The First Christian Woman Sentenced to Death Under Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws Is Freed

May 8, 2019 By Patrick Goodenough

Asia Bibi has left Pakistan for freedom in Canada, ten years after being arrested and accused of blasphemy, and six months after being acquitted and having her death sentence overturned. (Photo: Twitter)

(CNSNews.com) – Asia Bibi, the Pakistani mother of four who became the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death in the country for purportedly blaspheming Mohammed, has finally been allowed to leave Pakistan, more than six months after the Supreme Court acquitted her and ordered her release.

Her lawyer told the BBC she has arrived in Canada, which had earlier offered her and her family asylum.

Freedom for Asia Bibi, also known as Aasiya Noreen, comes a decade after a row with Muslim co-workers led to her arrest and eventual conviction under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

According to published accounts, the Muslims accused the only non-Muslim among the group of farmworkers of defiling shared drinking water. After she said she did not believe Mohammed would share that opinion the Muslims reportedly demanded that Asia Bibi convert to Islam, which she refused to do.

Several days later a mob led by a local cleric attacked her. Police took her into custody, and in 2010 she was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

The decision was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Oct. 2014, and four more years were to pass until the Supreme Court acquittal last October.

Although the court ordered her release, Asia Bibi remained in protective custody as Muslim zealots held protests across the country, demanding her execution, and calling for the acquitting judges to be killed as well.

In November she was flown from her prison in Punjab province to Islamabad, where her whereabouts have remained closely guarded. Supporters have feared for her safety should she not be allowed to leave the country, where zeal for Mohammed is extreme among the Barelvi stream of Sunni Islam.

Asia Bibi’s case, more than any other, turned a spotlight on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty for insulting Mohammed; life imprisonment for defiling the Qur’an; and shorter jail terms for insulting any of Mohammed’s wives, relatives or “companions.”

Christians, Ahmadis – members of a Muslim sect considered heretical by mainstream Muslims – and other minorities have been disproportionately targeted under the laws, and people accused of blasphemy have often been attacked – and sometimes killed – by enraged mobs.

Lawyers for blasphemy accused have been threatened and gone into hiding, and in 1997 a High Court judge in Lahore was shot dead in his chambers after acquitting a man who had been convicted in a lower court of blasphemy.

Asia Bibi’s plight was taken up by religious freedom advocates around the world – and in Pakistan, where two high-profile supporters were murdered.

In 2011, the Muslim governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by a Barelvi bodyguard, after speaking out in support of Bibi.

The killer, who shot Taseer 27 times, was hailed as a hero by many, with hundreds of Muslim scholars issuing a statement declaring him “Lover of the Prophet.” He was convicted and hanged in February 2016.

Two months after Taseer was killed, Pakistan’s federal minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti – a Christian – was shot dead by gunmen who left pamphlets at the scene, accusing him of blasphemy.

Eight years after Taseer and Bhatti were gunned down, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws remain in place. According to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom at least 40 people are currently on death row or serving life sentenced after being convicted under them.

Successive governments have resisted calls to annul or amend the laws.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/first-christian-woman-sentenced-death-under-pakistans-blasphemy-laws

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Russian Evangelicals Penalized Most Under Anti-Evangelism Law

The tight restrictions on minority faiths have increasingly gotten Protestants in trouble and continue to raise concerns over religious freedom.

May 8, 2019 by Kate Shellnutt

Russian Evangelicals Penalized Most Under Anti-Evangelism Law

Following Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelical Protestants have become the most-punished group under the country’s controversial “anti-missionary” laws.

More than half of all cases of alleged violations last year were against evangelicals. Of the 159 individuals and organizations prosecuted for demonstrating their faith in public, 50 were Pentecostals and 39 were Baptists, according to analysis by Forum 18, a news service covering religious freedom issues in Russia and surrounding countries.

So far this year, Russian authorities interrupted a Baptist worship service in April and charged its 71-year-old pastor with illegal missionary activity. In January, two Baptists were punished for discussing their faith at a bus stop.

The 2016 Yarovaya laws ban Russians from inviting outsiders to join their faith, even online or in their own homes, unless they have a government permit through a registered religious organization, and even then they can only evangelize in designated churches and religious sites.

Evangelicals in the former Soviet country say that even as many Christians outside the state-affiliated Russian Orthodox Church heed the restrictions, violators are more likely to face punishment when charged by authorities. The fines start at 5,000 rubles for individuals (~$75) and at least 50,000 rubles ($750) for organizations.

“Believers are afraid to carry the Word of God to the masses, because they fear fines,” Pentecostal Union lawyer Vladimir Ozolin told Forum 18. “As ever, law enforcement agencies assume that any church activity is missionary activity, which is certainly not true.”

