Monthly Archives: September 2011
UPDATE – 10/5/2011: The International Business Times reports that Youcef is safe from execution, for now:
It appears that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will avoid the hangman in Iran for the time being. Nadarkhani, once the leader of a 400-person congregation in Rasht, was previously convicted of apostasy — the crime of abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity — but Iran now claims that the death penalty reports that circulated around the world last week were unsubstantiated.
“Youssef Nadar-Khani [sic] has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday, according to Iran state news agency Press TV. ”There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added. Read more…
Here’s a letter from Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who currently faces the death sentence for apostasy. Please continue to pray.
(This message has been translated from Farsi to English.)
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 …
Seven links for your weekend reading:
“I watched Courageous with my wife and was thoroughly engaged. I like action, and I like reflection, and I like affection—explosive moments, wrack-your-brain moments, and break-your-heart moments. Rarely do movies combine them all. For me this one captured me. Does the movie preach? Well, it sure has a point. But about the time you think you might get preached at, a bullet may cut through your car door. I would willingly take anyone to see this film, assuming they can handle suspense. And I think the conversations afterward would not be superficial.”
For three years now, I have been steadily gathering a number of definitions of “the gospel” in an ongoing series entitled “Gospel Definitions.” As far as I know, this is the largest grouping of gospel definitions on the internet today. Here is a recent definition put together by Mike Mercer (Chaplain Mike) at InternetMonk.com.
The Gospel (Good News) is the divinely-authorized proclamation that the appointed time has arrived and God has come to restore his blessing to his broken creation.
The Gospel announces that the climactic act of God’s story has been accomplished through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, his promised King who fulfilled the story of Israel and inaugurated the Messianic Age. Christ’s finished work atoned for sin, defeated the powers of sin, evil, and death forever, and reconciled this lost and dying world to God.
The Gospel invites all people to turn from their own wisdom and ways that separate them from God and his blessing, and to trust Jesus for forgiveness and new life in the Holy Spirit as members of his new community of faith, hope, and love.
The Gospel promises that God’s Kingdom inaugurated in Jesus will be consummated when he returns to raise the dead, pronounce final judgment on all evil, and transform this fallen creation into a new creation in which heaven (God’s realm) and earth (the human realm) are one.
Or more simply, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
All you ever wanted to know (and probably more!) about Joan, the cross-dressing female pope:
Of all the scandals with which the Christian faith has been plagued, one of the most peculiar has nearly been forgotten. After all, how many people have ever heard a female pope who posed as a man? To add to the strangeness, most stories about her argue that her secret was only revealed when she went into premature labor and gave birth to a child during a public processional from St. Peter’s to the Palace of the Popes in Rome.
Matthew Anderson’s open letter to college freshmen – “The World is Built on Discipline” contains six suggestions that all of us should heed:
The environment, for all its problems, presents an opportunity to broaden your horizons and enrich your soul through the cultivation of virtue and the pursuit of the permanent pleasures. There will be many distractions, many lesser goods and easier pleasures offered to you along the way, but if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, then college will provide to you a season of journeying into the deep things of God that you will savor and delight in for the rest of your life.
I believe the time is ripe for men (and women) to receive the message of Courageous. The recent church history in America includes a lot of good men …
Today, I’m happy to welcome a pastor-friend of mine, J.D. Greear, to the blog to discuss his new book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh, NC. Gospel also includes a small-group companion piece called Gospel Revolution.
Trevin Wax: J.D., few people would be so bold as to call their book Gospel. (I can think of four other books with this title, but they’re all in the Bible!) But that’s what you’ve done. You’ve expressed in laypeople’s terms the type of confidence and security that comes from believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, what is the insight into the biblical gospel that has revolutionized your spiritual life in the past few years?
J.D. Greear: Ha, yes. I figured with a title like “Gospel,” no one could really critique it. I hope readers will forgive the hubris.
