Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not saved?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. 
- - - Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone - - - your summer and your harvest have past - - - and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you - - - will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you - - - the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection - - - what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in Hell. O bethink you of what that Hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!



Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother's voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year's midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.
ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE;
LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE,
NEITHER STAY THOU
IN ALL THE PLAIN;
ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAIN,
LEST THOU BE CONSUMED.
- - - Genesis 19:17


- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Islamophobia?

Are you an "Islamophobe?"

I'm not, technically, because, as a Christian, I don't fear Mohammedans: the Bible says,  The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe (Proverbs 29:25).  Likewise, Psalm 118:6: The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? And, perhaps most salient: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). 

But I'm not naive.  Our Christian brethren in Mohammedan nations are being burned alive, crucified, and decapitated - - - including infants and children.  They are God's own martyrs, and they have a martyr's reward.  But, generally speaking, perhaps "Islamophobia" is not the foolish "prejudice" that the media and the "intellectuals" claim.  Watch the following video (it contains no graphic images), and judge for yourself.

video

Christian woman being stoned to death

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another Christian Warrior

From time to time, this blog has featured stories of people whose lives have been touched and transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  One of the most memorable of these was the lengthy testimony of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. Today, we move up from the Middleweight to the Heavyweight division, and get a glimpse of the uncompromising witness of Tyson Fury.

Fury, 27, is a native of Ireland, and comes from a "Traveler" family, often called Gypsies.  On November 28 of this year, he defeated Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine, who had held the World Heavyweight Championship longer than anyone in history, other than Joe Louis: Klitschko was Champion for nine years.  Now, Tyson Fury (yes, he was named after Mike Tyson), has taken the title.

But, really, that's not the important thing about Fury.  The important thing is his Christian faith.  Earlier this year, he outraged the "politically correct" sporting press by making the following statement:

"There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia. So who would have thought in the 50s and early 60s that those first two would be legalised. … For me, people can say 'oh, you’re against abortions and you're against paedophilia, you're against homosexuality, you're against whatever' but my faith and my culture is all based on the Bible. The Bible was written a long time ago, wasn't it, from the beginning of time until now so if I follow that and that tells me it's wrong, then it's wrong for me."

As a result of these comments, despite his victory over Klitschko, Fury was denied the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  But it's unlikely that such a thing will keep him awake at night.

Here's what's important to this young man: watch the entire video, especially the heartfelt interview in the second half.  His honesty about his spiritual struggles will sound familiar to every Christian:

video

Like anyone in the spotlight (or out of it), Tyson Fury isn't perfect, and as a young man, he'll make his share of mistakes in the future.  But in God's sight, he is perfectly righteous, because he has given his life to Christ, and received His righteousness.  His boxing career could end tomorrow, or in twenty years, but as is the case of all believers, he will spend his lifetime in spiritual warfare.  We rejoice in his testimony, and he deserves our prayers.


Klitschko ducks Fury

See also:
Manny Pacquiao: a Spiritual Awakening 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas greetings from Saeed

For three years, this blog has been following the case of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American citizen, and Christian pastor, who has been incarcerated in two Iranian prisons under nearly Hellish circumstances.

Although Barack Obama met with Saeed's wife nearly a year ago, and promised Saeed's little boy that he'd try to have Daddy home soon, the current President has utterly betrayed him. In the recent deal with Iran, ratified last week by a Republican Congress in an "omnibus" bill, Saeed and three other American prisoners were not even mentioned.  But God has upheld our brother, and a year ago, the American Center for Law and Justice published Saeed's own Christmas greeting to those of us who are free.  He remains a captive, sick, injured, and persecuted for his faith, but we doubt that his sentiments have changed.

Pray for this man and this family; and, in the words of Shakespeare, "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now."

Saeed in happier times


Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

 Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ


See also:
ISIS Threatening Saeed's Life  
Greetings from Saeed
Saeed speaks 
Saeed in Danger; Trump Speaks Out  
Urgent Update: Saeed Abedini
Happy Birthday, Pastor Saeed 
Iranians Reject Saeed's Appeal 
Iran: 8 years in prison for American pastor

Friday, December 18, 2015

From strength to strength

They go from strength to strength.
Psalm 84:7
  
They go from strength to strength. There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress. Our own good translation of the Authorized Version is enough for us. "They go from strength to strength." That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot, we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elated and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely. Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. "Alas!" say they, "we go from affliction to affliction." Very true, O thou of little faith, but then thou goest from strength to strength also. Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.
 

- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Muslim fatwah: Death to handicapped children!

If it were possible to be happy in Hell, Muhammad would be smiling again.  His followers are imitating his zeal for atrocity and fell cruelty to the letter. The newest targets of ISIS, the most faithful and orthodox of all Muslim groups?  Babies born with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.

