Friday, April 27, 2007

Humanitarin Crisis in Somalia

Fighting escalates 'humanitarian crisis' in Somalia
AP-(April 27, 2007)

Battles with Islamist insurgents over six days have left hundreds dead as diplomatic peace efforts falter.

Violence between Islamist insurgents and forces supporting the Somalian government continued unabated in Mogadishu, Monday, as the fighting entered a sixth consecutive day. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens-of-thousands more remain trapped in the capital by what eyewitnesses say is the "worst fighting in 15 years."

The Associated Press reports that battles between Ethiopian troops and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) still rage in the Somali capital, as the two groups pound each other "with machine-gun fire, mortars, tank shells and heavy artillery."

The United Nations said the fighting had sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country's recent history, with many of the city's residents trapped because roads out of Mogadishu were blocked.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Iran's Ahmadinejad Wants the End of the World

How much do you know about different sects of Islam? Recently the Ismaili Shia sect has been on the move. FSM Contributing Editor David J Jonsson offers a fascinating, informative history of who these people are, where they developed and what their disturbing plans seem to be.

http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/terrorism.php?id=921468

Why Iran’s Ahmadinejad Wants the End of the World

 

Monday, April 23, 2007

Religious Freedom Task Force

In the five years before President Bush took office, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reviewed one education discrimination complaint involving religion and investigated none. In the six years since, 82 cases were reviewed and 40 investigated.

Now the Bush administration wants to enhance those efforts with greater governmental resources. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced at a Southern Baptist leaders' meeting in February that the DOJ was launching the First Freedom Project, an initiative to further combat religious discrimination and protect religious freedom.

The initiative will include the Religious Freedom Task Force, chaired by Kim, which will employ various divisions of the DOJ to review discrimination complaints. The new firstfreedom.gov website touts previous successes, educates Americans about their rights, and provides a channel for filing complaints online. The department also will hold a series of regional training seminars. Events have been scheduled for Tampa on April 25 and Seattle on May 10.

http://www.firstfreedom.gov/

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Spirit of Evil

ISTANBUL, Turkey (April 19) - Assailants on Wednesday slit the throats of
three employees of a publishing house that distributes Bibles, the
latest in a series of attacks targeting Turkey's small Christian
minority.

BAGHDAD (April 19) -- Grieving relatives retrieved bodies from hospital morgues Thursday, and passers-by gawked at the giant crater left by a market bomb in one of four attacks that killed 183 people on the bloodiest day since the U.S. troop increase began nine weeks ago.

BLACKSBURG, Va. (April 19) -- Two days after the worst killing spree in modern U.S. history, videos and photographs of an armed Cho Seung-Hui stunned the university community where he killed 32 people before committing suicide Monday. In the photos and recordings mailed to NBC midway through his rampage, the 23-year-old student delivered a snarling, profanity-laced tirade about rich "brats" and their "hedonistic needs." "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today," he says in a harsh monotone. "But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."

I see all over the news the discussion of the "mental condition" of Cho Seung-Hui, that there were many "signs" of his unstablity. My opinion is "how much of the brain can someone examine?". Deep, deep in the core of a human is whats called "the soul, the spirit". The soul and spirit that can be blinded to the "Truth" and possessed by "Evil".

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spiritual Warfare

Satan summons all his forces, and throws his whole power into the combat.  Why is it that he meets with no greater resistance? Why are the soldiers of Christ so sleepy and indifferent?--Because they have so little real connection with Christ; because they are so destitute of his Spirit. Sin is not to them repulsive and abhorrent, as it was to their Master. They do not meet it, as did Christ, with decisive and determined resistance. They do not realize the exceeding evil and malignity of sin, and they are blinded both to the character and the power of the prince of darkness. There is little enmity against Satan and his works, because there is so great ignorance concerning his power and malice, and the vast extent of his warfare against Christ and his church. Multitudes are deluded here. They do not know that their enemy is a mighty general, who controls the minds of evil angels, and that with well-matured plans and skillful movements he is warring against Christ to prevent the salvation of souls. Among professed Christians, and even among ministers of the gospel, there is heard scarcely a reference to Satan, except perhaps an incidental mention in the pulpit. They overlook the evidences of his continual activity and success; they neglect the many warnings of his subtlety; they seem to ignore his very existence.

