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Subject – The Christian Church: Clueless – Go Make Disciples – Stories from the mission fields of our lives – Memoir of Mahtob Mahmoody, A Story of God’s Grace – Part 8 of 12
Video post on salvation and story of Gods grace for mankind
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Sunday, 7th July 2019
Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/
Nuggets of Wisdom
“If we ask God for a calm, thankful heart that sees all the blessings His grace imparts, He can teach us many lessons in illness that can never be learned in health.”
― David Jeremiah, What In the World Is Going On
“Grace is God’s best idea. His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly – what rivals it? Of all his wondrous works, grace, in my estimation, is the magnum opus.”
― Max Lucado, Decision
“Generosity is at its core a lifestyle, a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, and ever will become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace.”
― Chris Willard, Contagious Generosity
“The story of grace includes a broad range of characters – rich, poor, powerful, and powerless. For all of them, it is God’s grace that tips the scale in their favor. In some ways, these stories are our stories. For like the individuals who populate the pages of Scripture, we, too, need grace. But not just any grace. The grace of God.
.” ― Andy Stanley, The Grace of God
“The level of God’s GRACE you and I operate in is DIRECTLY proportional to the level of HUMILITY we exercise in our walk with God – My HUMILITY is directly tied to my WILLINGNESS to OBEY God despite my INABILITY to do so – That level of INABILITY get FILLED with God’s grace so I can obey HIM, not by myself but in my willful COOPERATION with His help – Grace is not CHEAP – It cost God the LIFE of His one and only SON, Jesus CHRIST on the cross at CALVARY – GRACE is not a license to sin but a License to wholehearted DEPENDENCE on GOD in the place of WILLFUL obedience even when I am WEAK.” ― Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe, Otakada.org – James 4:6; Romans 6:1-14; Ephesians 2:8.9
Key verses for Today:
Matthew 28:18-20 Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
James 4:3-6 The Message (MSG)
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
Romans 6 The Message (MSG)
When Death Becomes Life
6 1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
Ephesians 2:8,9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Dear brethren, welcome to the eight series on the Christian church – Go make disciples. Today, we exploring true stories from the mission field – Your life, my life and everything and everyone around us are our mission fields. Don’t ever settle to the mindset that when you are out of your immediate environment, then mission field happens. Mission field is right in your home, your immediate environment, your work place, your trip to places you have been and seen, our struggle and victories through lives up and downs and how we are able to keep our heads above water, through it all by His grace. Mission field is essentially borderless…Today we bring you the story of Mahtob Mahmoody from her memoir and how discipleship happens even in the middle of our pains
Story 1 – An author shares her amazing life story, a story that can’t be told without talking about God’s grace.
Julie K. Wietzke
They said they only made some “minor” edits.
When an international publishing company contacted Mahtob Mahmoody about printing her memoir, My name is Mahtob, the editors mentioned they made a few changes—they wrote God out of the book. It seems there were no words in their language to express the concepts of God’s will and God’s grace.
Needless to say, Mahtob, a WELS member from Michigan, disagreed with the edits. “You can’t tell the story of my life without God’s will and God’s grace,” she says. “That’s a part of it. That’s a part of all of our lives.” So those changes were discarded.
That grace is apparent throughout the book and throughout her life—a blessing she feels she shares with every Christian. “God is gracious, and he does have a plan for us,” she says. “He is taking care of us in big ways and in small ways every day.”
Many have heard a part of Mahtob’s story from the book Not Without My Daughter, written in 1987 by Mahtob’s mother, Betty. The book recounts the story of how Dr. Sayed Mahmoody, Betty’s husband and Mahtob’s father, took them for a two-week trip to visit his family in Iran. That trip led to spousal abuse, an 18-month imprisonment for Betty and six-year-old Mahtob, a harrowing escape, and their journey back to the United States.
While that book closed one chapter of their lives, it was just the start of their spiritual journey.
While Betty grew up Christian and went to church with neighbors as a child, she wasn’t active in organized religion as an adult. But fearing that her husband would kidnap Mahtob after their escape back to the United States, Betty decided to send Mahtob to a small, private, Lutheran school—Salem, Owosso, Michigan.
While Betty chose this school for safety reasons, God had other plans in mind. Mahtob learned about her Savior and was baptized while a student. Betty went through Bible information class, was also baptized, and was confirmed. “What really resonated with Mom was the education our pastor had,” says Mahtob. “He wasn’t just spouting rhetoric. He could go back and read the Greek; he could read the Hebrew. She felt like this was really genuine.”
