WARNING Democrats poised to destroy religious liberty (yes, you read that correctly)

 

May 17, 2019 By Todd Starnes

 

If Democrats get their way, religious hospitals would be forced to perform abortions, Christian churches would be forced to host events that are contrary to the Bible’s teachings and Christian schools would be required to accommodate the preferences of transgender students regarding athletic teams and bathrooms.

Debate is expected to begin this week on the so-called Equality Act, legislation that would expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also protect on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

But it would also completely obliterate the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that stops the government from encroaching on a person’s religious liberty. In other words, the Equality Act effectively puts a bullseye on every person of faith in the nation.

I write extensively about this issue in my upcoming book, “Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing a Nation.”

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., told “The Todd Starnes Radio Show” that the bill will “erode the First Amendment and totally destroy religious liberties.”

“This is an attempt to silence the Christian voice,” Hice said. “This is going to literally empower the federal government to force people to contrast their deeply held religious beliefs.”

“Christians will be forced to violate their beliefs if the Equality Act passes,” declared a headline on Christian Broadcasting Network.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said no institution or person of faith would escape the Orwellian reach of the law and predicted a” catastrophic loss of religious freedom in America.”

“It is an egregious attack on the freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs. It would position the government to lord over churches and other faith-based institutions, dictating potentially who they hire, how their facilities are used, and even punishing them for not falling in step with a view of human sexuality that directly contradicts orthodox biblical teaching,” Perkins said.

Hundreds of pastors and religious leaders have already signed a letter warning that churches could be forced by the government to be opened up as public accommodations to host events and other celebrations against their conscience.

“This is extremely dangerous and I don’t think people realize how bad it is,” Family Research Council’s Travis Weber said on the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.”

When Democrats introduced the legislation last March they predicted that conservatives would “use fear” to stop the bill.

“We cannot allow claims of religious freedom to be used to discriminate against an LGBT individual,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said.

In other words, faith-based flower shop owners, bakers, and even adoption agencies would be forced to engage in practices that might violate the tenets of their religious beliefs.

Weber told Starnes the Equality Act would not only gut religious liberty, it would also target biological women.

“It should be renamed the ‘Inequality Act’,” Weber said. “When you actually dig beneath the surface and see what it does to women, to children, to families across America (and) what it does to religious freedom – it’s actually incredibly unequal.”

Rep. Hice said he fears Democrats could use the bill, if it becomes law, to “totally silence and to some extent, potentially even criminalize the Christian voice when it comes to the issue of marriage.”

The House is expected to pass the legislation with some Republican votes. It’s unclear what will happen in the Senate. The White House has already stated its opposition to the legislation.

So as it now stands, the only thing standing between religious liberty and tyranny may be President Trump’s veto pen.

Adapted from Todd Starnes’ monologue on Fox Nation’s “Starnes Country” on May 15, 2019.

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The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children Has Become Big Business in America

 

Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Children, young girls—some as young as 9 years old—are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old.

This is America’s dirty little secret.

Sex trafficking—especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls—has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, “It’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.”

Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.

According to USA Todayadults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life.

They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging roughly 300 a day.

On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 children—girls and boys—are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.

“Human trafficking—the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution—is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.,” said prosecutor Krishna Patel.

This is an industry that revolves around cheap sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are sold to 50 men each day for $25 apiece, while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.

This is not a problem found only in big cities.

It’s happening everywhere, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.

As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points out, “The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it.”

Don’t fool yourselves into believing that this is merely a concern for lower income communities or immigrants.

It’s not.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S. These girls aren’t volunteering to be sex slaves. They’re being lured—forced—trafficked into it. In most cases, they have no choice.

In order to avoid detection (in some cases aided and abetted by the police) and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls, boys and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country.

For instance, the Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit, with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a hub for the sex trade.

No doubt about it: this is a highly profitable, highly organized and highly sophisticated sex trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.

The average age of those being trafficked is 13. Yet as the head of a group that combats trafficking pointed out, “Let’s think about what average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds.

“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they’re not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore,” noted a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. “They’re minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They’re little girls.”

Where did this appetite for young girls come from?

Look around you.

Young girls have been sexualized for years now in music videos, on billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have created a demand for young flesh and a ready supply of over-sexualized children.

“All it takes is one look at MySpace photos of teens to see examples—if they aren’t imitating porn they’ve actually seen, they’re imitating the porn-inspired images and poses they’ve absorbed elsewhere,” writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek. “Latex, corsets and stripper heels, once the fashion of porn stars, have made their way into middle and high school.”

This is what Bennett refers to as the “pornification of a generation.”

“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives,” concludes Bennett. “Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once.”

In other words, the culture is grooming these young people to be preyed upon by sexual predators. And then we wonder why our young women are being preyed on, trafficked and abused?

Social media makes it all too easy. As one news center reported, “Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens.” Foster homes and youth shelters have also become prime targets for traffickers.

Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.

Debbie, a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children, and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days.

While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so lucky. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children go missing every year (roughly 2,185 children a day).

With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that’s going away anytime soon.

For those trafficked, it’s a nightmare from beginning to end.

Those being sold for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years, and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed.

Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those victims of the sex trade in his New York Times article “The Girls Next Door”:

Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners–toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens–as well as what she called a “damage group.” “In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to,” she explained. “Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.”

What Andrea described next shows just how depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn’t hurt.”

Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. As one agent noted, “We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit.”

This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Peter Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She said: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.”

A common thread woven through most survivors’ experiences is being forced to go without sleep or food until they have met their sex quota of at least 40 men. One woman recounts how her trafficker made her lie face down on the floor when she was pregnant and then literally jumped on her back, forcing her to miscarry.

Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.

Barbara Amaya was repeatedly sold between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. “I had a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn’t have that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding.”

As David McSwane recounts in a chilling piece for the Herald-Tribune: “In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside ‘The Boom Boom Room,’ as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel’s eight teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a night.”

One particular sex trafficking ring catered specifically to migrant workers employed seasonally on farms throughout the southeastern states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia, although it’s a flourishing business in every state in the country. Traffickers transport the women from farm to farm, where migrant workers would line up outside shacks, as many as 30 at a time, to have sex with them before they were transported to yet another farm where the process would begin all over again.

This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.

Trafficked women and children are advertised on the internet, transported on the interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.

Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government’s war on sex trafficking—much like the government’s war on terrorism, drugs and crime—has become a perfect excuse for inflicting more police state tactics (police check points, searches, surveillance, and heightened security) on a vulnerable public, while doing little to make our communities safer.

So what can you do?

Educate yourselves and your children about this growing menace in our communities.

Stop feeding the monster: Sex trafficking is part of a larger continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem issues to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture—what is often referred to as the pornification of America—and a billion dollar sex industry built on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.

This epidemic is largely one of our own making, especially in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is estimated that the porn industry brings in more money than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.

Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority, more so even than the so-called war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.

Stop prosecuting adults for victimless “crimes” such as growing lettuce in their front yard and focus on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.

Finally, the police need to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these issues; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators need to pass legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and “johns,” the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels need to stop enabling these traffickers, by providing them with rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.

That so many women and children continue to be victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is due to three things: one, a consumer demand that is increasingly lucrative for everyone involved—except the victims; two, a level of corruption so invasive on both a local and international scale that there is little hope of working through established channels for change; and three, an eerie silence from individuals who fail to speak out against such atrocities.

But the truth is that we are all guilty of contributing to this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women’s groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who contribute to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Most of all, every individual who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed against women and children in almost every nation around the globe—including the United States—is guilty.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_essence_of_evil_sex_with_children_has_become_big_business_in_america

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

by Jack Hayford

And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. (Mark 1:10)

The Holy Spirit doesn’t seek to be mysterious, but He is the most mysterious of the Godhead. We can read in the Word about the Father, and we can read about the Son who came and walked among us. But Jesus tells us that when the Spirit comes, He will not speak of Himself; that “whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13 KJV).

 

The workings of the Holy Spirit are invisible, glorious, and gentle, and within them, He never tells us about Himself. He comes to glorify Jesus—helping us to see Jesus more, to understand Jesus better, to respond to Jesus more obediently, and to love Jesus with a deeper heart of commitment.

So the symbols of the Holy Spirit become essential to our gaining an understanding of what He’s like, not only in an objective way of analyzing truth, but also in the subjective way that He comes to penetrate our lives—ways in which the reality of the invisible penetrate the visible. When we talk about the Holy Spirit as rain, for example, the purpose isn’t to think, “Oh, the Holy Spirit is like rain.” The purpose is to get wet.

In each of the following seven ways, the Lord desires to move into our realm. Just as the Holy Spirit manifested for a moment in a dove and lighted upon Jesus, He wants to penetrate you and me with the glory of the invisible God that becomes visible in us—to flood His life into ours that we might then overflow it to others.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Rain

Rain has a dual implication. First as refreshing where there has been dryness and barrenness (Joel 2:23-29). Second, as restoration where there has been loss (Isa. 28:11-12).

The “pouring out” Peter refers to at Pentecost (Acts 2:17) is not an abstract use of the word; it has to do with “latter rain” that brought about the hastening of the harvest and fruitful crops. The Lord is saying that He will send rain to fields [people] that are totally barren as a promise of hope.

Needing to be refreshed doesn’t mean that I’ve backslid or sinned. When the lawn endures a hot day, it dries up and needs the refreshing of rain. The Holy Spirit, coming as rain, comes to bring refreshing and restoration.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Rivers

Rivers are channels or conduits to places where the refreshing of water is needed. John pinpoints that the work of the Spirit as “rivers of living water” was to become available after Jesus’ ascension (John 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit is manifest in rivers in order that the rain not only be a refreshing upon you, but also that the Lord would make you an overflowing tributary of His Holy Spirit fullness, life, and love to others.

