The Christian Hate-Literature Paradox

The Christian Hate-Literature Paradox
Vol: 57 Issue: 30 Friday, June 30, 2006

Paradox: “A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true;” e.g., the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.

Two thousand years ago, becoming a Christian meant becoming an enemy of the state. The simple act of believing meant, under Roman law, being guilty of a ‘hate crime’.

It wasn’t because the Romans were anti-religious. Ancient Rome was one of the most religious empires of antiquity. The Romans had dozens of their own gods and were willing to embrace pretty much anybody’s else’s god, as well.

The only ‘god’ rejected by Rome was the God of the Jews and Christians. To be accepted by the God of the Jews required converting to Judaism and forsaking all other gods. To be accepted by the God of the Christians required converting to Christianity and forsaking all other gods.

Your average Roman had room to worship his own gods, (and anybody else’s) but he drew the line at worshipping one God exclusively. And the doctrine that only worshippers of the One True God could go to heaven left out all the pagans.

That’s why Christianity qualified as a hate crime in AD 55.

Christians were persecuted in revenge for what the pagans perceived as Christian persecution of pagans in the afterlife.

Sounds a bit simpleminded, no?

No. The reason for modern persecution is the same reason given by the Emperor Nero’s forces. It violated the Roman socio-religious principle of ‘vive et vivas’ [live and let live].

That same principle is at the heart of secular humanism, and its variations are found throughout pagan religious systems, from Buddha’s karma to Wicca’s ‘Do no harm’.

The Christian doctrine specifically consigned followers of all other religions and gods to an eternal hell.

As such, Christianity is exclusive, intolerant, and therefore, hateful.

Assessment:

The concept of Christianity as a ‘hate crime’ seems so foreign to believers that they can’t really believe that anybody really thinks that.

Christianity’s Golden Rule dictates that Christians love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Jesus also said that, on those two commandments, “hangs all the law and all the prophets.” In other words, it is the distilled essence of what it means to be a Christian. Love.

This is where the world gets hung up. “If Christians are so loving, why can’t they leave the rest of us alone?” A loving God, they argue, would not exclude good people just because of a religious tag.

Imagine for a second that you are an honest, law-abiding atheist. You are driving down the freeway at the speed limit when some bozo comes screaming by you at 30 mph over the limit and sporting a bumper sticker proclaiming, “Honk if you love Jesus.”

You think, “And that hypocrite thinks you aren’t good enough for heaven, but he is? Grrrr.”

Christianity is, of course, a religious worldview singularly devoted to the causes of peace and love. We’ve noted in the past that where the spiritual dimension makes contact with this dimension, it creates a paradox.

The Temple Mount is claimed by all three world religions, but the weakest claim is, paradoxically, Israel’s, whose claim is both the oldest and best attested to.

Israel’s land grant comes directly from God, as recorded in the Old Testament.

Both Christians and Muslims claim the Old Testament as one of their Holy Books and Abraham as their spiritual kin. Yet Israel’s claim is the weakest.

It is a paradox.

When the spiritual dimension meets this physical dimension, things get topsy turvy. Christians obtain victory by surrender, for example. Islam can claim a reputation of peace and love based on its history of violence and repression, and nobody blinks.

The Koran has become so sacred that our military forces take sensitivity training on how to handle it without desecrating it, but the Bible is forbidden in public.

No American politician or mainstream media outlet would dare refer to “Jesus the Savior” but show no hesitation at using the designation, the “Prophet” Mohammed.

America is a culturally-Christian secular republic populated almost entirely by Christians, either cultural or born again believers. And Islam is a theocratic religion with almost no presence in either American society or American history. But officially in America, the Bible is hate literature. The Koran is sacred.

It is a paradox.

We know Christianity to be rooted in the greatest of love. Christianity defines love itself as being God Himself. “Love is of God, for God is love” (1st John 4:7-8)

But at the same time, Christianity IS intolerant of other religions. It IS exclusive:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me,” (John 14:6) is both intolerant and exclusive.

Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven, so by definition, all other faiths are condemned, along with their adherents.

Jesus said of Himself, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

Christians know their faith to be rooted in peace and love. But the Founder of Christianity says He is come to ‘bring a sword’ rather than peace, and to bring ‘variance’ instead of love.

The Bible explains this paradox in a manner that makes perfect sense to indwelt believers to whom it was given to understand it. And that explanation infuriates the world even more.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14)

To the natural man, Christianity is a hateful, exclusive and intolerant faith. To the Christian, it is the exact opposite.

Christians know, in their living spirit, a definition of love that escapes the natural man.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

The most loving thing a Christian can do is lead someone to Christ and eternal salvation. The most hateful thing a Christian can do is stand idly by and let someone die in their sins. To the world, it is a paradox.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1st Corinthians 1:18)

To the world, the Bible is hate literature and Christianity is a hateful religion. We know it to be the exact opposite.

That paradox is by itself, clear evidence of the power of God — but discernible only to we who are saved.

Ever have doubts? Remember the paradox. If it all makes sense to you, put your doubts away.

