Letter from an Iranian Prison

Saeed AbediniHe is Iranian-born, but now an American citizen. His Christian faith has put him in prison. Pastor Saeed Abedini sought to take the gospel to his homeland, a nation that is vehemently opposed to that message. Sentenced to eight years in prison after being arrested in 2012, he hasn’t seen his wife and children since then. While his wife and concerned Christians worldwide work for his release, he has been subjected to brutal treatment—beatings and other physical abuse—that has now landed him in the prison system’s hospital. Probably the only reason he is receiving any medical aid at all is the pressure from world opinion being brought to bear on his behalf.

Yet, in the midst of this severe trial, his faith remains vibrant and strong. Abedini follows in the footsteps of other Christians throughout history who have been imprisoned for their faith. From his hospital bed, he penned an Easter letter that has recently been made public. The apostle Paul wrote letters from his prison; Pastor Abedini’s letter has Paul-like qualities. Here it is, in its entirety:

Saeed Abedini 2Happy Resurrection Day.

On the Eve of Good Friday and Easter I was praying from my hospital room for my fellow Christians in the world.  What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in prayer was that there are many dead faiths in the midst of Christians today. That Christians all over the world are not able to fully reach their spiritual potential that has been given to them as a gift by God so that in reaching that potential, the curtain can be removed and the Glory of God would be revealed.

Some times we want to experience the Glory and resurrection with Jesus without experiencing death with Him.  We do not realize that unless we pass through the path of death with Christ, we are not able to experience resurrection with Christ.

We want to have a good and successful marriage, career, education and family life (which is also God’s desire and plan for our life). But we forget that in order to experience the Resurrection and Glory of Christ we first have to experience death with Christ and to die to ourselves and selfish desires.

Jesus said to His Disciples:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

This means that we should not do things that we like to do (that God does not want us to do) and to do things that we do not like to do (but God wants us to do) so that He may be glorified.

So in addition to spending our days and night in doing the works of faith as described above, we should also transform our dead faiths into living and active faiths through the resurrection of Christ which is an active and constructive love that is effective.

In conclusion, let us resurrect our Dead faiths to living faiths by first dying to our selfish “resurrected” self and experiencing the cross of Jesus. Then we are able to experience the Glorious resurrection with Christ.

A Glorious life with Christ starts only after a painful death (to self) with Christ.

We will start with Christ.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Prisoner in the Darkness in Iran, but free for the Kingdom and Light

Abedini’s Christian witness is extraordinary. May the Lord use this witness to draw people to Himself. And may Abedini be freed and reunited with his family. That is my prayer.

U.S. Influence: The Great Vanishing Act

When writing on domestic policy and the Obama administration, I continually point out the overreach: Obamacare, IRS, ruling by executive fiat. If one were to concentrate wholly on the domestic side, it would seem as if everything Obama does lends itself to an incipient tyranny. Shifting to foreign policy, however, sheds a different light—not an admirable one, mind you, but different. Benghazi was/is an exercise in utter incompetence and cluelessness (coupled with a determined coverup, of course). Responses to nations that don’t have our best interests at heart reveal weakness and lack of seriousness, as if we don’t really grasp the threats.

Let’s take Russia, for instance. Putin continues to push the international envelope in many ways, the latest being in Ukraine. What decisive American policy has gone into effect in this crisis? What will it take to get the leader of the free world on board with real action?

More Warnings

Then there’s Iran, busily pursuing nuclear weapons while we think we can talk them into being a nice government that will put trade above ideology. They simply take advantage of our foolishness:

Negotiate

Meanwhile, our president seems more intent on proving his opponents as wrongheaded and portraying himself as focused on the “real” threats:

Doing Nothing

And our influence in the world?

Poof

As if by magic, it has vanished.