While men are ignorant of his devices, this vigilant foe is upon their track every moment. He is intruding his presence in every department of the household, in every street of our cities, in the churches, in the national councils, in the courts of justice, perplexing, deceiving, seducing, everywhere ruining the souls and bodies of men, women, and children, breaking up families, sowing hatred, emulation, strife, sedition, murder.

"The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Corinthians 4:4.

All who are not decided followers of Christ are servants of Satan. In the unregenerate heart there is love of sin, and a disposition to cherish andexcuse it. In the renewed heart there is hatred of sin, and determined resistance against it. When Christians choose the society of the ungodly and unbelieving, they expose themselves to temptation. Satan conceals himself from view, and stealthily draws his deceptive covering over their eyes. They cannot see that such company is calculated to do them harm; and while all the time assimilating to the world in character, words, and actions, they are becoming more and more blinded.

Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ. Familiarity with sin will inevitably cause it to appear less repulsive. He who chooses to associate with the servants of Satan, will soon cease to fear their master. When in the way of duty we are brought into trial, we may be sure that God will protect us; but if we place ourselves under temptation, we shall fall sooner or later.

Peace be with you VT

Peace in a World of Massacre
What Jesus calls us to when we're most frightened.


Hiding is an inescapable part of the human condition, and it started early:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Gen. 3:8).

In last Sunday's lectionary reading from the Gospels, we see a similar pattern. The disciples hide in a house behind locked doors, because they are afraid of the authorities who had just murdered their master.

After Monday's horrific massacre in Virginia, most of us will want to go and do likewise. We'll want to hide from God, from others, and from ourselves. The massacre disturbs us not because it's unusual but because it reminds us of the many slaughters inflicted on innocents everyday across the globe. It is a frightening icon of our vulnerability and mortality.

We are right to be afraid. The enlightened, scientific, rational ethos that pervades our culture hypnotizes us into believing that with every biomedical breakthrough and fresh psychological insight we are progressing as a species. That's a lie. Psychologists work mightily to shape relationships and convince uswe really are "safe." But we're not safe. It's as simple as that. We're vulnerable. And we know it. And so we hide.

The man and woman hid themselves "among the trees in the garden." That pristine garden. A perfect garden. That spot "among the trees" must have been beautiful.

The disciples hid themselves in a house. They did not escape into the wilderness, but entered a home, a beautiful place of security, family, and love.

Some of us dash to an ugly place to escape our fears—into drinking or drugs or sexual addictions. Anything to dull the pain, to escape thinking about the things that frightens us. But most of us choose to hide in a beautiful place.

I have a friend who hides in busyness, productivity, and accomplishments. While at work, he rarely lifts his head from his desk—he's in e-mail and phone conversations all day. At home, he's mowing the lawn, sweeping the porch, repainting the bedroom, or doing the dishes. Accomplishments are beautiful things. A resume full of great deeds done is something to be admired. My friend gets a lot of deserved praise for his productivity.

But he admitted to me one day that he bustled about because when he stopped and tried to enjoy his garden in the cool of the day, he started hearing things—thoughts about his troubled marriage, his wayward kids, and his own mortality. He dashed back into productivity as quickly as possible.

Some hide in organization because they fear chaos. Some hide in spontaneity because they abhor the accountability that organization demands. Some hide in frugalness because they're frightened of poverty. Some hide in vitamins and exercise and a low trans-fat diet because they believe they can forestall their mortality, or at least Alzheimer's.

After this week, we'll want to hide. Somewill hide in safety. This is a beautiful thing, something we rightly desire. We use helmets and seatbelts and stand in long lines to throw ourselves in front of metal detectors because we want to be safe. Maybe in the coming months, we'll come up with "more effective means of keeping our schools safe." No inconvenience, no humiliation will seem too great if it means safety at the other end.

