Free Tortured Pastor Saeed Abedini from Iranian Prison

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Sign the ACLJ petition

Like my series of articles last year on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, there is yet another Christian Pastor who’s been in the Iranian headlines over the last several months: Pastor Saeed Abedini.

An American citizen, married, with two children, Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity in 2000 and began planting house churches, acts the Iranian Government’s Islamic Revolutionary Court deems as “threatening the national security.” He was forcefully removed from a bus last September while working on his family’s orphanage following a trip into Pakistan. His arrest was followed by what Western authorities bemoan as a “sham trial,” and has now been served an eight-year sentence in one of Iran’s most deadly prisons. Missions group Asia Harvest is noted as reporting that some prisoners last “only a few days or weeks before they perish” in Evin Prison.

Together with his wife, Naghmeh, Pastor Saeed was active in starting around two-thousand underground house churches. Naghmeh’s last phone call with her husband on Monday came with confirmation of her husband’s violent physical and physiological torture. His phone calls are also being more heavily restricted since his January 27th verdict.

“When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten,” Naghmeh told the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Like Yocef, Saeed is close in age to me—one year younger. Tracking these types of stories hits close to home. Not only am I reticent to endure torture (as I think anyone would), but I can’t even begin to imagine the impact imprisonment and torture on the grounds of religious bias would have on my wife, my children, and the rest of my family and friends.

But fear can not cripple us. We are called to serve, pray, organize and reach the unreached, bind up the broken and set captives free. It is our Great Commission.

Even while I prepare to leave for China next week, I realize that my own life is in jeopardy. But then again, it always has been.

I once asked Dr. Leslie James, president and founder of he William Carey School of World Missions in Durban, South Africa why he had never considered leaving South Africa (which is the most beautiful and violent country I’ve ever traveled to). His famous reply is one I carry with me to this day:

If I flee to a safe town in a safe country, I can just as easily die in a car accident as I can here of a gun shot. It makes no difference when you realize it’s only God’s hand than keeps you alive. So I would much rather live in a dangerous place with God’s favor than in a safe place without it.

So today I’m praying for God’s favor on Pastor Saeed and his family. I’m praying for souls to come to Jesus in Iran. And I’m signing the petition put forth by the ACLJ in the hopes that the current political and legal bodies of our day will help bring about Saeed’s release.

Please do the same. Then tell those you know.

ch:

ADDITIONALLY: Read William Jepma’s article and watch the Save Saeed video he links to. Well worth it.

Intimacy Not Ethics

Two types of Christians stand out to me, both for opposing reasons.

The first are those whose faith is based upon ethics. Their adherence to the Bible and a code of stringent morality most often sets them apart from others who do not encompass the same value set. The result is a cloistered lifestyle, and making anyone who lives to the contrary feel uncomfortable and judged.

While this often starts with good intentions, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for a religious spirit cloaked in the guise of purity if not challenged to maturity. It is birthed in self-righteousness, and if left unaddressed it kills the Christian and those around them.

The second are those who base their faith upon relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit. While certainly pursuing an understanding of God through classic forms of reading, prayer, and meditation, they emphasize a keen and dominant interest in knowing the Lord intimately, choosing Jesus Christ’s righteousness to be their morality through impartation.

The result is an individual who actually attracts those living outside of a pursuit of Christ, and in fact makes them jealous for it, often without being able to articulate it. This Christian thinks nothing of the public association with the wayward, and feels most alive when loving them selflessly.

Unbelievers loved being with Jesus. The dirty, the drunken, the destitute, the broken, the orphaned. And he loved being around them, to the point that observers thought he might actually be drunk in the bars and cavorting with the prostitutes.

Yet he was without sin.

Everywhere Jennifer and I go we desire to be attractive. Loving. Open. Full of Jesus. But sometimes we try and sneak into a restaurant for a date unnoticed.

Only one problem:

You can’t hide a light under a basket.

Our server Friday night, Christina, couldn’t put Levi down. And though her speech was more Mandarin than English, one thing was clear: she loved being around us at dinner. So did the restaurant manager. And the rest of the servers. There was something contagious in the air. The smell of Jesus. And they wouldn’t leave us alone.