Our Consistent President

One thing I’ll say about President Obama that might sound like praise is that he is proving to be consistent. However, one must always examine the consistency. In his case, I’ve concluded he’s just as off-base and dangerous in foreign policy as in domestic. He brags about how he has Al Qaeda on the run, but now Al Qaeda elements are threatening to overrun key areas of Iraq. The entire American endeavor in that country—overthrowing tyranny and helping set up a stable ally in the Middle East—is close to failure due to Obama’s cut-and-run policy. All his bravado in words now comes across as more than a little hollow:

Al Qaeda

He also has foisted on us a so-called deal with Iran, which is the primary abettor of violence in the region. Even the Iranian leader recently boasted that this deal was a victory over the West. For some odd reason, our president and secretary of state believe Iran will be more moderate in the future, so we can drop all those nasty sanctions:

Be Nicer

And as I documented in a post last week, the whole Benghazi affair is blowing up in his face. If only the mainstream media would do its job, everyone by now would know about the ineptitude, obstruction of justice, and stream of lies that are at the root of that fiasco/tragedy. But the media is in full protection mode again, not only shielding its current heartthrob but also its next “dream” president:

Line of Duty

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say we’ve never seen the likes of this, or at least to this extent, in American history. And as a history professor, I hope my opinion might carry some weight.

The Middle East Mess: Obama Disconnected

The Middle East is more of a mess with each passing day. And we helped. The major player now in that area is not the United States but Iran, which is actively exporting its Islamist ideology. I know that George Bush’s actions can be critiqued, but at least when he decided to unleash a surge in Iraq, it worked. Radical elements in that country were set back significantly. Iraq, for the first time in quite a while, experienced something approaching stability.

That has now changed.

Anyone remember the city of Fallujah? It was Islamist Central until we finally brought it under control. The same with the city of Ramadi. What’s happening now? Fallujah is now back under the domination of Al Qaeda. There is no longer any Iraqi government presence there; the Al Qaeda flag is flying from all the buildings. Ramadi is now a battleground, prepared to go the same way.

Barack Obama inherited a fairly stable Iraq, but instead of keeping a small force there to maintain stability, he chose to pull out completely. When’s the last time you heard him say anything about Iraq? He seems to have forgotten it, and apparently doesn’t much care what happens. He never believed in our intervention there in the first place, so he’s disconnected to events on the ground. Being disconnected to events is one of the themes of his governance.

What about Afghanistan? We’re about to see the same scenario play out there. Even though Obama once said this was the right war, one he could support, he’s in the process of pulling an Iraq in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who were driven from the country, are now reentering. Instability is on the rise. Another tragedy is in the offing.

Behind all of this is the belligerence of Iran, the big power now in the region. It continues to develop nuclear capability, while we pretend its leaders are becoming more moderate. The “deal” Obama-Kerry want to solidify with that rogue nation has no mechanism to stop Iran’s drive toward domination, including a publicly stated intent to destroy Israel once it attains nuclear status. There’s a lot of posturing going on that belies the reality:

Sheep & Wolf

It’s always easy to talk tough, but one must have the stomach and backbone to follow through with action. Maybe that’s what’s missing:

Too Transparent

Given the opportunity to make his mark and stand up to Iran, our leader chose another path:

Iran

We are not in a good place. Unless there is a jarring wake-up call to this administration, things are going to get worse, much worse, very soon.

Dreamy-Eyed Progressives vs. America’s Security

I’m concerned that not enough Americans are paying close attention to the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly the deal reached with Iran by the US and a few other nations. Iran was hurting under our sanctions; now we’ve pulled back on those sanctions without getting a solid promise that the country that seeks to obliterate Israel will actually stop working on its nuclear capability. I’ve read a number of commentaries on the “deal,” and there are so many holes in it, it is virtually useless.

