MUSLIM STUFF[ 2-12]
 WHAT DEBT CRISIS?
I read an article the other day- the headline read ‘Bachman sees no crisis in U.S. debt’. It was by the associated press- so I knew they were more than likely lying. As I read the article- I was right. As a matter of fact- the tea partiers who are against raising the debt limit- they are against it because they see the debt as the major problem.
So the headline should have read ‘Bachman sees extreme crisis in U.S. debt’ and that’s why she does not want to raise the debt limit. Now- I have been reading stories like this for years- and the thing that bothers me is when people see/hear only one side- they then see the opposing team as the major problem. I very rarely [if ever] have read something like this that slandered the left- though you do see biased ‘reporting’ thru radio hosts. So this works both ways. We as Americans need to be able to read between the lines- to not simply swallow what’s spoon fed to us.
This past week- the world court [in the Netherlands] indicted Gadhafi on ‘crimes against humanity’. Okay- do we sit back and believe everything we read? The oppressive ruler of Syria- Assad- has killed children these past few weeks- has massacred his people openly- their fleeing into Turkey, and even the Turkish leader has turned against him.
In Bahrain- the ruling autocracy has been trying doctors and medical workers on crimes against the state. Giving them life sentences. What’s’ the crime? They treated the protestors when they were shot and wounded. Yet these despots get good treatment from the U.S. - we sit down with them- and Gadhafi has committed crimes against humanity?
Saudi Arabia imprisons women for driving- they took a reporter who wrote a critical article against the energy company- they whipped him with ‘50 lashes’ in front of the energy building- just to teach him a lesson.
We live in a day where real injustices are taking place- we are in need of honest reporting- not biased journalism that purposefully misleads the public for political purposes.
I had a conversation a while back with a liberal- good person- I too hold to some of their views. Yet the person was railing against Sarah Palin ‘she should not even be running for office- she has children!’ Now- I knew the person only watched liberal news outlets- and they very rarely were exposed to the opposing view.
I reminded the person that Nancy Pelosi also had children- should she also leave politics? When we grasp hold of seeing others as the enemy- we are unable to really see clearly.
Right now the debate is raging over whether to raise the debt ceiling or not. Some Repubs really do not want to do anything on the tax side- and they want to only cut spending.
The Dems counter that we need to do both. Now- for those libs out there- who think I’m only anti lib- I think we should do what the Dems want. Why?
I know both sides- and the supply side economic argument says ‘the lower taxes go- the higher the finances are that come in to the fed. Govt’. This argument is the classic Repub argument- but it really is limited. Why?
Some who make this argument fail to realize that even if taxes go lower- and the result is businesses do better- yet the main way the govt gets funded- even if the businesses are doing better- is thru the tax code.
The govt only gets funded this way [besides a few pennies of royalties]. So the point is- without taxes- the govt does not get funded- at all.
So to simply demonize all taxes as regressive- well that’s just not an honest argument. In the last century there were decades of real growth -40’s-60’s- that coincided with high taxes. And there were also decades of lower taxes [Reagan, Bush, Clinton] that coincided with sluggish growth. So higher taxes on ‘the rich’ do not always mean slow growth.
Okay- the simple point I’m making is when the media purposely skews the argument- giving headlines that they know are false- then they do a disservice to the country. The bible speaks about this as ‘uneven scales’. I think the answer to the current crisis is we should raise the debt ceiling- with a real plan to reduce the debt over the next 10 years.
Both the president and the Repubs have already agreed in principle to cutting around 4 trillion over the next 10-12 years.
The world economy wants to see that the U.S. has a credible plan in place to manage our debt. They are not expecting us to eliminate it overnight- nor would it be responsible to drastically try to deal with it- on an August deadline.
Yes- both sides see a real crisis looming- because of the debt. Some think it’s so bad- they don’t want to raise the debt ceiling at all. Others think it’s so bad- that we need to raise the ceiling to prevent a major short term disaster.
Whatever side you agree with- it’s simply wrong to say ‘this side does not see a debt crisis’ that’s biased journalism- journalism that knows they are lying to you- but they don’t respect you enough to think you will spot it. We just did.
 TRUTH TO POWER?
Last night the president gave his speech on the war- he will withdraw 10,000 troops this year- another 20,000 by September of next year. That leaves around 60,000 going into 2013.
When the president came into office there were 30,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan- he doubled it to a little over 60- then did a 30,000 man surge [West Point speech].
Many anti war folk [like me] were not happy with the 60- never mind the surge. Yet we are staring at 90,000 for the next year- then down to 60- and they are talking about leaving 20-25 thousand forever!
Last week I caught a CNN special called Wiki Wars- they covered the Julian Assange case. Assange is the ‘Omega man’ looking Australian who has shaken the world with his on line ‘leaking’ factory [Wiki Leaks]. The show covered his nomadic upbringing- his mission to change the world- and his determination to expose corruption wherever he finds it.
His work has been recognized by Amnesty International [for exposing corrupt leaders who slaughtered innocents] and overall his mission has been very noble.
Eventually he would come into possession of thousands of leaked on line documents that would expose many hidden discussions of our military. He also released the now [in] famous video called ‘Collateral Murder’.
The video shows our guys hovering over a vehicle in Iraq [I think it’s Iraq?] and the audio allows you to hear the conversation. As we watch the enemy walking back and forth- seemingly oblivious to the chopper watching them [strange?] our guys radio communication is describing their contact with their commander.
As they wait for the go ahead to shoot- they finally get the o.k. They then show the video of our helicopter shooting the men. Most of the guys are killed quickly- others run. One guy is wounded and laying in the street- another vehicle pulls up and tries to help him- we then blow the hell out of him too.
Then something happens- one of the guys starts running from the first vehicle with a young child in his arms- our guys say ‘wow- he has a kid with him- that’s what he gets for being so stupid to bring his kid with him’ [our guys think they are enemy combatants].
The scene looks terrible- especially when we later find out that all these guys were reporters- mostly working for Reuter’s news service.
As the CNN host questions the military commander who is watching the video with him- the commander explains that our guys did ‘what they were supposed to do’. That these reporters should not have been in a hot zone- walking around with their camera equipment- which was mistaken for a rocket launcher.
This military leader actually justified our actions. Then as the show progressed- they got into the Wiki Leaks founder who released these videos. He gave the standard U.S. govt. line that the leaking of these videos/emails was unjust- that it might cause harm to people- and therefore our govt. is justified to go after Assange and the soldier [Bradley Manning] who supposedly leaked the stuff.
I found it strange to see this commander ‘justify’ our killing of the reporters- while at the same time condemning the person who uncovered this act.
This week NATO bombed another civilian house in Libya- killed a couple of kids [one a baby] and a few civilians. Once again- they released another statement saying ‘this house was a command and control operations base’ which means they thought Gadhaffi [or his men] might be there. Now- they have done this before- they kill innocent people, kids- then they justify the action.
I was wondering how long it would take before the Western media got off the Obama bandwagon and reported the truth- stop simply regurgitating the words of NATO and report the facts on the ground.
Surprisingly, as I read the article- the report said that as the journalists arrived at the home that was bombed- there were other Libyans who immediately starting saying ‘Gadhaffi blew up this house to blame it on NATO’.
These reporters have been fed this before- and simply believed it. This time as they investigated- they indeed found out that we and NATO simply blew the hell out of a civilian home- and killed a new born along with another child.
The home was a political supporter’s residence. Now- I certainly realize that these actions are not meant to kill innocent people- and I know our guys did not mean to kill reporters. But when we as a nation lie about this stuff- cover it up to a degree- and then actually seek the execution of those who leaked the evidence- then we are doing unjust things.
I heard the reasoning behind why when this type of info is leaked in a traditional way [N.Y. times, etc.] that these leaks are considered very noble- uncovering the secret agenda’s of the powerful. But then the person being queried said when the leaks are being released ‘on line- without actual ink and paper’ then yes- we are justified in seeking the execution of the leakers.
It’s amazing that we accept this type of reasoning without question.
I’m glad we are starting to draw down our troops- right now in Afghanistan we are spending a couple of billion every week- we are facing a fiscal crisis at home that might eventually ruin this entire nation. And China is digging copper out of the Afghanistan ground- making deals with the corrupt Afghan govt.- and we are footing the bill for the security so China can enrich themselves and the leaders of Afghanistan- all at the same time when we are about to default on our debt- to China!
There just seems to be too many things wrong with this picture. I in no way blame our brave fighting men and women for these atrocious acts that do take place during times of war- but I do blame those in power, those who know about these acts- who seek to cover them up- and then after they are leaked- our govt. goes after them- seeking to raise the level of these leaks to the crime of treason- so we can execute the leakers. These things are unjust- and we need to recognize this fact.
 VARIOUS MUSINGS
Took a ride to the city of Bishop the other day- on the way I had a tire blowout on the highway [no spare] and managed to drive it [still had air in it- the radial tread ripped off] to a shop to get a new tire. I had one of my homeless friends with me and we were gonna have a fellowship day with Eliseo at his ranch- instead we will do one this Wednesday.
Those of you in the area who know where Eli lives- we will be there at around noon. Bring some food and meet us there, everyone is invited. As a side note- Eli, I got your message last night. I think little Rudy called too- I will try and get back with him, if he wants I’ll pick him up Wednesday for the ride.
Okay- after the blowout I did a fish fry/b.b.q. at the house with Henry and Chris [homeless bro’s] and we had a great time. My only mistake was I put the fish out first- about 10 pieces- and I thank the Lord I at least got 1!
Let me try and hit a few things today. Last week I had a good visit with a J.W. [Jehovah’s Witness]. He rang the bell and I told him I was a Christian and that I love having discussions and I did about a 20 minute historical overview of Christianity and the development of the doctrine of the Trinity [which is a major sticking point] and I tried to come down in a nice way- being honest about the historic problems many believers/various groups have had with the doctrine- and at the end of the talk I of course emphasized the bible verses that do indeed speak about the Deity of Christ and left it at that.
He was nice enough to come back by around an hour later and he dropped off a pamphlet put out by their group that discusses the Trinity. He asked me to read it and I did.
The teaching was fairly honest about the various historic disputes that Christians have had over the Trinity. It did cover the reality that there were Bishops and early church leaders who did indeed argue against the doctrine. It did a good job at showing how some early Christian leaders were indeed influenced by Greek philosophy and that some think that that’s where the doctrine developed from.
The pamphlet made the case that ‘the bible’ does not teach the Deity of Christ- and that these doctrines were later introduced by Catholic church leaders who paganized Christianity primarily thru Constantine’s ‘baptism’ of Christendom with the Roman state.
I’m very familiar with all these debates- many Christian scholars have made this exact same argument. Muslims and Jews also reject the doctrine of the Deity of Christ [and the Trinity] and often times you hear these same arguments made.
During the 4th century of the Common Era Constantine became the Roman Emperor and the church hotly debated these issues. The Bishop Arius [who denied the deity of Christ- that Christ is God] fought against the opposing view [that Christ is indeed God] and the bishop Athanasius was the warrior who defended the deity of Christ.
After Athanasius died his tombstone would read ‘Athanasius against the world’ he was the driving force in the 4th century who swayed the tide back to orthodoxy.
Now- the church would have a few 4th [and 5th] century church councils that would settle the matter concerning the nature of Christ and his deity- and the final decision was that the Trinity was indeed true and the Jesus is indeed God.
The other side stayed with the idea that Jesus was a created being- a god- but not thee God. Some of these churches exist till this day. They are primarily oriental churches. If you visit them they seem just like any other ancient type church- the Mass, Saints, Mother Mary- yes- the whole 9 yards. But they stuck with the Arian view [Bishop Arius] and deny the deity of Christ [and thus the Trinity].
How should I respond? Let me just say that I am a Trinitarian who believes in the deity of Christ- Christ is fully God and fully man. The J.W. pamphlet made a good defense for their view- and they were not totally ‘deceptive’ in their argument. But they did quote lots of bible verses that kind of backed up their side- and they quoted some from Isaiah. But they left out chapter 9.
The famous passage that says Jesus is the ‘Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ very strong language indeed.
What about the argument that the early Catholic bishops polluted the true teachings of Jesus by introducing Greek thought into Jesus true teachings? It is true that Greek philosophy had a belief that there was a pre existing principle of wisdom- a ‘divine logos’ if you will.
The only problem with the argument that the Catholic bishops were the culprits who introduced Logos Christology into the doctrines of the church is that the New Testament itself has ‘Logos Christology’ in it. What is Logos Christology?
Logos is the Greek word for ‘Word’. Christology is the study of Christ. Logos Christology is the description of Jesus found in the writings of the apostle John that describe Jesus as the Eternal Word of God.
John wrote the gospel of John, the 3 letters- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John- and the book of Revelation [some scholar’s dispute that John authored the last one]. In these writings Jesus is called the Word of God- he is described as the Word that was ‘with God, and was God’ [John 1].
So the bible itself has Greek influences- because it was written in Greek! And even though the pre Christian philosophers had a concept of a personified wisdom [the Jews also- read Proverbs 8] yet the New Testament also speaks of Jesus as this Eternal Word of God who was indeed ‘true God from true God’.
So I think the talk I had was good- I understand that many groups of people have had difficulty with the doctrine of the Trinity and the accusation that Constantine and the Catholics ‘hijacked’ the true religion of Jesus has been made by many groups over the years. Yet at the end of the day the doctrine of Jesus being God is clearly found in the bible [and yes, even in the Old Testament] and we as Orthodox Christians confess Jesus as God- not because of the Greeks- or the Catholics- or because of any other influence that ‘snuck in’ we confess him as God because ‘the bible tells me so’ Amen and Amen.
 A SIGN FROM AN ANGEL?
These last few days I have been reading/teaching a few passages from Matthew and one of the quotes of Jesus [chapter 24] comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel. So as I skimmed through a few of the verses I felt like the Lord was leading me to read a chapter or 2.
My last year at the fire Dept. was 2007- I retired in 12-07 with a few days just under 25 years. Though I never planned on retiring that early- I was only 45- and even though I had put in a full 25 years- the young age effects how much you get. I always planned on working till at least 55.
But the last year my back injury was bad- had it for many years [bad disk] and the last few months I finished on injury leave. Now- we have had guys who worked 25 years and spent at least half of it on injury leave- yes some guys know how to work the system. If you don’t count my final 6 months on the job- for the entire other 25 years I only took a total of 2 weeks on injury leave- so I wasn’t a ‘work the system’ kinda guy.
When I retired- the city fully expected me to try and do some kind of injury settlement- it became standard procedure for stuff like this. I took my retirement check and left- they never heard from me again.
The last year- before I knew I was leaving- I would get up real early in the morning [I actually started this practice the last few years before I retired]. I would walk outside and pray for most of the night. I did the same at the house. One thing I soon realized is when you’re up most of the night- you see lots of shooting stars and you learn the different star patterns during the year.
I would often find it ‘strange’ to see a shooting star right at certain times during prayer- maybe I would pray ‘let your word go forth’ and then see a star. Now- I know it might be a coincidence and all- yet at times it was weird.
One night- I will never forget this one- I was walking outside early [maybe 3 a.m.?] and I felt impressed to pray a verse from the book of Daniel. I was thinking about the story of the angel Gabriel and his dealings with Daniel. At one point Daniel is praying to God and he seems to be stuck- he needs a breakthrough. So after a few weeks of seeking God the angel Gabriel appears and tells Daniel he’s there to help.
So as I was thinking about this passage I felt the Lord leading me to do a ‘Daniel prayer’ which to me meant to simply say something like ‘God- send some angels to help us out- Gabriel- come on- what’s taking so long!’ And as soon as I prayed the thing I saw a giant meteor roll through the sky. Now- when I say giant I mean it. It was a huge ball of fire- I have never seen anything like it in real time.
So this obviously stuck with me- a sign from God maybe? Anyway I really never gave it much thought that it came right at a major transitional time in my life- I left the Fire Dept. and at the same time entered into a few new areas of doing ministry. In a way it was a Beginning of a new thing.
So as I’m reading Daniel the other day- I read chapter 9- probably the first time since seeing the meteor in 2007. And I read Gabriel saying ‘I’m the one you saw at the start- when you first started praying- I heard you and was sent forth- I’m now here’. I found it strange because these last few weeks during prayer I felt lead to ask for God to send- well yes angels. I mentioned Michael and Gabriel. So in a way it was like the Lord was saying- through Gabriel ‘I’m the sign you saw at the start- I finally made it’.
Now- one of the new ministry things I started was Facebook- lots of old friends and a few new ones. Because I’m such a political junky- I ‘friended’ a few of the sites that are called ‘Days of Rage’ these are the Arab/Persian nations who are protesting their leaders.
One of the friends on the site is from the tiny nation of Bahrain- if you look on a map it’s this little country sitting right off the coast- in the Persian Gulf. The reason this nation is getting a pass- as opposed to dropping bombs on them [like Libya] is because we have our 5th fleet docked there- this is our major sea base for the whole region.
But I have had a few good talks with the person who runs the site- and I feel doing stuff like this- reaching out to help—even in Arab/Muslim nations- that we as Christains should try and be involved- while at the same time sharing the gospel.
Many years ago while preaching at the jails- I met an exchange student who got arrested and was from the Persian Gulf area. He told me he was Muslim but he would appreciate it if I bought him a Persian language bible. So I ordered one and a few weeks later I gave it to him. He was really grateful- I guess he thought I would forget. This was the first [only?] foreign language bible I recall ever actually buying. But I have thought about it recently- kind of thinking ‘heck, maybe it’s because I have been praying for my friends in the Persian Gulf and somehow this was always a region we were to befriend’.
So this morning I read chapter 10 of Daniel [chapter 9 was the chapter referenced above] and Daniel is on his face- going through great trials- and Gabriel appears again and says ‘fear not Daniel- understand the words that I speak to you. Since the first day you began seeking God I was sent. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me, but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes [angels] came to help me… and I am now come to tell you what will happen to your people in the coming days’.
I just found the entire conversation between Daniel/God and the angels to have been speaking to me. I mean I was just praying about Persia- asking for God to send Gabriel and Michael [by name!] and I had no idea that I would stumble across these obscure Daniel chapters that include all these same elements.
Let me be frank- There are entire church movements [which I am very familiar with] that live their whole lives being led by stuff like this. These are often described as Prophetic or Apostolic movements. I have read lots- and been involved some with these churches and for the most part they are great Christians- It’s just I find at times they avoid ‘classical’ education. That is many of the things I write about and stuff I feel all believers should learn- many of these type churches have no time for ‘that stuff’ and they simply wait for the next ‘Daniel’ experience.
That is they look for details in scripture- things that are not always there. So I want to go on record to say I don’t see these types of experiences as the norm for the healthy Christian life. Yet- I have had them happen- and when they do it’s important to listen.
I thank the Lord that he has sent some help for us at this time- my friends in the Persian/Arab world as well as the ones here in the U.S. I thank God we are part of a real community of people- some have gone on to be with God- others are still here- and yes- we do have a company of angels that are also looking in on the thing [Hebrews, Revelation, etc.]
When we do all we can do and are at the end of the rope- like Daniel flat on his face- it helps when God sends an angel and says ‘heck- get up from the ground- stand up- we have work to do’.
 THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH
The president gave his speech yesterday on the Middle East- many observers were waiting to hear what he was going to say. Some conservatives are upset- they felt he ‘thru Israel’ under the bus. Basically the administrations 2 year effort to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians- under George Mitchell- ended abruptly the other day when Mitchell announced he was done dealing with it.
So you have some advisers who want to take a pro Israel stance- others are more pro Palestinian. Obama went a little more pro Palestinian and he publicly stated that the talks need to start from the pre 1967 borders. This was a bit much for the pro Israel lobby- and even Netanyahu publicly called for the president to reaffirm the 2004 accord agreed to under former president Bush.
So things are a little hot right now. He also dealt with the protests in the Middle East/North Africa. He said to Assad [Syria’s leader] that you either ‘lead- or get out of the way’. To be frank this language confuses me- lead? The man has slaughtered many innocents- we have treated the Libyan leader like a war criminal for this very thing- actively trying to kill him- and in the process have killed his son and 3 grandkids- all justified under the so called NATO agreement.
Now- for us to be targeting him for death- though we deny it- yet as NATO keeps bombing spots where we think he is- after each assassination attempt- NATO says ‘we targeted that spot because it was being used to organize aggression against civilians’. They are basically justifying the assassination attempts by saying ‘wherever he is- that spot is a danger to civilians- so in our agreement to ‘protect civilians’ we can bomb that spot’. Okay- fine- Nato/U.S. wants to kill the guy- but please stop telling us that we are not targeting those spots because we think he’s there- don’t lie about the thing.
So Assad actually gets another chance to lead- or ‘get out of the way’ while the other guy gets chased by bombs. Just seems too inconsistent. Saudi Arabia? No mention about them at all.
I do realize it’s hard to ‘be consistent’ when the whole region is in turmoil- but heck- cant we at least try?
As I watched the media response to the speech- it was interesting to see both sides of the political aisle give their views. Fahreed Zacharia- a very knowledgeable CNN personality- he seemed to put every one of the president’s points in the best possible light. It recently slipped out that he actually advises the president on certain world issues. No wonder. And Beck and the conservatives said Obama abandoned Israel and that if Israel falls that’s the end of the western world as we know it because Israel is the cornerstone of the U.S.
I think an honest evaluation can find both good and bad out of the speech. I find it difficult to believe a reporter can really be non biased- especially if his advice is what the president used to make the speech. And I feel that to take the position that any nation is the key part- that to do anything that might seem negative towards them- that to describe it as the possible collapse of the West- well that too is a little much.
I do feel that the NATO thing needs a lot more scrutiny- if we are now going to allow NATO- and our guys- to engage in a stealth assassination attempt of any world leader. That is for our troops [pilots] being actively involved in the obvious targeting of a leader- evil yes- but if we are saying ‘no- we are not trying kill him’ and it’s obvious we are- then who’s next? The whole NATO operation needs to be more clear- if we are not targeting him- then stop trying to kill the guy. If we are targeting him- then quit saying we are not. Our guys deserve better than that.
 ANTI COLONIAL REDO
Let me try to cover a few current events. This week we had a few presidential hopefuls drop out of the race- and a few announce. Newt Gingrich did his first Sunday news interview since officially getting into the race.
David Gregory- Tim Russert’s replacement on NBC- did an okay interview- but he did raise the question of racism [so soon!]. Yes- he questioned Newt’s speech where he mentioned that Obama is the ‘food stamp president’. That is Newt criticized the economic policies of this administration and said how we have over 40 million people on food stamps. That the lack of the president’s ability to create jobs is seen in the food stamp [and welfare] rates rising.
Gregory questioned whether or not this played into the race game. Now- MSNBC and one of the most biased news people in the media today [Chris Matthews] had on 2 liberal minded men. He got right into the race card- he played it hard and long. To my surprise- both of the liberals he interviewed disagreed with him. They distanced themselves from the race card.
One of the men- Richard Wolfe- is an Obama insider. He has lots of access to the inner workings of the White House. He has written books on the president and he is close to the real sources. I had to ask myself why both of these liberal minded men agreed with me- that to use the race card on something like this is shameful.
I realized that as ‘true insiders’ they know that this type of accusation surely does not play well in Rio Linda. That is the majority of voters- especially white independents- they might not say it- but this stuff does not gain votes.
As smart politicos- these Obama supporters knew this- and for the welfare of the president, whom they support- they did the right thing. Matthews- well he’s a lost cause.
One of the things that gets raised with the Newt debate is the accusation that our president is ‘anti- colonial’ or that he is an ‘anti colonial Kenyan’. In the past I have defended the president against this accusation- yet at the same time others who have defended the president against this accusation have seemed to not know what they are talking about [Matthews again].
These last few years Newt Gingrich has positioned himself for a possible run for the White House. One of the things he has done is he has converted to Catholicism. Now- I do not question his conversion- as a matter of fact if you realize that Newt is an intellectual- than the conversion to a Christian denomination that has the greatest intellectual heritage of them all- well that just makes sense.
As a new convert Newt is obviously going to read the books of other Catholic intellectuals. And a top seller during this time was a book by Dinesh Desouza. A Catholic intellectual himself. The book critiqued the development of the political/social thought of the president. It covered the presidents own journey as he grew up and later learned more about his father’s struggle- and the black mans struggle in general. The president wrote about this in his book Dreams of my Father.
Part of the critique that Dinesh mentioned is that the presidents father- like many Kenyans and other foreign ethnic groups- had what you would describe as an ‘anti colonial’ mindset. What’s that? Our world has gone thru many stages of growth and development. Some stages were good- other times bad [the Hitler stage!] After the great breakthroughs in science and technology that occurred during the 18th-19th centuries- you had European [western] world powers colonizing other parts of the world. Africa [Kenya] as well as other Arab nations became colonies of the west.
The famous struggle of Gandhi was all about India breaking away from Britain’s rule over them. They indeed were ‘anti colonial’. Now- in this conversation many can’t believe [Matthews] that anyone would ever even venture to say that the president might be ‘anti colonial’ as in if this is a bad thing. Geez- America is ANTI COLONIAL for heaven’s sake. We revolted against the English king and became a nation of our own.
So the anti colonial mindset-in itself- is not so terrible. Yet some of the president’s accusers do use the accusation as saying the president buys into the whole spirit of anti colonialism- which in many parts of the world does come with an anti American attitude- why? Well they resent our political influence in their nations.
The present protests going on in the Arab world also play strongly into this feeling. Many in the western media have simplified the reasons for the Arab protests. Some [Beck] simply see a radical world uprising that wants to take over the world. Others are a little more thoughtful- they see the actual religious divisions in these countries [between Sunni and Shii] and they tell the story of one sect of Islam fighting the other sect. But this too is ‘too’ simple.
I read an article a while back- written by a Muslim woman who lives in Bahrain. She said that when the west views the protests in her country as simply a Shiite majority population protesting a Sunni minority dynasty- that this narrative misses the point. She explained how in the Arab world there is a strong undercurrent running thru the unrest- and that this undercurrent is anti colonial in nature.
She explained how many of the younger generation Muslim/Arabs are seeing their leaders as sell outs- that their rulers have a sort of unwritten colonial pact with the west- and that this unspoken agreement says ‘if you work with us in fighting the radicals among you- we in turn will support you- even if you treat your people badly’. Thus you had the uprising in Egypt that ousted the long term president. Mubarak was indeed America’s strongest ally in the Arab world- he had maintained a cold peace with Israel for 30 years- and the west loved it.
So in essence the protests are not really about the religious divide within Islam [The divide itself dates back to the 7th century under the founder Mohammad. After Mohammed’s death he was replaced by another top organizational leader- who was not related by blood to Mohammed. This passing of of the leadership- by ability as opposed to blood- this is called Sunna- the example of the prophet spoken about in the Hadith.
Those who describe themselves as Sunni adhere to this example. The other side- Shii [partisan] broke away from this idea and instead believed that the leadership should pass thru those who have blood relations to the former leader. This division has existed till this day and that’s why in some nations you have the Sunni in charge- and in others the Shii.
In Bahrain- when they repressed the protestors- they appealed to another Sunni led nation- Saudi Arabia- and they sent their soldiers into Bahrain to put down the uprising. On the other side of the coin you have Iran [Shii leadership] backing Assad in Syria because he too adheres to their division.
So some in the western media have played this up as the main cause of the protests- when in reality it plays a smaller role than you would think.
Okay- all that to say this. If the defenders of the president want to defend him against ‘anti colonial’ accusations- then have some background into what’s going on. If you want to criticize Newt for the accusation- realize that it’s not totally unfounded- and it’s not wrong to be anti colonial. All our founding fathers were.
‘PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT- EVER!’ Trump. ‘WE JUST KILLED BIN LADEN’ The President. ‘TRUMP APPEARS ON FOX [news] AND HE WEARS ONE ON HIS HEAD’ Seth Meyers- S.N.L fame, at the White House Press dinner. Conclusion? Trump- your fired.
These last few days have been news worthy- Obama released the birth ceritificate [though you still have doubters]. NATO [and the U.S.] killed Gadhafi’s son –Saif [not the famous son by the same name- this one was younger and not as heavily involved with the regime] and his 3 grandkids- all under the banner of ‘protecting civilians’ [how killing 3 kids protects civilians is beyond me]. And of course we all rejoice in the justice brought to Bin Laden.
I found it fascinating how the left/right even use stuff like this to simply play petty games. Michael Issikoff [MSNBC] was criticizing Lynn Cheney because some of the Intel. we used to get Bin Laden came for K.S.M. [Kaliek Sheik Mohammed] during our interrogation of the guy. So those on the right said ‘see- water boarding does work- it got us the info’. And the left said ‘hold your horses Lynn’.
Issikoff said ‘we water boarded the guy 180 something times- and all we got was the nickname of the person connected to Bin Laden- geez- we didn’t even get the full name’. Are you kidding me? If someone was out to kill your family- and you ‘interrogated’ an accomplice- and he said ‘it’s the mailman’ but didn’t give you the proper name- would that not be what is called actionable intelligence?
In point of fact the left and the right are both wrong on this. The way we got the info was not during a water boarding session- it was during normal questioning. At one point the C.I.A. asked him ‘and who is so and so’ and they gave the famous nickname. K.S.M. said ‘I don’t know his name’. The C.I.A. knew that he did know- that tipped us off that the person was a valuable target- and it lead to Bin Laden [he was the courier- mailman- for Bin Laden].
All in all I’m glad they got the guy- but the pettiness of these politico’s- these guys are ruining the country- Jon Stewart is right when he calls them out for what they are. And Michael Issikoff- he should be the last person to talk about ‘valuable- non valuable’ Intel. He is famous for writing an article stating that our soldiers flushed a Koran down the toilet at Gitmo. This article instigated worldwide Muslim uprisings that killed innocent people and put our soldiers at risk. When Pastor Terry Jones burns a Koran and it leads to innocent deaths- we rightfully condemn it. When a MSNBC hack does it- with false information [we never burned a Koran- it was misinformation that the terrorists themselves put out- and Issikoff took the bait- and well you know the rest of the story] we let it slide.
O.K. all in all there’s been a lot going on. I don’t want to demean the importance of the Bin Laden killing- our boys [Seals] did one heck of a job- and they did it in Pakistan- a few hundred yards from a military facility [and they didn’t know he was there? Please]. And we did it without informing the Pakistani Govt. that we were going in- sounds just like an Israeli undercover op. great job. But I am concerned about the way NATO has targeted civilian areas in Tripoli- saying ‘we are not targeting Gadhafi’ baloney. We are indeed targeting him- and we killed his 3 grandkids at the same time. No- killing kids is not acceptable- no matter whose grandkids they are.
 THE CHINGALINGS-
Got an email the other day from one of my old buddies who I haven’t heard from in a few years. He must have googled my name and found the blog site- it’s not hard to find me being my name is on a lot of the posts that I publish.
He was surprised to have heard that I retired; he used to call me up a lot over the years when I was at the fire house. We grew up together in N.J. and he was one of the friends I always kept in touch with. He told me that a mutual friend was still in prison [Rahway, N.J.] I told him ‘yeah- I know’ I have been writing him in prison ever since he first told me about it a few years back.
He finally sent me the ‘rap sheet’ I knew our friend was doing time for a serious offense, just never knew the whole story. As I read the link I pictured in my mind the whole scene. They pulled up to some house on 70 something street- late at night. The owner was a 73 year old salvage yard owner. My friend had done business with him being he too owned a trucking business. As my friend waited in the Getaway car- his cousin [who I also knew] and another guy go upstairs and knock on the door- he answers ‘who is it’ they reply ‘PSG & E’ [I guess the name of the utility co. in Jersey- I grew up in Jersey but never paid a utility bill]. The guy says ‘one minute’ and as ‘he’ unlocks the door they rush in- to find the cops waiting in the apt. They were set up.
The case showed how they had plastic restraints and duct tape and all the stuff you would need to kidnap someone. They basically were there to rob the guy- he supposedly had a safe with lots of money in it- instead they got busted. As I read the case- the wife’s testimony [I knew her since I was a kid too- they were together since ‘way back then’] I could hear her voice- reading my friends testimony- the story he came up with- I knew I was hearing my friend. It was sad- yet I felt like I was there.
One time this friend stopped by my house in Jersey ‘hey John- let’s take a ride to the shore’. Sure- where did you get the car? [Nice new Nova] ‘I found it- it was just sitting there with the keys in it’ sure enough I went. We had a few incidents take place where he owed me some money- one night I was at the carnival with another friend and I said ‘if I see so and so tonight- its over!’
Sure enough my friend spots him a little while later and I got into a severe fight with him. The next day I found out he had to go to the hospital and his family pressed charges against me- and his ‘biker friends’ [from Fort Lee- young guys- all our age] were gonna get me. I joined the Navy a few days later.
Over the years I always tried to ‘convert’ my buddies- the first time back after this incident [maybe a couple of years later?] I hooked up with these old friends- my one friend [geez- I don’t want to use their names] the friend that I didn’t get in the fight with- he said ‘John- so and so still holds a grudge, maybe you better not get in touch with him’ I just blew it off- we got together and nothing happened. I felt bad- he did have some scars from the incident a few years earlier.
I have always tried to stay in touch with these old friends- I have made lots of friends thru the years- guys who have gone to prison- involved in bad stuff- yet lots of them do actually get into the bible- seek God- and many of them do come around.
I have always had sincere friends say ‘John- maybe your taking too many risks by being around these guys’. I have had a few good friends tell me this recently about my friends contact with these Muslim groups on facebook ‘John- you never know if these guys are terrorists or what’ I hear them- yet the ‘risk’ of possibly having a ‘secret’ terrorist friend on the net- well that’s really not something I worry about- plus- these guys do read my posts, what more could I ask for?
I haven’t heard from my friend in prison for around 8 months now- he was real happy to write- he asked for some radio tapes from my programs- I sent him a bunch- he was grateful- shared them with the brothers in jail [the way my buddy was- always scamming someone- I wouldn’t put it past him to have sold the tapes!]. The charges against him were attempted kidnapping and robbery. They caught him because the plan was hatched with a biker gang out of the South Bronx [N.Y.] and they had an undercover informant in the gang. The gang are called the Chingalings, I saw an A&E special on them years ago- never knew my friend [or his cousin] were in the gang.
So anyway hopefully I’ll hear from him again- I saved the address [I used to never save the addresses of my friends who I wrote to in prison- I have been writing the brothers for years- teaching them stuff- one on one, like the blog- but I would simply get the address from the next letter- this time I thought I should save one of the envelopes- so sure enough I have his Rahway address- his prison number and all].
One time I got an email from a friend- a girl I grew up with- she read the blog and said something like ‘gee- I like the blog John- and I know you are always challenging us to go out and help people like you do- but I’m not like you- I can’t get with all these convicts’. I emailed her back ‘PLEASE- DON’T GET WITH CONVICTS!’ I had to explain to her that she shouldn’t take my blog challenges the wrong way- I never meant for the average homemaker to go out and meet with the Chingalings!
Yet I do try and challenge my old buddies- guys who have done time in prison- ex drug addicts and all- I do often tell them ‘hey guys- don’t forget where you came from- there are still others like you that need someone to go and take a chance on them- like I did with you’. All in all I’m sure God’s will will get done. Anyway it was good to hear from one of my old buddies- he’s not on Facebook- I searched for him when I first got on- I told him that would be the best place to keep in touch. Either way it’s important to make an effort- even if its small- to try and help out your friends- you might have to take some risks- but in the end it will be worth it.
 THE ARAB SPRING-
This week the president took some criticism for identifying the struggle going on in the Arab/Muslim world with the struggle for freedom that the Jewish people experienced- and commemorate during this Passover season. The president- who celebrates the Passover meal- said that the present Arab struggle for freedom- what is sometimes referred to as The Arab Spring, is much like what the Jews went thru when they too felt oppressed by their leaders many years ago. I actually just did an entire study along these same lines [Insights from a Revolution].
The president’s critics tore into him ‘how dare he compare a radical Muslim terror campaign with the honest struggle of the Jewish people’. Beck had John Hagee [the famous Pastor out of San Antonio] on his show- as well as a Rabbi and another Israeli official- they discussed the subject of God being on the side of the geopolitical decisions of Israel- and how the Arab/Muslim world just want to ‘kill everybody else’.
Hagee offered his friendship to the Rabbi- stating ‘though we disagree on who the Messiah is [no small disagreement!] yet we can still overlook our differences and work together’. Now- I would simply ask- why not take this position with the Muslim/Arab world too? The difference that Hagee was willing to ‘gloss over’ with his Jewish friends is quite a leap- though I too agree with it- that is even though our Jewish friends do not embrace Jesus as the Messiah- yet we should love them as Jesus commanded- and fight for their rights as a people.
We should also extend this hand of friendship- as much as possible- to the Arab world. ‘What- are you nuts- don’t you know the Koran has verses in it that are incompatible with Christian doctrine’- actually I do know this- but that 'incompatibility’ is just as severe- doctrinally- as saying Jesus is not the Messiah. According to the Apostle John- this denial is the worst doctrinal denial one can make [Johns 1st letter found in the New Testament ‘if anyone denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah- come in the flesh- he is anti Christ’].
Okay- the point? Why couldn’t Beck, Hagee, and the other multitudes simply give this same benefit of the doubt to the Muslim world? In Genesis chapter 16 we read the actual history of the Arab/Muslim world- yes it’s in our bibles. Sarah [Abraham’s wife] tells her husband to sleep with her maid Hagar and have a son. Sarah was barren and this was an acceptable thing at the time to do- sort of like a surrogate mother type thing. After the maid gets pregnant there arises tension and jealousy in the home and Abraham says ‘look- she’s your maid- do what you want’ and Sarah kicks her out and the maid winds up crying in the wilderness..
God sends an angel to talk with her and God promises her that her son- Ishmael [the father of the Arab/Muslim people- who is also the son of Abraham- the father of the Jewish people!] will become a great people and that the son- Ishmael- will be a wild man and he will be at war with all the nations around him and all the nations will fight with him. Now- does this history sound accurate to you? Does the Christian bible say God is the one who multiplied this group of people? If these things are true- and recorded in our Christian bibles- why not at least give them the same chance as our Jewish brothers?
Look- I am not advocating glossing over the serious doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity- but the Evangelical community- for the most part- has managed to ‘gloss over’ a pretty major doctrinal difference with our Jewish friends- why not with Muslims? I mean as people who live together on the same planet- as people whom God said ‘I am the one who increased them’ surely we can take these same verses and use them as a bridge- to bridge some serious gaps for sure- but a possible bridge that God has given us- in our bibles- that states that God himself is concerned with the Arab world and the present ‘war’ between Ishmael and all the nations around him- well that too was recorded in God’s plan.
 LESSON FROM A MUSLIM-
I read a story in my local paper yesterday- there was an ecumenical dinner held this week between Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Christian staff writer who attended shared how it helped her to overcome previous prejudices that she had. She told what the various speakers discussed and I was particularly impressed with what the Muslim speaker said- she talked about how true religion is not performance, putting on a show- but is expressed in reaching out to those in need- the poor and hurting.
In fact she was basically quoting the New Testament book of James- James says ‘pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows and to stay clean from the world’. A few weeks back one of my homeless buddies stopped by- he’s basically a genius when it comes to the bible- I mean it’s sort of an autistic thing to be honest- he knows- by memory- much more than the average preacher. As I visited with Henry I gave him the latest bible studies that were sent to me over the last few months. Years ago I heard a N.J. Jewish preacher- who pastors a Messianic congregation in Lodi, N.J.- he had a short radio show on the same station I’m on- and as a courtesy I sent him some of my books and told him hi and all- being I’m a former Jersey brother and all. Ever since he has sent me these really great bible studies every month.
The studies are really in depth- and he usually only sends them to partners [those who support his ministry with money]. But I guess he appreciated my sending him a nice note and he forever put me on the list. Now- I’m an avid reader- I’ve read just about everything you can get your hands on- but these past few years I’m trying to stick with scholarly stuff- not that I’m ‘too good’ for the basic stuff- It’s just I really don’t have the time to just read tons of stuff that’s in the category of ‘devotional’ material- stuff that just kind of talks about Christian things.
So I hate to throw the stuff out- I mean they’re great bible studies. I don’t want to write Jonathan [the pastor] and say ‘take me off your list’- so I save them up and give them to Henry- he devours them and even quotes them back to me the next time I see him. So anyway we had a good talk. Somehow we got into discussing the book of James [the verse I quoted above] and I told Henry how it’s funny that James [we believe this letter in the New Testament- called James- was written by the James who was Jesus’ brother- mentioned about in the bible. He was the same James mentioned as one of the leaders in the church at Jerusalem in the book of Acts, chapter 15. To my Catholic friends- it might sound strange ‘Jesus had a brother?’ these words are found in the New Testament. Catholic teachers don’t deny this- they just interpret it to mean ‘cousin’ or near relative- some say its speaking of ‘Christian brother’. Don’t want to debate it- just thought I should mention it].
Anyway- I told Henry how it’s strange that one of the key leaders in the early church- who was closer to Jesus than all the other disciples [he lived in the same house] that he would write such a scathing indictment against the rich- and he would defend the poor so strongly. James’ letter is one of the strongest rebukes against the rich that you will find in the bible. Anyway Henry agreed with me- of course Henry’s poor- homeless- but he knows his stuff. He said ‘you know John- as true as you are- you never hear this from the famous pulpits in America’. He was agreeing with what the Muslim lady said at the dinner- that true religion is not fame and glory- but serving those in need.
I liked the spirit of the article I read- It does not mean I will not continue to advocate for the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus- that Jesus is truly the only way to God. Pope Benedict has also come under some heat for saying the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is the only way of salvation- to which I agree.
Yet at the same time- as we make our case to our Muslim and Jewish friends- we can also sit down with them- live as citizens of the same community with them- and even learn something from them every now and then.
NOTE- To any of my friends who might be ‘rich’. The early church did have certain individuals who were rich- and it was oaky. The person who gave his grave spot to Jesus- Joseph of Arimathea- was rich. Also in the books of Acts there were believers who sold their real estate and dedicated the money to the church. So the bible doesn’t just outright condemn those who are rich- but there are many warnings against being rich in ‘this world’ while forgetting to build riches in the kingdom [works of love and charity]. That’s the main theme of James’ letter.
 WILL RUSSIA INVADE ISRAEL?-
I remember one of the first sermons I preached as a young kid who recently started reading the bible and learning all there was to learn. The message was on the ‘Future invasion of Israel by Russia’. I had heard some radio preacher offer a book on the subject and I ordered/read the book and I became familiar with the words ‘GOG- MAGOG’ that were recorded in the old testament book of Ezekiel.
The reference is to a region- north of Israel- where a future invasion will come down and wipe out [attempt] Israel. So as a sincere kid preacher [maybe 20 years old?] I preached with all the gusto I had- I referenced all the passages- till this day I’ll never forget that was the 1st time I looked on a world map and noticed that Moscow was indeed directly north of the land of Israel.
I covered all the passages well for a new kid on the block- my Pastor [a great and good man by the way] complemented me on the study that went into the message and for the most part I covered the classic view of dispensational theology that predicts a future natural kingdom on earth- run out of Jerusalem- where Jesus will literally sit on a throne and head up natural Israel [just a note- I too believe in the literal return of Christ- the 2nd coming].
These last few months we have seen some shakeup in the world of Liberal versus Conservative cable wars. First we saw the sudden departure of Keith Olberman [my favorite Liberal] and then- like a major earthquake- Beck announced he will be leaving Fox news at the end of the year. I was surprised to see Beck go.
On one of the last shows he did, before he had a fill in take over this last week [or maybe more?] Beck was doing one of his blackboard scenarios and he managed to get to the verse about Gog and Magog [my famous sermon!]. He hit it fast- mentioned the reference found in the book of Revelation [my reference was the one in Ezekiel] and he of course said how Russia was more than likely presently aligning itself for this future biblical event.