Don’t substitute you’re pursuit of ethics for divine relationship. Intimacy with God will always produce morality, whereas ethics never produced heaven.

Souls are waiting for your personal freedom. ch:

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Me. But Somewhere Else.

Who are you today?

Me? I’m 32 years old. I have 1 amazing bride and 4 super cute children.

I’m also an associate pastor.

But I live the United States of America. I’m free. To worship. To share. To express.

“Me” somewhere else today – right now – could be Yusuf Naderkhani.

Also 32.

With a wife and children.

A pastor.

Who’s attorneys are hopeful that a corrupt Iranian judicial system will overturn his death sentence today.

A death sentence issued because he failed to renounce his belief in Jesus Christ as God.

Aside from my disgust that the UN is entertaining the whims of a modern day Hitler as if he had legitimate rights, it’s imperative that we remember all politics – right, wrong, or asinine – affect people.

Just a few thousand miles from my home, another version of “me” is in jail.

Read Yusuf Naderkhani’s story. And pray for ALL the people of Iran.

Then ask yourself: how am I utilizing the freedom I’ve been given to know God and make Him known? Because the “you” in another country might not be alive anymore to do the same work. ch:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/09/28/iranian-pastor-faces-execution-for-refusing-to-recant-christian-faith/

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Kingdom Perspective on Mosque Building

I’ve been meaning to write something as a followup to my post about the Ground Zero Mosque for a few weeks now. It obviously struck a nerve with many, and provoked much personal reflection for myself, not the least of which was examining the situation from various perspectives.

As I stated in the previous post, I have my own political views, to be sure. But as a Christian, I must have more than simply political or even historical perspectives on current events. To do so would be to confine my analysis to a very near-sighted and eventually flawed means of examination, one based on human understanding. Instead, I am called to have the mind of Christ on such things, and in doing so, invite a Kingdom perspective.

Since there are few such writings out there on this subject at present (at least to my knowledge), I’m attempting to shed some light on what I believe a true Kingdom mind-set is on the issue of the Ground Zero Mosque–and I don’t expect it to be popular. But I hope it’s received somewhere.

With the political midterm elections nearing in November, I’ve heard a lot of talk among Conservatives about our “fore-fathers” and returning to “their values.” I’ve heard words like “independence,” “freedom,” and “small government versus big government.” At heart, I raise my fist in sympathy with these tenants, priding myself on being a true Conservative. But something still wasn’t sitting well in my gut, especially when it came to distancing ourselves from this mosque issue. Reject the mosque. Push it away. Don’t allow it. Distance.

Since my travels as of late have taken me across the Atlantic, I often find myself trying to explain the core values of what makes us American–of our pursuit of freedom, and our desire to preserve independence–to people who have mostly known Socialism in one form or another.

After my last post, however, the Lord began asking me some very subtle, yet very pointed questions, mainly about the evolution of these great United States. About where we came from. I started searching my memories of the World Wars. Honor. Freedom. But the Lord asked me to go back further. The Civil War and the end of slavery. Further. The Revolutionary War. Further. The Constitution. Further. What’s further than the Constitution?

The Pilgrims.

But what’s so relevant about the Pilgrims?–one of which I’m a direct descendant of (William Bradford):

Motive.

Even a cursory reading of any historical text will reveal a similar thread across the board: fleeing from religious persecution to a new world in the pursuit of freedom. And that’s so evil because…?

And then it hit me. It’s not the pursuit of freedom that’s evil; it’s the abdication of responsibility that is.

I wonder what Pastor in the 1600′s was pleading with his congregants to remain in Holland. I wonder what husband or house wife thought, “No, we need to stay here and affect culture, even in the face of opposition.”

The reality is that at our core, we pushed away one system in the hopes of creating a better one. The “better one” is not the problem: it’s that we left a “broken one.” And that value is not Kingdom.