Having that Christian education helped Mahtob begin dealing with her strong emotions still within after being kidnapped by her father, a man she had once trusted. She hated her father for what he did and didn’t know how to forgive him.
But being immersed in God’s Word every day and seeing God’s love—and her teachers’ love—softened her heart. “While my teachers really took an interest in me and tried to help me personally through this, on another level this was just the standard curriculum [of the school],” says Mahtob. “They shared God’s Word with me, and God’s Word doesn’t return to him empty.”
Learning about God’s almighty power also made her feel safer. “In those days it was just a foregone conclusion of mine that my dad would eventually kidnap me,” she says. “So to learn that there’s no place on this earth my dad could take me where he was taking me away from God’s love and protection—that was just a valuable lesson at that point in my life. I was so thankful that God put Mom and me in that environment where we were constantly being reminded of God’s care for us.”
As she got older, Mahtob needed that reminder of God’s care for a different reason. When she was 13, Mahtob was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. She nearly died after being diagnosed but survived after an experimental treatment in Germany.
At her confirmation, Mahtob’s pastor chose Ephesians 2:8,9 as her verse: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”
“That verse was true of my life in so many ways,” Mahtob writes in her book. “God had saved me from my father. He had saved me from the war between Iran and Iraq. During our escape, it had been God who delivered us safely home. Through my baptism, he had saved me from my sins. And whether I recovered or whether lupus took my life, I would be eternally saved because of God’s grace.”
Mahtob continued her Christian education at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., and then went on to Michigan State University. Through those years, she and her mom continued to be threatened by her father and his friends. “My dad was constantly trying different tactics. He was so persistent,” she says. “I would feel so threatened and afraid and angry and have to work through the process of forgiving him all over again.”
Mahtob never did see her father again. He died in 2009. “I’ve had people ask me how I can say I forgave him when I still wouldn’t communicate with him,” Mahtob says.
“But there’s a difference between forgiving and trusting. Those constant intrusions were reminders that he still couldn’t be trusted. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily repair the relationship.”
Mahtob never intended to write a book about her experiences—she never even read her mom’s book. But finally because of the continued encouragement of a close family friend, she decided to share her memories of their escape from Iran but more so to relate how God has blessed her life after that escape.
“I didn’t set out to write a Christian book,” she says. “I was just writing the story of my life. But I was aware that as I was writing this there will be people around the world who may have access to my book who will never have access to a Bible. That’s an honor and a responsibility. I felt really blessed to be able to witness in this way.”
Not only did she witness her faith through her book, but also through the many interviews about her work with the media around the world.
“When [my mom and I] speak, we don’t necessarily quote the Bible, but it’s unmistakable that God has a hand in the good that has happened in our life,” she says. Mahtob remembers an unbelieving journalist in Australia who told her that after reading the book she understood for the first time the comfort Christians get from their faith. “Thanks be to God for all this,” Mahtob says.
Mahtob continues to struggle with lupus. In fact, she was in the hospital and then confined to her home after completing her book. “It came out in three or four languages while I was still getting chemo,” she says. She often conducted interviews via Skype in her home wearing her nightgown, the only non-constricting clothing she was comfortable in. “I’m in French Vogue wearing a nightgown with a scarf,” she says, laughing.
Besides maintaining her good humor, she also kept her faith. “I was so close to not surviving but felt completely at peace,” she says. “Death isn’t a scary thing when we know that Jesus earned salvation for us.”
Mahtob doesn’t feel that her and her mother’s story is that different from anyone else’s story. “In so many ways, our lives are so normal. We’re just Betty and Mahtob,” she says. “I think that is what makes our story so universal—everyone faces challenges.”
And trusting in God’s love and grace and power helps us get through whatever challenges come our way.
Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ.
Conclusion and prayer.
In our Christian race, the call to discipleship or disciple making is the core of the matter. Everything else rises and falls to the level of our commitment to discipleship or disciple making. That is the last command to us by Christ Jesus and we must of necessity make it of utmost priority. The way to be committed to disciple making is to make one.!
We go through terrible experiences in life not realizing that sometimes God allows it for His glory and more often than not, it isn’t for me or you but for others… that you might comfort others with the comfort you have received – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4… Fellowship happens where comfort is being delivered. There you will see opportunity for discipleship playing out.
When we pray to God to use us in His kingdom, He allows us through a school that prepares us for the assignment He will schedule and sometimes those learning experiences are not palatable… they are preparation ground…Hold on and hold out to peace and embrace the grace that He Himself provides in such circumstances…
Thank you Lord for helping us by Your grace to make disciples as you have commanded. Help us to be willing as You provide the needed grace and opportunities for discipleship in Jesus name, amen
Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship @