Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Thursday

A New Beginning
by M. J. Knight
During the course of the past year, many of us have faced some sort of trial, test, setback, or disappointment. Some of us have even experienced failure. But in spite of all of that, God has prepared this year, this moment in time for you to have a new beginning.

The enemy's objective is to keep you locked in yesterday, the place where the pain originates from. God has a different plan for your life. He knows all about the things that have gone wrong. He's not surprised at some of the questionable decisions that you have made. He's knows that you have let Him down. He is not shocked at all.

The good news is that He also knows your future. "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away and all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17)

When you have life in Christ, you have the ability to experience new possibilities in life.There is a season of new opportunities that await you and you must be willing to pursue it. Victory in this new year takes some understanding.

You were not created by accident. You were made by God himself. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He designed you to live for a unique reason. When He made you, He pulled out all the stops. You are His prized creation.

You were made to overcome obstacles. You were made for victory. He didn't create you to blend in with the scenery. Out of over six billion people in the world, there is only one like you. So, don't be shut off or boxed in by traditions or customs. Don't be held back by someone else's expectations. You were created for brilliance and excellence. You were made for success.

Before planting seeds, the ground must first be prepared. The ground must first be dug up and turned over in order to receive seeds. In the same way, we must cultivate our lives so that we will be able to yield a successful harvest. We must do some work in order for our lives to be ready for a new beginning. We have to make choices and not yield to the power of sin. As we choose God's way, the Holy Spirit will strengthen us even more.

There are some spiritual disciplines that we must develop to cultivate our lives:

* Prayer--Not just asking God for things but communing with Him.

* Giving--We must change our perspective on our possessions.

* Studying the Word--We must take in His promises daily.

* Serving--We should always look for ways to improve someone else's life.

There is a lot of noise in this world. There are people shouting from every angle, trying to get your attention. To be able to distinguish between the voices, you need to be able to listen very closely. God is always speaking; we just have to listen for Him. The time is come to get your hearing in order. The alarm has sounded.

What is the sign that you are waiting for? The light has already turned green and you are clear to begin your journey. Step away from the crowd. Separate yourself from the average people who don't want anything other than what they have always had. You have been called out to make a difference. You have been called out reclaim territory for God and live out your destiny.

It's time for your New Beginning.

Daily Smile:
One day, Bill and Tom went to a restaurant for dinner. As soon as the waiter took out two steaks, Bill quickly picked out the bigger steak for himself.

Tom wasn't happy about that: "When are you going to learn to be polite?"

Bill: "If you had the chance to pick first, which one would you pick?"

Tom: "The smaller piece, of course."

Bill: "What are you whining about then? The smaller piece is what you want, right?"

In The News:

Egypt's Morsi Declares State of Emergency Amid Protests
Two years after the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi is facing a wave of protests against him and his government, CBN News reports. Over the weekend, Morsi declared a state of emergency in the cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia and imposed a 30-day curfew after clashes between anti-government protesters and Morsi's security forces left at least 33 dead. For the fourth consecutive day, tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and demonstrations also took place in the cities of Alexandria, Menouf and Shibeen el-Koum, where protesters disrupted train service to and from Cairo. Opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi said Egyptians are saying no to an Islamic state, and protesters want to convey their anger toward the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to take over the government. "A big part of the population hates [Morsi] now," said protester Tarik Salama. "It's too late for him to turn around and say, 'Hey guys, I love you.' He's in the same place as Mubarak was two years ago."

Boy Scouts of America Considering Ending Ban on Gay Members
The Boy Scouts of America is considering dropping a longtime ban on gay members and discussing whether to allow local organizations to decide their own policy, Fox News reports. Spokesman Deron Smith said Monday: "The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs." Smith added that the organization has been in contact with families to determine its best interests. "BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families," he said.

Andy Stanley Explains 'Pastor in Chief' Quote
Last week, Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley preached at President Barack Obama's pre-inaugural church service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., during which he said the president should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Newtown shooting. After Stanley's remarks caused a whirlwind of criticism, he responded in an interview with Christianity Today, saying his comments were taken out of context. "[At the pre-inaugural service] I knew that I didn't want to get up and just launch into a sermon," Stanley said. "When you're in an environment where you have no personal connection with anyone in the room -- and I certainly didn't -- as  a speaker, you want to find a personal connection. I thought, 'Well, here is something that I felt deeply and here we have all these clergy on this stage.' So I said something like, 'Mr. President, I don't know the first thing about being president, but I know a bit about being a pastor. And during the Newtown vigil on December 16 after we heard what you did -- I just want to say on behalf of all of us as clergy, thank you.' And I added, 'I turned to [my wife] Sandra that night and said, "Tonight he's the pastor in chief."' So that's the context. I wasn't making a declaration that he's our pastor in chief. But I can understand how that got reported."

Muslim Group Threatens Egypt's Coptic Christians, Tells Them to 'Pay Tribute'
An armed Islamic movement calling itself the "Brigade of Muslims" released a statement on Saturday threatening Egypt's Coptic Christians and asking them to pay tribute, the Christian Post reports. "Egypt is an Islamic country and will be ruled according to sharia," the statement said. The movement threatened all Egyptian media professionals who "mock religion and Islamic rule," warning that their persistence in mocking would result in the "shedding of their blood in the ugliest way." The movement said it was established because of the strife being plotted against the country and the plans of enemies of Islam, both at home and abroad. It noted its approach was jihad, and that it would fight the Egyptian army and Interior Ministry if they did not stand up to "Copts and their helpers."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Wednesday