The Lord wants people to get in touch with who He is, and that takes people who will let the rivers of living water be awakened in them and then gush out of their lives. So the Holy Spirit is manifest in rivers.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Wind

The Holy Spirit, coming as wind, depicts His power and His guidance. When Jesus tells Nicodemus about the new birth experience (John 3:8), He tells him that it is not like a tangible birth where you can see the baby is born and check the clock for its time of arrival. The work of the Spirit breathes into a life, and something transpires that people cannot recognize. There’s a dynamism but also a gentleness, like the wisp of a breeze. You can’t necessarily see where it came from or where it goes, but all of us can attest to times when God has come and dealt with us, and no human being knew how it happened.

At Pentecost (Acts 2:3), it wasn’t a wind that blew in; it was the sound of a rushing wind—like a hurricane. That sound, not the sound of the people speaking in tongues, is what drew the crowd in. The Holy Spirit as sovereign God is dynamic, irresistible, and unstoppable.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Oil

The anointing—the oil of Scripture—is directly related to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit’s anointing makes us sensitive (1 John 2:20). How many times have you sensed something was wrong, or something was right, but you didn’t know why or how you knew? The Holy Spirit, by His anointing and presence, confirms what He is—the Spirit of Truth, of Holiness, of Wisdom. Obeying the Holy Spirit means that He will give us wisdom when we need it in the practicals of our everyday life.

All the primary offices of Scripture—prophets, priests, and kings—involve anointing. And all of these are offices to which all of us are called. As prophets, we are called to speak the Word of the Lord. There are times when the Holy Spirit will give you words of comfort, exhortation, or sensitive counsel to say to other people. As priests, the Lord wants to anoint us for worship to renew us, so that our worship doesn’t become stale, habitual, or formal. And as kings, we don’t just get anointed once for all. It takes fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit for the dominion of His Kingdom and the authority of His life to happen through us. When it does, we can move in confidence about how to rule our homes and our businesses, and how to deal with our kids and our relationships. God’s not going to anoint us with the ability to rule when we try to manage things our own way.

The Lord also wants to anoint those who have been overcome by the spirit of mourning with the oil of rejoicing. That anointing brings the lifting of our heads with the refreshing of seeing beyond today—not with superficial optimism, but with a deep abiding of hope that has been begotten in us by God.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Wine

Ephesians 5:18 draws an analogy for the symbolism of the Holy Spirit as wine. In the Gospels, Jesus describes the new work of God, conveyed by the ministry of the Spirit, as new wine coming into old vessels. So it’s a perfectly appropriate symbol in light of the Word. Still, let me ask you, what does it take to excite your life? The issue isn’t just alcohol; the issue is, how much of what the world offers does it take to get you going?

The Bible doesn’t say we are disallowed from enjoying a number of the things that come with life, but you can find out how much a person is living the Jesus life by how much they need the stimulants of the world. The separated, holy Christian life is not a call to isolation but to insulation. You live in the world, but His Spirit in you keeps out the world’s pollution.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Fire

At Pentecost, the Bible says that tongues as of fire appeared over the heads of each of those who gathered together (Acts 2:3).  The Holy Spirit comes as fire to work something deep into the substance of our lives that will shape things around us, rather than us taking on the shape of the world. As fire, He works in a dual way: to probe the inner recesses of our life and to refine us as gold or silver is refined in the fire; and to temper our personalities by causing there to be the penetration of fire into our system.

The purifying fire burns out the Adversary. When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the furnace, not only were their lives spared, but also their clothes didn’t burn. But the ropes holding them in bondage burned. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit being “a spirit of judgment and burning” (Isa. 4:4). Judgment has to do with deliverance, in the way the judges of Israel led people out of bondage. The Holy Spirit, coming like fire, burns away any binding grip that the Enemy has imposed on us.

The Holy Spirit Comes as a Dove

The Holy Spirit, coming as a dove, is gentle and a symbol of peace. What the dove did is important as well—the dove came and rested on Jesus (Matt. 3:16). The Holy Spirit wants to come and rest upon you and me. Not sweeping throughout the world as a tidal wave of revival, but to come to each of us personally.

Today, I want to ask you to invite Him by saying, “Holy Spirit, come upon me.” In fact, for the next week, take one symbol of the Holy Spirit each day and invite Him to do that freshly in your life. Let Jesus minister the richness of the Holy Spirit to you. The Bible says it is Jesus who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), and He will:

  • Pour rain on you
  • Open rivers in you
  • Breathe wind into your life
  • Anoint you with oil
  • Fill you with holy wine
  • Refine and temper you with fire
  • Send the Holy Spirit to come to you
Copyright © 2008, 2010 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries

Original here

Worth a Thousand Years of Waiting

THE STAGGERING RISE OF THE CHURCH IN IRAN

May 11, 2019 by Afshin Ziafat
Pastor, Frisco, Texas

Robert Bruce, a Scottish missionary to Iranian Muslims in the late nineteenth century, wrote home to his supporters, “I am not reaping the harvest; I scarcely claim to be sowing the seed; I am hardly ploughing the soil; but I am gathering out the stones. That, too, is missionary work; let it be supported by loving sympathy and fervent prayer.”