The burden behind the book is that many of us who grew up in conservative, evangelical churches have failed to avail ourselves of the power of the gospel. We know it as the forgiveness of sins but not as the power of transformation.
The Great Commandment leaves us in a dilemma: it tells us that God’s expectation of us is that we love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. But how can true love be commanded? Obedience without desire is drudgery, both to us and to God.
What the law cannot do, however, the gospel does. It is only as we learn …
Missionaries should be recognized, welcomed, and appreciated by our churches. Most of our churches could do a better job at this.
Here’s your chance to get the eBook version of Counterfeit Gospels for free. Head over to Moody Publishers’ Facebook page, sign up, and claim your copy. (The maximum number of giveaways is 100.) UPDATE: The 100 copies have already been claimed.
Scot McKnight is spot-on in this article about “lifestyle” versus “verbal” evangelism:
Is a life that embodies what Christ calls us to a gospeling event? I’d like to say we are treading here onto turf that gets farther and farther away from what “gospeling” means in the New Testament. The NT terms about gospeling are verbal terms and not behavior terms.
What I fear is that so many contend that behavior alone or community alone are evangelism. I doubt it, because, as Paul puts it in Romans 10, if they don’t hear how will they know? The ineradicable form of evangelism is to declare the Story of Jesus. All other dimensions gain their only clarity once that declaration is clear. Without that proclamation, there is no gospeling or gospel.
Wycliffe Bible Translators agree to new standards in the debate over contextualization in Muslim countries:
In the basement of a hotel in Istanbul, 30 people from around the world met in August to talk about how to translate the phrase “Son of God” and “God the Father” in Muslim contexts.
Wycliffe Bible Translators and a close partner, Dallas-based SIL International, called the private gathering, which included its own translation staff as well as outside scholars. The issue on the table—translation of the …
“Get ready for snowfall! A north wind will come and bring snow that will cover this land. The world will be like new, but you must be prepared for the day it snows!”
Even though you live in a town that has never seen snow, people believe the strange message – that snow will fall and blanket the town.
The people who believe in the coming snow begin to prepare the town for Christmas.
Some put up Christmas lights.
Others design snow plows.
Still others cover their plants.
Even if most people scoff at the snow-watchers, the group maintains their belief that everything will be made new. And mysteriously, whenever the snow people come together, a cool breeze begins to blow and it flurries just a bit, giving them just a taste of the glory that’s coming.
The church of Jesus Christ is like a flurry before the great snow. Christians live in light of the coming reality. When we gather together, we sense the Spirit of God blowing through our midst, changing us and renewing the world around us.
We also warn people of the judgment that will accompany the presence of God on that day. We are a colony of heaven, and our life together makes the announcement: Repent, trust in the Messiah-King who has died for your sins, and be ready for the coming kingdom!
– from Counterfeit Gospels (166-167)
I’ve noticed a pattern lately and I’m not the only one who has seen it. Christianity Today featured a story in the spring of 2010 about pastors leaving their churches to pursue writing and speaking opportunities. Francis Chan, Jim Belcher, N. T. Wright and, now Rob Bell, have left local church pastorates, some of which were churches they themselves had planted. This led CT to ask: What’s going on? Is the local church becoming the “farm team” for full-time conference and book ministry?
All that to say, I’m not enthusiastic about changing the name, but I’m certainly not opposed to it. I have nothing but respect for Southern Baptists with stronger opinions than mine one way or the other—I think there are good arguments on both sides. I suspect we’ll change the name at some point, even if not now. For what it’s worth, if we do change the name in the next couple of years—and I have serious doubts we will—I’d recommend something like the Baptist Convention of North America.
It was 2001 when Doug Conant became CEO of the Campbell Soup Company—he was just the eleventh man to hold the title in the company’s 132-year history. He inherited a legendary American company, but one shadowed at the time by thick clouds of gloom; Campell’s had lost half of its market value in the previous year. Even …