Monday, June 29, 2015

Memorandum: to the Supreme Court of the United States

Mr. Anthony Kennedy
Ms. Ruth Bader-Ginsberg
Ms. Sonia Sotomayor
Ms. Elena Kagan
Mr. Stephen Breyer

As an American citizen and a Bible-believing Christian, I would like to congratulate you on your recent ruling in the case of Obergefell et al. v. Hodges (June 26, 2015), in which you established the legality of homosexual "marriage" throughout the United States. In so doing, you have legislated the official position of this nation, and given genuine Christians a very clear view of where the United States stands vis-a-vis the Creator and Lord of the universe.

Those of us who understand our history know that this has never been a "Christian nation," because there is no such thing as a "Christian nation."  Nor do we believe that the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were Bible-believing Christians.  We know that they were, in the main, deists, with a few atheists and a few genuine Christians among them.  However, they were men who respected the idea of God, and who respected the Bible, and this nation was founded on a Judeo-Christian consensus. That consensus was widely shared by Americans for nearly two hundred years, but has been discarded in recent decades.  Your recent ruling demonstrates that no vestiges of Judeo-Christian ethics or morals are now to be considered a part of the American ideal.

In legislating "gay marriage," you have followed the example of earlier Courts, such as those that removed any mention of God from the public schools, or legalized abortion. Those Courts were not reluctant to toss God and His word, the Holy Bible, aside, and now you have sneered and spat in the face of your Creator by giving final, absolute approval to one of the sins He designates as most loathsome in His word: the sin of Sodomy.

Thank you.  You have shown the world, if there was any doubt remaining, what the United States of America stands for. America has become one with Sodom and Gomorrah, Ninevah and Tyre, in its furious, hysterical hatred of God Almighty.  No, to be fair, Ninevah should not be included: Ninevah repented. Americans will not.

God only knows the depths to which you and your successors, and the American people, will descend in the future.  But here's what American Christians do know:

America has rejected our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and bastardized and re-written His holy Bible .... and God has now turned His back on this nation.  The God who judged the sinful cities and kingdoms of old cannot wink at America's sins, just because some of her professing Christians continue to sing "God Bless America."  In order to continue blessing America, God would have to violate His own character and nature: and not even the Supreme Court of the United States can make Him do that.

Those of us who have experienced the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who are American citizens, will not rebel against you.  As Jesus taught His followers to pay their taxes, we will pay ours, even when you strip tax-exempt status from the churches.  As the Apostle Paul commanded us to obey the laws of the land, we will continue to obey ... until your laws come into direct conflict with God's word, such as demanding Christian pastors to marry Sodomite couples.  There are limits to our obedience: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Christians have dealt with Caesar before, and we will deal with you again.  You and your partners in the Executive and Legislative branches may do your worst; in fact, we know you will.

Turn your back on God's nation, Israel.  We Christians will continue to love and support her.

Find a way to close down our businesses; God will provide for us.

Close our churches: we will meet in homes, or in the fields and the forests.

Burn our Bibles: we have hidden God's words in our hearts.

Kill our bodies: you will be sending us to the arms of the Lord we love.

We will not renounce our American citizenship: we will use it, when possible, just as Paul used his Roman citizenship. But don't think that we are "proud Americans" any longer.

We are citizens of another Kingdom, and when God's judgment falls on America, that Kingdom will not be affected at all.

Finally, in the words of the judge to the condemned man: May God have mercy on your souls.

Courtesy copy to:
Chief Justice John Roberts
Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice ClarenceThomas
Justice Samuel Alito

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"No Justice, No Peace?"

If you follow the news at all, you've seen or heard the expression a thousand times: "No Justice, No Peace!"  It's one of the most popular clichés of the political left, although it's a far cry from "All we are saying is give peace a chance."  In fact, it's simply a mindless, irrational slogan that is, in essence, a threat: "Solve the problems we want solved, or we'll continue to make your life miserable."  It is a great favorite of the Palestinians: "No justice for Palestine, no peace in Israel!"  And it has certainly been used in recent months, during the race riots in Missouri and Baltimore.  We're likely to hear it more and more.