For many years, Iran was one of the most difficult regions of the world to reach with the gospel. A significant development occurred in 1979, however, with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The ruling monarch, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown, and in his place an Islamic Republic was birthed, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Sharia law became the law of the land, and Muslim clerics became the heads of state.

Many in those days believed the revolution would lead to a time of flourishing in Iranian society. The new regime made great promises about rights and economic progress, as Iran was finally free from the influence of the West. The laws of man would be replaced by the laws of God, they claimed. Under the Republic, conversion to any other religion was considered apostasy and could be punished with death.

Door Opens

As we near the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, however, we see that the prayers of many Christians over the years have been answered, and the climate in Iran is vastly different. The gospel has spread throughout the land in unprecedented fashion despite increased persecution of Christian believers. To use the words of the apostle Paul, “A wide door for effective work has opened . . . and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).

As of 1979, there were about five hundred known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. In 2005, it was estimated that there were 40,000 ethnic Iranian Christians (not including ethnic minority Christians who live in Iran). That number grew to about 175,000 Christians in 2010, according to the Joshua Project. Today, the average estimates of Christians within Iran range from 300,000 to upwards of one million, according to some missions experts. Operation World, a missions research organization, continues to list Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. In fact, more Iranians have become Christians in the last twenty years than in the previous 1,300 years, since Islam came to Iran.

Four Reasons for Growth

Several factors have contributed to the rapid growth of the church in Iran. Here are four of the most important.

1. DISILLUSIONMENT WITH ISLAM

Since the time of the revolution, the Islamic regime, which promised much in the way of economic development and freedom, has not delivered. Rather than prosperity and growth, the economy stagnated. The people also have been oppressed — women punished for not covering their hair, and others punished for speaking out freely in protest. As a result, the country has isolated itself further from the rest of the world.

Ironically, because the Islamic Republic in Iran has tied religion and state so closely together, the people’s disappointment with the government has led to great skepticism of Islam. Consequently, Iranians have become increasingly open to hearing the Christian message.

2. PERSECUTION

The rise of persecution against Christians in Iran has served both as a sign of the rapid growth of Christianity within the country and as fuel for further growth. In the 1990s, several key leaders of the church in Iran were killed. One of the most famous martyrs, Mehdi Dibaj, gave a defense before the Islamic courts prior to his death that has become a rallying cry for many Christians in Iran. Dibaj declared,

I would rather have the whole world against me, but know that the Almighty God is with me; be called an apostate, but know that I have the approval of the God of glory. . . .

Life for me is an opportunity to serve him, and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ. Therefore I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honor of his Holy Name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus my Lord and enter his kingdom sooner, the place where the elect of God enter to everlasting life.

Examples like this have emboldened the church as the faithful remember the words of Jesus, “Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). In 2010, many church planters and leaders were arrested. I had the privilege of visiting with one of these faithful brothers after he served five years in prison. He recounted the moment when he received news that many of his colleagues were being arrested.

Briefly, he considered fleeing. But then he remembered the words of Jesus from John 10, that he is not the hired hand who sees the wolves coming and flees, but he is rather the good shepherd, who lays his life down for his sheep (John 10:11–12). He told me he went home knowing it would lead to his arrest, but he saw prison as an assignment by God to be a ministry post for him to reach many within prison.

This persecution has served to motivate further evangelistic zeal among Iranian Christians. These faithful servants are modern-day examples of Paul, who once wrote, “Most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14).

3. THE DIASPORA AND USE OF MEDIA

A countless number of Iranian Christians have been scattered around the world. Many of these saints sense a unique calling to continue supporting the work of gospel advancement within Iran from the outside.

The advancement of technology through the Internet and satellite TV has made the Christian message more accessible to Iranians who may have never even met a Christian. The diaspora Christians have been active in broadcasting the gospel and Bible teaching into Iran. In the last decade, social media also has been a powerful tool to reach Iranians and teach them the truths of Scripture.

4. BIBLE DISTRIBUTION

Although persecution has not produced the results that the Iranian authorities wanted, they have continued to work hard to stamp out the message of Christianity. The Bible (especially the New Testament) is banned literature in Iran.

But the people have been hungry for the word of God. There have been over two million New Testaments printed in recent years for dissemination in Iran, and about 180,000 entire Bibles have been distributed within the country. As Paul told Timothy, “The word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9).