Why not? Because Jesus–if He is the epitome of example–portrayed a very different lifestyle. In heaven, He knew utter freedom: true, unbiased, uncontrolled liberty of religious expression. And then He willfully left it all to venture into the most hostile environment in the universe: earth–the physical manifestation of all spiritual battles. And he did so with one goal: to effect its culture at any cost.

Born and bread into the DNA of Americans is a core value that’s traceable to the Pilgrims themselves: fight for freedom. True. But it’s an incomplete truth. It’s only Kingdom-true when we include, “and take it to the ends of the earth.” Including to extreme violent sects of otherwise tolerant religions. (In all my travels to date, I have yet to meet a single Muslim hostile to my faith in Jesus. Are they out there? I’m sure, just like there are Christians who burn Qur’ans).

Why are we pushing a mosque away? Why are we pushing Muslims away, even those with the intent of killing us? Politically, I get it. But Kingdom wise, I don’t. And my Kingdom mind-set must supersede my political one, or else I am in danger of not heeding Jesus’ own warning against a political spirit in Mark 8. Because the reality is, right now, there are Christians winning Muslims–even violent ones–to Christ.

This couldn’t be more clearly seen than in the life Leif Hetfield. Since beginning his ministry in 1994, Global Missions Awareness has seen over 750,000 decisions for Christ around the world, mainly in Muslim nations like Pakistan. Yep, Pakistan. Leif has even been invited to preach this “healing Gospel” in the largest mosque in Pakistan under the gaze of the highest Imam; even to orphan boys taken in to terrorist training cells on account that if they “die with a physical condition, they enter the Kingdom of heaven maimed.”

His recent statement to America during a conference in Sydney regarding the Ground Zero Mosque really puts things into a Kingdom perspective: “Since you won’t go to them, God is bringing them to you.”

And suddenly scriptures like Isaiah 55:5 make a little more sense: “Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Who ever said they would be peace loving? That’s a very Western bias.

The reality is, God is bringing the nations to us, jealous–or even hateful–of our splendor, and we’re trying to do everything in our power to keep them away. While most of us would attack them for being unBiblical in their hate of the Western world, I would argue that we are being unBiblical in rejecting the very humans Jesus commissioned us to go after.

Probably one of the most prolific speakers, authors, and teachers on this subject would be Carl Madearis, and his book, “Muslims, Christians, and Jesus.” Carl and his team are seeing Muslims–even those in high political and spiritual influence–come to Jesus through signs and wonders.

Forget mosques; what about next door neighbors? A terrorist cell is birthed in the apartment right beside yours. And your Kingdom response is what? Perhaps if we were equally as willing to lay our lives down in love as they are to lay theirs down in the name of domination, we might see revival in the East.

The reality is that if we are simply politically minded, we will miss the opportunity to love unbelievers into the Kingdom in unprecedented numbers. And we will make the same mistakes that our forefathers made: abdicating our responsibility to effect a hostile culture in the name of discovering a free culture. My only freedom is in Jesus, and no country on earth can give me what He has. ch:

The Contextual Success of Art

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or so they say. But when the beholder has a bum eye? What then?

Obviously one of the hardest things about art is that is it subjective. Unlike math, with all its absolutes, in art, what is beautiful to one is not so beautiful to another.

Unless of course, you are God.

There is no possible way I could even begin to understand what art is beautiful to God and what is not. Sure, I could project my own opinions on Him, and maybe even hit a few dead on. But to truly know what pleases Him artistically would be a rather unimaginable process to say the least. And you can be sure, God indeed likes art. For a good talking-to on that subject, might I suggest Art In The Bible by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer.

But while His thoughts on the subject might be elusive, He has given us a means to begin to tap them. As Christians who are connected to God through the Holy Spirit, we have a rare opportunity to tap into the divine nature of Christ, used not only for the redemption of our sinful selves, but also for the display of His glory. And collectively speaking, this gift is a responsibility of the Church. The Body of Christ.