To what are you devoted?
     by M. J. Knight
It is a sad truth in our lives that we sometimes become more devoted to things other then God and His glory.  It is easy to do.  In the world, there are people who are devoted to movie stars. They admire them and elevate them to a status of extreme honor and adoration.  People are far too often devoted to sports teams, almost to the point of reference.  We become devoted to political parties, ideologies, causes, and even cars.  Devotion is all around us in the world.  Some of it is good and some of it is not.  Good examples of devotion can be found in the love of a mother for her children and of a father for his family.  Bad examples can be found in extreme devotion to cars, houses, appearance, money, and possessions.  It is in our nature to become obsessed with things. 
Now, there is nothing wrong with being devoted to something -- unless that devotion becomes an obsession. If it does, it pushes out proper behavior and proper adoration of God.  This then becomes sinful.  There should be nothing that holds more devotion in our lives than the Lord.  Everything else, must follow far behind.
When you look at your own heart and look for what is most important to you, what you devote the most time to, what you find?  To what are you most devoted?  When I look inward, I become a bit uncomfortable.  Though there are things that require greater amounts of time than worship and adoration to God (i.e., work, sleep), what is most critical?  What is most important?  I find that sometimes, that the thing I feel most intensely devoted to isn't the Lord.
Yes, it is very easy to get out of sync regarding the Christian walk. It is easy, very easy, to become devoted to something so much, that it infringes on one's relationship with Christ.  When we realize that, we must take a step back, reassess what is most important to us, and once again look to the cross of Christ where His love and patience abound.
I'm reminded of a very important scripture. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself," (2 Tim. 2:13). And another, "What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?" (Rom. 3:3). And still, another, "God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord," (1 Cor. 1:9).
The priority of our devotion should always be God first. Notice the last verse above where it states that God desires we have fellowship with Jesus Christ. This fellowship is the Greek word "koinonia." It means "intimacy and communion." God wants this intimacy and this communion with us.  He wants our devotion to Him because it is only in this intimacy with the Lord Jesus that we can truly know what proper devotion really is and thereby experience the wonderful joy of the Lord's grace in a great way.
We need to look to the cross where we see the wonderful demonstration of God's loving devotion to us.  It is there that we see a perfect devotion, a perfect devotion combined with perfect love -- that brings glory to God.
Are you seeking God?  Are you devoting yourself to Him?

Daily Smile:
A man takes his place in the theater, but his seat is too far from the stage. 

He whispers to the usher, "This is a mystery, and I have to watch a mystery close up. Get me a better seat, and I'll give you a handsome tip." 

The usher moves him into the second row, and the man hands the usher a quarter. 

The usher looks at the quarter, leans over and whispers, "The wife did it."

In The News:

Iran Sentences American Pastor Saeed Abedini to Eight Years in Prison
American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran on charges of evangelizing, was sentenced Sunday morning to eight years in prison, Fox News reports. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini was verbally sentenced in Tehran by Iran's infamous "hanging judge" to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in house churches. He will serve the time in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, known as one of the most brutal. The evidence was based on Abedini's activities primarily during the early 2000s, when house churches were not considered a threat in Iran, the ACLJ said. "With today's development I am devastated for my husband and my family," Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said Sunday after learning about the court action. "We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil." ACLJ executive director Jordan Sekulow said: "Here's the troubling reality: we have a U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the must brutal prisons in Iran. A harsh sentence in a notorious prison -- likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply because of his Christian faith."

Stanford Law Opens Country's First Religious Liberty Legal Clinic
As religious freedom litigation has ballooned in the United States, especially over the last year, Stanford Law School has opened the nation’s first legal clinic devoted exclusively to religious freedom cases, WORLD News Service reports. "It’s not needed because the United States is uniquely persecuting — it’s not," said former U.S. circuit judge Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law who argues many religious liberty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. "I believe we are the freest and most welcoming country in the world … but we still need to fight and to think and to litigate and protect."

Creflo Dollar Free After Anger Management Training
Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar avoided a court appearance on charges that he assaulted his 15-year-old daughter last June, WORLD News Service reports. Instead, according to The Fayette County Citizen, "state court prosecutors allowed Dollar to enter a pre-trial intervention program which required him to complete an anger management program and pay $1,072 in fees and court costs." During the three-month program, Dollar had to meet regularly with a probation officer and avoid "violent contact" with others. Dollar is the of World Changers Church International, and was the subject of an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee several years ago.

S.C. Episcopal Diocese Claims a Victory in Secession Struggle
The breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has won the latest round in its fight to secede from the national church, the Religion News Service reports. A South Carolina judge on Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the national church from using the name or seal of the diocese, which espouses a more traditional theology and disapproves of the national church's acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay bishops. The order, as diocesan officials understand it, essentially tells the national church it may not preside over the existing diocese. "We believe what the judge has said is what we have been saying for quite some time," said Jim Lewis, a top aide to Bishop Mark Lawrence. "The Episcopal Church is more than free to establish a new diocese in South Carolina. What the ruling says, though, is that they can't do that and claim to be us." Though 44 of the 71 parishes in the diocese support secession, according to the diocese, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said that differences of opinion within the church should be tolerated but unilateral secession is not permitted. Secession must be approved by the church's General Convention, she said, which next meets in 2015.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Tuesday

Hurry Is A Heart Condition by Glynnis Whitwer

"Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NASB)
Hurry had a tight hold on me.

When my children were young, you would have found me rushing from one task to another, usually pushing or dragging a frustrated child. I was either in high gear, or crashing in the aftermath of the frenzy ... often holding back tears, and berating myself for not being able to get it together.

It was an exhausting way to live. But an inner drive to achieve fuelled the fury of my days. Refusing to admit I couldn't do it all, I tried to keep up the same pre-child schedule. Sadly, everyone in my family paid the price, especially my little boys who weren't genetically wired to sit quietly and color while Mommy attended a meeting.