Since the early days of my becoming a reader of the bible- I have grown in my understanding of these various portions of the bible. While there are still many sincere bible Christians who read these passages as a future event- most scholars see them thru an historical framework. For instance in the Old Testament it is true that on more than one occasion the nation of Israel was attacked by invaders from the north- and these were seen as judgments from God on a rebellious nation. The language of ‘invaders from the north’ came to be understood as a reference to Gods judgment. Like today when you see ‘the south’ [confederate] versus the ‘north’- when dealing with the American civil war- you see it means more than just those who now live in the North or South- it’s talking about ideology- the politics of a situation- not just a geographical region.
So you could very well read these passages in this way- that is the invasion Ezekiel spoke about can refer to one of the many that did occur during Israel’s past history- and today it speaks more about Gods judgment on nations/people who disobey- and less about a geopolitical struggle that is still to play itself out on the map- got it?
When covering these issues it is important to realize that when we read the bible we need to read it in context- it’s not totally loony to take these verses the way Beck does- many bible believers do- but I think the approach I just gave you is more than likely the best approach [though it’s not the most popular as measured by the end times books that are best sellers in the present day].
Everybody has a point of view- it’s important to try our best to frame these passages of scripture in keeping with the broader themes of mercy and Gods love for mankind- as seen in scripture- while doing our best to interpret the broader meaning of these passages. We live in a day where many ancient cultures are in turmoil- some of the names of these nation states are mentioned in the bible [Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc.] this makes it all the more important that we try our best NOT to simply associate all the present people groups who live in these nations with the actual militaristic prophecies about them in scripture- often times the biblical references are speaking about historical events that already took place on the battlefields of the past- and they are not necessarily speaking about these people groups who live in the land today. The gospel of Jesus rises above the ethnic/geographical divisions of the past- all people are made one in Christ.
The previous chapter in Ezekiel [37- GOG is in 38] gives a wonderful picture of Ezekiel holding a stick in his hand- God tells him to write the names of Israel and Judah on the stick [these were the divided tribes of Israel at the time] and God says they will become one in the prophets hand- God will gather them together and set his tabernacle in their midst and they will be reconciled before God as one ‘new man’. This is the language used by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians- Paul says in Christ the ethnic/national divisions are broken down and we become one new man in Christ.
In truth these verses are really speaking about the ultimate purpose of God in reconciling all humanity thru the Cross- thru Jesus Christ- it’s sad that many have used them [including myself] to cause division.
 CULTS- I was thinking of covering the 4th Pillar of Islam today [our current study on Islam] but as I was walking into my office I noticed a pamphlet from the local Jehovah’s Witness group- it was an invite to their meeting. My kids must have found it on the door.
Over the years I have had great talks with the Witnesses as well as the Mormons. I’m always upfront from the start- I tell them I do teach the bible and church/religious history and as our talks begin I cover the basic historical background of their groups. I tell them why historic Christianity often defines them as a Cult- I try and be open and nice- yet I tell them the reasons behind this label.
Most times they are open and willing to talk- I hear them and they hear me. I have had numerous occasions where the younger Mormon kids would come back and really get into the stuff I was teaching- one kid said ‘wow- you know all the stuff we know’ I quoted a few key verses and he really was learning. I had a husband and wife Jehovah Witness team come over- as I was doing the basic study [me teaching them some stuff] the husband had one of those ‘aha’ moments. I was teaching/explaining something from the book of Acts and he said ‘your right- God showed me that too!’ he was really excited.
I say all this to say we often view people as ‘the enemy’ I think some of the reason for them being open to what I have to say is the fact that most of the homes they knock on often view them in a real negative light. Almost as if they were enemies. Now- I am very aware of the doctrinal differences between these groups and historic Christianity- and there are real reasons for the cult label- but I try to see them thru the lens of honest people- who for whatever reason [often raised in the group] they are trying to serve God to the best of their ability. If you view them thru this more merciful angle- as opposed to evil cult members- then you can have an open door that goes both ways.
One of the sad things about current Christianity is the tendency- in many groups- to focus on the things that we disagree on. There are many good Christian churches who view the church down the block as a cult- often times these churches actually believe the same thing on 99 % of their doctrine- yet they have a disagreement on water baptism- or an end time doctrine- or the gifts of the Spirit- and these differences are deemed worthy of the cult label. It’s really a sad thing.
I caught the show Journey Home the other night- it’s the Catholic show hosted by Marcus Grodi- he does interesting interviews with ex protestants who have ‘returned home’ to the Catholic church. The guy he had on was a former Fundamental Baptist minister who is now Catholic. For those of you who are not familiar with Christian fundamentalism- this is no minor change. Most Fundamentalist Baptists hold to a very anti Catholic stand. Anyway it was interesting to hear his journey- how he came to learn church history and he was open to the story of Christianity down thru the ages. I felt he was a little too defensive of his Catholic faith- he quoted a bunch of verses from the book of Acts to kinda say ‘see- they were Catholics’ in the fully orbed sense of the word [Bishops, 7 sacraments, etc.] I did like the brother- it was just you could sense the old protestant reasoning in using proof texts to carry your argument thru to a quick, pat conclusion. Often times this way of proving ‘who’s right’ overlooks the importance of learning over a period of time- thru becoming familiar with lots of sources and at the end of the day you see that no ‘one church’ can really lay claim to their church being fully found in the bible.
What I mean by this is the bible gives us the story of the beginnings of Christianity and we really see the church in her infancy while reading the bible- we don’t yet see any particular Christian church fully formed in the scripture. Though many churches have their arguments- they will quote verses all day on why they are the ‘true church’ or ‘best one’ yet I like the more moderate approach- True Christians are found in all denominations and the ‘true church’ consists of all those in the various groups who truly embrace Christ.
So for today- be patient with the door knockers- maybe you are a door knocker? If so, let’s all sit at the table- listen to each other and try to view people thru the lens of mercy. If my first thought of you is ‘radical Muslim’ or ‘evil cult’ then it will be next to impossible for me to relate to you in an open and honest way. I am not advocating the view that ‘all religions lead to God’ I’m simply asking that we be more patient with people- try and understand where they are coming from- I really have had some very open talks with lots of these groups- very upfront with them- I say ‘this is why historic Christianity views you as a cult’ yes I say that- but I say it in a way- during an ongoing conversation- that allows them time to respond and share their view- and I too respond and have an open conversation. I have found this to be the best way to relate to various religious groups- hope you do to.
 3rd PILLAR- ZAKAT.
As I was debating whether or not to continue my study on Islam [today] the spot I stopped at last was the 3rd pillar. Sure enough yesterday [and the rerun at 1 a.m.] Beck did an interesting show on Zakat. He had on a few experts- who are known to not be sympathetic to Islam- and they covered the subject of non violent Jihad- those who advocate for an Islamic society thru non violent means. Now- I know some Beck supporters have been upset with me in the past because I criticize Beck- it’s not that I don’t think he actually brings up things that other networks don’t- sometimes he does reveal stuff that the other networks don’t because they are so ‘in the tank’ for the president. I never thought I’d see the day where a news host actually would describe his ‘feelings’ that come over him when he hears the president speak- he actually used sexual connotations to describe it [a tingle goes up my leg]. Now- I’m not saying this to be cute [okay- maybe a little] but to say I have never in my life seen the media- the so called 4th estate- so one sided. So Beck [Fox] does serve a purpose. Now- Beck covered the groups that raise money under the banner of ‘charity’ and yet they have ties to radical Islam, and they discussed the ancient Islamic practice of Zakat [or Tithe].
In the Muslim community Zakat is giving a portion [2.5%] of both goods and finances for the sole purpose of providing for the poor. In Muslim communities the Zakat is like social security. The word literally means purification. The word itself is not a terrorist term- nor the practice. It is important for Beck and others to cover stories about the use of Zakat given to charitable groups for radical purposes- yet most Americans have probably not heard of the term before- and their first introduction to it was seen thru an association to terror.
Years ago I had a chance meeting with a Muslim- I’m sure he didn’t realize he ran into some nut who studies just about everything a person can study [I was working at the fire house and on duty]. He was a devout Muslim- dressed in Muslim garb an all. As we talked I gave him the biblical history of Abraham and his 2 sons Isaac and Ishmael. I traced the lineage of Christians and Jews from Isaacs’s line, and the genealogy of Muslims [Arabs] thru Ishmael. I spoke about the coming of Jesus in the 1st century of the Common Era as the promised offspring that God originally told Abraham about. I explained the purpose of the Messiah [Jesus] as being the predestined one sent by God to unite all people and tribes under one new nation- the Kingdom of God. I explained to my friend that Christianity teaches that Jesus was not simply a prophet- but one who died for the sins of the world and rose again as the final sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the sins of men. I was surprised to see my Muslim friend hearing the whole story- for the 1st time. He told me he was not familiar at all with the history [even though it is both biblical history and Islamic- the part about Ishmael which is found in the book of Genesis]. He seemed so grateful to have heard it thru ‘this angle’ not from the angle of the Crusades- or of Western Colonialism- but from the angle of the grace of God that has come to all tribes and races thru Jesus Christ.
As I watch the media day after day- seeing more unrest in the Middle East than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Seeing the growing strain between Christians and Muslims and Jews [the Fla. Pastor went and burned a Koran and Muslim demonstrators in Afghanistan attacked the U.N. building and killed and beheaded some workers]. As I see the lines being drawn in the sand- I come back to the story of my Muslim friend- who obviously was dedicated to his faith [wearing the robe and all] yet he never clearly heard the gospel- which actually means Good News. The bible commands us [Christians] to live in peace with ALL MEN- to love our neighbor as our self- to even love those who hate us- to pray for those who persecute us and to do good [a type of Zakat] to our fellow man. While I make no excuses for the killing and beheading of the U.N. people- yet to burn the holy book of another religion is also not living peaceably with all men.
I believe the Islamic practice of Zakat is closer to actual biblical teaching than what most Christians practice today. The majority of Christian giving- often wrongfully referred to as the Tithe- goes to the function of media ministry- church buildings- salaries- etc. under 10 percent goes to meeting the needs of the poor. Yet in the teachings of Jesus and in the New Testament the majority teaching on giving is in context of giving to meet the needs of the poor [go read my books under the Feb- 2010 posts- and also the study called ‘what in the world is the church’ under the Feb posts]. So in a very real way I do think the Islamic Zakat is closer to the biblical practice than what most 21st century Christians practice.
I will obviously have many things I will not embrace about Islam in future posts- I will try and cover those differences as respectfully as I possibly can- without being a biased defender of Islam [as my current instructor on the course seems to be]. And I will make the case for Christ as well. At the end of the day hopefully we can learn more about our various beliefs- try and have respect for those who differ- and root for the moderates among us. I reject the Koran burning pastor in Fla. And I hope most Muslims will also reject the radical elements within their ranks. The history of the 3rd Pillar of Islam is a good one- a practice that centers around the teachings of Christ- it’s a shame that some in the Muslim community have hijacked it for violent Jihad.
 MUSLIM IN AMERICA- THE PRESIDENTS SPEECH AND OTHER MUSINGS.
Last night the president finally spoke to the nation in defense of our military action in Libya. He made the case that there are times when the U.S. can/should act if we feel we can avert a humanitarian disaster- he also said we can’t always intervene in every conflict. I guess for the most part this makes some sense- it’s just the way he handled it [going on vacation- congress in recess]. There are still lots of questions to be asked/answered. Today the rebels are on the outskirts of a western city that is ‘pro Gadhafi’. The city is called Sirte and like other cities in the west they favor Gadhafi more so than the rebels. The question is; how do we justify the bombing of Gadhafi’s military- in order to protect civilians- while the rebels are getting ready to overthrow a civilian population- with force- against the majority of the will of the people? We have indeed enabled the rebels to advance this far west, and we are basically on the side of the rebels- in this case- against the populace.
The other night I watched a CNN special on Muslim discrimination in America- most of you who read my posts [blog] know I try and take the more moderate position of not branding all Muslims as radical. I do think there are times when Muslims are discriminated against wrongfully because of their faith. Yet at the same time the media often show their bias. The show did a good job at revealing how Muslims face discrimination in America- the host- Soledad O’Brien- kind of showed the ‘ignorant’ Christians versus the moderate Muslims. The town was Murphysboro Tenn. [yes- they picked a spot that would be a little more redneck than usual] and they interviewed a few American Muslim women whose sole experience of Islam comes from an American perspective. These women, as sympathetic as their causes are- do not even begin to breech the absolute discrimination and oppression that many Muslim women experience around the globe on a daily basis- it was just unfair for CNN to portray Muslim women as victims of Christian discrimination while overlooking the real problem- expressed by many women who have chosen to speak out- against the oppression women face when living in countries that have Sharia law as the law of the land.
As I continue to teach the study on Islam [so far have only done 1 post on it] I want to try and approach the strained relationship that exists between Western society and Islam- yet I don’t want to be an apologist for Islam. I’m currently going thru a course on Islam that is taught by the official govt. teacher on the subject. I believe he was sitting in the second row of the president’s speech last night. Over the years I have studied on lots of subjects- years of utilizing the public library system, buying university level books [not pop culture Christian stuff on how to ‘get what you want’] and I have also ordered courses [C.D. and book] from the top professors of the universities of the world. These course are not cheap- yet they are cheaper than actually getting credits for the courses [you can take the same courses as extension courses from the universities and get credit- but that’s way too expensive- especially if done thru the elite universities- Harvard, etc.] So instead I simply purchase the courses and do them on my own. Now- the reason I say this is to explain a ‘funny thing’ that happened on my study of Islam. When I first ordered the course I noticed the ratings were not that great. Most courses are rated in the 80-90 percentile- from others who have done the course- this one was in the 60’s. I hesitated to get it- but the other courses that dealt with Islam also dealt with other religions- and I didn’t want to do an entire comparative religion study at this time. So these courses are taught by the top tier professors in the world [these professors are peer reviewed and deemed to be in the top 10 %]. This one on Islam is taught by the person who teaches Islam to the incoming govt. employees under president Obama. As I’m going thru the course- there are times where I feel like the teacher is too defensive of Islam- sort of like the CNN special. At one point the professor defends Muhammad as a religious leader who freed women from oppression and instituted an open and liberal society for all people- especially women. Geez- stuff like this is very problematic- I know enough about the current world nations that have Islam as the official religion of the nation- these nations are without a doubt very oppressive to women.
Like many things in life- we all try and do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt- and as someone who has disagreed with the president and been openly critical of him- yet I try not to be so biased that I find fault with everything he does. The media has far left defenders- who never find anything wrong with the man- and far right critics who never find anything right. At this time- the revolts in North Africa and the Middle East are really getting out of hand- the Christians in Egypt- an ancient Christian church [Coptic] have lived there since the early days of Christianity- they have just voted in Egypt to recognize Sharia law as the official law of the land- this referendum was passed by 70 % of the population- and the Muslim Brotherhood showed their organizational abilities by gaining a majority of the vote for the things they wanted. So now the Christians in Egypt might face the same fate as those in Pakistan- being put to death for blaspheming Islam [which often means witnessing for Christ]. The rebels who we are fighting for in Libya are much more radical than Gadhafi- yes Gadhafi was/is a madman- yet the rebels have more Al Qaeda influence than Gadhafi- they have been enemies in Libya for years. Do we really want our people dying for the Rebels?
There are still lots of questions to be answered- I am uncomfortable that the course I’m going thru on Islam is so skewed to the point of defending Islam as a great liberator of women and their rights- I was even more troubled to have seen ‘my instructor’ sitting in the 2nd row at the president’s speech.
 PILLARS 1-2.
As the Libya story unfolds- you have some sincere critics of the president [Dick Lugar] and others who just want to find fault. Now- one of the debates going on is who will eventually take over the command of the ‘no fly zone’ [war]. The Arab league- though initially in support of the action, has since said what they signed up for [protect innocent civilians] is not what happened [bombing the country]. Vladimir Putin [Russian P.M.] said ‘it’s a crusade’ Yikes! The Russian president [who I thought was supposed to be a puppet] Medvedev rebuked the words publicly. Before we hit Libya- I started asking a few questions- things like ‘look- I know the leader seems like a nut, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to his charge that the Rebels are Al Qaeda’. Sure enough there have been lots of reports that do say the radical element in these protests are larger than what we saw in the other nations [Tunisia, Egypt]. Richard Engel- a top NBC [NOT FOX!] reporter said that 1 in 5 of the rebels are fighting because they want to kill Gadhafi ‘the Jew’. So as we debate when/where the U.S. should take action- we need to also keep in mind that the alternatives to the toppling of leaders might be just as bad- or worse- than the actual leader. Okay- why was the word ‘crusade’ so charged? It plays into the world history of the western nations fighting against the Muslim world. Many in the Arab league are not comfortable with NATO taking charge because of this history. The last few weeks the song ‘from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli’ have gone thru my mind. I remember the old Abbot and Costello shows on the foreign legion and stuff like that. What war is the song describing? It speaks about the wars that the U.S. engaged in- yes- with Libya- many years ago. After the American colonies broke away from England we continued to conduct world trade by the use of ships. At one point [1800’s] the Mediterranean became a flash point [like today] you had pirates and countries who retaliated by disrupting the water ways. America of course fought back- and the Libyans were actually called ‘the Mujahedeen’ yes- the same term used for the Rebels who we supported in toppling the Russian influence in Afghanistan. These were the Barbary wars- Barbary Coast. So- we need to be careful that our actions don’t play into the idea that the U.S. is actually waging a 21st century crusade [this is also why it was unbelievable that Bush actually used the term crusade during his term].
Okay- let me do a little more on Islam [the teaching series I started in the last post]. Islam has 5 Pillars- basic tenets that all Muslims hold to;
1- The declaration of their faith ‘There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. To become a Muslim- one simply has to accept/confess this statement. Muslims believe that the final/complete revelation of God to man has come thru the prophet- by way of the Quran. As Christians accept Jesus as God’s final prophet/Messiah to mankind- so Muslims see Muhammad as the final and complete authority.
2- The second Pillar is Salat [prayer]. Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca- the holy city where the Kabba is [Kabba- the house of God believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael]. Once a week on Friday Muslims pray corporately at noon in the local mosque or Islamic center.
The next few days I’ll try and cover the other 3 pillars- I actually think the 3rd pillar is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the bible than what most Christians practice- it deals with the Muslim practice of giving to meet the needs of the poor. For today that should cover it- remember- the reason we are covering Islam as a religion is so we can have a better grasp on what Muslims believe. Too many of us are only familiar with the more radical elements that the media focus on when an attack takes place. At the same time there are also prejudices in Islam as well- many young Muslims are taught a radical hatred for the Jew- these wrong ideas are formed in their minds as young people- and they too need to reject these anti- Semitic ideas. As the U.S. begins engaging in the 3rd Muslim country in the last 11 years- we need to be very careful that we are not playing into the hands of those who embrace radicalism- there is a very real extreme element in Libya. Al Qaeda has operated out of the nation for many years- we need to be careful that we are not being ‘useful idiots’.
[1625 WE ARE IN- As you know the U.S. and our allies have begun enforcing the ‘no fly zone’- in actuality the stated mission is more than a no fly zone, it’s a mission that is too open ended- basically it says we can do anything we need to do to protect the civilian population of Libya- geez- too broad. Now- is this the same type of resolution that Bush had for his 2 wars? No- president Obama has NO resolution from the congress- nada. He’s operating under U.N. and Arab league language- kind of a problem- don’t you think? I heard a major news person say Obama is operating the same way Bush did- without congressional approval. The news broadcaster explained that Bush did not go to congress for Afghanistan or Iraq. Actually Bush went to congress in 2001 for Afghanistan- and 2002 for Iraq. Though the internal debate [now made public] was that the president did not need to go to congress- yet they did anyway. Those defending Obama’s recent action say ‘yeah- but Clinton didn’t get congressional approval for Kosovo- Serbia’ true. Either way- we are there now. If you go back and read my posts on Libya- I was not a hawk on the matter- someone who advocated U.S. military action. But I felt some of the statements from the president [Gadhafi must go] kinda put us on the hook to do something. Though the defense secretary did not want to engage in another Muslim country [not Arab!] yet it seems as if the secretary of state changed her view and Obama decided for limited action. The U.S. will do the early work- and do a quick hand off to France [Britain]. The problem is we never seem to be able to do the darn handoffs! So let’s pray and try and do our best.
As I mentioned above- the media often simply report stuff wrong. It does not help that most of us hold a view of that part of the world thru what we see/hear in the media- a media that gets stuff wrong [not just Fox]. The majority of Arab people are indeed Muslim- but that makes up only 20 % of the entire Muslim world. The most populous Muslim states range from North Africa to Southeast Asia- Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion- and the world’s 2nd largest [around 1.2 billion followers]. Islam also holds huge minority followings in the Western world [Europe and the U.S.]. Most Americans associate Islam with radical Islam- though most of today’s terrorists have come from the radical sect of Islam- all Muslims are not radicals. There is an internal debate in Islam on how to deal with modernity- some scholars teach that true Islam is Patriarchal in nature and the role of women is subordinate. These hold to the idea that a true Islamic adherent seeks for a true Islamic state- ruled by Sharia law. Others believe in a type of separation of Mosque and state- they hold to the view that Islam’s survival depends on its ability to ‘liberalize’ and adjust- like Christianity has done thru the centuries [most Christians are not seeking a theocratic state- though at one time the world was literally governed by the church]. Islam was founded in the 7th century under the prophet Muhammad, and within a hundred years after his death spread into a vast empire [under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires]. Islam also has a sect within her that could kind of be described as Mystical- that is like the Christian Mystics of church history. This branch is called Sufism. So you could say the 2 great institutions of Islam are Islamic law [Sharia] and Sufism [the mystical expression that seeks a more romanticized experience with God- like Christian Pietism].
As an avid boxing fan- I was watching a fight one night- and the official bell ringer ‘rung’ the bell after only 2minutes into the round [rounds are 3 minutes]. At first the ringside announcers- who are not paying attention to the clock- picked it up by simply feeling like the round was short. Sure enough during the break they were told the bell ringer- whose sole job is to ring the bell- messed up. As I watch the coverage unfold over the next weeks/months- and yes- years- I want to try and do my best to stick with the facts as much as possible. I understand it’s not easy to keep all the facts straight [the official bell ringers do at times mess up] and the distinction between the Arab/Muslim world is at times hard to see- I’m sure we will hear lots of reports confusing the 2- but being we are living in a real dangerous time- a time of change thru out the world that we cannot stop [I didn’t even mention the recent events in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia- major events- Yemen ‘snipers’ killed 50 protestor in cold blood- shot in the head/neck. Bahrain cracked down brutally on her protestors- and Syria is beginning to see more of an uprising]. So as we become more familiar with this part of the world- we want to get our facts as straight as possible. In this post I’m just beginning to cover Islam as a religion- over the coming months I want to do some posts strictly on the actual history of Islam- what Islam believes and teaches- and what Islam does not teach. The purpose is not to give a defense to the religion- but to inform each other about a religion that most westerners see only thru a lens of radicalism- thru news reports that fixate on the extreme elements of Islam. Part of our responsibility in the West is to know the subject/people we are dealing with- and for today one of the facts that should help form the coming posts is all Muslims are not Arabs- and all Arabs are not Muslim- the majority of nations that are ‘majority’ Muslim [around 53] are indeed African and Asian. And the latest one that we just engaged in- militarily- is smack dab in the middle of the North African rim that has been on fire- first to its left in Tunisia- and then to its right with Egypt- and we are ‘stuck in the middle with you’.
 I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna [the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’t cover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.] but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like Charlton Hesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?
 WISCONSIN- I’m just about to finish our short study in Exodus- will of course continue to comment on the protests going on in the world- but will probably do one more post on the Exodus thing. I am going to start a study on Islam- yes- we will be getting into areas that are confrontational, talking about the rise of radicalism- are all Muslims radical? Stuff like that. Today, Peter King- the rep. from N.Y. begins hearings on the subject. Some are calling him a modern day Joe McCarthy- others see him as a sort of hero. So we will be trying to teach what Muslims actually believe- and whether or not Islam even has one monolithic voice.
Okay- let’s see if we can discuss the current mood in the country and maybe try and mix it in with our Modernity study [yes- I still have that study to finish too]. Last night the governor of Wisconsin pulled a ‘fast one’. The state house has been in disarray for weeks- the Dems walked out- denying the quorum needed for the Repub’s to vote on the budget- and to ‘strip’ the workers of their ‘rights’. So after a few weeks of waiting, the Republicans did an end run and separated the Collective Bargaining language from the rest of the bill and passed it on a party line vote- 18 to 1. The fugitive Democrats [hiding out in Illinois] came racing back to the state and the protestors were ransacking the state house late last night. MSNBC reported that the governor single-handedly stripped the workers of 50 years of their rights. Rachel Maddow reported that the rights he took away- Collective Bargaining- had nothing to do with money or costs to the state- but they were only ‘workers rights’ [sort of like safe working conditions and stuff like that]. And the Right wingers reported it as a victory for the American taxpayer. Who’s right? Okay- my firefighter union brothers might get mad- but let me let you in on a secret. For 25 years I was involved with bargaining for our ‘rights’ [we never say we are bargaining for money- we always say ‘for the safety of the people’] over the years we mastered the procedure. Our contract with the city had ‘automatic overtime’ at one time we worked out a deal where the city had to pay us overtime- automatically- for every 2 out of 3 checks. It was a complicated change in state law that said employees working more than 40 hours a week had to get paid overtime. Well we worked 24 hours on- 48 off. We averaged 56 hours a week- and the 2 pay periods that racked up 120 hours on the time card gave us ‘automatic overtime’- one check would have 96 hours of pay- so we actually had to work a few hours at straight pay before we would even get overtime. Now- every so often a new commissioner would get elected- he would see this [as well as other deals we had made with previous commissioners] and he would want to ‘correct it’. Go ahead- try your best buddy! We would send our team down to bargain [remember- we had collective bargaining] and the city would send their team. O yeah- we were bargaining with them to reduce overtime- and if ‘our team’ were on duty that day- well yes- we called in overtime to cover the shift because we were short handed- you know- bargaining with the city. Hey- this would drag on for months- years- heck it was getting us more overtime! Well, eventually the novice councilman would catch on- realize it was no skin off our back [or money from our pockets] and he would call it a day- smart man. We also ‘bargained’ for paid holidays- the way that worked was every year the city gave their employees 7 paid days off- you know, Christmas, new years- etc. So we of course had to work those days [1 shift out of 3 would always be on duty one of those days] so we got the city to pay us overtime for that day. Even though we weren’t actually working ‘overtime’ yet we bargained for it and they paid us. Now- when you work a 24 hour shift- getting overtime would add around 5-700 hundred extra- just for that day! You say ‘what a deal’ we’ll wait. We also bargained for ‘the right’ to sell back that same holiday- yes- even if you worked the day, got paid the overtime- you could still sell the day- and get another 24 hours of overtime- for the same day. Every now and then a city leader would catch on- see the deals that were made- and they would think ‘darn it- we must change this’ okay- lets go back to ‘the bargaining table’ and O yea- more overtime!
Now- when Rachel Maddow- or Michael Moore go on national T.V. - telling the world ‘these people are just trying to hold on to their rights’ we do indeed like that. Look- all deals are not like the ones I just showed you- but many times it’s stuff like this that the management has worked with for years [like Walker’s past dealings with negotiating] and they sincerely do want to get rid of bargaining- as well as ‘bust the union’. So you have both sides doing their best to portray it in the best possible light.
A few points to keep in mind. What Walker and the Repub’s did was really not the end of the world- to be fair. Some states do not have collective bargaining [Virginia]. The public sector workers in those states do just about as well as the sates with it. Just recently, president Obama ‘arbitrarily’ froze the pay of federal employees- how could he do that! The law does not allow federal workers to have collective bargaining- so Obama did what MSNBC calls dictatorial- one man rule- a Nazi! Yes- the president did not bargain for the freeze- something that would have never passed if the workers had collective bargaining- the president had the ‘right’ to freeze their pay- the same thing that Walker wants to do in Wisconsin- have the ability to ‘freeze pay’ without having to bargain with us- you know- the overtime kings! Now do you see a little more? Now- say if Walker stripped the whole sate of collective bargaining [like other states have done] say if he even outlawed unions! What would the public sector workers have left? Would they simply be like the average Joe in the private sector- basically if you don’t like the job- leave. No- we still have what’s called ‘Civil Service protection’ what? Yes- as a firefighter- even if I had no Union- no collective bargaining- the city still couldn’t just up and fire me- I could appeal to the Civil service commission and they would hold a hearing on my case and I would either win or lose. Now- in Wisconsin you have the Civil Service protections- you have the Unions- and you still have collective bargaining [even for those who just got stripped of it- they still retain a portion of it for wages]. To describe this as some sort of outrageous overthrow of the rights of people is a bit much- but heck- if the governors/leaders want a fight- by golly we will fight- to the end! O- and we might need some overtime to do it. [we’ll do the modernity thing later].
 EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2nd covenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.
Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumped into this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the Christopher Hitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1st Corinthians 15] that Jesus resurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2nd coming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesus rose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!
There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room- called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesus died- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have open access to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?
 EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai [a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.
Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- your service to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7, Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of American Christianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.
 BEHOLD, I AM MAKING A COVENANT. BEFORE ALLYOUR PEOPLE I WILL DO MARVELS- SO AS HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED IN ALL THE EARTH OR IN ANY NATION, AND ALL THE PEOPLE AMONG WHO YOU ARE SHALL SEE THE WORK OF THE LORD- FOR IT IS AN AWESOME THING THAT I WILL DO WITH YOU. OBSERVE WHAT I COMMAND YOU THIS DAY- EX. 34:10.
In our Exodus study we are actually in chapter 23, but these past few weeks I have been reading thru some key passages and before we get too far in the study I want to make sure we hit them. In the above verse God is telling the people that this deliverance- an actual historical event that took place around 1400 years B.C.- that this Divine change taking place- was a world changing event that had greater implications than what they presently understood. In chapter 23 the Lord tells the people that he is sending his messenger [angel] before them- and they need to pay close attention to the words he is speaking. In the bible [especially the Old Testament] the angel of God at times is associated with God himself. In the book of Revelation God is communicating a prophetic vision to the apostle John thru angels [messengers]. Basically God is telling his people that they need to stay on message- and that the message needs to be in line with his character [my messenger- the things I have/will say]. In another chapter we will hear God tell Moses ‘put the words/law I give you into the box’. God tells Moses to put the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments into the Ark of the covenant- as opposed to what Moses might say or think. The point being all of us [Christian ministers, Jewish leaders, Imams] we need to make sure we are speaking the words of God, not man.
At this time [as I write] I have friends reading these posts from all over the spectrum. Many have been reading straight from the blog site- others from various other spots where these posts show up. As a Christian- I of course hold to the biblical teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the ‘Son of God’ who came to redeem man and died and rose again for the sins of man. Now- why the emphasis on the term ‘Son of God’. In Islam- many good Muslim people are taught- from their youth- that to even read/say this term is blasphemous. Why? In Islam many believe that using this term means that God ‘had sexual relations’ with the Virgin Mary- and many good Muslims sincerely will not listen to a Christian teacher because they are taught that to even hear the term is wrong. So as Christians we need to explain that in Christian teaching this term does not mean that- the Christian faith teaches that the Holy Spirit did a miracle with the Virgin Mary and Mary became pregnant with Jesus- not by a sexual act- but by a Divine miracle. So some bible versions- in an effort to overcome the obstacle that Muslims have about the term ‘Son of God’ [because they see this term in a different way than Christians] have substituted the words ‘Son of God’ with ‘the one who originates from God’. There is a debate among Christians on whether or not this is right [many Christians do not think this interpretation is acceptable] but it seems to be an honest effort among Christian missionaries to introduce the bible to the Muslim people in a way that allows them to get past the first obstacle- of not even wanting to read the words ‘Son of God’. Okay- said all that to say this- in this study of Exodus- we are reading a real biblical account of what took place in time- an account that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in. So as much as I want to continue to make the case for the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah- yet at the same time I want to also teach the biblical account in a way that all 3 faiths can learn from. And I want to be able to be a voice of moderation in the conversation
Often time’s radical voices from all 3 of the above religions are the voices that seem to get the most notice. Last night I caught an interview with the lawyer who went to the Supreme Court and won the case for the Christian church to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. Here in the U.S. we have this Baptist church [Westboro Baptist church] that has been holding up picket signs at the funerals of soldiers that say mean- offensive things ‘God hates fags’ and stuff that should not be said. Yet they won their case because it is a free speech issue- and on the program I watched, they let this lawyer- who is also a family member of the preacher of the church- she went on and shared her view about God and the bible- and to be frank it is a very ignorant view- a bigoted idea of God and the bible, yet it is a view that prevails among many Christians [not the ‘God hates fags’ view- but other separatist ideas] and it leaves no room for having a moderate conversation among the other religions of the world. So as we progress in this study- we see the importance of the word of God- the commands and character of God. We see that God is up to something that is bigger- more important than the people understand at the time- and we see that things take time. At the end of the chapter God says as he brings the people into the land- they will not take all the land at once- lest the wild beats take over the land- but he will gave them a little land at a time, just enough territory to establish a functioning society- before gaining new ground.
I think we all need to re evaluate and take a look at the present landscape [both symbolically and geographically] and give things some time to settle in- to establish rule and order before we take too much area at once. Right now in Libya- there seems to be a standoff between the protestors [rebels- they don’t like this term] and Gadhafi. The country- though big in geographical terms- is relatively small in population [compared to Egypt- 80 million people]. Libya has 6 million people- 90 % live right off the Mediterranean coast- and the forces in the east [major city- Ben Ghazi] are up against Gadhafi’s stronghold in the west- Tripoli. As I watch all the reports we need to be careful that we don’t misread the situation—even though there were reports of civilian deaths- it does not look like Gadhafi has opened up his air force on the civilian population- not in a way it was reported at first. So even though we [the west] condemn the deaths that have taken place- I’m not sure that we are seeing what some have described as a Genocide [which I too said in the beginning]. So maybe the Middle East, Africa- and even parts of Asia- maybe it’s time to sit back and regroup some. I’m speaking to those who are wanting freedom- NON VIOLENT protestors who are protesting to gain human rights- I’m not talking military strategy here! And in today’s chapter [and the verse I quoted at the top] God is saying to the people ‘I am doing an awesome work in the world right now- obey me- listen to my words- I will give you bread [instruction] every morning [the Manna on the ground] I have given you my words [WORDS THAT HAVE SAID- DON’T KILL! TO ALL SIDES] make sure you organize your new found freedom around these things- don’t use this freedom for a chance to sin- to release anarchy/lawlessness [read Galatians chapter 5] but instead use this new freedom to serve God and love your fellow man’.
 EXODUS 20- God gives the people his law- the famous ’10 commandments’. In Greek it is Decalogue [meaning 10 words] and these laws are actually in the form of an ancient treaty type document- in essence God was not just saying ‘do this- don’t do that’ but he was telling them if they wanted to survive as a people, a society- then they needed law, just principles from which to govern themselves by- and also to hold each other accountable to their government and God.
As I continue to write and post about current world affairs- I also do lots of actual scholarly studying- I try and ‘mix’ world events in with historical perspective and keep my thinking in line with others who have gone on before us- stable thinkers, people who represent a broad range of thought. It’s too easy [and dangerous!] to view all things from a limited perspective- and then to see your view confirmed by your limited reading of the events. I saw a minister on one of the history channel shows speaking about his view of the ‘end of the world’. It was obvious that the program was allowing him to share his view- not because they thought it to be accurate- but because they wanted to show how people can see their beliefs confirmed by world events- if that’s what they want to see. Now- let me give you an example; during WW2 the church in Germany was divided- some wanted to work in accord with the state [Hitler] and others said they wanted no type of ungodly alliances with the state. Men like Dietrich Bonheoffer would reject Hitler’s ideals and be part of ‘the confessing church’ [those evangelicals who would not work with Hitler]. Another very famous theologian [scholar] would sign his name to an important document that stated the same idea of not condoning Hitler’s regime- his name was Karl Barth [considered by many to be the most influential theologian of the 20th century] the document was called The Barmen Declaration. In these cases the church felt she needed to speak out about world events- to side with those who were being oppressed- and to condemn those who were oppressing.
As I write this morning- we come off a day where our forces accidentally killed 9 Afghan boys who were out collecting wood for fire. Gen. Petraeus publicly apologized. Hamid Karzai is livid [rightfully so] and we are rapidly losing the support of the people [and I don’t blame them]. Yemen's president gave a very revealing speech- he told his country that he was going to ‘reveal a secret’. He said there is a secret operations room in Tel Aviv [Israel] and the purpose for it is to conspire against the Arab world and that the U.S. and Israel regularly meet to plan the overthrow of the Arab world. He obviously feels the heat [like all these other nations- he has protestors in the streets] but the fact that these leaders are actually speaking like this openly- our ties to these Arab nations are over. At the airport in Germany- a Muslim employee opened fire on 4 people- killing 2 American soldiers. Reports are he shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ [God is great] while firing his weapon.
In the media there are 2 narratives you can see; some ‘news organizations’ have made the top stories about Rumsfeld and any past mistakes/possible crimes committed under the Bush administration. Now- I guess there is a proper time for this- but not during the same day when the current administration and U.S. forces are involved in so many real-time scenarios, actual things that can change our world for years to come. Other news channels focus on the worst case scenarios- seeming to leave no room for any hope at all. I think both of these extremes are dangerous for our country- and we need to be realistic about the very real dangers- including our countries financial problems [there is talk in the world about dropping the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency- and some analysts believe that China and others will stop buying our debt- financing us] These are very real dangers that we face as a country.
So what should the church do? First- I believe the ongoing killing of civilians [even by mistake!] is something that has to stop. Many Americans see the shooting of our soldiers at the German base as ‘terrorism’ and view the accidental killing of the 9 boys as ‘collateral damage’. We must understand- that the mothers of these boys don’t see it like that- and the rest of the Arab world as well. When God gave the people the ‘10 laws’ he was telling them there are some very fundamental rules that all nations will need to abide by if they want to survive. Most of us are familiar with them- and most of us know what the big one is ‘thou shalt not kill’- I think too many of us have stepped over this line one too many times.
 ‘DID YOU SEE HOW FAST EGYPT FELL?’ God. In Exodus 19 the Lord brings the people to mount Sinai and his first instructions- before giving them the 10 commandments- is he tells them ‘You yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt- and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession above all people- for all the earth is mine’. Those of you following these posts- especially you guys from the ‘DAYS OF RAGE’ Facebook pages- it is interesting that these instructions were given to the people in the beginning of the 3rd month [bible calendar time] yet as I’m teaching this the 1st time around- by ‘accident’ it just so happens that today is the beginning of the 3rd month [March 1st 2011]. During the current day revolts taking place in the world- Egypt’s rapid fall was indeed a catalyst for the present day revolts. Now in this chapter God uses the reality of what happened in Egypt as an encouragement to bring the people to himself. He says ‘did you not see the quick deliverance in Egypt? Realize I’m at work in this thing- obey my voice- seek me at this time’. As of this morning Libya still hasn’t fallen- yet Gadhafi is the first leader to actually fight his revolt with arms. Many world observers are asking questions ‘has the U.S. responded right? Is Obama doing a good job’ some are calling for a no fly zone- others are wanting to air drop in humanitarian aid- all in all this is one of those decisions that both the current vice president [Biden] and secretary of state [Clinton] said they sincerely felt candidate senator Obama was not ready for. During the campaign I listened carefully to these 2 individuals sincerely make this claim- Biden would say stuff like ‘look- Barak is a good man- with lots of future potential- I do like him- but to be honest- not critical- he just is not ready for the job- he will be tested because of this and I sincerely do not feel he is ready’ the problem with politicians is after they get put on the team they change their tune- say ‘sure we said that- we are all politicians’ well now we need leaders- not a bunch of ‘bull’ [to put it mildly]. Okay- we were naïve to think that all future revolutions would go as smoothly as Egypt- Libya is a tough nut to crack. If the U.S. takes the lead- goes in and takes the man out- what message will it send? Will all the other protestors in ‘friendly’ countries take it as a sign that if things get out of hand- if they put themselves in situations where they get fired on- then we will be forced to intervene? Yes, these are all tough questions- the job of president is tough- thank God we don’t have a bunch of Harry Reid's and John Kerry’s who went around the country accusing the opposing president of being a murderer who purposely tricked us into war and who is an abysmal failure [note- I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- yet the opposing party felt it their duty to speak like this in their criticism of Bush- thank God there are no Republicans who are openly saying this about Obama- behind the scenes- yes- but not in public- yet]. So the choice is tough- our European allies have all been faster and stronger in their condemnations and the present administrations excuse was ‘we had people on the ground’ but now that they’re out [ferried to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean sea] just ‘watch’. Well, I have been watching- there is nothing to see! God willing this administration will get their act together. While I do not advocate an all out invasion- yet when true humanitarian crimes are being committed- you act- remember Bosnia? Another event the Democrats used to criticize the Repub’s for ‘look- we Dem’s use force- we’re not scared’. Just wish people would do their jobs and quit comparing everything to the opposing side. It’s time to act- act.
Note- sanctions and freezing bank accounts and all these types of things are useless when dealing with a real time humanitarian crisis- a possible genocide. These other tools are not the things you use when dealing with crimes of this nature.
Okay- in this chapter [Exodus 19] we see Mount Sinai, a mountain that represents the first covenant God made with man- the 10 Commandments. In Galatians and Hebrews [chapters 5 and 12 respectively] the bible tells us that we today are at a ‘new mountain’ we have come to a heavenly city- the mountain that represents the New Covenant, called mount Zion- not a physical location any more- but a spiritual community of people- made up of all nations and races- Jews, Arabs, Muslims, everyone is welcome to enjoy the freedom and grace that this new city affords. The New Testament says this city [the church-people of God] has gates that are open all the time- that is people are ‘coming in’ and ‘going out’ 24-7. It is not bound by earthly boundaries- the shaking of nations will not affect it- yet the nations themselves will shake and fall [yes- this actual wording is used in the bible] so today we are seeing a shaking of many nations- people are afraid of radical expressions of Islam- others in the West struggle over the approach- should we quake and fear and give in to worst case scenarios ‘LOOK- THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER’. The answer is all nations and peoples are going to shake- the govts. of the world are all temporary- yes even the great old U.S. of A. At these times we find stability and freedom in the mountain of God- not Sinai- some old expression of govt. that represented bondage and pain [read Galatians chapter 5!] but we have come to mount Zion- a great assembly of people- from all nations- who are yearning for freedom from oppression- seeking justice and righteousness- rejecting the way of the sword and the gun- yes this new mountain is greater than all the mountains of the earth [Ezekiel, Daniel] and in the last days all the mountains [which represent governments in the bible] of the world will collapse- and the mountain of the Lord will be the only one left standing- flee to that mountain- fast!
Just a note to my Muslim readers- we all have prejudices we need to overcome- even while writing the above post I debated on using the biblical language of Zion. The reason is obvious. Yet in the bible the meaning, as used by the New Testament writers- is not speaking about modern Zionism [a geopolitical view of the world and the present situation in Israel/Palestine] but it speaks about a new reality- that thru Jesus Christ all nations can find peace and harmony thru him. At the end of the day the answer is not going to be found in overthrowing one human govt. for another- but the answer will ultimately be found in Gods government- which is a spiritual kingdom called the kingdom of God [read the gospel of John chapter 3].
 LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL [and maybe buy some stock in Nescafe?]