Some will hide in the public's welfare. We'll debate whether there are too many guns out there, or not enough. We'll argue about how much freedom we should give up in the name of security. And we'll preach mightily what is best for the nation.

Others will hide in righteous anger at the failure of authorities to warn students. We'll demand accountability until someone's head rolls.

But wherever we choose to hide, we'll all be hiding from the same thing: our vulnerability, our mortality, the suddenness with which life can be snactched from us or our loved ones. Safety and public policy and righteous anger—these are good and necessary things. But they can also turn into places to hide, where we crouch in the dark, trembling and alone.

If hiding is an escapable part of the human condition, longing to be found is a universal human desire.

As children, we relish the game of hide and seek in part, I suspect, because it is rehearsal for the game we play in life. Most of us want to be hiders; we love to find secure places where the seeker can never discover us. Some of us are really good hiders, and it takes a long time to be found. After a while, we get restless and lonely, and we yearn to hear the magical phrase, "Olly, olly, oxen free!" — the invitation to come out of hiding and to rejoin our friends.

When Jesus appears to his hiding disciples and says, "Peace be with you," he is saying, "Olly, olly, oxen free! You don't have to hide anymore. You don't have to be stuck in isolation and loneliness and fear."

Then he shows them the wounds in his hands and his side, as if to say, "I understand your fear. I've been there. I've sweated blood in prayer. I've hung on a cross. I know what it's like to die."

This seems to me to be a word to Christians, who add to the many hiding places our culture offers an especially religious one. Sometimes we use faith to mask our deepest fears, to fool ourselves and our brothers and sisters into believing that, really, we are confident and bold in the face of death. This next Sunday we may smile and lift our hands in praise, never daring to suggest that we, too, have been shaken by the massacre of innocents.

Rather than scold us for shallow and fickle faith, Jesus comes to us today as he came to his disciples. But today he comes to us in his body, the church. He reveals himself again and again in the bread and wine, in his body and blood — the wounds in his hands and side: "I understand your fear. I know what it's like to feel vulnerable and exposed and to stare into death's face. You're not alone."

And at various points in worship, he offers us his peace, from the simple greeting we give one another—"Peace be with you"—to the benediction: "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you; may the Lord lift of his countenance upon you and give you peace."

In this community, he encourages us to admit our fears, to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), to come out of hiding and rejoin our friends in the fellowship of suffering. "You don't have to hide alone anymore. Olly, olly, oxen free!"

It would be wonderful to end here—such a note of hope and comfort! But Jesus does not stop here. Instead he blesses the disciples again — "Peace be with you" — as if he's about to tell them something really frightening.

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

Jesus was sent by the Father into Jerusalem, into Judea, into the very arena where authorities came to despise and finally kill him. And he tells the disciples that the very thing that frightens them and has compelled them to hide—well, that's the place he is sending them.

If hiding from fear is the universal human condition, then stepping out into the place of fear is at the heart of Christ's call on us.

In one scene in the HBO series Band of Brothers, the platoon assaults a town the Germans are holding. As they begin the attack, the Germans unleash a torrent of bullets and artillery. We see two soldiers rush up to the edge of town and then fall behind a stone wall. The platoon leader orders them to move out, to storm the town. But they just sit there, grasping their rifles in fear. Finally, the platoon leader grabs them by their uniforms, pulls them to their feet, and shoves them out into the field of battle, into the place that frightens them to death.

That's what Jesus does to the disciples. The disciples want to hunker down behind closed doors, but Jesus grabs them by their discipleship uniforms and shoves them outside to face bullets and artillery and maybe even death.

We often wonder how we are to discern the will of Jesus for our lives, wishing he would write his will in the sky or whisper it into our ears. All the while, he is shouting to us through our deepest fears — "As the Father sent me, so I send you!" — sending us into the very situation from which he are hiding.

