Archive for January, 2016

Welcoming Home a Wounded Warrior

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

“Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness,

And hold such men in esteem;

Because for the work of Christ he came close to death,

Not regarding his life…”

Philippians 2:29 NKJ

Pastor Saeed Abedini, wounded warrior… You have likely read the news: after 3.5 years of imprisonment for his faith in Jesus Christ, Pastor Saeed’s captivity in notoriously brutal Iranian prisons finally came to an end this month. He reportedly endured beatings, threats, and other attempts to make him renounce his faith in Christ.

He arrived in Germany wearing a “Wounded Warrior” sweatshirt he had been given – especially appropriate, because Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit that helps wounded veterans returning from war, and Pastor Saeed is a wounded warrior in God’s army.

(If you haven’t watched the brief video of Saeed reuniting with his parents and sister, I encourage you to do so: http://kboi2.com/news/local/video-saeed-lovingly-embraced-as-he-lands-on-us-soil – it is priceless… Pay special attention to Saeed’s prayer, as he worships the Lord for His faithful love… It shows the heart of a saint who has suffered much for Jesus).

Saeed and family still need our prayers… As you may also have read, in November of last year Saeed’s wife (Naghmeh) wrote an email to supporters saying she had endured abuse from Saeed, that he was addicted to pornography, that the abuse got worse while he was imprisoned in Iran, and that she was ceasing her public advocacy work on his behalf (I am paraphrasing for the sake of brevity). Her email (which painted with a very broad brush, leaving the exact nature of the alleged problems open to the imagination) was leaked to the media. Some publications (Christianity Today* being the most notable) “broke the news” about her allegations, as if this was good journalism… or good Christianity… or good for anything, other than for hits to their website. (If that seems negative on my part, you are correct: I believe what these publications did was unbiblical in the extreme, morally reprehensible, and journalistically irresponsible).

This is troublesome in a plethora of ways – for one, Saeed was still in prison, and his very life could have been further jeopardized by the allegations being broadcast around the world.

Secondly, as troubling as the allegations are, Proverbs 18:17 tells us that in essence, “Any story seems right until you’ve heard the other half.” Problem: the “other half” of that story was locked up in solitary confinement in Iran, and could not speak for himself (whether to take ownership and repent, to offer explanation, etc.). In Matthew 18, Jesus gives us clear guidance about how to confront a brother or sister who has hurt another by their sin – with the goals of restored relationships, accountability, and forgiveness – and airing allegations on the worldwide web doesn’t align with Jesus’ values. Sadly, Jesus’ teachings were ignored in this situation.

And so friends, I ask you: let’s pray for our dear brother and sister Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini, and for their two precious young children. They were scheduled to meet Monday (1/25) in North Carolina, where Franklin Graham was hosting them at his retreat center to have time together, receive counseling, and heal (Rev. Graham was instrumental in advocating for Pastor Saeed while in prison, and I believe he has been mightily used by the Lord in this situation).  Sadly, Naghmeh declined (last minute) Rev. Graham’s offers to help, so Saeed is back in Idaho.

Rather than passing judgment on Saeed or joining in the “Christian gossip” some websites are spewing, let us instead join our hearts to intercede for a wounded warrior returning home from the “front lines” of enduring physical beatings for the name of Jesus. Let us ask our awesome Redeemer to bring good out of what the enemy has meant for evil, that with honest and humble hearts all things could be brought into the light – the way Jesus said – so that there can be real freedom and healing for all parties.

Thank you for praying for the Abedini family today…

May the Lord bless you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016

Do You Believe?

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NASB

Want more hope, joy, and peace in your life? I sure do. And they are promised to us in Christ, full and free. But how do we access those precious gifts to see them operate in our lives? This verse shows us 2 parts to the process, ours and God’s:

GOD’S part = He gives these gifts to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

OUR part = we receive them “in believing,” not by feeling or effort, but by faith.

Time for a Faith Check Up?