For some Protestant Christians, the rules have turned into a no-win situation: Even displaying the full name of their organization to comply with one provision of the law has been interpreted as a violation of another. Last year, a Baptist pastor in the Perm region was found guilty for hanging a sign reading, “House of Prayer of the International Council of Churches of Evangelical Christian-Baptists, worship service every Sunday from 10am,” Forum 18 wrote.

“The placement … suggests that [the defendant] carries out missionary activity aimed at disseminating information about the beliefs of [the church] among other persons who are not members,” the verdict concluded. (The vast majority of Protestant congregations worship on property designated for residential use since laws restrict churches’ ability to lease or buy land for themselves.)

Russia ended up issuing a clarifying ruling last March after churches were being penalized for distributing basic information to their own flocks. The Constitutional Court decided that notices about services, ceremonies, or events only violate the anti-missionary laws if they indicate missionary activity will be a “defining feature” of the gathering.

But evangelicals still haven’t been able to avoid the penalties. Last month, authorities appeared in the middle of a Sunday worship service near Novorossiisk, along the coast of the Black Sea. According to reports, the choir stopped singing “Jesus Is My Lighthouse” as the pastor, Yury Korniyenko, disputed with officials. Two days later, he received a summons alleging illegal missionary activity.

Yevgeny Kokora, an elder in the 50-person congregation, told Radio Free Europe that they had started receiving weekly calls from investigators demanding summaries of Korniyenko’s sermons and reports of attendance. Meanwhile, their neighbors in Novorossiisk also suffered under the recent crackdown. In March, authorities tore down an “unauthorized” Pentecostal meeting house, banned the Seventh-day Adventists gathering, and deported two Mormon missionaries back to the US.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report, released last week, also called out Russia’s continued violations, writing, “Religious and other communities can be financially blacklisted or liquidated, and individuals can be subjected to criminal prosecution for social media posts that are arbitrarily determined to offend the religious sensibilities of others.”

Russia made its way onto the USCIRF list for the first time in 2017, largely due to the evangelism restrictions enacted the year before.

US ambassador to Russia John Huntsman referred to the state of religious freedom in Russia as “very difficult and very troubling.”

“We’re not only seeing religious organizations shut down, we’re seeing individual members punished for their religious beliefs, which goes against everything we in the United States and a whole lot of other countries in this world stand for,” he said in a recent interview.

Earlier in the year in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, a pair of Baptists were punished for sharing Christian materials at a bus stop. Sergei Roshchin and Valery Turkin were charged in January for not having authorization from a religious group to conduct missionary activity, but they insisted that they were merely sharing their personal beliefs. Their case failed in court and on appeal, with the judge ruling that they had invited others to a service.

According to Forum 18, Russia is increasingly prosecuting individuals for not having religious authorization, even if they do belong to an official religious group to begin with. “This is a particular problem for both independent Baptists and Council of Churches Baptists. The latter refuse on principle to seek any kind of state registration,” the site reported.

Overall, more than 56 organizations and 103 individuals were prosecuted for violations of Russia’s anti-missionary laws last year, fewer than the year before only because Jehovah’s Witnesses had been banned as an “extremist group” and are no longer publicly active in the country.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/may/russian-evangelicals-anti-missionary-fined-yarovaya-law.html

Expected Questions On The Last Day

May 2, 2019

Who is your father?

Have you ever prayed for your enemies and those that trouble you?

What is your countenance when your neighbor made a mistake?

Do you visit hospitals to share my love and word with those that are sick?

Have you ever fasted just because you want to reconcile with your offenders?

How do you react if someone share his problems with you?

How do you treat your maid or man servant at home?

What are your contributions to the growth and propagation of the Gospel?

What have you lost for my names sake?

Have you ever lend money to proffer solutions to a strangers problem before?

Who is your last hope in your helpless situations?

How many times have you appreciated the life you have been given free off charge?

How do you feel when you mistakenly commit an unknown sin?

Why should I remember you?

Read  (Isaiah 59:1)

Psalm 106:7-8 tells us,

“When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”

Immediately after,

“They believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (v. 12-13)

Mercy Oh Lord!

VIDEO Times Square Rally

May 6, 2019 by beautybeyondbones

 

Well, here we are — It’s Monday. It’s May. And boy, do I have a story for YOU!

Allow me to set the scene —

I think the fact that I am both a writer and an actor, gives me this really unique filter through which I see the world. Because I never just see it — but rather, I’m looking for meaning. So sometimes, things just strike meas highly compelling.

That, and I’m always looking for God’s little winks and whispers through any and all lines of communication.