It's more than a cliché, however: all political factions have their clichés, and overuse them constantly.  "No Justice, No Peace" is something more: it happens to be totally unrelated to the Biblical requirements for peace. The Bible says a great deal about peace, and the prerequisites for peace: and political or social "justice," as defined by one faction or another, isn't even on the list.  Human "justice," to the degree that it exists at all, has nothing to do with God's peace.  But who, in today's world, even pauses to consider what the Bible might say about a given subject?  It's much easier to bleat out slogans and spit out threats. It's even fashionable, in the literal sense of the term: the slogan is as popular on clothes as the "peace symbol" used to be.

The only time that the world ever refers to the Bible, in this context, is at Christmas, when everyone from the greeting card companies to most heads of state misquote the Bible.  "Peace on earth, good will toward men," the politicians say in their "Christmas Greetings" to their constituents.  "Peace on earth, good will toward men," wheezes the Pope from the balcony of St. Peter's.  The phrase even appears on postage stamps.  But, as I say, the phrase is a misquote, because it cuts a verse in half: the famous cry of the angels, at Jesus' birth, recorded in Luke 2:14:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  The preachers and Popes and politicians who piously quote the second half of the verse are missing something, wouldn't you say?  In fact, they're missing the whole point, and overlooking God's very first requirement for "peace on earth:" glory to God in the highest.  If you wanted to make a signboard or a bumper sticker out of that, you'd have to say "No glory to God, no peace!"  Because that's what God Himself says, and demands.  As long as men ignore God, or deny God, or leave God out of the equation, "peace on earth" will be as unattainable as a trip to the farthest galaxies of the universe.

When God speaks of peace, He's rarely referring to political peace, or peace between nations; in fact, the Bible presents real political peace as something that has never existed, and will not exist until Jesus Christ returns to earth and reigns from the Throne of David in Jerusalem.  There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked, God says in Isaiah 48:22; and, in case we miss it, He repeats the same words in Isaiah 57:21.  That means "the wicked" in Russia or Iran or Washington, D.C.; that means anyone and everyone who is not living in God's favor.  God knew, of course, that "peace" would be the great, worldwide aspiration of men, from Babylon to Cairo to Hong Kong to Nashville and Salt Lake City, and He was not reluctant to tell the truth: Jeremiah said, in reference to the enemies of Israel: They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).  That is one of the greatest hallmarks of the 20th and 21st centuries: saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.  But the Bible says, "No glory to God, no peace."  And, since men will not humble themselves and glorify God.....  

Usually, when the Bible speaks of peace, it's talking about peace with God, or personal peace. (And personal peace is almost as elusive as political peace, as can be attested by any psychologist, or any teenage girl cutting her arms or thighs simply to relieve the inner torments of her life.)  The New Testament is full of helpful information for God's children, those who have received Jesus Christ according to John 1:12, on how to receive and enjoy God's peace.  For example: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).  But notice: the promise of the "peace that passeth all understanding" is conditional, and depends on the preceding section of the verse.  This is but one of many "prescriptions for peace" that God offers His children.  And, of course, peace is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone who has received the Spirit by being born again: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

Generally speaking, however, there are several indispensable conditions for peace of any kind: several preconditions.  We have alluded to one, i.e., giving glory to God.  Another, the importance of which cannot be exaggerated, is purity

Purity is mentioned nearly thirty times in the New Testament alone.  But, for the purposes of this post, perhaps the most salient reference is in James' description of "Godly wisdom" vs. "worldly wisdom:" But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:14-18).
As we've already seen God's standard is, "Glory to God, then peace."  Now we see another prerequisite: "first pure, then peaceable."  Purity always comes first.  The man or woman who would know peace, God's peace (as opposed to the peace of the pharmacist or the pop psychologist), must first strive for purity: purity of thought, of word, of action.  Purity can, in some contexts, be defined as a singleness of purpose, a single-mindedness; but, most often, as our conscience tells us, it is the opposite of impurity: to be blunt, carnal or lewd or "dirty" thoughts, words, and actions.  No man or woman who has a conscience needs a dictionary to know what "purity" means. 

