Thursday, May 31, 2007
ReFocus Canadian Conference Audio and Video Main Sessions Now Available
You may remember me tell you about this historic Canadian Conference in a previous blog, but now the video main sessions and the audio sessions are available. Mark Driscoll and John Piper Spoke at the Conference. One important session you will want to watch or listen to is by Mark Driscoll called "Recapturing a Nation," whereby he is specifically addressing the spiritual condition of Canada. May God use this to inspire all of us to reach our nation!
John Piper has some very insighful things to say in this short article. Here is a sample:
"One of the major forces preventing young people from obeying the call of God into vocational Christian service is defeat in the area of lust. A teenager hears a challenging call to throw himself into the cause of world evangelization. He feels the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He tastes the thrill of following the King of kings into battle. But he does not obey because he is masturbating regularly."
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Theology is for Everyone
Breakfast Seminar with Dr. J. I. Packer
James I. Packer
Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
MA, DPhil (
James I. Packer
What do J. I. Packer, Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus have in common? Each was recently named by TIME magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in
Dr. Packer, the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at
Knowing God, Dr. Packer’s seminal 1973 work, was lauded as a book which articulated shared beliefs for members of diverse denominations; the TIME profile quotes Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington as saying, “conservative Methodists and Presbyterians and Baptists could all look to [Knowing God] and say, ‘This sums it all up for us.’” In a similar tribute to Dr. Packer almost ten years ago, American theologian Mark Noll wrote in Christianity Today that, “Packer’s ability to address immensely important subjects in crisp, succinct sentences is one of the reasons why, both as an author and speaker, he has played such an important role among American evangelicals for four decades.”
For over 25 years
All are welcome.
Registration fee: $5.00 (includes breakfast)
Please register by
Register by Tel: (416) 297-8011 or E-mail: email@example.com
Alister McGrath on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos on CBC
Alister McGrath, a famous evangelical theologian, scientist, Anglican priest, author of may books including The Dawkins Delusion?, and former principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, was on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last night. I would be interested in your thoughts on the interview. You can access it here.
"So now people are called to be the 'good news,' to make Christ's mission successful by living 'relationally' and 'authentically.' Where the New Testament announces a gospel that changes lives, the 'gospel' is our changed life. 'We preach not ourselves but Christ' (2 Cor. 4:5) has been exchanged for a constant appeal to our personal and collective holiness as the main attraction.... I am not at all implying that we shouldn't follow Christ's example or that the church shouldn't have models and mentors. What I am suggesting is that discipleship is teaching others, and teaching them so well that even when we falter as role models, the maturity of their own discipleship will not fail because it is grounded in Christ and not us" (Michael Horton, "Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ's Way" in Modern Reformation Volume 16, Number 3, May/June 2007, pg. 16).
St. Francis of Assisi was Wrong
"For all of their reactions, 'the post evangelical' emerging folks seem to follow the well-worn path of their revivalist forebears in seeing the church primarily as a society of moral transformers who preach themselves rather than Christ. Like many emerging church leaders (in continuity with my evangelical pastors growing up), [Dan] Kimball invokes Francis of Assisi's famous line: 'Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.' 'Our lives will preach better than anything we can say.' But doesn't this mean to preach ourselves rather than Christ? The gospel that we preach is good news because it is not the story of our discipleship, but of Christ's obedience, death, and resurrection in our place. The good news is not, 'Look at my life' or 'look at our community'; it is the announcement that in Christ God justifies the wicked. Yes, there is hypocrisy, and because Christians will always be simultaneously saint and sinner, there will always be hyprocrisy in every Christian and in every church. The good news is that Christ saves us from hypocrisy, too. But hypocrisy is especially generated when the church points to itself and our own 'changed lives' in its promotional materials. The more we talk about ourselves, the more occasion the world will have to charge us with hypocrisy. The more we confess our sins and receive forgiveness, and pass this good news on to others, the more our lives will be authentically changed in the bargain. With all due respect to St. Francis, the gospel is only something that can be told (i.e. words), a story that can be declared. When our lives are told within that larger story, rather than vice versa, there is genuine salvation for sinners and mission to the world" (Michael Horton, "Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ's Way" in Modern Reformation Volume 16, Number 3, May/June 2007, pg. 15).
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Knowing God's Will: John Flavel
"The way we now have to know the will of God concerning us in difficult cases, is to search and study the Scriptures, and where we find no particular rule to guide us in this or that particular case, there we are to apply general rules.... If therefore, in doubtful cases, you would discover God's will, govern yourselves in your search after it by these rules:
1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts; be really afraid of offending Him.
2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less.
3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice.
4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go.
5. And this being done, follow providence as far as it agrees with the Word, and no further."
John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1963), 186, 188. Found in How to Ruin Your Life by 40 by Steve Farrar, pg. 118.