But this weekend, I faced several juxtapositions that really got me thinking.

SO – now to the story!

I was one of the 10,000 people at the Alive from New York prolife rally in Times Square on Saturday!

Francesca Battistelli singing at the #AliveFromNY Event

And, if this is the first you’re learning of this event, well — that’s because ZERO of the mainstream media channels (aside from FOX) covered the event — even though it was the largest ProLife rally in Times Square ever.

Oh — wait, I stand corrected. There were two negatively slanted articles: The New York Post flippantly posted an inaccurate article citing a protest of “400 Pro-Lifers” — which is not only numerically inaccurate by about 9,600 people, but also — a) so flippant in their clearly negative “Pro-Lifer” slang, and b) it wasn’t a protest.

Photo: New York Post

Newsweek covered the “Anti-Abortion Rally” with a video of a young, beautiful abortion provider, talking about how prolife arguments are based on lies and misinformation, and that abortion is health care.

Photo: Newsweek

But I digress.

The event was so powerful. It was put on by Focus on the Family. And, contrary to Newsweek’s spin…it was a huge celebration of life, right in the heart of Times Square!

Abby Johnson, speaking!

There were speakers, and a concert by Francesca Battistelli. The phenomenal movie, Unplanned played a huge role in the event — ((and Yours Truly was actually interviewed for their promotional material! I’ll let you know when it’s live so you can see it!))

Ashley Bratcher from Unplanned

Unplanned’s star actress, Ashley Bratcher, spoke, as well as Abby Johnson — the former Planned Parenthood clinical director, and whose story Unplanned tells. And the pinnacle event was that they broadcast over a jumbotron, Abby Johnson’s 4D ultrasound of her 3rd trimester child!

4D Ultrasound broadcast live at the #AliveFromNewYork event

It was absolutely incredible.

But not everyone was thrilled about the event.

First of all, Planned Parenthood took out a huge billboard right above where the event was being held that read, “PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS HEALTH CARE” in big bold letters.

And then, when I arrived, there were cops everywhere, because swarming both sides of Times Square were hundreds of protestors, shouting profanities and grotesque remarks at the attendees of the beautiful celebration of life in the middle.

They were banging drums and shouting things that would make a sailor blush.

But the event attendees paid them no mind, and continued on in their joyful gathering.

But here’s the crazy thing — as soon as that 4D ultrasound came on the screen, and you saw Abby Johnson’s baby sucking its thumb, and you heard the whooshing of the baby’s heartbeat over the loudspeaker — Times Square was silent. No more protestor rants, no more drums. Just the beautiful sound of life, and a mother’s cooing remarks to her child in the womb, and right underneath the Planned Parenthood billboard.

But after the ultrasound — the protestors went home.

It was the wildest thing.

Maybe the prayers that were in my heart for the souls of those protestors were answered! Who knows.

But coming home that night, I was looking up coverage about the event, and not surprisingly, I was discouraged to see that it was, in essence, completely erased from history by the mainstream media.

But in my search, I did happen to come across this video, which shows Pennsylvania State Representative, Brian Sims, absolutely berating this elderly woman, simply standing outside of a Planned Parenthood in Philly, saying a rosary.

Brian Sims’ 9 minute AGGRESSIVE livestream

He puts a camera in her face and arrogantly and aggressively attacks her, verbally for over eight minutes. Seriously, watch it. It made my blood boil.

But it was at this point, that all the juxtapositions I had experienced that day, finally caught up with me.

This issue of life is absolutely tearing our country apart.

I mean, I even see it on this blog!

People are coming after supporters of life, and they’re thirsty for BLOOD.

Some of the names I have been called when I have stood silently, praying outside of Planned Parenthood — without signs, without talking to people, without anything but love in my heart — the derogatory things would make my mother cry. I’ve had cameras shoved in my face, horns blared right in front of me. Even teenaged kids, shouting rude things.

There is a real hatred for people who support life. And I saw that over and over again this weekend.

So what was the take away?

Love wins.

Love wins. Period.

There’s such a misconception, that people who support life are in some way shaming people who support abortion. Or are trying to control women’s bodies. Or you name it.

But the reality is, the prolife movement is driven by love.

Love for the child in the womb. For the pregnant mothers and fathers. For life in all its stages — even the smallest and most vulnerable.

And as witnessed in Times Square that day, love won. When those protestors heard that heartbeat, and heard Abby Johnson speaking so tenderly to her “little guy” as only a mother does — they packed up and left.

So my prayer is this: to stay hopeful. Yes, it seems like an uphill battle – when not a single news outlet will cover this celebration of life. When publically elected officals like Brian Sims act like petulant children and berate a praying elderly woman, when people personally attack you with hatred spewing from their every pore — stay hopeful.

