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Saturday, August 18, 2012

"The precious gift of freedom."

"And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
  (Jesus, John 8:32)

 In the movie, "Braveheart," there is an incredibly emotional execution scene where William Wallace, the famous Scottish freedom fighter, (played by Mel Gibson) is being tortured before a crowd of onlookers. The executioner taunts and begs Wallace to "submit to the king of England and beg for mercy." Tired and exasperated, Wallace looks up at the executioner and adamantly refuses and instead gives a death cry toward the audience yelling "freedom!"
 Freedom. Freedom is at the core of who we are as human beings. We fight, we struggle, we speak out for the right to be free!
Another famous person of history, Patrick Henry, a statesman and promoter of the American Revolution proclaimed, "Give me liberty or give me death!" That's how important this seven-letter word is to our existence!
I have a precious friend who lives in Iran. She will remain "nameless" because of personal security reasons. She is a dedicated English Supervisor and teacher and works very hard at teaching children. Recently, I received an emotional and angry email from her. Like other Iranians, she is struggling to survive in a culture of oppression and fear where personal freedom is almost non-existent. My friend laments in anger and outrage, "I feel we wont have a free country. I know that we won't! In this country every single action done by people must be monitored by the government! It is ridiculous, we should ask the government's permission if we wanna die! I hate, hate, hate this government.!"
 My friends goes on to proclaim in another outburst of emotional frustration, "I feel we are like animals who are living in a box and when they need us to grow they feed us and when we wont, we are imposed to die. I wanna shout everywhere. I want all people to know, I hate, hate, hate this government!"
 Can you feel? Can you hear the despair and anger and frustration of what my friend is feeling inside everyday? In America, government is " of the people, by the people and for the people." In Iran, the government is your God and they control your life from birth until death.
  How do we respond to this?
First we pray and then we speak out for their human rights and freedom. This is what I do everyday. I have the freedom that my friend desperately wants and its very painful that I cannot give it to her.
Freedom is a gift from God. God wants everyone to have this freedom both physically and spiritually. Two thousand years ago, Jesus promised us a freedom we can have when we come to know Him as our Lord and Savior. "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free," Jesus promised.
 Before his death, William Wallace cried out "Freedom!"
 This is all that my friend wants! Will you cry out for her freedom?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Husbands love your wives

"Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church
and gave Himself up for her..."
  (Ephesians 5:25)

  In a culture where spousal abuse is an epidemic, The Bible shines the light of truth as to how husbands are to treat their wives. Husbands are to cherish, esteem and love their wives with a sacrificial love. Nowhere in the Bible does God ever ordain or give permission for husbands to physically discipline their wives.
 However in the Quran, Islam's most holy book, the reader is shocked to discover that God sanctions and instructs how men are to respond if they suspect their wives have been disloyal to them.
 Surah 4:35 says:
   "As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill conduct. Admonish them (first)
  (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them."
   The preceding verse declares that "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other." 
   The basic tenants of Islam include the teaching that men are superior to women and this verse unmistakably makes that painful truth very clear. Most women in Islam live in fear that they do not please their husbands. In fact in the Hadith, (A collection of the actions and sayings of Muhammed)
 Mohammed was given a vision of hell in which he declared, "I saw the hell-fire and the majority of its dwellers are women"  (Hadith (Bukari) Vol 7. book 62. number 124)
   According to Surah 4:34, a husband may beat his wife simply because he fears she has been unfaithful, even if she has done nothing wrong.
I have many Muslim friends who explain to me that Islam teaches the equality of men and women. They protest that the media and our culture is discriminating against them and being judgmental and unfair. I am the first to insist that not every Muslim is a terrorist and I make sure that I treat them with courtesy and respect.
 Unfortunately, I am faced with a painful dilemma. Do I compromise the truth for the sake of political correctness? I cannot. I must speak out for the rights of Muslim women and do all that I can for their safety and well being.
The Bible teaches that our love for our wives must be just like Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for their salvation.
 Their is a huge difference between fear and love.
  Are you willing to lay down your life for your wife? What will you choose?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Until the whole world hears

"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
 for you were slain, and by your blood,
 you ransomed people for God, from every tribe
 and language and people and nation..."
       (Revelation 5:9)

 One of my favorite Contemporary Christian artists is Casting crowns. In a powerful music video, the band can be seen on a rooftop at sunrise, performing one of their best songs that describes the joy and excitement of proclaiming the good news of Christ. Right below the band is a large crowd that has gathered to join them in singing, "Until the whole world hears."
"Until the whole world hears, Lord we are crying out. Lifting up your name for all to hear the sound. Like voices in the wilderness we are crying out. Until the day draws near, we'll sing until the whole world hears."
 This exciting and uplifting song by Casting Crowns is the first thing I thought of when I read about a Saudi-Arabian woman who had publicly announced her faith in Christ.
"I have left the darkness of Wahhabi Islam and entered the light of Christianity," 28 year old Maryam declared on a video seen by millions on the internet. She explained that Jesus had appeared to her in dream and gave her the name Maryam. In the video, Maryam proclaimed that she had forsaken Islam and converted to Christianity because of the treatment of women by the "morality police" in Saudi Arabia. As a result of the video, Saudi officials are outraged and promise to put an end to Christian evangelism. In order to protect her identity and her life, Maryam has decided to continue wearing her hijab.
  I am inspired and in awe of Maryam's courage. She lives in the country that gave birth to the prophet Muhammed and the religion of Islam. She has put her life on the line and declared to the whole world that she's willing to pay the price for following Jesus.
 Maryam's decision to leave Islam is not without consequences. Saudi Arabia adheres to strict Sharia law. Women have few rights and are treated as possessions. According to the Hadith, a large collection of sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammed, a Muslim does not have the freedom to leave Islam.
 In Al Bukhary's translation (number 6922) the prophet Muhammed is reported as saying, "If any man change his religion, kill him!"  This statement reportedly declared by Muhammed actually contradicts the Quran which says in several suras that there is "no compulsion in religion."
 What is is that attracted Maryam to Christianity? Many Muslim women who have come to faith in Christ say they left because when they read the Bible, they saw compassion and love in Jesus, something they had not experienced while they were in Islam.
  Maryam is not ashamed to publicly declare her faith in Christ. She does so at the risk of her own life. Like the song by Casting crowns, she is "crying out until the whole world hears."
The whole world has heard her. Can you say the same about your testimony?