is that they have referred the case to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is highly unusual for the court to ask for the legal opinion of the Supreme Leader.

Please continue to pray that Youcef will be pardoned. Pray also for his wife, family and those supporting him.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Casting A Vision

Looking back over my life so far I am humbled to see how God has grown my faith, and this is no testament to my own piety. It is a resounding cry of the Lord's goodness in a sinner's life. His mercy is ravishing. In high school I was filled with passion, and abandon, qualities I wish I had more of now. However that passion had little knowledge behind it (at least it seems that way now that I am 10+ years older). Since graduating high school there are two huge truths that I have only since realized. Now these may seem a bit ridiculous to some of you but a few years ago these truths were life changing for me.

#1- The Bible is ONE big story pointing to a merciful God redeeming, and calling a people to himself. From Genesis to Revelation we see the Gospel!!

#2- The purpose of our marriages, our families, our jobs, our down time, our parenting, our gifts, our entire lives is to bring glory to God. Everything we do should scream out the greatness of the God we serve. Everything!!

Those two truths have marinated in my heart for a few years but now it has come full circle. Jon and I are actively teaching truth to a sweet group of believers. It has been amazing to see the light bulb come on as they understand some aspects of truth for the first time. It is an honor although absolutely terrifying to realize that we have the privilege to help lead these people into a deeper understanding of God. All of this makes me realize that I need to be seeking the Lord daily because there is no way that either of us can do this on our own.