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September 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

My “How to Vote” guide

Who do I vote for?  How do I decide?

I'm interested in a leader who tries his best to follow God's will as he/she makes decisions.  Because I know that while such a person isn't perfect, the results of a person TRYING to follow God's direction will be better than someone who isn't trying to follow God. 

I pray about who I should vote for.

I consider the influence a leader will have on young and old people.  I will not pick a leader who sets a bad example for others to follow.

Why vote for someone who tries to follow God's will?

In the United States, we often have the privilege of voting for people who try to follow God's will.  I believe that God knows better how to run our nation than we do.  He made us and this world – he designed it all, so He knows best.  Anyone who learns from Him will do a better job leading than someone following their own or other people's ideas. 

It's simple – I want God's will to be done, so I choose leaders who try to follow God.

What if multiple candidates claim to be "Christian"?

Following God means we become more and more like Jesus, who followed God best.  In the Bible, Jesus talks about looking at the kind of acts we do, and that if you look at a person's deeds, you can discover how close they are to God. 

I'm particularly interested in what candidates did when they weren't so much the center of attention – did they care for the elderly, did they feed the hungry, did they clothe and house the homeless, did they nurture the children?  Then I look at how successful a candidate was/is leading their own family – were they faithful to their one spouse for their entire life, how did their children turn out, do they attend church to worship God? 

Is the candidate sincere, or does he/she act one way on-stage, and another way off-stage?  I don't trust inconsistent people.  Matthew 5:37 says "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no."

What traits do I want to see in any leader?

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

What if nobody running seems to be following God?

Someday I need to encourage someone I know who does follow God, to consider running for office next time.  We each have our own strengths, and for some, this kind of leadership isn't a good fit.  That's why I don't run :-)

I enjoy innovative independent thinkers.  I appreciate leaders who encourage others to grow, and then step aside when better talent rises, instead of wanting to stay on top so they can always be "king".  I admire a leader who tries to do what's idealistically right, and who takes time to do it right the first time – instead of caving in to pressure.  And sometimes I want a leader to do what's best for the people, when it's obvious they don't fully understand what's best for themselves (such as Abraham Lincoln with regard to slavery).

Excusing your behavior because portions of the Bible are culturally specific

The Bible wasn't just compliant with the culture of its day – it exceeded the bounds of the culture of its day.  In other words, the Bible's message is not world-culturally specific – God asks us to be/do more than our culture expects, because God's people are not expected to fit the mold of any world culture.  In fact, we must not fit the world's standard, because God expects us to be His people – the salt and light of this world.

John MacArthur, in his book "Being a Dad who Leads" writes to husbands and fathers about God's expectations for His men:

Your wife is "a fellow heir of the grace of life."  She is your spiritual equal.  As such, you are to cultivate companionship and fellowship with her, not lord it over her.  This was a foreign concept to the Greco-Roman culture of Peter's day.  Husbands were generally uninterested in friendship with their wives, expecting them to merely take care of the house and bear children.  In contrast, the Christian husband is to cultivate a loving and intimate companionship with his wife, which is one of the richest blessings he can know in this life.

In these ways, 1 Peter 3:7 defines for us all the more what a sacrificial love looks like.  Ultimately, the Christian husband loves his wife not for what she can do for him, but because of what he desires to do for her.  That's how Christ's love works.  He loves us not because there's something in us that attracts Him to us; He loves us because He is determined to love us in spite of our unattractiveness.  He loves us with a sympathetic love that seeks to understand us, assist us, comfort and equip us, and meet our needs.  It's a love that perseveres even when we fail Him.  That's the kind of love you as a husband are to have for your wife.

God is preparing us to be with Him for eternity, if we will follow Him.  He's helping us to find Life that is beyond our imagination.  Most people in this world have messed up lives (focusing on personal profit and pleasure), but God is showing us what relational life in Heaven is like.  It's completely different – a culture of its own.

The Wolves Within

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice…

"Let me tell you a story.  I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do."

"But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing."

"Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."