Life is worth it. Love is worth it.

And someday, the world will see that, too.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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Original here


Live 4D Ultrasound Highlight of Focus on the Family’s ‘Alive from New York’ Even


Update on “Alive From New York”

Jim Daly and John Fuller share a retrospective look at Focus on the Family’s May 4th “Alive From New York” event celebrating the sanctity of human life and discuss the public reaction to the event. Did you know that just $60 can help save a life through the Option Ultrasound™ program? Your monthly support will help us equip more pregnancy medical clinics across the country with ultrasound machines.

https://store.focusonthefamily.com/singleitem/checkout/donation/item/chooselife-2019-5-6?


Something Reaffirmed for Me

May 5, 2019 by Dr Mark Creech

 

A few days ago, I preached for a community Revival service held in a convention center in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Several churches participated. The people who provided the Christian music for that event were stupendous. I’ve never heard better singing at any church, gospel concert, or church event.

As I waited to be introduced, unbeknownst to anyone, I started to fret a little about whether the message I had prepared would be suitable for the situation. On the large marquee outside the building, it read something to the effect: “Come hear a message of hope from Dr. Mark Creech.”

I thought to myself, did I understand the purpose of this event? Maybe those who invited me are expecting something other than what I’ve planned to say – maybe the organizers, as well as this audience, are expecting only sweet and encouraging remarks – something that unifies everybody – something that makes people feel good about their lives and gives them a sense of well-being, and certainly nothing negative.

My message was titled, “It’s a Bad Thing When God Dies.” It’s about the way we may not deny God outright, but live as though he were dead. It highlights what one might call practical atheism, where we don’t repudiate God’s existence, but we live as though we don’t need him.

Because the message had a number of references to things political like our nation’s Christian heritage, the growing acceptance of socialism, the wholesale acceptance of evolution and the manner in which it has contributed to the demise of the sacredness of human life, racism, and even a rash of school shootings in recent years, I worried it might not be appropriate for the occasion. I thought that many might be deeply offended at me, and it could be a bad start for the meetings.

I found myself silently and earnestly praying. As I prayed, the witness in my spirit was saying, “Stay the course. Stay the course.”

I said in my prayer:

“Lord, I know that you gave me this message. In this sinful day and time, these words are not popular, but they desperately need to be heard. Give me the grace to preach it – no matter what happens – no matter if some people end-up with scowls on their faces – no matter if some walk out – no matter if I am shamed in some way because of it. This moment is not about me. It is about people truly hearing a word from God. How can there be hope – hope for reconciliation between you and sinners – if we don’t first understand the ways we’ve offended you – the ways we’ve drifted  – the ways we’ve gotten off the right paths and onto the wrong ones?”

The message was laced through and through with the hope that God provides through the blood of Jesus Christ, but it confronted people with the need to repent – a message by nature quite negative. It challenged them to make a choice – to choose God – to choose Christ.

After the message, a number of people came forward to make commitments to Christ. One person, whose face seemed to express a godly sorrow, came forward to receive Christ as his Savior. At the end of the service, pastors present came forward to share with me what a powerful message they thought I had delivered. Moreover, get this: more than one told me, it was a perfect message for the occasion.

It was a reaffirmation for me that if preachers would make a mark for eternity, they must obey the Lord by their willingness to sometimes, even many times, preach the hard things. If the truth is told, there hardly ever seems to be an appropriate time to preach the hard things, if you catch my drift.

It also reaffirmed for me that making politics, based on a biblical worldview as a part of the sermon, is a way of presenting the Gospel in a relevant way, and does not turn people away from Christ. Instead, it becomes the springboard for presenting him to the masses.

All glory to God!

As seen here at Christian Action League of North Carolina. Posted here with permission.

 

Original here

VIDEO Just Don’t Let the Old Man In

Greg Laurie – Don’t Let The Old Man In

I was invited a while ago to a film premiere. Actually it was an opportunity to see the film before it went nationwide. It was directed by acting and directing legend Clint Eastwood and the film is called “The 15:17 to Paris”. It is a true story of three men who stopped a terrorist attack in the train bound for Paris and there was a faith element because all three of these young men met in a Christian school. So there was that element of faith to it. So after the film was over, standing there in the lobby with a crowd of people around him was none other than Mr. Clint Eastwood. And of course I’ve always liked Clint Eastwood and his movies you know.

So I thought I’m going to say hello to him. So I waited for a moment and I walked up and I thanked him for making a film with a faith element. And he said to me, “Well you know, these young men could not have done what they did without help from above”. And I said that was very true. And I have to tell you, Clint Eastwood he was 87 when I met him. He’s 88 now. He looked great. You know he just looks like Clint Eastwood. Just an older version. And then he squinted his eyes and looked at me and said, “Feeling lucky, punk”. Then I heard this.