Isaiah understood it.  When He came face to face with God, his immediate response was: Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:5). When confronted with God's holiness and absolute purity, Isaiah recognized his shortcomings very quickly - - - and Isaiah was not an ungodly man.  And notice: he indicted himself first, before condemning the evil society in which he lived: I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.  It never occurred to Isaiah to blame his impurity on his environment, or on societal or "peer" pressures.

"No justice, no peace?"  That's wrong on a number of levels, when we get our eyes off of the world around us, and look at things from God's perspective.  For one thing, on a personal level, look at your life: at your sins and stupidities and shortcomings.  Are you absolutely sure that you even want justice?  I certainly don't; I want mercy, and have received it by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But, beyond that, why set conditions for peace, when it's not within your power, or your party's, or your nation's, to accomplish peace?

Better to seek the peace that comes from God alone - - - because it's the only true peace that's available in this world, and history teaches us that God rarely (if ever) blesses nations with it.  Not real peace, which is a great deal more than the absence of war.

Do you want peace?  Then give glory to God in the Highest.  Study purity, and ask His grace in putting it into practice.  These are the prerequisites .... and, when accomplished, they work, by the grace of God!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saeed's wife goes to Congress: and Iran's response

On June 2, Saeed Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Congress, to plead for assistance in pressuring Iran to release her husband, the American pastor and citizen whose imprisonment we've been following for three years.

"Most mornings like today, I wake up in a new hotel in a new city or country and am reminded of my new reality — a reality that includes lonely airports and empty hotel rooms," Naghmeh told the Committee. "This pain of this journey without my husband has only increased as I have had to frequently leave my children to advocate for my husband's release. The reality is, we are a family torn apart. Over the last three years, I have had to watch my two children, Rebekka (who is 8 years old) and Jacob (who is 7 years old), suffer daily as they have grown up without a father or a mother. I am here today as single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help. I cannot bear to look at my children's longing eyes one more time and explain to them why their daddy is still not home."

Explaining the continued imprisonment of their father must be especially difficult at this point in the family's ordeal.  In January, Naghmeh and the children had a ten minute audience with Barack Obama in Idaho.  The current President of the United States looked little Jacob in the eye and said that he'd try to have his daddy home by the boy's birthday, in March.  Obama lied, of course: his intensive negotiations with Iran, over that country's nuclear program, have not included any reference to prisoners such as Saeed. But politics and adult treachery are not easily understood by a seven year old.

 Saeed and Jacob in happier times

The Congressmen were moved by Naghmeh's testimony, and both the House and Senate have expressed support for Saeed and other persecuted Christians in recent years.  But Congress does not make foreign policy, and neither the current President nor his Secretary of State, John Kerry, have done anything to help these people.  The current nuclear treaty being negotiated, which will facilitate Iran's eventual acquisition of a nuclear weapon capability, has not been tied to any human rights abuses by that regime.  The Senate will have to ratify that treaty, at least in theory, but the current President has proved himself a master at sidestepping Congress.

Nevertheless, Naghmeh Abedini's faith has not wavered. Recalling the three Hebrews thrown into the furnace in Daniel 3, she said: "Jesus was with them. He was the fourth man in the furnace. In the midst of the fiery furnace Jesus did not abandon His own. During the last three years Jesus has never abandoned Saeed and me. He has been with us during the fiery furnace even when the furnace had been heated seven times hotter than usual. He has dried every tear and has given us the strength to endure."