The Return of the Unclean Spirit – an episode in the life of Jesus, from Matthew 12

43 “When the [angry] spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”


The Life God Intends for Us, from Colossians 3

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

December 26, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Forgive Me

Father, I'm going through some heavy things
It seems like this world ain't getting any better
The more we try to get closer to You
The farther we run from Your throne

I've spent so many nights wonderin' when will it end
When will the day come when happiness begins
I'm running the race but it seems too hard to win
I'm sick of mourning my stomach is throwing up in the morning

I'm calling for help and watching it melt away
My heart's been put on display and put away
In many ways, many times I told myself it was ok
And anger was the price that was paid
While these faded dreams just screamed to bring them home

The burden was too heavy I kept running from the throne
I can't take it any longer
I can taste my spirit hunger
God please help me get home

I've come to terms that I'm burning both sides of the rope
And I'm hoping that self-control would kick in before I'm choking off
This sin that be destroying every fiber I got
I need the Lord in every way I'll never make it I'm not
Going back to the way I was before Christ in my life
I couldn't do it I would lose it there's no point to the fight
And I'm writing this song, for the people who don't belong
I pray away the pain you feel from all the things that went wrong
Inside a life that's filled with anger and disappointment
Cause daddy treated you weaker than all of the other kids
It's annoying and I feel for all of you who wanna give up
You feel stuck I feel the same way Lord help us stay up
You couldn't pay me to abandon the idea of true hope
That I could make it through this life into a place where there's no crying
I'm dying to find You with open arms when I go
Knowing You love me and You waiting to give rest to my soul

[Chorus]

Lord I don't know what I'm struggling for
There's got to be more
Than this life I know
But still I'm here fighting to never give up
I find strength in Your love
And You will see me through

[Chorus]

Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Lord please
Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I'm not scared cause You're holding my breath
I only fear that I don't have enough time left
To tell the world that there's no time left

- by Group 1 Crew

December 14, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Evidence that Climate Change is man-caused

As one of the Republican Presidential candidates, Ben Carson says, "You have a brain".  So let's think about climate change by reminding ourselves of some well known studies:

  • "Earth used to be covered with far more trees. Using computer models, Thomas Crowther and colleagues estimated that before human civilization Earth had about 5.6 trillion trees. So the number of trees on Earth, [now ~3 trillion], has been chopped nearly in half."  Trees do help combat human-made climate change, due to their photosynthesis cycle.
  • Just after 9/11/2001, while the FAA grounded all air travel, there were 3 days without contrails.  A study found "…an anomalous increase in the average diurnal temperature range (that is, the difference between the daytime maximum and night-time minimum temperatures) for the period 11-14 September 2001."  "Because persisting contrails can reduce the transfer of both incoming solar and outgoing infrared radiation and so reduce the daily temperature range, we attribute at least a portion of this anomaly to the absence of contrails over this period."
  • "Scientists discovered in the 1970s that chlorofluorocarbons such as Freon were hurting Earth’s ozone layer."  However, "people still use non-CFC–based aerosols widely. Today’s propellants don’t destroy ozone but do pose other problems. Hydrocarbons can contribute to ground-level ozone formation, a health threat. And some hydrofluorocarbons belong among another class of environmental enemies: the atmos­phere-warming greenhouse gases."  The problem was/is so bad that there were/are ozone layer holes in some areas allowing, excessive radiation (heat is a form of radiation) to reach the ground.

You may have other examples on your mind, so please feel free to leave your comment.

How do people respond to the topic of whether climate change is caused by mankind?

  1. Denial – the earth is a big place, and knows how to take care of itself
  2. Helpless Victim – I contribute so little to the problem, it doesn't really matter what I do
  3. Guardian – I can do something about this, and I have a plan to help make it better, starting with me and my family.  Here's my plan…
  4. Destroyer – Life is short, and I'm going to get all I can for me, regardless of the impact
September 27, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

US administration makes deal with Iran, despite prior promise to wife of imprisoned American

CBS News correspondent Major Garrett questioned the president [Obama] about the Iranian nuclear deal that left Americans in Iranian jails.

“As you well know, there are four Americans held in Iran, three held on trumped up charges, according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?” Garrett asked.

The U.S. State Department condemned the sentencing of Saeed in 2013: “We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”

So the US administration now wishes to make a nuclear deal with a country that violates human rights and is willing to jail and torture a US citizen who is one of our people.  It seems this administration has limited moral code, limited ethics, limited integrity, and is not willing to protect all of its people.

I call on the US Congress to decline this administrations’ inappropriate deal with Iran.  Don’t make deals with nations that violate human rights.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds

To some extent, we can know the nature of any man or woman by what they do – and we don’t have to wait to see, we can look at whatever they have already done, to project the kind of things they will do next.

With our world seemingly spinning out of control, God is the only one who can properly save us.  Good leaders who follow God and have a good track record of actions are a distant second.  But each of us should follow God, so we do what is right.

Saint Basil said

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Saint Basil was borrowing from Luke 6, which says

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.”

What kind of “good things” would we look for in a person’s history?  Well, if our person honors God, we will see these things (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

And remember David, “the man after God’s own heart” who got so upset when he came across the Philistines and Goliath, saying bad things about God’s people?  David loved God and was really devoted to him.  When Goliath said bad things about God and his people, David wanted to defend their honor and assure their safety!  My son once had a coach who said “Protect your house!”  Every good leader should be doing that.