Today we stand on the shoulders of those Believers who have gone before us, those who pioneered the way into a place of cultural influence. And while there are pot-shots I could take at the Christian artistic community, particularly the CCM community, they are mostly derived from personal railings, do not reflect a Christ-like attitude, and subsequently do absolutely no good in advancing the cause of the Kingdom. There is only one Accuser of the Brethren and I have been convicted as of late to distance myself from finger-pointing lest I be counted among his number. As the Body of Christ, we are called to encourage one another and I refuse to throw the savage beasts of manipulation and gossip one more piece of meat from another Christian brother or sister in the name of self-righteousness. A Religious Spirit masks its motives of superiority in the guise of a passion for purity and excellence; the Spirit of God displays its power in those who are flawed and consistently in need of grace.

Why such heavy words when speaking on the subject of art all of a sudden? Because whenever I or anyone else is about to analyze the current state of affairs with regard to a current paradigm in the Christian world, it is of paramount importance that we do so with a sobriety of thinking. And if it smells of anything other than grace, let it not be said at all. I’ll let you be the judge.

In the past three decades, specifically in the world of music, we have seen a massive surge of Christian artists promoted within a Christian record industry. And it has been received, even cherished and revered, by the American Christian community. The current populars have their tour routes and loyal fan bases all set up. And honestly, I’m thrilled for them. Christians are being encouraged and the lost are being saved.

But a significant portion of the Christian music industry is a Christian response to a secular product. No stone throwing here, just an analysis of the past 50 years. Long before Christian artists started drawing crowds as far back as the ’70′s in my parents’ day, their was Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night, Pink Floyd and Santana (yes, he really is that old). When Christians were finally able to gather at large events that promoted Jesus but still used concert staging, massive speaker towers, and dancing, a new “context” was born…an artistic context that would shape the next thirty years of a new paradigm. Christians who bought Christian branded products. Music. Books. Even clothing. And in doing so, segmented themselves from the greater world-culture.

As I’ve illustrated before, one only needs to hit Time Square in NY or Pier 39 in San Fransisco with a clipboard and a pen and ask people on the street a few questions. First, ask if they’ve ever heard of Chris Tomlin or Third Day, then ask them if they’ve ever heard Steve Morison or U2. Contextually, Christians have created a huge amount of success…among themselves…but not among the world as a whole.

Art that stands out in its own context is always deemed “new” or “cool” or “the next most amazing thing.” But it does not last the test of time because its success is based upon the supporting presence of its context. It is only cool because of its proximity to other expressions that represent the status quo; once those standards are forgotten, the art, too, becomes a bygone. Sure, people will have their memories forever imprinted with “our song” or “remember the first time we heard that?” But relative to a global influence, the kind that we have access to now afforded by technology, it will be just another 3-minute-wonder-song made for Christians.

So am I saying I don’t like Christian songs or books? No, I do like them; in fact I create them. And I’ll be among the first to tell you that they have their place, encouraging the Body of Christ and even reaching the lost. But what I’m talking about is an even higher goal. A new paradigm, if you will. Something that will require us to lift our gaze higher than we’ve grown accustomed to.

We need to start creating art within a new context.

I hear a clarion call erupting from somewhere in the heavenlies, summoning the Artists to the forefront of humanity. I feel new giftings being awakened, new concepts that mankind has never thought of before emerging, new means to promote by those in places of power, position and wealth, and new methods being tapped which will stun centuries of orthodoxy. These Artists are not simply song writers or painters or writers, they are Divine Dreamers, dancers who tap the movements of God and photographers who are in prophetic locations at opportune times.

There is a whole new standard being raised, an entirely new level of expectation for those that are in Christ. Not that we simply copy what the world has created, making a Christian version of their style, but that we transcend the human unction and speak with a heavenly one.

And why all this importance on the arts, you say? First of all, why not? If there is art to create, why not let those who have come face-to-face with the meaning of their existence set the pace? But secondly, throughout my travels across the globe, I have found that art has a direct bearing on a culture’s overall perception and quality of life, as well as their connection to the divine. Create beautiful things and you will be drawn closer to a beautiful God.