Wars On Every Horizon. . . Blessed Assurance?

Wars On Every Horizon. . . Blessed Assurance?
Vol: 57 Issue: 29 Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wars On Every Horizon. . . Blessed Assurance?

This week Australian Defense Minister, Dr. Brendan Nelson said during an ABC interview in Washington that Australia is putting its bets on the UN defusing the North Korean missile crisis.

“If the missile is, however, launched at some point, naturally we would expect that the world would respond by dealing with it appropriately,” Dr Nelson said on ABC radio. “We would express our views through the United Nations.”

Here’s the problem with trusting the United Nations to handle North Korea. It is a hand-off, not a solution.

At best, handing it off the to UN will buy the threatened nations (especially Australia) a little time to figure out what to do. The last time the North Korean problem was handed off to the UN was June 25, 1950.

With the United Nations in charge, fourteen nations ended up serving combat roles with the United Nations Command in Korea. (Including Australia, who contributed more than 17,000 troops and suffered more than 1,500 casualties).

With the UN in charge, peace negotiations were conducted concurrent with ongoing military campaigns. Diplomatic positions changed with battlefield successes, and battlefield success were later negated by diplomatic negotiations.

At its end, after spending two of the three years of the Korean War negotiating ‘peace’ the UN retired its forces from the field after the North Koreans agreed to stay north of the 38th parallel.

The Korean War holds the record for being the longest unresolved war in modern history, at something like fifty-six years and counting. Nobody won. No armistice was signed. North Korea’s leadership remained intact.

Armed troops still patrol each side of a heavily-mined border. North Korea has defied the UN whenever it felt it was in Pyongyang’s interests with impunity ever since.

There have been American (and Australian) forces on continuous duty in an active warzone along the 39th parallel since before I was born.

The Korean War stands as an historical testament to the folly of putting the UN in charge of a military operation. But not the only one. Just the worst.

It is worth nothing that the next time the UN was entrusted with leading a military coalition was the Gulf War in 1991. Nobody won. No armistice was signed. Iraq’s leadership remained intact.

Armed coalition warplanes patrolled the UN-mandated ‘no-fly’ zone for twelve years, engaged in more-or-less daily combat with Iraqi air defense installations on the ground.

There have been coalition forces (including Australian) on continuous duty in an active warzone in and around Iraq since 1991.

The United Nations was created as a safety mechanism to prevent the outbreak of world war after having experienced two world wars in one generation.

The First World War lasted four years and resulted in a decisive Allied victory.

The Second World War lasted five years and resulted in a decisive Allied victory.

The UN’s wars last for generations . . . during which time nobody is allowed to win.

By definition, the United Nations is incapable of conducting or overseeing war. It was created for the expressed purpose of preventing war.

No nation is an island — like people, they exist as part of a network of friends, allies, trading partners, ideological sympathizers and ideological opponents.

Putting the UN in charge of the Korean War gave the North Koreans a say in how the war was conducted against them. Through Pyongyang’s friends, allies, trading partners and ideological sympathizers within the UN itself, the North Koreans were able to run the war from both sides.

The same held true during the first Persian Gulf War. The UN Security Council was briefed before the US launched its air offensive. We learned that Saddam Hussein was briefed by the Russians immediately thereafter.

During the 12 year Phony War that followed, Saddam was able to use his network within the UN to dictate terms to his enemies by rewarding his friends.

Handing control of the North Korean crisis to the United Nations is like giving Mr. Magoo the car keys.

Assessment:

There is a central theme that runs throughout the Bible’s prophetic narrative for the last days — that of constant, unrelenting war. Jesus spoke of wars, rumors of wars, ethnic unrest and ‘kingdom rising against kingdom.’

At the moment, the United States (and western culture in general) is engaged in what the White House describes as a ‘generational’ war against Islamofascism — a war conducted under the joint supervision of representatives of the West and the Islamofascists of the 57 member-nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the UN.

Which is why nobody is winning.

The UN has been in charge of the Iranian nuclear crisis since it first broke in 1998. Iran is estimated to be only months away from having operational nukes, thanks to UN dithering.

The North Koreans have a missile fueled and waiting on a launchpad. The missile is a three-stage ICBM capable of reaching the western United States with a small nuclear warhead.

Whether it is intended as a missile test or whether it is a sneak North Korean nuclear strike depends on how much one trusts Kim Jong il’s sanity.

It is now an open intelligence ‘secret’ that North Korea has been supplying Iran with similar missile technology and that Iran already has missile capability putting all of Europe within Ahmadinejad’s reach. And Ahmadinejad’s sanity is about as trustworthy as that of Kim Jong il.

Israel is currently engaged in a massive punitive invasion of Gaza in the search for a kidnapped soldier, despite strong international criticism of its ‘violation of human rights.’

(Not a word is said about the ‘rights’ of the 18 year old Israel student kidnapped and murdered by members of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah yesterday. Eighteen year-old Eliyahu Asheri was an Israeli and a Jew — evidently, he was therefore disqualifed from human rights consideration and could be murdered with impunity.)