According to multiple sources, the fatwah, or death warrant, was issued by a Saudi Sharia judge, Abu Said Aljazrawi. (Please notice: this wasn't in Iraq or Syria, the lands claimed by ISIS: this was decreed by a "judge" in Saudi Arabia, the loyal ally of the Bush family and the Obama administration.) "Mosul Eye," an Arab site that chronicles the doings of ISIS, has reported that the "oral fatwah" has been codified by ISIS as a demand to "kill newborn babies with Down’s [sic] Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children." Many of these children are the offspring of foreign women who have come from Europe, North America, and Asia to "serve" ISIS, and been impregnated by the Muslim "warriors."  Others are the children of sex slaves and other women raped by the ISIS sub-humans. According to "Mosul Eye" and other sources, there have so far been "more than 38 confirmed cases of killing babies with congenital deformities and Down’s Syndrome, aged between one week to three months. They were killed by either lethal injection or suffocation."

 
  A child so far unharmed

As we have said before, this is the true face of Islam; it has no other.  It is the most evil religion in the history of this planet, and it cannot be reformed.  A "Muslim extremist" is a faithful follower of the Koran; a "moderate Muslim" is a follower who silently applauds the "militants," but pretends to be "peaceful."

ISIS, the spearpoint of  Islam, has claimed responsibility for the recent atrocities in Paris and San Bernardino, California.  Through unfettered immigration, ISIS is coming soon to a neighborhood near you, if it hasn't already arrived.  And our "leaders" tolerate it, and by their toleration, encourage it.

"The slaughter of the innocents" is no longer a Biblical term referring to Herod's murder of the Jewish children.  Today's Muslims are bringing the phrase up to date.

See also: 


ISIS orders killing of kids with Down's Syndrome in sick echo of Nazis (The Sun) 

ISIS order ALL kids with Down's Syndrome to be killed (KTBS.com) 

Islamic State Issues Fatwa Against Children with Down Syndrome, Murders 38 Disabled Infants (Breitbart)

How much more depraved can ISIS get? Group's Sharia judges order children with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be killed in chilling echo of the Nazis  (Daily Mail)

NOTE: A "debunking" site known as Snopes has questioned the veracity of these reports.  Snopes has devolved over the years into a leftist site, and is not reliable.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Should the Bible be easy to read?

About every six months for the last hundred years, a new version or revision or paraphrase of the New Testament, or the complete Bible, has been published.  That's no exaggeration: since 1901, nearly 300 such versions have been published in English: we're not talking about foreign translations.  Usually, the authors and publishers of these versions say that they're "easier to read" than the King James Bible.  Which raises two interesting questions:  Should the Bible be "easy to read," and, if so, why?

In a certain online forum in which I was participating, we were discussing the various versions of the Bible, and someone added the following comment.  My response, expanded somewhat, follows.

"Well for what's it worth. I picked up my KJB and dusted it off and started reading it again. It's not the easiest translation for me, but it does make me really think about what it's trying to say. Kind of enjoying it."


That is a very interesting comment, and one deserving of some thought. 

You say that you're enjoying the King James, even though it's not the "easiest." Well, if the KJB isn't the easiest for you, then it's not, that's all.

But you enjoy it anyway. That brings up a question that cuts through all the pseudo-scholarship and all the argumentation and all the rationalization, namely: Who said that reading the Bible is supposed to be easy?

Why should reading, or studying, God's word be "easy?" Where in the world did we ever get that idea? Well, I guess that question answers itself: we got it from the world, and, most assuredly, from our own flesh. But we did not get it from God.

What part of the Christian life is easy? Becoming a Christian is simple; although it often happens after long struggles, intellectual or emotional or experiential, the actual act of being born again is so simple that even a child can do it. But, once we've come to Christ, what gives us the right to expect the Christian experience to be "easy?"

The German theologian Dietrich  Bonhoeffer said: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Christ has called us to take up our cross, and follow Him. Paul speaks of constant, daily self-crucifixion. If there is anything that God has not promised His children, it's an effortless, painless ride from conversion to death. The Christian life is depicted in scripture as a warfare, not a vacation.



And yet, when we come to this matter of the Bible, so many of our pastors and teachers begin talking about what's "easy." We're supposed to reject the King James Bible because it's "hard to read," or "archaic:" we might actually have to think, instead of just reading something written on the level of People magazine.

Is witnessing easy? Yes, in one sense: for a Christian who's filled with the Holy Spirit, and seeking to please Christ, witnessing is sometimes spontaneous and (to use exactly the wrong word) "natural." But it's not always that way: sometimes it's easier just to go along with the crowd, to blend in, to be popular. Sometimes witnessing costs us friendships and social standing and even jobs. Very often, it's just plain embarrassing ....  kind of like using an "old-fashioned" Bible. But we're expected to do it anyway.

Is prayer easy? Again, it is and it isn't: crying out to our Father comes easy to us in moments of crisis or need, and praise flows from us with delightful spontaneity when God moves in our lives. But on a day to day basis, prayer is hard work. It takes self-discipline, and concentration, and real effort. It's easy to spend 90 minutes watching television; but how easy is it to spend 90 minutes, or even nine, in uninterrupted prayer?