“Faith” is one of those essential words that Christians hear so often, it can sometimes lose its dynamic meaning and impact in our thinking. So let’s consider a fresh definition of faith in our common vernacular:

Faith:

Accepting as fact what God has spoken,

then receiving the promise into your life, situation, or need.

Biblical faith is not mere mental acknowledgment that God’s Word is true in general, but rather a dynamic conviction (assurance, confidence) that His promises are true, trustworthy, and on time in the very midst of MY need, right here and now! True faith is in no way dictating or demanding to God, but humbly obeying Scripture’s exhortation to “come boldly to the throne of grace,” knowing that we WILL find help “in our time of need”(Heb. 4:15-16).

Time for a Faith Tune Up!

Reality: we Believers sometimes do a lot of living, Bible-reading, working, serving, trying, resisting temptation, giving, even sharing our faith… without a lot of faith (we don’t mean to, but it happens). The result: a weary, frustrated, and burdened Believer.

GOOD NEWS: God wants to refresh our faith, to rekindle the flame on the altars of our hearts, to cleanse us of all unbelief, and to STRENGTHEN us in believing the promises of His Word again!  

So let’s begin this week by simply asking: “Holy Spirit, I need You to revive my faith, refresh my heart, and be strong in my weakness ~ come have Your way in me!” 

Only faith can move that mountain before you… So set aside your shovel and backhoe, and focus your faith on the One for whom “nothing is impossible.”

May the Lord strengthen and refresh YOUR faith this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016

Crossing Jordan

Monday, January 4th, 2016

“And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you.

He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you;

do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:3 NKJV

40 years of wandering the wilderness… and then suddenly: the Promised Land stood before the Israelites. It was time to cross the Jordan.

Like Israel of old, God has “crossing over” seasons at different points in our lives – those “kairos” times of vital opportunity, calling for a fresh yielding of our wills and rekindling of our devotion to Him.

I believe the year ahead is such a time for some of you ~ a season of restoration:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”

Joel 2:25

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul

Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV

Of transition:

“Behold, I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness

And rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19 NKJV

And of fulfilling promises He spoke to your heart long ago:

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time;

But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.

Though it tarries, wait for it;

Because it will surely come,

It will not tarry.”

Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV

If God’s Word is speaking to your heart right now, I want to encourage you to take several steps of cooperation with His Spirit. These are “door openers” that invite the Lord to do His highest will in and through your life in 2016:

  1. Be a Generous Forgiver.  

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,

just as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 NKJV

In light of Jesus’ matchless mercy ~ forgiving the mountain of sin debt we owed Him ~ let us surrender all resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness toward others, and choose to release mercy and forgiveness to those who’ve hurt us. The Holy Spirit will be mighty in your weakness, and will empower you to love, bless, and pray for your enemies.

  1. Be a Generous Giver.  

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully… for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NKJV

I have yet to see a Believer who was miserly toward God and yet rich in spiritual fruit and blessings. Because our hearts follow our treasure (Matt. 6:21), making a commitment to faithful and generous giving makes way for a season of spiritual revival and blessing in a Believer’s life. So if you tend to make excuses for why you don’t give faithfully to the Lord, set the excuses aside and simply start to obey His Word. It’s not “law” or religious duty – it’s an expression of love for Him, and will invite a fresh move of His Spirit in your life. (And invest wisely, in a local church and ministries that are building God’s Kingdom, not their own).

  1. Be a Good Forgetter.

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

It’s hard to drive with our eyes fixed on the rear view mirror… My friend, it’s time to simply let some things go. Receive His gift of forgiveness, let yourself off the hook, leave all the unanswerable questions at His feet, roll the heavy burdens onto His mighty shoulders, and move forward in His unfailing love. He will carry you when you’re weak, heal you where you’re broken, and restore you as you move forward with Him.

Your Father has an awesome year ahead for you – full of challenges leading to greater faith, trials leading to triumph, and most of all a year of greater joy in His presence. Will you step out with Him?

Much love in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016