Lastly, I am tiring of bloggers who rant, even with purpose, and then give no suggestions on “what to do about it.” As you will recall from my earlier postings on blog etiquette under Ranters Beware, I believe that blogs are a powerful tool that need to offer practical steps for change, not just be a person’s personal whine portal for the masses. That being said, I think there are a few very simple, down-to-earth things that we Christian Artists must start doing.

1.) Get Alone With God. If we are bound in our relationship to God through prayer, then receiving divine ideas will come only through time spent with Him. If God’s heart is to continually transmit His heart to humanity, to truly bring heaven to earth, then we must discipline ourselves to get alone with Him. There is no excuse for time in His presence, no substitute for relationship. Ideas that grip mankind and shake the heavens will come through no other means.

2.) Perfect Your Gift. God will not anoint what you do not set apart to Him with reverence. And when we revere something, we are dedicated to making it the best we can. Do everything within your immediate means to better your God-given talent. Study. Learn. Apprentice. Invest. Practice. And then do it all again. If there is always someone out there “better than you,” then you should never stop applying yourself to excellence.

3.) Join With Those Around You. I have really come to adore the Body of Christ in recent days. While many Christians I meet are hell-bent on pointing fingers, “alerting,” “guarding,” and tearing one another down all in the mask of “being a watchman,” (which is actually completely opposite of a real Biblical Watchman’s job), I have fallen in love afresh with the Father’s invention of the Bride. He seems to think pretty highly of her, not because She is perfect, but because She is imperfect. Because She is in constant need of Her Bridegroom. And in that same way, we Christians are in need of one another. This should be yet another harbinger of things to come as the world’s system always says, “You don’t need anyone else but yourself,” God’s Kingdom system says, “Not only can’t you do this alone, but I’ll resist you if you do.” One of the best things I ever did for my writing career was to get together with other writers. No writing group in your area? There wasn’t for me either. So I found one other friend and started one. Now we’re four strong. The fellowship and loving critique I have found has greatly increased the product of my proverbial pen (because it’s a keyboard now).

4.) Affect The Culture Around You. Sure, I want to change the world, too. And I believe I will. But first, God has called me to affect the culture I live in. For me, that’s Northern New York State. God has planted me and my family in Jefferson County and I plan on dominating it for Christ. Yeah, you heard me. Dominating. I’m not sure where it became politically incorrect to use such terminology, but it’s high time we start taking back our God-ordained role to bring the Light of Christ to our regions. This means affecting every aspect of the culture. As Artists, I believe it’s much easier than we think. Find those around you throughout the Church of your region (not the specific church you attend) and start encouraging one another and promoting Godly work. Start an Artists Guild and meet regularly. Have a time of corporate worship and bring in a guest speaker. Then break off into your respective disciplines and put your works on display, share about them, critique them, and combine your efforts. Come up with strategies to beautify your area; donate paintings to banks and other businesses in your region; write songs for your county and sings them in church, or buy time on your local radio stations and let the radio declare them over your county; create new animations or advertising and put them up in your local movie theater (we have gotten a number of new church members through Cinema adds!); choreograph dances or plays and put them on in the local community colleges or rent out a venue; put art in the newspapers, or better yet, create your own newspaper or website! I was just in Tacoma, WA and heard of some Christians (visit Beautiful Angle) that hide a limited number of prints of their newest work in undisclosed locations throughout the city once a month; it has a huge thing now in the city to the point that if you can find the art, it is a collector’s item! The possibilities for you to affect your region’s culture are absolutely endless!

5.) Allow God To Open Up The Nations To You. I believe that scripture is true; if we are faithful with few things, the Lord will make us ruler of many things (Matt. 25:23). Notice the two distinct points of emphasis in that scripture. The first is that we must be faithful in something; those are the first four points I just offered up to you. But the second part is that God Himself does something. He exalts. He glorifies. That’s His part. I am absolutely convinced that old machines and locals of Christian production are being usurped by pockets of Christians who are being faithful to affect their regions for Jesus. In doing so, He is making them epicenters of productivity that will shake the nations. There is a new wineskin before us, brought about not only by advances in technology, such as the internet, computer aided audio & video recording and graphic design, but by a prophetic drive in the Father’s heart to express His Divine Nature to His Creation. For such a time as this.

