Monday, September 26, 2011

Arabs attack infant girl in Samaria

The enemies of Israel, who are now attempting to strongarm the United Nations into declaring a "Palestinian state," once again show their true colors.  A few days ago, in Samaria (known, along with Judea, as the "occupied territory" of the West Bank), Arab thugs attacked a car carrying a civilian Jewish family.  The "peace-loving" Arabs struck a 20 month old girl in the face.  Such is the savage nature of the Jew-haters who claim to be "occupied" by Israel, when they themselves are the squatters.

From Israel National News:

Arabs threw rocks Wednesday at an Israeli car between Migdalim and Tapuach Junction in Samaria. A 20 month old girl was injured in the face.

The baby girl received treatment from Samaria Regional Authority medics and evacuated to a hospital. The Authority Head Gershon Mesika said: "The 'men of peace' of the Palestinian murder authority provide yet more proof, to those who still need it, as to just whom we are facing. We face low life terrorists who try to murder babies."

"They hold an olive twig in their mouths and murder weapons in their hands. To these barbarian terrorists they want to give a state. The Nation of Israel is strong, the government needs to learn from it and be strengthened by its spirit – no to folding and surrendering, yes to construction and stamping out terrorism."
 
An Israeli citizen was lightly wounded from rocks hurled by Arabs as he drove near Halhoul. Three Arabs were arrested Wednesday afternoon in confrontations with security forces near the Kalandiya checkpoint. Earlier, they threw rocks at IDF forces and burned tires.

Several dozen Arabs threw rocks at Border Policemen near Har Adar, not far from Jerusalem. No one was hurt. The policemen used riot dispersal gear to scatter the rioters.

The following video records the aftermath of the attack.  It is not gory or excessively graphic, but it demonstrates the unlimited barbarities of Israel's enemies.  May God have mercy on the moral cripples who call for a "Palestinian state" in the West Bank or anywhere else in Israel - - - including the moral cripple who currently serves as President of the United States.

video

Friday, September 23, 2011

Israel: friend request denied

As the Philistines (a.k.a. Palestinians) and the United Nations attempt to unilaterally impose a "Palestinian state" on the Middle East, with the hypocritical  hemming and hawing of the current President of the United States, Israel continues to pursue peace with her neighbors.  But her success in doing so is very well illustrated by the following video, which is funny and sad at the same time.


video

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The anatomy of repentance

It's become a controversial subject in some Christian circles .... although it shouldn't be.  Like most great Christian doctrines, it can be grasped by a child; and, like all great Christian truths, it has been complicated beyond all recognition by some "theologians."  I'm talking about the idea of repentance: what does it mean?  Who does it? And how is it done?


We've all seen the signs.  And the sign carries a good message, one that has been proclaimed by God's messengers ever since the time of Noah. But how many of us really understand what it means?

As is our custom, we're going to eschew the theological jargon in this post, and try to talk common sense, grounded in God's word. We'll leave the argumentation and debate to the self-styled experts, and we'll leave  תשובה and  μετανοέω to the folks who have trouble with plain English.

What does "repentance" mean?  Some say that it means no more than a "change of mind:" specifically, a change of mind about one's sins, an acknowledgment that certain acts and thoughts are wrong, and displeasing to God.  Others say that repentance means no less than actually turning away from one's sins, and not committing them any more, no kidding around.

Both of those ideas have an element of truth.  It's certainly important for a Christian to agree with God on these matters: and, having agreed with Him, it's crucial to the Christian life that one turns away from his or her sins, or at least makes an honest effort to do so.  It's not a one time proposition, of course; as we saw in our post on  "besetting sins,"  many sins are hard to beat, and it takes time.  Usually, we suffer many defeats; but God lifts us up again and gives us victory, as He promised in Proverbs 24:16. In any case, turning from sin is the essence of repentance, and its simplest definition.

The problem and the controversy come into play when someone says that repentance is a condition of salvation: that one cannot come to Christ until he or she has repented.  There are many verses in the Bible that mention repentance and salvation in the same sentence.  But to say that repentance must precede salvation is simply not true.  It's a false teaching.


There!  That oughtta stir the dust!  As I say, this is a hot topic in Christian circles right now. 

