If just three words were the difference between life and death, would you say them?
What if those words were "Allah is God"?. That's the choice that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faced in Iran. He chose to stand by his profession of faith in the one and only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. The result? He sits on death row.
It's not some rebel band of terrorists that have imprisoned, and now sentenced Pastor Youcef to death. It is not a group of lawless criminals. It is the state run courts of the country of Iran. Today, in the 21st century, a Christian sits on death row, convicted by a court, for nothing more then being a Christian.
That comes as no surprise to those of us who know that more Christians have been killed for their faith in the last several decades then in all of history combined. What's unique about this case though is that Pastor Youcef's trial, conviction and now death sentence is being done out in the open. He is being tried with common criminals. Rape, murder, Christianity. They're all roughly equivalent in the eyes of Iran's official Sharia run courts.
What should your response be? First may I suggest outrage. Outrage that the faith we hold dear (and the only faith that it is true) makes you a criminal. Outrage that our country is reluctant to do more then whine about Pastor Youcef's condition. Outrage that this story is not headlining every major news program in the country.
Then may I suggest prayer. In truth, this one should probably have come first. Prayer for Pastor Youcef, prayer for his wife and children and prayer for the nation of Iran which clearly needs the Message of Christ, Savior of the World.
Finally let me suggest action. Partner with the American Center for Law and Justice. http://aclj.org. Contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators. But don't just sit on the sidelines and watch.
There is no shame in dying for Christ. In fact, it's one of the greatest honors imaginable. But for us to watch a brother die for our faith while we sit on our hands in not acceptable.
Posted on February 22, 2012 7:44 PM
Here at Tapestry, we do our best to provide you with thought provoking posts on our faith and Christian life. Below is the first in a series of guest posts from Vasko Kohlmayer. We hope you will visit Communities @WashingtonTimes.com for more posts like there.
Tim Tebow and worship of darkness
Why do some people get upset by even fleeting displays of piety while they remain unbothered by all the filth that is being spewed out by our culture?
Saturday, January 14, 2012 - Higher Things by Vasko Kohlmayer for Communities @WashingtonTimes.com
MOSCOW, February 14, 2012 – Speaking about Tim Tebow's on-field praying, David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said the Denver Bronco quarterback is “full of crap.” According to Silverman, Tebow's public display of faith is not appropriate. “Pray in the closet” is his advice.
Here is a question: Why do some people get so upset by even fleeting displays of piety while they remain largely unbothered by all the filth that is being constantly spewed out by our culture?
Everywhere we turn – whether we switch on the television, open a mass-market magazine, go to the movies or listen to popular music – we see evidence of the moral decay that pervades our culture. What we encounter is a constant stream of blasphemy, cursing, lies, fornication and sexual perversion.
Case in point: On the same day David Silverman made his comments about Tim Tebow, Inside TV reported that a toddler will say the f-word on an ABC sitcom next week. A two-and-a-half year-old character shall mouth the ugly utterance in front of the camera. The show is called Modern Family, and its creators describe it as a family friendly series. Most critics of Tebow will probably see nothing wrong with a toddler saying one of the most vulgar words in the English language on national television. In fact, the coarse moment will likely draw both laughs and ratings. But when Tim Tebow quietly bows down on a football field...(Click here to continue reading)
Posted on February 18, 2012 1:10 PM
Growing up, each of us longs for our place in this world.... What am I to be? Where will I go? What grand adventures await me? We spend years trying to find our "perfect fit", our home, our niche in this world. Then, when we become Christians we discover that in fact this world is not our home and we have no place in it at all! That reality is - and should be - disruptive to what we spent the last several years or decades carving out in our lives.
Where it gets tricky is that one of the biggest failures we humans have, when it comes to the Kingdom of God, is that we assume whatever used to be true of our old earthly life is now somehow true of our Christian life, just without the stain of sin. When, in fact, there needs to be a paradigm shift. It's not that, when we become Christians, our nice cozy sinful life becomes, through the power of Christ, a nice cozy sanctified and forgiven life. It in fact becomes new life! Paul tell us that the life I once lived in the flesh is dead (Galatians 2:20)! It's not a cracked, dirty and stained dish that was wiped clean and put back on the table, it's a dish that was broken, never to be used again and now a new vessel is in its place!