During that time, "hurry up or we'll be late" was commonly heard, yelled from the kitchen or hissed while we scurried into the back row at church. There was too much to do, in too little time. Life was blurry with hurry.

Sadly, I thought everyone lived like this. That was until I read about hurry sickness in The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg. My heart was skewered when I read one of the symptoms is a diminished capacity to love. My children could have told you I had a problem. Only it wasn't hurry sickness, it was hurry addiction.
I didn't want to be that woman who rushed through life. I didn't want my children to look back and say, "Wow, Mom got a lot done!" I wanted them to be convinced, thoroughly and utterly, of my love for them. And not just my children, but my husband, parents, sisters, and so on.

The Bible is clear that loving others is critical. And not just in public. First Corinthians 16:14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love" (NASB). Which means when I'm trying to get out the door in the morning, or finishing up a project before a deadline. God clearly was telling me to slow down, and prioritize the person in front of me rather than the task on my to-do list.

Eliminating hurry from my life took years of hard work. I had to choose to walk and talk slower. I had to eliminate responsibilities from my life, and plan ahead. Most importantly, I had to deal with the hidden issues that motivated me to hurry.

In the process, I learned hurry is not a required by-product of one type of lifestyle. We can't point our fingers at anyone and say, "Look sister, here's your problem – you need to quit _______."
The truth is, a homeschooling mom can be more hurried than an executive. And a retired person can be more hurried than a working mom of five. Hurry is a condition of our hearts. It's the result of following my to-do list, rather than God's. And loving those around me is always on God's to-do list.

Hurry has different roots. For some it's procrastination. For others it's people-pleasing. For me it was a need to prove I still had it, even though my life had been slowed down by the blessings of children. Whatever the root, the result is the same: a rushed woman who doesn't make time to show love to those around her.

You'll still find me hurrying at times. Especially when my husband or children spontaneously invite me away from my work to spend time with them. But now I'm hurrying to love, not to finish a task. And that makes all the difference.

Dear Lord, thank You for patiently showing love to me. You always have time for me. Help me to give that same gift to those around me. Please show me the root of my own hurry issues. I want to be more like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

How Great Thou Art

Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze;


And when I think that God his son not sparing,
Sent him to die - I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:


When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Daily Smile:
Two deaf men were in a coffee shop discussing their wives. One signs to the other, boy was my wife mad at me last night! She went on and on and wouldn't stop! The other Buddy says when my wife goes off on me I just don't listen. How do you do that? Says the other. It's easy! I turn off the light!

In The News:

Boko Haram Attacks and Kills Five in Nigeria
After remaining silent for several weeks, the Islamist group Boko Haram killed five people in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri, International Christian Concern reports. The five victims were beheaded in their homes overnight after militants suspected to be working with Boko Haram broke in. At least 23 others were killed this week in separate attacks in Nigeria's north blamed on militants wanting to impose Islamic law. Boko Haram has killed more than 3,000 people since it started its armed insurgency in 2009, and many Christians fear the group will be successful in creating a purely Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Monday

Who Is A Liar
1John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Our Bible is very plain, in this verse, about Jesus being THE Christ, and, that Jesus is the Son of GOD.
Let’s look at three things in this verse. First, the Christ is a title for Jesus. Christ is not his name. It means the Messiah the one who will save us from this world. It means Saviour the one who will save us and accept us unto his own.
Second, let’s look at Father and the Son. This verse plainly teaches there is a division between GOD the Father, and, GOD the Son. People who deny this concept, this verse, label as an antichrist.
Third, let’s examine what our verse says about those who deny Jesus as Saviour and as GOD the Son with GOD the Father. Our Bible calls those who deny a liar and antichrist. This is strong language when labeling someone. We Christians today seem to pale in comparison. Many of us today want to be “correct” and not hurt feelings with our preaching and witnessing. We must call sin, sin.
The teaching of the Trinity is for another study. Stay tuned.             
God Bless;
Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Daily Smile:
At a local coffee bar, a young woman was expounding on her idea of the perfect mate to some of her friends. "The man I marry must be a shining light amongst company. He must be musical. Tell jokes. Sing. And stay home at night!" An old granny overheard and spoke up, "Honey, if that's all you want, get a TV!"

In The News:

U.S. Passes 55 Million Abortion Mark
At some point in the past year, the United States experienced its 55 millionth legal abortion -- a number far more than the combined U.S. death toll of every American war since the nation's founding, Baptist Press reports. The total spans 40 years, beginning with the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The abortion count is based on data compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. National Right to Life releases an annual tally using the Guttmacher data. "That's 55 million creative minds, 55 million people that could be working, 55 million that could be contributing to society," said Randall K. O'Bannon, National Right to Life's director of education and research. "It's hard to fathom all the different ways in which any person has the potential to impact the community and impact our country. The loss is staggering." To put the total of 55 million in perspective, the combined number of military deaths in all of America's wars -- from the Revolutionary War to the second Iraq war -- is 1.2 million.

53 Percent of Americans Say Abortion 'Not That Important' Compared to Other Issues
How important is the abortion issue to Americans? Fifty-three percent of the public says abortion is "not that important" compared with other issues, while 45 percent says abortion is either "one among many important issues" (27 percent) or "a critical issue facing the country" (18 percent), according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. However, the split masks stark differences between those who attend religious services at least once a week (37 percent of U.S. adults) and those who attend less often. About two-thirds (64 percent) of weekly churchgoers say abortion is a critical or important issue, while about two-thirds (65 percent) of those who attend less say abortion is not that important of an issue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Sunday

"Understanding what the will of the Lord is" Eph 5:17

Great horn toads, during Katrina and Rita, I (sumner) caught myself giving God advice. How horrible! "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding our! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Rom 11:33, 34.