People get confused because repentance and salvation are so frequently mentioned in the same verse.  For example: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). Or, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). There are other such verses, and they need to be considered in their proper dispensational context.  The message that John the Baptist preached to his own disciples was not exactly the same message that Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).  But the fact that repentance and actual salvation are mentioned in the same verses doesn't mean that repentance must precede salvation.  In fact, it doesn't ... and, really, it can't!

Question: can an adulterous woman be saved before she repents, and quits committing adultery?  Can a dishonest tax collector be saved before he quits his dishonesty?  Can  you or I be saved before we "clean up our lives," or do we have to abandon and vanquish all of our sins, before Christ can save us?

The answer is yes, she can, and he can, and we can: and, in fact, that's the only way any of us can be saved. Because, until we've received Christ and His power (John 1:12), we simply don't have the strength or ability to quit our wickedness.  Everyone who's ever broken a New Year's resolution knows that!

Repentance does mean a change of mind: we do need to agree with God that sin is sin, and not attempt to justify or excuse it.  But sometimes, we can't even do that much until after we're saved. When I came to Christ, and received Him by His grace through faith, I was a young man in the 1960s who thought that premarital sex was "okay." Did I need to be convinced that it was sin, in order to be saved?  No. I needed to be convinced that I was helpless and lost without Jesus Christ, and that only He could save me.  Then, having received Him, and having received the Holy Spirit, I could assess these things from His perspective.  But what did I know of "morality" in my pre-Christian state?  I was just a young fool who'd made a mess of his life, and knew that I needed saving.  It was only after my conversion that I became able to understand, and to repent: in my "natural" or unsaved state, I was blind and stupid and lost. For 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 (1 Corinthians 2:14).  I didn't even know what sin was until I came to Christ: although I believed that it existed, and knew perfectly well that I was guilty of it!


So, repentance is a part of salvation: but it's not the prerequisite, or the beginning.  As has often been said, salvation is in three tenses: I have been saved from the penalty of sin, by what Christ did at Calvary; I am being saved from the power of sin, day by day; and I will, one day, be saved from the very presence of sin, when I see my Lord in Heaven.

But it's not just unsaved people who need to repent: so do Christians, when they sin and get out of fellowship with their Lord and Saviour.  We don't need to repent to be "saved again;" we're still saved.  But we've gotten dirty and rumpled from our daily lives.  We need to repent when we fall into sin.  How do we do it?

The Bible says that God calls all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). And he gives us some very good principles for how it should be done. This might be called "the anatomy of repentance," and it's practical, and it works:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-10).

It's more than just saying "Sorry, Lord," although that's a good thing to say, if it's sincere.

Have you somehow gotten out of fellowship with your Saviour and Lord? Have you, through sins of commission (things you've done, that you shouldn't have) or sins of omission (things you should have done, but didn't), lost your joy and peace and sense of unity with Christ?  As somebody once said: "If you don't feel as close to God as you used to, guess who moved?" It's time for repentance: and it's not weird or mystical, but a very practical process.

Submit yourselves therefore to God.  That's the first step.  Don't try to do it on your own: you're not that strong.  And don't submit yourself to another human being, whether he's a priest, a preacher, or even your spouse: submit yourself to God.  He's the One you need to do business with: and nobody, not even a priest in a confessional or a dead "saint," can help you with it.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Notice the order of those two commands: it's unimaginably important!  Resist the Devil after you've submitted yourself to God.  That's the only way it will work. In one way or another, at one time or another, the Enemy has defeated every human being that ever lived, except for Jesus Christ.  He won't have any problems beating you or me.  But if you've submitted to God first, then God will deal with him!

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Now, let's be blunt. That's a promise.  It's either true, or it's a lie.  If you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. You might not feel it: you might not get a case of warm fuzzies, and a dove won't fly in your window.  But God will be there.  He'll do business with you. 

Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. If you're involved in sin, stop it. I don't mean permanently; I mean while you're doing business with God.  You can't pray, "God, deliver me from heroin," when you're sticking the needle in your arm. During the act of repentance, you need to quit your sinning: that's "cleansing your hands."  Then, you can "purify your heart," and do the heavy "inside" work.  But you can't con God.  You can't ask Him to forgive your gossip, while you're pecking out a gossipy Tweet. We've discussed double mindedness in a previous post.


Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. For some people, this is the hard part.  Some folks are less emotional than others, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Some folks are less sensitive than others. But, in dealing with God, we need to take things very, very seriously. You can't laugh about what you did when you were drunk, and then suddenly start asking God to forgive it.  You can't be happy about the mistake the payroll department made in your favor, and expect God to forgive your dishonesty in profiting from it.  We need to be aware that our sins cause God actual grief (Ephesians 4:30); our sins literally make God unhappy.  I say it reverently: they hurt Him.  And the gossipy Tweet, or the bed-hopping, or the cheating on your taxes, are exactly what weighed down on Jesus' shoulders at Calvary.  When you sin, think of it as another thorn in His crown, or another lash with the whip. Because that's what it is.  Maybe your sins haven't ruined your life yet: but think what they did to Him.  If that doesn't cause you to grieve, I wonder if you love God.

 
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. After that last part, this is easy.  How can we consider our sins, and what they did to our Jesus, and not be humbled?  Look at the cross, then look in the mirror: where's your pride and cleverness and accomplishment now?


But once you've done all this .... you've repented.  And God will lift you up, and set you back on the proper course, and His joy will be restored within you (Psalm 51:12).  And, by God's grace, you'll move into the next phase of true repentance: where your Lord says to you, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (John 8:11). 

In talking about repentance, I'm aware that this post is only the tip of the iceberg.  There are plenty of other questions, such as, "Does God Himself ever repent?"  And we'll deal with them in a subsequent post, or posts.  But for now, this is enough to think about.  

Repentance may be controversial and difficult, but it's also liberating and joyous in its results. Thank God for listening to our faltering, fumbling prayers, and for always being willing to give us a fresh start! 
 

The anatomy of repentance, Part II 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Gospel in one verse

Almost everyone in the English speaking world has heard reference to the Christian gospel.  And there are a lot of people with a lot of different ideas about what the Christian Gospel is.  In fact, there are so many interpretations of the gospel that the term itself (like the word "Christian") has become almost meaningless: without substance, without content.  It even creeps into our slang:  "I saw the accident myself, officer!  That's the gospel truth!"  As Francis Schaeffer would say, "gospel" has become a "connotation word," which is a fancy way of saying that it means whatever you want it to mean, instead of a "denotation word," which has a clear, unchanging definition.


But the fact that there are so many  versions and interpretations of the Christian gospel doesn't mean that the real thing doesn't exist.  It exists, and although it would take (and has taken) thousands of volumes to even approach a full understanding of it, the gospel is still so basically simple that it can be explained in a single verse of scripture.

Of course, different people calling themselves Christians might choose different verses!  One group says that "the gospel" is Acts 2:38: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. That's a great verse, but it's no more "the gospel" than today's baseball standings.  Most Christians would automatically (and somewhat thoughtlessly) say that the gospel is contained in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Well, that's a lot closer, but it's still not the complete gospel.


There have been all sorts of attempts to reduce the gospel to a simple presentation: brief sermons, booklets, and tracts.  Some of these are very good; some of them are unimaginably bad.  But really, the gospel isn't terribly complicated.  Like any part of the Bible, it might be hard for some people to believe; but it's not hard to understand.

Here's how the Apostle Paul described it: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). There's more historical information in the following verses, referring to the people who saw Jesus after the Resurrection; but that's the guts of the gospel: Jesus died, He died for our sins, and he arose from the grave, physically, with the scars showing, according to the scriptures.  None of this "spiritual resurrection" nonsense: that's just religious doubletalk.

But that's not all of it: that's just the guts.  Because that passage doesn't explain how we can avail ourselves of His great work.  He said, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). And John said, in the first chapter of His Gospel, But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12, 13). 

John 3:16 is a great verse.  But it doesn't say anything about how Christ's death helps us. It doesn't even mention the Resurrection. We need a verse that gives us the whole story: and, by the grace of God, we have one.

How do we receive Christ?  How are we born again? Simply by acknowledging our helplessness and our need, asking Him to forgive us, and save us.  If we take one baby step toward Him, He'll come running down to meet us.  But first, behind the scenes, throughout our lives, His Holy Spirit has been drawing us, preparing us for that moment.  (This can get very theological, but we're not going in that direction.  This is real life, not theory.)

Jesus reaching down

If you want to see the gospel in one verse, here it is: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). 

Is that clear?  (To some folks, it might be more clear than they'd like!)  All the elements of Paul's gospel, in 1 Cor. 15, and Jesus' command to be born again, are present in that one verse.  Ask yourself some questions.