Overseeing it all is the scandal-ridden, schizophrenic United Nations led by the spectacularly incompetent Kofi Annan.

We’re in a pickle. No doubt about it.

But the Bible foresaw and foretold the very chaos behind the war clouds gathering on the horizon.

Not to give Christians a parlor trick with which to amaze their friends, but as an assurance that all is going according to a Divine, pre-ordained plan.

So that when we see these events looming, we can be confident that we are not following “cunningly devised fables”, but rather, the testimony of “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2nd Peter 1:16).

The same God Who foretold the events we now see coming to pass will continue to fulfill His Word with equal precision, including His return for His Church.

That means we can know our eternity is already assured and the threats facing this world are, to those who understand, actually signs of hope and blessed assurance.

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:31-32)

Special Report: Losing The Faith . . .

Special Report: Losing The Faith . . .
Vol: 57 Issue: 28 Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Special Report: Losing The Faith . . .

I received a most perplexing email recently from a correspondent who said he feared he was losing his faith. My first response is to ask, “where did you put it?”

I don’t mean to sound flippant. It is a legitimate question. Many claim Christ, but misplace their faith in a system, or a particular preacher, or even a particular translation of the Bible.

Full disclosure: I read, preach and teach from the King James Bible. It is not because I believe the KJV version uniquely has special mystical powers, or because the other versions are so corrupted that one can’t discern the Gospel message.

I prefer it because of its majestic presentation, its brevity and simplicity, and because it is the Bible that I have always studied from. I ‘think’ in King James, so when I hear a quote from another Bible version, I have to translate it into King James in order to put it into context.

My faith is NOT in a particular version of a Book, but in its Author. I recall a time when I was a staunch KJV purist, arguing the case that God only wrote one Bible, and that the KJV was it.

My argument was predicated on the fact that the KJV remained substantially unchanged since 1611, and that it was translated from the most faithfully preserved translations of the original Scriptures. I had faith in my argument, and in my understanding of the KJV.

Until it occurred to me that all it would take to shatter my faith would be evidence that one translator, somewhere along the line, got something wrong.

My faith, I realized, was not in the Bible’s Author, or even in the Bible itself, but in the ability of the scribes to produce perfect copies and the ability of the translators to produce a perfect translation.

I still believe the KJV to be the most accurate translation of Scripture available to English-speaking believers, but I will no longer debate it as an issue. My faith isn’t in a translation, it is in the Message it contains.

The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by forty different human authors, most of whom had not only never met, but in many cases, had never even heard of each other or the different works they produced.

But each flows together in a cohesive, harmonious narrative that takes humankind from the point of creation to the threshold of eternity.

The integrity of its historical and geographical record is supported by archeology. The accuracy with which it has been copied and handed down to us has been confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran.

Originating neither in the East nor the West, but in the Middle East–the cradle of civilization–the Bible is a living Book that speaks to each generation of history as if it were written specifically to their time. The Bible says of itself that its contents were ‘God-breathed’ and it’s accuracy has withstood all the tests that time could throw at it.

But my faith isn’t in the KJV, it is in the Scripture itself. If my faith rested on the King James Version of the Bible, it would begin to crumble at the moment I pondered Russian, Italian, French, Swahili and Swedish translations of Scripture.

I recall, shortly after being saved, attending a fire-and-brimstone, King James only, ye must be born again, long skirts for ladies, short hair for men, door-knockin’, throw out your TV, old time Bible Baptist Church.

I thought the preacher was the most Spirit-filled, inspired and God-centered man I had ever met. With him at my side, I would have charged Hell with a bucket of ice water. Until he turned out to have feet of clay.

I’ll spare you the details, but those details threw me into a spiritual spiral that, had the Lord not reached down and pulled me out in time, would have seen my faith crash and burn like an Arab jet fighter in an Israeli dogfight.

I almost lost my faith because I didn’t remember where I had put it last. I put my faith in a man of God, and not in the God of man.

For a time, I put my faith in my interpretation of the timing of the Rapture of the Church. I would argue with anyone who was willing (and there was never a shortage of volunteers) about when the Rapture would occur and why it must occur before the Tribulation begins.

I am as certain today as I ever was that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation Period. But some of those with whom I jousted were equally certain of their interpretative understanding. Since we were both arguing based on our faith in our own ability to discern the Scriptures, our faith was misplaced.

If I were successful in my argument, my opponent’s faith would be shattered. Some ‘victory.’

On each side of the debate, our faith was in when He comes, rather than Who is coming. And when we crossed that invisible line between sharing our own understanding to demanding it be accepted as an article of faith, the debate becomes a pointless exercise in what is nothing less than breathtaking spiritual arrogance.

Nobody will ever be able to say ‘I told you so’ — and the timing of the Rapture plays no role in whether or not a believer will participate in it. Both sides walk away from such a debate diminished.

The Scriptures tell us, “let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4)

There are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are different denominations within Christendom.