Learn from Jesus
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed," And he said, Abba Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt Mark 14:36. Dear people, this is one of the most awesome moments in all of history! Jesus knew what agony and suffering was ahead of him and said, "not what I will but thy will be done." If he had not gone through it, you and I would on our way to hell, right now.

Learn from Paul
He had a terrible thorn in the flesh. What is was does not matter. Paul said, "I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me" 2 Cor 12:8, 9.

Learn from God
God may have a bigger, much better plan that we do not know about. We must pray, "Not my will but thine be done." And daily pray what He taught us to pray,"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" Matt 6:10. "All things do work together for good" for the born again child of God Rom 8:28. TRUST HIM. No murmuring! Make sense?

Dear people, I went through a life wrenching experience 50 years ago that just a year ago did I find out why! And now I shout THANK YOU LORD. God spared me a most unbelievable tragedy. It is not hard to say,"Thy will be done" when you have been through something I did and find out why.

Father, may we always want Thy will done rather than ours. In Jesus name. God loves you and so do I. ABC sumner

Turn Your Eyes Upon JESUS
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!


His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


Daily Smile:
For weeks a six-year old lad kept telling his first-grade teacher about the baby brother or sister that was expected at his house. One day the mother allowed the boy to feel the movements of the unborn child. The six-year old was obviously impressed, but made no comment. Furthermore, he stopped telling his teacher about the impending event. The teacher finally sat the boy on her lap and said, "Tommy, whatever has become of that baby brother or sister you were expecting at home?" Tommy burst into tears and confessed, "I think Mommy ate it!"

In The News:

U.S. Pastor Shut Out of Iranian Trial, Unable to Address Charges
An American Christian pastor being tried in Iran for his religious beliefs was shut out of his own trial Tuesday, according to the American Center for Law and Justice. Tuesday was the only day for Saeed Abedini to present a defense, but both he and his Iranian attorney were barred from the courtroom as Iranian prosecutors brought testimony against him, attempting to force lay church leaders to testify against him before Iran's infamous "hanging judge." The ACLJ confirmed that one lay church leader was specifically questioned about converting to Christianity and whether Abedini encouraged the conversion, which he did. The court also asked for details on how Abedini -- a naturalized U.S. citizen -- had financed his multiple trips back to Iran to work on establishing an orphanage and whether any foreign funds were used. The judge told the lay leader to expect another summons within a month to return to testify against Abedini, said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, on Tuesday. She said her husband had told her earlier that he would likely be held in prison "for a long time," and she added: "This testimony ... is further proof that Iran was just trying to silence the media and has no intention of releasing my husband anytime soon. We need to continue exposing Iran's violation of Saeed's human rights until my husband is safely back in my arms."

Andy Stanley Calls Obama 'Pastor in Chief' in Pre-Inauguration Sermon
Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Andy Stanley, who gave the sermon at the pre-inaugural church service, suggested during his remarks that President Obama should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Newtown shooting, the Washington Examiner reports. Stanley thanked Obama for his work after the tragedy when he spoke to mourners, then acknowledged Obama's influence and prayed that the president would "continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world."

Americans Expect to Give Less in 2013
In an ominous sign for charities, Americans say they will pull back on their giving in the coming year, according to the 2013 Dunham+Company/Wilson Perkins Allen State of Philanthropy Study. Donors indicated that their giving in 2013 will revert to recession-like levels, with 27 percent of adults -- the same percentage as 2009 and 2010 and more than double the percentage in 2012 -- saying they would be giving less in the coming year. "Although Americans feel their personal economic situation is more stable, the findings from this year's study mirror the findings during the depths of the recession, which is not good," said Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. "Our research has shown that charitable giving is at risk when there is uncertainty in the economy as people conserve out of fear for what the future might hold. With the uncertainty over the implications of what might be done during the debt ceiling negotiations regarding tax rates or deductions and the continued ambiguity around the effects of Obamacare, there is plenty for Americans to worry about, so we should not be surprised if there is a downturn in charitable support."

Egyptian Christian Leader Calls for Prayer in Wake of Revolution Anniversary
As the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution against the Mubarak regime approaches on Jan. 25, an Egyptian Christian leader reports "a split nation overflowing with too much frustration and anger, with hardly any positive or promising political or social development. The economy is a disaster, with our local currency's value diving deep down into the unknown." This spirit of frustration and anger "provides good soil for a major clash this Friday," the Christian leader says. "Words are spreading around about a second revolution, another eruption of anger, but this time it is directed against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, who have taken a strong hand on the reins of the Egyptian nation, acting as if they alone live in the country." Reports of planned organized protests in many of Egypt’s main cities are being circulated on the Internet and through satellite news programs. Prominent politicians, writers and society figures are urging Egyptians to go back to the street, proclaiming the rejection of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, and renewing the call for a civil state. The Christian leader notes that "there are several possible scenarios for Friday, the worst of which could be severe confrontations and clashes between the Islamic state and civil state supporters. The shadows of violence and turmoil are showing up again all over the scene in Egypt, leaving us with many concerns and anxieties. ... May the Lord have mercy on us and save Egypt from every evil. Please join us in prayer."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Saturday

In II Thes. 2:10 St. Paul declares that the apostates of the coming age will "perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they may be saved." This is something worth considering very seriously.

God calls this present dispensation "the dispensation of the grace of God" (Eph. 3:2). During this dispensation faithful Christians are proclaiming "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). This is the message of God’s grace and love in giving Christ to die for our sins so that we might be saved from its penalty and power.

