Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Letter From Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

(an article from

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 during these days which are hard in order to prove 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.

I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God’s will.

I am neither a political person nor do I know about political complicity, but I know that while there are many things in common between different cultures, there are also differences between these cultures around the world which can result in criticism, which most of the times response to this criticisms will be harsh and as a result will lengthen our problems.

From time to time I am informed about the news which is spreading in the media about my current situation, for instance being supported by various churches and famous politicians who have asked for my release, or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me. I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom and respecting human rights in a right way can bring forth positive results.

I want to appreciate all those are trying to reach this goal. But on the other hand, I’d like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities that cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification (excuse) of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me.

I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power; obedience to those in the authority that God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this. For I know in this way I have obeyed God’s Word. I try to obey along with those whom I see in a common situation with me. They never had any complaint, but just let the power of God be manifested in their lives, and though sometimes we read that they have used this right to defend themselves, for they had this right, I am not an exception as well and have used all possibilities and so forth and am waiting for the final result.

So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy Word has said. At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which they are answerable to.

May God’s grace and mercy be upon you now and forever. Amen.
Youcef Nadarkhani


Friday, May 18, 2012

I Love Witchcraft

By Michelle Angel (a very dear friend)

I love witchcraft.

Yes, in my heart is the sin of the love of witchcraft. Now before you envision me with a pointy hat dumping vials of animal organs into a boiling pot, let me expand....THAT *kind* of witchcraft is disgusting. Appalling. Forbidden!

What I confess to loving is the subtle, sweet, princess fairy tales where Cinderella is turned into a princess through witchcraft and *gentle* sorcery from her fairy godmother, Belle lives in a magical castle that is cursed, and Rapunzel utters demonic incantations with her magical hair.

But wait! Aren't those just kid movies? Yes. Yes they are.

And I grew up watching them.

And I loved them.

And because of my lack of discernment, my kids grew up watching them.

Awhile ago we lost Tangled. It was a gift we received at Christmas, (possibly purchased by me) and I wasn't sure where it scampered off to. Well, a few days ago the kids found it and my daughter started singing along to the magical song. I was HORRIFIED.

I said "Mikayla! Honey, you can't sing that! She's using witchcraft and a demonic incantation to heal Eugene. We can't watch this any more."

In fact, we couldn't watch almost ANY of our Princess movies anymore, as we couldn't think of ONE that didn't use magic, spells, incantations or curses to promote the girl to royalty. And how many more promoted witchcraft? It's one thing if the Villain is using sorcery and they are evil, and the children know they are evil...but what about when the hero/heroine is using it? We just can't have these types of movies anymore.

But THROW THEM AWAY??? That's just crazy.



Or is it? The Lord strictly forbids witchcraft of any kind. FORBIDS. So why do I find it so easy to overlook my favorite Disney movies and make an exception for those? Aren't we self proclaimed Christians?? Don't we profess to Love Jesus with our whole hearts? Then why in MY heart do I find it so difficult to rid our house of our love for godless, pagan, magical movies, like....Sword in the Stone? Peter Pan? Beauty and the Beast?

What IS witchcraft, anyway?

Simply put, it is wanting to be a spiritual "mover and shaker" without submitting to God. James 3:15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Witchcraft is one of the tools Satan uses to lure people away from God. And in my case, it has already worked, since "giving up" several childhood movies seems downright impossible, maybe even unnecessary. Why is it so hard to give up something so meaningless anyway?

All the rest of the day I wrestled with God about our childhood Disney movie collection. My conversation went something like this:

"They're *just* kid movies. They *just* have a little bit of witchcraft/magic/sorcery in them! That's harmless, right?

Right, God?


.....It's sin? Well, can't I just keep a little bit of it?"

And God says, "Are you really asking ME, the HOLY LORD GOD if it's okay to keep a little bit of your sin?" "Please God, won't you just let me keep a LITTLE BIT of my sin? It's warm and soft and comfortable here...with my childhood nostalgia, my popcorn and my sorcery filled Disney movies...that mock Your Holiness and are opposite of Your ways..."

And so the conversation went down with the kids the next day.

There were tears.

There were questions.

("Why did you even let us HAVE those movies if you knew they were bad, Mom?")

There was repentance

...As the children and I got down on our knees before the Lord and asked for forgiveness.

For placing things as an Idol before Him.

For being a willing party to witchcraft which is despicable in the Lord's sight.

For aligning ourselves with Satan in the form of our entertainment and nostalgia.

For not discerning these things SO MUCH SOONER.

The kids rid our collection of MANY movies.

Even the utterance of any "magic words", MUST GO, my kids decided.

I confess, they were more strict than I was... which shames me.

Our idols will be dealt with.

It is no sacrifice.

The Lord is gracious and merciful to us as we seek to purify ourselves before His Holy throne, so that others may see us and proclaim that He is the Lord.

He forgives our sins!

He heals our brokenness.

Joy comes with the morning.

And so does new movie shopping.