Okay- it’s been a busy news week- I haven’t really commented on the Union situation in Wisconsin and want to cover it some. First- much of the world has been in protest mode for the last year. Originally the problem was the austerity measures that Europe was trying to put in place in order to deal with their debt, and just this week we saw more riots on the streets of Greece- setting a cop on fire. The protests in Wisconsin [and spreading to Ohio and other states] are in nature the same as the European protests [though not as severe] that is the unions [teachers] are protesting the states attempts to abolish collective bargaining, except for the ability to bargain for salaries. The Europeans are mad about changes in their retirement age and stuff like that- protests that are different than what we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa. Now- who’s right in this situation? The newly elected Republican governor[s] are trying to get rid of the Cadillac benefits plans that many of the Northern states have for their public sector employees. As a retired firefighter in the south I do not get near what retired firefighters in the North get. I have no benefits except a monthly retirement check- I’m hoping I don’t get sick- I still have 12 years to go before I am eligible for Medicare. So why do the northern retirees have better packages? Over time unions have managed to gain lots of political power- and when people run for public office- they have learned that if you want the cops and firefighters [and teachers- etc.] to support you- you promise them stuff. After a while some of the northern states simply gave away too much- and they put the cost into the future [Cadillac benefit plans] and now the chicks are coming home to roost. That’s really the nuts and bolts of the thing. Okay- are the unions/teachers bad? No. The system just got out of control and politicians worked the system by putting off the costs to a day when they would not be around anymore [Like Obama’s recent budget- not dealing at all with the debt.]. So after the recent elections lots of Republicans got in and yes indeed they do want to get rid of the system. Why? Well here's where the ‘rest of the story’ comes in. While it is true that the elimination of these rights would make it easier for states to get their budgets in order- it’s also true that these unions usually support Democratic candidates around 95 % of the time [if not 100]. So these Republicans got elected despite the unions spending all they had on keeping them from getting in. Once they got in- with new majorities in their state houses- they saw the chance to not only get rid of a system that has strapped state budgets- but also a way to finally get rid of the number 1 funding mechanism for the opposing party. So do these governors have the right to do this? Yes indeed they do- that’s part of the game. Do the Democratic senators have ‘the right’ to flee to other states? Well they have ‘the right’ but in the long run the way democracies work is you try you hardest to elect people who will support your side, and if those who don’t support your side get elected- then that’s the way the ball bounces. You might disagree with Governor Walker- and think his hard-line tactic of going for broke is too much- yet he has the right to do it. And if we as a country start walking out of the states [or Washington] because we feel that’s the only way to stop the other side from voting- well that in the long run will not work. My personal view is I think the teachers have tried to do their best to say ‘we will give up more benefits- pay more into the system- we just don’t want to lose collective bargaining’ hey- I hear you. But as a firefighter there were a few times when our city threatened to do away with our contract- we fought back [not by striking] and we won- but the reality was- if we lost- we would have lost fair and square. So ultimately if these new governors/state houses have gone Republican- and they get rid of collective bargaining- then the public sector employees simply need to regroup for the next election and try and get new people in- that’s the way Democracy works- to simply leave the state is not how democracy works [just a note- F.D.R. the father of modern entitlements- said that the public sector was no place for collective bargaining. When private workers bargain for wages and benefits- they are going up against the company they work for- in the end the owners/management and the workers come to a deal with their own money- the money the co. makes and the money the people earn. When you carry this into the state/federal arena- you are bargaining with other people’s money, tax payers. After a while- when tax payers are losing homes- making much less pay- no benefits like the public workers are getting, then these taxpayers only resource to even things out is to elect new leaders who will cut benefits. If at that point the representatives of the union’s walk off the job- then they are no longer truly representing all the people in their area- they are representing a sector that supports them- and this is not fair to all the people. Both private sector tax payers- who are footing the bill- and the union workers should have their voices heard]. I do realize that the union workers pay taxes too.
And now to the stock advice; as the tragedy unfolds in Libya, it is surreal to see the Libyan leader giving these disoriented speeches from atop a building on Green Square in Tripoli. He is telling the people ‘sing- dance- be happy- we are people of the revolution’ it truly seems like the man has lost his mind. At one point he said ‘Bin Laden is behind all this- he is spiking the Nescafe [instant coffee] with drugs’. I had a picture in my mind of Bin Laden sitting in some cave in Pakistan- eating his Pakistani Menudo and saying ‘What? I have enough worries without this other madman blaming all this on me!’ The ‘funny’ thing about these guys is we in the west have been fearing an Islamic Caliphate- we seem to think all these radicals/terrorists are plotting in unison to get us. While I’m sure they want to get us- I never realized how inept they were at even controlling their own people- I mean one tyrant blaming a terrorist for the revolt in his kingdom- and telling the world he’s spiking the Nescafe! If the company is smart- they should come out with a new slogan ‘Nescafe- the coffee that tyrants hate’ hey- that’s what I call the capitalist’s dream.
 DONT DEAL ARROGANTLY WITH THE PEOPLE- DON’T TAKE BRIBES! Okay, before we do news- lets cover Exodus 18. Remember- the reason I’m doing this series [Exodus- insights from a Revolution] is because of the obvious present situation  in North Africa and the Arab/Persian world. While I am not sure how all these ‘Revolutions’ will turn out, the fact is they are happening. So doing this series is for the purpose of appealing to those who are ‘revolting’ for truly democratic purposes [as opposed to those with other goals] and to say ‘look- if you want change- than this is the right/noble way to go about it’. Okay- in this chapter Moses is confronted by his father in-law, he says to Moses ‘why are you wearing yourself out like this? Delegate some authority to those under you and let them share the load’. Moses was ‘judging’ the people all day- he was personally hearing all the disputes- from morning till night- and it was too much. So Moses takes his father in laws advice and appoints Elders- leaders who will take care of the smaller decisions- but the ‘big’ ones will come before him. I heard president Obama say the other day ‘when a problem gets to me- it by nature is a difficult one’ he was saying all the easy ones get solved down the line- they never make it to him. Moses father in law praises God for the way he delivered the people from EGYPT and he says ‘God did a just thing in overthrowing Pharaoh- because he dealt arrogantly with the people’ in many of the present protests you hear this as a common theme among the youth- they are not calling for Islamic Jihad [generally] they are mad that they have been treated with disrespect- they want to be treated like humans. The father in-law also says ‘when you appoint new leaders- make sure there men who won’t take bribes’ another cause for dissent among the protestors- corruption in leadership.
Okay- a few current events that might be relevant. One of the major problems the U.S. govt. is going to have [or let’s say get worse] is the reality that all the years and lives and money spent on our wars- in the end it looks like the leaders we backed [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are doing no better than the leaders in all the other countries who have protestors. To be honest- the regime of Hamid Karzai [Afghanistan] is one of the most corrupt out of them all. So how do we justify fighting ‘on one side’ while they are as corrupt as all these other leaders who are falling like bowling pins? Like I said before- it might be time for us to seriously look at a real exit strategy. I have been following the story of Raymond Davis, the U.S. spy who shot 2 Pakistanis a few weeks ago. The U.S. media kept reporting the official govt. line- that he was an innocent diplomat who was being robbed in Pakistan- and he shot these thieves out of self defense. Yet the Pakistanis would not release him. They actually were being more diplomatic by saying ‘well- he did kill 2 people- we can’t just release him’ after weeks of the Obama administration calling for his ‘immediate release’ and stating how this is such a human rights abuse- finally some of our C.I.A. guys leaked the true story. That yes- he was spying for us- illegally- and he shot 2 Pakistani intelligence people who were legitimately following him. Why did our C.I.A guys have to leak the truth? Because the Obama administration was actually allowing the false story to go very public- they made it sound like the Pakistanis were committing an atrocity- and the truth is all countries practice ‘spying’ and when they get caught- part of the game is- well you got caught. The U.S. govt. is still holding spies we caught years ago. But yet instead of the U.S. govt. accepting the card they were dealt [caught- do your best behind the scenes to work it out] they were allowing the media to report it as some type of hostage thing ‘they have our innocent U.S. diplomat- look at this atrocity’ geez- are our guys real armatures or what? So the C.I.A. insiders looked at what Obama was doing and took a great risk to tell the truth. Now- why was this leak a risk? Understand- no other president- in the history of all past presidents- has gone after leakers like president Obama. He has pursued/prosecuted more leakers than any other U.S. president in history- in the first 2 years of being in office! Yes- more in 2 years than Bush in 8- that’s a fact. One ‘leaker’ who was caught- was expecting to get in trouble [like lose his job] and found out that Obama prosecuted him for a very long prison term- he was a very able man- educated and serving the country- the leak [like most leaks] was something he thought needed to be done [like the C.I.A. thing I just mentioned] after he realized the administration wanted to destroy him- he pleaded for mercy. Our govt. ruined the man- broke up his family- kids, wife- the whole 9 yards- and told every other potential leaker ‘you mess with me- we will absolutely destroy you and your family’ now- you don’t see this image in public- but in private that’s the way this administration decided to go [all these stories have been reported in the media- they usually don’t trickle down to the public at large]. So now you see why I say the above C.I.A guys took a real risk in leaking. The point? When govts. are caught spying- or breaking other countries laws- we should do our best to mitigate the thing- but to actually allow it to get so out of hand as to create a permanent rift among these nations- that’s just amateurish. So we all need to be aware that the U.S. - as well as the countries we are fighting for/against- all have legitimate times when they are wronged- or are doing what’s wrong. We can’t always view things thru a prism that says ‘we were right’ often times we are not. And when picking leaders- they need to be people who are above ‘bribes’ [corruption] men who truly are just- who care for people. When leaders cheat- steal- mislead- abuse people- in the end they have ‘dealt arrogantly with the people- and God will remove them’.
 LIBYA [Exodus 18] - Before I get into the chapter, let me cover a few news stories. Obviously the biggest event taking place right now is the tragedy in Libya. Gadhafi has decided to use his troops against the civilian population – as of last night he seems to be taking his final stand in the western capitol city of Tripoli. A famous Imam put out a Fatwa [Islamic call for assassination] on his head- I must admit this is the first time I think the Fatwa is justified. President Obama finally spoke after 9 days of silence; he tried his best. As I listened to a woman holed up in Tripoli- she called CNN’S Anderson Cooper on her cell phone- she was giving him up to date info on the situation in Tripoli. Cooper seemed happy to let her go on- at one point she said all of the people in Libya felt so let down by Obama’s speech- they thought they could look to the west for real help and a much stronger condemnation- she was being very honest- and explained clearly the real feeling on the ground- Cooper cut her off [you can tell they clipped the audio in the middle] obviously she was not giving the story that CNN wants to hear. What’s going on? What can we really do? The fall of Tunisia [right to the west of Libya] was a speedy downfall- the leader- Ben Alli caved quickly. Egypt was a surprise- many observers debated the wisdom of the U.S. govt. calling for the rapid removal of Mubarak. If you carefully read/watched the coverage- you could read between the lines and tell that certain more conservative Democrats were not wanting the quick downfall of Mubarak- other more progressive [liberal] Democrats did think it would be ‘beneficial’ [politically] for the president to take the side of Democracy. Obama sent Gibbs out [former press secretary] and he said ‘Mubarak should have been gone yesterday’ the president made his choice- Mubarak’s gone and Gibbs has since ‘retired’. So I’m sure some insiders said to Obama ‘you do this- and you will set the Middle East on fire’. Now- I am not blaming him for what’s going on- but it’s obvious that after seeing the tragedy in Libya- the Somali pirates killing the 4 hostages off their coast- the pirates opening fire on our warships- it’s obvious that the level of fear that the U.S. used to have- is gone. Obama seems to be hesitant about the next step- some reports said ‘he hasn’t spoken out too strongly because we fear for the safety of Americans in Libya’ wrong signal for sure. How bad will it get? During the day I saw a ‘best case/worst case’ scenario on Bloomberg news [financial show] the worst case scenario was the violence will spread to Saudi Arabia and oil will hit $220 dollars a barrel [Libya alone would not do this- they are Africa’s number one producer of oil- but number 8 on the world stage. By contrast Saudi Arabia produces 20 % of the world’s oil supply]. Later on Hannity reported this as what some analysts are saying will happen- he did not say it was a worst case scenario [he did take it out of context]. Frankly- no one really knows how bad it will get- but as of right now there is a humanitarian disaster talking place on a scale we haven’t seen in many years- forget Wisconsin [as a major news event] forget ‘high speed rail’ and realize that this is the major event of this presidency- how to deal with it in a just way. Europe is in real danger if these dictators make the conscious choice to fight their people [Yemen has also opened fire on its protestors- and the western media are not reporting on the fact that Iraqi police/military have also fired on some of their people- when the reports do come out they say ‘Kurds’ which is a tricky way to not say ‘Iraq’]. Sarkozy [French president] made a stronger statement than Obama- they realize this fire is on their back door- the refugees continuing to flee Africa [Tunisia first- now Libya] are causing a major problem for the region. And Iran’s warships ships have indeed passed thru the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years. I heard Shimon Peres [Israel] give a speech in Madrid [Spain] he warned of Iran’s nuclear threat and said if they don’t deal with it a nuke will end up blowing up Madrid one day. Yet as I heard him speak about the unrest in North Africa and the Middle east- he wisely attributed it to the younger generation of people being connected to the internet/facebook- and how they for the first time realize what true freedom looks like- they also see corruption- things that they were never able to see before- and that they now realize their leaders have abused them. Listen carefully- if any leader was going to ‘cover up’ for these protests being run by radical Islamists- it wouldn’t be Perez. So we need to watch carefully- we need to understand that the choices we make now [as a nation] will have a real impact in the world. I heard some Middle East experts [not right wing radio people] say the presidents unwillingness to come out sooner and much more strongly was a huge mistake- that the people in these countries loose heart when they feel like the west is not behind them, and the dictators use this as a wedge to oppress and kill the people- many in the media do not want this story to get out [the feeling of let down that many feel by the U.S. president]. As I listened to the woman calling from Tripoli- risking her life to get the story out- as she began telling this side of the story- Cooper seemed to have no time for it.
Will get to Exodus tomorrow.
NOTE- I do not think these events should be used in a political way- whether for or against the president. Nick Robertson- a reporter for CNN- was on the streets of Egypt a few days back, at the time I heard some on ‘the left’ begin trying to spin a story that Obama’s speech given in Cairo in 2009 was the catalyst for this new Democracy uprising in the world- you could tell that the left was pushing a narrative that would benefit them- as well as the right trying to push one that would help their side. Yet as Robertson was interviewing Egyptian protestors- he asked one guy ‘and what do you think about Obama- don’t you think he gets some credit for the Democratic uprising’ and the protestor said in no uncertain terms that he felt Obama was a sell out- It was a little surprising [to me and Robertson]. He then found another protestor- trying to get a more positive response- he asked him the same question- got the same answer. Okay- at this point- non biased journalism should simply report the story- or drop it. Instead Robertson than said ‘but even though you think Obama didn’t speak out soon enough- aren’t you at least glad that he has finally spoken out’ and the guy still wouldn’t budge- he simply said this is not an ‘Obama’ story- and seemed confused that Robertson seemed to make it all about the U.S.- sort of narcissistic. Then to my surprise- Robertson turns to the camera [it was a live shot during the protests] and says ‘there you have it- the feeling on the street is they are elated that the president is now supporting them’. When the media does this stuff [whether right wing or left] they do a disservice to the people who are dying for the cause they believe in.
 WATER FROM THE ROCK [plus comments on the present atrocities in Libya] - Before I get into the chapter [Exodus 17] let me overview the latest world events. First- I do not think the majority of Americans realize the ‘bigness’ of what's going on right now in the Arab/Persian world- the events of the last few weeks are major world changing events that will play a major role in every aspect of American life. The recession? More than likely it will be extended [or double dip] because of the oil situation [unrest and war in and around the major oil producing nations of the world]. Arab allies? Over [at least in the short term]. Last night Gadhafi used the military against his people. The major eastern city of Libya [Benghazi] has fallen [the govt. is no longer in control] the eastern capitol city- Tripoli- is in a war like situation. Gadhafi’s son went on national TV and basically told the country that they are not like Egypt and Tunisia- they will fight back. The son is smart, educated in the West [London- geographically north of Libya- ‘West’ in the sense of the western world- that is London] he told the people ‘do you think the Americans/Brits want you to revolt? This country [Libya] will fall into chaos and the hands of radicals- the West depends on our stability [for oil] and they don’t want you to succeed’. Understand- this is a brilliant power play in the game. Is he telling the truth? In a way- yeah. In all the revolutions taking place- some nations are Arab- others Persian. Some are majority Shiite [Bahrain] with a minority ruling Sunni dynasty. Iran’s leaders are Shiite- they would be glad to see the fall of Bahrain- so the Shiite majority could overthrow the Sunni kings and have more support from Bahrain. Some Arab nations are ‘pro west’- Egypt, Jordan- and even Yemen are/were working with us- many of our friends in the area were shocked that we publicly called for the ouster of Mubarak, because he was our number 1 ally in the Arab world. They thought ‘what the hell are you doing! You picked the wrong king!’ Libya, Iran and Syria are anti western nations- they hate us- we them [in politics]. Yet without a doubt Gadhafi is crossing the line in violent responses to the protestors- yet president Obama has not called for his ouster- not like the way he did with Egypt. The protestors in these countries are confused and see the west as being sell outs. We have protests that seem to be breaking out of the Arab regions and even affecting Asia. There are reports of protestors in China. I obviously am not advocating the apocalypse- but I don’t think we [western society] realize the import of all these events- our world is changing and there is nothing we can do about it- but try and act justly! We [president] can’t go ‘public’ with a king who is bad- but not 1-100th as bad as Libya’s leader- and then go ‘silent’ on him [the president and U.S. position has been to speak out against the violence- good- but we have decided to not go public in support of the people and the call for the leader to step down]. So all in all we need to act justly- love mercy- and walk humbly with our God [Micah- Old Testament prophet].
Okay- Exodus 17. As the people of God continue on the journey of freedom- they once again come to a place where they lack water- they complain to Moses and God tells Moses to strike the rock with his rod/stick and water will come out. This supernatural miracle is spoken about by the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 10. He says all the people who were with Moses on the journey drank from the spiritual rock that was to come- Christ. The church has songs about Jesus being the rock who was broken open so salvation could come to the nations ‘Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee’ [also from the story we will read later when God puts Moses in a cleft in the mountain/rock and passes by him]. All these stories speak of Jesus as the savior of the world. The New Testament tells us when Jesus was on the Cross the soldier pierced his side with a spear and blood and water came out. So Jesus is the rock that was struck [by God- Isaiah 53] and we all can ‘drink’ the living water [Gods Spirit] that flows from his side.
And in keeping with the format of these posts [I’m going to put all these posts in one study and call them ‘insights from a revolution’- Exodus] let me try and give some practical advice for all our readers/friends from around the world who might be in these countries who are revolting. In this chapter the word used against Moses when the people complained is translated ‘Quarrel’ in English- in the original Hebrew language the word really means a legal complaint against leadership- that is they were wanting to bring Moses to court! In many of the current cases of revolution- some simply want change- others want justice- some revenge. In the case of Moses and ‘his revolution’ the people made the mistake of going too far by wanting Moses to stand before the ‘court’ that is they raised their level of protest too high. My advice- in all the nations going thru these things- I side with the people- and do see the tragic mistake the west has made by siding with these dictators for all these years- we truly did overlook the rights of people for the stability of oil- we sinned. Having said that- revolution is messy- and some might go too far in their complaint- that is the bottom line is freedom and democracy for the people- not vengeance on past leaders. In due time those who have committed crimes should be held accountable- but right now the bottom line is freedom and democracy- and NON VIOLENT protests. In Libya the leader has hired mercenaries from the Sub-Saharan part of the continent- these paid soldiers are in the streets of Libya- killing innocents. They are foreign people who don’t even speak Arabic [they speak French- remember parts of Africa were colonized by the British and French- Algeria used to be under French rule] the scene is surreal- so we condemn all these atrocities that are being carried out by these leaders- we call for peaceful protestors to be treated with dignity and respect- and I think our president should also speak out more on the Libyan situation. Let’s all PRAY FOR PEACE- FOR ALL NATIONS.
 IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROTEST TOO MUCH? A couple of days ago I started teaching the story of Moses and God’s delivering of his people from Egypt- I talked about the Ark of the Covenant and the fall of Pharaoh- try and go back and read those posts- and for the next few days I want to simply tell the story found in the book of Exodus [Old Testament]. In Exodus chapters 15- 16 we read the story of the great deliverance of God- in the previous chapters the people were under bondage to oppressive rulers [much like the autocratic rulers in the Arab/Persian world right now] and the people cried/protested and God heard them and he sent them new leaders [Moses] and this new leadership was needed in order for the old guard to pass away. Now- as they proceed on the journey the first spot they come to is a place named Marah- which means bitterness [present day Suez canal area]. They traveled for 3 days and found no water- and at Marah there is water- but the water is bitter, it’s not fit for human consumption. So they complain and Moses finds a stick/tree branch and puts it in the water and the waters ‘are healed’. In Christian teaching this branch is a symbol of Christ [who the bible calls the true vine- also the apostle Peter calls the Cross ‘the tree’] and the symbol means that when people believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ- in a spiritual way the ‘waters are healed’ [people are brought back to God thru the Cross]. The next spot they get to [Elim] has plenty of food and good water. Now- as they continue on the journey they begin missing the old stability they had under the old regime [Pharaoh] they start to complain against the new leaders and say ‘you led us out on this journey- now we have no good food like the old days- we will all starve out here- we wish we never protested’ wow- talk about rebels! Okay- Moses gets mad too- thinking to himself ‘man- I never asked for this- and now I’m supposed to put up with this’ [sort of like some of the leaders who have had to fill the gap after Mubarak fell- some of these guys- being prodded by the U.S. govt. are being asked to keep the peace until they can transition into a new Democratic rule]. God answers Moses and tells him he will send them meat and bread- God supernaturally causes a bunch of Quail [birds] to blow into the camp and they have lots of meat- and in the morning when they woke up there was this wafer type bread that was on the ground. The bread is called ‘Manna’ which actually means ‘what is it’. God fed them for 40 years with this ‘unknown’ bread- and he tells Moses to put some in a jar and save it as a memorial of Gods provisions. Eventually this jar with the bread in it will go into the box [the Ark I wrote about a few posts back- which had the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments it] and it will be a reminder to future generations how God was with them on the journey. Okay- a few practical points; it is possible to ‘protest too much’ that is after God initiated the process of ‘new rule’ the people couldn’t just keep protesting their way into a new govt., they had to ‘put up’ with some type of leadership along the way. Right now in Egypt [2-2011] some of the people are split on what to do ‘should we keep protesting’ some ask- others are saying ‘okay- we got Mubarak to step down- we need to give some of these military leaders a chance to set some things up for the elections to come’. In the case of Moses this was Gods will- that is the people went too far in not even being willing to let Moses lead a little. So some times as the protests succeed- there might also need to be a few months of letting the new guys have a chance to get some stuff done. A few interesting points; in chapter 16 the bible says ‘this happened on the 15th day of the 2nd month’. Geez- that’s right around the same time that the present Egyptian uprising also took place [I am aware the months of the Jewish calendar are different than mine- but it’s still pretty good!] and in the book of John [John’s gospel, chapter 6] Jesus has a conversation with the Jewish leaders and he says he himself is ‘the bread of God that came down from heaven’ he says the bread Moses gave them [the Manna spoken about here] was a symbol of his own life and death on the Cross for the sins of the world- he says ‘all who eat/receive me will live’. I find it interesting that in this story the original Jewish people are eating the bread for all these years- and the name of it means ‘what is it’. Both Muslims and Jews respect Jesus, they see him as a prophet sent from God- yet in Christian theology we teach that Jesus is much more than that- he is the ‘sent one’ [Jewish Messiah- the one who originates from God] many well meaning Muslims and Jews ‘have’ Jesus sort of like the Manna- they know the bread is there- they even ‘eat it’ [benefit in a way from it] yet Jesus says ‘I am the true bread- the bread that comes down from heaven and gives my life for the world’. As the Arab world is going thru their own journey right now- facing many difficult days ahead- days where some will be tempted to say ‘we regret this new found journey of freedom- we wish we never left Egypt’ there will also be a chance to feed from the Manna- the bread that has been there all along- the bread that many said of ‘what is it’ [or who is this Jesus] Jesus himself testifies that it is speaking about him- he is the true bread of life- the only ‘leader’ [new Moses] that can truly liberate- may we all find true revolution thru him.
 WEEK IN REVIEW [MEDIA BIAS] - Okay, this past week has been big- lots of very important stories. Some ‘news’ outlets present the most favorable view possible- others seem to play into the fears of ‘the West’. Yesterday I read a news paper article- now understand- this is supposed to be straight reporting. The story was about 4 people shot to death as they were protesting in Bahrain- the jist of it went like this ‘as the protests grew out of hand- the govt. increased resources to deal with the unrest- as a result of the govts. attempt to restore order- 4 people died’. Now- out of all the nations that are ‘falling’ Bahrain just might be the most strategically important one for the U.S. We station our ships their [5th fleet- Persian Gulf] and they are a small- yet very important ally. When you have 1 death in Iran- or 20 in Libya- the papers report it as ‘the regime killed innocent people in cold blood’ yet when the media organizations [Associated Press- or whoever] actually try and present an important ally as ‘noble’ when they do the same thing, then they are nor reporting the news in a fair way. This week we had the school teachers protesting in Wisconsin- the newly elected Republican governor has the majority in the state senate/house and he is trying to balance the state budget- and he is wanting to eliminate collective bargaining- except for salary negotiations- in the state [exempting the cops and firefighters]. Okay- as a retired firefighter- who still gets the monthly magazine from my union [international association of firefighters] I see their point- yet as the teachers have taken to the streets to protest- you have seen pictures of the governor [Walker] as good ole Hitler- posters of his face and Mubarak’s together- ‘get rid of the tyrant’ and even a poster of the governor in actual RIFLE SCOPE CROSSHAIRS- saying ‘reload’. Now- we just went thru a few weeks [in the Western media] of CNN- MSNBC- ABC- NBC- CBS- ETC. associating the use of the word ‘target’ and using crosshairs on a political web site- as being possibly responsible for the shooting of rep. Gifford’s in Arizona- yet the same media who were outraged over Palin- seem to be fine with the union protestors actually saying ‘reload’ with an actual scope sight on the Republican governors face. So you pretty much have to be blind to not see the bias. Even Diane Sawyer- in her coverage of Bahrain- showed a scope target over the country as they ‘zoomed in’ for the story- I mean they just can’t help themselves! Now- on a more serious note- as Anderson Cooper [CNN] made it his own personal vendetta to go after Mubarak [you know they beat Anderson up] as he was portraying the govt. as evil [in many ways they were] yet at the same time- we now know that 200 protestors [people Anderson gave ‘cover’ to] were raping Lara Logan- a reporter- in the crowd. As they raped her they shouted ‘Jew- Jew’. This must be condemned by everyone- in no uncertain terms. It should be noted that she was rescued by the women on the street along with the military [the same military that Cooper was vilifying on screen at the same time]. Problem? Like I said before- very rarely does one side take all the blame- or another side all the credit. I think it’s important for Western society to realize that there are over a billion Muslims in the world- and lots of us view them thru the paradigm of ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or the Iranian madman- yet in many of these Arab/Persian nations- there are lots of younger generation people who also reject these stereotypes- you have many of the younger generation who have connected with the outside world thru social media and many of them do not fit the mold of radical terrorist. Yet some of these younger people do hold to beliefs that Sharia law should be the law of the land- or some of them have very anti Semitic views that were instilled in them thru their ‘religious’ education -they are taught that Jews are pigs and dogs- we can’t simply overlook the racial hatred that is found in many of these societies- and we must say ‘NO- NOT ACCEPTABLE- YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS AND AT THE SAME TIME EXPECT US TO RESPECT YOU’! So, we need to be honest and fair on all sides- If a govt. we need/like kills it’s people- then don’t report it as ‘ accidental collateral damage’ while a govt. the media doesn’t like says ‘they killed them in cold blood’. If a reporter is miffed because he got his ‘butt kicked’- then don’t present the whole story as the military are all evil- protestors good- especially when some of the protestors are raping a female reporter while shouting ‘JEW- JEW’ and the military are the ones who saved her! I want to take the side of the younger people- who do indeed feel oppressed and beaten down- many of these Arab regimes have been repressive- yet the younger people must openly reject anti Semitism- religious theocracy- they must disassociate themselves from the image that many in the Western world have- when we in the West see the Iranian president appealing for the return of the 12th Imam- calling for the slaughter of the Jews- we see a true nut job who we want nothing to do with [as many other Arab leaders also feel- we now know thanks to Wikileaks]. So the younger protestors have a chance- a chance of a lifetime- to show the West that you reject radicalism- and when an atrocious incident happens on the side of the protestors- one that should have been roundly condemned- LOUDLY- then we in the West need to hear it.
 REVOLUTION- NOT ANARCHY! As of last night many streets in the Arab world are experiencing protests- Iran has launched 2 battleships to head towards Syria [right off the coast of Israel] and there are reports of oil prices spiking because of the unrest. These last few weeks I have been reading thru some chapters in Exodus- the book that records the historic liberation of Gods people from Egypt. Those of you who are bible readers will remember that the initial cause for revolt was actually an economic injustice; the children of Israel were under the oppressive regime of Pharaoh and they were grumbling about the poor economic conditions- the leader heard their ‘protests’ and he oppressed them more! He required them to produce more bricks and mortar [for the building of his own wealth] and yet they were to do this from the same amount of natural resources they had all along. In many of these states where the protestors have taken to the streets- they survive on 2 dollars a day- or less. These same people are now required to survive off of the same measly amount- even as the cost of food soars- many of them are indeed going hungry- for real. In the biblical story God sends them Moses [a type of Christ] and as you know Moses confronts unjust authority and the people revolt. Now- one of the key ingredients to a successful ‘revolt’ is a just constitution! God gives them the 10 commandments [rules on treating each other justly- and loving God] at the start of their journey- they will eventually conquer the Promised Land and grow as a society- yet the rules of the game were laid out early in the revolt. What do I think is happening right now? I believe our people [the president and U.S. govt.] are seeing these revolts as the major danger in the world right now- the level of world instability has not been like this in many years- the news media have tried to ‘manipulate’ the environment. After CNN and a few others chose to hone the cameras in on the thousands of protestors in Egypt’s square- yet they initially would not show/report the thousands who were revolting in Iraq. Why? They obviously want to push the narrative of ‘change’ in one place- while pushing the narrative of ‘Obama ended the war and all is well’ in another. The reality is there are major dangers taking place in the world right now- do I think Iran wants to invade Israel? To be honest- yes. What? All these leaders are shaking in their boots- from ‘the shores of Tripoli’ [Quadaffi] to the ‘kings’ of Bahrain. I assure you- if the protestors topple the Iranian leaders- it will not be a ‘peaceful’ exodus to some vacation spot [like Mubarak did] it will be Saddam Hussein all over again [strung up in the streets- or on TV]. Now- do you think the Iranian madman would attack Israel as a last ditch effort to save his skin? You bet ya! [Okay- too much Palin]. Remember- before all the recent developments- there were some major movements in the Middle East that spelled danger for Israel. For years they faced opposition on their northern border from Lebanon. For many years Hezbollah was a political force in the area- for the first time ever they recently elected someone from Hezbollah to high office- deposing the former leader. In the south and on the West bank there was also lots of turmoil right before these revolts took place. The leader of the Palestinians came under tremendous pressure because the Wikileaks ‘leaks’ revealed that Abbas [Palestinian leader] agreed with Israel to kill some Hamas leaders [Hamas is the radical pro Palestinian group- branded as terrorists by Israel and the U.S.] When the leaks got out there was rage in the streets- the chief negotiator [Saeb Erakat] had to step down. So all these events were seen as major threats to peace in the region- add to that the fall of Egypt- and the current uprisings in the other Arab/Persian states- yes indeed- we have not seen a time like this since our world wars [yes that’s strong- I do believe this to be true]. Okay- should we be afraid? No. How should we view the young people who are the primary demonstrators on the streets? I think it would be a mistake for the older generation [especially in the West] to view them all as potential terrorists- remember- Iran wouldn’t be sending her ships to Syria unless they too felt like they needed to hedge their bets. So we want to hear the cries of the younger generation- people who have felt oppressed for years- who were told ‘make do with the same resources- yet make it go further’ these people have indeed been wronged in many ways- many of them feel this is their only chance to ‘escape’- and finally- the advice to the protestors- you need a ‘law’ constitution- a statement of just principles that you will hold each other accountable to- maybe an ‘on line’ statement of beliefs to go along with the ‘days of rage’ that are being posted on facebook- some type of open rejection of radical terrorism and holding accountable those who would like to ‘hijack’ the protests for their own purposes. It’s really too late for the West to say ‘okay- we liked the Egypt thing- but now we want to hold up on the rest’. It’s so sad- right after the Egyptian uprising- news organizations like CNN and others- who were actually ‘parties’ to the success of the revolt [yes- watch carefully and you will see] they then ignored the other protests and were headlining their shows with the Grammy winners- yes- whole hours of not mentioning any of the other protests. Or MSNBC making the stop story about Rumsfeld or how 50 % of the Republican primary voters think Obama is a Muslim- I mean a whole hour on this stuff? The media do ‘play the fool’ lots. Just a note- in some nations there are actually protestors [not govt. cronies] who are protesting against the ‘protestors’- that is some more stable economies [Bahrain, Qatar, etc.] many of these nations- though not democratic- have ‘shared the wealth’ with the people- many successful businesses thrive in some of these countries- these more stable people do not want the Egypt revolt to spread- some have pointed out [very legitimately] that when the media focuses the cameras of the world on a few hundred- or thousand protestors- they need to remember that there are many millions who are not protesting [the population of Egypt is 80 million- some did not want revolt] so the media has to be careful that they are not showing the wrong ‘narrative’ in some of these places. All in all- the cats out of the bag- some regimes are indeed going to shoot their protestors- others will try and start a war with Israel- yes- these are very serious times. Lets pray for the safety and freedom for all people- when the children of Israel were under an oppressive regime- the bible says God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer- the New Testament says Jesus is the ‘Moses’ of this day- even Gandhi used the non violent principles of the Sermon on the Mount to have a successful revolt- I hope the present protestors will do the same.
[By the way- in many of these present revolts the citizens are revolting against the autocrats who were installed after their countries broke away from their colonizers- like India from Britain- yet they never transitioned into real democracies]
 YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOT IT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- some preachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’ [ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violent protestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious rule and we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]
 NO TEMPLE IN IT- Let me try and communicate a few simple truths that hopefully will stick with people- you know- stuff you hear and it makes you think differently from here on out. I have been reading the book of Proverbs these last few weeks and the proverbs teach us that wisdom allows you to communicate great truths in short snippets. One of the proverbs actually says this. If you read the gospels you’ll see Jesus using simple short stories [Parables] to teach great truths. Okay- down the road I plan on teaching the book of Revelation- it’s really a great book- if your able to ‘get thru’ the dragon heads and 666 and all the other images that seem to preoccupy the current popular prophecy books that are on the market today. Don’t get me wrong- the dragon heads and all that stuff do mean something- but not what we usually read from the Lahaye books. One of the images I read the other day [and many times over the years] is the picture of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven- John says ‘this city’ has No Temple in it. Now- in the New Testament- many times- the imagery of the city is speaking about the church- the corporate people of God. We also see a major theme of the New Testament being the idea that thru Christ- our final Passover sacrifice- the old system of sacrifice and ‘temple’ have passed away [Hebrews]. I mean these themes are major theological themes in the bible- that Jesus ‘suffered outside the city gate’ [Hebrews says the place where he died was outside the city] and that this means that we are all accepted by God thru Jesus- not because of our religious affiliation with ‘law and temple’ [in the city gate] but because we approach God on the basis of the Cross of Jesus- outside the gate- the place where there is ‘no temple’. See? So- this major theme of the New Testament [the actual term we use- New Testament- is speaking about this truth] can be summed up in a short prophetic glimpse [remember- wisdom lets you say much in short snippets] by saying ‘I John, saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem [the church] descending down from God and this city had NO TEMPLE IN IT’ See? John is not really talking about the aesthetics of heaven, in so much as he is giving us this great prophetic spiritual reality ‘I see John- this image of NO TEMPLE simply means the New Covenant will be established on the one sacrifice of Christ and not on the temple system of continual animal sacrifices’. Yes- I think John [the apostle] would be glad if we saw his Revelation thru this lens- a paradigm that exalts the person and work of Christ- instead of a bunch of dragon heads.
 HAIL TO THE CHIEF- OUR KENYAN BORN PRESIDENT? [and other fables]. Okay- before you liberals curse me out and do a quick delete hear me out. I did mention the other day that if you want people to read your posts you need to catch their interest with a ‘short- pithy comment’ [OReilly]. In the last post I mentioned how some people do indeed think/believe the president is a closet Muslim. A few weeks ago the N.Y. Times ran a story- showing how a very high percentage of people do think he is Muslim [I think it was close to 20 %] and in the last post I mentioned why these beliefs are so prevalent; to just dismiss all these people as right wing Tea Party nut cases is a major mistake in my view. Now- out of all the Presidents of the past- President Obama is the only one who spent time living in the most populous Muslim country in the world [Indonesia] he did attend schools with other Muslim boys- his father also felt strongly enough about his cultural heritage that they did give the president a ‘Muslim’ sounding name [as opposed to Barry- the name he used in school]. And of course there have been times, caught on tape, where the president said he was indeed Muslim [my Muslim faith]. Okay- taking all these things into consideration- it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think he is indeed Muslim. Like I said yesterday- I personally don’t hold to this idea- but for others to embrace it is not a ‘wacko’ belief. Second- I do find it kinda funny to see all the liberals voice such outrage at the idea- they do sound like Seinfeld on the episode where they thought Jerry was gay- all through the show he says ‘I’m not gay’ and of course has to add ‘not that there’s anything wrong with it’. I do think the defenders are protesting a little too much- after all the left [MSNBC crowd] are the ones always accusing the right [FOX CROWD] of Islamaphobia! Right now there are reasonable moderate voices on both sides of the political spectrum- if you listen carefully to the president- he is very much a moderate voice- he sees both sides and does his best to make the more liberal argument- in a very intelligent way. You also have people like George Will, Kathleen Parker [Spitzer's sidekick on their new CNN show] and others who make an intelligent case for conservative principles [Paul Ryan too]. These voices articulate their case well- share their views- and at the end of the day are able to sit down across the table [or pub- Boehner] and spend some time fellowshipping with the other side [a good example would be Orin Hatch and Ted Kennedy- a right/left wing friendship that was able to thrive even though they held sincerely to their beliefs]. This is what we need more of- both in politics and- yes- religion. As someone who has spent many years engaging the various religious beliefs- the different stands that Christian churches hold to- it is very sad to see the demonization of one church by the other. Often times we view the ‘opposing team’ in the worst possible light- and then after you demonize them- it is next to impossible to sit down later and try to understand one another- because everyone on your team already believes they are the enemy- and if your caught rooting for the opposing team- then you too become ‘one of them’. So we seem to have lost the art of respectful dialogue- yes we can ‘cut each other down’ in a friendly way- kid in fun- but to actually view the other side as the enemy- for real- that’s dangerous. I heard 2 statements yesterday about the president- that I liked. They came from staunch Republicans- John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They were both asked about how they felt the president was handling the revolt in Egypt- they said they felt he was doing his best and they supported him. It seemed like they knew something that the average citizen might not- that the president is really trying to do his best- and the narrative that is trying to link him to an undercover Muslim plot to take over the Middle east- well that narrative might be affecting the president a little more than we realize. Now- what’s the ‘real story’ with the president’s birth certificate? Let me give you my best shot. I have watched this debate for a long time- I’m obviously a watcher of both the left and the right [by the way- I think The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a good show- he does comedy/news- but he is fair and does get the story right most of the time]. During the campaign some people made an issue out of the fact that the Obama team never released his original birth certificate- was he secretly born in Kenya they asked. Of course this idea was rejected out of hand at first- but as time went on it became a story- a ‘narrative’ that fit certain conspiratorial views. As I listened to the staunch defenders of the president [Matthews] defend the president time after time- interviewing right wingers [Gordon Liddy- you know- the Nixon guy who bit off the rat head- hey- you can’t get more stanch then that!] Matthews would go into his normal rage ‘how dare you even think anything like that!’ I found it interesting to see the ‘birthers’ respond fairly reasonably. The defenders of the President would often point out ‘the fact’ that the Hawaiian Certificate of Birth [the record Obama has put out] was the official original certificate- I even saw a video of a young school child saying how you can find the presidents birth certificate on line [MSNBC showed the clip- saying ‘look- even this young girl is brighter than the Tea Party]. So after hearing Matthews go on- week after week- month after month- I mean he reported many times that the Certificate of Birth was the actual birth certificate- he explained it very thoroughly- that people are confused because that is Hawaii’s birth certificate- you don’t get a ‘normal one’ like we do on the mainland. I mean he described his belief well. The problem- yes, once again- he was just flat wrong. How do I know- because after the recent elections Hawaii got a new Democratic governor- he grew up with Obama’s parents- went to school with them. As soon as he got in office he made headlines by publicly stating that he was tired of the whole birther conspiracy- he was going to put the rumor to rest once and for all. So he says he personally will override any privacy rules and release the document by Divine [okay- governmental] decree! So Matthews jumps on the bandwagon- does a show where he gets these 2 Democrats to agree with him- yes- lets finally release the real thing. Matthews holds up a redacted copy of someone’s real Hawaiian birth certificate [you know- the thing he swore never existed- the thing he called the birthers idiots over- because they insisted that what Obama showed us was not the real thing] so Matthews holds a real Hawaiian birth certificate up and compares it to the thing Obama has released- the Certificate of Live birth- and Matthews goes on to explain that these 2 things are indeed very different- the Certificate thing- the thing the birthers said was not the real McCoy all along- Matthews now agrees with them- guess he finally googled ‘is the certificate of birth the real thing’- and got the same answer the right wingers were giving him. So Matthews joins the liberal chorus of ‘now it’s time to release the real thing- let’s put this thing to bed once and for all’. How did the story end? Well the other day the governor put out a very quiet announcement- he said ‘I will not seek to reveal the birth certificate- it would violate the privacy laws’ and that’s that. Matthews made a small mention about people who still demand the ‘paper hard copy’ he said it in a way where you could tell he too has dropped the matter. What happened? Again- if you’re a birther- this would play into your worst case scenario ‘see- I knew it’ type thing. But what happened? After all the years of watching this debate- I think there are 2 possibilities; 1- it is very possible that the birth certificate might record the presidents religion as Muslim- his father was a proud Muslim [not that there’s anything wrong with it!] and they were thinking ‘culturally’ at the time of his birth [they named him Barak Hussein] so this is a possibility- the other thing is Hawaii might have actually lost the real thing- I mean birth certificates do accidently get destroyed- fires happen- there are many cases where the original does not exist any more. So- I’m sure someone ‘in the know’ finally contacted Matthews and said ‘here's the scoop’ and he dropped it. Why not just report the real story? If the ‘religion section’ says Muslim [I don’t know if there is a section for religion] sure- you could explain the fact that parents don’t choose their kids religion- you could explain the fact that Obama joined a Christian church in Chicago- but you would never be able to stop the critics from using it as major attack tool. So yes- both sides might have gotten it wrong [I mean Matthews ridiculed his guests over and over again- he described people as idiots because they insisted the certificate we were all seeing on line was the actual original- he was just flat wrong]. But when we view the other side with disdain- whether that side be right or left- then it’s hard for us to see that yes- they might have been right [about one part of the story] while being wrong about another part. I think there are good points to be made by both conservatives and liberals- but if I hate you- I will never hear your side.
 MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE? - Okay- let’s try and go with the narrative thing a bit more. What do I think the ‘real story’ is right now? I mentioned yesterday that I have been reading the N.Y. Times these past few weeks- in order to get a more in depth ‘feel’ for the things going on in the world today. Sure enough- an article I read in the morning- on a man named Frank Wisner- helped me put together a few more pieces of the geopolitical puzzle. The article described Wisner as the premier U.S. representative on the stage right now- our ‘go to’ man for Egypt. He is sort of an undercover Richard Holbrooke- the popular ambassador who died a few months back. Wisner is a guy with just as much [or more] experience as Holbrooke- it’s just he isn’t a flashy type guy- sort of like comparing the old mafia bosses with John Gotti, you know- the quiet type versus the celebrity hound. So in the article Wisner goes to Egypt- he is a personal friend of Mubarak- and he leaves quickly. His abrupt trip to Egypt raised some questions- sort of like Mubarak might be saying ‘what is wrong with your American president- he is going to ruin the Middle East’ [I’m guessing]. Wisner is questioned by the press on why he left so soon- and he gives some politically correct answer. Then sure enough last night I saw a bunch of reports- and Wisner himself- coming out and saying how he thinks Mubarak should not step down immediately- like the president is asking- and that Mubarak should stay in power until a safe transition can occur. Then other voices came out and said the same thing- The president of Israel [ Shimon Peres] gave a speech in which he praised Mubarak as a man of peace who was willing to stand for peace and whose rule saved the lives of many people. The feel I got was that behind the scenes- the smart players do indeed think Obama has blown this thing. How? Mubarak and other Egyptian leaders have said ‘what’s wrong with you- how can you be calling for our overthrow so quickly- in Iran- a major enemy of the U.S.- a real nuclear threat to world peace- just a few months back you had a popular uprising in the streets- and chose not to side with democracy- why now?’. We must understand that many serious minded people are asking this question. Now- being I have read a lot about this story in the past few weeks- one of the things I read was a story about the book ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ it’s a conspiracy type book that traces Obama’s roots and says he was prepped his whole life to one day become the U.S. president- and because of his leanings towards Islam- he will use his power to realign the nations and assist them in becoming Islamist states. Now- I do not believe this at all- yet the book is out there. Why mention this? These books were indeed donated to Mubarak and his cabinet- they were given 20 of these books by the author- who claims he did discuss this theory with a top Egyptian diplomat. If this is true- it would not be hard for Mubarak- a man who has served Egypt for 60 years [30 in the military- 30 as president] who has sent his family out of the country for their safety- who has been told by the U.S.presdient ‘leave now’ I mean the man is 82 years old- he never saw this coming- he actually has said he wants to step down- but heck- I would assume he doesn’t want to flee and live the rest of his life in some other country. The man might very well intend on stepping down- but if he is pushed out like this- his life is over. Now- am I sympathizing with the man- no. Realistically when you put a proud person like this in a dilemma- he might just try and hang on and ‘get’ you in the end. So the smart politicos [Wisner] are trying to leave the man some dignity- actually publicly disagreeing with the White House- in public- because they see the dire situation of the whole thing. It is very, very rare to see such a public split between different voices who are representing the president. The White House had to immediately put out a statement disassociating themselves from Wisner- saying it was his personal view. All this tells me that there are indeed some major problems going on right now- major fears the president has about this thing spiraling out of control. If- in even a small way- world leaders [Mubarak- Peres, etc.] are buying into the Manchurian Candidate ‘narrative’ then we have huge problems. Don’t think it impossible for these leaders to possibly think this. Last year- some diplomat [It might have been an Egyptian? I read the story a while back] swore to the media that he met with Obama in 2007, before he was running for Pres., and that Obama assured him he too was a Muslim and wanted to work for the peace of all people. Of course the story made headlines when Obama became president. The man never retracted the story. Then you did have the famous interview by George Stephanopoulos-a Clinton Democrat- where Obama did say ‘my Muslim faith’ if you watch it on UTUBE- it does not seem to be a slip of the tongue- it seems like he might have been used to embracing his past [Time in Indonesia as a boy- attended school with Muslims- his dad was a proud Muslim- etc.] while at the same time embracing his present Christian beliefs. Sort of like a person who is open to all types of cultures and religions- but who realized he couldn’t use that line if he were to run for president. I mean I can’t think of a more ‘acceptable’ explanation than this. These types of things [telling the diplomat he was indeed ‘part Muslim’ and seeming to embrace it during the interview] can’t simply be slips of the tongue. Now- do I think the president is Muslim? No. Do I think he might have played to that background in the past- in sort of a multi cultural way? Probably. But when you take all these dots- put them together in a book- then feed them to a king/president- who indeed is confused- family on the run for their lives- being told ‘step down now’ while Iran got a free pass [a real Muslim radical theocracy] in this environment was it possible for Mubarak to have told Wisner ‘your president is trying to destroy Egypt and Israel- we have read about all his past connections’ of course it’s possible for them to accept the narrative- and for Wisner to possibly have seen the real fear in these leaders faces- that would explain why he would publicly come out on TV and back Mubarak- against his own president. Now- I am not a ‘birther’ nor do I hold to the Manchurian Candidate conspiracy- I think Obama was sidelined with this whole crisis- did his best [yes- at times amateurish-I think Susan Rice and others lack real world experience] and he began commenting on the side of Mubarak- got blindsided- he did give a speech last year in Egypt- publicly telling the Egyptian people that he would be on their side in their future struggle for Democracy- and he probably got some advice saying ‘look- you told them you would be on their side- don’t make the same mistake you did in not supporting the Iranian protestors- this time side with freedom’ and he then makes the 180 degree turn- and he indeed caught Mubarak off guard-Mubarak was an ally for 30 years- Iran an enemy. Yet he sees it as he is the one getting thrown under the bus- not the radical Muslim country. Now- is it possible for Mubarak to believe the Manchurian narrative from his view? Of course! Okay- mistakes have been made- It’s probably best to go for a slow transition than a fast one- you need some time for other opposition parties to organize- right now you only have Mubarak’s party and the Muslim Brotherhood- not too many choices. And if we think it’s in our best interest- and Egypt’s- to give Mubarak a chance to save face- to give him some credit for his willingness to be our ally for 30 years- then let’s be smart about this- I see how the man might really be thinking that Beck was right all along! I personally don’t accept the theory- but when you have an 82 year old man- on the verge of him and his family possibly being killed or fleeing to some foreign country- yes, with stress like that- Beck just might be what the doctor called for.
 THE NARRATIVE- These last few days we have all been given a lesson in Narrative- that is we have been shaped by ‘the story’ that people tell. If you view a certain event thru a conservative lens- then you will see things in the story that confirm what you already believe- the same with a liberal bias. These past few weeks I have been reading the book of Proverbs- just a few hours ago I read the verse ‘labor not to be rich, cease from your own wisdom’ then it referenced the verse I quoted the other day in 1st Timothy chapter 6 ‘those that desire to be rich have fallen into a trap and have swerved from the true faith’. Now- I haven’t spoken on this topic for years- but whenever I bring it up- it usually seems to disturb the narrative [story line] of the contemporary evangelical church. Many well meaning believers have been given a story line that says ‘the old traditional churches have told us money was not good- that God loves the poor- but the bible teaches otherwise’ now- are there verses that do speak about God blessing people financially? Sure. But the other side of the coin [like the verses I just quoted] these are not ‘old church traditions’ these are also part of the biblical narrative- the whole story we find in the bible. So we are often given- or drawn to- the story line we like the most- and then we look for proof that our story is the only right one. Last night [actually the repeat of the 1 a.m. show] I saw Beck interview a moderate American Muslim- he is the president of some Muslim group who have vocally rejected militant extremism. Now- Beck introduced him in a well meaning way- as a friend he met around 5 years ago. But in his introduction he said something like ‘I have been looking for a Muslim who is willing to tell the truth- to reject radicalism- and I finally found one’. In Becks mind- moderate Muslims don’t seem to exist- except this lucky one he found. Yet the man shared how his organization is made up of the majority of Muslims who in fact reject radicalism- he was Becks friend- but his reality did not fit Becks story line. As time was running short- Beck just really wanted the man to admit ‘yes- we Muslims are all basically dangerous- and I’m the only brand that managed to get plucked out of the fire’ their story lines contradicted each other. I have a confession to make- a few years ago when working at the fire dept., yes, I used to pick up the N.Y. Times and read it along with our Texas papers. Now- these past few weeks I have been picking it up every so often. I actually read the whole paper- just about every article- you have to be a junkie to read the entire times [very long articles]. Why do I do this? Because even though the Times is at times biased [let's see- McCain runs for president- a few days before the primary vote- the Times runs a front page, top of the fold article about a rumor that he was ‘too friendly’ with a female staff person. John Edwards- known by the insiders to have actually fathered a child out of wed lock, how did the Times originally treat it? Nothing- you know- it’s the man’s personal life- got ya] yet I do find the articles real thorough, and you get to hear both sides of the narrative- something that you very rarely get from television media [especially cable]. So it’s important for all of us to try as hard as possible to be exposed to the different sides of the story. Now- Egypt. Some have said ‘do you really think that the Egyptians just woke up one day and wanted Democracy’ this narrative says it’s the radical Muslims behind the uprising. At the same time- many Egyptians themselves will say ‘you are disrespecting us- when other countries citizens rise up [Iran] you cheer for their independence- yet you treat us with disdain’. These protesters are saying we are getting the story wrong. And in the Arab world- yes- you have all sides realizing these things. So the pro Mubarak group- while being against militant Islam- at the same time realizes that if the world thinks the protests are being fanned by the militant Muslims- then Mubarak knows the world will turn against the protests and support him. So they attempt to tell ‘that story’. After reading all ‘the stories’ it seems to me that the initial protests were indeed the younger generation feeling like they had no real future- they seem to have really ‘woken up one day’ [being emboldened by the Tunisian protests] and yes- wanted Democracy. This is not to say that the radical Muslim groups are not trying to use it to their advantage- but in a way these protests actually work against ‘the narrative’ of the militant groups. How? The ‘story’ that the radicals try to tell is ‘the only way we can be free from these autocratic, western loving- Israel peacemaking leaders is thru violent revolution’ if the Arab street believes peaceful protests can do it- then they not only challenged Mubarak’s rule- but also the narrative of the violent radicals- see? So as we view these events from afar- be sure you’re not only being shaped by one sides view- even if the side you listen to seems sincere- heck- I think most of what Beck says he believes! But at the same time there is good journalism out there [I do think the Times still has tremendously valuable info. Despite the bias] try and listen to the more respectable news sources- for many years I did not subscribe to cable- I watched the networks and P.B.S.- yes- the news hour is an excellent source for news. And at the end of the day realize that there might be some truth to both sides of the argument- it is rare to find the whole truth resting with only one side.
 EGYPT, ROUND 3- Okay, it’s been around 10 days since the protestors took to the streets- where are we at? If you listen to the right [Beck, Hannity, Rush] the narrative that you get is that Obama is blowing it- like Jimmy Carter did with Iran in the 70’s. Carter did not support the moderate Shah and instead we got the militant Iranian Revolution that set up a religious theocracy- one of the biggest enemies of the U.S. today. Is this accurate- is Obama throwing an important ally under the bus? Well- in a way- yes- but in another ‘way’ he really has no choice. It does seem like he initially sided with Mubarak- the first statements from the Whitehouse were sympathetic to the man- they did not call him a dictator and they seemed to be satisfied with the promise that Mubarak would do better in the future- not at all what the protestors wanted. As the days went by, it became obvious that Mubarak’s days were numbered and the president changed his tune- he needs to go- now. Okay- he has been behind the curve somewhat- doing the best he can. The right wing narrative- that Obama is really in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood- that’s a little much. Has he tried to reach out to them? Some reports say yes- but the reality on the ground is these guys will play some type of future role in the govt. so it seems likely that we will have to talk with them. Okay- what about the left’s narrative- yes- they too have one. Rachel Maddow- Chris Matthews- as advocates for the president- have actually mocked the theory that the radical Muslims want a ‘Caliphate’ [Becks new word]. Maddow ‘exposed’ Becks conspiracy theory as being nutty. First- we do need to remember, just because someone is paranoid- that doesn’t mean people are not really out to get you! I reject Becks narrative- but for any news person to not see the real danger in the radical Muslim groups- that they very much are positioning themselves to take advantage of the instability- then you are simply being ignorant of the real world. While I think the protests were probably not instigated by the radicals, yet there is no doubt that they would love to pull off a Caliphate- if they thought they could get away with it. In the end of the day it does look like Mubarak’s days are over- whether he hangs on until September or not- he is finished. Who will replace him? We don’t know- Mubarak and his new V.P. are speaking some truth when they say to the West ‘look- even if we wanted to transition right now- we can’t do it in a day’! They have warned Obama that to just walk away [like the president of Tunisia did the other day] would open the door to a radical revolution. I think there is some truth to this. Whoever takes over down the road- it is obvious that they will not be an ally like we had in the past 30 years. The majority of the Arab world will not support a strong support of the West and Israel- those days are over. The fear is this thing might domino- not only in the unstable African countries [Libya] but that it might grow to the Persian Gulf states. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, countries that were deemed stable because of their economies and wealth, these are now possible candidates for a revolt/revolution. It is possible that Yemen will fall- and Al Qaeda has a very strong presence in Yemen [remember the underwear bomber? He was trained in Yemen] if that happens- we will have another Afghanistan on our hands [when the Taliban ran the country]. So overall we don’t have a lot of say in the matter- if Mubarak seems to be on his way out- Obama can’t support him- because the new govt. would be our enemy from day one. To link the entire thing to some secret political motivation [going all the way back to Frances Pivin!] is loony, but to think that there is no real danger of an organized radical takeover in the region [call it Caliphate or not] is being naïve’ to say the least. As Christians we should be on the side of justice and equality and freedom- for everyone- yes even Muslims. We should reject ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE to achieve these goals- and we should not ascribe hidden motives to our president- it’s legitimate to ask whether or not he’s doing the right thing- but to link his decisions to a past affinity to Islam- that’s going a bit far.
 EGYPT, ROUND 2- Wow, I haven’t posted in a few days- and what a few days it has been. The protests in Egypt have the world’s attention- the king of Jordan voluntarily replaced his govt. [he saw the ‘writing on the wall’ an actual biblical story of a finger writing judgment on a wall- announcing judgment on a real king who once lived in the area!] and other ‘quasi’ democracies are shaking in their boots. Okay- what’s happening? Of course you have various theories on what’s really going on. Some [Beck] see a behind the scenes move by the Muslim Brotherhood to institute a modern Muslim Caliphate- where all the Muslim/Arab countries in the region will eventually join together and attack Israel. There is no doubt that many militant Muslims would want this- yet it does seem like the initial reason for the protests is the reality that the younger generation of Egyptians, who have grown up under a corrupt regime- they are tired of being brutalized by the police and treated with disrespect by their own ‘president’. These Egyptians [some Christian] are wanting Egypt to move forward in the 21st century and to modernize their political process. The present ruler- Hosni Mubarak- took the reins after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Sadat was the first leader of an Arab country to sign an actual peace treaty with Israel  and it led to his killing a couple of years later. Mubarak was Sadat’s right hand military man- and he was elected [Egypt is a Republic- allows for elections- they’re not what you would call a Western Style Democracy]. He has since been ‘re-elected’ to office 5 consecutive times- most outside observers says these elections were rigged. Mubarak attempted to show that he was willing to allow for real elections in 2005- he ran against some nominal names- the real political threat was prohibited from running- and after the corrupt count was in- he won by some unbelievable percentage- and the politician who was deemed the biggest threat to Mubarak was put in jail. That’s the type of ‘Democracy/Republic’ they have. So after 30 years of this kind of rule- the younger generation is fed up. The human rights abuses in Egypt are also very high- the police regularly brutalize their people- and those who have tried to speak out about the abuse- they are retaliated against. Now- what questions should we in the West be asking? First- why have we been sending this country a billion dollars a year in aid? How many other ‘friends’ do we have like this? Countries whose leader is corrupt- yet they side with us politically [Egypt has been our number 1 ally in the Arab world when it comes to ‘peace in the middle east’] and because of these alliances we overlook the abuse of the citizens. Over the years we have tried to nudge Mubarak towards a more open/humane rule- yet he has never seemed to respond to ‘the nudge’. After a while- the U.S. needs to re-think it’s willingness to continue to turn a blind eye to the oppression that these leaders are inflicting on their own people. In the last post I wrote I mentioned how I ‘felt’ like I needed to write a post on Africa [Egypt is in Africa- the other African nation- Tunisia- seemed to spark off the Egyptian protests. The Tunisians began their protests first] I felt like the words/thoughts ‘Africa is on fire’ were running thru my mind for a few days- this was before these protests broke loose. Sometimes these ‘ideas’ are said to be ‘prophetic’ you know- Christian talk that normal people usually don’t use- so let me say- it seemed ‘strange’ that I had these thoughts a few days before the real fires broke out. As I was watching the news last night- my daughter sees all the fires in the streets of Cairo- I explained some of this to her- and I realized it was just a few weeks back that I kept thinking ‘Africa is on fire’. During the news broadcast a woman was asked what’s happening in her country- what does she blame the riots on- she said it was her generations fault [she was an older woman] she said for years the Egyptian people willingly turned a blind eye towards the corruption in their government- she said they sacrificed justice for stability- she said it was their fault that this happened. Sounded so ‘strange’ to hear her describe it like this.
 MODERATE ISLAM? The other day I wrote a post on one of the coalition leaders that formed the new govt. in Iraq- I noted how this guy was a warlord who killed our men during the war- he is now one of the top political leaders in the govt. - the same govt. that our men are dying for. O well, maybe he has changed his tune? As soon as he took his seat- he spoke of our brave men and women- our guys dying on the field- he referred to them as ‘THE ENEMY’ and vowed to rid his nation of the U.S. scum as soon as possible. You wonder why I’m against the war.
I wrote another post about the killing of the governor of Punjab province- Pakistan. The governor- Salman Taseer- was a moderate Muslim who spoke in defense of the Christian woman- Asia Bibi- who was sentenced to death for INSULTING MUHAMMAD- And just how did she commit this terrible crime you ask? There were some guys working the fields in her area- she offered them water to drink- they told her they would not drink water from the defiled hands of one who believes in Jesus. Fine- she defended her faith and they reported her to the law- for supposedly breaking the blasphemy law. O- I forgot- they raped her first. Surely the govt. - you know- our allies in the war- the country we pour billions of dollars into every year- surely they will step in and stop this atrocity. I’m sure MSNBC and all the liberal women’s rights groups will spend weeks condemning this atrocity- that is if they can take a break from accusing Sarah Palin of being responsible for the mass murders in our country. The Pakistan govt. condemned the woman to death. The killer- Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri- who murdered the governor for defending the woman- has been praised for his act- by whom? The radical extremists who have ‘hijacked Islam’? He has been praised by 500 top leading scholars of Islam. These scholars are referred to as ‘moderate’. These same leaders said anyone attending the funeral of the governor- or speaking out on his behalf- they too will be guilty of blasphemy and would deserve to die as well. These are the top moderate scholars mind you.
The point? We have our kids dying in these countries- we have parented with these governments and spent billions of dollars in aid- some estimates say we are spending 100 billion a year in Afghanistan alone. The former president [Bush] often defended the wars by saying we are freeing women who are being oppressed by oppressive regimes- we are establishing free- peace loving democracies in the midst of the radical extremist world- when I look at all these above events- I wonder if the ‘radical- extremist’ governments are being replaced- it seems to me that they are still running the show.
 Okay- I wasn’t going to post today- but figured I’ll go ahead and finish these brief thoughts on the doctrine of Justification by Faith [by the way- Justification is a legal term that means the judge declares you righteous- just- there are lots of technical terms that apply to what Christians mean when they say ‘saved’ and to be honest- many Christians fight over these various differences- but for this short overview I can’t get into the whole debate]. Those of you who have read the studies I’ve posted at the end of these posts- I do get into some of the debate- and I want to be honest about the ‘official’ differences between Catholic and Protestant [Reformed] views. But first- the bible clearly teaches the doctrine [teaching] that those who believe in Jesus are saved- so you might have some Christians who say ‘I don’t care what the official teaching of my church is- I believe it because the bible says it’ that’s fine- I have no problem with that- accept- to be honest- the Protestant world is plagued with preachers, televangelists, radio preachers [yes I’m in this camp] and book writers who mean well- but they for the most part are teaching snippets of truth [sometimes outright falsehoods] and most of them use the ‘I believe it because the bible says it’ line- so even though it’s good for all of us to read and believe the bible- it’s also important to not be ‘seeing stuff’ that no one else has ‘seen’ for 2 thousand years of church history! [by the way- comments like this don’t get me in good standing with most other Protestants] The main point I want you guys to see is as I have shared with you this teaching- I’ve also shown you that yes- this teaching is not something that you find in a single obscure verse taken out of context- but it is a major theme of the apostle Paul- who just happens to be the most prolific writer of the New Testament [his letters make up the majority of the New Testament]. Now- during the official schism between Catholics and Protestants in the 1500’s, the Protestant position became the classic doctrine of Justification by Faith- that is the Protestant church [mainly what today is called Reformed theology- ever since the 16th century schism there are so many divisions of Protestants it is impossible to say what ‘Protestants believe’ in the broad sense] said the mechanism- actual way- people become justified by God is when they believe- have faith in Christ. The Catholic position said a person becomes legally justified in Gods sight at Baptism- Baptism is seen as the actual act a person does in order to become justified. Now- wars have been fought over this- Protestants call other Protestants heretics over this- there are many groups of Protestants who also teach that a person ‘becomes saved’ at baptism- and the strong ‘anti baptism’ crowd often refers to the ‘we get saved at baptism’ crowd as cults! This is pretty sad in my view- I can go thru all the verses that each side uses to ‘justify’ their belief- and suffice it to say that there are enough ‘you get saved at baptism’ verses to not see that belief as heresy. So I personally have no problem with Catholic Christians- or Church of Christ believers- or the multitude of other Pentecostals, Baptists [certain sects] who see their ‘I got saved’ day as the day they were baptized. I don’t want to get into the whole debate on infant baptism- I’ve written about it under my Statement of faith section- and once again the churches that practice it have their reasons- it’s not as ‘crazy’ as many Protestants portray it- there are many fine Christians who were baptized as babies. But what I want to end this brief study with is this- the basic teaching of the New Testament is that we are accepted with God because of what his Son did for us- Jesus- the Son of God- God in the flesh- died for all mankind’s sins, he was buried and rose again according to the scriptures [1st Corinthians 15]. The mindset that thinks ‘if I go to church- do my best to keep the 10 commandments- and try and avoid killing somebody thru out my life- heck who knows- maybe I’ll make it thru the pearly gates?’ Well that’s the mindset I want to challenge- lots of good, well meaning Christians walk thru life thinking this way- and it’s to those brothers/sisters that I have been talking too- even though the Catholics and Protestants have differences- yet we all teach that we are saved by Grace- not by keeping the 10 commandments or ‘going to church’ yes- this is clearly taught in the bible- and the Christian churches all teach it- even if this truth never ‘trickled down’ to the people in the pews. So as I post the last study in this short series of posts [Romans] if you can- read the whole study- I did it a while ago- by the way- all these studies and books on the blog are written by me- so what you read in the studies is a longer version of these short posts- but if you can, read the whole study- if not then try and read chapters 2-5- these chapters cover the heart of what we have been talking about- and to all my readers- Jews, Hindu’s, Atheists, Muslims- whoever- these promises are given to all of us- if we would only believe. John
 ARIZONA SHOOTING- Kind of wanted to cover a little more about yesterdays post- by the way I mentioned I had a few studies in the 2-2010 posts, the others are in the 4-2010 posts [Galatians, John]. Maybe I’ll just post one of them at the end. Of course 2 days ago we had the horrible shooting in Arizona- a congresswoman and others were shot- last time I checked she was still alive, and 6 were dead [I haven’t checked since last night]. First- of course we as a country should be outraged at this, the young man who committed the crime is obviously unstable- many in the media think they are being responsible when they use this as a ‘conservative versus liberal’ agenda. The first report I read kept reminding the readers that Sarah Palin ‘targeted’ this woman during the campaign- the reporter kept stating how Palin even had crosshairs over her district. Now- I have written about this before- how I actually watched CNN do a whole show on the irresponsibility of using crosshairs [I agree]. The problem was they had a Democrat [Paul Begala] condemn the use of the crosshairs by Republicans- and they chose the co-host of the longest running show in the history of the world that every week had huge crosshairs on all the guests [The show was called CROSSFIRE]. The point is for the article to have made it sound like the political use of the word- target- was the cause, this is playing into the entire fear mongering that we all need to drop- every side! I also noticed the rage of those who spoke out against the killings- yes- we should all be very mad. Some said ‘you don’t understand- these people were good people’- our entire country stopped for a few days just to be enraged. Now- in no way am I saying this terrible event was ‘brought upon ourselves’ like God is punishing us for our sins [like Pat Robertson and Falwell said in their comments after 9-11] but listen- carefully. The other week I watched a CNN show on a foreign reporter who spent a few weeks behind the scenes with the Taliban- they showed you the local commander and how he was living with his 2 little cute kids in his worn out house. The boy and girl must have been around 5 or 6 years old- they sat on the reporters lap and posed for pictures [yes- I’m sure some of it was propaganda] - the little girl was so cute- wearing her little dress and all. At the end of the report they reported that these 2 precious kids were accidently killed when we hit the camp. Now- were these kids as innocent or as valuable as the innocent victims in Arizona? Did we stop the news for 2 days over this? For 2 minutes? Does the fact that this president has been responsible for more civilian deaths by drone planes than all other presidents combined bother you? Yes- we’ve only been using these remote control planes [to kill people] since Bush- but Obama has been responsible for more civilian deaths in 2 years than Bush killed in 8 [with the drones]. Do we- as a country even care? We seem to get outraged when the innocents are wearing our skin- but when they wear Arab/Muslim skin we don’t care. Once again- I am outraged too over the crime committed in Arizona- I too feel that the political tone in the country has gone way overboard- and in a sense when a nation involves itself in many deaths of innocent people- whatever the excuses- when we not only don’t stop- but actually have increased them under a president who swore he would end the entire debacle- then we do reap what we sow in a sense- we open the door for things like this. I was outraged when I saw the deaths of innocent Muslims- and when our president was able to comment while vacationing in Hawaii with his 2 beautiful kids- I just wish we could see all these kids as beautiful- not just the ones who belong to us.
 Let me just give you guys a heads up today. These past few months or so I have been doing a lot of posts on Philosophy. Sometimes I do a bunch of history- or science- or another subject. For those of you who come to the site strictly for bible teaching- yes- there are times where I do an entire book of the bible- or cover a series on a biblical truth [Justification by faith- etc.]. On the blog [corpuschristioutreachministries]- if you go to the February 2010 posts- you can find all these studies. But for today let me just do a brief overview of where we are at- by the way I also wanted to mention the referendum in Sudan [Africa] today- today southern Sudan will vote on whether or not they want to be independent from the North [I’m almost positive they will vote for independence]. Sudan has been in a civil war for over 20 years, around 2 million people have been killed [massacred] in the process. The ruling north is predominantly Muslim- the South Christian [another long story having to do with independence from Britain in the early days]. So why should we pray for Sudan today and in the next few weeks? Because if the South does break away- many Christians who live in the North will be in danger of severe persecution as retaliation for the South’s vote- so let’s pray today [1-9-2011] and in the next few weeks for Sudan. Okay- the brief overview I want to do is to simply remind all our readers that the main truth- or thing we all need to re-focus on is the reality that the Christian message is one of reconciliation- that God, thru Christ- has ‘brought back’ the world to himself as a Divine gift. In essence the Christian message is not ‘turn your life around- be good- and then go to church and you will be saved’. Now- being good- going to church- all of these things are good to do- but many times people get the cart before the horse and the world never really understands the message of the Cross. When the bible says ‘repent and believe the gospel’ it is not saying ‘stop sinning and believe the gospel’ in the sense that your telling a drug addict ‘once you quit the habit then God will accept you’ the word repent in the new Testament does of course carry with it the idea of ‘turn away from sin’ but it mainly means ‘change the way you think’ or basically it means ‘are you finally tired of what you’ve been doing? Then let’s try the God thing’ [of course that’s my spin on it]. In essence the message of Jesus and the church is ‘God forgives and accepts people, not based on how good they are- but on the fact that his Son died for you and rose again’. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul says ‘If God gave his son for us- how much more will he freely give us everything else’. People [Christian’s/ preachers] often make the message confusing- sort of like if you don’t get all the details just right- you aren’t ‘saved’. The fact is if God gave his son for us- paid such a high price to save man- then why would he also go thru all the trouble to make ‘getting saved’ so difficult- that most of mankind will miss out on it! The basic way we are saved is thru faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ- this is what the gospel [meaning good news] is according to the New testament [1st Corinthians 15]. If you read the gospel of John, the letter to the Romans- or the letter to the Galatians [all New Testament books found in the bible] you will read the story of how God chose to save men when they would simply believe in Jesus- yes- the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ. Now- as a student of theology and history- I certainly am familiar with all the many controversies surrounding the various churches and how they implement the sacraments- or baptism- or ‘the sinner’s prayer’ when encouraging people to accept Christ. The main point I want to make today is the reality that many times in the New Testament the bible speaks about those who believe in Jesus, that these are ‘the sons/daughters of God’ [John chapter 1]. If you just pick up the bible this next week or so and read thru the gospel of John- you will be surprised to see how many times Jesus himself connects simple belief in him with eternal life ‘for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life’ 3:16- ‘he that hears my words and believes on him that sent me has everlasting life’ 5:24- ‘he that believes on me has everlasting life’ chapter 6- the last chapter of John says ‘many other things did Jesus do that are not written in this book [John’s gospel] but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God- and thru believing you might have life thru his name’. I want you to think differently today about ‘Christianity’ or ‘going to church’ or ‘God’. Over these last few months I have engaged in lots of arguments for the truth claims of Christianity- refuting the contemporary atheists- showing the historical proofs for Christianity. For many people they hear things thru out their lives- little bits of info that cause them to doubt certain aspects of the faith- and then they use these arguments- often easily disproved- as excuses to say ‘that whole Christian stuff is a bunch of bull’. So the apologetic arguments for the reality of God are intended to ‘un-do’ many of these excuses- but at the end of the day the message of eternal life is simple- it’s a free gift given to all who will simply believe. I was going to post one of the bible studies here at the end- but just go read one or 2 of the ones I just mentioned from the blog- or pick up a bible and read a chapter or 2 a day- I mean the book of Galatians is only 6 chapters, you could read it in a single sitting. Okay- that’s it for today- remember try and pray for the church in Sudan- that all will go well and there won’t be any violence because of the vote- and do a little bible reading the next day or so. God bless, John.
 NOTE- please pray for my daughter Becky this next week or so- she has a serious health issue that she is facing- thank you]
This past week we have been able to read more of the Wikileaks memos; what more have we found out? It was revealed that last year we put pressure on the president of Afghanistan to remove a corrupt official from his govt. The man- Ismail Khan- was a former warlord for the Mujahedeen, he heads up the water and energy department. It is estimated that he is stealing around 100 million a year- his total cash assets say he’s worth around 250 thousand- what a shame. When we put pressure on Karzai to get rid of the man, he said he was told by Hillary Clinton that he could stay- as long as would appoint better officials under him- our U.S. ambassador says he told the president [Karzai] that if he didn’t fire the man- we would stop giving them financial aid. When all was said and done, Karzai kept the man- basically saying ‘I don’t care what you do’- we are still giving them the aid.
In Iraq- the govt. finally cobbled together a unity coalition from the various ethnic/religious tribes and formed a ‘unified’ govt. One of those included [Muqtadar Alsadr- I’m guessing on the spelling?] was one of the chief warlords who used to be deemed a serious threat to our troops in the region- he had his own militia and he killed our men- as we did his. I remember years ago during the height of military action we said we were going to kill the man and dismantle his little army. Now he’s part of the government. After he got in- the president of Iraq gave a major press statement- he said the 2011 date for the removal of all U.S. forces was non negotiable- even though our country was hinting about extending the deadline. I’m glad they want us out- the point is once again those in authority are not leaders who are embracing western democracy [except for the corruption!] nor do they view us as their friends- these are the countries our sons and daughters are spilling blood in.
Last but not least. In the province of Punjab [Islamabad, Pakistan] their progressive- pro western governor was assassinated by one of his security team. This governor was educated in the U.S. [Harvard?] and was considered one of the most moderate voices in the country. Why was he killed? He publicly criticized the death penalty verdict given to a Christian woman who broke the blasphemy law of Pakistan. This woman said something that was deemed offensive to Islam [?] and she was given the death penalty- by a government that is supposed to be our ally- who we pour billions of dollars in aid every year- this same government whose intelligence agency is infiltrated with those who we are fighting- yes our boys and girls have shed much blood working hand in hand with this government.
The other day the Pope gave an address after the recent bombings of Christians in Egypt and Iraq. He said there were 2 main threats in the world today; religious extremism and secularism. Secularism is the belief that religion and morality should be a private matter- that nations and governments should be totally free from the influence of religion and those who wish to practice it should practice it in private. The other threat- radicalism- is the belief that religion and those who embrace its tenets should try and impose their views on others by force. The Pope saw both of these extremes as being dangerous. As I’m reading thru the book by Christopher Hitchens [god is not great] those of you who have been reading my posts see that I am very critical of the man- showing his flaws in logic- the obvious mistakes he is making in his quest to ‘secularize’ religion. Yet at the same time I must admit I agree 100 % with his argument against radical religion- the ‘fundamentalism’ spoken of by the Pope [not talking ‘fundamentalism’ as defined as the bible churches we see spread throughout the Bible belt].
The main reason we are in Iraq and Afghanistan is to repel Al-Qaida from territories where they might plan attacks against the U.S. [of course the other ‘main reason’ we are in Iraq is because of false intelligence that said Iraq was amassing W.M.D.’s] The terrorists who flew the planes into the towers on 9-11 were people who have been influenced by radical Islam- not all Muslims hold to these views- but the majority of terrorist networks in the world today do. In our attempt to ‘rid the world’ of this danger- we have embarked on a worldwide agenda that has cost the lives of many innocent women, children- as well as our soldiers and even soldiers who joined the Taliban or Iraqi forces simply as a means to put bread on the table- many Taliban fighters are in it for the job! After all these years of trying to deal with the threat of radical fundamentalism thru the means of force- where has it got us? The poor [deceived] religious fanatic who took the life of his governor in Pakistan- he killed him because the governor spoke out in defense of a Christian woman who was given the death penalty [by stoning!] because she insulted Islam. My friends- this is a war that cannot be won with bombs and guns- we cannot rid the world of the threat from ‘fundamentalism’ by means of violence. The sooner we figure this out- the better off we will all be.
 ALEXANDRIA- EGYPT. Last night I was watching the news coverage of the demonstators in the streets of Egypt- they were protesting the government’s response [or lack] to the bombing of the church in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt [around 4 million people live in the city]. As I watched the sad story- in my mind I recalled all the times I have run across Alexandria in my studies of history. The city was founded by Alexander the great in the 4th century b.c.e. It had the largest library of the ancient world and was Egypt's capitol for around 900 years. When the Muslims took over in the 7th century Cairo became the new capitol [under another name at the time]. Alexandria was one of the great centers of Christian learning during the first few centuries of the 1st millennium of Christianity. I remember reading about the great church father Origen- he lived in the 3rd century and eventually would head up the school out of Alexandria- one of the first Christian schools of the day. The famous philosopher Plotinus also had a lot of influence in the city. It was sad to see the destruction on the news- so many years later. This morning I read Revelation chapter 13. The apostle John writes about the persecution of ‘the beast’ against the Christians- the apostle says he makes war against Gods people and overcomes them. We often neglect to see this aspect of scripture- I mean how many songs have you heard that say ‘the beast overcame us and killed us’. We like to sing stuff like ‘we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb’ [another verse from Revelation]. Yet the apostle foresees a time of persecution of the church that will include the deaths of many believers. Those who think the book of Revelation was written early [before a.d. 70] see Nero as the one who bares the mark of the beast- yes the popular 666 is in this chapter. Others who date the book later [around a.d. 90] see the emperor Domitian as the beast- either way John was speaking about a future ruler who would severely persecute the saints [and of course the most popular view today among evangelicals is the anti Christ is yet to come]. In verse 10 of the chapter John says those who kill with the sword, must die the same way- this is the patience of the saints. John is communicating to the 7 churches that he is writing to that they should not retaliate against their oppressors- they should patiently endure- knowing that the persecutors will eventually ‘hang themselves’ with their own rope. Of course the great empire of Rome would finally fall- and for those who see Nero as the 666 guy [my view] he eventually dies a shameful death as well [he killed himself].
As I watch the various responses from Muslims and Christians [and Jews] to these types of events- we all have a tendency to view things most favorably to our own particular viewpoint. While some Muslims are of course outraged over the church bombing- yet the Christian community is more enraged. When the recent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down- many Christians in the west couldn’t care less- many of them view the entire conflict thru the lens of end time dispensationalism [an end time view that sees Gods plan being played out by the displacement of Palestinians from the land]. I grew up in New Jersey [yes- the state of the great governor Christie!J]. As a good old Italian boy- I had lots of ethnic friends- Germans, Dutch, Spanish- etc. Many of these families were immigrants to the U.S. whose families had a history of living in the country for a hundred years or more [some less]. Now- if I were to come to your neighborhood, and tell you ‘look, the governments of the world made a deal [league of nations- later called the U.N.] and you have to leave this area and another group is going to move in’ how what this make you feel? Put aside your view of the bible and how you see ‘Gods plan’ being carried out- I mean just as a human being- how would you feel? You would feel terrible- you would think ‘geez- my father and his father settled here a hundred years ago- I’m not an alien!’ Yet the Palestinians were living in their land for 2 thousand years! Okay- just see the other point of view. Some of the Palestinians are Christians [small %- 2-5]. How do you think they feel when they have been praying for justice- many lost their homes and family estates during the displacement- and then they see the parade of American Christians trod thru the land like their on some Holy Land adventure- taking the kids to Disney world type thing- and yet in the real world lives are being lost on both sides of the conflict.
Most American Christians who hold to these end time scenarios that play into the geopolitical situation on the ground- they don’t realize that many Jews- and even many in the Israeli govt. do not completely embrace their enthusiasm for Israel. The Israeli leaders also know that most of these scenarios see a bloody conflict that will take place in the Holy Land [does Armageddon ring a bell?] and that many Jews will be slain- only a small remnant will escape [does the number 144,000 ring another one?]. The Israeli security forces in the city of Jerusalem actually have a specific profile for a group/persons that they see as dangerous to the city. Do you know who these ‘dangerous persons’ are? They are the tourists that enter the city every so often- and they have this wild look in their eyes- they are there to await the return of Jesus and they believe that they will be a part of the end time army that will spill much blood and defeat the forces of the enemy- yes- these types are deemed dangerous to the Israeli’s.
Lets pray for the peace of all people- let’s do our best to reject all forms of violence as being totally unacceptable- whether it be the bombing of a church in Egypt- the destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan [they destroyed these ancient pieces of art when they rose to power in the early years]. Even the bombing of abortion clinics- or the shooting of doctors- we need to see what the apostle John saw- those who take up the sword must in this manner be killed. I think too many of us have signed our own death warrant.
 DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS- Wasn’t sure which way to go today? It’s strange that I have been thinking about covering the sad story of the Christians in Iraq; since the war they have been persecuted severely- a few months back one of their main churches was attacked, many have fled to the northern region of the country [Kurdish area] and many are seeking asylum in our country. Saddam Hussein protected the Christian church in Iraq- he was not considered to be a radical Muslim leader- like the Mullahs in Iran. So it’s sad to see the Christian church possibly being eliminated from this ancient country. The church in Iraq dates back to the 1st century- they still speak Aramaic [some of them] which was the actual language Jesus spoke. Anyway- the thing that seems strange is I felt like I should read Revelation chapter 17 this morning- and in the chapter the apostle John has this vision of Babylon [which is Iraq- geographically. In the chapter it’s a symbol of the Roman Empire] and as he sees Babylon he says ‘she is drunk with the blood of the saints’- yes indeed, much Christian blood has been spilt in Iraq.
Okay- the other day I was watching some show about a group of people picked from all over the world who were chosen to participate in a sort of round table discussion where each person would spend so many months just sharing in conversation with these other people. Some were from the U.S., others from Muslim/Arab countries- some were from Israel. The conversation they had was really revealing- they were not scholars, but they showed you the point of view from other perspectives. One of the questions they asked was what should happen to Iran? Should the U.S. intervene in their desire to obtain nuclear weapons? One of the Americans said we should- because they might be a danger to world peace [a common ideology among many Americans] then one of the students from a Muslim country said ‘then why do you not feel it is also wrong for the U.S. to have nuclear weapons’ and the American gave some type of simple answer. Why does the Muslim world have a problem with the U.S. seeming to play the role of arbiter- who can have- or not have a nuclear arsenal?
Are there any Muslim/Arab countries that have them today? What about other countries who are also unstable? Let’s see- Pakistan [the most unstable of the bunch right now] India [Pakistan’s rival, also a major reason why Pakistan will not eliminate the Taliban from the mountainous region of her nation- they see the Taliban as playing a major role in the future govt. of Afghanistan and they need some ties to the Taliban in order to balance out any power play between India and Afghanistan] Egypt, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia- well as you can see there are a bunch of nations who already posses nuclear weapons- or are on the road to getting them. So when the average Muslim sees our attempt to intervene in who gets nukes, they see it as a hypocritical game.
What is the world history on nuclear attacks? How many countries have actually used nukes to attack/respond to other attacks? One. Who dropped the first Atomic bomb in the history of the world on another country? We did. Okay- let’s give this another shot. Who dropped the second Atomic bomb? Okay- us again. One more time- who dropped number 3? No one. So let’s see this from the perspective of the Muslim student who questioned the reasoning of why the U.S. has nukes- but doesn’t want other nations to have them. The student was told that if other nations [Iran] has them- they might use them. Yet they see us as the only country that has ever actually used them. Look- I know why we used them- and many have questioned the morality of what we did in WW2. Were we just in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We killed around 200 thousand people- civilians- not military [not counting the many who died in the following years from radiation sickness]. One of the definitions of terrorism is the purposeful targeting of civilians for a political/military goal. To the Muslim world- we targeted these civilian cites [they were not collateral damage- the civilians were the target] for a political/military goal- to end the war. The point is we [Americans] have a tendency to view things from one perspective- we rarely see the end result of our actions. Who would have thought that our war in ancient Babylon [Iraq] would have contributed to one of the fulfillments of John’s prophecy ‘Babylon- you are drunk with the blood of the saints’.
 VICK- PAKISTAN AND THE GAMES WE PLAY- I really wanted to do a little more on Philosophy today-maybe I’ll get to it at the end. Let me talk about a few points of interest in the news right now.
First- the other day- right around Christmas- a Pakistani woman strapped a bomb around herself- had 2 grenades in her hands and walked up to a food distribution center in Pakistan and blew herself up- killing 45 people along with herself. The President spoke about it from his Hawaiian vacation spot and called the act cowardly. Now- what would cause a woman- possibly a mother- to do this? Cowardice? Desperation? A feeling of hopelessness and seeing our bombing in her streets as oppression? I obviously do not condone the act of the woman- but she was primarily looking for a way to retaliate against our remote control planes [drones] dropping bombs all over the damn place- killing women and kids in the process. This whole thing is a mess.
On a lighter note- the President made another announcement- a phone call from Hawaii- he called Tony Dungy and thanked him for giving Michael Vick a second chance with the Eagles. Michael is the quarterback who a couple of years back was caught doing the dog fighting thing [yes- bad stuff]. He was convicted and did 18 months in jail. The eagles picked him up and he has had a great season and has managed to redeem himself as a really good player. So some in the media have criticized the president for congratulating Dungy for hiring Vick. I must say, while I disagree with the president on lots of stuff- I agree with him 100 % on this. At the time of the Michael Vick story I wrote in favor of Vick- I thought it was nuts that we have had players involved with killing people- guns falling out of their sweat pants at the clubs- all types of stuff- their chauffeurs running people over when they are in the car- and lots of times these players keep playing and never do jail time- yet Vick did almost 2 years- and some people still want him to be punished. I’m happy for Michael and I thank God he’s doing so well- he had a real risk of maybe not being able to play well, when you go to jail for a couple of years during your prime- that can ruin your career. I thank God he has made the most of his second chance- and I too praise Dungy- a fellow Christian- for giving Vick the second chance.