Three Ways to Pray

These are some factors that have contributed to the rapid growth of the church in Iran. But ultimately, the kingdom of Christ is spreading within Iran because God’s Spirit is moving powerfully. Though there has been great progress, the need for prayer and support continues to be great. Would you join me in praying for Iran — its people and leaders? Here are three ways you can pray for the church.

1. COURAGE

Although the number of house churches and believers is growing every day, the opposition continues. Iranian Christians continue to be arrested and charged with acting against national security. House churches continue to meet secretly while shifting their meeting times and locations to stay undetected. Christians continue to evangelize, knowing they are putting their lives at risk.

2. UNITY

Since most of the activity of the church is done secretly, the Christians are isolated from each other. Iranian leaders are forced to work covertly and therefore apart from each other. Security concerns make collaborative efforts difficult, even among ministries outside of Iran that work within the country. All of this creates obstacles for unity.

3. TRAINED LEADERS

The nature of the underground church is such that, many times, house-church leaders are unqualified and untrained, and sometimes, there is no pastor in the group and the gathered believers are being fed solely through satellite TV. Some of the teaching that the church absorbs is not sound theology. Iranians don’t have the same access to Christian literature and training as many believers do throughout the rest of the world. There are ministries who are already working hard to meet this need by making quality training available for leaders, and we need to pray for this work.

These words of Jesus may sum up the situation best in Iran: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38). Let’s pray the Lord of the harvest continues to send his laborers throughout Iran, so that millions more Iranians find forgiveness, peace, and the hope of glory through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 (@afshinziafat) is lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. His passion is to teach the word of God as the authority and guide for life, to preach Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Redeemer of mankind, and to proclaim the love of Christ as the greatest treasure and hope in life. He and his wife, Meredith, currently reside in Frisco with their three children.

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VIDEO Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Over the past several decades, Evangelical Christians have been fiercely debating the true nature of saving faith in Christ. Some believe that a person can place their faith in Christ for salvation and yet persist in a sinful lifestyle, even growing more wicked as the years go by. Some call this “easy-believism.” But others believe that true, saving faith in Christ will necessarily result in a lifestyle of growing love for God and man, so that a true believer will grow in holiness, not sinfulness, having submitted his life to the authority of Jesus. This is often called “lordship salvation.” This debate continues, and no end is in sight.

John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is perhaps the classic book on this issue. He firmly and clearly sets forth the lordship salvation position. His method for proving this is simple: he goes through the teachings of Jesus Himself, as portrayed in the four gospels, and shows how He expects that His true followers will obey Him.

This issue cannot be ignored. If easy-believism is correct, then lordship salvation wrongly places a heavy burden on the “carnal Christians,” telling them that they are still under the wrath of God. But if lordship salvation is true, then many professing Christians are indeed on the road to Hell, for many professing Christians live with complete disregard for the commands of Christ—and easy-believism helps them on to their eternal torment.

If you are a pastor or teacher, it is especially necessary for you to examine this issue, for you have a special care over the souls of the people under you. MacArthur’s book will greatly help you in your investigation. But really, every professing Christian must look into this question, whether or not our teachers do, since in the end we all—individually—must give an account to God.


May 20, 2016 By Douglas R. Kump

I first read John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus in 1990 shortly after it was published. It is not an over-exaggeration when I say the book completely revolutionized my understanding of the message of the good news as proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospels. John MacArthur is one of the greatest influences on my Christian life and ministry. As a very young man and Christian I learned from John MacArthur what the true Gospel is, and I also learned to love the Word of God. Later, in my teaching and pastoral ministry I followed (and still do) his example of expository preaching through the biblical text. John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is definitely a contemporary classic and is just as relevant and important today as it was when it first appeared almost 30 years ago.

John MacArthur is the Bible-teacher on the internationally broadcast radio program Grace to You. He is also the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church and president of the Master’s College and Seminary all in Southern California. He is a prolific author and has written on many subjects in the fields of biblical studies, theology, practical ministry, as well as The MacArthur Study Bible and his massive New Testament commentary series. In 2008 a revised and expanded anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus was released. It is this edition of the book that I will be reviewing in this post. Upon reading The Gospel According to Jesus again after all of those years it still had a profound impact on me and really helped in so many ways, especially given the present assault of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The exclusion of the lordship of Jesus Christ from the contemporary Gospel message was the primary catalyst for MacArthur’s writing The Gospel According to Jesus. The message of Jesus in the Gospels was clear in that He called sinners to “a repentant, submissive surrender to the truth—including the truth of His lordship” (p. 11). Some erroneously charged MacArthur with teaching a works-based salvation because of his insistence that the Bible declared obedience to Christ as Lord. However, this false accusation was easily refuted and MacArthur very carefully and correctly shows what the true Gospel entails over and against the unbiblical view of “carnal Christianity” and “easy-believism.” MacArthur begins by asking the question “What is the Gospel?” He then examines the biblical accounts and presents a powerful portrait of the true Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus in contrast to the weak, popular, and false gospel taught by so many today. His goal is to present a “clear and precise understanding of the eternal gospel” (p. 22) and in my estimation he succeeds exceedingly well.