Which of course leaves us with a conundrum... we had a "place" in our worldly life; ergo there must be a "place" for us in our kingdom life? Right? Some grand position, some perfect fit, some noble task. And we now, as Christians, spend our time and energy looking for "what does God have for me now". Where is my fit? Is it in a ministry? Is it on the mission field? Is it at home? Is it a job? Is it a calling? And while those are fine questions, they miss the point because to be constantly questing for a "place" ignores the place that God has already given us as His child.
That's one of the reasons why saints like Oswald Chambers and others talk so much about recognizing that the primary "job" of a Christian is to maintain an open, growing, unhindered relationship with Christ. Instead, we spend years and even decades as Christians now trying to carve out or find our "place" in God's kingdom.
I submit to you that such searching misses the point. Our "place" has already been created, found and given to us. It is simply to be Christ's, each day His servant. And yes, He may call us to some grand task or He may call us to some mundane task. He may call us to a ministry or He may send us to a mission field. He may exalt us to some grand position of leadership or He may humble us to a "servant of all" role. But none of that describes our place, it merely describes our activity. Our place is simply to be Christ's.
In fact the command given by Jesus Himself is to "...abide in me and I in you..." And if the command were not enough imperative, Christ goes on to say that if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit but "...without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Our job is to simply be. To simply be His. Each second of every day. Regardless of what activities or events happen. The "fruit bearing" is a function of the branch remaining in the vine, of us remaining in Him. We simply are Christians, His servants, His vessels. He will take care of using us. No servant has the right to plan his own day or life or agenda.
Yes, God may bring you activities and He may use you in a particular way today or tomorrow or for a stretch of time but our place, our home, is simply to be Christ's. I guarantee that if you start each day as His, spend each day as His and end each day as His your life will take on a sweet and unhindered quality as you realize what you were truly created for... relationship with the One who made you.
'til next time... God bless!
Art: Forever with the Lord by Ron DiCianni
Posted on February 15, 2012 9:04 PM
Conversations with God
I heard a sermon a week ago that really got me to thinking about my prayer life. Like so many, I too often fall into the trap of treating prayer as a means to getting something from God. I make sure to cover all my bases lest I might leave out some need that God could later say that I didn't ask for, so I didn't get it. (I know, it even sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?)
I began to wonder, in Heaven, what will I talk to God about, when all my needs will be behind me. What did Adam and Eve talk to God about when they walked together in the "cool of the garden"? They had no need of provision of any kind. No rent to pay, no food to buy, no overdue bills to worry about. Actually, nothing at all to worry about! Yet they spent time walking and talking with God, enjoying His company and He enjoying His creation. Can you imagine it? No begging God to "do" anything, no wondering if He heard you because He was right next to you. As much as it boggles my mind, it shouldn't. In fact, that's what prayer was always meant to be; God and us in warm dialogue, like two friends who really love and care for each other.
I have heard that some, over the centuries, had achieved such a milestone. One was Brother Lawrence, who wrote, "The Practice Of The Presence Of God". Another was Teresa of Avila, who penned "The Interior Castle", and a very few others. I could only hope to add my name to that short list as I practice for the days when God and I will be able to walk and talk together without it becoming a "gimme" conversation on my end. It's too hard remembering all that stuff anyway.
Art: Into His Arms by Ron DiCianni
Posted on February 5, 2012 8:21 PM
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About Tapestry Productions: Tapestry Productions Inc (TPI) is a Christian Fine Art Publisher and Talent Management company specializing in the creation and execution of new marketing strategies and products. We were formed as an execution outlet for artists and authors whose mission is to preach the Gospel with excellence through their various giftings and talents. It is our mission and purpose to communicate the Gospel excellently and without compromise in both the Christian and Secular marketplace with the highest level of execution and integrity. Tapestry Productions represents and publishes some of the top artists in the world and lines represent some of the most sought after and successful products in the market. We are currently in hundreds of galleries and stores nationwide. To find out more please visit us on the web at: www.TapestryProductions.com.
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Posted on January 18, 2012 11:28 AM
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