Okay- last but not least. As 2010 comes to a close- these last few weeks investors have pulled over 8 billion out of the U.S. bond market. They see the writing on the wall- that inflation is very likely to rear it’s ugly head and interest rates are going to go up. Why? How many of you remember a few weeks back when the Federal Reserve [our nation’s central bank] bought billions of dollars of U.S. treasuries? At the time you had global trading partners condemn us for trying to manipulate the global market- many voices from our country also said it was a risky move- it might cause inflation [when investors think interest rates will rise- they pull money from the bond market and put it into stocks- that’s also why the Dow is up]. They seem to have been right. The other day I was talking to my brother in law- he was asking me about some of this stuff. I explained to him that if you were playing Monopoly- and you and a few other players did real well- but mid way thru the game the banker simply put another million dollars into the game- how would that affect you? Basically ‘printing money’ like this- out of thin air- will devalue the money that’s already in the game- it will create inflation- everything else would become more expensive because the extra money devalued the original money that was on the board. So it looks like we did this- they’re predicting gas to go up to around 4 dollars a gallon- and those of you buying food- you already have seen the prices go up. So the nation basically borrowed money from ourselves [monetized our own debt] and it seems like the world won’t get fooled again.
- WHERE’S THE CONFESSING CHURCH? During WW2 the German church was split on how she should respond to the rise of Hitler and the racist tendencies that were beginning to be revealed as time went on. Many German Christians initially embraced his ideas- they seemed to join a nationalistic/patriotic spirit in with the practice of their religion. Germany was coming off of years of national inferiority after their loss in WW1 and many Christians embraced the new felt spirit of ‘exceptionalism’ that was surging thru the land. On the other side you had men like Dietrich Bonheoffer who resisted what he saw as unjust govt.- others took his stance, these were called ‘the confessing church’ they believed it was their responsibility to speak out- to ‘confess’ the things they saw as unjust. Bonheoffer would get executed for his role in attempting to assassinate Hitler.
As we continue to read the release of the Wikileaks documents- we see more and more how our govt. has lied, deceived, been involved in the deaths of many civilians- and both the media and the govt. have denied these things- until they actually were exposed. Yemen. The last few years there were many attacks in the country of Yemen- when these attacks first started the U.S. govt. vehemently denied any involvement at all. The official reports and the N.Y. times ran stories that said ‘Today in Yemen- Yemeni fighter planes struck a terrorist compound and possibly killed some high level Al Qaeda terrorists’. During a press conference- state dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley was point blank asked ‘are we involved in ANY military activities in Yemen’- he point blank said no. There was speculation that we were doing secret drone attacks in the country- our govt. said ‘NO’. On average about 50 civilians die for every target we hit- quite a cost. So obviously these innocents demand to know the truth about why/who killed their kids. Yemen and the U.S. simply saw it in their best interest to lie. I mean- these people are just pawns on the grand stage- right? What rights does the average person have to really know what’s going on? So the Wikileaks revealed that yes indeed the U.S. did do the strikes- yes indeed we did kill many innocents- and yes indeed Yemen said ‘you do the strikes, and we’ll tell our people it was us’. They were caught in the act. So what is our govt. saying now? P.J. Crowley- the state dept. spokesmen who lied- he is now saying ‘well, I meant we weren’t involved in a specific attack’. When you read the actual transcript of the press conference- he was asked ‘are we involved IN ANY military activity in Yemen’? His answer- NO.
Last week our military began trial hearings against a team of U.S. soldiers for their involvement in what’s being called ‘a death squad’. This group of young men were caught killing Afghan civilians- they shot a farmer in a field- cut off his finger for a souvenir and eventually were caught. Now- do these guys represent the majority of our troops in the field- of course not! Yet this story runs as top news in the Muslim media- have you even heard about it?
How should the church respond to these types of things? Should we be the silent majority- like Germanys nationalistic church who saw ‘church and state’ as one big patriotic cause? Should we just keep ‘preaching the gospel’ while our govt. carries out hidden agendas and lies to us and the people who are being killed? Should we question the ridiculous strategy of engaging in these never ending campaigns? What’s out strategy? Do we believe that after more than 10 years- and thousands of lives- that eventually we can set up Democratic governments that will be allies to the U.S. ? What’s to prevent these radical religious countries from voting in some nut- like the president of Iran- and we spent all our time dying and killing for this?
We tried this in the West Bank- we helped the Palestinians set up some free and open elections. We wheeled and dealed with Israel and Palestine- we gave much aid and effort- after all was said and done they finally held their democratic election- and they elected Hamas!
What is the primary cause for terrorism amongst radical Islamists? They see our forces in their ‘holy lands’ as the number one cause for resistance. After our initial war [Bush 1] to expel Iraq from Kuwait- we for the first time established bases in Arab countries. Saudi Arabia- Iraq- etc. Bin laden and the rise of Al Qaeda were a direct result of what they saw as Americans’ ‘defiling’ their sacred land. Do you remember any car bombings and these types of efforts before that time? Yes- you always had some type of fighting- but not to the level that ratcheted up after the first gulf war. So, the number one reason these radicals are carrying out this insane agenda is because they see us as invaders in their land. So how do we respond to the threat- WE INVADE MORE LAND! Overall the strategy is not going to work. Right now we are fighting the Taliban- who are these people? They are ethnic Afghans who have NO WORLWIDE AGENDA. They see themselves as ‘freedom fighters’ who simply want to ‘restore’ their land to a religious theocracy. Not good- but no real threat to the U.S. So why are we fighting them? They gave space for Al Qaeda to operate out of their country. Okay- Al Qaeda’s been long gone- yet we keep fighting this group who sees themselves as defending their homeland. Its nuts! It’s like if some gang attacked you, they lived down the street in some hotel. So you start a war with the hotel owners and the gang leaves. Instead of spending all your time and resources hunting down the gang- you start a never ending war with the hotel owners! Not only is this stupid- but the gang is laughing at the strategy- it actually helps the gang to recruit more members- because the gang points to the fact that we are in their ‘holy land’ which after all is the original justification for the existence of the gang! All this would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
So what does the church say about all this- not much. We keep hawking our religious wares on our TV channels- we keep appealing for a never ending need for money- and all the time the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It’s time for us to become ‘the confessing church’ to speak truth to power- because our govt. seems to have a hard time telling us the truth.
 THEY WILL LEARN WAR NO MORE- Isaiah the prophet. This verse comes from the book of Isaiah- he also speaks of the nature of Christ’s kingdom by saying ‘the wolf will lay down with the lamb’. Isaiah has more prophecies about Jesus [Messianic prophecies] than any other Old Testament prophet. To all my ‘bible students- preachers’ most of us our aware of the various ways teachers interpret these passages; we see the dual nature of the messianic prophecies [that is many prophecies speak of Jesus first coming and second coming in one verse- you don’t see the time lapse between the 1st and 2nd coming]. At the same time we often overlook the fact that the nature of God’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. Yes ‘Make love- not war’ actually has biblical backing! Now when Jesus arrived on the scene in the 1st century, he came at a time when the nation of Israel was under ‘occupation’. Rome was the controlling authority- and the Jews knew it. Israel had different views among her people on how to deal with the Roman occupation- some wanted a violent overthrow of the Roman govt., these were called Zealots- others took a more moderate stance. Out of Jesus 12 disciples, 2 were Zealots- Simon and Judas. They thought they were getting in on a strong Messianic movement that would be violent in nature. Yet Jesus would teach them that those who live by the sword will die by it. He showed them a better way- when he said ‘greater love has no man than this that he would die for his friends’. He wasn’t saying ‘that he would risk his life in battle- while trying to kill others- and maybe die in the process’. No, he was speaking about non violent protest- even to the point of laying down one’s life. He taught them ‘war no more’. I understand that my position on these wars has upset people, and I do not see our brave men and women as ‘the enemy’. But I feel the leadership- especially in the church, has not rightly understood these things- the nature of Christ’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. When some of the most popular TV evangelists, and ‘end times’ books promote an idea that seems to pit natural Israel against Muslim/Arab nations- and they give scenarios that seem to ‘encourage’ one side fighting- and killing the other side- then in these ways we are teaching ‘war’ that is we are presenting Christ’s kingdom in a way that seems to say ‘yes, God is in this violent thing- and when he comes back he will personally wipe out the other side’. We have not done right in the church- we have not taught ‘war no more’.
- DON’T FORGET, TOMORROW IS BURN THE KORAN DAY! Okay, we spent another wasted week talking about the Florida pastor [Terry Jones] who planned on burning 200 Quran’s this Saturday. He made national headlines [Why, please tell me?] and the defense secretary personally called him to put the burning off. Then yesterday he supposedly had a deal with the Imam in charge of the ‘Mosque at ground zero’ and the Pastor said he would not burn the Koran if the Imam would move the location; the Imam denies any deal. Oh, and to bring some seriousness to the matter, yes, Donald Trump offered to buy the ‘mosque site’ for 25% over what the Muslim investor paid for it- the Muslim said ‘no way’ of course he’s holding out for more! It’s times like these that make me want to change my facebook picture to what Jim Davis has. Okay, what’s wrong with this picture? First, most Christians have come out and condemned the independent church in Fla. that wants to burn the book; I don’t know of any believer that has defended the man, I certainly won’t. Second, the media freely referred to the man as a ‘nut job’ ‘idiot’ ‘jerk’ ‘extremist’ and I even heard MSNBC SAY HE WAS LIKE THE UNDREWEAR BOMBER! Please, as much as I disagree with the man, we do live in a country where people burn flags, bibles, etc. Heck, I remember burning old Rock and roll c.d.’s for heaven’s sake! [Though I own most of them today]. So to compare what this pastor was going to do with extremists who kill cartoonists who depict Mohamed in a Danish cartoon- or to radicals who threaten to blow up Comedy Central because South Park was gonna show the prophet in a bear suit [which was over a Santa suit!] is ridiculous. Radical Islam is wrong, Muslim countries that execute homosexuals and stone women taken in adultery are wrong. Most of these countries have laws that make it illegal to covert to Christianity, never mind trying to build a church or synagogue near one of their holy sites! As all the media hysteria has gone forth [yes, the great Chris Matthews even associated the Fla. Pastor with Sarah Palin and John Boehner! Please give me a break] we have to keep some type of balance. As Christians we condemn the burning of the Koran- though most believers do not accept the Koran as a sacred text, yet many Muslims do. Second, the reality is there is a world full of true nuts who use things like this to kill people- yes, not just a small minority either, but many religious adherents do stuff like this. Remember, it wasn’t just one or two demonstrators who celebrated after 911 happened; there were pictures of thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets after the attack; we should not underestimate the real truth about stuff like this. I do not blame all Muslims for this, but the reality is the radical mindset is much greater than the media portrays it. So we don’t want to put our fighting men and women at any more risk than they are already in. Those of you who know me realize that I am not anti Muslim, but we should be open and honest about the facts; for the media to have referred to this Fla. Pastor as being an extremist, equal to those who blow up innocents, was a travesty. I don’t agree with the pastor or his whole style of independent Christianity [truncated from the historic church] but to put book burning in the same category as blowing up people, well that my friends is what I call extreme.
- FORGIVENESS- This is a tuff word taken in context of the last few posts; to some it is highly offensive to even discuss the possibility of it being applied to Muslim/Christian relationships. Yet we know that forgiveness is one of the major themes of the New Testament. When dealing with these issues, we often respond by thinking ‘yes, but forgiveness does not mean we should allow others to get away with harming us’ well, to be honest it is the act of us letting people free from the guilt and punishment that they really deserve. It can only truly come into play when people truly do wrong to us, they were wrong and we were right. Then when the wrong is done, we are called upon by God to forgive- yes, to turn the other cheek. Now, I am not advocating a nationalistic passivism; sort of like saying we should never respond to real terror threats to our country, but I am dealing with the underlying sin of personal unforgiveness- that thing in us that says ‘I know these people have done wrong, they have embraced false religion, and they need to be accountable and held responsible for it’. That’s where the problem of unforgiveness rests. As human beings we all have an inner consciousness of justice; we have the ability to ‘set up court’ in our own minds and we have a tendency to keep replaying the evidence against those who have truly wronged us; then we base our unforgiveness on the real fact that the offending party is actually guilty! But forgiving others is not based upon the real guilt of the offender, no- it is a requirement for those of us who have been forgiven and make up the ‘forgiven community of God’. Jesus told the parable of the man who owed a great debt, the master began the proceedings against him- he was going to lose his house and his family would be held in bondage and he had a bleak future ahead of him, there seemed to be no way out. At the moment of despair he simply begged for mercy ‘please, jut give me some time and I will make this up to you’ sure enough the master forgave him the debt. Then the man went out and found someone who owed him a debt; he then held that man responsible for the debt. Now, this upset the other servants and they told the master about it, the master rebuked the man for not showing the same kind of mercy that he himself received. The man was ‘delivered to the tormentors’. The unforgiving servant had every right to hold the debtor responsible, but he would also pay a price for it. As believers we have ‘the right’ to look at the faults and sins that others have committed against us; we can play the tape over and over again in our minds; but in the end forgiveness is not based upon the reality that others have actually wronged us; it is based upon the fact that we have been forgiven, the master in turn requires us to do the same.
- Jesus said when people hear the ‘word of the kingdom’ and don’t understand it; that the devil comes and takes the word out of their hearts. Right now in our country there is a rise in anger over the Muslim versus Christian traditions; many have made a ‘cause célèbre’ over the mosque being built close to the 911 tragedy. Over the years as I have studied the various faiths and the history of Christianity, I have come to see that many sincere people of various faiths have been a victim of the ‘devil stealing the word of the kingdom’ from their hearts. That is many sincere people have never truly understood or grasped the real kingdom message of Jesus. As the Christian church progressed thru the centuries, many have come to define the faith as a strict orthodox interpretation of the Trinity, the 2 natures of Jesus, and other historic declarations of orthodox Christianity. While I fully agree and hold to these historic creedal truths, what has happened is the other 2 major world religions- Islam and Judaism- have come to define the historic faith by these statements. They have never really understood the main Christian message of God reconciling man thru Christ. They see Christianity thru the lens of ‘that religion is the religion of western civilization’ and they have never been able to grasp the ‘full world’ nature of the kingdom. A few years ago I had a chance encounter with a Muslim. As we talked I asked him if he knew the history of Abraham and the story of Isaac and Ishmael; to my surprise he was not aware of the story found in the Old Testament. I then did about a 20 minute ‘bible study’ and explained to him how God always had a purpose and destiny for the Arab world- many trace the lineage of the Arabs to Ishmael, the step brother of Isaac. It’s a little too much to do right now, but I tried to break down the cultural barrier of viewing Christianity as an ethnic/western mans religion, and presented the ‘kingdom’ in a way that he could understand and see the main message of reconciliation of all races of people thru Christ. Too many people define the Christian message as a political agenda- or they see the very technical orthodox interpretations of the various doctrines of the faith- and they never really hear what the kingdom is all about. Jesus said this was a strategy of the enemy to prevent people from coming to the faith. As we are entering into a time of increased tension over Islam, let’s be good stewards of the faith and present a non ethnic/cultural message of acceptance and reconciliation of all nations thru Christ. I am not saying all people will automatically believe in the gospel, but I fear that many of them have never really heard it.
 THE MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO- The great reformer, Martin Luther, said that if we teach and preach about Jesus and the bible, yet overlook the issues of controversy that rage at the time; then we are not faithfully preaching Christ. Over the last 6 months or so a controversy has arisen over an Islamic center that is to be built close to the area where the world trade towers went down. As I have listened to the debate [thru talk radio, the main stream and cable news] I have tried to keep an open mind. As I heard a few snippets of audio from the Imam [leader] of the future mosque, I began to wonder whether we were getting the whole story. As of today let me share my view; it seems as if many well meaning people have been told that the first building to be rebuilt after the 2001 attacks is going to be this mosque. Many believe that this building will be a sort of huge Muslim statement that will overlook the entire area and be saying ‘look, we [radical Islam] have conquered’. First of all, the site in question is actually a couple of blocks away from the actual site where the towers went down; though the community center/mosque will be 13 stories high, yet this is really not big compared to the other buildings in the area. The Muslim community actually purchased the property before 9-11 happened, and the Imam is considered to be one of the moderate voices coming from the Islamic community. All in all, it’s not really a ‘stick it in your face’ type statement that the Muslims are trying to make. Number 2- is it unreasonable for people to ask ‘hey, even though you have the right to build the mosque, as a courtesy to the victims who perished at the site, build it somewhere else’. No, this is an honest concern that good people do have- I think it’s not too much to ask the Muslim community to consider moving the location. The governor, David Patterson, kindly offered them free state land if they wanted to move it to another spot. Most of all, I think it does more harm than good to label this Imam as a radical Islamist, all the facts seem to say otherwise. Has he made statements that honest people have problems with? Yes. But overall he is not one of the more extreme type leaders of Islam. I realize that at this time this stand is very unpopular, and it’s too easy to simply jump on the bandwagon and condemn this man, but we want to do our best at being honest about these types of situations. I grew up very close to this area, right across the Hudson river on the Jersey side- there are many Muslims, Christians, Jews and other faiths that make up the melting pot of the area; if we begin singling out the moderate voices, and targeting them as radicals, when they are not, then this will do harm than good in the long run. As believers we should stand strong for our belief that Jesus is the answer, yes even for the Muslim/Arab community, Jesus is the answer. Yet at the same time it does no good to purposefully alienate the more moderate branch of Islam.
 ARIUS- a priest from Egypt who would challenge the deity of Jesus in the 4th century. Arius taught that Jesus was the Son of God, but not eternally the Son. He said Jesus was a created being whom the father ‘bestowed’ son ship upon. He taught that Jesus was ‘like God’ but not God. The emperor Constantine would call the famous council of Nicaea in 325 a.d. and the council would agree with Athanasius and say that the Son and the Father were of ‘the same substance’ [homoousios] and Arius’s belief would be rejected. The debate would still rage on thru out the century as Constantine would die and the new emperor from the east would hold to ‘Arian’ views. Eventually Orthodoxy would win out and Arianism would be rejected by the majority of believers. I should note that many of the oriental churches would go the way of Arianism till this day; some of these churches are not like the modern cults that we would automatically reject, but they do hold to beliefs that Orthodox Christianity has rejected. As I have written about before, it’s easy to see how various believers have struggled with these issues over the years, some of the ways people express things can be deemed heresy a little too quickly in my view. There are believers who express the deity of Jesus in ways that some Arians express it, and they are not full Arians! The point being, yes- Arian went too far in his belief that Jesus was a created being, Johns gospel refutes this belief strongly [as well as many other portions of scripture] but too say that Jesus was/is the full expression of the father, because he ‘came out from God’ is also in keeping with scripture. Today we should be familiar with the issues and also use much grace when labeling different groups of believers; and we should strive for a unity in the Spirit as much as possible. As believers we accept the full deity of Christ, one who is of the ‘same substance’ of the father- true God from true God. He who has seen the Son has seen the father- Jesus said to Phillip ‘I have been with you a long time, if you see and know me, you have seen and known my father’ Jesus is God come down in the flesh to dwell among men, the true Immanuel, God with us.
 ‘This is why I Paul am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so called. I take it that you are familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody… none of our ancestors understood this, only in our time has it been made clear thru God’s Spirit… this is my life work, helping people understand and respond to God’s message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details’ Ephesians 3, message bible. As I said earlier in this study, the ‘mystery’ that God revealed to Paul was the reality that thru Christ all ethnic groups would be on the same footing with God. This specifically related to the religious belief of the day that the ethnic nation of Israel were the only ones with special access to God. For Paul to have been preaching this message in his day would be like us teaching that God’s plan for all people today- Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians, etc., it would be like saying Gods purpose for our day is to accept all of these ethnic groups as one group thru Christ. To be frank about it, I believe many evangelicals today are not fully seeing the reality of the Cross when they exalt the natural heritage of Israel as Gods special people. Though I realize many of these teachings mean well [end time scenarios and stuff] yet in practice they deny the equal footing that all people have in Christ. Paul was preaching the great news that your ethnic/cultural background no longer made any difference- thru Christ we are all Gods special people. This does not mean that we are all accepted whether or not we believe in Christ, a sort of religious syncretism, but it does mean that the offer of Jesus is available to all.
 AQUINAS, THOMAS- Thomas is considered to be one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Born in Naples around 1225, he studied in Cologne under the Dominican order. During Thomas lifetime there was a rediscovery of the ancient writings of the philosopher Aristotle. Thomas would write commentaries on the philosophy of Aristotle and he would attempt to introduce reason into the arguments to prove the existence of God. He was a follower of that form of Christian teaching called ‘scholasticism’ this method used reason and logical debate to arrive at truth. Other scholars would reject this method [Bonaventure] they felt that using these rational methods was a contradiction to faith. Thomas would become famous for his ‘five ways’ also referred to as Natural Theology. Thomas taught that there were 5 basic ways man could examine the natural created order and come to a rational belief in the existence of God; Thomas taught that the first cause of all things had to be God, you logically needed a first ‘causer’ to start the ball rolling [prime mover]. John Duns Scotus was a contemporary of Aquinas and he disagreed with the scholastic method. Scotus would become famous among the Franciscans; Aquinas would be famous among the Dominicans. Today many Catholic scholars pride themselves in being ‘Thomistic’ in their thought. Thomas also spoke much about ‘just war’ theory, originally introduced by Augustine. He taught that the means of war had to be just in order for the war itself to be ‘justified’; in today’s wars [Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan] I believe the use of unmanned drone attacks that kill civilians can be considered an unjust method. Thomas’ great works are Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae, Thomas is called the ‘angelic doctor’ of the Catholic faith.
 LORD THOU HAST BEEN FAVOURABLE UNTO THY LAND, THOU HAST BROUGHT BACK THE CAPTIVITY OF JACOB- Psalms 85:1. Today we find out if the ‘top kill’ method of plugging up the oil leak in the gulf will work. We have had the ‘top hat’ ‘junk shot’ and even the ‘sombrero’ as options in the past, yes the 1979 leak in the bay of Campeche tried the sombrero! The sad thing is all the politics surrounding the whole thing; those in the media who are simply cheerleaders for the president, they can’t be trusted as news people. Those who are only critics, they can’t either. But you do have some fair reporting by some. Anderson Cooper of CNN seems to be doing the best job. Chris Matthews actually said at one point ‘I guess the republican critics are mad that this president is so ‘damn’ competent’ well what would you expect from him. And Bill OReilly had Glen Beck on to discuss ‘are some of the presidents critics going too far’ that’s like asking Hitler to comment on the Jews plight! All in all the media have treated this situation very favorably to the president; Bush would have been hammered from day one. I find it odd that the pictures of dead birds and the environmental disaster of disturbing the wetlands [a true tragedy indeed] have caused such concern; yet the same advocates seem to care less about the disruption of ‘the natural life cycle’ that is called abortion. I mean if you had pictures of babies washing up on shore by the millions, would some of these advocates have the same concern? If the babies that ‘washed up’ all were aborted one minute before birth, it would be considered legal; one minute after birth- murder. We need to re examine our values. The above psalm tells us that when things go well for a land, that is a sign of God’s blessing; when things go bad, it is a sign that we are doing things that displease him. Our country is debating gays in the military, I am not against gay people, but should this issue be coming up at this time? We came off a year of a fabricated emergency on passing health care; a good cause, yes- but to have spent an entire year on nothing else, bad move. North Korea sunk a South Korean battle ship and killed 43 men- these countries are on the verge of all out war. Iran has no respect at all for us; they will continue to pursue Nukes regardless of what we say. And John Brennan, the top guy at homeland security just gave a public speech saying ‘Jihad is an acceptable struggle for Muslims and we are not at war with terror or Islam’ Okay, I agree we are not a war with Islam per se; but to call Jihad an acceptable Muslim struggle, you got to be kidding me! If we as a people turn back to God, he will be favorable unto our land; if we continue to see our struggle as one where gays in the military, abortion on demand; appointing the first openly transsexual persons to the administration; if these things are looked upon as the ‘moral’ priorities of this administration, then yes, things will not go well for us. When the president appointed Elena Kagan as the most recent Supreme Court nominee, one of the major news stations reported that she was the first openly gay nominated for the court. Then a day or so went by and they retracted the statement, but the reporter said it is an open fact that the woman lives in an open lesbian relationship with another woman, and that the people around her know this. Then another day or so went by and the news organization dropped the story. If the woman’s gay, I don't know. But this president seems to be pushing an agenda that the majority of the American public are not in sync with. Should we discriminate against gays, or cross dressers, or people who have had sex change operations? No. But is it possible that many of these people are struggling with deviant lifestyles? Yes. Is it possible that changing ones sex might be a disorder, and not simply a civil rights issue? Yes. Then why would this president be on such a fast track to appoint these types of people to the highest positions in the land? Our country still has lots of issues to deal with, and we should pray for the president and do our best to support him when possible, but it is obvious that he has an agenda that fundamentally undercuts many American values; if we continue to pursue this type of course, things will not go favorably for our land.
 TURN US AGAIN OH GOD AND CAUSE THY FACE TO SHINE AND WE SHALL BE SAVED- Psalms. As I was reading in the Psalms I came across a passage that said ‘why God have you allowed the wall of protection to come down’. The psalm goes on and recounts God’s work in bringing Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land; it says God took this vine from captivity and caused it to take root and its branches spread over the earth. And then God allowed her walls [protections/foundations] to fail. Last night I was watching the results of some of the elections across the nation. They showed how some politicians were rejected because of various flip flopping and stuff. They also showed a breaking scandal of some attorney general; he is running for higher office and for many years he presented himself as a Vietnam vet. He has said ‘when I served in Nam’ and stuff like that. News papers referred to his record as a Vietnam vet, and it was quite obvious that the man ran on a record of having been in Nam. Then it was found out that he never served in Vietnam; he was in the reserves stateside during the war. How did he explain this contradiction? He said he was taking full responsibility for this [sounds good] and then he said he will not let ‘a few misplaced words’ ruin his integrity. He said he meant to say things like ‘when I served [in the reserve, stateside] during the war’ and as he was questioned why he never corrected the many news stories about him being a Vietnam vet, he said he was not responsible for what the news reports. What’s the problem here? Okay, the man was caught lying, yes, like all of us he is a sinner and let a lie go on for too long. But in his apology, he said he was taking responsibility, while at the same time not admitting his sin. This is an example of what goes on over and over again in our great land. It’s not so much the fact that yes, people sin and have made mistakes; it’s just our continual unwillingness to accept the blame for our sins. Ergun Caner, the ex Muslim who is now a Christian and the president of Liberty University [Jerry Farwell’s bible college] has also been caught in a scandal where he has presented himself as a radical Muslim who was raised in Turkey and converted to Christianity in a radical way. But it has come out that though he was raised Muslim, he really grew up in Ohio [he lived in Turkey as a boy] and his conversion was not as radical as his testimony seemed to imply. He also seems to have misled people about his debating certain Muslim scholars, some people have looked into the situation and it seems as if he has not been honest about it. Okay, we have all made mistakes in life, and as a president of a bible school stuff like this can be damaging, but our response makes the difference between a successful future or one where ‘the hedge of protection is broken down’. God can, and does forgive all sins; but if we claim we are taking responsibility for our ‘misplaced words’ and then deny the fact that we lied, in essence we are not taking responsibility. God allowed the protections to come down around Israel because she accepted as normative things that were sinful, God would have continued to work with her, but she allowed sinful practices to become accepted in her midst. I do not see the hope of our nation being in the political realm, yet the continual dissembling that takes place, over and over again, can’t go on without us as a people suffering for it. As of the time of this writing [5-2010] there are still many national/economic problems that we have to face; there is still a fear that the problems in the European currency [Euro] will have worldwide effects for the worse. We should not think that we can continue to do business as usual without the walls coming down; if we want God to ‘shine his face on us once again’ we can’t keep doing stuff like this and thinking it’s acceptable, it’s not.
(1451) CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM BELIEFS- As I did the study on Justification by faith I hit a few verses that I felt were vital for our day; things that said Gods kingdom is not based on ethnic/racial lines, but it is based on faith in Jesus Christ. One of the major divisions between Christians and Muslims is Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet from God, but they reject his deity. They claim that the Christian church fell into apostasy and over the centuries heresy was introduced thru the councils and creeds of the church. They believe that in the 7th century God restored true monotheism [belief in one God] thru the prophet Muhammad and that Jesus [Isa] agreed with this. In the 19th century you had the rise of religious liberalism and many theologians espoused a belief that ran along these same lines; many taught that the early message of Jesus became distorted thru the over intellectualizing of the faith, and that Greek philosophy and Latin legal minds [Tertullian] ‘extended’ the faith to parameters that went far beyond the teachings of Christ. The Muslim scholars saw this as proof that they were right all along, after all these Christian scholars were basically saying the same thing! And then within the past 30 years or so you had the rise of historical Jesus studies, and men like John Dominic Crossan [Jesus seminar] would basically deny much of the gospels. They used a skewed method of determining what was real or fake, and when all was said and done you basically had a few verses from Johns gospel that were deemed true as well as a host of other ‘questionable’ sayings of Jesus from the other gospels. Why was this an important development for the rejecters of Christ’s deity? John’s gospel is the strongest teaching in the New Testament on the deity of Christ. We call this ‘Logos Christology’ John’s gospel teaches us that in the beginning was the word [Logos in Greek] and the word was with God and the word was God. So you have a distinction between the word [Jesus] and God, and at the same time the word is described as God. So to be fair about it, the deity of Jesus was not a latter development that was spawned out of the Greek/Latin mind, but was a part of Christianity right from the start. Grant it that the later creeds and councils [4th century Nicene, 5th century Chalcedon] did use some technical language to distinguish between the nature of God and Jesus, but the teaching of Christ’s deity is found within the body of the New Testament. Islam teaches that Jesus was born from a virgin, and that he was a prophet sent from God- isn’t that enough? No, they also teach that at the Cross another person died in Jesus place and that Jesus never died and rose again, this my friends can never be accepted by true Christianity. I believe we as believers should respect Muslim people, we should not denigrate them or their religion- but to have an honest conversation we need to tell the truth. Jesus was given for the sins of the whole world, he was God in the flesh dwelling among man- he died, was buried and rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
(1450) BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, THAT BEING DEAD WHEREIN WE WERE HELD; THAT WE SHOULD SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER. Romans 7:6 I think this will be a good chapter to end our series on justification by faith. Paul uses one of my favorite analogies to describe the new relationship we have in Christ; he says a woman, as long as her husband is alive, is bound by the law to her husband. If she goes out and sleeps with another man, she is convicted by the law and is committing adultery. But if the husband dies, then the same act of being with another man [in marriage] is no longer called adultery, by virtue of the death of the husband she has become free from the law that condemned her. Now Paul teaches that we too have become dead to the law thru the death of Christ, so that we should be married to another; even to him who died and rose again! I have often said it’s sad that believers in our day know all the catch phrases, they are familiar with the pop Christian culture verses and all, but these very important themes are often overlooked. Would to God that all believers were familiar with this scripture, walking around in life quoting ‘we have become dead to the old law thru Christ, we are now alive with him and are married to him who rose from the grave’. Thru out this chapter Paul once again shows that the law is holy and good, but its purpose was to arouse in us our sinful nature in order to reveal to us the need for a savior. The old way of life for Paul was one of condemnation and never being able to do enough to appease his sinful conscience, when he saw the realities of the new covenant he was delivered from that old mindset and began to see a new way to approach God, a free liberating walk with God, apart from the daily grind of trying in his own power to become righteous. Many good believers struggle with this for years, and there really is no trick or gimmick to the spirit filled life. Paul will go on and teach the need for self discipline; he said he ‘beat his body to bring in into subjection’ he obviously was not espousing a Christian walk that never had struggles again. But he was telling us that there is a fundamental difference between approaching the Christian life thru a legalistic mindset, or thru the freedom that comes from Christ. In conclusion we have learned that right from the early days of Abraham God had revealed to us that there was coming a day when men would approach God upon the grounds of faith, and not by works; that God included this great promise in the bible since the beginning; it was not an afterthought! Paul showed us that this new way of life was ordained of God before the law was given; it just took a couple of thousand years to get to the promised ‘seed’. Paul showed us that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised child, and now that he has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster [law] but we have been freed from the old law thru the death of Christ, we are now married to another, even to him who rose from the grave- AMEN!
(1449) ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein’? Romans 6:1 Being we are just hitting on the theme of justification by faith, and because I already did an entire study on Romans, I will skip over chapter 4; but I want to mention that chapter 4 covers a lot of important material about Abraham and the fact that God justified him prior to his circumcision, Paul uses this illustration to show us that being accepted with God transcends ethnic/racial lines. Many of the Jewish people of Paul’s day [including Paul’s former life!] saw acceptance with God along the lines of ethnic/cultural relations; if you were part of the Jewish nation and partook of all the rights and privileges of ethnic Israel, then you were seen as being accepted with God. But Paul’s message of justification by faith applies to ‘all the seed’ [offspring] not just to those who have become circumcised and have joined into ethnic Israel. So these points are important to understand. But now let’s get to the above verse. Paul will emphatically teach that the message of free grace does not mean we have a license to sin; he teaches this in ALL of his letters. It’s easy to focus in on the justification by faith themes [which we are doing in this study] and overlook the moral teachings of the apostle. Paul will teach ethics, not from a legal/law grounding [obey the 10 commandments] but from a new resurrection reality. He states that those of us who have been joined [baptized] into Christ have identified with him in death; the old man [sinful nature] has died along with Jesus and has been buried. Now that we are alive with him we live a new life unto God. Paul will say ‘shall we sin because we are now under grace and not under law’ and notice, he does not appeal to the law, instead he says ‘no, because whoever you serve [sin or righteousness] you become a slave to it, and if you are a slave to sin you will die’. Paul appeals to the reality of sin and death as still being a real price to be paid by those who reject Jesus. It’s important to see this theme from Paul, it backs up his teaching that believers are not under the law. In the next day or so I will wrap up this study; if I had the time and space I could go thru all the moral mandates we find in Paul’s letters, and it would be an important thing to emphasize. It’s just this is not the purpose of this study. But I would be remiss if I did not at least hit a few key scriptures from the apostle himself that show us that he certainly was not teaching lawlessness; he himself stressed the need for believers living a holy life. Its just the grace to live it comes from the power of the Cross, not from the law.
(1444) AND HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE AND SHOWED HIM THE STARS AND SAID ‘LOOK AT THEM, CAN YOU NUMBER THEM’ AND THE LORD SAID ‘SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE’ AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN GOD AND HE CREDITED IT TO HIS ACCOUNT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Genesis 15:5-6 [my paraphrase] As we journeyed from chapter 12, where God made the initial promise to Abraham, a few things occurred; God separated Abraham from his nephew Lot. The kings attacked Sodom and took Lot captive, Abraham took his men and went and freed Lot. The king of Sodom tries to reimburse Abraham for his good deed, Abraham turns him down. Abraham also went into Egypt and lied about Sarah his wife, out of fear he told the Egyptians she was his sister [so they wouldn’t kill him to get his wife] and the king takes her and later rebukes Abraham for lying. So he returns to the special place named Bethel [house of God] and regroups. Now in chapter 15 Abraham has some doubts, God gave Abraham this great promise of many children; but he has no kids yet! Abraham is getting up in years [around 75] and so is Sarah his wife; Abraham asks the Lord to consider counting his servant as his heir, this was done in those days. The Lord turns him down and says ‘no, one born from you will be the heir’ and this is just one stop of many along the path of Abraham’s doubts. Yes, he comes up with another winner down the road [like having a kid with the maid!] But this promise in chapter 15, and Abraham’s response by faith, is the actual text Paul uses in Galatians and Romans to show that being justified comes by faith, and not by keeping the law. I want to stress, this example from Abrahams life was real, he really was justified in Gods eyes by believing in the future promise of having a great dynasty; like I said in the last post, he was believing in Jesus when he believed in the promise. In the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in Galatians and Romans, but most of all I want you to see how God forgives people, makes them legally just in his sight, not because of what they have done- trying to do good, be a church goer, trying hard to keep the 10 commandments; all of these things are noble efforts, but they don’t earn God’s forgiveness, but God’s forgiveness is based on the grounds that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. All who believe in this promise are described as ‘the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ’. Many of the Jewish people looked to Abraham as a great hero of the faith, Paul shows them thru these examples that all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, become the ‘children of Abraham’ by faith, it’s not an ethnic/cultural thing anymore. If only the Muslims, Arabs and all other groups heard this message from the church; how liberating would this be! But we too often present an ethnic message based upon Old Testament verses that call certain Middle Eastern states ‘the enemies of Israel/God’. These views, not being rightfully filtered thru the message of the Cross, make it very difficult to evangelize the Arab world, after all would you want to embrace a religion whose book said ‘thus saith the Lord, all you white Europeans are a stench in my nostrils’! But because of our unwillingness to present a gospel based solely on faith, and not the ethnic backgrounds of individuals, we have reduced the message of the Cross from the wide net that the apostles used when presenting the message of Jesus- Lets declare with certainty ‘yes, we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’ Amen.
(1439) WHY ARE WE STILL KILLING INNOCENT AFGHAN/MUSLIM PEOPLE? The other day I read a few papers that built up over a few days at my doorstep. One day an article read ‘4 people killed in Afghan attack’ and the article went on to say that the coalition forces shot into a car and killed 4 people; the local authorities insisted these were innocent civilians- our side said we looked into the identity of the victims using high tech fingerprinting technology and that 2 of the 4 were enemy combatants. The local authorities said not only were the 4 people innocent civilians, but one was a cop, the other a 12 year old boy. The paper from the following day said ‘the 4 people were civilians- one a cop, the other a small boy’ any explanation for why we lied? Any questioning on how we were so quick to produce high tech evidence on the guilt of these people? Any major news coverage, you know pictures of the shot up vehicle? What about any media pressure at all about the presidents promises to end these atrocities? The media does not care about reporting stories that under the previous administration were considered highly important, how many main stream news stories of bombings and deaths and burning vehicles have you seen lately? The media has attached itself to the side of an administration to the point where atrocities are not being reported. Understand, the Afghan president has been under tremendous pressure over these incidents; he has made his concerns known over and over again; how have we responded? The other week we sent some top aides to the country, they publicly portrayed the Afghan leader as corrupt [as most of them are] we then made the story about the corruption of the Afghan leader. How did he respond? He threatened to join the Taliban. These last few months many big mistakes and problems have arisen in these wars, things that would have normally caused the Democrats to go on a war path, the Harry Reids of the day going on national TV and proclaiming ‘we have lost the war’. But they have been mute on the subject, portraying any criticism as either being racist, or the party of no. Right now they are attempting to pass financial reform, some think it will do the job, others think it’s problematic. The reform would create a 50 billion dollar account to ‘liquidate’ big financial institutions if they got into trouble, sort of a bailout program that would prevent another major disaster. Some feel we should not promise any bailouts at all, that to give this guarantee to the big banks, while not giving it to the smaller ones, that this would give an unfair advantage to the bigger banks- after all people will do business with the firms that have the special bail out provision, plus these banks would be able to borrow at a lower rate than the smaller banks. In essence some think this reform bill is actually unfair and favors the wall streeters in the end. But the media simply reports that those opposed are ‘in bed with wall street’. An independent study just came out and told us that passing health care will add around 350 billion to the cost over the first 10 years, not reduce the cost as promised. The reality is when you rush things thru, in the sense that every program you pass is portrayed as an emergency that can’t wait, then you get childish government; an administration that portrays things in a wrong light, and when the facts come out- there are no questions from the media about ‘who knew what when’ no questions about our continued involvement in the deaths of many, many Afghan civilians, and our lying about it, over and over again! It’s not a onetime occasion, we will not stop doing this- we keep saying ‘the evidence shows us that these people were guilty’ and time and time again the reports later say ‘no, we killed a bunch of women and kids’ how long are we going to keep doing this? This from an administration that condemned the fallout from the previous administrations actions, a man who said we must simply get our troops out of these bad situations [Iraq] because our troops presence stir up animosity. Then why does this president insist on ratcheting up the violence? That country is eventually going to go back into the hands of the Taliban, they rule the entire country right now, all the local tribal type regions have Taliban rule, or are favored by the majority of the people. The Afghans see us as the danger, not them! So why waste any more precious lives of our boys and girls over there? Why keep killing innocent civilians, cops and little boys, and then lying about it? It’s time for us to wake up and let our voices be heard, just like the nonstop opposition on national media during the Bush years, nonstop coverage over these events, questions on who knew what and when. Instead the media has an agenda, they keep reporting on how the republicans are in bed with wall street- I could care less about all the democrats and republicans who are all just as guilty as the next guy, the president himself having taken a million from the most recent wall street firm he has dubbed as the enemy [Goldman Sachs] we need to get back to what’s really important, one of them being the disaster of our current war in Afghanistan.
(1412) IN DEFENSE OF JEREMIAH WRIGHT- Last night an interesting thing happened; as I was channel surfing the news shows I saw that Larry King had on a few ‘ex’ conservatives who are now under fire for their left wing leanings. These are traditional white guys basking in their new found social justice beliefs. I could only watch for a minute or so, it just came off as inauthentic. Then as I scrolled thru Fox, MSNBC, and a few of the CSPAN channels I came across a Tavis Smiley forum that was being held in Chicago. I was fixated for 2 hours [or more!] The panel included many of the famous Black progressives- Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Michael Eric Dyson, just to name a few [Rev. Wright was not there by the way] and in the center of the roundtable discussion there was a simple sign that said ‘love’. The amazing thing was though these men were espousing many of the same ideas as the white liberals on the Larry King show, yet I was not offended in the least. I listened intently to Farrakhan freely quoting scripture along with the Quran, he actually only quoted from the Quran one time, and he quoted the bible more than all the others. But the bible was also quoted freely thru out the discussion; many of the questioners from the audience also were pastors and Christians. Now, I have written on the Nation of Islam before [under the cults section] and I do not accept that religion as even a legitimate expression of Islam, so don’t take me wrong on this. It was the simple reality that these Black leaders would freely see their cause for racial justice tied in with scripture. Some did express the belief that the older Black church did hinder the Black people because of their ‘wait on the Lord’ attitude; but all in all they were up front and willing to speak what they felt was the truth in an open way. Tavis Smiley also brought out the fact that many Black leaders felt like doing a public forum discussing the short comings of the president would be wrong; many on the panel challenged the presidents ‘bi-racial’ stance in political matters. Many in the Black community feel like the president has let them down because he does not hold to the more radical ideas of Black justice. Overall it was an excellent discussion that I was glued to, and to repeat, there was absolutely no feeling of offense or animosity with any of the speakers. I found it odd that I couldn’t stomach a few minutes of the white guys on Larry King, but was enthralled for 2 hours with this forum. When Reverend Wright came under fire during the Obama campaign, he obviously was demonized by the media and the repeated showing of his statements that were wrong and offensive to many people [including Blacks]. Yet Wright comes from a Black liberation theological background, it’s in his DNA to challenge the current system of government and to see strains of the gospel in communistic type systems; he isn’t the first to embrace these beliefs. Many Catholic theologians in Latin American countries hold to the same ideas; the Catholic Church officially rejects this idea. One of the tragedies of the Black people is the fact that so many young Black kids make bad choices that land them in prison, many of these young men become effected with the Black Muslim leanings in the prison system; they are sold a bill of goods that simply is not true; if we really believe as Christians that Jesus is the only way, then how can we sit idly by and not be concerned over the Black exodus into Islam? Though I disagree with many of Rev. Wright’s ideas and beliefs, yet if I had the choice between sending my Black brother to the Nation of Islam or to Rev Wright’s church, I would choose Wright 7 days out of the week.
[Just a comment I left on an article about the camel method of evangelizing Muslims. This method uses the verses from the Quran that talk about ‘Jesus’ to convert Muslims. ‘If the verses quoted from the Quran are simply a bridge to get you to the Jesus of the New Testament, then I think we could let it slide; but if we are leaving the impression that the 'Jesus' [Isa] of the Quran is the same Jesus of the New Testament, then we have a problem.’