The Gospel According to Jesus is divided into six parts including three appendixes (Part 6). In part one MacArthur explains what it means to follow Jesus as Lord and as slaves of Christ. He then goes on to show how Jesus’ Gospel has been abandoned and gives a historical overview of exactly how it happened. An outstanding presentation of the biblical doctrine of salvation is also provided in this section. In part two the Gospel is shown to be a call for a “new birth” and this necessary regeneration is the only means by which a person can be saved. MacArthur gives an excellent exposition of John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Genuinely converted people will necessarily worship God according to “spirit and truth” (cf. John 4: 24). Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and MacArthur powerfully demonstrates that God saves his elect so that they may in turn repent, exercise faith, submit, and bear fruit. This is indeed taking upon the “yoke of rest” (see chapter 10). Salvation from beginning to end is entirely a work of the triune God.

In part three, the illustrations used by Jesus in his parables to explain the Gospel are explored. MacArthur really brings out the riches of the parables: “the soils” (chapter 11), the wheat and tares (chapter 12), “the treasures of the kingdom” (chapter 13), “the first and the last” (chapter 14), “the lost and found” (chapter 15), and “the vine and branches” (chapter 16). When I first read this book it was this section that really helped me understand the Gospel in a concrete manner and lead me to truly commit myself to the Lordship of Christ. The parables that Jesus taught are just amazing stories that vividly clarify the content of the Gospel and our response to it. In part four MacArthur writes about the critical essence and requirement of repentance as well as the nature of true faith. MacArthur’s section on justification (chapter 19) is crucial to a proper understanding of the Gospel. And, with all the current controversy over the nature of justification this chapter really needs to read and heeded today. The chapter (22) on the “Cost of Discipleship” is a superb and sobering reminder of what it means to authentically “take up the cross” in following the Lord Jesus Christ. In part five it is Jesus who fulfills the Gospel. There is only one chapter in part five but it is a very powerful section because it deals with the death of Jesus and what his death accomplished on our behalf. And, in the end it is the resurrection of Christ that gives us the great hope of salvation for all of eternity.

Part six offers three appendixes. In Appendix 1 the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed is shown to be the same Gospel the apostles would also preach. This was the subject of MacArthur’s subsequent work entitled The Gospel According to the Apostles in which he expands and offers a more detailed account of the Gospel message of the apostles. Appendix 2 gives a brief but solid overview of the Gospel in church history. Appendix 3 provides MacArthur’s answers to questions raised in response to The Gospel According to Jesus.

This book is a much needed corrective to the prevalent weak and corrupted gospel that is being proclaimed in many churches today. MacArthur provides us with a clear and compelling presentation of the Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer that this book would be read widely and that the Gospel according to Jesus would be believed, obeyed, and taught, all for the glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Douglas R. Kump

Tutor of Theology and Apologetics at Woodstream Christian Academy
Education: B.A., Biblical Studies Washington Bible College 
M. Div., Liberty University 
Location: Odenton, MD 
Pastorate Pastor/Teacher @ Messiah New Covenant Congregation 
Harris Connection: Former student of Dr. Greg Harris at Washington Bible College.

Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur


John MacArthur: The Gospel According to Jesus, Singapore

Aug 27, 2017
John MacArthur came to Singapore in the 90s and shared his new book, “The Gospel According to Jesus.”
I have converted from VHS tape to Mp4 video. The video quality is not good but I hope you can enjoy his sermon.


The “A” Word

May 10, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

 

Men…we were created in the image of God to be the covering for our families…the rock, the foundation, the supplier, the hunter/gatherer, the fix-it guy, the put-gas-in-my-car guy, the guy who has all the answers for our kids crazy questions….the guy who mows the lawn and pulls weeds.

Well darn…that’s a lot of responsibility.

But do we let our family see us sweat about it? Heck no. Instead, we bottle in our feelings, restrict our positive emotional output and kick the dog when we are frustrated. If the dog’s not available, we kick the wife and kids…. maybe not physically but certainly emotionally.

A man’s hidden paradigm – anxiety – we bury it deep inside and don’t let ANYONE in to see all of it…maybe glimpses, but that’s all. The American culture is to keep anxiety buried (or medicated) so it can’t be seen. I have been (and still sometimes am) that man. The problem is that anxiety isn’t just about being worried. As men we don’t stand around wringing our hands waiting for things to get better.

We usually look for some sort of outlet to divert the need to think about the things that cause us stress…. any distraction. It can be sports, obsessing over a hobby, or maybe burying ourselves in our job. These things are socially acceptable…and the church community generally doesn’t have an issue with either.