 Naghmeh and Rebekka

Needless to say, the Iranian government is acutely aware of such events as Naghmeh's meetings with Obama and the Congress.  How has that nation responded to this latest plea for help?

One day after Naghmeh appeared before Congress, Iran  imprisoned another 18 Christians to prison for evangelism and building house churches.  This was described in the news media as "a new crackdown on Christianity in the Islamic republic."

This is not a hopeful sign for Saeed, of course, but thankfully, Christians are not limited to the evidence of their eyes and ears.  We will continue to pray for Saeed, Naghmeh, and all the Christians like them, knowing that God's hand is not shortened by the cruelty of the Iranians or the monstrous duplicity of Barack Obama.

The news provokes righteous outrage, or it should; but our persecuted brethren need more than outrage: they need our fervent prayers.  God forbid that we should sin against Him by neglecting to pray for them.

The complete story:

Iran Sentences 18 Christians to Prison for Their Faith in New Crackdown on Christianity (The Christian Post)

Pastor Saeed Abedini's Wife to Congress (The Christian Post)

Obama Meets Saeed Abedini's Wife Naghmeh and Children in Boise; Promises to Do All He Can to Free Pastor, Get Him Home by Son's Birthday (The Christian Post)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Contradictions in the Bible: "vain repetitions"

When people talk about "contradictions in the Bible" (as they constantly and predictably do), they always focus on such minutiae as how many horses were in Solomon's stable, or how old a certain king was when he began to reign.  These classic "discrepancies," which can be easily explained by means of a little study, are merely smokescreens for ignorance of, and rejection of, the Bible itself.  But there are a few areas that do seem to present contradictions, that the skeptics never point out.  

We've dealt with one such "contradiction" in a previous post. This time, we'll discuss a "contradiction" that is of great importance to any Christian, because it deals with prayer, and how a Christian is supposed to pray.  If you've received Jesus Christ according to John 1:12, and been born again (John 3:3-7), you may have wondered about this one yourself.  If you're not a believer, then this post might not mean much to you: but give it a try!

Let's boil it down to a very simple question: if you have a request or a concern, and you need God's guidance and assistance, how often should you pray about it?  Should you pray a single time, and "just leave it with the Lord," as some people claim; or should you ask and beseech God repeatedly, even continually?

The Bible instructs believers, in both the Old and New Testaments, to take their concerns to God.  Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee, David says in Psalm 55:22;  he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Similarly, Peter writes, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7). So, obviously, God wants us to bring Him our problems and petitions and cares.  But how often?

Some Christians say that God is eager to hear our prayers (which is true), and eager to answer them (which is also true, although He doesn't always answer according to our wishes), so it isn't necessary to "pester" Him with repeated prayers and entreaties about the same thing.  "Just leave it with the Lord," they say; which, in many circumstances, is good advice, but is not necessarily a good pattern for prayer.  These Christians (mostly Pentecostals or Charismatics) even say that repeatedly praying about the same thing indicates a lack of faith: "if you really trusted God, you'd only need to ask Him once."

Well, that's nonsense, on several levels.  But the more Biblically-minded in this group of Christians have a passage of scripture that they use to bolster their position: and here's where the "contradiction" comes in, and here's what confuses some believers. Speaking in Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus says: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

And this is indeed a very important passage concerning prayer.  But it seems to be contradicted by Jesus Himself, on two separate occasions.  

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth (Luke 11:5-8).

In this case, the needy neighbor didn't stop asking his friend's assistance after the first refusal; he persisted until the friend gave him what he wanted because of his persistence (his importunity).  The needy neighbor didn't simply say "Okay, never mind, go back to bed;" he continued to ask.

An even clearer example: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith (Luke 18:1-6).

Did you get that last part? "Hear what the unjust judge saith."  Maybe the widow didn't have much of a case, or maybe the judge was just too lazy to consider the matter. But, because she didn't give up, because she kept "nagging" him, the judge acceded to her request.