8 Tips for Talking to Kids about the Sermon

 by Joe Holland

They sit there next to you and their feet don’t even hit the floor. You’re thinking, “What, if anything of this guy’s sermon is sinking into my kid’s head?” And with that little thought you’ve already decided not to engage your child about the sermon. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let me introduce you to the most important rule when talking to your kids about the sermon: They retain more than you think they do. The second most important rule is like it: They understand more than you think they do.

In the interest of these two truths I’m writing this brief guide on how to talk to your kids about a sermon. I’m writing it both as a preacher and as a parent of four boys under the age of 8. I’ve failed, succeeded, and failed some more at talking to my kids about Jesus. Hopefully the tips you find below will help you as they’ve helped me.

At the heart of the gospel is Jesus introducing us to his loving Father. In worship we get to make a similar introduction—we get to introduce our kids to Jesus. Don’t miss that opportunity.

8 Tips for Talking to your Kids about the Sermon 

1. Remember the outline. It doesn’t matter if you keep written notes or not. Remember the gist of what is being taught. If your pastor preaches for 40 minutes, then try to make a mental note of what you’ve covered at the 20 minute point. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get every point. Get as many of the big ones as you can. Know the one, main point. Every passage and every sermon—no matter what your pastor says—has a main point. Grab it when you see it go by and don’t let go. And as a word of caution, every preacher has a bad day. Sometimes the structure of the sermon looks like a piece of abstract art. If so, do the best you can. But don’t let the guy close in prayer without having a main point in your head.

2. How is Jesus the hero? Now that you have an outline and main point, make sure you have Jesus too. How was Jesus the hero of the sermon? Kids are incorrigibly self-centered—and so are a few adults. Make sure you have a ton to say about Jesus, no matter what the passage or where the preacher went with it. Without an emphasis on Jesus your little saints will grow up thinking that the Bible is all about them.

Engage your kids with open ended questions. You know the outline and you can keep to the main point. You know you’re going to talk a ton about Jesus. Now engage your kids with any kind of question you can think of… except ones that can be answered, “yes” or “no”. Here are some examples:

     1. In the story questions: “What would have thought if you were an Israelite soldier and saw big ol’ Goliath walking up to little David?”
     2. Emotions questions: “If you were blind, how would you feel if Jesus put his hands on your eyes and fixed them so they could see?”
     3. Leading questions: “The rich young ruler was wrong because he thought he could earn God’s favor. Why is it silly to think we can earn God’s favor by doing enough good things?”
     4. Action questions: “What would you have done if Jesus had made a hurricane turn into a cool breeze right in front of you?”
     5. Application questions: “If Jesus has forgiven you, do you think you can forgive Tommy when he wings a Tonka truck at your head?”
     6. Use your imagination questions: You know your kids best. Make up some questions.

3. Make sure the gospel is clear. Jesus died for sinners. It’s very simple and can get very complex. But no matter the passage, don’t you dare teach your kids moralism. Tell them that Jesus has done everything necessary for them to know that God is overjoyed with them. When you tell them to do something, feel something, or think something, show them how those things are motivated by God’s love and not by fear, guilt, or pride.

4. Be the first to pray and confess. Talking to your kids about the sermon is as much letting them watch you learn from the sermon as it is teaching them about the sermon. If the preacher is helping your congregation diagnose sin, show your kids how it affected you. You could say, “You know, sometimes, daddy struggles with being angry. And it’s then that I realize I really need Jesus.” And when it comes time to pray, let them pray after you. Model for them what it looks like for a Christian to talk to God.

5. Chase rabbit trails. Your kids will lead you down them. Go with them. You’ll find out a ton about how they think. And you may just enjoy the unexpected stroll off the beaten path.

6. Remember the first two rules. After all this, it may be you feel like it was a complete waste of time. It’s at that point you must remember the first two rules: They retain more than you think they do. They understand more than you think they do.

And I promise you this, they will remember these times with you. They will forget a ton. But they won’t forget Sunday afternoons with daddy and mommy talking about Jesus.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Body Piercing and Tattooing

 "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? … Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19 – 20

"As Christians, we are called to be holy, set apart and different from the world, consecrated to God. "Everybody’s doing it" is hardly an argument to justify Christian involvement. They very fact that pagans practice body piercing should be a compelling enough argument against Christians being conformed to the world." "If something is prevalent and accepted in the world, that alone should be a compelling argument against Christians adopting their fashions and fads. We are called to be different. We are to honour God with our bodies."

 "A pagan view on the subject (of tattooing): "A tattoo is a complex signifier: it signals class; it signals sexuality; and it has specific content as a signifier: a depiction of an animal, a person, an abstract tribal design. The most usual motifs are signifiers of power and masculinity... But what the tattoo signals above all is the power one seizes over one's own body… To be branded or tattooed shows also that you have the requisite guts to join the group. It is not the most extreme or painful form of initiation, but it serves as a sign of pain and hence of resolution." (Crispen Sartwell)"

"It is very clear who are the Christians and who are the pagans in these mission fields. The pagans wear little or no clothing and they engage in a variety of body scarification, body piercing and/or tattoos. On the other hand, the Christians are easily identifiable – they wear clothes and they don’t engage in any body modification."