On the socially “unacceptable” end of the spectrum, anxiety can also be the conduit that leads to other issues. We were designed to be on this earth and walk in the power and authority of God, but we trade that power and authority for other things.

Fear, Anger, Lust, Control

These attributes can be manifest in many ways…. family abuse, substance abuse, pornography, affairs…. pick your poison. If you are doing something not honoring God, I guarantee you know it. We may be very good at hiding our sins, but we know the entire time, unequivocally, that it is sin. But is this how God instructs us to deal with stress?

So, what does the Word say about how to deal with anxiety?

Let’s look at a scripture that Paul wrote while sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell, probably hungry (hangry?) and thirsty and not knowing what his fate may be at the very next moment…. a perfectly good reason to be stressed out….and probably a bit agitated.

Phil 4: 4-9 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Okay men…let’s break this down.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always …I will say it again, REJOICE! – God is our #1 priority! You are NOT rejoicing in your circumstances…. you are rejoicing in who God is and that He is with you during your circumstances. If you place your problems and circumstances before God, they are an idol in your life.

2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. – RELAX…. This begins very close to you and your circle of influence. At home. With the kids. With your wife. With the dog. Alone in the car dealing with traffic. At work. In public. Stop being defensive. Don’t feel the need to prove you are right. Take a cue from Elsa…. LET IT GO.

3. The Lord is near. Duh…you know this…. or at least you should.

4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
a. Bring your situations to God – Pray immediately and let God know specifically what your worries are.
b. Be THANKFUL – THIS IS HUGE! Let God know how much you appreciate all He has done in your life!! Think about this…. How great do you feel when your kids show you appreciation and gratitude just for being Dad??

5. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
a. Our Promise from God for being obedient to verses 4-6!

6. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
a. Verses 8 & 9 are NECESSARY!
b. Whatever unnecessary things in life cause you anxiety cut them out…This is necessary and will require for you to do some soul searching. If our current political situation causes you stress, stop watching the news, cut out social media, stop letting people bait you into conversations that get you fired up. YOU know your triggers. Identify them and leave them alone. Think about things that are pleasing to God…. I don’t think our Savior cares too much about Russian collusion.

7. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
a. And the God of peace WILL be with you. Wow! Mic drop.

Prayer: Lord – In the midst of my problems I choose to focus on YOU!! Regardless of the difficulties my path may present, YOU are GOD and YOU are MIGHTY, and YOU are SOVERGN. I will trust in YOU and LEAN on YOU for all things in my life. LORD, THANK YOU for all that YOU are in my life, Thank YOU for my family, my existence and the opportunity to REJOICE in YOU. I give my worries to YOU and accept the PEACE that YOU promise in my life. I choose today to focus on YOU and the things that please YOU. LORD, make your path and will clear to me daily. In JESUS MIGHTY name! Amen!

Jordan Lynde
Guest Discerning Dad

 

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Own your GOD given destiny!

May 6, 2019 by Eva

Dear friends,

Sometimes all we need to do is believe and stand on GOD’S promises to us.

It is when you KNOW that GOD will do what HE said HE would do, when you’ve done all the fasting, all the praying, have been delivered of all things standing in your way, done all the pressing, all the crying, the lamenting, have waited patiently…

That’s when you know that now, all you need to do is stand and believe.

When it is all that you actually still CAN do.

The results may not be visible YET in the world – but in your spirit, you simply KNOW that GOD will not only do it, but that HE has already done it for you.

This knowing, it gives you peace, strength and a certain kind of confidence that you never ever had before in your entire life.

It is not pride, it is not arrogance, it is simply a confidence, a sense of being comfortable in your own greatness, in the destiny GOD has meant for you, in the life HE has meant for you to live, even though you may not be seeing it yet in the world, even though you may still SEEM to be living in the same circumstances which let you be sad and desperate, but yet, something has changed in you, in your spirit…

You know that GOD has blessed you, that HE has upgraded your life, that HE has granted you what you have been asking for for sooooo long.

NOW is a crucial moment in your life.

When you are at this point, it is important to be very strong.

It is important now that you don’t make any mistakes in order to KEEP the blessing, which is already yours – you are just one yota away to truly and fully step into your destiny, into the life GOD has meant for YOU.

There is only one more hurdle you will have to master.

Can you guess what it is, my dear friend?
Have you perhaps experienced it and know what I am talking about?

It is the devil – correct!, I bet you knew it already.

So what will happen when you are just about to enter your LIFE is that an angel of satan will stand in front of your open door and will do ALL they can to prevent you from stepping in.

The greatest temptation of your life, the sin you are still prone to, the lust you have not fully conquered yet – no matter what it is, if it is a woman or a man, if it is fame or earthly riches, if it is something or someone else you are still lusting after, something from your past, something you could never get but have been wanting and desiring for soooo long – the devil will now serve it to you on a silver plate!

He will do ANYTHING to keep you from totally, completely and fully living with and for GOD, because he knows that once you have entered through this door, into YOUR GOD GIVEN LIFE, he will have lost you forever.