So I call out to the Divine Dreams of my generation. Come out of hiding. Stop living under rocks. Prophets were never meant to live in caves. The Holy Spirit is calling us to be creative and strategic. This is your day. Do not compare yourselves to the status quo. Your art is to be affiliated with that of a different breed, a divine context, a sound that all the nations will know is Christ-like. Change the priority of the content that occupies your valuable heart-space, and fill your spirit with the songs of the King. This is your day to fly.

CH

Expelled: Ben Stein and the Crazy Right Wing Christians

ch-ichat-logo.png Here we go again.

Ben Stein’s new documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” hits select cities nationwide tomorrow. You can watch the trailer below.

But come on now…

When will they stop trying to force feed us their brand of religion? How long do we have to put up with this? Don’t they know that we’re trying to live our own lives here? That we’re sick and tired of their invasion into our privacy? Telling us what to believe and and how to believe it? Trying to comprise our public schools and universities with their doctrines? With things that can not be proven? That require faith to believe in? Give me a break. I believe those are called theories–not facts as they would say.

How can they be so close minded?

How can they can they be so narrow?

This is downright offensive. It shouldn’t be allowed to even be entertained.

But then again, this is their religion, after all. I’ve got to cut them some slack. I’m not just attacking their scientific opinions on the cause and purpose of life–if it can even be considered science–I’m actually attacking their belief system. Their religion. Their faith on why things are the way they are. And that’s deep rooted stuff.

So no wonder this subject stirs such a debate. It’s no longer scientific; it’s a clash of belief systems. Last I knew, this sort of cataclysmic collision pitted nations and families against one another for centuries. And apparently, it still does.

“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer that died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.”

G. Richard Bozarth , “The Meaning of Evolution”, American Atheist, 20 Sept. 1979, p. 30

So true, Mr. Bozarth. But if this could be true, then the converse could also true. If evolution is wrong, than it proves God is real, Jesus’ sacrifice is the only means for salvation, and consequently, makes all of mankind accountable for their own sin.

No wonder mankind doesn’t want Intelligent Design to be real: It would prove that not only God is real, but as Mr. Bozarth implied, that we are in need of His mercy through Jesus Christ.

My comments at the top were not about Jesus Believers, they were about Evolutionary Believers. Because we’re all believers in something.

To some, Science is god; to me, the God of science is. It’s just so much more logical and requires a whole lot less, well, faith.

Thanks for reading.

CH

When The Banshee Calls

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For anyone that’s ever read LOTR or The Chronicles of Narnia, it’s not hard to wonder where Tolkien and Lewis got their inspiration for places like “The Green Dragon” after you’re a patron of a traditional Irish, Scottish or English pub. Someone recently asked me the difference between a bar and a pub. And it’s a great question, the subject matter actually having a valuable point.

My experience with what I’ll call “typical bars,” both in playing at them and even just walking by, can be summed up in three basic words: loud, uncultured and obnoxious. There are certainly exceptions, such as “southern” types that have a large stage and invite well-studied country and blue grass groups, even promoting traditional line dancing.

But a pub is an entirely different place, one not commonly known to Americans.

Typically you won’t find drunks sloshed over the counter or leering at women; people don’t come to pubs to run from their troubles. Typically you won’t ever see a fight; people don’t have enemies at pubs. And typically you won’t be blasted by generic Top 40, 3-minute, one-hit-wonder songs; people at pubs could care less about the current greed-smeared generic noise of the day.

That’s because a real pub attracts a different kind of person, one who prefers talking about their life rather than trying to wash it away; a person who doesn’t see the patrons as strangers but as new friends to be made; and a person that prefers the legacy of true musical art passed down over generations.

Huh. That almost sounds like church.

And perhaps that’s why I’ve grown so fond of them and felt so free to look for opportunities to let the Jesus inside of me out while there.