So, why should we expect reading the Bible (much less studying it) to be "easy?" Especially if we're maturing in Christ, being conformed to His Image, and learning more and more about walking by faith?

We claim to believe that: we acknowledge that we're in a battle, and that we're to be good soldiers for our Lord. But when it comes to this matter of Bibles, we suddenly become self-indulgent and almost comically immature. We simply refuse to apply our minds to anything that might be difficult or demanding; we want a Bible that's "easy to read." And the Christian publishers, who have a rather obvious interest in the matter, tell us that we have every right to expect this: and if last year's version wasn't easy enough, then we'll be able to get a new version this year!

I realize that "ease" isn't the only selling point of the new versions; the other one is "accuracy" or "faithfulness to the originals." Those are the only two notes that the professional translators and booksellers can play: "If it's easy to read, we'll make it more accurate. If it's already accurate, we'll make it easier to read." But, in any case and every case, they'll change it. They have to; that's what they do for a living.



There's no way of knowing this, until we get to Heaven, but I can envision conversations with Paul or Moses or Solomon or Jonah, in which they say, "You think that Book was hard to read? How easy do you think it was to write?"

And then we'll meet the Christians who were burned in the marketplace, like Tyndale, who might ask us, "And how easy do you think the Book was to preserve?"

I can imagine those questions ... but, for the life of me, I can't imagine how we'll answer.

I thank God, with every fiber of my being, that He has given us His perfect word in English, the Authorized King James Bible: whether it's "easy to read" or not.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"So what? Stab the Jews!"

"Every kiss, every hug, seems to act just like a drug
You're getting to be a habit with me...."
- - - Warren/Dubin, 1932

Well, that sounds nice. Unfortunately, these days, we are becoming habituated to other things, and they are not as pleasant as kisses and hugs.  Among these are the heartbreaking spectacle of Muslim/Palestinian children being carefully instructed in hatred, terrorism, and suicide killings.  Like all Mohammedans, the Palestinians (hitherto known as "Philistines") see children primarily as vehicles for murder, or (if they follow their "Prophet's" example) as sex objects.

The most recent wave of terror in Israel has come in the form of stabbings: perhaps the Philistines are replenishing their supplies of rockets and guns, probably with the indirect assistance of the administration in Washington (Bush or Obama; it makes no difference). Stabbings of Israelis are a daily occurrence, and, as this video makes clear, even the most innocent and precious children are learning the practice.  When you watch this brief video, please read the text at the very end: it will explain the use of the "So what?" chant.

video

It goes without saying that this is monstrous and truly anti-human; God did not create our race to behave this way.  But, in a world of hatred and bloodshed, it must grieve Him, and us, to see innocent children and toddlers exploited in such a manner.  Alas, it is not unusual: after all, we're dealing with the followers of the most evil "religion" in the history of this sin-sick planet.

See also:
 "Can I stab a Jew, Daddy?" 
Hey, kids! Let's kill some Jews! 
Of Mice and Muslims
The Children's Hour 
Studies in Islam: Teach Your Children Well 
"How to Stab a Jew" 

Monday, December 7, 2015

A personal note: This blog is not dead!

I want to bring the regular readers of this blog up to date on a few things.  If you're not a regular reader, this will be a very boring post, so I invite you to look at one of the others.

This blog is not dead, and I'm not dead, and I haven't abandoned or lost interest in it.  But, as I noted in a small footnote elsewhere, I've been having some physical .... "adventures" .... in the past few months, and it's restricted my time online, as well as my energy.

Very quickly: a few months ago, I had my gall bladder removed.  This is a routine operation, but the surgeon badly botched it, and God sent in another surgeon to clean up the mess he made.  So, there was that.

Last month, I had a part of one of my kidneys removed, which had a growth that could have been malignant.  This time, the surgeon did a great job, but the recuperation has been painful.

Anyway, scheduling the two surgeries so close together wasn't a good idea on my part.  My body didn't appreciate it at all.  But, by the grace of God, neither surgery revealed any malignancies, so cancer is not a threat at this time.  I praise God for all of this: the botched operation, the successful operation, and, most of all, the absence of cancer.  God's mercies are new every morning, and His care for His children is past finding out!

I will be having a third procedure in January, which, the doctor warns me, will be painful.  But it won't be as painful as Jesus' time on the cross, and I'm not complaining.


I have no illusion that I'm "suffering for Christ."  We live in a fallen world, and although our souls are saved, our bodies are still subject to the "thousand natural shocks" that Hamlet talked about. Everybody has problems as they get older, and I'm no exception. As they say, "I'm in great shape, considering the shape I'm in!"  And oh, the lessons that Jesus is teaching me: which is the purpose for our present light afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17).

But I wanted very much to let the regular readers of this blog know what's going on.  I'll put up some more devotionals by Spurgeon and others, and perhaps "rerun" some old posts, until I'm back in action.  I appreciate your prayers, and I apologize for my absence!

God bless you and Merry Christmas!  And remember:


JESUS WAS VICTOR
JESUS IS VICTOR
JESUS WILL BE VICTOR!



As ever,
William