Who has suffered for sins?  Obviously, Jesus Christ.  Not Buddha, not Muhammad, not Mary, not Joseph Smith: Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  

How often did He do it?  He only had to do it once, at Calvary: as He died, He said, It is finished (John 19:30). He doesn't need to be re-crucified by a Catholic priest every week in a "sacrifice of the Mass."  It's done.

Who's "the just?"  Why, it's Jesus, obviously: the only good and just man Who ever lived. (Mark 10:18)

Who's the unjust?  Come on now!  That's the easy part.  Go look in the mirror!  (Romans 3:10, 23)
 
Why did He do it?  To bring us to God.  No other reason.

How did He accomplish it?  Just like Paul said, back in 1 Cor. 15: by dying, and rising from the dead.

That's the gospel, and it's encapsulated in that single verse. 

Thank God for what He did for us, and praise Him for making it so clear to us!  What a Saviour! 

victorious woman
 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What has Israel ever done for peace?

Now that we've had a moment of gentle pleasure from the music of Diana Krall, we turn our attention, once again, to the wicked depredations of the fiendish Jews of Israel.  This blog is not primarily concerned with the Middle East conflict, but events there are reaching critical mass, which is why I've devoted more space to it recently.  The following video, courtesy of Honest Reporting.com, reveals Israel's perfidy very accurately ... certainly more accurately than the damnable lies of Time magazine.

video

Friday, September 9, 2011

Palestinian statehood? Vote "no!"

Israel is now preparing for what many believe will be a fatal blow to the peace process – the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the United Nations.


According to the Oslo accords, co-signed by the United States and European countries, no unilateral steps were allowed to be taken by either side. Instead, peace would be negotiated directly between Israel and the
Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority’s plan for a unilateral declaration of statehood openly breaks the agreements signed at Oslo.


Israel expects world leaders, especially in the United States and Europe, to understand that unilateral statehood declaration nullifies all aspects of the cooperation agreement and frees Israel from fulfilling any of its commitments in that agreement.


The Israeli government and various politicians have been coming up with “day after” plans to respond to this unilateral declaration. In this video, Knesset Member Danny Danon promotes the idea of counteracting Palestinian statehood by annexing Judea and Samaria (known as the “West Bank”).


video

(The above text courtesy of United with Israel.  To sign Danny Danon's petition to the White House, go here.)

Anti Palestinian state

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Studies in Islam: Gynecology 101

I must apologize for the very sensitive nature of this post, although there are no bloody or graphic images to be viewed. We are dealing here with the Muslim "religious practice" of female genital mutilation. I post this not for purposes of sensationalism, but to point out, once again, the atavistic barbarity of "the religion of peace."

video 

As is often the case with Muslims, various clerics interpret the Koran and the Hadiths differently. This is largely because these "sacred writings" are so rife with contradictions that disagreement is inevitable. In the above video, two Muslim "scholars" discuss the practice of female "circumcision." The first "expert" says that it's not always necessary; the second claims that it's clearly taught by the "Prophet" himself. Regardless of their interpretations, the very fact that they're having this discussion demonstrates the undeniable savagery of this horrid "religion." Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist clerics do not routinely consider the advisability of female genital mutilation. And, lest anyone think that this practice is less than "officially" Islamic, consider the plight of Muslim women in Egypt:

video 

Now, for the sake of decency and sanity, a few words from the great Wafa Sultan on the general subject of the treatment of women in Islam, which is her specialty: Dr. Sultan, formerly of Syria, is one of the bravest women on earth.

video

crying Muslim girl


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mormons, Muslims, and 9/11

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the horrendous attacks of 9/11/01, and before we turn our full attention to the commemoration of that tragedy, it might be interesting to glance backward at another terrorist atrocity - - - an attack that also took place on American soil, perpetrated by religious zealots, on September 11, 1857.  I refer to the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre, in southern Utah.

In early 1857, several groups of travelers left Arkansas, with their families and all their possessions, to emigrate to California and begin new lives.  These were classic American pioneers: not flashy or heroic, just common people looking for a new start.   Along the way, they joined with several other westbound groups, led by John. T. Baker (age 52) and Alexander Fancher (45), to form what history would call the Baker-Fancher party.  The group came to include 120 men, women, and children.