A good leader develops a good plan.  What does God say?  (Jeremiah 29:11) ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘  Those are important words – HOPE, and a FUTURE.  The future is wrapped up in our children, and our children’s children.  If our plans don’t “protect their house” too, a leader has failed.  Some examples:

  • protect our environment
  • protect our finances
  • protect our minds and spirits
  • protect us from outside threats
  • inspire us to exceed expectations and be full of meaningful life

As we live our own lives, and assess others who want to be leaders, I wonder how many of us are like clueless 3rd Graders jumping up and down yelling “Pick Me, Pick me!”, but who do not have good fruit in our own lives?  Do we really care about those around us – our future – or are we just chasing the stardom of leadership?

The proof of who we are is in our recent past.  Anyone can see it.  And the wonderful thing about recent pasts is that you can start building yours today.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28

Give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead

[I] wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

December 19, 2014Permalink Leave a comment

Falling away from God

There’s an interesting article “How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion” providing some details from the General Social Survey – a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago.

The study notes that 53% of the population spends two hours per week online and 25% surfed for more than 7 hours/wk.  And since 1990, there’s a 10% drop in religious affiliation in the United States.  Not all the causes have been determined.

I’d like to highlight some comments left on the article:

  1. Sure you can seek for answers in religion, but google is a lot easier and a lot more reliable.
    1. God says his word never returns empty results.  When it has truthful answers, the Internet is a great way to find them.  But some people are still looking for the truth among the evidence, and speak too soon about their conclusions.  That is the state of some scientists today, who promote their conclusions before really getting all the evidence rationalized.  An answer that only partially solves the challenge is not an adequate answer.  Jesus said he is the way, truth, and life.
  2. established religion … needs to be founded on something better than pure belief. It needs to offer an experience that anyone who is interested can experience for themselves.
    1. God isn’t a dog who does tricks on demand.  What he did do, is see our inability to save ourselves from self-destruction and provide a means for rescue, so we could be with him forever.  Even though Jesus did many visible miracles (high level experience for onlookers), some people still refused to believe.  God’s demonstrated love, in the form of Jesus was an expression of intense love that he still expresses to people individually (low-level) when they look for him.
    2. The assurance of forgiveness and salvation is an experience anyone can have.  But the Way Jesus demonstrated is a relationship with God (why spend forever with someone you don’t like?) and some people aren’t willing to lay aside their personal gods to be with God.
  3. multiculturalism is also a huge factor. … I started to see that these people had a very different faith from me, yet had just as much reason to believe it as I did.
    1. Jesus said “even the demons believe”.  Passion and dedication can be demonstrated by anyone for anything.  But until you have experienced God loving you so deeply, and personally, that he cares to remake your life and give you purpose and peace…nothing compares.
  4. Something that seems obvious but has been missed was the simple answer that maybe these people were not religious originally, but felt it was unacceptable to be so, so they simply lied about it.
    1. Jesus told a story about seed planted on shallow, rocky, and good soil.  How deep is your love for God?  When the world is brought into your room, are you able to handle the challenges by turning to Him for guidance as to where you surf, and how/who you engage?
  5. The rise of the internet is enabling such a rapid spread of ideas that religion is evolving faster than new religious societies can emerge, faster than old religious societies can organize their members.
    1. If religion has to evolve in response to the Internet, was it untruthful or misrepresenting something in the first place?  Or was it a shallow tradition with no depth of relationship with God, and people got more excited by socializing online than socializing in a church club?  God’s church isn’t supposed to be this way – but I think any church should consider reaching out to Internet crowds just as we should be with the neighbors we meet in person.
  6. …the traditional Christian “gospel” is now preached almost exclusively in churches, where only those who are raised in the church are likely to hear it.
    1. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Alone with your thoughts…

Science magazine reports on the results of several studies:

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

What is it about our own thoughts that could be so offensive?  We’ve built up so many distractions in our lives… is it a coping strategy to deal with our inability to handle the reality of who we (really) are and where our lives are heading?

God placed his Spirit in mankind when He created us.  He mentions that he has limited our lives to 120 years because He wanted a limit on how long his Spirit would contend with us.  One definition for “contend” is:  to strive in rivalry; compete

It’s not right that God should have to compete for our love.  It’s like asking how long you would tolerate living with a wife or husband who cheated on you.

So when we’re left alone with our thoughts, perhaps these are the moments when God’s Spirit begins to speak to us.  When Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, it was for that reason – to grow closer to God and establish his life direction.

I wonder what would happen if we bravely took time to talk with God for a period of time, to find out what we should do with our life?