So, there's the "contradiction."  Jesus says, "Don't pray using vain repetitions;" then He gives us two examples of people whose "prayers" were answered because they were repeated.  Which of these "principles of prayer" are we to obey?  Isn't there a discrepancy here?

No, there's not; it's not a contradiction at all.  The great principle of prayer (one of them, anyway), is that we're to be persistent, and pray for as long as it takes - - - not to get the answer we want, necessarily, but to get God's answer, and know that we've gotten it.  Sometimes it might be a single prayer; sometimes we may pray about a certain thing for decades.  Every Christian who has any experience of prayer understands this. That's why Paul wrote, Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God didn't say that because He wants us to be praying 24/7; He said it because we're not supposed to pray about a matter, and then forget it.  He wants us to keep on praying about it, if the answer doesn't come quickly. God doesn't want us to avoid repetition; He wants us to avoid vain repetition.

So, what are "vain repetitions?"  When a family says precisely the same words in asking God's blessing on a meal, every time they eat, is that a "vain repetition?"  It can be; there are even a lot of unbelieving people who do that, just as a cultural or traditional thing.  But if the "blessing" is sincere, and spoken from the heart, God honors it as He honors any sincere prayer.  What about a child's "Now I lay me down to sleep?"  Well, until a child is old enough to formulate his or her own prayers, there's nothing wrong with that.  God appreciates it.

"Vain repetitions" aren't really prayers at all.  They're more like ritual incantations, spoken by rote, in an attempt to impress God - - - but without a trace of personal, individual crying out to Him.  It's like taking a long, meaningful conversation, and replacing it with a Tweet - - - the same Tweet, over and over.  And a lot of professing Christians "pray" exactly that way, because that's how they've been taught: "Hail Mary, full of grace .... hail Mary, full of grace..."

  Even non-Christian religions do it, like the Buddhist repeating his "mantra" with his prayer beads.

Those things are "vain repetitions."  They're vain because they have no content; they're just words, babbled over and over. (Even Shakespeare understood the principle.  Hamlet's father, the wicked king, lamented, "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go." Hamlet, Act III, Sc. 3.) Many times these people are sincere, but they're not knowledgeable about what the Bible says about prayer.  I'm not mocking them.  I'm simply saying that these are "vain repetitions."

So we see once again that there are no contradictions in the Bible.  But we see something even more thrilling: that God wants to hear our concerns, and our cries, and our requests: because, once we've received Jesus Christ, we're His children, and He cares!

What a Christ!  What a Bible!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Moderate Muslims" in America: "We want sharia"

We are constantly bombarded, by the media and government, with the myth of the "moderate Muslim."  The terrorists and supporters of sharia law, we are told, are merely a fraction of the world's "peaceful Muslims."  The best perspective on this came from someone who said: "A radical Muslim is someone who wants to behead you.  A moderate Muslim is someone who supports the 'radical' who wants to behead you."

So, instead of looking (for the umpteenth time) at the crucifixions, burnings, decapitation of children, etc. being practiced elsewhere in the world, let's hear from some "moderate Muslims" living in the United States:


Get it? These Mohammedans, living in a pleasant American city, are not only sending volunteers to fight alongside ISIS, but are also calling for the imposition of Sharia law in the United States. Several of them actually say they'd prefer to live in a Mohammedan country than in America. Which begs the question: Why don't you go home?

I particularly enjoyed the young "Somali-American" who said, "As far as my culture and my preferences, I'm still Somalian."  Strange words coming from a kid wearing dreadlocks and a baseball cap!

There are no "moderate Muslims."  There are people who have had the misfortune of being born in Muslim nations, but who have left the "faith," or who don't really practice it.  But any adult who reads the Koran, and believes and supports it, is a barbarian and a savage, whether he or she ever picks up a gun or not.

Islam is the most evil "religion" in the history of this planet.  It has no place in any civilized nation.