Okay these are really dated references. Some of you understand what I’m talking about. Some of you don’t. That’s a theme song from one of his films and a line from one of his films as well. Well speaking of Clint Eastwood, he was having a conversation with country star Toby Keith. They were out golfing. I read this in a Magazine article. Toby commented on how active Clint still was at his age and still making movies. And he asked Clint Eastwood “What is your secret”? Eastwood simply replied, “I don’t let the old man in”. I thought that’s a good line. I thought that will preach. In fact that’s my sermon title: don’t let the old man in.

You know, it’s kind of hard to do because as you get older you start doing old person stuff. You don’t plan on it but you just do. You know what I’m talking about. Like wearing your pants too high. Where does that start? When did it seem like a good idea to no longer wear your pants down where your hips are, but I’m going to bring them up to where my chest starts? I think this is a good place. Or you know when you’re a man, you start missing patches when you shave of course.

And another thing old people do is they drive way too slow. Right. And you get behind them and it’s like seriously. And then you go around them. I don’t know about you, but if you go around somebody that is going to slow, do you ever look at them? Who is this person? And they’re like leaned really forward like this in the car. You know the windshield is right here. It’s like do you have to be that way? Things you say you’ll never do, you start doing these things.

Another thing about older people is the filter sort of disappears and they say whatever they think and they are often cranky about something and they’ll just complain about something. There’s actually a lot of traits of getting older. I think for one thing older people like routine. They like to know what’s coming. They eat in the same restaurants. They order the same meal and they like everything to be predictable. When they come to church they sit in the same seats. You know who I’m talking to. If anyone dares take your seat you’re not happy about it either.

I actually read that is why, as you get older, it seems like time goes by more quickly. Of course time does not speed up or slow down but our perception of time can change. When you’re younger time seems to go very slowly, especially when you’re in elementary school. I felt like I spent 10 years in like the fourth grade right. Like how long will it take till it is 12 o’clock and we break for lunch? But as you get older things start morphing together. It’s almost like decades start going together and that’s because you don’t have as many new experiences. So because there is such a familiarity in the things that you do, it seems like time is going by quickly. They say the way to counter this is to go out and do new things and have new experiences.

So today I want to talk to you about not letting the old man in. But actually I’m not speaking about age. I’m talking about that sinful nature that we all have. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Romans 6. In fact, he calls that nature the old man, so let’s read Romans 6:6-11.

6. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9. knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So Paul now is showing us how to not let the old man in. That old sinful nature. Really in Romans 6 he sort of shifts gears. Romans 1 to 5 he talks about the sinfulness of man and just really makes a case for the fact that everyone has sinned. The moral people sin. Immoral people sin. Religious people sin. We all fall miserably short, but Christ died for our sin and if we will turn from our sin he will forgive us. But now in chapter 6 we are dealing with a new theme and it’s really sanctification. What is sanctification? Sanctification is something that takes place over a period of time. For instance, salvation or regeneration happens in a moment bringing a sinner from spiritual life to death. But sanctification, in contrast, is an ongoing process. Salvation is where we’re forgiven of past sin. Sanctification is where we break free from the power of sin.

So Paul is showing us now how this works out in our life. When you were baptized – how many of you have been baptized in water? Raise your hand up. Every one of us should be baptized. When we are baptized and we go into the water and come out, it’s a symbol of dying to the old nature the old life. In fact, in Romans 6:4 he says, “We died and we were buried with Christ by baptism and as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the father. Now we may live new lives”. But what does that mean practically? If you’re taking notes here is point number one: let me say that again. The Christian no longer has to be under the power of sin.

Verse 7: “For he who has died has been freed from sin”. But some might say, “I still sin. So what’s wrong with me”? Let me ask you a question. How many of you committed a sin this week? Raise your hand. You committed a sin? How many of you committed a sin today? Raise your hand. Really? It’s kind of early. What did you do? Let’s share. Here. I’ll hand the mic. How many of you are committing a sin right now? Don’t raise your hand for that. This is a problem. We know we’re free from the power of sin, but we still sin and we don’t like it. But maybe we say, “Well there’s just really no way to overcome it. I’m always going to be this way”.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist anything but temptation”. I’m fine in between temptations, but man as soon as it comes I have no willpower. I just cave in. There’s no way I can change. Or maybe you look at your own life and you say, “This is a pattern that runs in my family. My father always had a temper, so I’m always going to have a temper and I am going to scream and yell and throw things too” or “My mother was an alcoholic and so I’m going to end up as an alcoholic too. There’s just no getting around it” or “My parents divorced and that means that I am going to end up divorced as well”.