One can run the gamut from the replacement theology of classic Protestantism to Dispensationalism, from the high liturgy of Lutheranism to the relaxed atmosphere of a non-denominational Bible church, and find within them sincere, born-again believers who put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

It is faith in the completed Work of Jesus Christ at the Cross that saves us. Not faith in our own interpretative abilities, the infallibility of our doctrine, faith in a particular English translation of the Bible, or faith in a particular preacher or teacher.

One loses one’s faith when one forgets where he put it.

Propaganda “In the Public Interest”

Propaganda “In the Public Interest”
Vol: 57 Issue: 27 Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The New York Times has finally gone too far in its war against the US government. Note that I said ‘the US government’ rather than the Bush administration, since this latest outrage hurts the whole country more than it does the Bush administration.

Managing Editor Bill Keller’s five-day effort to spin his decision to burn one of what the government says was one of its most important war-fighting secrets as being in the ‘public interest’ is, to his surprise, not getting any takers.

One has to look long and hard for any reputable journalist willing to stick his neck out to defend the Times’ effort to wrap itself in the 1st Amendment. There ARE limits to freedom of speech.

We all live under restrictions on our freedom of speech.

There is the voluntary kind; it is unwise to tell ethnic jokes in certain places, for example. We restrict our speech so as not to offend the listener as a social skill.

One can be honest with one’s opinions without being offensive, and everybody who ever had a friend knows that there are times when it is best to keep one’s opinion to oneself. There are even times when a white lie is justified, like when somebody asks, “How do I look?”

Then there is the involuntary kind, like the dictatorial extremism of Political Correctness. Anybody who is paying attention can tell the difference between voluntary restrictions on free speech and restrictions enforced by self-styled ‘thought police’.

It is, for example, politically incorrect to identify our enemy with Islam, despite the fact Islam is the glue which binds them. Recall the RCMP’s ridiculous assertion last month that the 18 terrorists arrested in Toronto had no ‘discernible common denominator’ and that they ‘were a diverse cross-section’ of ordinary Canadians.

Political correctness requires the RCMP to overlook the fact all 18 were Islamic, and that the majority attended the same Islamic mosque.

Consider how dangerous PC thinking really is. Political correctness demands we pretend that homosexual sex is something so natural and normal that we are ambivalent about whether our children are gay or straight.

So we pretend its ok for Johnny to learn in school that ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ or for 6th-graders to be asked in a school-sponsored survey, “If you have never slept with someone of your same gender, then how do you know you wouldn’t prefer it?” (Omega Letter, Volume 57, Issue 22)

Political correctness demands that we pretend the solution to murder is to outlaw guns, the solution to unwanted teenage pregnancy is abortion, that the solution to illegal behavior is to modify the laws, and that the solution to war is surrender.

It is obvious that enforced restrictions on freedom of speech are nowhere nearly as effective as the voluntary kind. You know, the “How do I look?” restrictions we self-impose every day as a matter of social survival.

Assessment:

It is worth noting that, if the Thought Police had a Fuehrer and a Gestapo, it would be Bill Keller and the New York Times. The New York Times virtually invented Political Correctness as a gesture of tribute to the Clinton administration.

Following the Clinton administration’s lead, it banished the word ‘terrorist’ from its lexicon — in deference to Nobel Peace Prize winners Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat.

The New York Times, as America’s leading newspaper, set the standard for liberal-leaning editorial boards across America. If the New York Times was going to use euphemisms for ‘terrorist’ in its reporting as the gold standard of ‘unbiased’ coverage, well, they were too.

Since Bush’s inauguration, the New York Times has set the industry-wide standard for how brazenly a newspaper can push a political agenda disguised as news without tripping anybody’s propaganda meter.

The New York Times’ and its editorial staff are evidently so blinded by their hatred of the conservative worldview Bush represents that they can no longer distinguish between the political administration of George Bush and the government of the United States.

Right after the successful Iraqi parliamentary election and just before Congress was to take up discussion of renewing the Patriot Act, the New York Times disclosed a top-secret terrorist surveillance program, which it misdescribed it as a broad domestic surveillance undermining the civil liberties of Americans.

Turns out that it wasn’t anything of the kind. Despite much unwanted attention and scrutiny, the program was deemed to be legal, legitimate and, thanks to its revelation, useless. But anything that hurts the war effort makes the Bush administration look bad.

There is an election coming, and the New York Times wants to unseat as many Republicans from the House and Senate as possible. If that means putting our forces in danger, increasing the risk of a terror attack on the homeland, or otherwise compromising America’s security, that is not too high a price to pay.

If, as Bill Keller argued last week, the New York Times believes it is in ‘the public interest’.

Let’s stop there. Suppose you were a liberal partisan member of the Thought Gestapo. By definition, you believe that the things that the liberal left espouse; a woman’s ‘right to choose’ gay marriage, unrestricted welfare, higher taxes for ‘the rich’, etc., etc. are ‘in the public interest’. If you didn’t, then you wouldn’t support them, right?

You would work tirelessly to unseat those lawmakers who oppose your agenda as a matter of public interest. You could also quite legitimately argue that your actions served the greater good because they advanced the ‘public interest’.