A Powerful Witness in the Funeral of the Turkish Martyrs
I just received the following powerful (!) update:
"On Wednesday April 18, 2007, the fledgling Christian community in this nation of 70 million Muslims, suffered a devastating blow, when three of its finest, were brutally murdered for their faith. One German and two other Turkish brothers were found in the print shop, in south central Turkey, where they published and sold Bibles. They had been tortured, stabbed repeatedly, and bound with their throats slit. Sadly, it was at the hands of five trusted young men, who had claimed to be seekers of our LORD. The murder was skillfully pre-meditated and ruthlessly carried out. Needless to say, as members of the Body, we have been deeply grieved by this terrible tragedy. Yet, what appeared to be a victory for the enemy has since resulted in the most OPEN DECLARATION of the GOSPEL this nation has seen since the Apostle Paul! Therefore, we rejoice that not one drop of blood shed by these dear saints has fallen to the ground in vain.
Last Saturday, approximately 500 believers gathered in a demonstration of solidarity, to honor the lives of these colleagues. Despite the heavy police and media coverage in a country that is 99.9% Muslim, each of us had determined that is was worth the risk and exposure, to stand together for our LORD. After all, it seemed a small sacrifice, compared to the loss experienced by the wives, children and fiancé of the deceased.
What we witnessed has FOREVER changed our lives! As the body was carried into the courtyard, high upon the shoulders of our Turkish brothers, spontaneous applause burst forth! I leaned over to my national friend and queried, “Is this normal for funerals, in your culture?” “No,” he asserted, “it’s because he’s a martyr!” As the casket continued its journey toward the front, ethereally beautiful worship music erupted—somewhat reminiscent of a Gregorian chant. Then everyone joined together in the singing of Turkish praise songs. However, what followed nearly took our breath away! Approximately ten Turkish leaders proclaimed openly the GOSPEL in front of television cameras, newspaper reporters, police officials, the Deputy Governor of Izmir and several other important officials. FEARLESSLY, yet with GENTLE STRENGTH each shared his faith in CHRIST, and HIS FORGIVENESS of those who had committed the heinous murders! Additionally, they shared that CHRIST had won the VICTORY, and at this very hour the martyrs were standing before the very throne of GOD! Several mentioned that the lives of these men were perhaps the seeds that must be planted in order for a harvest to come forth. One pastor passionately exclaimed, “We will spread this message, God’s Word, because we are children of the Word! You may kill us all, but we will spread this message, because we love you and because Jesus loves you! We forgive the attackers, because we too, have been forgiven.” Powerful applause, “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” erupted from among the scores of nationalities represented there! It was awesome!
However, what happened next.....can ONLY be explained by the SUPERNATURAL LOVE and STRENGTH that GOD ALONE can give. Spontaneously, in an unplanned moment-- Necati’s wife asked if she could speak. “Amid her tears she spoke of her forgiveness of the very men who had tortured and killed her precious husband, and the father of her children! In an emotion filled voice, she asserted: “I know my Necati was praying for them, even while he was being tortured.” She also spoke of the wonderful love they shared as a family and their joy in serving the LORD together. Lastly, she stated “I loved my husband very, very much---but, I love my Jesus even more. And that is how I can face tomorrow.” Again thunderous applause burst forth! We were spell bound!
In the closing moments of this incredible service, one of the pastors shouted “Afferin Necati!!! Afferin Tilman!!! Afferin Uğur!!!---Which translated means--- “Well done Necati!! Well done Tilman!! Well done Uğur!! We are certain the LORD echoed those same sentiments, as he received those precious men into HIS heavenly kingdom!!! Then, as Necati’s body was lovingly ushered onward to its final resting place, applause and praise resonated throughout the garden! As we looked up, we noticed that the media stood utterly dumbfounded! We were quite certain they had NEVER witnessed anything like this before. Yet, as believers we knew we had been in the very presence of the LORD! It seemed as if we had observed church history in the very making. Most importantly, we believe that the precious blood of these saints was NOT shed in vain, but will be used to further GOD’S KINGDOM in a manner that has not occurred since the time of the apostles! So let it be written--- so let it be done!!!!!!"
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
"...your theology leads to your doxology, which results in your biography. What you believe (theology) enables you to worship (doxology), and through worshipping, you become like that which you worship (biography). It goes from proposition, to worship, to transformation. You get to know who God is. You worship him. Then you become like that which you love."
Taken from the article called: "A Narrative Approach: Will it Preach?" by Mark Driscoll found here.
A letter to the
This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province
On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”
Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the
None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.
On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.
On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.
These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the
The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around .
They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*
[Details of the torture--
* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]
Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.
Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.
He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.
Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.
Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.
Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.
To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.
After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.
From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.
In an official televised response from
It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”
The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.
The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.
When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.
Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.
Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.
Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”
Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of
Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.
In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in
In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”
The missionaries in
When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in
Please pray for the Church in
The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.
This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.
Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.
We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.
But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.
Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)
Please please please pass this on to as many praying Christians as you can, in as many countries as you can. Please always keep the heading as “From the Protestant Church of Smyrna” with this contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org // http://www.izmirprotestan.org