Wayne Batson and I certainly had an amazing time at Scranton’s very own The Banshee. We pecked away at our keyboards both at the hotel and over lunch at one of the pub’s 200+ year old tables. And in those moments of discussing theology, plot development and life in general we felt like Lewis and Tolkien, sitting around a table at The Eagle and Child (minus the pipes).

But more than the time spent writing and sharing, it was so much fun to watch how the Lord opened opportunities for us to be Christ-like to people, sometimes to their surprise–and our own.

Due to last year’s visit, this year we had the chance to sit down with both owners and one of their fathers (an older gentleman that still runs triathlons!). They’re pictured just below (left to right: Wayne, Chuck, Melanie, Kathleen, me). We talked about the business, the horses they own, and Wayne even brought up the Lord and how relationships are the most important thing. While the traditional Irish band played on behind us, it became apparent as you looked around the place that people were the most important thing here. Them, and the conversations they were having.

Immediately I thought of Jesus and the cross. What did He die for? A business? An organization? A 401-K plan? A painting? A church building?

He died for people. They are the most important thing to Him. And then it hit me…

…they should be to me, too.

Wayne, Chuck, Melanie, Kathleen, CHHanding out a bookmark to a little girl provoked an enthusiastic response from her and her mother; they turned out to be Christians, excited to know of more books to read, and offered to spread the word to their local churches. Two musicians ended up knowing my father; in fact, I met them over 15 years ago when they recorded at my father’s studio! I got to catch them up on the amazing things the Lord has done in my life. And sharing my love for Jesus and His kingdom with one of the owners and watching her smile was such a treat.

And after all that the owner’s father, learning of our musical gifts, immediately opened the door for us at The Banshee and asked if Jennifer and I would consider coming down to perform. As I drove home and related this last bit of news to my wife, she said, “You know, I feel like we’re not called to entertain Christians; they have enough good bands for that. We’re called to reach the lost, to go where they are.” Funny how just two weeks ago she told me to pray about doing a pub tour.

Guess we got our first gig. The Banshee calls.

I think that often we completely misinterpret the Biblical mandate of “being in the world but not of it.” In my own spiritual pride, and mostly fueled by fear of “becoming like them,” I read it, “Live on planet earth, but stay to your own kind and keep away from evil sinners.”

Sure, we’ll find those who hate us (1 John 3:13). They’ll mock, threaten and even kill, just as they did to Jesus. But the Jesus I read about in scripture loved them so much–loved being around them, eating with them, talking with them and simply encouraging them–that they loved him. Better put, they adored him.

I wonder how many sinners adore me today? Ha…what a funny question to pose. I wonder how many of them see so much of Jesus in my eyes, whether they understand it or not, that they’d rather be with me than anyone one of their “worldly” friends? And perhaps I do indeed have that much of Jesus glowing in my eyes–I’d like to think so–but because I haven’t placed myself in proximity to them, among them but not of them, they’ll never know.

Certainly you must walk with the light you’ve been given and know what you can handle as a person–I got it. Walk in accountability and mutual submission; that’s Biblical! But going to where the perishing are is also Biblical! When will we finally stop making excuses and just be the Spirit filled, Holy Ghost anointed, divinely justified witnesses of the Gospel that Jesus commanded us to be? If you’re in ignorance in some area of your life, learn all you can and invest into the Word constantly. But if you know the Truth and souls are slipping into an eternity forever separated from God on your watch, I suggest you get your game face on and start loving the lost with everything that’s in you.

And since most pubs are already so much like churches, it shouldn’t be that hard to bring the Light there. They’ve probably been waiting for it for a long time. At least that’s what I plan on doing.

Be encouraged! Bring the light and love of Jesus into every situation you’re in! And don’t see the lost as your adversaries–see them as your inheritance! If one doesn’t want you, don’t get hung up…there is someone else right behind them who really needs some hope. Is your Banshee calling? Your work place? Your school? Your grocery store? Where is God calling you to demonstrate His divine love? You can’t lose!

Thanks for reading. May you be provoked to action.

CH

(Below is a signed plaque we presented the owners; they immediately hung it on their wall. Wayne and I thought it was picture worthy).