Even treason, if you truly believed the government was evil. And with the right spin doctors, you might even make it sound justifiable.

Now step back with me and let’s look at the Big Picture. When asked of the signs of His coming and of the end of the Church Age, the FIRST thing Jesus said in reply was, “Take heed no man deceive you.”

The Apostle Paul said the antichrist comes to power through propaganda and thought control: “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness”. (2nd Thessalonians 2:10)

Centuries before Christ, the Prophet Hosea lamented, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

Look at the arguments. On the one hand, we have the New York Times and its liberal supporters wrapping themselves in the 1st Amendment over the right to decide what should be classified information and what information is in ‘the public interest’.

On the other hand, we have serious, mainstream editorial pages on both sides of the political divide calling for the indictment of the Times’ and its editorial board for violating the Espionage Act — or even treason.

Five years ago, Bernie Goldberg was ostracized from the mainstream media after he published an insider book about mainstream journalism under the title, ‘Bias’. He was so completely blacklisted by the mainstream that his blacklisting became a bigger story than his book.

What were blockbuster (and hotly denied) allegations five years ago are conventional wisdom today. There is a conservative media and a liberal media. Both are [openly] propaganda agents for their respective political worldviews. They don’t even pretend anymore.

And, until the New York Times let its political agenda trump America’s security, nobody gave a rip.

The propaganda machine is too big to hide anymore. And it is too entrenched to change. Its like having an elephant in the living room. You can’t ignore it, its too big to move, so the best you can do is work around it.

Until it sits on you.

The God of Tolerance

The God of Tolerance
Vol: 57 Issue: 26 Monday, June 26, 2006

Since there are so many forms of ‘god’, there is a popular myth that dictates there are as many ways to God as there are forms of ‘god.’

It sounds logical enough, if one prefers a ‘god of their own understanding’ over an omnipotent God Who understands all.

A ‘god of one’s own understanding’ could just as easily be described as the ‘God I Made Up To Suit Me’.

The ‘god of one’s own understanding’ is a god whose attitudes reflect his inventor. Since this god has no rules, he is the easiest one to follow, which explains why he is so popular.

We’ve all joked that the quickest way to clear a room is to bring up Jesus as a topic of conversation. At Branson, Frank joked that if we wanted to get the pavilion center early, we could just start passing out tracts. It was funny, because it is true.

It is this worldview that gives rise to the myth that a ‘real ‘ God would be tolerant of other religions, and that genuine Christianity is a ‘tolerant’ spiritual worldview; whereas the kind of Christianity practiced by Christian ‘fundamentalists’ is intolerant and therefore an aberration of ‘real’ Christianity.

It is educational to spend a bit of time browsing websites that offer studies in comparative religions. You will find ‘true’ Christianity defined a religion of peace and tolerance, and ‘fundamentalist’ Christianity defined as a religion of hate and intolerance.

The self-styled ‘Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance’ defines ‘real’ Christianity this way at its website: “An individual or group is Christian if they sincerely, thoughtfully and devoutly believe that they are Christian.”

Where does the ‘intolerance’ come from? It comes from the ‘fundamentalist’ view that one must be ‘born-again’ to be saved.

That excludes the vast majority of professing Christians who put their faith in their self-identification as Christians, or those who put their faith in their membership in a particular church system.

Those are what I call ‘cultural’ Christians, because I used to be one myself.

I was born and raised in an Irish-Catholic family. I went to a Catholic school. I attended Mass regularly. I went through all the rites of passage; First Confession, First Communion, Confirmation, etc.

As a Catholic, I considered myself a Christian. Not because I had entered into a voluntary relationship with Christ, but because I had been baptized by the Church as a infant.

If you asked me if I was a Christian, I would have certainly answered yes. But I wasn’t saved.

The fundamental doctrine, ‘ye must be born again,’ left me, and millions of other ‘Christians’ like me, living in a spiritual ‘fool’s paradise’, endlessly swimming upriver to nowhere.

When I was a kid, I remember wanting to beat up the kid who first told me that I wasn’t really a Christian, and that I had to be born again. He was the first person to share Christ with me.

That kid made an impact on me that was so profound that I remember every detail:

I was in the 4th Grade in Miss Duggan’s class at Our Lady of Victory School in Fort Erie, Ontario. It was in early June and class had let out early as the school year was winding down.

I was watching a group of kids playing baseball in the school yard when a kid walked up beside me and we started talking. At one point, he asked me if I was a Christian.

I snorted in disbelief, and said, “Of course. ” I waved my arm back toward Our Lady of Victory School. “That’s my school. I am a Catholic.” To me, that settled it.

He persisted, “But are you a Christian? Have you been born again?”

“I don’t need to be ‘born-again.’ I told you, I’m a Catholic.”

“Then you aren’t a Christian,” my new acquaintance informed me.

Being a fourth-grader with limited debating skills, I shouted, “Am so!”, before threatening to beat the tar out of him if he said that one more time.

(I guess I showed HIM which one of us had the love of Christ in him.) But he gave me a look before turning away that stuck in my mind.