In August, the party had reached southern Utah, and made camp at the peaceful and uninhabited area known as Mountain Meadows. At the time, the Utah territory was a so-called "theocracy" (the term is imprecise), led by the tyrannical dictator of the cult known as the Mormons, Brigham Young.  Because of the cult's hostility toward the government in Washington, President James Buchanan had dispatched troops to the territory, to help quell any nascent uprisings.  Brigham Young himself had declared a state of marshal law in the territory, but how this differed from the usual Mormon rule is only a historian's guess.  


In any case, the Baker-Fancher party had no connection with the government or the troops; and, before coming to Mountain Meadows, their occasional encounters with individual Mormons had been peaceful and uneventful.  As with most wagon trains, observers knew that the party was "just passing through," and did not intend to remain in the territory.

But that wasn't good enough for Brigham Young or the other Mormon leaders.  The travelers weren't Mormons: that's all the "leaders" needed to know. In a gesture that would have done Osama Bin Laden proud, Young and his henchmen decided to simply exterminate them.  Under the leadership of Maj. John D. Lee and Isaac C. Haight, the "Utah Militia," known to Mormons as the "Nauvoo Legion," a group so ferocious that even the Ku Klux Klan was gentle by comparison, descended upon Mountain Meadows.

Many of the members of the Nauvoo Legion were disguised as Paiute Indians, because the plan was to blame the atrocity on the members of that tribe.  The Baker-Fancher party fought back against the "Indians" for five days.  Then, on September 11,  a small group of normally dressed Mormons approached the camp under a white flag, and offered to escort the Baker-Fancher party to safety.  The pioneers agreed; but instead of safe passage, the Mormons led them into an ambush by the Nauvoo Legion itself.  All of the adults and older children in the Baker-Fancher party were slaughtered.  Only 17 children, all under the age of seven, were spared: the murderers reasoned that these children would not be reliable witnesses against them.

Mountain Meadows Massacre

The Mountain Meadows Massacre has been the subject of much historical scholarship and speculation: some of it honest, some of it merely "spin" by the eternally duplicitous leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  A simple monument to the victims was erected by members of the U.S. Army, two years after the massacre; this fell into disrepair, and in 1990 was replaced by a larger, more permanent monument, maintained by the government.  In 1999, the LDS Church removed the remnants of the original Army monument, and replaced it with one of their own.  This hideous act of historical duplicity and revisionism brings to mind the words of Jesus: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets (Matthew 23:29-31).



It must be noted, for reasons of fairness and decency, that the vast majority of today's Mormons are perfectly lovely people, who are not responsible for the wickedness of their forebears.  They are generous and kind and make good friends. (I also know Palestinians of whom the same could be said.)  Their weakness, however, is their commitment to a truly evil "religion," and a willingness to turn a blind eye to its history.

To this day, Mormon leaders deny any complicity in the Massacre.  Speaking at the rededication of the monument in 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the LDS said, "That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day."

But the Mormons of the time were more honest.  In his last testament, John D. Lee said, "I had many to assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church."

In 2007, a film about the Mountain Meadows Massacre was made, by a Canadian company, but powerful Mormon interests in Hollywood kept it from wide release:


video

Some cynics and professional theophobes will say that the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the attacks of 9/11/01, are examples of the "evils of religion."  They're grinding their own axe, of course; but their statement is half true.  Mountain Meadows, and the recent attacks, are examples of bad religion.

"Religion," of course, has a bloody history in the world.  No Christian would deny it.  But then, genuine Christians don't follow a "religion:" they have a relationship with their Saviour and Lord.  "Religion" is man attempting to reach up to God; genuine Christianity is God reaching down to man.  We acknowledge the weaknesses, follies, and horrors of "religion," and praise God for the mercy, grace, and peace He has extended in Jesus Christ!



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Heartbreaker

What is it about this particular song that breaks my heart every time I hear it?  Here I am, a grown man in the September of my years, with a thousand battle scars . . . . and I can't hear this song without the tears running down my face and dripping onto my shirt.  My most painful memories and my most bitter enemies don't have that effect on me: I've hardened myself to them.  But I'll never harden myself to this: it's simply too good.  I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.

video

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The King of creation
O my soul, praise Him
For He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Join me in glad adoration

Praise to the Lord
 Who o'er all things so wonderously reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
 Yea, so gently sustaineth
 Hast thou not seen how e'er thy glories  have been
Granted in what He ordaineth

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before Him
Let the 'amen' sound from His people again
Gladly for aye we adore Him

Performed by the London Philharmonic Choir and National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Arranged by: Lee Holdridge