Listen, stop talking that way. That’s stinking thinking. That’s not how a Christian should think because Christ can break the cycle of sin in your life. I know this from experience. Conceived out of wedlock, alcoholic mother married and divorced seven times, my life could have so easily gone the wrong direction. But I believed in Jesus Christ and he changed the course of my life and if he can do it for me he can do it for anybody. This is what God can do.

I think we think no this is the way it’s always going to be and that’s the direction I’m going to go. Not necessarily because Jesus Christ has freed you from the power of sin. Before you were a Christian, you really had no ability to resist sin. In fact, the Bible even tells us that before we are believers in Jesus we are held by the power of the devil, but this is no longer true. I’m no longer a slave to sin. I am a child of God.

Listen to this: the power of God over sin in your life is more powerful than satan’s power was. I heard one kid say to an older kid, older sibling “You’re not the boss of me. I don’t have to do what you tell me to do”. You can say to the devil “You’re not the boss of me”. You can say to sin “You’re not the boss of me anymore. I’m no longer a slave to sin. I am a child of God”. But some people will understand that God has forgiven them and they will use it as sort of a license to sin thinking, “I can just keep doing this because God will forgive me”. Actually, in 1 John 3:8 it says if people live that way, if they keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the devil. In other words, if you deliberately, woefully, continually sin without any remorse or any desire to change, I have to wonder are you a child of God?

If you will admit, “Yes I do give in. I do have these thoughts. I do struggle with it. I don’t want to do these things,” that is something every believer deals with in one way, shape, or form. Every one of us still sins. The Bible says if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in it and us. But here’s what Paul is saying. You don’t have to be controlled by sin any longer. Verse 2: “How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer in it”? By the way, that phrase “Live in it” means to swim in it or to breathe its air or let it be the main tenor of your life. Listen, “Whoever continues to sin without remorse is not in danger of losing their salvation. Rather, by their choices, they reveal they may have never have salvation to begin with”.

Point number two: you’re no longer a slave, so stop acting like one. Verse 6: “Knowing that our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away with. We should no longer be slaves to sin”. One of the worst national sins of America was slavery. And after the civil war ended president Lincoln signed what is known as the Emancipation Proclamation. All slaves young and old were finally given their freedom. But history tells us that many of the older slaves who had endured years of servitude did not fully understand their new status. In fact, many slaves stayed on the plantation.

Fast-forward now to the 20th century and there’s still a lot of prejudice and bigotry shown to African-American people in states like South Carolina and Alabama and Georgia. They were still treated like second-class citizens. Segregation was the rule. African-American people had to stay in separate hotels and eat in separate restaurants and use separate restrooms and see degrading signs over a drinking fountain with words like: “For colored people only”. So along came Martin Luther King who stood up for the rights of black people and he gave that great speech there in Washington DC and I quote from it.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon of light and hope to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice, but 100 years later, the negro is still not free.

He was right and there were various people that stood up for their rights because they said, “We are no longer slaves and we are not going to live like slaves”. One of those people was Rosa Parks. They call her the first lady of civil rights. It was my privilege a number of years ago to actually meet Rosa Parks. Now if you know her story she was on a bus in Alabama and the rule was you had to give up your seat to a white man if you are a black person on a bus and she refused. She became legendary for that and so I ended up on a bus with Rosa Parks. I’m not making this up. I know it sounds like fiction. This is true and here’s how it happened.

I had written a book and there were a bunch of other authors who had written books at the same time. Josh McDowell had written a book. Ravi Zacharias and Ralph Reed and Rosa Parks. So they said, “We want to put you on a bus like you’re on a tour and we’re going to have you go from sort of the headquarters over to a bookstore”. So it was just a little kind of press thing for fun. So I get on this bus and there’s Rosa Parks and all the other guys are talking and having fun and I said, “Wait, is that Rosa Parks”? They said yes.

And I sat down with her and I all I wanted do is just talk to her. I wanted to hear her story. She was an amazing woman and she had written a book about her faith in Jesus Christ and she said it was that faith in Christ that motivated her and influenced her and informed her to make that principled stand. She basically said, “I’m not a slave and I’m not going to live like a slave,” and we need to say the same thing to sin today. We’re not slaves anymore and we’re going to be free people. Because Jesus issued his own Emancipation Proclamation from the Cross of Calvary when he cried out the words “It is finished”. The power of sin is broken in your life so you can start living like a free person.