And I note with some surprise as I turn it over in my mind that I recall every detail of that long-ago spring day when I first heard I wasn’t born again but that other little boy’s name.

It was the message that I remember. Not the messenger.

All I can recall about the messenger was that I hated him for telling me. How dare he exclude me from heaven? I was an altar boy, for crying out loud! What did he know?

As I dwell on the memory, I am surprised at just how angry I was at the time. I preferred the God of my understanding. He and I had a comfortable arrangement. I had done the 12 Stations of the Cross on All Saint’s Day the year before and had earned a Scapular Medal.

Wearing that Scapular Medal was an iron-clad guarantee from Mary herself that I would not die without a priest at hand to grant me Extreme Unction (last rites) to ensure my entrance into heaven.

That was what I had been taught, and that was what I was trusting my eternity to. Along comes this kid and tells me all that time and effort and study was meaningless if I wasn’t born-again!

It filled me with hate, which I immediately transferred to that other kid. Excluding me from heaven was hateful.

Not to mention intolerant.

Assessment:

The Bible says that the system of the antichrist, as it will exist during the Tribulation Period, will rest on three pillars of power. He will control a global system of government, a global economic system, and a global religious system.

That there is a global government-in-waiting is beyond doubt.

Every nation in the world has its share of committed globalists who send representatives to the United Nations to advance their vision of world peace through global government.

The existence of a global economy is much further advanced than is the global government. The global economy is so concentrated that 98% of all international transactions pass through a single financial clearinghouse in Belgium called the ‘Swift Network’ — as the NYTimes so helpfully revealed to the enemy last week.

But there is not yet a functioning global religious system. Throughout history, there have been plenty of candidates — most particularly the Vatican.

But, as the revealing Angel told Daniel, the prophecies for the last days were sealed ‘until the time of the end’ when ‘knowledge shall be increased.’ (Daniel 12:4)

As the end approaches the picture gets a bit clearer:

The world is currently engaged in what is alternatively styled as the ‘global war against terror’ or, ‘the global war against Islamic fundamentalism’ — but the latter is the closest to being accurate.

The war is being fought in Islamic countries against Islamic fundamentalists who use terror as a weapon. But the war isn’t against terrorism. It is against Islamic terrorism.

As we’ve heard innumerable times, the enemy is the Muslim who practices the fundamentals of the Koran, including jihad, rather than the peaceful majority who are more ‘moderate’ and only practice those parts of the Koran that talk about peace, love, and, especially, (since it is included in every speech about Islam) Islamic ‘tolerance.’

It isn’t true, but it is the operational understanding around which Western foreign policy is constructed. The bad guys are the fundamentalists who take the Koran a bit too literally.

The good guys are the Jews and the Crusader Christians, as embodied by Israel and the United States. Within each country there exists two versions of religious thought. The ‘moderates’ and the ‘right wing’.

The ‘moderates’ share the religious characteristics of their enemy counterparts. They espouse the principles of peace, love and, especially tolerance.

Then there is the fundamentalist view of the ‘right wing.’ You know who the ‘right wing’ is without my telling you. They are the bug-eyed, spittle-spewing warmongering minority within the larger body of Judaism and Crusader Christianity.

They are the ones who advocate the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem, oppose the creation of a terrorist state beside Israel, oppose the division of Jerusalem, and the destruction of our shared enemy.

They accept the testimony of the Bible as legal title for Israeli possession of the Land of Promise and support Israel’s right to exist as a matter of religious doctrine.

It is the ‘fundamentalists’ that blow up abortion clinics, shoot up crowded mosques, and, worst of all, promote religious disharmony by their insistence on exclusivity. The fundamentalists are the ones who take the Bible too literally.

The entire ecumenical movement is stalled in its tracks by religious fundamentalism. And the worst offender is Christian fundamentalism. The kind of fundamentalism I first encountered in a school yard one warm spring day in June four decades ago (that made me want to punch that kid’s face off.)

The war against terror IS a war against fundamentalism — but primarily against Islamic fundamentalism — for now.

Ultimately, religious fundamentalism of all kinds will be cited as being responsible for the wars that have plagued mankind and will be outlawed, as it was by Imperial Rome during its slide, as a ‘hate crime’.

Especially Christian and Jewish fundamentalism. The ‘tolerant’ god of Islam will demand it as a condition of peace (and dhimmitude) with the West.

“And when these things BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

The Handwriting is on the wall.

Disappointed With God?

Disappointed With God?
Vol: 57 Issue: 24 Saturday, June 24, 2006

Disappointed With God?

Although few of us want to admit it, it is my firm suspicion that everybody has found themselves, at one time or another, disappointed by God.

Among those who DO admit to it, there are those who’ve gone the extra half-inch from being disappointed BY God into being disappointed WITH God. And with church. And with other Christians. And with doctrinal divisions. And with the whole spiritual conflict in general.

It isn’t enough to have some well-meaning friend remind you that ‘life is hard, and at the end, you die.” Or that ‘God never promised you a rose garden.’

I bet to differ. There are apparently clear and unambiguous promises in Scripture that He did so.