(I have seen MANY Christians with body piercings in various places on their bodies and tattoos. What should be the churches stance on this?  This is a very well written article, full of Scripture.  To read this entire article go to Frontline Fellowship.)


Friday, May 11, 2012

On the Presidential Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage

 For two decades the frog has been in the pot while the temperature has been slowly turned up. Yesterday, it was finally cooked and served to the American people in a sauce so thick as to cover the rancid flavor of the dish.

The process began with the Bush presidencies and their toleration for homosexuality. It was advanced in full by the Clinton Administration. It has now reached its logical zenith under Obama. So we should not be surprised by the official announcement that the President of the United States of America has finally declared to the world his opposition to the historical, common law and biblical meaning of marriage. President Obama may be remembered for many things, but few are as fundamental in its treason to his countrymen, to his oath of office and to the living God, then his decision to use the presidency to redefine a definition of marriage that was established on Day Six of Creation and has been the benchmark of civilization for 6,000 years.

Mark your calendars—May 9, 2012, the President of the United States of America finally crossed a line from which there is no return without repudiation and repentance. Terrorists are dangerous. The economy is a real and present danger. But there is simply nothing other then the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the Heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience for the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something which is precious to Jesus Christ and a living picture of His love for the Church, into a legally protected justification for perversion, and vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love.

Doug Phillips, President Vision Forum Ministries


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Should Children Be "Allowed" in the Worship Service?

Here are some GREAT questions and answers from the blog of the church we are now attending.  More churches need to see the need to train parents and children how to worship together.

Gospel of Grace Church

Why are there children in the worship service? Doesn't your church have a special children's program for them?
We are a church that emphasizes "intergenerational" or "family-integrated" ministry. The Bible teaches that parents are to be the foremost teachers of their children (Deut. 6:7; Proverbs 29:17; Ephesians 6:4), so as a church we attempt to support and assist (not replace) parents in that role. That is why we invite children to stay in the worship service and participate as they are able.

How can a young child understand what is going on?
The Bible talks about children asking parents questions (Exodus 12:26; Deut. 6:20), and the parents explaining and teaching (Exodus 12:27; Deut. 6:21-25). But if a child is not present in worship to observe, how will the child be able to ask their parents questions about worshipping God?

Won't they just disrupt the service?
Yes, indeed. We assume that a child unfamiliar with or unprepared to sit through an hour long service will most likely cause disruptions during the service. In order to assist parents through such disruptions, we have an area at the back of the church where parents can take a child. The glass doors can be closed if the child is noisy, and yet participation can continue since the area has speakers. After a time of "encouragement and training" most children will be able to sit still and learn about the Christian faith during the worship service. But in the meantime, while parents are in the process of training children to sit attentively during worship, we bless and thank God for their presence and little voices in worship.

Is there anything else I can do to help my child behave respectfully in church?   
Family worship times at home are ideal for learning and practicing this! If a child is old enough to understand the concept of using an "inside voice" (talking) versus an "outside voice" (yelling), the child will soon be able to understand that behavior during a worship service should be different than playing at home. If your child asks, "Why?", you'll be able to smile. Your child has just asked why we respect God...a great place to start teaching!

It is so much easier to send my children to a program designed for children, instead of putting all this effort into training them to behave well in an adult worship service. Isn't this putting too much emphasis on the children?                        
We are trying to strike a biblical balance between worshipping our children (which is idolatry) and neglecting our children (which is ungodly). The Bible clearly teaches that parents are to train up their children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4), and this training takes a lot of work. That is why our church positions itself alongside parents in order to assist them as they diligently struggle to train each child. Just as we desire to see people from all tongues, tribes, and nations bow the knee to Jesus Christ and worship Him, so too we desire every member of our families (including our children) to bow their knee to Christ and worship Him. Therefore, we strive in our commitment as a church to encourage families to worship together. 


Friday, May 4, 2012

"If we segregate youth what do we lose?"

Scott Brown with NCFIC

The Gospel Coalition seems to continue to make our arguments for us (while still seeking to legitimize, nurse, and resuscitate a failed system). Here is a quote from this article:

" But the thing is, we have to be sure that we don't segregate the youth for our sake and theirs. They are part of the body of Christ too, and no part of the body can remain healthy if one of its members is cut off and put to the side. If we segregate the youth, not only do we lose all they have to teach us, but we also inadvertently teach them that the church is really only for adults---those who are married and have families of their own. And then we wonder why they don't get involved in church as college students or young singles, when in reality, we've been telling them all along that the church isn't yet for them."

To read the entire article go to Gospel Coalition.

(When are these leaders going to get it.  Separating  families does not help anyone, except provide these leaders with jobs.  We need to continue to pray that God will open the eyes of the deceived parents and leaders, so they can see the best way to teach our children and young people is God's way...together as families.)