All, however, do not believe this glorious message or accept God’s grace in Christ. These, the Apostle declares, will be left behind when our Lord comes, at the close of this dispensation, to receive His own to Himself. Because they rejected the truth, and the love it proclaimed, God will give them up "that they might believe a lie," and put their faith in Antichrist, "that they all might be damned who believed not the truth" (II Thes. 2:8-12).

It was infinite love that brought Christ to Calvary to suffer shame and disgrace for our sins, and this love is being proclaimed in this dispensation of grace. But this dispensation may be brought to a close at any time and bring in the day of God’s wrath. How important then to accept God’s love, and trust His Son without delay!

"Behold, now is the accepted time... Behold now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2).

If you do not trust Christ as your Lord and Savior now and you are caught unawares and lost for all eternity, you will never be able to say, "It was because God did not choose to save me." Whatever all the reasons involved in His electing grace, He does not accept the responsibility for your rejection of Christ. He says that the unsaved will perish "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." Don’t gamble with the future. Receive God’s gift of salvation now through faith in Christ.

He Touched Me
Shackled by a heavy burden
Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same

He touched me, oh he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole

Since I met this blessed savior
Since he cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
Ill shout it while eternity rolls

He touched me oh he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole

Daily Smile:
On a flight to Florida, I was preparing my notes for one of the parent-education seminars I conduct as an educational psychologist. The elderly woman sitting next to me explained that she was returning to Miami after having spent two weeks visiting her six children, 18 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren in Boston. Then she inquired what I did for a living. I told her, fully expecting her to question me for free professional advice. Instead she sat back, picked up a magazine and said, "If there's anything you want to know, just ask me."

In The News:

70 Percent of Americans Believe Roe v. Wade Should Stand
Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, according to new data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, as the landmark Supreme Court abortion-rights ruling turned 40 on Tuesday. It is the highest level of support for the decision since polls began tracking it in 1989, mostly the result of more Democrats backing the decision -- particularly Hispanics and African-Americans -- and a slight increase in support from Republicans. But the poll showed a consistent tension in Americans' attitude toward the ruling. Almost seven in 10 say there are at least some circumstances in which they don't support abortion. Thirty-one percent of respondents said abortion should always be legal, and 9 percent believed it should be illegal with no exceptions. Between those two opinions are the 23 percent who said it should be legal most of the time but with some exceptions, and the 35 percent who said it should be illegal except in circumstances of rape, incest and a threat to the mother's life.

Iranian Media's Claim American Pastor to be Freed on Bail Denounced as 'Lie,' Attorney Says
The wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran on charges of evangelizing denounced as "a lie" a report that her husband had been granted bail, Fox News reports. Iran's state news agency reported Monday that Saeed Abedini, who was born in Iran but now lives in Idaho, would soon be free. But the report, which came on the first day of Abedini's trial, was seen by his wife, Naghmeh, as just another cruel manipulation. "This is all a lie by the Iranian media," Naghmeh said. "This has been a repeated promise by the Iranian regime since Saeed was first thrown in prison on Sept. 26, 2012. We have presented bail. After the judge told Saeed's lawyer that bail was back on the table, the family in Tehran ran around in circles today to make sure Saeed was let out on bail. But again the bail officer rejected bail." She said her husband's attorney, Nasser Sarbazi, cautioned her that the report, first carried by the state-controlled ISNA news agency and picked up by the Associated Press, did not mean he was closer to freedom. "This is a game to silence the international media," she said. "The lawyer in Iran was asked to make a statement, but that was before the family's attempts today and before the regime again rejected bail. Dr. Sarbazi told me today that the regime is not dropping the charges against Saeed -- this is the only act that would allow Saeed to leave Iran and return to the U.S."

Canada's First Christian Law School Opposed Over Gay Lifestyle Ban
For more than a year, Trinity Western University (TWU) has been attempting to start Canada's first Christian law school, a proposal that the Canadian Council of Law Deans finds "very troubling," Christianity Today reports. The deans recently issued a letter stating that TWU's "community covenant" -- a lifestyle code signed by all students, staff and faculty -- is discriminatory because it asks that those who sign it abstain from homosexual relationships. The deans argued that the lifestyle code was unfair to gay, lesbian and bisexual students and "fundamentally incompatible" with the core values of Canadian law schools and an equal society. TWU president Jonathan Raymond responded to the law deans in a letter of his own, arguing that the covenant was "consistent with federal and provincial law." The code also asks its signers to refrain from gossip, lying, smoking and consuming alcohol.

Thousands in Ireland Hold Vigil for 'Pro-Life Promise'
As many as 30,000 people attended a pro-life vigil in Dublin's Merrion Square on Saturday evening to oppose any changes to abortion legislation in Ireland, CBN News reports. According to Dr. Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence, rally attendees demanded in unison that Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the government keep their "pro-life promise." Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland except to save the life of the mother, but the government said last month it would legislate abortion in "certain cases" after a 31-year-old Indian dentist, Savita Halappanavar, was widely reported to have died in October because she was denied an abortion by Galway University Hospital. But the journalist who first reported the story has since admitted that the facts of Halappanavar's death were "muddled," and Irish pro-life leaders say the autopsy shows Halappanavar died from an infection caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of E. coli following a miscarriage. They insist hospital records show there was no request for an abortion, quoting doctors who say her death had nothing to do with Ireland's ban on abortion.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Friday

  by C. R. Stam

One does not have to be a prude to conclude that our country is suffering a serious moral decline. Our rulers and law enforcement agencies seem powerless to cope with it. Campaigns to check it seem vain. J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI warned us again and again that the alarming rate of this downward trend would spell ruin for America if not checked soon. But what most people fail to realize is that behind this moral decline there is a spiritual decline. America has departed from God and His Word.