(1407) THESE THINGS DOES THE LORD HATE…HE THAT SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF CONTINUALLY, HE SOWETH DISCORD. Proverbs 6. Okay, the health care package passed, many are upset and some have crossed the line in their language. Even though statements like ‘reload’ [Palin] ‘he’ll be a dead man’ [Boehner] and others are talking political speech, yet in this atmosphere we all need to avoid using words that can be taken the wrong way by unstable people. Recently here in Texas we had the famous school board controversy over what to include in the schoolbooks, I have written about it a few posts ago. One of the school board people is from my home town of Corpus; she is a Hispanic woman who is involved in politics a lot. Now, I’m sure she means well, but our paper had a picture of her sitting at her office desk with a bunch of anti white slogans all over her desk. I’m sure she does not mean to be racist, I’m sure she views her opinion thru the light of standing up for minorities, but the fact is you can’t have any ethnic representative openly advocate for their own race, and to use wording that publicly says things that imply ‘whitey is the enemy’ [she has regularly used the term ‘white wash’ in describing the white board members resistance to including more Hispanic people into the history books]. Now I’m going to be honest about South Texas politics, I have been living here for 30 years, many of the prejudices against minorities have been expressed by the majority Hispanic democratic leaders [I am not saying all Hispanics are racist!] The reality is the Black minorities have been discriminated against in the political system. Some have actually said ‘when they were in power they didn’t help us, now it’s their turn’ [a prominent Hispanic politician about not supporting president Obama]. So the facts on the ground are different than what many people think. I believe we should include prominent Hispanic and Black leaders into the history books, men like Cesar Chavez are truly great examples, but when any representative publicly says her goal is to advance her ethnic groups cause, and that the ‘white washers’ are the enemy- this is unacceptable speech too. Who has opened the door for this type of stuff? Gods people. One of the most prominent themes of American preaching is a theme that is shot thru with racist overtones. The popular prophecy preaching of the day teaches that Gods end time events are triggered by a special role that ethnic Israel plays in God’s plan. This system [dispensationalism] teaches that God most certainly prefers one ethnic race over another. It is in contradiction to the ethos of the New Testament which teaches that in Christ there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free- we are all one in Christ Jesus’. The people of God are the plumb line of society, the world around us will never display a higher level of morality than the church- when we as Gods people rise above these ethnic divisions, we will be like leaven in society that effects the whole lump. When we continually sow discord we displease God.
(1401) GLENN BECK- Okay, this past week Beck stirred up a controversy by telling people that if their churches use language like ‘social justice’ that you should leave the church. Beck showed how many of the liberal movements of the past, both inside and outside the church, used this language and also were socialist. Is Beck right to warn people about this? 50-50. In reality most Christian churches [if not all] have some belief about social justice, that is doing good, being charitable, etc. You also have strains of theology that touch on these issues [liberation theology, Rev. Wrights church, etc.] these see the role of the church in setting up systems that would mediate ‘social justice’ programs thru the state- not all Christians accept this premise. Overall we as believers should value social justice very highly on the scale of Christian service and belief. Beck seems to mean well, but the poor brother seems to be a little unhinged at times [like between 4 pm and 5pm every day or so]. In John 16 Jesus tells his men ‘a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are serving God’. Here in is a strange thing; out of all the commands of God, one of the most important ones is not to kill. But Jesus says that men are so susceptible to the influence of the world that they can even be convinced that killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’. Now, if I were to tell you at a young age ‘little Johnny, you will walk the planet for a few short years [70-80?] one of the most important things you need to avoid, more than anything else, is don’t kill other people’ got it- I mean how hard can this be? Yet Jesus says there will come a time when people think killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’ Huh? Okay as the year’s role by people all over the world are born and have been taught some version of this natural law, often given by their own belief system in God. So you have those in Islamic countries who eventually are shaped by their nations political causes and a time comes when they blowup other adherents to their own religion and shout ‘God is great’ as they kill themselves and others with them, they think they are doing ‘God service’. But you also have little Johnny growing up in the western world, he attends church as a boy, is taught lessons from the bible, and thru process of time joins the military. He is a good man, means well, and is taught that God and country go together. He even remembers attending some patriotic religious rallies over the years. He gets sent off to Afghanistan and winds up killing a woman with child. He either mistook her for an enemy combatant, or maybe she violated a safe zone. Either way, the one main command above all other commands, the thing that you were always told was the main thing to never do, you wind up doing. You even think that it is your patriotic duty to do this, yes you think the doing of this act is not only acceptable, but in a way it is ‘doing God service’. Now, as an ex Navy person, I support and believe in our military men and women, and in no way equate the act of a terrorist with that of our people; but what I am trying to show you is that as we go through life we can become effected by ideologies that are in conflict to our base principles, we can even do things that violate our most fundamental ideals, and be convinced that doing it is from God. When dealing with all types of social justice issues, we need to put Gods will first and foremost, above all other things. The message of Gods kingdom often runs contrary to the nations and governmental systems we espouse. When we confuse the two [whether the Christian patriot who chooses a career that may involve killing people] or the radical Muslim who confuses Gods will with the advancing of his political ideas, we need to re-evaluate our motives and think things thru before we embrace any world kingdom over Gods kingdom. Beck obviously had a point about the radical liberation theologians and their mixing of liberal politics with ‘church’, but Gods kingdom is all about social justice. Isaiah prophesied of the Spirit coming upon Jesus- to carry out social justice!
(1398) REV. ZEKE- [pastor from India] Brother, I accidently deleted your email, if you are reading this, email me again and I’ll put your email on our global section.
Okay, it’s a rare thing for me to take a ministry off of my blog roll. Once I put someone on our site I feel it would be irresponsible to drop them for any minor disagreement, or because they might hold differing views than my own. For the most part I add other web sites because I feel they add to the diverse conversation in the global church. Having said this, I recently deleted the site for Charisma Magazine. I originally put them on because I was blogging on their site and they eventually removed the blog section, but I felt it was okay to leave them on anyway. But after a period of time I just couldn’t keep endorsing ‘the level’ of stuff they teach- in all good conscience I hit the delete button. The other day I thought I’d give them a visit, on the main article page they had some sister sharing a vision and on the heading it said ‘I saw snakes wrapped around [something- I forget]’ and I just felt bad that a major Christian magazine would do stuff like this. In John 14 Jesus says he’s going away and will send ‘another comforter’ this word speaks about the Spirit coming, one just like Jesus. The disciples ask him how he will reveal himself to them, and not to the world. Jesus says if we keep his commandments and do his will, that the Spirit will manifest and come to us- but the world cannot see him and they will not benefit from his work. Though many Christians are divided over ‘Charismatic churches’ yet the need for the work of the Spirit is vital, I personally believe in the gifts of the Spirit and do not hold to a cessationist view. Over the years as I have read this chapter I have been inclined to see the promise of Jesus ‘going away and coming again to receive us’ as actually referring to the Spirits outpouring at Pentecost. This does not mean I reject a literal physical return of the Lord at the end of the age, but in context it seems that Jesus was telling the disciples that he would ‘come again and receive them’ in the sense that the Spirit would complete the ministry of Jesus by sealing them until the day of redemption [Ephesians]. Jesus said those who hear his word and do his will are promised the presence of the Spirit; truly God is no respecter of persons. There is a movement in the church today that appeals to the kingdom call of Jesus, versus trying to convince people of the truth claims of Christianity- to some degree I like this emphasis, it appeals to other religions in the sense that we are telling people ‘we are not here to change your culture [and make you accept ours] but we are here offering you the promise of Jesus, if you believe his words and do his will he will manifest himself to you’. There actually are some in the Muslim community who are claiming belief in Jesus [not just the ‘Jesus’ of the Koran] and yet still consider themselves cultural Muslims, this is certainly interesting. The point today is we need Gods Spirit desperately, though we have been guilty at times with confusing the work of the Spirit with people having visions of snakes! Yet we need the Spirit to work, Jesus said he would manifest himself to those who are keeping his word- a great promise indeed.
(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from 'other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
(1393) POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY- in John chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The news gets back to the religious leaders and they say ‘If this keeps going on, we will lose our influence with the people and the Roman authorities will come and take away our position’ and one of their own, the high priest Caiaphas, says ‘Don’t you guys understand that it is expedient that one should die for the nation, instead of the whole nation suffering’ and John says ‘this spake he by the Spirit, being he was the high priest he was prophesying of Jesus death’. Okay, did the brother realize what he was saying? I doubt it. But he was stating a political reality of the time, that this railroading of Jesus would play a cathartic role for the political times that they were in. I finally watched the interview with the disgraced congressman, Eric Massa. He went on Beck and the whole thing is really a fiasco. Beck was hoping to expose the hidden conspiracies of the administration, instead Massa confessed to tickling his navy bunkmates! The sad thing is, as I listened to Beck, he really believes in many of the conspiracy theories he espouses. It doesn’t help that the president, as well meaning and pluralistic as he is, puts people to work for him that have held fringe beliefs. This allows the Becks of the world to find these hidden treasures [UTUBE] and lo and behold, we have one of his people praising Mau Se Tung, or signing a 911 petition that claims Bush was in on it. What purpose do the Becks of the world [or to be fair, the MSNBC crowd] play? I see them as sort of a cathartic for the people who also hold to their views, it seems to be a necessary evil that allows people to vent, a sort of political necessity if you will. I saw Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, rebuking the media for their coverage of Massa, while at the same time they have forgotten about the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and the money and cost of lives on both sides, he was mad and raging on the floor. Though I am not a fan of Kennedy, yet I believe he spoke much truth. I thinks its appalling that the media has dropped the ball on this, every so often a story or so will leak out, a bunch of accidental deaths that our govt. denies being involved with, then a month or so passes and a small report comes out ‘yes, we did accidently kill 40 people’ what? The media seems to not hold the current president accountable in these things. They play sides to the point where real atrocities are glossed over. How many more stories on Sarah Palin’s daughter will they do? They trodded out the ex boyfriend onto the main media outlets to share their dirty laundry. They gave a forum to a disgruntled kid who posed for playgirl, and they keep on doing this stuff. I mean this is the daughter of a ‘private’ citizen for heaven’s sake. How much coverage did they give to the ‘partner’ of Joe Biden’s daughter who made a sex tape with her? How often have you heard the story? How many stories on Chelsea Clintons sex life? MSNBC is just as bad as Beck when they do these things to a girl dealing with all the situations that life can throw at you, and yet from letterman to Chris Matthews to the major news outlets, they have all been guilty of this double standard. Caiaphas saw the writing on the wall, he wasn’t worried about the fact that what he was prophesying was that a corrupt system was going to railroad someone thru a kangaroo court and execute an innocent man, he was simply calculating the political balances of the day ‘will this help or hurt our cause’ type of a thing. They should have been more worried about losing their souls, then their seats in congress.
(1390) THE EXCLUSIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST- John chapter 8 begins with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus refuses to judge her but also tells her to go and sin no more. Then we launch into a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Basically they claim belief in God and tell Jesus that he is their father. Jesus replies that if they do not believe that he is the Messiah, then in reality they do not have God as their father- he flat out tells them that satan is the father of those who claim belief in God while not accepting and honoring the Son. This chapter is important for the pluralistic society we live in today. How should believers approach other faiths that claim belief in God, but do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? First, we should respect the various beliefs/religions of others people groups. Now when I say ‘respect’ I mean we should give people room to form their own beliefs while at the same time challenging them with the truth claims of Christianity. We should not leave the impression ‘well, we all believe in the same God, so what’s the difference whether or not you believe in Christ’ well frankly the difference is between heaven or hell! The point being Jesus is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that you can’t really have God as your father without having Jesus as your savior. He can’t just be ‘one of the prophets in a long line of prophets’ no, he alone is the God man! God became flesh and dwelt among us thru the Son, Jesus said if you don’t hear his words, believe that he is the one sent from the father, then you don’t have God as your father. Jesus is ‘inclusive’ in the sense that he even accepted the woman taken in adultery, something the so called ‘God believers’ would not do. The religious acceptance of belief in God, absent the reality of Jesus, treats women and others with disdain [wearing veils, etc.] those who ‘have God’ and the Son, are truly the liberators of society. The world might accuse the church of being arrogant and believing in exceptionalism, but in the end we have the only answer to the human sin problem, that which G.K. Chesterton called the only Christian doctrine that has 100% empirical evidence of being true! Truly Jesus is the answer to fallen man, let’s not be ashamed of that fact.
(1387) FOR THE FATHER HAS LIFE IN HIMSELF, AND HAS GIVEN TO THE SON TO HAVE LIFE IN HIMSELF; AND HAS GIVEN HIM AUTHORITIY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT ALSO- In John chapter 5 one of the statements that irks the religious leaders is Jesus calling God his father- thus making himself equal with God. Those who doubt the deity of Christ should look at the way the religious leaders viewed him, they knew that he claimed equality with God. In some of the recent musings on the liberal ideas of ‘the evolution of God’ [those who see the church evolving in her view of God as time goes by] I want to say a few things. First, the incarnation is Gods way of saying ‘yes, your view of me was limited, the very fact that the incarnation is the full revealing of myself to man, shows that man never had the complete [full] view of me yet’. So in a sense, yes, our view of God ‘evolved’ [so to speak] from the wrathful God of the Old Testament to the merciful God of the New Testament. Now, are these contrary views of God? No. Are they views like some in the early days of the church taught- that the God of the Old Testament was a different God than the God of the New [Marcion and other Gnostic cults]? No. But our view of God from the Old Testament is a view of Gods holiness and judgment apart from the grace of the New Covenant. He is the same God, seen absent the Cross [for the most part, yet we do see Gods attribute of mercy even in the Old Testament]. Now, without getting off track too much, in the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the complete picture of God to us; Colossians says that ALL the fullness of the God head dwelt in Jesus bodily. We never had this fleshly reality of God before- the apostle John will say ‘we handled the word of life’ [1st Jn]. A few weeks back while watching an apologetic show I mentioned how some of the staunch apologists were labeling the UPC [united Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of their unique view of the oneness of God. The apologists at one point quoted the verse ‘all things were made by him’ referring to Jesus, and said ‘therefore Jesus is God’ true. But they were trying to combat the UPC brothers by using this verse, the apologists were using it in a way that said ‘see, Jesus created everything too, just like it says about God’ sort of in a disconnected way. In John 1 we read that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In Genesis we read that God ‘spoke’ all things into existence. Jesus in the New Testament is called ‘the word of God’ to try and simplify it, when Colossians says ‘all things were made by him’ it does not mean that Jesus created things separately from God, it means God spoke and that ‘the vehicle’ of creation was the Son. The act of God’s word [also called Jesus] going forth created all things. God did not create separately from the Son, or the Son from the father. I really loathe teaching this stuff because church history is filled with names that get tagged on all the various views of explaining the oneness of God while at the same time upholding the reality of the Trinity. The main point today is mans view of God did ‘evolve’ in a sense, it became fully revealed in Jesus. Now the liberal view of the evolution of God is something different than this, but I wanted to make clear that if the only view of God is seen thru the Old Testament, than yes we are not ‘fully’ seeing God, the full view comes thru Jesus. We reject the Marcion idea of 2 different Gods, the Gnostic belief that the God of the Old Testament was the God of matter and thus an evil God, while the God of the new testament is the spirit God- this is true heresy, but as Christians we accept the incarnation as the complete picture and revelation of God to man. This in no way negates the wrath of God [eternal judgment] but it tempers it with mercy.
(1382) IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD- John 1:1 Jesus is called ‘The Word’, the Greek word for ‘word’ is Logos. In the first century this word was common among the philosophers, it stood for a sort of overriding principle that would explain and bring together all the fields of science and learning, the same obsession of Einstein in his search for a unified theory. The philosophers believed that there had to be some type of base principle of truth that would bring together all the other fields of wisdom and learning. In essence John was saying ‘This is it, we have found the Logos- the answer to everything- his name is Jesus!’ It’s always difficult to teach these types of verses, they are fraught with only seeing one aspect of what God is saying, and then dividing lines are drawn between the Christian camps. I was having a conversation yesterday with a person who was asking questions about a Muslim friend who used to be a Christian. The Muslim said that he wanted a religion that he could understand, that God is the only God and Jesus is not God. I explained the best I could and shared this verse and a few others, but I also explained that various ‘Christian’ groups have argued over the way to express the deity of Jesus for centuries. There are groups that say ‘Yes, Jesus is the redeemer, he is Gods Son, but only God is God’. From the catholic bishop Arius in the 4th century all the way up to the Unitarians in Boston in the 20th century, people have debated the language we use. I explained to my friend that the bible clearly does teach us that Jesus is God, but I do see how people have problems with the language. But I told my friend that for a person to use the difficulty over the Trinity to embrace Islam is going way too far in my view. I mean the fact that someone has a problem with the wording of the Trinity should not mean you abandon all the realities of redemption and Christianity and embrace a movement that was started by a ‘prophet’ who killed and murdered and had ‘many women’, I mean no other prophets ever had a track record like that! As we read the rest of John chapter 1 we see how John the Baptist says he came to bear witness, to give a record of Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God’. The religious leaders come to John and ask him ‘who are you, we need an answer to bring back to the authorities, the movers and shakers of our day’ John says ‘I am the voice of one man crying in the wilderness, get ready, the lord is on his way’. John quoted Isaiah 40, he is also said to be the prophetic voice that Malachi spoke about- the Elijah that was to come. Johns only significance was in the fact that he was chosen by God to trumpet the reality of the Messiah, his purpose was not about him or his prophetic gifts, his purpose was to proclaim the last true prophet [in the sense of Hebrew messengers who came down the line- see Hebrews chapter 1] and John the Baptist said ‘this is the one, the one whom the Spirit descended on- he’s going to baptize you guys with the Spirit’ [and fire!]. John testified that Jesus was the end of the line for promised Messiahs, he was the ONE. Why look we for another?
(1377) Last night I caught a good program on Christian apologetics. Apologetics is the term used to describe the ministry of those who contend for ‘the faith’. In the early church you had men like Justin Martyr who defended the nascent church from those who would accuse her of wicked things [like cannibalism! A misreading of the Lords supper]. The show last night had a bunch of apologists that dealt with cults; they included the main ones as well as some Christian branches of Pentecostalism. They critiqued the UPC [untied Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of her unique view of the ‘oneness’ of God as seen thru Jesus. Now, I have written on this before [under the Trinity section] and don’t want to explain it again, but I do want to examine the way believers view other churches. During the program the able apologists used lots of wording from the early creeds and councils; Subordinationism, Monarchianism, Modalism, etc. These are all words I am familiar with and have used on this site, as a believer who loves to study church history I understand where these men are coming from. But at one point it seemed as if they were critiquing certain aspects of other churches, sincere believers who have certain views that they have developed thru their reading of the bible, and that these apologists were really not giving a fair shake to these other groups. You also had both the cults and some of the more extreme restorationist groups [restorationism refers to those Christian groups who reject the Protestant Reformation as being ‘the offspring’ of the Catholic church and view their faith thru the idea that we should return to the original sources, primarily the book of Acts, and start from scratch] share the view that the historic Orthodox churches [Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed] were basically pagan expressions of Christianity and their creeds and councils usurped the word of God. I believe there are real expressions of Christianity found in all of the above [excluding the actual cults] and that the Christian church should know the historic creeds and councils, but also be willing to see how these other Christian groups have come to form their opinions thru actual scripture. I mean at one point there were so many categories being quoted by the apologists to refute the Pentecostal view, that they weren't really allowing the scriptures to be the final authority on the matter [I agreed more with the apologists, being I am one myself, but at the same time sensed too mush rigidness]. I also believe it’s dangerous for any Christian group to leave the impression that most other historic expressions of Christianity are out right pagan. Overall we all need grace when dealing with others that we disagree with, yes there are times when we need to take a strong stand on stuff and let the chips fall where they may, but at the end of the day we should be striving for unity as much as possible.
(1362) SPANDEX! The other night my daughter called my wife and invited her to go workout at the gym, I told her ‘tell her dad wants to go too, he’s changing into his spandex right now’ she replied she can only take one guest per day. Now, were her words accurate? Yes. Was that the primary reason I wasn’t going? Highly doubtful. In the Christian world there are times when the things we say might be ‘orthodox’ but the motives might be questionable. The other night I caught Hank Hanegraaff’s [bible answer man] show. I at one time was accused of being like him [heresy hunter] but it’s only been the last few months that I’ve ever really heard him. We don’t get his radio show in Corpus and his TV show just started airing on the religious networks. But I did read his groundbreaking book ‘Christianity in Crisis’ and some thought my stand against the prosperity gospel came from that, they were wrong. I did not agree with all the arguments and style of the book. But this month’s magazine from Hank [which I also don’t subscribe to] deals with the ‘Local Church’ movement started by the great apostle/missionary Watchmen Nee. I have written on Nee before [under the cults section- not because I think their one!] and have read on the movement before. Nee started an indigenous Chinese church that has been persecuted for years by the communist govt., he died for the faith in prison and his house church movement is considered one of the most influential in the world today. Back in the 70’s during the Jesus movement on the west coast they had some influence in the area, this was at the same time the ‘counter cult’ movement sprung up. Many of the statements from Nee and his successor ‘Witness Lee’ were scrutinized and labeled as cultic, a war raged between the apologists and has even gone to the courts. The Local Church sued Harvest house [Christian book publisher] and claimed they were defamed by the cult books that included their church in them, and the Texas Supreme court eventually sided with harvest house, the Local Church is appealing. Enter Hank H., the original research done against the movement was by Hank Hanegraaff and CRI, others followed. The reason they were labeled as a cult was primarily because of their statements on the Trinity and the ‘deification’ of the believer. Some of their official statements said ‘Jesus is the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Jesus is also the Father’. These statements were deemed ‘Modalistic’ [an ancient heresy condemned by the early church that described God as having different modes as opposed to being One in 3] and thus the title cult was stuck on them. But after many years of research and fellowship with the group, Hank changed his mind and came to their defense. This made him a target for the other apologetic groups and they strongly disagreed with his change of mind. Hank said that even though many of the statements sounded questionable, that as you read further into their materials and personally interview members of the group that they for the most part accept the Trinity and do not fall into the cult category. Some of the on line stuff against them states ‘they believe that Jesus is the Spirit, this is heresy’ yet the movement quotes Paul in Corinthians ‘The Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty’. This verse actually says ‘the Lord is that same Holy Spirit’ does this mean that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ‘the same person’? No, but it does use language that is in keeping with what the Local Church movement has said. The other verse in Isaiah speaks of Jesus as ‘the mighty God, everlasting Father’ so this also is language that the movement has used ‘Jesus is the Father’. Though these statements from the movement cause some concern, overall Hank believed that they did not finally fall into the cult category. When reading some of their statements on line last night I still had some problems with the way they said stuff [that after Jesus rose from the dead he became the Spirit] but I also see how difficult it is to explain both the Triune nature of God and also declare his Unity. When Jesus was asked what the great commandment was, in Marks gospel he begins the famous answer with ‘hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one’ he is quoting Deuteronomy. So those who focus on the Oneness of God can see these verses as saying ‘yes God is Father, Son and Spirit- yet they are also one’. So as you can see we need to be careful when parsing words like this. All in all I always accepted the Local Church movement [which is not a name they have given to their movement, but it is how they are labeled when reading about them] as fellow believers in Christ, while at the same time having problems with some of the official statements that the church has made [and still holds to] but wanted to give Hanegraaff credit for his change of mind, while I have not read the article in their magazine [Christian Research Journal] I have been familiar with this debate for a few years. I appreciate Hanks willingness to say ‘we were wrong’.
(1349) THE SAGA CONTINUES- Okay, I know you guys are getting tired of my ranting, but I’m in between studies right now and you can jump to the other parts of the site if you’re not into politics. Right after the Massachusetts miracle the Dems got together and were desperately trying to figure out a way to pass health care reform before the new Republican was certified. John Kerry, the other Mass. senator was saying ‘well, it might take 10 days or more to certify’ and they really wanted to ‘fight the opposition’ to the end! They were mistaking the popular voice of the people, in one of the most liberal states [okay- commonwealth] in the country, as ‘the opposition’. Finally Jim Webb, the Democrat from Virginia had enough and sent word out to the networks that ‘we should not try and cast any votes until the New senator is seated’ then of course Obama came out and said ‘lets not rush anything thru’ after he realized they couldn’t. These guys can’t hear the voices of the people, it’s sad. Why did Mass. have an interim senator? After Kennedy died the state Democratic lawmakers changed the law and said ‘the Governor can appoint an interim’ the governor is a Democrat, so he appointed one of his own. Why did they have to change the law? For years Mass. had a law that said the governor has the right to appoint an interim in cases like this. Then when Mitt Romney, a Republican, became governor ‘oh no, lets change the law’ and they did. The new law said ‘no longer will the governor appoint, let the people decide in a special election’ sounds noble. The voice of the people and all. Then when Ted Kennedy announced he was dying of cancer, low and behold they changed the law back again. I mean talk about political games, this is ridiculous. So they were rushing to pass something with the vote of the interim, who was really no longer the senator, but they felt like ‘what the heck, with the cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase and the special deal with the unions, this is nothing’. And finally the Democrats themselves [Webb] said ‘enough, the president and his agenda has harmed us enough, now we are trying to do crooked deals to get around the peoples voice’. I mean these guys are bad, really bad. I hope and pray that the new situation [59 Dems- 41 Republicans] will cause them to really work together and try and actually govern, the liberal agenda of ‘tax and trade’ and these other things are not going to make it, maybe we can still pass individual parts of health care reform one by one, but for the most part the idea of doing ‘huge, major things’ in the sense that Rahm Emmanuel said ‘never waste an emergency’ those days are over. The media needs to get back to doing its job, why are they not reporting more on the innocent deaths of civilians in these wars? They made that the major issue during Bush’s presidency, that is the casualty count. We have killed many more civilians in the last year thru our drones than in all the years of Bush [Bush did not regularly use drones for bombing people]. Where are the media on this? The Haitian situation is turning into a major disaster, that is the humanitarian response, there are estimates that 20 thousand people a day are dying simply because of a lack of getting medical supplies and treatment to the people, where’s the media uproar? They are silent [to a degree- Anderson Cooper from CNN is doing good reporting] because they have already decided to play along with the initial political line of ‘look how good Obama is doing, not like Bush’s Katrina’ so they are now reluctant to report on the failures because Obama made the political calculation to wed himself to the response. We need statesman, not politicians, the media needs to report, or the blogs and on line sources will take up the slack. I do not want the defeat of our president, he has made some mistakes and he has the chance to make a course correction like Clinton did, he can still do well. But he needs to do things the right way, the Chicago style deals that he is doing will not fly with the American people, you can’t promise openness and no ‘behind the door backroom deals’ and then actually be the worst administration in memory for ‘behind the door backroom deals’ stuff like this must stop, hopefully he got the message from Mass.
(1348) HE’S FOR WATERBOARDING! Well I was up late last night and the upset of the year gave the Massachusetts senate seat to Scott Brown. Okay, the liberal media are in denial. Chris Matthews was coming up with all sort of reasons why this happened; Was it because the woman candidate, Martha Coakley [or like Kennedy likes to say ‘Marsha’] brought with her a stern prosecutors personality and Scott was a more down to earth guy? Some surmised that the state really wasn’t ready for a woman senator, and the analyses went on and on. It was quite comical to see Matthews trying to figure out what happened, while on the split screen the Brown supporters are holding up signs that said ‘Was that loud enough’- ‘can you hear us now Washington’! and things to that effect. But the liberal media [by the way, in some ways I’m liberal, others conservative- I prefer to not go by party names] could not accept the reality of a popular groundswell at the grass roots level that is going on in the country. They have tried so hard to demean the ‘tea partiers’ and even label Brown as a ‘truck drivin’ hick’ but they simply can’t come to grips with the fact that many Americans are fed up with all the schemes and secret meetings and messages from Washington elites that simply treat the popular groundswell as ignoramuses. And Norah O’Donnell [MSNBC] says that Brown even supports water-boarding, she said it in a way that made it sound like he’s a nut! Okay, now let’s do some serious stuff. First of all most Americans are not up in arms over pouring water on the faces of terrorists to obtain information, but the liberal media seems to think that this is such a hot topic. Is it fundamentally wrong to do this? Possibly, but what is one million times more wrong is flying these remote control planes [drones] over civilian neighborhoods and regularly blowing away innocent women and children. Now, like I said before I do not fault our heroic service men for this, but the president should stop doing this. I do realize we are targeting terrorists, but we are also killing many innocent women and children when we do this. Why is Obama stepping up these attacks in a much greater way than Bush? Could it be that he needs some good news politically and the death of Bin Laden would surely be an easy comparison of how Bush couldn’t get him in 8 years and we got him in one? I don’t know what the true reason is, but it is much more unjust to ‘accidently’ kill many Muslim/Arab innocent people than to water board a terrorist. I would like to ask Nora O’Donnell and all the talking heads if their families and children were taken by some group, and the group contacted them and said ‘you have 2 options, we water board your kids or drop a drone bomb on them’ how many would opt for the bomb? One night while watching a debate over this issue the ‘supporter’ of water boarding was going back and forth with the anti water boarder, who was a liberal legal scholar. The liberal was asked ‘do you think it was more unjust for us to drop the bombs on Japan and kill a few hundred thousand innocent people, to have caused years and years of slow radiation deaths on the generations of many Japanese people- was that more unjust than water boarding’? And the liberal had the nerve to say water boarding a terrorist was more ‘unjust’. Our problem is we seem to think its okay to actually kill, yes that’s part of war. If you argued with the liberals about how the actual act of killing in war is also a ‘tool’ that the other side uses to recruit, they will readily admit that yes, killing other people groups is a tool-but that’s the price to pay for freedom. But the same people who justify actual killing, also say that Gitmo needs to shut down and we need to stop the horrible practice of water boarding. Even though these tools might have actually helped in some way, yet the tool of weatherboarding [or Gitmo] is deemed a horrendous thing. Yet these drone attacks are not even questioned by these people. I think we should stop doing these drone attacks if we can’t direct the ‘darn’ things out of the way of innocent people, period.
(1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. - the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’.
(1335) GALATIANS 5- Paul’s main theme is if we possess the Spirit as believers [being indwelt by God’s Spirit] then let us also walk in/by the Spirit, as opposed to trying to please God by the law and being circumcised. Paul will use the somewhat controversial term ‘ye are fallen from grace’ which simply means that these Gentile believers started by faith and went back to the old Jewish system, much like the themes in the book of Hebrews. Paul says when you go back to the law you have left grace. Christ has ‘become of no effect to you, you who are justified by the law’. This is a good example of how words and certain phrases can develop over the centuries of church history and develop a different meaning over time. In essence the bible does teach that a person can ‘fall from grace’ but this does not describe what the modern reader might think. The first church father who attempted to formulate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was a man named Tertullian, he lived in the second century and was what theologians refer to as one of the Latin fathers [as opposed to the Greek ones- Origen, etc.] Tertullian was famous for the sayings ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ and ‘I believe because it is absurd’ he was resisting the influence of Greek philosophy on the church, he felt that Greek wisdom was influencing the church too much. He was trained in law before becoming a theologian [like Luther and Calvin of 16th century Reformation fame] and he used the words ‘God is one substance/essence and also three persons’ later church councils would agree with this language. But the word ‘person’ at Tertullian’s time was the Latin word ‘personi’ which was taken from the theater and meant a person/actor who would put on different masks during the play; the word had a little different meaning then what we think of today as ‘person’. Later centuries would come to condemn certain Christian groups who seem to have formulated language on the Trinity that expresses the same thing as what the original developer of the doctrine meant to say, but because words and their meanings change over time we get ourselves into disputes that might be getting us off track. Paul also tells the Galatians that if they become circumcised that they are obligating themselves to keep all the law. Of course the medical procedure that many have done in our day is not what he is speaking about, but in Paul’s day getting circumcised was the religious rite that placed you into the religion of Judaism, and this is what Paul is refuting among the Galatians, he tells them not to go down that road. This chapter has lots of good ‘memory verses’, the famous lists of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit are found here, and it seems pretty clear to me that Paul identified circumcision with the moral law of the 10 commandments, that is he saw being circumcised as an act that obligated you to ‘keep all the law’ some theologians are discussing whether or not Paul meant the law of Moses when speaking about going ‘back under the law’ some think Paul was speaking only of the ceremonial law and the system of animal sacrifices when he was telling the gentiles that they should not go under the law, I believe if you read Paul in context both in this letter and the book of Romans, that he is speaking of the moral law too, not just the ceremonial law. All in all Paul exhorts these believers to fight for their right to be free from the past restraints of religion and bondage, he tells them to not desire to go back under a system of bondage, that Christ has made us free from that legalistic way of life and he has liberated us by giving us the Holy Spirit- if we ‘walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would’ amen to that.
(1333) THE CHRISTMAS DAY PLOT [12-09] The talk of the town this past week has been the failed bombing attempt of an airplane over Detroit. The Nigerian man [looks like a young boy!] came from a well to do family and was radicalized while attending an upper class school in London. He made contact with Al Qaeda in Yemen and did some training there before boarding an American bound plane from the Netherlands to Detroit. The mans father had previously contacted our U.S. embassy and informed them that he felt his son was a danger, that he had embraced radical Islam. When the man boarded the plane he paid cash [around 3 thousand dollars] he had no luggage and bought a one way ticket. He was on a terrorist watch list [with some half a million names] and never made it to the smaller ‘no fly’ list. The plot failed because the man was unable to light the explosive, just like Richard Reid, another terrorist. The initial response from the white house has come under lots of criticism; it took the president 3 days before responding to the public from his Hawaiian vacation. The head of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, made the statement ‘our system worked’ and also has been criticized. Okay, the administration’s response has been lacking and defensive. They still dragged out ‘the Bush card’ in their defense. The president said the security policies that have been in place for years [Bush] failed and he would do all in his power to fix it. Why did it have to wait till now? The president ran on a platform that accused the previous administration as utter failures in all areas and that if elected he would go in and fix the failures. The fact that he now says these failures were Bush’s policies is simply an immature excuse from someone who is in over his head. If you thought there were problems to begin with, and stated this ‘thought’ publicly many times, then you can’t now say we didn’t fix it, and it was Bush’s fault! It’s been a year since the inauguration and they need to stop doing this. One of the president’s top security guys, John Brennan, made the Sunday rounds on the talk shows. He said ‘there was no smoking gun that we missed’. What! You have to be kidding me. The Republicans are not without fault, some have used this event as a political tool, that’s wrong. One of the main problems as I see it is the president did run on a platform that said over and over that he would take a different ideological approach than the previous administration. The approach would be less of a ‘war on terror’ idea, and more of a war against individual groups who are trying to harm us, this is a real difference, if he is now coming under criticism for his approach, he can’t keep saying ‘we’re doing everything Bush did’. If that’s true then he lied when he said he would not operate like Bush. The fact is we just bombed the actual camps that this young man was trained in, in Yemen. A few weeks later he was bound for the U.S. with explosives. The reason we gave this man a lawyer and allowed him all the rights of a U.S. citizen, is because the president believes this approach is more noble and would bring better results in our image with the world. Some have brought out the fact that Richard Reid was also prosecuted in U.S. courts under Bush [there goes that card again!]. The fact is Reid was not given a lawyer until many months after being interrogated. So the president has chosen to not interrogate, but to treat him like a criminal. The problem with this approach is this man might have easily been killed by our predator drone attack a few weeks earlier, attacks that our country regularly engages in, in Muslim countries. Many of these bombings have killed innocent Muslim/Arab women and children. Yet he could have been killed on the spot by the current administration without judge or jury. Why, well because we are ‘at war’. Yet this same person, who was at the risk of being bombed for simply training in a camp that wants to attack us, this same person- if he makes it on to a plane with actual explosives and actually attempts to detonate the thing, he is protected by the U.S. constitution, will get to ‘plea bargain’ and will have his day in court where he can espouse his radical beliefs. Gee, it seems to me that we are simply encouraging these guys to make it to the U.S.
(1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well.
(1319) Isaiah 65:1-10 Isaiah says that the Lord was ‘found’ by those who were not looking for him, and that those who were looking for him [thru religious actions] were not finding him. He rebukes his people Israel because they developed a religious mentality that took the true revelation of God and exchanged it ‘for a lie’. But the lord says he still saw a remnant of value within her; she was like a cluster of grapes that went bad but had a few ‘good apples’ left. When Jesus appeared to Israel in the 1st century they were waiting for Gods promise to them to be fulfilled. They were ‘waiting for the kingdom’. If you were to encapsulate any singular idea in the preaching of Jesus that was the most prominent, it would be his declaration of the Kingdom of God being now present as he preached. Israel saw the kingdom thru natural eyes, they believed that the restored temple played a major role in Gods coming kingdom. Understand that the restoring of the temple by Herod [the one before the Herod of Jesus day] was a spectacular event; the temple was grand and the Jewish people regulated their life around its rituals. It was only reasonable for Israel to believe that the next step would be the restoring of her national sovereignty by a coming Messiah. They had their temple restored first and were waiting for the national independence to follow- a reverse of what many modern dispensationalists believe. But instead Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that their understanding of the kingdom is wrong, that the kingdom will not come by observing outward events, but it was already present thru his appearing. In Jesus parables he speaks of the values of this kingdom, forgiveness, laying down your rights for others; he is talking about a spiritual kingdom. When the disciples show him the temple and its grandeur, he states flatly ‘there will not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’ huh? So Jesus without a doubt challenged their understanding of the kingdom and how it would outwardly manifest in society- it’s not about temples and homelands! He gathers a ‘few grapes’ from the cluster [The 12 disciples] and uses them as the foundation stones of a new kingdom and temple. These apostles would launch the great new movement/kingdom of God thru the proclamation of the gospel. They would write some harsh things about the temple and old law economy of Israel as a nation. The disciple John would refer to the synagogue as ‘the synagogues of satan’ ouch! [Revelation] Paul would say those are not Jews who are Jews ‘outwardly’ [it wasn’t an ethnic thing anymore] but those who had the ‘circumcised heart’ would be counted as the true Israel of God [Romans/Galatians]. And the overall language of the 12 Jewish apostles was not one that would fit in with a scenario of a restored Jewish temple with restored sacrifices and a national homeland. I mean you can’t get much more clearer than this! And yet in our day you have many well meaning believers looking for all these outward signs of ‘when the kingdom will come’. We bypass the main writings of the New Testament [like the things I just quoted] and we go hunting in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation- we find all types of prophetic words that seem to support our obsession with some outward restoration of these things in order to justify our system, we basically have fallen into the same error of first century Israel, we are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong places. I understand that many believers who hold to these beliefs are sincere and well meaning, many of them have a genuine love for the Jewish people and this is commendable. But we need to heed the words of ‘the few good grapes in the cluster’ they did not exalt Israel’s natural status nor did they see the kingdom of God thru the lens of restored temples and homelands, they believed that all who would receive the Messiah were presently being built into a temple made without human hands, the ‘true Israel of God- the heavenly New Jerusalem that is coming down from God out of heaven’.
(1313) GOD WANTS TO MARRY YOU! Isaiah 62- This chapter uses a lot of marriage imagery, the bridegroom rejoicing over his new bride and ‘all your sons being joined to you’. In the New Testament Jesus himself uses this imagery when speaking about Gods people and the relationship God had with Israel. Now, it’s important to see that the New Testament [especially Paul] uses the imagery of the bride and bridegroom when speaking of the church; Paul will teach that both Jew and Gentile are making up this bride that the Lord ‘is married to’. Some dispensationalists [end time beliefs] make a distinction between the language used concerning Israel [Gods wife] and the language used concerning the church [bride] but if you see the mystery that Paul is speaking about you see that the fulfillment of this bride [both Jew and Gentile] being joined unto Jesus includes both people groups. What I’m saying is the New Testament teaches us that all these Old Testament promises of God rejoicing over his bride are being fulfilled thru the ‘eternal purpose’ spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. God has his bride! This chapter also speaks of the sons coming to this new land [the church-people of God] and being joined to her as a bridegroom is joined to his bride. Recently I have had some good brothers express a desire to ‘join up-team up-partner with us’ in some way thru the ‘ministry’. These are Pastors from Pakistan and are doing a great work reaching out to Muslims. They are doing a very dangerous work, pray for them [they just got out of jail; they were thrown in jail for preaching the gospel]. Anyway somehow they found this site and really like it, that’s great. But I gave them the same response that I give to everybody who contacts us with the well meaning intent to ‘join up’ with us; I simply told them that there is nothing to join, no money to ‘partner up with us’ we are simply a voluntary group of Christ followers who are trying to spread the kingdom by doing what the Lord tells us. In essence if you are blessed by the teachings, just do your best to follow our example and let the work grow on its own, no need for me to come and preach, take offerings, or anything along those lines- just take the word of God and run with it! The point is sometimes ‘our friends/sons’ [those we are reaching out to] are so excited about the stuff they are learning that they want to be joined to us. It’s our job [and yours] to lead them in a way that they are joined to Christ and find their identity in him. God promised his people that he would ‘marry them’ Jesus spoke about the great marriage supper of the Lamb. These are intimate images; Paul said this was a great mystery when speaking of marriage and how it was a sign of our union with Christ [Ephesians] we need to remind ourselves that we are joined unto the Lord- not to men and their well meaning organizations.
(1312) THE INCARNATION- The most influential philosopher on Western thought is probably the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant wrote the influential work ‘In critique of pure reason’ at the close of the 18th century in response to the pure rationalists [David Hume] of the Enlightenment. Kant read Hume’s works and was said to have been ‘aroused out of his dogmatic slumber’ and dispatched his response. Kant espoused that you had the physical and metaphysical worlds, and the 2 are completely separate. He refuted the argument for God made by the apologists and said it was impossible for man to ‘know God’ thru rational/physical means. Kant did not totally reject ‘the idea’ of God; he simply said the efforts of the Christian philosophers to prove God were futile. Was Kant right? Yes and no. In the 13th century you had another great Christian thinker by the name of Thomas Aquinas, Thomas is considered one of the greatest [if not greatest] thinkers of the Catholic tradition, Thomas wrote extensively and re-introduced the Greek philosophers back into Christian theology. Sometimes referred to as ‘Aristotelianism’ [Aristotle]. Thomas taught that it was possible to obtain true knowledge of the existence of God from the natural world, but that to have particular revelation from God you needed the church and tradition [revelation]. Some feel that Thomas was teaching a ‘secular/sacred’ division that hurt the work of the church. But if you read Aquinas in the context of his time he really was not doing this. Thomas ‘rescued’ apologetics [proof for God] from the philosophers of Islam who were teaching that you could have 2 types of truth- religious and scientific. They taught that religious truth could ‘be true’ by faith, but that it could be false by science, and vice versa. Thomas was refuting this idea and was showing us that real truth, whether from the natural sciences or from ‘revelation’ never contradict, it’s just science can only go so far in arguing for the existence of God. But the influence of Immanuel Kant on western thinking has many believing that God and ‘religion’ are okay things for people to believe, but that ‘real truth’ is found in the natural sciences and God is excluded from this ‘secular’ realm. This is a false view. God can be ‘proved’ by studying the natural sciences, like Aquinas said. Now this doesn’t get you all the way to the God of Christian theology, but it can take you up to the point where God’s existence is proven to be reality. The main point is it is wrong to think Christianity is relegated to the realm of faith while ‘real truth’ is in the realm of science. The Incarnation was God’s divine act of breaking into the physical world thru the birth of his Son. God became man and dwelt among us, you can study all the history of the time and find many historical proofs of the reality of Jesus and the fact that he died and rose again, these ‘truths’ are not only religious in nature, they are factual in history. So while I appreciate the work that Kant put into his book, I will stick with the other ‘Emanuel’ the God who is with us.