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:9-11)

We, as parents, do all that we can to provide our children with a ‘rose garden’ existence. To the degree that our children let us. Which means there are a lot of thorns in that rose garden.

Jesus asked which of us would give our children a stone instead of bread? Children NEED bread, even when they ASK for stones. You can pray for diamonds, but God knows what your are going to NEED in the days ahead.

Sometimes, God, knowing your future, says ‘yes.’ (If He didn’t, you’d never see a Christian lady wearing a diamond ring.)

And sometimes, in His infinite foreknowledge, He knows you are asking for a stone, but what your future will demand is more bread. To you, in the here-and-now, its a diamond.

(But if you get hungry enough, it is just a stone. Trust me on this one.)

James explains, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”

He goes on with this seemingly contradictory statement, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Assessment:

Jesus promised, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 21:32)

So if it is the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom, how come He won’t give me a better job? How come He won’t make my credit score higher? How come He won’t make life easier for me?

Or, the Big Question: God created the world in six days out of nothing. How can it be that, no matter how many times I ask Him, He still hasn’t helped me to quit smoking, overeating, drinking, (fill in your own ‘how come’ as needed)?

How come I pray for courage to boldly speak out for Christ, but can’t find it when I need it? How come I pray for healing and it doesn’t happen? How come the more I pray for understanding, the more confusing it all gets.

Why DON’T You DO something about this?

The Bible says, “with God, all things are possible.”

Until it comes to my shortcomings, or my health problems, or my personal problems. Then sometimes, they are evidently even too big for Him, since I still have them.

And it isn’t all that helpful to have somebody tell you that, “God works in mysterious ways,” either. It doesn’t seem that mysterious. It’s God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom.

Did Jesus not say, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son?” (John 14:13)

‘Prosperity Gospel’ preachers twist these Scriptures to mean that God wants you to be materially healthy, wealthy and wise. They tell you that first. Then they explain that all you have to do to obtain these blessings is ‘let go’ of what little material wealth you have.

(To them, of course, so they can continue to spread their ‘message’ that God wants other people to let go of their material wealth (to them) so He can shower them with wealth, too.)

The truth is, this world ISN’T ‘the kingdom’ that the Father takes pleasure in giving me. I am IN this world, but I am not OF it.

The promise is valid, it is the reward that is misunderstood.

And Jesus was speaking to the Twelve directly, whom He was granting the power, in His Name, to do the miracles recorded in the Book of Acts as they went out to start the early Church.

The Apostles were given that authority as a form of credentials, that the “Father may be glorified in the Son.”

The power to perform miracles in Jesus’ Name proved to the early Jewish converts that their message of salvation by grace through faith was not blasphemy, but came directly from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God has a plan for each of our lives, but it is seldom the plan we expected or wanted. We don’t see the same end-game that God does.

Sincere Christians sincerely seek God’s plan for their lives by seeking God’s will for their lives. Sometimes, it is like trying to find a particular tree in the middle of a forest. We need to step back and take a look at the whole forest for a minute.

What IS God’s will? In the sense of the forest, and not that one particular tree, I mean? If we can discern God’s will overall, it helps to define what role we are to play in fulfilling His will, and in so doing, not following our own ‘lusts’, as James put it.

Peter says that, “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” but then adds, “as some men count slackness.”

Dwell on that second phrase, for a second. We don’t see things the way that God does. Thinking we do is a sure recipe for disappointment. So what is important to God?

Peter continues, “but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

Dissect this with me, and we’ll find the answers to the questions we’ve pondered; “Why hasn’t God taken away my bad habits, why hasn’t God cured my health problems, why won’t He help me get a better job, why am I disappointed with God?”, etc.

Peter says that God is long-suffering towards His messengers, because it is not His will that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.

From the Apostles until this time, the Lord has used His people to spread the Gospel that salvation is open to all men.

So God’s will is that this message be carried to ALL. And there are places that only YOU can reach. That’s why you are who you are.

When Paul went directly to the Lord to pray for deliverance from some unnamed affliction he felt hindered his ability to carry the Message, Jesus told him;

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Instead of being disappointed with God for not dealing with Paul’s offending tree, Paul stepped back and took another look at the forest and concluded,

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

The Message is God’s Perfect Will, but it is carried by imperfect men. If only perfect men could carry the Message, Christianity wouldn’t have made it out of the first century.

You are the messenger God has chosen to carry His message now, as the hours tick down on the LAST century. Not later, when you feel that God has equipped you to your satisfaction.

(If you were not chosen, you wouldn’t be reading this right now– and you already have all the credentials necessary to carry it at this moment. The first requirement of salvation is that one must first be a sinner.)

God has not let you down. He has equipped you for your unique mission for the Kingdom.

For in your weakness is His strength made perfect.

The Burden

The Burden
Vol: 57 Issue: 23 Friday, June 23, 2006

One of the lighter moments at the Branson gathering was when my wife Gayle turned to Frank and Connie Spaniak’s daughter and said, “I’m having such a good time! I was afraid they’d be a bunch of holy rollers, didn’t you?”