Paul's letter to the Romans tells us how the heathen got that way. Rom. 1:21,22 says: "When they knew God they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools," and the verses that follow tell how God finally had to "give them up" to "unclean- ness" and "vile affections"--all because "they did not like [wish] to retain God in their knowledge" (Ver. 28).

St. Paul further describes them in Eph. 4:17-19, as walking "in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling [conscience] have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." This, sad to say, is an accurate description of increasing numbers in America today. They are throwing off restraint and going after uncleanness "with greediness."

But this is not liberty, it is enslavement. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness. It does not indicate superior intelligence, but grossest ignorance, and is the result of alienation from God.

How much better off are those who have come to know God through Christ! Of these the Apostle says:

"And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled, in the body of His flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight" (Col. 1:21,22).

Daily Smile:
A vampire bat came flapping in from the night covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the cave's roof to get some sleep. Soon all the other bats smelled the blood and began hassling him about where he got it. He told them to shut up and let him get some sleep, but they persisted until he finally gave in."OK, follow me." He flew out of the cave with hundreds of bats behind him. Down through a valley they went, across a river and into a forest of trees. Finally he slowed down and all the other bats excitedly milled around him."Do you see that tree over there?"

"YES, YES, YES!!" the bats all screamed in a frenzy.

"Well I didn't!"

In The News:

Vatican Welcomes Obama Gun Control Proposal
The Vatican praised President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence, calling them a "step in a right direction," the Huffington Post reports. The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that 47 religious leaders had appealed to members of Congress "to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths," adding: "I am with them. The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction." Lombardi renewed Vatican appeals for disarmament and encouragement for measures to fight "the production, commerce and contraband of all types of arms." Obama, who is trying to rally support for reinstating a ban on assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun sales, faces stiff opposition in Congress and from pro-Second Amendment groups. 

Russia Sends Mixed Signals on Adoption Ban
In the wake of Russia’s new law banning U.S. adoptions, parents who have poured years of time and thousands of dollars into the adoption process now wait with bated breath to learn whether they can bring their children home. Since December, they have continued to get conflicting information, but this month, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, reassured American parents that they would be allowed to leave with their children. Russian courts had approved adoptions for 52 U.S. families before Putin signed the ban into law, but many of these families say Russian authorities now refuse to turn over their children. The anti-adoption law, retaliation for U.S. sanctions against Russians identified as human rights violators, was rushed through parliament in December and sped to President Vladimir Putin's desk in less than 10 days. Last week, tens of thousands rallied in central Moscow to protest the law, which the demonstrators say victimizes children to make a political point. Astakhov vehemently defended the new law, saying it would not be revoked "however big the protests are." He also said Russia would honor the previous court decisions, but did not elaborate on a timeline. "All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.," he said.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy Thursday

Are You Running to Win? By C.R. Stam
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" (I Cor. 9:25).

Paul's epistles have much to say about the competitive sports of his day. He uses the gymnasium and stadium, the races, the boxing and wrestling matches, to drive home vital spiritual lessons.

As he witnessed the intense enthusiasm of the masses and the grim determination of the contestants in the Greek games, he was gripped with the challenge to believers to put as much into the issues of life and death as these put into their games.

How rigidly the contestants, then as now, controlled and denied themselves! How tirelessly they trained themselves!

"Now they do it," says the apostle, "to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one."

In this pleasure-loving, self-indulgent age, believers are prone to forget that the Christian life is a race and that the divine Judge is watching their performance. He observes those who are running with all that is in them—and He likewise observes those who have so indulged themselves in the things of this world that they can hardly run at all.

Realize it or not, the race will soon—perhaps very soon—be over and the prizes awarded. Let each of us, therefore, ask himself: How will I fare then? Am I heeding the exhortation: "So run that ye may obtain," or do I scarcely care whether or not I receive the approval of the One who gave His all—Himself—to save me from a just and certain doom and to bless me with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies?

May God convict us, beloved, and help us to arise to meet the challenge that faces us every day while the millions of the lost about us continue their course to Christless graves, and a confused and divided Church points them in a dozen different directions.

May He give us a burden for the lost—and the saved. May He convict us of our responsibility for their condition. May He help us to live lives of true, practical devotion to Christ, rather than mere sentimental devotion; to practice self-control and self-denial, to put our all into the race, so that when we stand before Him He may confer upon us a garland of victory that will never fade away, and with it everlasting joy that we have brought honor, rather than reproach, to His worthy name.

Daily Smile:

Shakey went to a psychiatrist:
"Doc,"he said,"I've got trouble.Every time I get into bed, I think there's somebody under it. I get under the bed,I think there's somebody on top of it.Top,under,top, gotta help me,I`m going crazy!" 

"Just put yourself in my hands for two years," said the shrink."Come to me three times a week,and I`ll cure your fears."

"How much do you charge?" 

"A hundred dollars per visit."

"I'll sleep on it,"said Shakey. 

Six months later the doctor met Shakey on the street. 

"Why didn`t you ever come to see me again?"asked the psychiatrist. 

"For a hundred buck's a visit?A bartender cured me for ten dollars."

"Is that so! How?"

"He told me to cut the legs off the bed!"

In The News:

Belgian Twin Brothers Assisted in Suicide
Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were put to death by their doctor on Dec. 14, though the hospital that performed the euthanasia waited a month to announce the action, WORLD News Service reports. The 45-year-old men were legally put to death by lethal injection at the Brussels University Hospital in Jette; their names were not released. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and the number of cases has risen every year since. In 2011, more than 1,100 people engaged in assisted suicide, most of whom suffered from cancer. The men in this case were going blind, and said they did not want to face the world without being able to see each other. This incident is thought to be the first assisted killing involving people who were neither terminally ill nor in physical pain, but who simply wanted to die.

Majority of Americans Think Religious Freedom is Fast Declining in U.S.
Slightly more than half of American adults, particularly Protestants and evangelicals, feel religious freedoms have grown worse in the last decade in the United States and foresee further restrictions in the years to come, according to a new study by the Barna Group and the Clapham Group, the Christian Post reports. Twenty-nine percent say they are very concerned and 22 percent say they are somewhat concerned that religious freedom in the U.S. will become more restricted in the next five years. The survey found that 71 percent of evangelicals, 46 percent of practicing Protestants and 30 percent of practicing Catholics are "very concerned" about this prospect. Concerns are not only the future of religious freedom, but also about the current level of restraints: 48 percent of practicing Protestants say they perceive religious freedom to have grown worse in recent years, while 60 percent of evangelicals perceive religious freedom to have grown worse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Wednesday

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your god. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Snowflakes are fascinating. Most scientists call them crystals, and they often look just like their name sounds. They come in all different shapes and sizes (glitter tiaras, delicate lace doilies, shining stars) but they still remain very similar to each other. Each snowflake has six points, is made up of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, and is symmetrical.

More simply, they provide hours of entertainment for children, and offer a sense of serenity and peace to onlookers. But they come into existence because the center of each one is filled with a small amount of foreign matter. The water vapor that makes a snowflake collects around a particle of dust floating in the atmosphere. The tiny particle may be as small as 1/100,000 of a millimeter in size, but it has to exist for a snowflake to form.

Snowflakes can be likened to situations in life. Many times, obstacles that come across our paths can actually be the catalysts that cause something wonderful and beautiful to happen as a result. A "foreign invader" that crashes into our lives - such as a terminal illness, an accident, or heartbreak - can actually be turned into a source of blessing.

When these obstacles become the center of that beautiful blessing, its presence gives the believer the chance to let God make something wonderful happen. And it goes to show that God can turn all things bad into things of great opportunity and promise. If you are struggling with a ?foreign object? in your life that has made all things difficult, seek the Lord and wait for Him to create out of it a beautiful blessing.

PRAYER CHALLENGE: Thank God that when afflictions test you and hardships come to destroy you, He keeps you solid and firm. Pray that He would continue to transform your trials into blessings by surrounding them with his love, grace, and mercy.

Whispering Hope
  1. Soft as the voice of an angel,
    Breathing a lesson unheard,
    Hope with a gentle persuasion
    Whispers her comforting word:
    Wait till the darkness is over,
    Wait till the tempest is done,
    Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
    After the shower is gone.
    • Refrain:
      Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
      Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
  2. If, in the dusk of the twilight,
    Dim be the region afar,
    Will not the deepening darkness
    Brighten the glimmering star?
    Then when the night is upon us,
    Why should the heart sink away?
    When the dark midnight is over,
    Watch for the breaking of day.
  3. Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
    Rends the dark veil for the soul,
    Whither the Master has entered,
    Robbing the grave of its goal;
    Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
    Come to my sad weary heart;
    Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
    Never, oh, never depart.

Daily Smile:

Tom and Mat were best of friends, they played football once a week for 50 years. When they were getting older they had an argument if people play football in heaven. So they made up that whoever dies first will let the other one know what happens in heaven. 

After Mat dies he comes to Tom in a dream and tells him,"You were right! They play up here and not only that, they have your name for starting quarterback!" 

"Oh wow!!! That's great!!!" Tom replies. 

"Well," replies Mat. "Not that great, they have you playing tomorrow night!"

In The News:

Police Break Up Plot to Assassinate Turkish Pastor
Police in Turkey say they thwarted an assassination plot against a Christian pastor Tuesday when they arrested 14 suspects, two of whom had been part of his congregation for more than a year, the World Watch Monitor reports. Emre Karaali, pastor of Izmit Protestant Church and the target of the alleged plot, said two of the arrested suspects were regular members, feigning interest in Christianity. One of them, he said, participated in a baptism in July. Some of the other suspects also had visited the church, Karaali said. He said three of the suspects are women. "These people had infiltrated our church and collected information about me, my family and the church and were preparing an attack against us," said Karaali, 33, a native Turk and a convert to Christianity. "Two of them attended our church for over a year and they were like family."

Muslims Demolish Church-Owned Building in Egypt
Hundreds of Muslims came out of mosques last week armed with hammers, and destroyed a social services building belonging to the Coptic Church while chanting Islamic slogans, ASSIST News Service reports. Security forces arrived after the building was completely destroyed. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, the 100-square-meter building in the village of Fanous -- which had a reception hall on the first floor and a kindergarten on the second -- had all the necessary government permits, but Muslims insisted the Christians were "building a church" and broadcast a message on loudspeakers to Muslims in surrounding villages to assist in destroying it. A number of local Copts filed a police report, but no Muslim has been arrested.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Tuesday

God Performs Miracles Today!
by Tim Challies

There are too many Christians who doubt that the Lord still does miracles today. He does. I’ve seen them. I’ve seen more miracles than I can count. God still does the unimaginable and the unexpected, and just as in days of old, he does it all to testify to his own glory.

I found myself thinking about miracles as I read The Insanity of God, a new book by Nik Ripken—a book that carries a foreword by David Platt and endorsements by a who’s who of Southern Baptist notables: Akin, Page, Rainer, Stetzer, Hunt. Nik Ripken is a pseudonym for a former missionary from the hills of Kentucky. Having become a believer as a young adult, he felt called to the mission field, eventually settling in Nairobi. From there he founded a small aid organization and extended help into war-torn Somalia. As he visited that country, and as he saw the desperate poverty, the famine and death, he realized that his Westernized, Bible-Belt faith held few answers. It had not adequately prepared him. When he suddenly and unexpectedly lost his teenaged son, he experienced a genuine crisis of faith.

In this crisis he found himself wondering how believers survive and thrive under persecution. He decided to find out, traveling to the former USSR, to China, to the Middle East and to many other countries where to profess faith in Christ is to put your life in danger. Much of the book is spent describing what Christians have endured for Christ and how the Lord sustained them through the most difficult circumstances. He found quickly that “The stronger the persecution, the more significant the spiritual vitality of the believers.” He heard story after story of the Lord showing extraordinary grace in extraordinary circumstances. “It was as if the pages of the Bible had opened and the saints of old were once again walking the earth. And I had suddenly found myself among them.”

A theme among persecuted believers is the commonness of the miraculous. He heard Muslims describing visions where they were told where to go to hear the gospel; he heard of the dead being raised to life. He confesses “I had always seen God’s Word, especially the Old Testament, as a holy history book. For me, it was an ancient record of what God had done in the past.” But “In light of all I had heard, there was no way to avoid the conclusion: God, evidently, was doing today everything that He had done in the Bible! The evidence was compelling. At least among people who were faithfully following Him in the world’s toughest places, God was still doing what He had done from the beginning.”

Anyone who reads accounts of the Lord’s work in lands where the gospel is unknown will have to consider similar stories. I have heard many, many accounts of visions, where a person is told where to go and whom to speak to in order to hear the gospel. They are not converted in a vision, but are pointed toward the gospel. We hear stories like those made so popular by Brother Andrew in God’s Smuggler, of God making the seeing blind.

What Ripken comes to believe is that persecution unlocks God’s power in a purer, sweeter way. He comes to idealize the faith of the believers in China and the former USSR, drawing a clear line between the way we experience God in the non-persecuted Western world and the way Christians experience God in lands were persecution is rampant. He comes very close to romanticizing persecution, to wishing it upon all of us. “Evidently, God is still very much at work in His world,” he writes. “And evidently, He still speaks to those who walk with Him. … I hungered for that kind of intimate relationship with God.”

What we discovered—through God’s grace and with the help of hundreds of faithful people—wasn’t so much a strategy, a method, or a plan. Rather, it was a Person. We found Jesus—and we found that Jesus is very much alive and well in the twenty-first century. Jesus is revealed in the lives and words and resurrection faith of believers in persecution.

These believers don’t just live for Jesus, they live with Jesus every day.

Ripken’s faith was restored when he saw that Christ’s resurrection power is alive and well in the world today, which is to say, when he saw that the Lord still works in miraculous ways.

And at the end of it all, I find myself thinking about miracles. I have no doubt that the Lord is able to work in miraculous ways today, and that he does work in miraculous ways. I pray for miracles nearly every day. This morning Aileen and I prayed for a miracle in the lives of our girls. We trust that in due time we will see one. We trust that in due time he will perform in their lives the miracle he performed in each of ours—that he will take their dead hearts, hearts that are committed to sin and self, and make them alive. There is no greater miracle than this. There is no better miracle than this.

If the Lord chooses to revive a heart that has stopped beating and to restore a brain that has stopped functioning, that is a testament to his grace. If he chooses to heal cancer through anointing with oil and prayer, that is a beautiful display of his power. But these miracles pale in comparison to what he does when he brings the spiritually dead to life, when he takes a rebel and transforms him in the deepest way possible. This is the one miracle that, unmistakably, gives glory to God alone.

I have seen this miracle again and again and it amazes me every time. I can barely hear an account of this miracle without my eyes filling with tears. It is the only miracle I truly long to see and the only miracle God has promised. It is more than enough.

Daily Smile:

A couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. When they were asked what their secret was to a long lasting marriage they said:
"We take the time to go out to a restaurant two times a week. A candlelight dinner, soft music and a slow walk home. She goes on Tuesdays, and I go on Fridays."

In The News:

U.S. Officials Pressure Iran to Free American Pastor
American leaders are pressuring Iran to free Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, who faces trial today, CBN News reports. Iran Revolutionary Guard officers arrested Abedini, 32, in September while he was in Iran visiting his family and working on a project for an orphanage. Now, the head of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has denounced his imprisonment and prosecution. Katrina Lantos Swett said Iran may be making an example of Abedini for his contacts with the underground Christian church in the Islamic country. This week, 12 U.S. senators and 37 congressmen urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take a more active role in seeking Abedini's release; the American Center for Law and Justice has also been working on his case.

Two North Korean Christians Killed for Their Faith
Open Doors USA has confirmed the death of two Christians in North Korea. According to the ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, one Christian was recently shot while he was on his way back to Bible training in China. The other died in one of North Korea’s notorious labor camps. The first Christian "was very excited about his new faith and wanted to share the gospel with his family," said an Open Doors worker. "He wanted to come back to China to study the Bible more so he could explain the Christian faith better to his family. It is heartbreaking that he was killed. I cannot stop thinking: 'If only he had arrived a little later at the border river, the guard would not have seen and shot him. He could still be alive today.'" The second Christian, who also studied the Bible in China, recently died in a labor camp. He had also studied the Bible in China, but after authorities found out about his secret faith after his return to North Korea and he was sent to prison. "We just received an update that he was dead," said the Open Doors worker. "He was terribly tortured because of his faith. He was also forced to do heavy labor while hardly receiving any food. Before his return to North Korea, he was baptized and willing to deal with the all the hardships he had to face. ... We are devastated to hear about these murders. We know Christians die for their faith almost every day in North Korea, but it is still hard to deal with."