(1298) THEY ARE GREEDY DOGS WHICH CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH AND THEY ARE SHEPHERDS THAT CANNOT UNDERSTAND: THEY ALL LOOK TO THEIR OWN WAY, EVERY ONE FOR HIS GAIN… THEY SAY TOMORROW SHALL BE MUCH MORE ABUNDANT- Isaiah 56:11-12 In the mid 18th century we had what is commonly called ‘the industrial revolution’. In Europe there arose a new class of people that never existed before, these were the capitalists that were making lots of wealth and the laborer was drawn from an agrarian type lifestyle [country/hamlet living] into the strong industrial cities like London. These poor workers were thrust into a system of profit that consumed their days and surrounded them with a new atmosphere of industry/factory. The invention of the steam engine by James Watt was one of the catalysts of this new era. Men like William Booth [founder of the Salvation Army] would see the hopelessness of these Londoners and start a ministry to help them. Even in our day the effects of the industrial revolution still impact us, as a boy growing up I listened to Black Sabbath, Ozzy came from an area like this. Contrast his songs with Kiss and you can see the difference! There was an observer of this scene who would write a document and launch a revolution as a result of what he saw as the encroachment of capitalism on the common person- His name was Karl Marx, his document was called ‘the communist manifesto’. Many people resent the western mindset because of its seeming inability to never be satisfied with finally having enough, we are a consumerist nation. I caught a quick few minutes of religious channel surfing the other day and of course I heard the normal preaching on ‘this year is the year of more abundance than any other year’. Have we ever asked ourselves when we will have enough? Seriously Isaiah is pronouncing a judgment on ‘greedy dogs- those who are never satisfied’ one of the condemnations in Revelation is to believers who say ‘I am rich and increased with goods’ yet they were spiritually poor. Jesus challenged his followers on many occasions to forsake all to follow him. Now I am not advocating irresponsibility, but I am challenging our western mindset and our inability to say ‘that’s enough’. We preach a message that never seems to leave this option open; we create an insatiable desire within the church to live each day with an obsession to gain more. The bible condemns this attitude over and over again, yet we as westerners never seem to get it, if we ever want to truly have peaceful relationships with the rest of the world, then we will have to change our mindset in these areas. Many Muslim countries see our materialist arrogance and use this as an excuse to reject ‘the Jesus of the west’ [though he was technically from the east!] We as the people of God need to return to our own ‘manifesto’ [the gospels] and live them out in reality, if not there will always be a Marx waiting in the wings with his own.
(1296) 2ND KINGS 25- The ultimate fall of the city takes place around 587-86 BC, the king of Babylon sets up a governor [Gedaliah] and this is how one nation would rule over another and bring her into submission. The governor tells the leaders who came back to settle in the land to not be afraid of serving under the new empire [Babylon]. But they will kill the governor and this act brings on the final destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Okay let’s do a few things, the other night I caught the Rachel Maddow show, they did a story on how some Christian company is selling ‘anti Obama’ stuff. Teddy Bears with words that say ‘pray for Obama’ and then the verse given is from Psalms ‘let another take his office’. This is a famous verse that the apostle Peter quotes in Acts when discussing the replacement for Judas. The show pointed out that the following verse says ‘let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow’. As I close our study in Kings I want to stress that all the teaching and ‘tongue and cheek’ stuff I do, that we need to clearly point out that talk about ‘assassination’ and one king killing another, we need to reject any real time scenarios that use this language when speaking of the president. I realize that the company that is using the verse obviously does not want to suggest the killing or death of the president. But there are unstable people in the world, both from Muslim and Christian extremes, as believers we need to discern between honest ideological differences and a flat out conspiracy type mindset. Now, has the president opened himself up to guys like Glenn Beck? Yes, when you have people working for you that say they respect General Mao, then yes the right wingers will play into this mindset and present you as some type of Manchurian candidate that has secretly risen to power to undermine the govt. These right wing ideas are obviously loony, yet there are a percentage of people that believe in them. The governor told the men ‘don’t fear serving under the new administration’ Judah was in trouble, they lost their freedom and the nation was in a bind, but to disagree with your president on real issues is different than instilling real fear in people, telling them that the president is a dangerous man. I disagree with the president on some political issues, I wrote an entry a while ago that said how the cash for clunkers program and the free 8 thousand dollars given to first time home buyers, how these things don’t really help the economy, they give an inflated view of the economy. Then yesterday I read how the economic numbers for October were worse than expected. Both home prices [actually new home starts] and used and new car prices actually went up and the sale of these items went down. Why? They blamed it on the free money programs and the fact that destroying all the used vehicles under the clunker program reduced the inventory of used vehicles and the prices went up. The new car prices rose because so many people took advantage of the programs that this created a shortage. The point is I have real disagreements with the president on some things, but don’t take these real differences and stoke the fires of conspiracy, people should not ‘be afraid’ to serve under the ‘new king’.
(1295) FOR AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGHER THAN THE EARTH, SO ARE MY THOUGHTS HIGHER THAN YOUR THOUGHTS; AND MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOURS Isaiah 55:9 the other night I caught an interview of Frances Schaffer on the Rachel Maddow show. Frances is the son of the famous Frances Schaffer senior, the prolific author/speaker of the 20th century who dealt with Christian worldviews. He wrote Christian Manifesto and How shall we then live, among other titles. Frankie and his dad were key leaders in the rise of the religious right and the moral agenda type groups. Frankie eventually converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and is now a vehement opponent of the religious right. First I want to commend him on his conviction of not being willing to abandon Christianity all together; some children of famous Christian leaders have taken that route, but Frankie [he calls himself Frances now, but for this entry I’m using the old title] has chosen a great Christian tradition to place himself in and for this he should be commended. But he is so vehement against the religious right that he equates it with the Muslim extremists. Now I believe that there are dangerous ideas that the religious right holds to, and that there are extreme elements that shoot abortion doctors and stuff like that. But to lump all the religious right with the radical Muslims is going too far in my view. Just like it would be wrong to lump all Muslims with the few who commit acts of terror. There have been Muslim Americans who have died on the battlefield defending the American side, we should not forget this. But Frankie just tore into all the religious right in a way that does more harm than good in my view. One of the reasons his father was so popular was because he dealt with Christian worldview issues, he was filling a void in the Evangelical world. After the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century many Protestant believers were lacking a stable diet of ‘higher learning’ [to be nice about it]. There was this religious angst against many types of higher learning. The history of Protestantism in America shows a period where many of the great Protestant theologians [Edwards, etc.] accepted the idea that the mind and faith went hand in hand, but Protestantism for the most part would walk away from this heritage and begin seeing higher forms of learning as bad. The one bright light in the migration from Europe to the Americas was the teaching of the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kyper; he wrote extensively on the Christian worldview and gave Protestants a good foundation to build upon. Well anyway Frances Schaffer also labored in this field. Isaiah said Gods ways are on a higher plane than ours, we often think and function for years at a certain level, and then God comes in and causes us to rethink the whole platform. It’s not so much more information at the current level, but it’s an overall paradigm shift from a previous way of seeing things to a whole new view of things. The philosopher William James describes it like this- He has a study much like my own, with maps and globes and books all over the place. He says when his dog comes into his study the dog sees everything that James sees, but the dog has no ability to understand what these things mean. Even though he ‘sees’ the stuff, he really doesn’t ‘see it’. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the things we have been staring at for years, when this happens we then see more fully what it means when Isaiah says ‘Gods ways/thoughts are higher than hours’ it’s like seeing stuff again for the first time.
(1285) Yesterday I had some time to read my latest issue of Christianity Today, was kinda surprised that they had a few articles on the Prosperity Gospel. It’s really been a while since I dealt with it myself, but I always felt that the effect of the more extreme teachings from the movement had more bad influence on many good believers than the average pastor/preacher understood. To have entire groups/generations of Christians thinking that Jesus and his men were rich and that those who rejected extreme wealth were ‘old traditionalists’ these major distortions have had a terrible effect on biblical Christianity. But it usually takes a generation or 2 before people can really see the mistakes and grow in their understanding, most times people will defend to the death their positions with proof texts that ‘prove I’m right’ and that the other guy is wrong. Well anyway I thought it interesting that they covered the subject. I mailed off a package of tapes/materials to my friend who converted to Islam, I included the latest posts I wrote on the Ft. Hood tragedy. It really is a sad situation, I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the actions of the Major who committed the crime; we just need to realize that these radical ideas exist on the internet sites and they do have an effect on unstable people. Many Christians hold to violent militaristic views of the Old Testament in a way that they view the fulfilling of prophecy thru the lens of killing non Jews. These believers think that it is the purpose of God to involve himself on the side of the military of Israel and that current successful missions are a testimony to God’s grace. These views can be just as off base as those embraced by the Muslim extremists; they view God and his kingdom thru violent means that has one side killing the other and thinking that this is God’s will. Christians and religious people as a whole need to reject all types of killing scenarios as being from God. Yes nations and countries will fight and war, I am not advocating national pacifism, but when we mix in the wars of nations with the kingdom of God we err. Well anyway I felt like I should share these few thoughts today, it’s a rainy Sunday morning and I had a good early prayer time and got a little wet. But I like quoting the verses ‘let your doctrine drop down like rain and your speech distill like dew’ when praying in the rain, it ads texture to the prayer. Hopefully will do another chapter of 2nd kings tomorrow, I plan on doing Galatians after that. I will do both radio and blog when teaching Galatians, I haven’t done a new radio teaching in over a year! Just running old studies that have never aired yet. Try and read up on Galatians in the next few weeks and familiarize yourself with the text before I teach it, I will probably ‘correct’ some off balanced prosperity teaching on the ‘blessing of Abraham’ and some stuff like that. Okay that’s it for now, God bless for today and try and remember to pray weekly for us- check out the prayer request section on the blog and pray thru it weekly, it helps.
(1284) FOR A LAW SHALL PROCEED FROM ME AND I WILL MAKE MY JUDGMENT TO REST FOR A LIGHT OF THE PEOPLE Isaiah 51:5 I found out last week that one of my friends converted to Islam, he spent some time in New Jersey jails and rehabs and the Muslim influence is strong in Jersey. He explained to a friend how ‘God doesn’t share his glory’ and that he was taught that the Christian view of Jesus violates this truth. First, it would take too much time to overview the entire history of various beliefs and questions on different expressions of the Trinity, suffice it to say that there have been Christian groups from the first century up until today who have had difficulties with the Orthodox expression of the Trinity. I am Trinitarian, but understand how these various groups have had difficulty. Just to name a few; the Ethiopian Orthodox churches reject Trinitarian language. The Oriental Christian churches in general reject the language. The invading barbarians who attacked the Roman Empire were eventually converted to a form of Christianity that would reject Trinitarian language. The great Blasé Pascal thought it to have been a false teaching. I could go on and on with many groups who believed in God and Jesus but did not accept strong Trinitarian language. The point being, if someone thinks that all Christians hold the same views on the language, they are mistaken. I wrote a letter to my friend who converted to Islam, I simply shared the main difference between Christianity and Islam [and all religions], that Christianity teaches forgiveness and acceptance with God as a gift that comes thru the Atonement of Christ. Jesus died for men’s sins and rose again as a sacrificial atonement for man, Islam has some well meaning teachings in it but at the end of the day it is a religion that is legalistic. People attempt to gain Gods favor thru their own efforts; this is opposed to the Christian view of grace. I basically think it to be a red herring to use the language of the Trinity as a reason to reject Christianity and become Muslim, as I already stated there are many Christian groups who would agree with some of the issues that Muslims raise; this does not deal with the fact that man cannot atone for his own sins, man is unable thru any religious works to make himself right with God. The ‘law that proceeds from God’ to the nations is a law based on grace, not works. Paul calls it ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ [Romans] he contrasts it with the law of works. Now the whole history of Justification by faith and how different Christian groups see it is another intramural war that rages within the church, N.T. Wright recently put out a book on it, John Piper wrote one in defense of the historic Reformation view- Wright’s view has some excellent points, but would be considered New Perspective. So there are differences in the way Justification by Faith is seen, but all groups agree that man is accepted by God based on the free gift of Grace that comes thru the Cross. Yes, Catholics and Protestants agree with this language, though there are other differences. The point today is I believe we as believers need to make clear the differences between law based religions and Christianity, Jesus offers free forgiveness based on his death burial and resurrection. Law based religions might seem noble at the start, but at the end of the day they lead to condemnation and frustration, they are a vain attempt by man to make himself pleasing to God- an impossible task.
(1283) TRAGEDY AT FORT HOOD- A few days ago as I was praying the regular routine of praying over areas of Texas I sensed a really strong leading from God to extend my prayer region to include highway 35 from San Antonio up thru the Dallas Fort Worth area. For years I have prayed over the area of 35 that extends from San Antonio to Austin, but I always stop at Austin. But the leading of the Lord to ‘pray further north’ was so strong, that I added some changes to my prayer maps in my office and even ‘staked out’ a new spot in my yard while praying in the early mornings. Yesterday we had the worst mass killing in US history that took place on a military base, it was FORT HOOD. Fort Hood is located directly off of highway 35 between San Antonio and Dallas, just a little past Austin. The tragedy is the reality that both Muslim Americans and military people will be hurt thru this event. That there are certain elements in radical Islam [not all Muslims!] that see the present situation thru ethnic/religious eyes. It’s also tragic that there are Fundamentalist Christians that see it the same way. I do not see this Army Major as an evil man who set out in life to hurt Americans, he is an American himself. Born and raised in the U.S. But the various ideologies of the wars and the disagreements between Islam and Christianity play a role in the way people’s ideas are formed, then these ideas can lead to violence on either side. The other day I received another email from some Pastors in Pakistan, they read the site and appreciate our teachings. If you look under the sections ‘Trinity, Christian, Muslim stuff’ and ‘Gentile, Jewish, Christian’ you will read many entries that stand against the popular American preachers ideas about Muslims and Christians. In a way I defend Muslims/Arabs to a degree. I also totally reject all acts of violence on either side, I do not support our current war in Afghanistan and want our troops out. I guess it’s because of this progressive/liberal stance that I have both Arab Christians and Muslims who read our site, great! I simply want to exhort all Muslims, Christians and other faiths; no matter how sincere we are in our beliefs, no matter how much we think certain views are right and others are wrong, we need to outright reject violence as a means of winning our points. We need to have the freedom of our beliefs and there expressions, the freedom to say ‘I believe Jesus is the way’ while at the same time respecting other cultures and religious beliefs. This entire incident is so tragic, it will drive a wedge between Muslim Americans and right wing radicals. It will play into the stereotypes that the radical Muslim fundamentalists want for recruiting purposes. It will justify the un Christian mentality of ‘let’s just blow them away’ that has been expressed by the religious right. A tragedy indeed. To all my Muslim readers, please reject these extreme views, they do no good for honest and peace loving Muslims. To all my Christian readers, do not view these events thru a ‘Christian lens’ that sees these events as justification for the killing of Muslims in other countries. We all need to pray for our country at this time and we need leaders from all religions to take public stands against this type of violence. May God help us all.
(1267) 2ND KINGS 14:1-20 Amaziah becomes king over Judah and avenges the assassination of his father. Yet he does not kill the sons of those who murdered his father, why? Because the law of God said the children should not be put to death for the sins of their fathers, Amaziah did justice, but also melded it with mercy. He then sends a message to the king of Israel to come and meet in a challenge. The king of Israel gives him a little parable that basically says ‘look, you had a victory over Edom, don’t let that go to your head, just because you won in one nation doesn’t mean you can repeat the strategy everywhere [ouch! That is ouch to our present situation in the world]. But Amaziah won’t listen and they come out to battle, sure enough Judah suffers a loss and Israel breaks down the wall of Jerusalem and takes the precious riches from the temple. Okay, sometimes wisdom says slow down and don’t start too many wars at once; in this case Amaziah did a few good things but then allowed inexperience to rule the day. He also acted justly in the execution of those who killed his father by not taking it out on the kids. We seem to have 2 extremes in the modern church; 1- we really don’t like to deal with past mistakes and errors that have caused damage to Gods people, we feel like dealing with issues in a just way is wrong. 2- When we do decide to deal with them, we usually ‘kill the kids’, that is we go too far and mount a personal campaign against those who were really not responsible for the ‘parent’s sins’. We as believers need to be careful when embracing ideologies that say ‘let's kill those damn terrorists, along with the families and kids and every one of their offspring’ these ways of thinking are not in keeping with even the Old Testament ethics of war, never mind the actual pacifist teachings of Jesus! I was watching a conservative news program the other day [you can guess the network- it’s the same name that Jesus called Herod] and the commentator said he wanted our military to go out and kill as many of these radical Muslims as we could find. Will that strategy ever really work? You will have no end to the killing because the mindset has not changed. Now I do realize that as a country we do have the right to intercept and go after those who are planning and strategizing against us, but the point is to simply think if we try and kill all ‘the offspring’ of those who harmed us will work, we are fooling ourselves. Amaziah dealt with the parents and stopped short when it came to the next generation. He also overstepped his resources by assuming a victory over one nation [Edom-Iraq] could easily be repeated in another [Israel-Afghanistan] as believers we need to have more of a plan than just ‘lets kill them all’ we need both progressive [liberal] and conservative voices to be heard, don’t just swallow the party line [on either side!].
(1260) 2ND KINGS 10:11-36 Jehu heads to Samaria to clean house, he already wiped out the sons of Ahab and will now deal with the false prophets that Jezebel installed. He tells the people in Samaria ‘Let’s worship Baal’ and he sends his men out to gather all the priests and prophets of Baal, he says ‘make sure you get all the Baal worshipers, this is going to be a really big sacrifice to Baal’ ouch! So they get all those who were worshiping at the altar of a false god and they pack Baal’s temple out. Jehu tells his men ‘make sure we got them all- go in and give all the Baal worshipers these special robes- and make sure no one who worships the true God is in there’. So the men carry out the task and Jehu and his men ‘sacrifice’ the whole denomination in one shot. This chapter tells us that Jehu had ‘zeal for God’ and he purged Israel from false Baal worship, but it also says that Jehu did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam who made Israel sin. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern tribes when Israel broke up under the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. At the time Jeroboam made these 2 golden calves and placed one in the city of Dan and the other at Bethel. The purpose was strategic, Jeroboam feared that if the northern tribes went to Jerusalem every year to keep the religious feasts that eventually they would ‘long for the good old days’ and return to the leadership of the kings of Judah. Now Jehu is a noble warrior, he understood the idolatrous nature of Baal worship, why did he not deal with these 2 calves? Jehu was also a practical ‘patriot’ he wanted to maintain Israel’s identity as a separated people, he thought Jeroboams idea actually worked, so at the ‘altar of national unity’ he permitted a degree of idolatry to exist. Now we get into the tuff stuff; Jesus kingdom message calls people to a higher patriotism; he tells his followers that they are to be ‘patriots’ in a new way. Though their national alliances [the countries we live in] are to be respected and honored, yet when the rubber meets the road we owe our allegiance to ‘the Cross’. Jehu was willing to sacrifice total dedication to God for the sake of national cohesion, ouch again! Karl Marx [the 19th century socialist] once said ‘the economists are like the theologians, they believe every one else’s religion is a man made distortion, but that their own is an emanation from God’ it is obvious that religious divisions effected the way he thought, he saw the futility of manmade religion but made the mistake of rejecting God. He saw religion as a threat to true national pride and cohesion and tried to eject God from the national psyche, he failed. When believers of any nation hold the ideals of the nation higher than the ideals of Christ’s kingdom, then they have in a sense ‘left the calves of Jeroboam in place’.
(1255) 2ND KINGS 8:7-29 Elisha goes to Damascus and the king of Syria hears about it, he sends his servant to inquire ‘of the prophet’ whether or not he will get well from some sickness. The servant goes and finds Elisha and Elisha says ‘yes, he would recover. But instead he will die’. What ? Elisha sees that the sickness would not be fatal, but that the king will be assassinated! The servant in front of him will be the killer. So Hazael goes back to the king and says ‘he said you would get well’ true enough, but he left out the part where he was going to kill him! So the next day he does the deed and becomes the king. A few things, I find it interesting that the Syrian king had no problem receiving Gods prophet. They believed in prophets! Now, they did not have a ‘Christian/Judeo’ culture, but they had a religious background that accepted ‘messengers from God’. In today’s world the church needs to take advantage of the willingness of other world religions to listen to prophets. We need to appeal as much as possible to the Muslim world and use any agreement on religious things as a tool to share the gospel. Right after the 16th century reformation the world would embark on a couple hundred year age of exploration and colonization. The Protestants were good at exploring the seas and impacting Europe, but they failed at reaching the Far East. Instead the Catholic Church had great success thru the Jesuits at impacting the Far East. They would make inroads into Japan and China and eventually take the gospel to the influential city of Peking. The problem arose when the Dominicans and Franciscans [Catholic orders] came in after them. They felt that the Jesuits were too accommodating in mixing in the religious beliefs of the east along with Christianity. Many Chinese believers were still practicing a form of worshipping dead ancestors and stuff like that. The Jesuits justified this by seeing these things as cultural beliefs and felt like allowing them to ‘keep their culture’ along with the faith was okay, the Dominicans and Franciscans disagreed and took the argument to Rome. Eventually this disagreement would leave a bad taste with the leaders in China and all Catholic expressions of the faith would be banned. This is called Syncretism, the mixing of religious beliefs. Now, why get into this? Christians should appeal to the willingness of Muslims and other world religions to hear religious voices. Both Jews and Muslims believe in Jesus, now they don’t believe the way Christians believe, but we should take advantage of this basic belief when appealing to them. Muslims reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but a careful study of history shows us that the actual Trinity they are rejecting is not the Christian understanding. Muhammad was actually rejecting a skewed view of the Trinity that saw Jesus and God and Mary as the Trinity. Obviously a pretty big mistake. So we as believers should be willing to correct and give a word to the ‘Muslim messengers’ when they come looking for answers. We should give them credit where credit is due, like their development of apologetical arguments in the Middle Ages [the Kalaam cosmological argument] but at the same time present the uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ to them. I side with the Franciscans and Dominicans on this one.
(1249) 2ND KINGS 6:8-23 The king of Syria wars against Israel, but every time he tries to set up an ambush someone keeps informing the king of Israel about it. So the Syrian king calls in his men and accuses them of leaking the info. They inform the king that this is the prophetic work of Elisha. So they go get him. As the Syrian army encamps around Elisha’s place, his servant wakes and up sees the troops and panics, Elisha prays and asks God to ‘open his eyes’ and he gets a sneak peek into the supernatural realm and sees all these chariots of angelic hosts around him ‘there are more with us than with them’ a famous verse indeed. So Elisha prays to the Lord to ‘blind’ the Syrians from his true identity [sort of like when Jesus was with the disciples on the Emmaus road] and he goes to the troops and tells them ‘the man you’re looking for is not here, follow me, I’ll show you where he is’. So he leads them into the midst of Samaria and right into the hands of the king of Israel. Then he prays ‘Lord open their eyes’ and they are in ‘shock and awe’ [to quote Rummie]. The king of Israel asks Elisha ‘should I slay them’? Elisha says no, but feed them and treat them well. He asks the king ‘would you slay those whom you captured thru military means’? Obviously the answer is no, so likewise they should be treated like captives and not harmed. Okay, how should we read the biblical narratives on war? One of the most known atheists in the country today is Sam Harris; he is a sincere writer and speaks against what he sees as the flaws of war based religion. He echoes the words of Thomas Paine in his book ‘the age of reason’ [18th century]. Harris sees the danger of world religions embracing a war mentality and believing that terror and warfare are on their side. He cites realities like the Muslim radicals who shout ‘God is great’ as they blow themselves and innocents up. He points out the stories in the bible where God commands his people to wipe out other ethnic groups [genocide] and he berates the Christians for their militaristic end time views and how their beliefs in a violent return of Jesus hinder world peace. Many thinkers have raised these questions and the church shouldn’t simply shrug these men off as pagans. In the story we just read it should be noted that God himself, thru his prophet, commanded the fair treatment of captives. That Jesus and the New Testament revelation are a radical revolution of peaceful demonstration ‘if your enemy hits you, don’t retaliate and return evil for evil. Instead bless them’. In general believers need to reorient their world view around the gospels and the actual message and life of Christ. When using the Old Testament we are to look for the hidden nuggets of wisdom that can apply to our lives today, but we need to avoid a direct application of wiping out our enemies with today’s military conflicts. The church in our day really needs an overhaul in our thinking in these areas, just the other day the U.S. military accidently killed an Afghan family of 6, kids and parents. A few months back we bombed an area and accidently killed around 140 civilians. The military at first said it was possible that the Taliban killed these people. After a few months review we came out and admitted that we did not properly screen these homes for civilians. We messed up and killed a bunch of people. I know all the reasons behind the things we are doing [I think!] but if your wife and kids were just bombed right now, by accident, would it make you feel better to know they really didn’t intend on killing them? Our country was/is up in arms over the sprinkling of water on the face of a few terrorists, one of the reasons is said to be that when we ‘torture’ terrorists we give fuel to the Muslim world by not playing by the rules. Or when we detain enemy combatants at Gitmo that this becomes a selling point to Muslim radicals that they can use to recruit people to their cause. I can see no greater ‘recruiting tool’ than the accidental killing of innocent Muslim women and children, yes I do realize that we do not mean to ‘kill them’ but this still does not change the reality on the ground.
(1247) 2ND KINGS 5- A Syrian army commander has leprosy, he hears about Elisha the prophet and goes to get healed. He is carrying a letter from the king of Syria that requests that the king of Israel heal him. The king of Israel is distraught ‘who does he think I am? Am I God?’ Elisha hears about the matter and says ‘send him to me, after I get thru with him he will know that there is a prophet in the land’. As Naaman arrives at the door of Elisha, Elisha sends out a servant to give him a message ‘go, dip yourself 7 times in the Jordan and you will get healed’. Naaman is upset, he says ‘I thought he would at least come out and make a big show and do some great healing! Are not the waters of Syria better than this stinking Jordan!’ He storms off. His men tell him ‘look, if he told you to do some great act, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not give it a shot and go get wet’. He dips in the Jordan and gets healed. He is elated! He goes back to the prophet and wants to give him an offering, Elisha refuses to take it. On his way back home Elisha’s servant stops him and says ‘my master changed his mind, 2 prophets just stopped by and he now will accept the money/gift’. He lied. As the servant arrives back at Elisha’s house, Elisha confronts him ‘hey Gehazi, where did you go’ he tells him nowhere. Elisha tells him ‘did not my heart go with you when the chariot turned’ he knew he was caught. Elisha rebukes him strongly over wanting to make material gain at this time ‘is this a time to build wealth! To gain land and servants and stuff’ he curses him and puts the leprosy of Naaman on him. Okay, let’s do a little stuff; first, the king of Israel felt like the expectations of the other ‘middle eastern’ Arab countries were too high. The king of Syria flat out treated him like he was God! Oh I don’t know, have there been any leaders recently that have been given the title ‘messiah’ [they gave it mockingly, but the expectations were very high]. And we must not overlook the strong rebuke of Gehazi, and Elisha’s unwillingness to take an offering. We often read all of these stories and only see the parts where God provided for someone, or reduced their debt [the woman with the oil]. We read and preach on the ‘wealth verses’ to the degree where we don’t even see the ‘rebuking of wealth’ verses. Then after many years we develop a wealth mentality in the people of God to the point where they never see the warnings. Without going too far down this road, remember Jesus told his men ‘freely you have received, freely give’. In context he was speaking of the divine gifts of the Spirit that they were given. He was sending them out to heal and cast out demons, he was telling them don’t turn this thing into a money making enterprise! And let’s end with some practical stuff- as I continue to read thru Brian McLaren’s ‘everything must change’ I appreciate his emphasis on helping the poor and reaching out to the outcasts of the world. I also understand his view of changing the way we see things, the language used is ‘framing story- narrative’. But I see a problem with overdoing the concept of ‘framing stories’. For instance some Emergent’s believe that the classic expressions of the gospel are no longer valid. That Jesus really didn’t come to call people to repent and believe in the way we think [Brian quotes N.T. Wright and supposes that the term ‘repent and believe’ was more of a popular saying that military commanders used to simply tell people to surrender over to the new empire. He uses an example from Josephus. I get the point, but believe that this association is rather week. Jesus very much did call people to repent and believe in the classic way we understand it]. Anyway to ‘re-frame’ the gospel in a way that says the real message/purpose of Jesus was to simply change the pictures we use in ‘our story’ is too simple. The best example I can think of would be Jesus conversation with Nicodemus in John’s gospel. Jesus is speaking from the ‘narrative’ of Gods kingdom, Nicodemus is hearing from his own religious frame work. No matter how hard Jesus uses the new framework, or how hard Nicodemus tries to see this new story, he can’t. Jesus tells him it’s impossible to change his ‘framing story’ without changing him! ‘Unless a man is born again, HE CAN NOT SEE THIS KINGDOM’ so I think we can go too far in restating the classic gospel. Yes, believers should be challenged to see things from new/fresh perspectives. But these new perspectives can only be truly seen when we experience personal conversion. Jesus very much wants us to see the story from his perspective, but realistically he knows unless we are born again, we will never truly see it.
(1240) 2nd KINGS 1- The king of
(1228) 2ND CORINTHIANS 6- Paul tells them to not receive Gods grace ‘in vain’. He quotes a very popular verse among Evangelicals ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation’. He says the Lord heard their prayer and ‘accepted/saved them’. Paul is referring to salvation in the sense that after his first letter, they repented, asked God for forgiveness and responded in the right way. Now in this letter he’s saying ‘look, God heard your heart. He has received you. Don’t keep repenting over the thing’. Paul also gives another list of his trials. He gave one in chapter 4, will give another one in chapter 11. I like the part where he says ‘we are unknown, yet well known’. In today’s Protestant/Evangelical churches, we are often ‘well know, yet unknown’. Let me explain. In Paul’s day he raised up quite a stir. In the book of Acts we see how when he was at the temple in
(1226) 2ND CORINTHIANS 4- In chapter 3 Paul said we are beholding/seeing God in an open way as compared to the old covenant. In this chapter he shows us how we ‘see God’. We see him in his Son. God has chosen to reveal himself to us thru his Son. One of the first Christian councils [after the one at
(1214) YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL, OR ALLOW ME TO DECAY- Psalm 16:10 [my quick version of it!] This verse is quoted in Acts 2 and 13; it speaks of the Fathers promise of resurrection to the Son. Being I am reading Wright’s book on the resurrection at this time, I thought it good to talk a little. Wright lays out a good historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus. He shows how the liberal belief that the disciples ‘felt a real spiritual change after Jesus died’ wouldn’t cut it in a society that had other messianic figures rise and later be killed. The fact that these others stayed dead was a sure sign of their failure. Wright goes and gives a little parable on how the followers of past dead messiahs would have never gotten away with ‘let’s claim victory for our movement, even though our leaders died’. Good point, but the skeptics could point to Muhammad in the 7th century to refute this. But I get the point. Also, when I say ‘liberal theologians’ on this blog, I am speaking of historical liberalism, not the truncated view that certain fundamentalists hold to; you know, those who view liberalism thru the lens of what bible version a person uses, or whether or not you hold to certain end time scenarios. These views are not what I mean when speaking of liberals. Classic historical liberalism is a tag that gets put on those who begin denying the physical resurrection of Jesus and other fundamental truths of Christianity. So both Catholic and Protestant groups are not considered liberal, unless they deny the basic fundamentals [i.e.; you are not liberal, in the classic sense, just because you embrace the sacraments or other disagreements between Protestants and Catholics]. Now some liberals have done some good. The 19th century liberal scholars- Van Harnack and Albert Reitschal [I know these names are spelled wrong, but no spell check can fix stuff like this] challenged the development of historic theology by promoting the view that because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, that the early councils and systematic theologians lost the feel for story/narrative because they allowed Greek philosophy to influence their creeds and councils. They would point to the fact that much of the language used to ‘dissect’ the three persons of the Trinity was borrowed from the Greek philosophers and stuff like that. They argued that the church should return to her Jewish roots as seen in the Hebrew culture and begin ‘telling the story’ once again, as opposed to getting into the technical aspects of Greek language and thought. Now, were they right? Partially, in my view. But the problem with their view is it did not fully appreciate the fact that the New Testament did come to us thru the medium of the Greek language. So just because the Hebrew language is short on detail and long on story, this does not mean that the church also needs to be ‘short on detail’, because our New Testaments are in Greek. But they did make some good points. So anyway God promised Jesus [and us] that he would not leave us ‘in hell’ or allow us to corrupt/decay. The early church most certainly believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave, though the liberals have some good things to add to the conversation, some of their ideas are down right lethal.
(1210) SAVE THY PEOPLE AND BLESS THINE INHERITANCE. FEED THEM ALSO AND LIFT THEM UP FOREVER- Psalms 28:9 I guess I will hit a few scattered Psalms, these last few weeks I have been reading the Psalms and trying to add a verse to memory every day or so. Sort of praying/meditating on them like the famous ‘Jesus prayer’. The Jesus prayer is an ancient simple prayer that says ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner’ but you actually say it all day long until it becomes part of your psyche. So these single Psalms can be used in this way. Okay, God wants to feed his people and bless them, Jesus told Peter ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’. In the 20th century you had the famous existentialist/atheist philosophers like John Paul Sartre and Albert Camou, these guys sought for purpose and meaning thru philosophy but wound up as nihilists [no hope] because of their rejection of God. Sartre would say ‘man is a useless passion’, Camou would say the only question left for philosophy to answer was the viability of suicide. The famous atheist
(1203) In Luke 22 Jesus sends Peter and John into town to get things ready for the Passover meal. They ask Jesus where they should get a room, how will they know where to go. Jesus gives them real specific instructions ‘you will meet a man carrying a container of water, follow him into the house. Then ask the owner of the house “where will we meet” and he will show you a room all ready for the purpose’. How did the man know what to do? Did he have a dream/vision from the Lord? Probably. I was watching a show the other day that was dealing with angels, they were showing clips form the popular TV shows about angels. They showed a clip from ‘touched by an angel’ and it really spoke to me. The angel is sent to some guy and tells him ‘God loves you, but he does not like what you have become’. Sort of like the saying ‘God loves the sinner but hates the sin’ but it was powerful because it was done dramatically and open for the public world to tune in and watch the show. Then the clip ended and the preacher hosting the show rebuked the use of stuff like this on TV and said how in the bible angels only mete out judgment when dealing with sinners. I got the type of feeling that they were from the camp that gets offended when other groups/media try to deal with biblical things, sort of like ‘how could God step outside of the parameters of orthodox belief and speak to people’. The brother wasn’t offensive, he was simply sharing their point of view that ‘true, biblical angels’ don’t do stuff like that. Actually biblical angels do do stuff like that! You do have stories in scripture where angels appear to unbelievers and give them direction [Acts 10, Cornelius]. The point is sometimes believers develop belief systems, and these systems become our identity. If in any way we feel that others are ‘moving in on our territory’ [holy things] we often respond out of ignorance/arrogance. We feel like our very identity is on the line. Many good Christians/preachers live their whole lives this way. I don’t know if the man that Jesus sent Peter and John too for the room was a believer or not, but God is able and willing to use whatever means possible to accomplish his purpose. Now, I am not saying that God uses all religions and any type of belief to get stuff done, but I am saying that God is not boxed in by a system that must respond only in a certain perceived way. Christians need to let down the mindset that seems to say we have a corner on the market of God acting in the nations/world. While we know and believe Jesus is the only way to the Father, yet the Father is creator of heaven and earth and he most certainly can send an angel to get his message across if he wants to.
(1199) WHY ME? As we wrap up Luke 20, we see Jesus dealing with a few issues. The religious leaders are trying to trick him into saying something that will offend the people [or the govt.] ‘Should we pay taxes or not’ one of those questions that gets you into trouble no matter what you say, Jesus answered with wisdom. Again they put a question to him about the resurrection; he stumps them on this one too! Now it’s his turn ‘you tell me, how can Christ be David’s son if David prophesied about him, saying “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” [Jesus was quoting King David in Psalms]. They had no idea how to handle his wisdom, they decided to go another route [like crucify him]. I find it amazing that Jesus saw himself in the prophetic portions of the Psalms, I mean He and the Father and Spirit all existed together from eternity, they had a Divine counsel that knew that one of them would eventually become man and die for the world. Yet the Holy Spirit would ‘give voice’ to the Sons agony and victory before the Son was born into a human body. Sort of like a pre incarnation of the Spirit thru the prophets, King David being one of the most significant of the prophets. Jesus would see his own agony being prophesied thru the prophets ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’- ‘thou hast done this to me’ David would say in Psalms 22. I read a good article last week about a Christian professor from Harvard. He shared how thru out the years he felt guilty that he had such a good life, that things always seemed to turn out good for him. Then one day he had a flat, got out of the car to change the tire and did something to his back. Since that time he has suffered chronic back pain that is excruciating, I could identify. Then after he took the job at Harvard one of his children contracted a deadly disease and his marriage was on the rocks. Then he found out that he had cancer, they treated him and he prayed that the lord would heal him, after a year or so it has spread to his lungs and other areas, he has around a year or so to live. He shared his thoughts and spoke of the sovereignty of God. Talked about what the biblical characters went thru, things that they suffered. He placed everything in proper balance and understood that though God didn’t ‘do this to him’ yet God did permit it to happen. I also realize that there are whole belief systems that as soon as they read this entry they started looking for the reasons ‘a ha, see, he didn’t know/practice a positive confession. That’s what happened’ this belief system confronts the suffering person with the same accusations of Job’s friends, not much help when your going thru hell. Jesus was reading the Psalms ever since he was a boy, he began seeing how he was fulfilling something that was put into action before the foundation of the world was laid. He was the second person of the Trinity who would come to the planet and suffer many things, he would be rejected of men and rise on the third day. He knew a lot was riding on his shoulders, he must have been impacted to some degree when he realized he was reading his own biography thru the writings of Kind David, especially when he said ‘thou hast done this to me’.
(1196) WE STILL KILL THE PROPHETS- At the end of Luke 19 Jesus rebukes
(1169) let’s finish up Luke 11. Jesus is invited to dinner again at a Pharisees house, you think the brothers would have learned not to do this by now! So as Jesus eats he doesn’t wash his hands first, the Pharisee ‘thinks within himself’ wow, this is the proof I was looking for, he’s not the one! Of course Jesus knows his heart and rebukes him for being more concerned with outward religion/cleansing than the heart. Jesus tells him ‘did not he that made the outer things [material world] also make the heart/soul of a man’? He was rebuking him for having a sense of ceremonial cleanness, a view of ‘being clean’ that was legalistic, but Jesus said God was more concerned about our inner actions and thoughts. Now, he does connect the ‘right heart’ with a particular act of worship. He says ‘give alms [do charity] with all that you have and this is what cleanness is about’. The same rebuke the prophet Isaiah gave to Israel of old, he said ‘this is not the type of fast God wants, to do outward acts of casting yourself down and rending your garments, but God wants you to loose the chains of those who are suffering, to set the oppressed free’ the same type of idea that is expressed when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue and says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me for opening blind eyes, preaching the gospel to the poor’ the anointing of Jesus, God’s religious way of ordaining people, was to do justice and show mercy. Jesus rebuked this Pharisee because he lost the original intent of Gods law and digressed into this religious mindset that was looking to find fault, that was obsessed with outward standards of holiness [they washed their hands obsessively! It wasn’t just a one time deal before a meal, this ‘washing’ became a religious obsession with them, this is the mindset Jesus is rebuking]. Jesus corrected this mistaken view and showed him what was really important, to do charity, justice, mercy and good deeds, this is the new testament sacrifice of the believer [along with praise- Peter] and Jesus said when you do charity, this is what makes you ‘ceremonially clean’ in the eyes of God.
(1159) Just read the story where the prostitute pours expensive perfume on Jesus. A Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus to dinner, the woman comes and does this act of worship, she wipes his feet with her hair, she cries and worships him. The Pharisee thinks to himself ‘wow, if he were a prophet he would have known what type of woman this is’. The problem? He did know. Simon simply assumed that a true prophet would not receive a wicked woman. So Jesus does one of those things where he tells a simple story that even a child could understand, he says ‘Simon, there were these 2 guys that owed money to a lender, one owed much more than the other. The lender forgave them both, which one do you think would be more grateful’? Simon, not realizing that he’s on the hook, says ‘O, I don’t know, I guess the one who owed more’. Caught ya! Jesus says that’s why this woman is so extravagant towards Jesus, she was forgiven more than Simon. A few things, it is becoming popular today to teach that all religions mean well, they want to worship ‘the God of Abraham’ and we should be open and accepting of them. First, this woman worshipped Jesus. She was accepted because of her willingness to love and know him. Paul told the religious folk at Mars hill ‘I will reveal to you the unknown God that you have this altar set up for’ [Acts 17]. In all of our pluralism, we need to bring people to the Cross! Two, Simon simply misjudged Jesus. He figured if a prophet was really a prophet, he would act a certain way. Simon was simply wrong. If you look at this woman’s conversion, most evangelicals would say ‘she didn’t get saved’. I mean Jesus does put some liberal spin on it. The woman loved much, so she is forgiven much. What! Where are all the steps that end in a sinner’s prayer! You know according to that standard none of the apostles made it either [you find none of them asking Jesus into their hearts!] The point being we want people to come to Jesus, to know him and accept him as the messiah. Too often Christians can be a little technical in all the aspects of conversion while overlooking the main thing. The apostle John will write ‘those that do good are of God, and those that do evil are not’ Wow. Of course John also taught that those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh are antichrist. So the basic belief in Jesus as Gods Son, the deity of Christ, is a foundation of the faith. But John’s test is not what type of conversion prayer you prayed, but a changed life. Simon invited Jesus to dinner, he was a Pharisee who was willing to give Jesus a chance. But he was too quick to come to a judgment about him. Over the years I have had friends who might get challenged in some area of reformation, something that God is doing to change things. Often they will say ‘O, I know about that belief. I have had friends try and tell me that before’ but they respond in a way that says ‘Yes, I have heard it and judged it and rejected it’. Too quick to think that God can’t be in it. Yes, John also told us to test the spirits, because every thing out there is not from God. But make sure you are not rejecting a prophet because you think he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd!