Now listen, Jesus paid the penalty for your sin, he freed you from the power of sin, and soon in heaven he’s going to remove you from the presence of sin. Now most believers know he took our penalty when he died in our place, but they fail to realize that he also frees us from the power of sin – not just from the guilt but the grip of sin. But the devil whispers in your ear, “You’ll never change. You’ll always be this way. I’ll always have a hold of you,” and we can just say to the devil “Go to hell because you’re a liar and you’re the father of lies”. Some of you are saying, “Did Greg just cuss”? No. Hell was created for the devil and that is where the devil is going to go.

Point number three: you need to start living like you are free if you feel it or not. Start living like you are free from sin’s power if you feel it or not. It would be like living like a homeless person when you have a beautiful home, or living like a person on the street begging for food when in fact you have plenty of money in the bank and food in your refrigerator. So here’s what we need to do, we need to count this is true or believe the promises of God. Look at verse 11. “Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Reckon – we don’t know. What does that even mean? Reckon. It’s not a word we use that often. You see it in old westerns. You know the cowboy will say, “I reckon I’m going to fill you with lead, boy”. Or something like that. It generally means reckon – think so. I reckon. But that’s not what it means in the Bible. The word reckon means count as true. Count as true. It simply means believe what God has said. Claim the promise that God has given.

God says you’re no longer a slave to sin bringing me to point number four: we need to yield ourselves to God. Verse 13: “Don’t let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourself completely to God for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God”. God has given to you your body. People will sometimes say “It’s my body and I have my rights”. No. It’s actually not your body. God gave you that body. The Bible says you’re not your own. You’ve been bought with a price, therefore, glorify God with your body. You need to present your mind to him. Present your hands to him, your feet to him. Everything to him. It belongs to him.

Anthony Bourdain had a tv show on CNN called “Parts Unknown”. He’d travel around the world and try unusual foods and have conversations with people and often asked him the question: what makes you happy? Bourdain was quoted to say, “Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park, so enjoy the ride”. Really? Well, he didn’t seem to enjoy the ride all that much because sadly Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. No. Your body is not an amusement park. Your body is the temple of God, and we need to think about what we do with this body that God has given to us.

You know, the Bible tells that people who yielded their bodies to God, God used the rod in the hand of Moses to conquer Egypt. He used the sling in the hand of David to defeat Goliath and ultimately the Philistines. He used the words of the prophets and the apostles to change the world. This is why the Bible says how beautiful are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things. So you can give your body to God and you can also give your body to evil. David’s eyes looked on a woman lustfully. Plotting a wicked plan, his hands signed an order condemning an innocent man to death and that is why we need to present our whole body to God.

Point number five: where you turn your head, your body will follow. In the cinematic masterpiece “Kung Fu Panda 3” this statement is made: “Before the battle of the fist, comes the battle of the mind”. Very true. So you know we talk about this battle that we’re in. It starts right here. This is Command Central. Listen, you are the air control or Air Traffic Controller of your mind. You know an Air Traffic Controller decides what plane flies where, at what altitude, when they’re going to land, what they’re going to do and you decide what thoughts are going to come into your mind. And so wherever you look, that’s where your body will go.

I know when I ride my motorcycle, which is not very often these days, but when I make a turn I look and I turn into it. I don’t lean this way and look that way. No. I’m looking at where I’m going and so the way you’re looking and the way you’re thinking will determine the way that you will be living. So we have to start with the thoughts that come into our mind and be very careful about what we let in. It’s been said you can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest in your hair. In my case, he would have to bring his own materials. In other words, I can’t stop whatever random evil strange thoughts come knocking on the door of my imagination, but I don’t have to invite them in for lunch now do I? I can say I reject that thought. No, I’m not letting that thought in either. Nope. Not that one. Oh this thought? This thought is good. This thought is coming in.

I love what Paul writes in Philippians 4. He says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just and pure and of good report, if there’s any virtue, if there’s anything praiseworthy – think on these things”. Or literally meditate on these things. Another translation puts it this way, “Summing it up, I would say you’ll do your best by filling your minds by meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best not the worst, the beautiful not the ugly, things to praise – not things to curse”.

So when that thought comes to you – in church or at 3 o’clock in the morning – those thoughts of terror, those terrors by night, those fears that grip you, you just run it through the grid. Oh, wait. This is not from God. This isn’t true. This isn’t helpful. This isn’t inspiring. I reject this thought and I’m going to replace it with another thought because I’ve taken the time to memorize scripture and that’s how you win the battle of the mind that rages on every single day. Ask yourself the question: this thought that wants in right now, is it true? Is it helpful? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it ugly? Is it the worst? Then you don’t want that thought in there.