Excellent

Here is where a skewed worldview comes into play, one that will put us at greater risk. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry seem to believe the Iranian leaders will become reasonable. They are sadly mistaken because they have a distorted concept of the nature of sinful man. Our “leaders” have spent most of their lives bemoaning American actions in the world and criticizing their own country more than other nations. It’s as if they think the United States is the primary hindrance to world peace. Iran doesn’t mind this warped perspective; it works to their distinct advantage:

All Smiles

It also helps them move closer to the goal of wiping Israel off the face of the map. Ever since the creation of Israel in 1948, the United States has been its staunchest ally, but our current leadership is more sympathetic toward the Arab world than the embattled Israelis, who are surrounded by a host of enemies. They have come to realize they can no longer count on the nation that once was their best supporter and helper in times of trouble. They are trying to adjust to the new reality:

Israel's Seat

This is not just a problem for Israel. The Obama administration, due to its off-base ideology, is unwilling and/or unable to see the long-term danger now facing America from the Iranian terrorist state. We’re also now hearing reports of talks with the terrorist organization Hezbollah, as if they also can be reasonable. Dreamy-eyed progressives are undermining our security.

The Iranian Deal: Realism vs. Idealism

Obamacare has been so front and center lately—and will continue to be so because of its effect on everyone—that our foreign policy with respect to Iran has taken a back seat in the public’s mind. Foreign policy usually takes a back seat, as we’re nearly always more concerned about what we see happening here at home. Yet what happens here in the future is vitally connected to what’s happening over there.

Iran DealWe have blustered for years now about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Presidents Bush and Obama have pledged not to allow such development, the basis for that concern being the radical Islamic ideology that motivates Iran. The first country to be menaced by any nuclear weapons in Iran will be Israel, which is our only staunch ally in the Middle East. Turning our backs on Israel would be a betrayal of the highest magnitude, yet this new “deal” that the Western nations have just agreed to with Iran seems to do just that.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, calls this deal a “historic mistake.” James Carafano, in National Review, calls this “Munich II,” the classic sellout of Czechoslovakia by the Western powers to Hitler in 1938. The first Munich rested on the “ridiculous notion that Hitler could be satiated.” Carafano says it is  “equally ludicrous” to believe that Iran is really open to giving up its nuclear development. Sanctions were working, to some extent; that’s what brought the Iranians to the table. Now, in this new deal, we are easing most of those sanctions. Carafano then writes about the two different worldviews in our approach to Iran: realism vs. idealism.

The realists, he says, know that sanctions were only there for one reason: bring down this regime. Idealists believe that sanctions were the “magic button” that would make the Iranians reasonable. He continues:

The parting of the ways between realists and idealists is not about two different visions of the path to a peaceful future. In the case of this particular foreign-policy conundrum, the realist approach is based on a full awareness of whom the West is really dealing with. The idealists’ assessment is delusional. . . .

The only “fact” offered so far to prove that the pact will lead to something other than a good deal for Iran is the blithe assurance that the deal was negotiated by really smart people who know what they are doing.

Are these the same “smart people” who orchestrated our response to Benghazi? We also need to realize that President Obama has a soft spot for Islamic radicalism and a seething disdain for Israel. How comforting is that? He’s always been far more willing to negotiate with Islamists than with others he perceives as his enemies:

Negotiations

I, for one, am not in my comfort zone when I think about his negotiating skills and his promises:

Iran Nuke Deal

Obama is one of those idealists Carafano wrote about, who think the Iranians will see the light, and with whom we can negotiate in good faith. As he said, this is delusional:

Bridge

Then again, maybe we just don’t know how clever he and John Kerry have been in all this. Perhaps we don’t understand their trump card:

Secret Plan

Yes, that might do it—a sure pathway for the destruction of any enemy.

Official Political Cartoon Day

I declare today “Political Cartoon Day.” I’ll scale back my commentary and let you enjoy/groan over the wit offered by those who are paid to be witty. Let’s begin with the Syrian issue that dominates the news cycle at the moment. Is it possible we’re being distracted from the real threat?

Look

I also thought the president was perhaps practicing his stand-up comedy routine yesterday with one of his comments:

Credibility Problem

Shifting our focus to the ever-popular race card, the Mallard Fillmore strip has been fascinated with the Rev. Al lately:

 Race Hustle

Questioning

And how can we neglect the blessing that is Obamacare?

Tea-Partier

 Obamacare Commercial

I have more, but I’ll save them for another day.