Iranian pastor under death sentence freed

That Iranian pastor who had been sentenced to death in Iran (we blogged about him here and here) has been freed after three years in prison:

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran, where he has been held for almost three years on charges of apostasy from Islam, as well as evangelizing. On its website, “Present Truth Ministries” quotes a Luther-like Nardakhani in court:

“During one hearing he was told to recant and he responded, ‘You ask me to recant. Recant means to return. What do you wish me to return to? The blasphemy that I was in before Christ?’ The judges responded, ‘To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.’ Youcef replied, ‘I cannot.’”

The effort to get Nadarkhani released seems to have been spearheaded by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ, obviously not to be confused with the ACLU). This American organization offers legal services when rights, especially religious ones, have been inhibited. The ACLJ was in contact with the U.S. State Department and was instrumental in making people aware of Nadarkhani’s imprisonment (especially through Twitter, with over 3 million people re-tweeting the ACLJ’s “Tweets for Youcef.”)

via Steadfast Lutherans » Steadfast Guest — After Three Years, Freedom by Pr. Timothy Winterstein.

HT:  Anthony Sacramone, who comments, “Most of us will never have to endure anything more onerous than a snarky remark or a sneer as the price of our faith, so take a moment to consider a man who clearly counted the cost of following Christ and persevered under terrible duress for three years—and who also had a wife and two young sons who no doubt suffered terribly as well.  Of course, Pastor Nadarkhani was already free long before his captors opened the gates of his cell.”

For more details, see this.

What Christ’s miracles mean

We had an illuminating sermon from Pastor Douthwaite last Sunday on Mark 7:31-37, in which Jesus touches the ears and the tongue of the deaf mute and tells him “ephphata”; that is, “be opened.”

Jesus’ miracles are not simply signs of who He is – God in the flesh and so signs of His divinity and power – but even more importantly, they are signs of what He has come to do for you. Yes, for you and me, for how often are we like this deaf man and unable to hear? Unable to hear God’s Word because our ears are clogged with the words of men. Unable to hear God’s Word of love because our ears are filled with words of hate. Unable to hear God’s Word of forgiveness because our hearts are hard with anger and resentment. Unable to hear God’s Word of life and hope because we live in a world of death and destruction. And so unable to hear we are also unable to speak of these things.

But as Jesus came to that deaf man and laid His hands on him and touched his ears and tongue and ephphatha-ed him, so has Jesus done for you. For Jesus came to you and laid His hands on your head in Holy Baptism, He touches your ears with His Word of forgiveness, and He touches your tongue with the Body and Blood of His Supper, and in all these ways He ephphathas you. And eyes and ears and tongues and hearts and minds closed by sin are opened in forgiveness. And we hear of a love we’ve never heard of before, of a goodness we’ve never heard of before, of a life we’ve never heard of before and that is given to us. Given to us now as our foretaste of the feast to come . . . because the full reality is still coming.

Just as the man’s healing was a sign of a greater work, so the gifts we receive here are leading us to a greater opening – when our graves will be opened with Jesus’ ephphatha and in the resurrection we will be set free, body and soul, finally and fully, forever.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Pentecost 15 Sermon.

 

It’s September 11

Has September 11 become a de facto grassroots holiday?  Do we need a day to remember the terrorist attacks in 2001 and to commemorate their victims?  Should it be officially recognized, like Memorial Day?  Or should we stop thinking about that nightmarish day and just move on?

The Democrat’s abortionfest

Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger marvels at how the Democratic National Convention turned into such a celebration of abortion.

Never have I heard as much talk about abortion as at this convention, where speech after speech highlights how wrong I’ve been to wince every time Barack Obama is referred to as “the abortion president.”

Supporters hoist signs as the President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards speaks to the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 5, 2012 on the second day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). With America so divided on this issue and most people somewhere in the middle, MSNBC’s First Read observed on Wednesday that “perhaps the most surprising part of last night was that it had more talk about abortion rights than in any Democratic convention since 1992, the first of many self-described “Year of the Woman” campaign years….Four years ago, it seemed the Democratic Party was going out of its way to feature pro-life officeholders, like Tim Kaine or Bob Casey Jr., as a way to set a different tone on culture. Fast forward four years later and it’s clear Democrats and the Obama campaign were sending the not-so-subtle message that they believe the secret formula [is] capitalizing on the gender gap: talk about women’s rights and women’s choices.’’ . . .

And it isn’t only abortion-rights lobbyists like Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, who’ve preached on it from the podium; Julian Castro, Deval Patrick and Michelle Obama all did, too.

For those still not sure where the party stands, a young mom named Libby Bruce told delegates how Planned Parenthood treated her endometriosis 12 years ago. One-time Republican Maria Ciano assured them that if voters give the president a second term, “our right to make our own most personal decisions will be safe for another generation.” Sandra Fluke claimed that if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected instead, we’ll wake up in “an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms.”

After hours, delegates could attend their choice of parties hosted by pro-choice groups. And in the street in front of the convention center, women in pink Planned Parenthood t-shirts argued with protesters holding fetal photos I could have lived a long, happy life without ever glimpsing. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was the issue dividing the parties. . . .

Even the tribute to Teddy Kennedy, who for many years considered himself pro-life, was used to drive home the ubiquitous abortion rights theme, via footage of the ’94 senatorial debate in which Kennedy called Romney “multiple choice” on the issue. A tireless advocate for the dispossessed, Kennedy was so much more than that — and his party used to be, too.

via ‘Abortion-palooza’ in Charlotte: Did we mention we support a woman’s right to choose? – She The People – The Washington Post.

Just how messed up is our economy?

John Ransom says that our economy is so messed up that economists don’t even have tools to describe what is happening:

To give you an idea how bad the jobs report released on Friday is, consider this fact: The employment situation in the country is so bad that economists can’t accurately measure it with the existing tools they use to measure jobs. In other words, we have entered a period in our country not contemplated by economists. They simply don’t have the tools to measure what’s actually occurring in the jobs market.

Modern economists never imagined a scenario in which a country with as much wealth, power and innovation as United States could stretch out a jobs recession as long as the country has under Obama. . . .

We have a record amount of money in the system doing a record amount of nothing right now. And still the government policy wonks keep thinking that by injecting more money into a system already over-burdened by its money supply we will eventually get different results. . . .

The result is that investors today are still buying US Treasuries despite the fact that after calculating for the real inflation rate Treasury bonds are delivering net negative returns. In other words, investors choose to park money someplace where they are guaranteed to lose money. Because with Treasuries at least they know that their losses will be limited. If they invest in expanding businesses, they know they could lose their entire vig to the G-Men.

This phenomenon, where investors would rather have losses than any risk, has an effect on jobs.

As most of the commentariat is noting, the top-line unemployment number- the one that makes all the headlines- is going down not because of an improving jobs market, but rather because people are dropping out of the workforce at a record pace.

The 8.1 percent unemployment number is meaningless. It actually doesn’t exist. It’s like measuring an 8 foot board with a 12 inch ruler. Shortening the ruler doesn’t make the board smaller.

The rate at which Americans are participating in the jobs market is now 63.5 percent. More than one-third of Americans qualified to work have despaired of ever finding a job under Obama. That’s the highest number of Americans who have sat on the sidelines rather than look for work since 1981. For over a year the workforce participation rates have plunged, coinciding with expiring unemployment benefits.

And the problem is not that there is a lack of money in the system to sustain the economy. But there is a notable lack of demand. Demand comes from confidence that consumers and business feel about the health of the economy. Unlike politicians, those of us in the real world can’t spend what we don’t have. We have to manage our lives using the cash that we actually have at hand.

The problem here is not that businesses and banks don’t have money. Currently the money supply (MZM) stands at a record $11 trillion. Yet the velocity at which the money has moved through the system has plunged under Obama. Money is sitting in accounts, not contributing to GDP growth, but rather just chasing the price of hard assets up because people who make decisions fear that the worst in the economy is yet to come.

Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, TARP, public pensions, John Corzine, Solydnra and the UAW have done a fantastic job of muddying the waters for corporate America as well as small business owners and the self-employed.

These hostile acts taken by or on behalf of Big Government have our economy idling in place.

Economic conditions are so bad that the standard tools used by economists to explain current conditions can’t measure the depth of the peoples’- or the economy’s- depression. Jimmy Carter had the Misery Index. People, meet the President of the United States: Barack Hussien Obama.

The Obama Index is the new index for measuring our despair.

via The Obama Index: The Newest Index to Measure Our Despair – John Ransom – Townhall Finance Conservative Columnists and Financial Commentary.

Cardinal Dolan’s prayer for the Democrats

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, gave the closing prayer at the Republican convention, so, in an act of political balance, agreed to give the closing prayer at the Democratic convention also.  But look what he said!

We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.

See the whole text of his prayer here:   Cardinal Dolan Admonishes Democrats on Abortion, Religious Liberty | LifeNews.com.

Pro-life, pro-religious liberty (alluding to the controversy about mandated birth control and abortifacient coverage, which he has been crusading against), anti-moral relativism, anti-remaking institutions (as in gay marriage)!

Cardinal Dolan is a jovial guy, as I remember when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee.  (I actually met him.  Interesting fact:  He is the brother of Bob Dolen, a comical radio talk show host in that fair city.)  But what a strong and fearless witness, rebuke, and prayer for repentance.


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