(1116) This past week Pope Benedict made his first visit to the
(1111) was reading where the disciples ask Jesus ‘who is the greatest among us’? And Jesus takes a little child and says ‘unless you become like this, you wont even see the things that I am doing’ [Gods kingdom]. Yesterday I was reading up on the Orthodox church, how in the 9th century the two great missionaries Cyril and Methodius evangelized the Slavic peoples of Moravia, the Latin rite churches were already there [Catholic/western] but these brothers knew Greek and had the ability to hold the Mass in the common language, the Catholic brothers were doing it in Latin. Eventually this drew more Slavs to the Greek Church than the Latin one. Well this caused some friction with the Bishop of the area and they sent them packing to the Pope, at this time the eastern rite churches [Orthodox] were still submitting to Papal authority to a degree. After making their case the Pope sent them back to continue their work [well one of them passed away while at
(1067) 1st KINGS 16- Jehu, a prophet, receives Gods word and rebukes Baasha, king of
(1059) 1ST KINGS 11- THE SIN OF SOLOMON- Now we get to the part where Solomon blows it. As I read these stories of the great men who failed, I continually fall into the trap of rooting for them, even though I know the end of the story! The trap being that failure in a sense was built into the story. How could God fulfill his purpose thru the coming Messiah if one of the sons of David actually lived up to the standard? Solomon, in a sense, was destined to fail. So what happened? This chapter says Solomon loved many women [1,000 to be exact!] and IN HIS OLD AGE began worshipping their gods. He set up altars for sacrifice and allowed the pagan gods to affect Gods people. I find this interesting, it wasn’t the actual act of having all those other women, but the sin of being too accommodating to the other ‘world religions’. I’m presently reading a book written by what you would call a liberal scholar, you know, the brothers who challenge the authenticity of just about everything. But I also have some good scholars that I read from. To be honest, at times you still might read something that makes you a little uneasy; they too at times have been affected by higher learning. But the difference between the ‘good and the bad’ ones is the fact that the good ones remain true to the historic gospel. N.T. Wright is a great scholar, he sits in the middle category, between the conservatives and the liberals [in my view]. The prolific Bishop of Durham [Church of England] has written excellent stuff on the resurrection and the
(1057) 1ST KINGS 9- The Lord honors Solomon’s request and tells him he will hear the prayers of the people. He also warns Solomon to walk in the ways of David his father. God tells him that David walked right and did good, funny thing, the Lord doesn’t bring up the Bathsheba incident! His mercies are new EVERY morning. Now Solomon becomes firmly established as
(1014) JAMES ‘with our tongues we bless God the father and we curse men, who are made after his image and likeness’ [my paraphrase] In keeping with the recent theme of James and Revelation [end time views] I want to talk a little about our view of human kind. We often read the words of Jesus in Johns gospel ‘ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you do’  and we use this understanding to devalue humanity. The liberal movement spoke of ‘the brotherhood of men and the fatherhood of God’ sort of like we are all brothers, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all other religions, we are all just on different paths to the same God. Is this true? No. Jesus is the only path to God. But does this lesson the value of our fellow man? James isn’t saying ‘only Christians are made in Gods image’ he is saying all humans have special value, they are made in Gods likeness. When we grasp on to belief systems that devalue human rights and dignity, then we are speaking and acting with a forked tongue! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and told them they were going the way of satan by rejecting him as the true Messiah, the religious leaders were choosing to say no to Christ. Spiritually they were following satan as their father. But yet James says all human beings originated from God and therefore people have much more value than land [even the holy land!], animals, temples and all other images that can be found on the planet. When we ‘bless God’ and claim to be speaking for him from the evangelical pulpits and media outlets, then we must be careful to not ‘curse men’ or to give an idea that these ‘Muslims’ or any other ethnic/religious grouping of people are not valuable. A distinction should be made between the value and rights of all people, and the various religions and false ideas that people have embraced. The world should not be hearing a message from us that says ‘by golly, Jesus is gonna come back and wipe the ground with the blood of these Muslim nations who are attacking
(1012)JAMES AND REVELATION- I have been reading James along with some stuff on Revelation. James says ‘though the ships are driven with fierce winds, yet they turn by the steering of the captain. He sets the course with a small helm/rudder’. Also that the tongue is a ‘world of sin, it sets the course of nature on fire’. In revelation Jesus is depicted as a warrior LAMB. He is also called the Lion of Judah. He ‘slays the wicked’ with the sword [word!] from his mouth. The word for conquer/victory in Revelation is the Greek word NIKAN-NIKE. Yes, the famous sneaker comes from this word! Nikan was a Roman conqueror god.
(1011)CORINTHIANS 15:20-28 here we see the guarantee of mans resurrection based on Christ's resurrection. ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive’. Is Paul teaching a form of universalism [all being saved]? He is showing us that all men will someday be raised from the dead. Now, does Paul leave room here for a type of Pre-millennial resurrection? A ‘raising’ of the dead prior to a thousand year literal reign of Jesus. Then another resurrection at the end? Yes he does. If you read Revelation you will see this type of scenario play out. Also Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Historically the church has held 3 basic views on this. Pre-millennialism says Jesus returns first [pre] before the literal thousand year rule occurs. ‘Post’ says the thousand year rule is literal, and after that Jesus comes back. Those who held to this view were excited at the turn of the first millennium [1000 ad] they thought it possible for Jesus to have returned after the first thousand years since his death and resurrection. And then you have A-millennial, they spiritualize the thousand year reign spoken of in the book of Revelation as being a symbol of Christ’s present rule and kingdom. Now, today’s most popular form of Pre-millennialism is not historic, it dates back to the 19th century. Today’s form is called ‘Pre-tribulational, Pre-millennial’ this teaching [dispensationalism] says Jesus comes back 2 more times. One is called ‘the rapture’ the other is the second coming [revealing]. The proponents of this form find little [or no] early Christians who believed this. There is one early writing by a Syrian brother who speaks very clearly about a rapture type event. Some think he speaks a little too clearly! The writing is believed to have been a fake. Either way we do have Paul teaching stages involved with the coming of the Lord and the kingdom. It is possible to have 2 future resurrections, this would not mean you need two future ‘second comings’. The first resurrection takes place at Christ’s return. He rules a literal thousand years and ‘the dead are raised again’ at the end of the literal rule on earth [ a literal reading of Revelation]. Also Paul does use the language of Jesus submitting to the Father at the end so ‘God will be all in all’. I feel believers have been confused and at times contradictory while trying to explain the nature of God and the Trinity. I recently read a teaching on the Trinity that tried to compare the Trinity to the nature of the organic church. It seemed confusing to me, they tried to say that just like in the Trinity you have no one ‘being’ having authority over the other, but instead you see all three persons equally submitting to one another [Father, Son and Spirit] so in the church you have equality. Now, I do believe that there is equality in the church, but I felt the example was way off. The New Testament clearly teaches the willful ‘submission’ of the Son to the Father. God [the father] is clearly the one ‘in charge’. Now, I admit it’s difficult and brothers have spent years trying to explain all the ins and outs of this. Here Paul shows us that the Son has willingly submitted to the Father so the father can put all things under him. Then once again at the culmination of the kingdom the Son submits to the father and God receives the glory. We will praise and worship Jesus thru out all eternity, it is his willful submission to the father’s plan that makes this happen. NOTE- Some believers spiritualize the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation, they relate it to those who have been ‘born again’ spiritually. Modern ‘Preterism’ holds to this view.
(1009)A PALESTINIAN PASTOR- Let me share a little about our Christian brothers who live in
(982)WILL JESUS RULE FROM A REAL ‘ALTAR’ SOME DAY? Watched an interesting show last night. The brother was sharing on the ‘Davidic kingdom’ and all the scriptures associated with it. I am familiar with the man, I used to get a Christian paper from him years ago. It’s obvious that he has a tremendous storehouse of ‘knowledge’ he can take you all over the bible and quote all types of stuff. He comes at you from the fundamentalist/dispensationalist viewpoint. He laid out the case that all the promises of God to David have to be literally fulfilled thru David. He even espoused that David himself might actually be the one reigning from the Millennial throne! [most see Jesus in this role- but to be fair, those who see Jesus do spiritualize the promises to David [Solomon] and apply them to Christ, which is what they despise doing!] Any way the brother espouses the idea that Jesus might actually be sitting on the Mercy Seat during his millennial reign. I have taught you guys what this seat is in the past. It was the actual lid to the box [
(974)1ST CORINTHIANS 10: 5 ‘But with many of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness’. As I just sat down and was debating on how much to cover, I felt the Lord wanted me to stop with this one verse. Let’s review a little. Does this experience of being ‘scattered in the wilderness’ define past experiences for you? [Or present!] Historically the church has always had to deal with wilderness times.
(944)1ST CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 Paul declares the actual preaching of the Cross to be the power of God. The Jews sought for a sign [remember the sign of Jonas?] and the Greeks prided themselves in wisdom. Paul declares that Jesus IS the wisdom and power of God. In Christ is contained all the wisdom and power [signs] in the universe! Paul says God destroyed the wisdom of unregenerate man and that Gods foolishness is wiser than men’s greatest achievements apart from God. Wow, what an indictment on enlightenment philosophy. Man goes thru stages of learning and knowledge [renaissance, enlightenment. Industrial, scientific revolution] these are not bad achievements in and of themselves. Many of the greatest scientists and scientific discoveries were made by men of faith [Newton, Pascal, Faraday, etc] the problem arises when men think that sheer humanistic reasoning, apart from God, is the answer. Right now there is a movement [11-08] going on where some atheists bought ad space on the sides of buses that say ‘why believe in a god? Do good for goodness sake’. So they had both sides [Christian /Atheist] debate it. The simple fact is, sheer humanism cannot even define ‘what good is’. ‘Good’ becomes a matter of what serves me best at the time of my decision. Without God and special revelation [scripture-10 commandments] good can be defined by Hitler’s regime as exterminating one class of society for the benefit of the whole. Only Christian [or Deist, Jewish, Muslim] beliefs place special value and dignity on human life. It is a common misconception to think that all the enlightenment philosophers were atheists; this was not the case at all. Locke, Hume and others simply believed that thru human logic and reason people could arrive at a sort of naturalistic belief in God. This would form the basis of Deism, the system of belief in God but a rejection of classic Christian theology. Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers of our country were influenced by this style of belief. Now, getting back to the Greeks. Paul says ‘God destroyed the wisdom of this world’. What wisdom is Paul talking about? The enlightenment philosophers of the 18th century had nothing on the Greek philosophers going all the way back to a few centuries B.C. Plato, the Greek wrestler turned philosopher, had one of the most famous schools of Greek philosophy. At the entrance of the school the words were written ‘let non but geometers enter here’. Kind of strange. Geometry simply meant ‘form’ in this use. Most of the great theoretical physicists were also great mathematicians [Einstein]. The Greek philosophers were seeking a sort of ‘unified theory’ that would explain all other theories and bring all learning together under one intellectual ‘roof’. Sort of like Einstein's last great obsession. The Greeks actually referred to this great unknown future ‘unifier’ as ‘the Logos’. Now, some atheists will use this truth to undercut the New Testament. They will take the common use of these words ‘The Logos’ and say that Johns writings [Gospel, letters] were simply stolen ideas from Greek philosophy. This is why believers need to have a better understanding of the inspiration of scripture. John’s writings were no doubt inspired, he of course calls Jesus the ‘Logos’ [word] of God. But he was simply saying to the Greek/Gnostic mind ‘look, you guys have been waiting for centuries for the one special ‘Word/Logos’ that would be the answer to all learning, I declare unto you that Jesus is this Logos’! So eventually you would have ‘the wisdom of the world’ [both Greek and enlightenment and all other types] falling short of the ultimate answer. They could only go so far in their journey for truth, and ultimately they either wind up at the foot of the Cross [the wisdom of God] or the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. God said this ‘tree’ [sources of wisdom and knowledge apart from God] would ultimately lead to death if not submitted to ‘the tree of life’ [the Cross]. You would have some of the enlightenment philosophers eat from this tree all the way to the ‘death of God’ movement. Man in his wisdom would come to the conclusion that ‘God is dead’. If this is true, then the slaughter of millions of Jews is no moral dilemma. If God is dead then man is not created in his image, he is just this piece of flesh that you can dispose of at will. To all you intellectual types, it’s Okay to have a mind, but you must love God with it. If all your doing is feeding from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die.
(922)2ND SAMUEL 6- David attempts to retrieve the
(889)SAMUEL 6- The Philistines are reeling under the judgment of God. They call a meeting of their priests and diviners, and they ask what they should do. Their ‘religious’ leaders advise them to send the
(887)SAMUEL 4 CONTINUED- Okay, let’s finish it up. In this chapter we see an important historical event, the capture of the Ark of the Covenant [the box that held the 10 commandments, not Noah’s
(848)ROMANS 9: 1-8 Paul returns to an earlier theme ‘Christ came, as pertaining to the flesh, in response to the covenants that God made with
(828)ROMANS 4:15-25 ‘For the law worketh wrath, for where there is no law there is no transgression’. I simply want to touch on the concept of ‘wrath’ being a very real part of judgment. One of the ways the gospel ‘saves us’ is by promising a future [and present!] deliverance from wrath. While death ‘reigned’ before the law was given, it wasn’t until the law where you had a clear picture of transgression and atonement. We will deal with this later in Romans. Now Paul once again hits on the theme of Abraham being the ‘spiritual father’ of many nations [all who believe] and how the promises of God to Abraham were to be fulfilled thru this ‘new race of people’ [the church]. Paul is careful to not demean
(729)GENESIS 41- Joseph is sitting in prison for 2 full years after he was promised by the ‘cup holder’ to advocate for his cause once he was released! The cup holder forgot to mention it! I think one of the most unjust things that has happened in society has been these brothers who have been falsely accused of some terrible crime and spent years in prison and then later were found to be innocent. I think this is why we need to really rethink the death penalty. Now Pharaoh has these dreams and he calls all of his wise men in and no one can interpret the dream. At this point the cup holder realizes his wrong. He tells Pharaoh that when he was in prison a guy interpreted his dream. Sure enough, after years in jail and having been persecuted by his brothers and sold into slavery, at the age of 30 he finally begins inheriting some stuff. Joseph was 17 when the problems started, he is now 30. 13 years of suffering and obscurity. Now, scripture says ‘see a man skilled in his work, he will stand before kings. He will not serve obscure men’ [Proverbs? It’s a newer version of the bible]. God was ordering things in Joseph’s life to ‘bring him before kings’ men of influence. He was 'accidentally' sold to an officer of pharaoh. He then gets thrown in jail and runs into the ‘chief butler and chief baker’ and now he gets a shot at pharaoh! It was the hand of God positioning him to be in a place of influence. Joseph will interpret pharaohs dreams to mean 7 years of famine will follow 7 years of plenty [read the chapter, I didn’t include the dreams in this entry]. Pharaoh says ‘great, what should we do about it?’ Joseph says ‘how about you find the wisest, smartest most impressive man in your country [gee, I wonder who this could be?] and put him in charge and have him collect a fifth of all the lands produce during the time of plenty and then he can distribute the food during the harvest’. Pharaoh says ‘sounds like a great idea! And who is wiser than you Joseph, you’re the man’. Joseph basically pulled a Dick Cheney [for those reading this in a hundred years, Cheney is the current vice president of George Bush] Bush hired Cheney to find the most qualified vice president he could recruit. Sure enough Cheney says ‘it’s me!’ So Joseph carries out the plan, Pharaoh puts him in charge of the whole country. Pharaoh says ‘only in my official title am I higher than you’. Joseph is truly running everything! He didn’t despise his day of ‘small things’. He ran Potiphars house, then the prison and now the country! Joseph is a type of Christ here. Pharaoh says ‘I give all authority to you, the nation will stand or fall on your word’. Jesus told the people in John’s gospel ‘My words will judge you in that day’. Joseph truly is a man of power and authority. He has 2 kids in this chapter. Manasseh and Ephraim. Their names mean ‘God has caused me to forget all my previous trials’ and ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction’. Isaiah says ‘remember not the former things, nether consider the things of old, behold I do a new thing. Shall ye know it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Before these things happen I declare them unto you, so when they come to pass you will know I ordained it’. Also Joseph tells Pharaoh ‘God has revealed to you what he is going to do’ by giving him the dreams. Joseph understood that it was Gods purpose to reveal his plan ahead of time to Pharaoh. The coming to pass of these dreams on a national scale was proof positive of the ‘God of Joseph’ being the true God! I remember hearing a testimony of a Muslim tribe who all converted to Jesus in a single day. One morning one of the men woke up and shared a dream he had. He explained how he saw Jesus in the dream. As word spread they soon realized that every single person in the tribe all had the same dream the previous night! When God reveals himself on a wide scale like this it leads to whole nations [groups of people] converting. As Joseph stores up the food for 7 years he strategically puts the food in store house cities thru out the land. This is a type of Jesus future revolutionary movement. In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks of the kingdom as seeds. Both the people and the word are described as seed in this chapter. When Jesus sent out the disciples they were distributing seed [the message] as well as being ‘seed’ [Jesus says the good seed were the children of the kingdom planted and growing in the world]. In essence Jesus was placing garners [communities of people] filled with seed all over the region. Paul himself will target the influential cities of his day with the gospel. He knew if he could spread the fire to strategic places it would take root. So Joseph has all this ‘grain in the barn’ just waiting to bust loose during the famine. And sure enough the famine comes and everyone turns to ‘the garners of wheat in the storehouse cities’ for their sustenance. I believe the people of God, Gods ‘fine wheat’ are truly the ones with the answer to society’s ills. Jesus has planted us ‘in the world’ [not in the church building!] so when the times of famine come, people can run to us for the ‘bread of life’.
(707)GENESIS 21- God gives Abraham a child thru Sarah in their old age. Sarah was ‘beyond the time to have kids’ and it was truly a miracle. The child grows and Abraham’s son from Hagar, Ishmael, mocks Isaac. The scripture says ‘cast out the bondwoman’s son, he shall not be heir with Isaac’. This thing grieves Abraham but God says ‘listen to Sarah’ and he sends Ishmael and Hagar out. Once again in Galatians 4 Paul says ‘these things are an allegory’ [wow, talk about presumptuously spiritualizing the word! Many preachers believe doing this is wrong. They seem to not see the heavy amount of ‘spiritualizing’ that Paul does!] Paul says these are examples of how the legalistic Jews would persecute those born of the Spirit. Paul clearly says ‘just like Ishmael made fun of Isaac, so today [the New covenant] those who are born of the Spirit are being persecuted by those born ‘after the flesh’. There simply is no other way to see this. Paul flatly applies this story to law versus grace. Not Jew versus Arab [Muslim]. Paul will even call ‘natural
(703)GENESIS 17- Once again God appears to Abraham to reassure him of the original promise. What did God promise him again? He will be the father of many nations [Paul will refer this to Abraham being the father, spiritually, of all believers. Not just natural
(702)GENESIS 16- Abraham is around 85 years old. He’s been waiting around 10 years for God to fulfill the promise and give him a child. In the last chapter he suggested for the Lord to count his servant from his household as the heir. Now Sarah says ‘take my maid Hagar and have a son with her’. Of course the sons name is Ishmael. For all you preachers who read this site, well you know the story. But for all my buddies let me explain. Ishmael is usually looked upon as ‘the flesh’. That is Abraham went out in his own strength and tries to make Gods promise happen. True. But Paul will use this story in Galatians 4 and teach the difference between law and grace. Though Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations [Muslim people for the most part]. Yet Paul does not compare Ishmael to ‘natural Arab descent’. He compares Ishmael to JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE LAW KEEPERS AND WHO PERSECUTE TRUE BELIEVERS! Now, I don’t want to go anti Semitic. I want you to see this very important distinction. Today we should see this whole story thru the eyes of law versus grace. Not thru the eyes of Jew versus Muslim! When you preach it the ethnic way [Jew versus Muslim] you do harm to the purpose of God. Paul will use the illustration to show how all those who are under grace are free and don’t have to be under a legalistic mindset. He will compare Ishmael to those who are NATURAL JERUSALEM [not Arab people!] and say ‘you must be free from trying to please God thru the law, and come to the Cross!’ [Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, etc.] Preaching it like this is consistent with the New Testament. Preaching it like the American Fundamentalists causes strife in the world! So read this chapter along with Galatians 3 and 4. Think about what I just told you as you read, and see if it falls down on the side of grace versus ethnic division. God loves all people. He is calling all nations to himself thru Christ. Let’s keep this in mind as we ‘preach the bible’. Many times we do damage to the purpose of God because we think ‘preach the bible’ means spewing out hatred to Muslim people. Here we have shown you that this is not the will of God!
(691)SERMON ON THE MOUNT- ‘BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS’ ‘you will know them by their fruits, what they produce. They come to you as wolves in sheep’s clothing’. In Ezekiel the ‘shepherds’ are rebuked because they come to devour the sheep. They see the sheep as a means for self aggrandizement. Here Jesus says ‘they are wearing sheepskins!’ They view ministry and pastoring/shepherding as a means to become wealthy and prosperous! Shall I continue? Let’s also take a broader view. In the history of Christianity you have had Christian cults that were ‘false’ by virtue of the fact that they denied the basic truths of Christianity. In the bible, 1st John deals with ‘those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh are anti-christ’. John was targeting the early Gnostic/Docetist sects who said Jesus was a ‘phantom’. He appeared to be ‘real flesh’ but wasn’t. John deals with them as ‘anti christ’ because of their denial of the incarnation. Jesus was truly man and truly God. On a broader scale you have the religion of Islam. Arab [Muslim] people are good people! ‘Why brother how can you say that’? Easy, they were created in the image of God! Allah didn’t make them, Muhammad didn’t create them! They were created by Jesus Christ of Nazareth! Now, have they been led astray? Yes. As hard as it is to say this in today’s pluralistic society, they have been MIS LED. What about Jewish people? Good people! We should love and pray for them, not at the expense of Arabs [Muslims] but in concert for their salvation. Ultimately all religions except for Christianity produce ‘bad fruit’. Why? Because all religions outside of Christ are man centered. You try to self reform thru law. This produces death. Christianity offers a free redemption thru the Blood of Christ. You don’t ‘self reform’. Grace produces the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus does say in this passage ‘narrow and straight is the way to life’. Yes, it sounds narrow minded to proclaim Jesus as the only way. Christians in
(635)Yesterday morning I got up early and prayed a weekly prayer that includes the nations. Part of this time goes like this ‘Lord I pray for all religions outside of the covenant of your Son. All Jewish people, that they would see Jesus their messiah. All Muslim people, that you would give them signs and prophetic visions and dreams to show them Jesus is the way’. Then this morning I had a dream that family members were converting to Islam. That they were being ‘attacked’ or influenced by the ‘spirit of Islam’. In the dream I felt helpless against this force. We went to sleep [in the dream!] and I awoke [still dreaming this] with a radical spirit of intercession. I began praying and breaking the power of Islam off of the family members that just a few hours earlier seemed to be fully lost to Islam. I felt this dream spoke to the effectiveness we have been having recently with Muslims. These last few weeks have given opportunity to share with a homeless Muslim Iraq war veteran. Good friend. Then a Muslim friend from
(611)JOHN 14- Jesus says he is going away to prepare a place for us. He tells the disciples they know where he is going and how to get there. Thomas says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can we know the way’. Jesus wasn’t talking ‘location’ as much as communion with the Trinity. He was saying I am going to THE FATHER and you now know the Father, because I have revealed him to you. You have seen me, you have seen him. Also, the way to the father is thru the Son, so you not only know where I am going [Father] but the way [Son]. Now I get it! You can take this 2 ways [not three!] you can look at it as Jesus speaking of the sending of the Spirit as his ‘coming again’, in verse 18 he does say this. He says ‘I will come to you’ and he is speaking of the Spirits coming. Thru this chapter the comforter is one just like him. Also you can read this as the literal second coming. We believe Jesus will come again! Some have said this chapter is speaking of something else besides these 2 options, they think this ‘coming’ is the rapture. A separate event from the 2nd coming. I don’t see how you can believe it this way. Also in this chapter Jesus is showing the intent of redemption. He didn’t just come to take us to heaven. In chapter 17 we will read that he prays to the father for us not to be taken out of the world, but to keep us from the evil in it. Thomas seems to be thinking ‘location and how to get there’ when he says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can you think we know how to get there’? But Jesus is really speaking the language of fellowship in the Trinity/Unity that he has with the father and the Spirit. He is telling Thomas ‘my purpose is to bring you into this oneness that I have with the father, to invite you to partake in this fellowship’ in essence ‘I am not talking about getting you to a location [heaven] in as much as bringing you into a state of being with me and my father’ true ‘HOLY COMMUNION’! You do see this concept thru out the chapter. The disciples seem to be struggling ‘how will you come back and reveal yourself to us and not to the world’ Jesus says ‘if a man loves me he will keep my words, the Spirit will then come and indwell him and we will all have community together’ [Father, Son, Spirit and all believers]. They are grappling with these ideas. They were like us, always thinking in terms of being saved to go to heaven when we die. Now, I thank God for this benefit. I am very happy that I am not going to Hell! Don’t underestimate this blessing. But Jesus is speaking on a much higher plane. He even says ‘the words I am speaking are not mine, but the Fathers’. A few practical things. Jesus says when I leave you will do greater works because I am leaving and the Spirit will come and indwell you. The ‘non Charismatics’ say this is evangelism. Jesus will give us the Spirit and we will evangelize on a mass scale, greater works. The Charismatics say this is doing more miracles, raising the dead and healing the sick and casting out devils. Who is right? Take them all! Just be sure and bring people into the Kingdom. The gifts are not for you to get famous or gain a following, they are for the purpose of evangelism and expanding the Kingdom. In this chapter we see Jesus great promises of peace and his dwelling with us forever. The promise of the Spirit showing us the things of the father. We are invited into this wonderful communion with him. Let’s allow the work of the Spirit to use us to bring others into this community. The 2 great commandments Jesus gives us is to love God and others. The ‘others’ speaks of his desire to bring people into this community. NOTE; on the radio when I spoke on this entry I mentioned some stuff on the historic creeds and the language that the early church used to define the Trinity. In the world today the 3 main religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Islam and Judaism claim to be Monotheistic. Christians also claim this, but Islam and Judaism don’t agree. The reason for this is in the way the historic church came to define the Trinity. There have been Jewish converts to Christianity who accept Jesus as Messiah but do not accept the classic language of the Trinity. The verse that says ‘the Lord our God is one’ is a main text for both Muslims and Jews in their understanding of Gods oneness. Some of the Trinitarian language has been an obstacle to Muslims and Jews converting. Now, like I said before, I do believe in the Trinity. But if you notice the language that Jesus will use in our study in John, it seems more in line with ‘Unity’ then ‘Trinity’. The truth of the Trinity is there, but the explanations that Jesus gives sound better than the way the creeds say it. One of the creeds says Jesus was begotten eternally. That there was never a time where he was begotten. He was always ‘begotten’. They came to this language by trying to defend Christ’s deity. The problem is scripture teaches us that there was a definite point in time when Jesus ‘was begotten’. The fact that Jesus existed always with the father is different from saying ‘he was always born as a man’ which is what begotten refers to. So to be honest about it, the language in this creed is an obstacle. In my recent conversations with my Muslim friend I stood strong for the deity of Christ and God becoming man thru the incarnation, but I also tried to use the actual language of scripture when explaining it. This is going to be important for the future of the church as she tries to bring both Muslims and Jews into the church. We don’t want to compromise on the historic truths of Christianity, but we also want to express our belief in Monotheism in ways that are in keeping with scripture. Also when I say ‘into the church’ I mean bringing them to God thru Christ, not into some ‘culture of Christianity’ that the world sees as ‘church’. NOTE; I also spoke on the second coming and Preterism. Preterism is a way of interpreting the Second coming as having happened in A.D. 70. This belief arose out of a well intentioned answer to the critics of Christianity. Some critics have brought out the idea that the early church were all expecting an imminent return of Jesus, that they took the obvious scriptures that speak of Jesus coming quickly and stuff like that and were let down when Jesus did not come for the first few centuries. So some scholars developed the idea that Jesus did come in ‘judgment’ and fulfilled all the verses of the second coming in A.D. 70. Others have taught how the early church had to later adjust it’s theology around the ‘obvious’ mistaken teachings of Jesus. Some of these guys are believers, but they fall into the liberal camp. My belief is Jesus will literally come again. A Protestant scholar actually made an argument for the ‘literalness’ of Jesus return thru the Catholic teaching on Transubstantiation. He defended our Catholic brother’s ideas on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He said the church has been faithful to the literal return of Jesus and his immediate presence by the reality of Jesus being present in Communion. Good effort, but a little too much spiritualizing for me. I believe the best argument that can be made, if you were going to go down this road, would be this chapter. Jesus says he will come again and also says the comforter will be the fulfillment of this coming. Now, I also believe in the future literal return of Jesus, because later on in the New testament you see Paul teaching a future return after the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. I was watching an end time teacher using the verse where Jesus spoke on the destruction of the
(434) I woke up today with nothing to say. I actually thought I would take a break. I made the mistake of asking the Lord if he wanted me to speak, and here we go! A few years back I had a Pastor friend who was an ex addict/convict. We ran in the same group of guys. He was ‘solo Jesus’ [Jesus only]. All these brothers are Christian! Let me talk a little about this way of seeing the Trinity. In the gospels Jesus says ‘go and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’. If you look at the actual baptisms in scripture [Acts] you will see that every time they mention the ‘name’ as they baptize, that it is ‘in the name of Jesus’. So what you get from this is when Jesus said ‘baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ he was actually saying that there is only one proper name given in the New Testament for any of the Godhead. Father, Son and Spirit are not names, they are titles. So the reason why the Apostles baptized in Jesus name was because of this. Now the ‘Jesus only’ groups got hold of this as well as other truths and are identified as ‘Jesus only’. I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity as stated in the ancient creeds. I am not a ‘Jesus only’. But this shouldn’t prevent us from seeing truth. Basically the Jesus only groups teach that in heaven you will see ‘Jesus only’ on the throne. God is a Spirit, is he a different Spirit than the ‘Holy Spirit’? Jesus is the only person in the Godhead with a Body. Does Jesus have a spirit? Well if God is a Spirit and all the fullness of God is in Jesus bodily, then they teach you will not see God in heaven as a ‘disembodied Sprit’ that you will see Jesus on the throne, and he will be the express image of God. This is surely interesting. Do I totally hold to this? No. But I wouldn’t classify someone as a heretic for this. I believe there is truth that God gives us from many camps. The problem is as the church developed thru the centuries they had debates over the nature of Jesus and the creeds came down on a certain side. I agree with the creeds, but they had a tendency to say ‘take one side, if not you’re a heretic’ so some of the early fathers had no choice to express other views on these things. I mentioned the ‘Local church’ movement that started under watchman Nee. His disciple that carried the torch after Nee died was ‘witness Lee’ this brother has been fighting the old time apologists for years over this issue. Witness Lee sees some of this stuff. He actually was called a heretic by the apologists for saying ‘Jesus is the Father’. The apologists say ‘you are rejecting the historic Trinity’ the apologists argued with him over the verse in Isaiah that says ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God the Everlasting Father’ this verse is no doubt speaking of Jesus. Lee says ‘see, Jesus is the Father here’ I agree! The strong Trinity guys [of which I am one myself] say that in this verse ‘the Father’ is not God the Father, but a reference to Jesus as the Father of a new race. Lee shoots back and says ‘then you believe in 2 Fathers’. I fall on Lee’s side here. The ‘Father’ reference is speaking of God. The fact is Jesus is the revelation of the Father to us. Scripture says ‘all the fullness of God is in Christ’. Jesus told Phillip ‘if you have seen me, you have seen the Father’. I just think we take revelations from God, like the Trinity, and we cant fully comprehend all there is in it. And then we come to limited human understandings that get us into trouble. It is obvious to me that the strong apologists who are fighting Lee in this one verse are wrong. They are trying to make it fit. It’s hard to make God ‘fit’. God has revealed great truths to the church thru the centuries. I don’t advocate ‘undoing’ the creeds. But we have to be open for further insight into things that we don’t fully comprehend. I remember telling some friends this once. I explained that it isn’t real easy to understand all this. I shared how God is a Spirit, and how the Holy Spirit is God. And God is one. Are there 2 different Spirits? As you can see it’s not easy. So for all my Jesus only brothers, they do have truth. For all those like me [classic Trinitarian] we also have truth. But I also am able to see the truth about all the references in the book of Acts on being baptized ‘in the name of Jesus’. They actually did do this! The strong Trinitarians say ‘that’s right, because Jesus is God, so we should say ‘Father, Son and Spirit’. The point is, because Jesus is God, that’s why they all said ‘Jesus’ at the actual baptism! It’s like if I told you ‘go and cash this check [baptize] in the name of my father, my son and my spirit’. And you went down to the bank and put ‘my father, my son and my spirit’ on the check. They would look at you funny. You would understand that I meant the name ‘Chiarello’ not the title’s ‘my Father, Son and Spirit’. I really don’t see why Christians kill each other over this stuff. I am not advocating re baptizing everyone who did it the historic way. I also think it is more scriptural to say ‘Jesus’ when doing it. Frank Barltleman, who I mentioned earlier on this blog, was one of the smartest Christians at the turn of the last century. He documented the
(575) There is a trend going on among evangelicals that I like. Many of the up and coming believers are getting away from the spooky looking presentations of the TV preachers that you and I are familiar with. Many are becoming environmentally minded, they are holding to more liberal views in politics and describe themselves openly as liberal minded. I too see many of the things they see. I purposefully avoid the whole persona of the religious right. Some on the religious right mean well, some seem to be in it for the glory of the crusade. I believe we all should stand for life, that is abortion is wrong, very wrong. We should have compassion on the abused women who have been victims of the whole mindset of ‘the right to choose’. They are guinea pigs in the system. I recently heard a testimony from a person who worked at an abortion clinic. The girl getting the abortion wanted to see ‘it’ after it was over. The nurse brought the ‘it’ to her. She broke down crying and screaming, she begged God to forgive her for what she had just done. The damage done this poor girl will be with her for the rest of her life. The nurse telling the story said ‘I guess she didn’t realize what she was going to see’. This girl was a victim of the system. She was under the impression that doing this was the ‘progressive’ thing to do. It was ‘open minded’. Though I disagree with the whole persona of the moral crusaders, don’t forget what’s truly important. The death of these little babies is neither a ‘right’ or ‘left’ issue, it is one of truth. Have mercy on all those involved, but do all you can in love to defend the defenseless. NOTE; Let me give you an example on how both sides [right and left] can be ‘married’ to their cause more than truth. I personally was against the war in
(604)Got with my homeless friend yesterday, the Muslim brother. Found out that he served in
(423) I want all my evangelical friends to listen closely. There are many radical and unpopular things I teach on this site. Everything we teach has to be seen thru the Cross. I am listening to a radio message. I stopped to do this. Often times Evangelicals go to great lengths in their defense of natural
(470) I just went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee [decaf now!] and caught an interview with a well known Christian leader. He was asked ‘what is your favorite city in all the world’ [they were in
(514) I am praying one of my ‘intercessory’ prayers where I go thru a long list of things that I feel are important. I just prayed for the church worldwide, the Korean hostages in
(538) This past week the Jehovah Witnesses held a regional convention in our city, the theme was ‘Jesus Christ’. The papers said they were making an all out effort to appeal to Christians at large by doing this. The Pope’s most recent book is ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ he is defending the supernatural and historical accuracy of Jesus as described in the Gospels. He is basically defending the truth of Christ. I find it interesting that most ‘Christian’ groups, even those like the Jehovah witnesses, who historically fall into the cult category, realize that the way to be ‘politically correct’ amongst other groups is to acknowledge Christ. Now I am not saying all groups are doing this out of a pure motive, Jesus said many would come in his name and say ‘I am Christ’ this not only can mean they are claiming to be Christ [Moonies] but it can also mean they are saying ‘Jesus is Christ’ but they don’t truly acknowledge his full deity. The point is even Muslims acknowledge Christ as well as do the Jews. They see him differently than Christians, but they can’t deny him fully! God will draw men to Christ; some of them will preach him out of impure motives, like Paul said. But he also said ‘either way Christ is preached’. I find it interesting that God will even use his enemies to preach his name! [Note: I am not saying this about our Catholic brothers!]
(594) [This is the friend I posted about the other day- the brother who got arrested for attacking a cop with a knife- just thought I’d share some good things about him]. Got with 2 homeless buddies yesterday, Steve and Martin [Steve Martin!] met them a few weeks back. They camp about a half mile from my house, right off the bay front. My fishing spot! I told them for a bunch of homeless guys they have it made. Living on the water front. I didn’t realize that Martin is Muslim. He knew I was a Christian and never mentioned it. But Yesterday he brought it up. He didn’t immediately come out and say it, but he was saying ‘I like Jesus as a Prophet, but you shouldn’t worship him’ after a while I caught on. I was honest with him and told him I believe Muhammad made some good points [like being against idols] but that he missed it on Jesus as the Son of God. I did quote some stuff from John’s gospel and gave a lot of scripture on Jesus as being more than a prophet. He did listen to me. I also shared how many Muslims have reported having dreams about Jesus appearing to them and getting converted. This has happened a lot over the last few years. He told me he had a dream he can’t forget, he dreamt of a new book that was to come out. It was Gold and looked like a new ‘book from God’. I interpreted his dream to mean God was going to reveal Jesus [the divine Logos- Gold speaks of divinity, Jesus is the ‘book/word’ of God] to him. He couldn’t really see what I was saying. I tried to explain the concept, he didn’t grasp it [yet!] On my way to drop them off at the fishing spot, I decided I would do some crabbing also. We went to my house to get some traps and I showed the guys my classic mustang. It’s a 1966 with a 281 engine. Real nice car. Martin loved it. I told him I too had a dream, I dreamt I was to give the car away to a Muslim, but he had to convert to Christianity. He looked at me for a second thinking I was serious, I told him I was just kidding. But I did laugh a little, I said ‘you liked like you were ready to say ‘Muhammad, it’s been fun while it lasted’. He laughed too! I caught about a dozen crabs, Martin got a drum and red fish. I also gave them a few of my books, they both are avid readers.
(39) I have been meaning to speak on this for some time and wasn’t exactly sure what forum to use. Well I guess this is as good as any. In the world today there is no greater singular threat posed to western civilization than that of radical Islam. I am not saying here that all Muslims are the threat, but the simple fact is the rise of radical Islam is now the most serious threat to peace on the world stage. The fact that the adherents to this religion believe they are carrying out the dictates of their ‘prophet’ has tremendous spiritual significance that the church at this time in history needs to understand. Scripture speaks of ‘false prophets’ and ‘the false prophet’ who will influence society and cause people to ‘worship the beast’ and imagery like this. American Christianity often relegates these prophecies to some future dictator and ‘Tim Lahaye’ type interpretations that miss the relevance of what I just discussed. The fact that the greatest threat to world peace today is a movement whose followers are carrying out the dictates of their ‘prophet’ has to be understood thru spiritual discernment. I know it’s politically incorrect to call Muhammad a false prophet. My intent is not to offend Muslims. The simple fact is if you look at the story of Islam and Muhammad there is no other true Christian perspective than to see him as a false prophet. There have been many thru out history to be sure, but this one is the dead spiritual leader of a worldwide movement whose aim is world domination. These radicals indoctrinate their kids in there religious schools from a very early age. The Muslim population is exploding worldwide at the time of this writing and I can’t see a better candidate at this time for the title of ‘the false prophet’ than Muhammad. He causes many people to ‘worship Allah’. Allah is not the Christian God! If they are not worshipping God then whom might it be that they’re worshipping? I know language like this is not common toady, but I agree with Franklin Graham’s assessment of this religion as being ‘an evil and wicked religion’. I am not saying this is true of all Muslims. Muslims are humans whom God created in his image and for his glory. Our goal is not to ‘kill them off!’ but to deliver them from the bondage of false religion and bring them into the true knowledge of God in Christ!
(239)I want to share a few more ‘funny’ stories, but I also have a lot of serious stuff to get to. The last entry is the heart of the gospel message. The radical ‘reconciliation’ of man back to God thru the Cross is the message. The reality of knowing that you, personally, are forgiven and totally accepted is radical. I have friends who read this site who are not Christian. Some are offended at me because of the strong Christian message that we proclaim. We openly say ‘you can only be saved thru Jesus’. I teach that all Jewish people, all Muslim people, all people every where can only be saved thru Christ. This does offend the modern liberal mind, to which some of our blog reader’s posses. The message is as simple as ‘all men need the sun to live’. Well how could you be so arrogant John. There are many opinions on this. Who do you think you are in making such a statement. How could a so called ‘just’ God require all humans to receive ‘sunlight’ to live. Be open-minded! The fact is God has made his sun [Son] available to all humanity. Some live their whole lives under it’s benefits, without ever giving it a second thought. It is not ‘bigoted’ or close-minded to accept the fact that Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind. God has reconciled the world back to himself thru his Son. This central message is available for all men to receive. There are things in life that all people need to survive [food water, etc.] the simple fact is all men need Jesus. Don’t get mad over this. You don’t have to become a religious conservative [I’m not!]. You can even look like a radical hippie from the 70’s [I do!]. It’s just a matter of truth that you have been forgiven, why wont you accept this!
(297)I have a captain friend at the firehouse who is a liberal Democrat. One day we were talking and the secretary pages the Captain to pick up the phone. I forget how she said it, but it was in a way that we knew it was Dick Cheney’s office calling to set up our ambulance service to provide for a local hunting trip that Cheney makes every year. He kinda said ‘damn, what’s Cheney want now!’ I thought it was funny. This Captain was rooting for Kerry to win the election against Bush a few years back. There were a bunch of guys hanging out and he was challenging the ‘non Kerry’ guys. I stuck my hand out and bet him $50 bucks that Bush would win. He went for it. Sure enough I won the 50 and he paid up. He was mad that Kerry lost, and he was taking it out verbally on the union guys who voted for Bush. He said ‘I cant understand how you labor guys could vote for a Republican, there out for the rich, what money has Bush ever gotten you?’ I answered ‘Well, he just made me 50 bucks’ this didn’t improve my Captains mood too much! NOTE: I am not a Republican or Democrat. I initially was against the
(347)Let me deal with certain things that inevitably come up when you discus these things. Jesus said in the gospel ‘destroy this
(377)A few entries back I spoke on not judging God or others based on our own experiences. I have noticed over the years how a lot of believers who might have had a Catholic background became very ‘anti catholic’ after being ‘born again’. I do believe in the New Birth. I believe all who believe in Jesus Christ are Born Again. In 1st John it does say ‘whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God’. Some times we associate ‘being born again’ with our own evangelical experience. ‘Have you asked Jesus into your heart?’ If not, then you’re not BORN AGAIN! This is what you would call ‘reductionism’ reducing everything to a simple ‘me and Jesus’ format. You know none of the Apostles ‘asked Jesus into their heart’ [the original 12]. It would sure seem like an awkward thing. ‘Jesus’ ‘yes Peter’ ‘would you come into my heart’ ‘I have been with you from the start, you will soon believe in my death and resurrection. You will be one of the key figures in the founding of my church’ ‘I know all this Jesus, but if I don’t get saved I cant go to heaven’. The point is simply, all the Apostles and every other believer since has had one thing in common. They have all believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They believe ‘he is the Son of God’. Don’t use your own personal experience to exclude others who might not have come to the Cross the same way. We all come by faith, the peculiar aspects surrounding the event are not what saved you, it was Jesus who saved you. Also it is a common hobby for the more extreme fundamentalists to question whether or not ‘you are really saved’. They often use verses like ‘you should know whether you are in the faith or not’ [Corinthians]. But they use them in a way that’s not really in context. Paul uses these verses to question Christians who are doubting the physical resurrection. He is not using these verses to ‘micro examine’ every little detail of their conversion experience! God gave his son to save the world; it would sure be strange to find out that the majority of people who believe in Jesus didn’t make it because of some technicality! God wants to save people, people need Jesus to be saved. Don’t make it harder than this! NOTE; Now that I mentioned ‘reductionism’ let me say a few things. In the world of ‘theology’ reductionism refers to the ‘reducing’ of Gods greater corporate and societal purposes [the
(412)A few years back before
(234)EMBRACING A RADICAL PROPHET Most of us today are not willing to hear and see on the university level [spiritually speaking] we seem to forget the radical departure that the early followers of Christ had to make in order to embrace him. The concept of Jesus being Gods son, making himself equal to God was a drastic step of heresy for the 1st century Jew. Even today most people don’t realize that many Messianic congregations are not comfortable with the historic language of the Trinity. To embrace Jesus was a very radical theological departure from the norm! Now I am not advocating that we ‘depart from the norm’ today. In the sense that we have been handed down the historic faith that scripture says ‘has once been delivered to the saints’. But we often mistake our own peculiar convictions for ‘the historic faith’. God is calling us today to radical revolution. We live in a day where Christians are being killed for the faith! Most western believers don’t seem to understand this. We need to at least be radical enough to forsake the world and its creature comforts for the gospel. I am not advocating ‘self martyrdom’ but can we at least be willing to walk in a way that might seem contrary to the norm!
(496) I have been interceding for a while this morning. I have been praying for 22 Korean Christian hostages who were taken by the Taliban in
(83)I had a couple of thoughts that ran thru my mind. Jesus was being praised by the people at one time in the gospels. The religious leaders were jealous and said ‘tell them to stop’ Jesus responded ‘if I stop them, the rocks themselves would cry out’. This response was primarily to the 1st century religious Jew. Their whole destiny was at a critical point in history. They were created for the sole purpose of revealing God [and ultimately Messiah] to all the ‘rock’ nations around them. Scripture uses images like ‘precious stone’ ‘wood, hay, stubble’ and things like this to denote value and worth. The religious Jew of the 1st century saw themselves as ‘precious stones’ they derived this from their Old testament books [Isaiah, etc.] The prophets referred to