Kidnapped Priest Released in Turkey

I read this report from Mission Network News this morning and thought of the Apostle Paul’s feet that walked miles and miles through Turkey sharing the gospel. He penetrated the inner regions spreading the message of peace and reconciliation in the ancient cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Troas, and Ephesus.

Today, Christians are constantly under attack.  As recently as April of this year, 3 workers in a Christian publishing office had their throats slit in a gruesome attack motivated by religious hatred.

May God protect what He planted and is planting in this country–in the Book of Acts we see that the Word of God cannot be imprisoned, murdered or snuffed out–it is a Living Word.

7 December, 2007

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Turkey (MNN) ― Compass Direct reports good news in a kidnapping in southeastern Turkey.  According to their sources, unidentified assailants kidnapped Father Edip Daniel Savci, 42, last Wednesday. 

Two days later, he was freed by his captors 43 miles north of Midyat where he was kidnapped.   Church officials can’t confirm the identity of his kidnappers or whether a ransom was paid, but kidnappers had made a ransom demand of 300,000 euros. 

Deputy Governor Aziz Mercan said, “Given the information obtained from the priest, we now know who the perpetrators are, and security forces are tracking them down now.” He declined, however, to give the suspects’ names.

Most of Turkey’s 75 million people are Muslim, and it has barely 100,000 Christians–mostly of Greek and Armenian origin.

Although the incident appears to have been motivated by money, there are scattered reports that mission groups think Turkey’s anti-Christian atmosphere may have influenced the kidnappers.

Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of Christ. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom.

While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in “buildings created for this purpose,” and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. In other cases, those who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult.

However, Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The church is continuing to move forward, and Christians are continuing to witness. But, of course, it does cause some anxiety. There have been a number of attacks on evangelicals in the last two years, and they’re wanting to know, ‘Will our government stand up for us? Will they defend us? Or will they allow us to be shot, killed and attacked with impunity?'”

Pray for those in Christian work in Turkey.

Core Issue

Hebrews 3Today, I started a personal study of the Book of Hebrews.

It seems a perfect follow up to the study of Acts from the Fall. It is fun to speculate with the scholars about whether the eloquent Apollos or the encouraging Barnabas wrote this book.  For now I do not think it was Paul.

Richard D. Phillips suggests that this book was most likely written to Jewish Christians living in Rome in the A.D. 60’s.  These were the ones that God had Paul heading to Rome to encourage in faith.

With the audience in mind it is easy to see why it opens with “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophes, but in the last days he has spoken to us by his Son,…”

Having come through the persecution of Christianity under Claudius in A.D. 49, these Christians were facing another wave of dangerous hostility and evidently were now tempted to escape the suffering by reverting to Judaism and renouncing their loyalty to Jesus. 

I am anxious to see Christ unfolded in all His Supremacy and to believe again that He has dealt with the core issue that separates us from God in a way that no other religion offers.  This study will be another journey of seeing with the eyes of faith what is real (Hebrew 2:8). 

When I do not “see” reality–that everything is subject to Prophet, Priest and King Jesus; I live in unbelief and there the ground is fertile for growing hefty branches of ugly, sinful heart attitudes!

“Lord I believe, help my unbelief”  (Mark 9:24)

Death Defying

How could the Apostle Paul be on trial?  Why so many appearances in court? In the last chapters of Acts we see him on trial before the Sanhedrin, he is brought before two Roman Governors and has another hearing before King Agrippa II.  Each trial was convened for the purpose of uncovering what charges the Jews had against Paul. 

Speaking clarity into the confusion that exists, Paul states, My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.  I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.”  (Acts 23:6)

Why does Paul think this is the crux of the matter?  I remember reading a quote by a Canadian scientist named G. B. Hardy regarding this question.

Jesus_ResurrectionWhen I look at religion I have two questions. One, has anybody ever conquered death and two, if they have, did they make a way for me to conquer death?

I checked the tomb of Buddha, and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Confucius and it was occupied, I checked the tomb of Mohammed and it was occupied, and I came to the tomb of Jesus and it was empty.

And I said, there is one who conquered death. And I asked the second question, did He make a way for me to do it too?

And I opened the Bible and discovered that He said, ‘Because I live you shall live also.’

Paul understood that the claim of resurrection was the pinnacle truth claim of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At death, all human resources are exhausted there is no power on earth that trumps death.  Paul had met Jesus–resurrected from the dead — the One who is stronger than death!

He knew that his brothers in the Jewish faith had nothing greater than this life giving Jesus.  Their way of dealing with death was to avoid it in order not to be defiled.  They warned their followers to stay away from dead bodies and tombs so that there would be no chance of becoming unclean from the corrupting influence of death.  The truth was avoidance was all they could offer and there is not way to ultimately avoid death.

But Jesus!  Rather than avoid death Jesus reached out to touch the dead.  Rather than be defiled Jesus’ touch brought life to that which was dead!

His resurrection is a message–it is the message and Paul was so secure in the truth of it that he was willing to die knowing that yet would he live.

Christ’s resurrection is an invitation to be united with the One whose life overcomes death.  With our future secure we are freed to really live the life we have been given here and now.

I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?”  (John 11:25-26)

Faith in Jesus is Life Giving and Death Defying!

Clinging Impact

22667275It has been great to study the Book of Acts this Fall. To focus on the the power of the Holy Spirit as He spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth has been thrilling.

As we draw upon this new power, in radical dependence on the Holy Spirit’s presence, what will it mean for us?
Among other things, it will enable us to reflect His Son to others and to advance His kingdom purposes in this world.

Jesus foretold what His disciples would become through the Holy Spirit’s power, ‘You shall be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth.’

He calls His followers to make converts and to present these converts ‘complete in Christ.’

Christ is calling you and me and every believer to a life that furthers the gospel’s worldwide penetration as well as an in-depth cultivation of that gospel in those who respond.

Does that seem impossible? It should. Mark this: God will never call you to something you can do. Period. If you can do what God called you to without the new power God alone provides…then you missed what God has called you to. God calls us only to that which requires Him.

Reliance on Christ was the secret behind Paul’s impact on the world of his day; it’s also the secret behind our impact on the world of our day.” ((Dwight Edwards, Revolution Within, A Fresh Look at Supernatural Living, Waterbrook Press, 2001, p. 137-138))

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:8

Believing and Behaving

Morality-Freethought-Large (Small) In the study of Acts, we are seeing the stresses and strains that grew out of preaching of the gospel to people whose roots were firmly planted in Judaism. This clarifying article , “Does our Ability to act Morally depend on Who we Worship?” by John Piper addresses what Paul was facing chapter after chapter of Acts. 

This helps us weigh what was at stake when Judaizers sought to pull the gospel off the axis of Jesus and what He has done– to some man centered religion about what man seeks to do for God. 

Our goal of making ourselves the source of righteousness reveals who we are worshipping!

I am reminded of a quote that I have read in so many places I do not know who to give credit to:

All we have or have ever had to offer God is sin!

What’s better than life?

I began my morning reading the Mission Network News report.  As I scanned the stories, this one from Africa caught my eye.  The study of Acts has tenderized my heart once again to the truth that the spread of the good news of Christ comes at great cost.  Therefore, it is news of great worth!

Two Christians killed in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria (MNN) — Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports the deaths of two young Christian men in Nigeria. According to a Compass Direct report, the pair died at the hands of Muslims militants in Kaduna state. Local Christians believe these two murders are an effort to wipe out Christianity from northern Nigeria and stop ministry growth. Although the government is trying to initiate dialogue between the two faith groups, their efforts have been undermined by the wave of violent attacks on Christians.

Full story: http://www.MNNonline.org/article/10522

My mind considered the stories of Stephen who was the first Christian martyr and James who was beheaded for his faith in Christ.  These saints and others seemed to understand what the Psalmist meant when he penned the words, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Ps. 63:3)

The martyrs all believed Christ was worth more than life, more than falling in love, more than marrying and having children, more than seeing their children grow up, more than making a name for themselves, more than having the dream spouse, the dream house, and the dream cruise.  Christ to them was worth more than all their plans and dreams.  They all said, “It is better to be cut off in the midst of my dreams, if I might gain Christ.” ((John Piper, “Life’s Blood,” Tabletalk December 2001, p. 53))

Christ is the treasure that is better than life!  He is real life.

10 Reasons Why I Am Thankful for the God-Breathed Bible

CB064047I love this Top Ten List of Piper’s–they are great reasons to be thankful!


By John Piper November 20, 2006


1. The Bible awakens faith, the source of all obedience.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

2. The Bible frees from sin.

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

3. The Bible frees from Satan.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

4. The Bible sanctifies.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

5. The Bible frees from corruption and empowers godliness.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

6. The Bible serves love.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

7. The Bible saves.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. (Acts 20:26)

[They will] perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

8. The Bible gives joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)

9. The Bible reveals the Lord.

And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. (1 Samuel 3:21)

10. Therefore, the Bible is the foundation of my happy home and life and ministry and hope of eternity with God.


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