Even after you have made the step, he will keep following you – he won’t ever admit it, but he will know that he has lost the battle for YOU.
In fact, a part of him knows that he has lost the battle for all souls for good and that he is doomed for damnation and eternal hell fire – but what is he supposed to do?

Shall he give up and go to hell before his time?

He will never do that.

He knows that GOD will not forgive him, that he has lost and that his destiny, too, is determined.

As long as he is still here, he will do whatever he can to drag as many as he can down with him.

Don’t let this be you, my dear friend!

GOD has a plan for YOU!

He wants you to have LIFE and have it more abundantly, that’s why HE came and that’s why HE gave HIS only begotten son, because HE loved us, loved you and me, all of us.

Even before you were born, GOD knew that HE had a plan for you!

JEREMIAH 1:5 
BEFORE I FORMED THEE IN THE BELLY I KNEW THEE; AND BEFORE THOU CAMEST FORTH OUT OF THE WOMB I SANCTIFIED THEE, AND I ORDAINED THEE A PROPHET UNTO THE NATIONS.

The devil is a liar.

You must NEVER, ever forget this, my dear friend.

The challenges which will come your way just before you are about to succeed, just before GOD will grant you the victory, they will intensify, will seem even more unbearable and un-conquerable, but that is A GOOD SIGN!
It means you are almost there, it means that the enemy is gathering all he has left for one final, last blow… just like in a physical battle, when the losing army is calling their headquarters for all the reserves they can send, because they KNOW that the war is already lost, but they don’t want to admit it – not to themselves and not to their leaders.

It is the same with the enemy and his army – perhaps he himself is fighting against you, perhaps it is “just” one of his earls or lords, who is in charge to destroying you personally… but you can be sure that if he loses, whoever he is, it will not go well with him. The devil has no mercy in him and whoever fails him will not take many more breaths or if they are a spirit, they will not be a spirit for very much longer…

This is not to scare you, it is just to make you see just HOW determined the devil IS to make you fall.

Just as mercyful and loving and kind and benevolent as OUR FATHER is and just as HE always has our very best interest in mind and wants us to be well and saved, just as wicked and evil and malevolent and destructive and deceptive is the devil.

And just as OUR FATHER will ALWAYS love us and forgive us and never forsake us and always help us, the devil will do whatever he can to destroy us, to make us perish with him, to lead us astray, to deceive us, to hurt us and he, too, will never give up on us, just not out of love, but out of HATE.
The devil is a hater and violence, hate, betrayal, lies, destruction, oppression, manipulation, rebellion, possession, compulsion, addiction, torture, hate, malice, slander, these are his domains and means – often not openly, but disguised as something more pretty, more attractive, but once your spiritual eyes have been opened by GOD, you will see right through his snares…

My friend, NOTHING and NO ONE can prevent you from living the life GOD has for you.

Once you have a personal relationship with HIM, once you know HIM and once HE has promised something to YOU, to you personally, nothing can prevent this thing from coming to pass.

Only unbelief and fainting on your side…

So if any of this sounds familiar, be encouraged, my dear friend, it means that your breakthrough is very, very close and that all you have to do is STAND.

Stand on GOD’s word, stand on HIS promises, stand on your relationship with HIM.

DO NOT MOVE!
Do not move one inch, you are already standing on YOUR ground!

If you keep standing and believing, the devil will HAVE TO flee, he has no other choice.

Submit to God, Resist the devil and the Devil will flee from you.

Remember the story about GOD’s people when they were told to go around the walls of Jericho SEVEN TIMES…?

They didn’t do anything other the seventh time than they had done the previous times… and yet, after the seventh time, the walls came down!

JOSHUA 6:20
SO THE PEOPLE SHOUTED WHEN THE PRIESTS BLEW WITH THE TRUMPETS: AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THE PEOPLE HEARD THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, AND THE PEOPLE SHOUTED WITH A GREAT SHOUT, THAT THE WALL FELL DOWN FLAT, SO THAT THE PEOPLE WENT UP INTO THE CITY, EVERY MAN STRAIGHT BEFORE HIM, AND THEY TOOK THE CITY.
(PLEASE READ THE FULL STORY IN JOSHUA 6)

If your breakthrough is not fully here yet, has not manifested in the physical realm yet, that doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong or missed anything or that it your breakthrough won’t happen.

All it means that you need to stay strong and believe.

Be encouraged, my friend.

If GOD has said it, HE will do it!

You will see!

If GOD has brought you from a life of sin or from dire circumstances into your destined life, please let us hear your story (here in the comment section or on the “Your testimonies” page) and rejoice with you…

I hope and pray that this will inspire, heal and bless you and that THE LORD will bless you abundantly in all areas of your life, that HE will keep you and shine HIS face upon you and give you peace. In JESUS’ name I pray. AMEN.

 

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