The look on Sandy’s face was priceless, since she no doubt expected Gayle and I to be the holiest rollers at the party.

Before I go on, lest I’ve offended anybody, I am not exactly sure what a ‘holy roller’ is — it’s just a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue.

My own definition would be somebody so heavenly-minded they are no earthly good, so fearful of loving the things of this world that they aren’t able to enjoy them, or someone so caught up in the things of the Spirit that any spirit will do, as long as its a spiritual experience.

It’s kinda vague, I know. But its not us. We enjoy the life God has given us.

We understand that it is no longer exclusively ours, but all work and no play is not God’s recipe for leading a Spirit-filled life. The Branson meeting was a ton of fun, and I didn’t feel guilty about it for a second.

“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the Hand of God.”

“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.” (Ecclesiates 2:24, 3:13, 5:18)

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (1st Timothy 6:17)

Paul doesn’t say being rich is evil, but rather that trusting in riches is evil. He says trust in the living God, Who richly gives us ALL THINGS TO ENJOY.

Even combat Marines get relieved. A combat Marine is a deadly serious killing machine, totally dedicated to his mission. But that doesn’t stop him from having fun where he can.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching the young Marines fresh from Iraq, ‘unwinding’ on the beach at my adopted home in Atlantic Beach, NC.

They are still combat Marines, ready, willing and able to do their duty when called. Being a Marine means training, more training, and training some more. It means being prepared to fight or die in the service of the country.

You can spot a Marine by his demeanor, his posture, his cockiness and his haircut. You don’t need to see him kill somebody to know he is a Marine.

But Marines go bowling, go fishing, watch movies, take their families on picnics, without leaving the nation’s service while they do so. They play hard and they enjoy the life God has given them, knowing they may be called on at any time to give it back to Him.

If ever there were a model for loving life without loving it too much, it was Jesus. He knew what He was to face on our behalf. He loved life, but He loved God more. When His time approached, He prayed;

“And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

Jesus laughed. He enjoyed company. He loved to answer questions. He went to parties. He lamented of His moribund generation;

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. [But] whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.”

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a Man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. . . .” (Matthew 11:15-19)

Jesus enjoyed His life, He didn’t shrink from enjoyment out of fear He would enjoy it too much. Instead, He promised us;

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

Assessment:

I’ve never been one to take myself too seriously. I am just the donkey upon which the Message is riding. My job is to heed my Rider and take the Message where I am directed to carry it. It is not MY message.

The rider doesn’t belong to the donkey — it’s the other way around. When the Lone Ranger rode up to save the day, nobody shouted, “Hey, there’s Silver!”

Nobody expected to see Silver outdraw the bad guy. That was the Lone Ranger’s job. Silver’s job was to get him there.

Being a good Christian is not as hard as some folks make it out to be. The world has its image of what a ‘good’ Christian is.

But they think it is Silver, and not the Lone Ranger, that is supposed to whip the bad guys. And when Silver turns out to be a horse, they blame the Lone Ranger. Some Christians do the same thing.

If you’ll permit me one more analogy, consider the spiritual battlefield upon which we do combat with the enemy.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Our battle is not with flesh and blood — Jesus has already won that battle for us. It is a spiritual battle against the powers of darkness and against “spiritual wickedness in high places”.

The epitome of spiritual wickedness is to reject the offer of pardon Jesus purchased with His Blood on our behalf. It means choosing the darkness and rejecting the light for eternity.

It is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness, since we are called to Christ by the Holy Spirit. To reject that call is spiritual blasphemy.

“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” (Mark 3:29)

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist . . .” (1st John 4:3)

We tend to judge ourselves as if we were the Lone Ranger instead of Silver. It isn’t up to us to decide where we will carry our Rider. It is up us to be sensitive to His Touch and to go where He leads. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

How can that be if every waking moment of our life since meeting Him is one of agonizing self-reflection, despair at our own inadequacies, and fear we aren’t up to the tasks before us? Such a yoke seems exceedingly difficult, and such a burden seems too heavy to bear.

Our battle is against sin. Sin is sin, whether it is our own, or the sin that blinds sinners to the call of the Savior. The battle is not bloodless — some of us, from time to time, can fall wounded on the field.

When a Christian is wounded in battle, as often as not, his fellow Christians will note his fall, and instead of treating his wounds, will just bayonet him as a ‘lost cause’.

But sin is not fun. It is painful — particularly for a Christian. Neither is having fun a sin. Putting fun ahead of duty is sin.

James writes, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

Therefore, being a Christian doesn’t mean the end of fun. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of holy rollers with long faces too preoccupied with heaven to be any fun on earth?

That is not to say that one bears no responsibility for living a right life. When the Lone Ranger disguised himself as the old prospector, he had to leave Silver behind.

If Silver was around, people knew the Lone Ranger was close by. We should be as clearly identifiable with our Rider as Silver was with the Lone Ranger.

That is our responsibility and our goal. But that still doesn’t make US the Lone Ranger.

Just the horse He rode in on.