And the devil will say “You’re going to fail. God doesn’t even love you. Life is over for you”. And you say to him, “It’s not true because God is for me”. Here’s Romans 8:31, “If God is for us who can be against us? Since he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one – for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Answer: no one – for as Christ died for us and was raised for us, he’s sitting at the place of honor at God’s right hand pleading for us”. God has you covered, my friend. Don’t listen to the lies of the devil that says it’s over. God is working in your life and as we’ll learn later in Romans, he’ll cause all things to work together for good to those who love him and are the called according to his purpose.

 

Original here


VIDEO Do You Only Want To Change If It’s Easy? – The Spiritual Pulse of America

Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is openly “gay.” And he insists that God made him that way. He says that if someone has a problem with his homosexuality, they need to “take it up with my Creator.”

The “God made me this way” claim is a common excuse, and Buttigieg’s use of it is certainly not original. But Buttigieg has said something else that I find far more interesting.

He has said that, when he was young:

“if you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would have swallowed it before I could get a sip of water.”

That’s a far more revealing statement than Buttigieg – or most other people, for that matter – would realize.

For one thing, it raises this question: If Buttigieg is so sure that his “gayness” is perfectly OK, and it’s just “the way God made him,” then why would he have been so eager in the past to find an easy way out of it?

Maybe he was mainly concerned about disapproval from his family. Or maybe he was afraid of societal disapproval (assuming that might still have been an issue at the time). But, contrary to what he might claim now, it’s a good bet that he truly knew, instinctively, that homosexuality was wrong. Eventually, though, knowing that there was no magic pill to make him “straight,” he did what he felt he had to do – and what current society leads people like him to believe is their only option: to try to be as much at peace with his abnormal sexuality as he could be, and to treat it as being “normal.”

But there’s an even more significant point to Buttigieg’s statement. He’s basically saying that, because he couldn’t change easily, he concluded that he couldn’t change at all.

In this age where so many things come easily, even instantly, it can be very hard for people to grasp that some things will only come with time, patience, discipline and assistance. And in a world where many people treat God as some vague concept with no real substance or power, too many don’t know how to deal with things that can only be handled with divine help – things like life-dominating sin issues, especially sexual ones.

Even many people who truly acknowledge their Creator nonetheless find themselves stuck in deeply-rooted, life-dominating sexual sin. I have been such a person myself. And every such person, at some point, prays something like this: “God, please change me.”

The problem is that, when someone prays such a prayer, they often really mean this (without necessarily realizing it):

“God, change my desires quickly. Make it easy for me to stop doing this.”

But God isn’t particularly concerned with what’s easy, comfortable or convenient for us. He’s concerned about the strength of our character. And he’s concerned with how serious we are about doing what’s right, against any and all opposition – even (or especially) when that opposition comes from within ourselves.

When a person faces such a formidable issue as an unhealthy attraction or an addiction, he is not meant to make peace with it. Rather, he is meant to engage in battle against it, never giving up, faithfully doing his own part and letting his Creator do the rest. And he is meant to experience ultimate victory over it.

Contrary to what many seem to expect, real change generally does not happen quickly. Temptations and tendencies don’t go away overnight, but approach the vanishing point over time. Both outward behavior and inward character are modified incrementally. And often, the more hard-won the victory is over a life-dominating issue, the more solid and sound it is.

Countless people, including myself, have lived out what I’m describing. Destructive issues of all kinds have been overcome for good that had controlled the lives of individuals for decades.

But for every person who has experienced this, there are more who have given up and given in – sometimes after seemingly long and hard battles. They have surrendered to the very things that they were meant to conquer with God’s help. They have even let these things become the very basis of their identities.

Many people state that they “tried to change” but couldn’t, as if their personal surrender somehow proves that victory is impossible for anyone. But all it proves is that they let something stand in the way of their own potential victory. They may not have expected there to be some kind of “magic pill” that would change them; but, in some way, they were ultimately unwilling to persist in battling the opposition that came from within themselves. And, in the end, their attraction or addiction ended up being more important to them than God was – if they had ever considered him to be important to begin with.

If someone had told the young Pete Buttigieg that he could be “straight,” but that it would take time, patience, diligence and total submission to his Creator, would he have been so eager to pursue that “straightness”? Or would he have still only wanted to change if it was as easy as taking a pill?

Sorry, Pete, but nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished by someone who expected it to become easy. If you have a problem with that, take it up with your Creator.

 

Original here


Kennedy Classics: The Spiritual Pulse of America – Dr. D. James Kennedy

 Feb 20, 2014
 Dr. D. James Kennedy exposes the factors leading to America’s decline-and also shares some good news. America is becoming more secular, and the results have been staggering. At the same time, with God, we are never without hope. It’s vital, however, that we understand what’s happening around us from a biblical perspective.