In the coming weeks, parents will be more anxious than ever about the safety of their children. Students will wonder if they'll ever feel safe again. And all of us will feel vulnerable and exposed to the sudden and arbitrary nature of death. These are the very places Jesus calls us to go into. The place may be a physical place, like a school campus. Or it may be an interior place, where one is called to face one's mortality as never before. But wherever the arena is, that's likely where we are called to venturenext.

Make no mistake: There is no promise of safety in Jesus' call. As he calls us into the frightening arena, he points to the wounds in his hands and side, as if to remind us that we are afraid forgood reason. It really is a dangerous world. It really does wound us. Eventually, it kills us.

But while he does not promise us safety, Jesus does give us his peace. "Peace be with you." This is not the peace of pleasant feelings, of course, but the peace that comes from knowing we are in God's purpose and presence no matter what bullets may fly around us.

The hymn "They Cast Their Nets in Galilee" describes the simple life enjoyed by John and Peter before they met Jesus — "before they ever knew the peace of God that filled their hearts brimful, and broke them too." Though John died homeless in Patmos, and Peter was crucified upside down, the hymn concludes,

The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod,
Yet let us pray for but one thing — the marvelous peace of God.

The world continues to groan as it awaits its redemption; wailing is heard from one end of the earth to the other. How much more blood must be spilled before the one who was mistaken as a gardener on Easter morning replants the new garden? God only knows.

In the meantime, we can know the paradoxical peace Jesus provides, a peace that gives us courage to face the very things that frighten us — until the day we find ourselves in a garden once again, this time with no reason to hide.

Mark Galli is managing editor of Christianity Today and author of Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untameable God (Baker). This article was adapted from a sermongiven at Church of the Resurrection, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, on April 15, 2007. You are welcome to comment on this article below or on Mark's blog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Nation Mourns for Virginia Tech

A National Tragedy in Rememberance of the ones lost, the families, friends and fellow students and faculty....we as a Nation mourn with you.

VT
Send Condolences to:
http://www.vt.edu/

In Memory, Daniel Pearl













1963-2002
A ceremony was held Sunday in Miami Beach, Fla., to add the name of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl to the 30,000 etched on the Holocaust Memorial Wall. Although Pearl was killed by Islamic militants after being abducted in Pakistan in 2002, his father, Judea Pearl, said there was a thread of hatred tying his son's death to those of Holocaust victims. Three of Pearl's captors are serving life sentences; a fourth was sentenced to death.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The DAVINCI CON


CON1. to swindle; trick
2. to persuade by deception


http://www.biblebelievers.com/watkins_davinci/davinci.html

Our Government's Dangerous Partnering with the Wrong Muslims

Our government is being duped, through political correctness, into partnering with organizations which present themselves as being purely religious (Muslim) or ethnic (Arabic) but are actually solidly religio-political and Arab-political movements.  FSM Contributing Editor M. Zuhdi Jasser explains the dangers inherent in this short-sighted policy.

 

http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/challenges.php?id=759085# 

 

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Does God Exist?

When it comes to the possibility of God's existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God. On the other hand, for those who want to know God if He is there, He says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you." Before you look at the facts surrounding God's existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know Him?

1. Does God exist? Throughout history, in all cultures of the world, people have been convinced there is a God. Billions of people, who represent diverse sociological, intellectual, emotional, educational makeups...believe that there is a Creator, a God to be worshipped. Now, the fact that so many people believe something certainly doesn't make it true. But when so many people through the ages are so personally convinced that God exists, can one say with absolute confidence that they are all mistaken?

2. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today

3. Does God exist? Mere "chance" is not an adequate explanation of creation.

4. Does God exist? Humankind's inherent sense of right and wrong cannot be biologically explained.

5. Does God exist? God not only has revealed Himself in what can be observed in nature, and in human life, but He has even more specifically shown Himself in the Bible.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God.

Unless we assume not merely that some god exists, but in fact that a very specific God exists, how on earth will we be able to determine that a particular set of writings qualifies not only as a divine "revelation," but is in fact the "clearest, most specific picture of God"? Answer: we can't. Absent a specific conception of God (not "a god," but God), there is nothing to comparethe descriptions in the Bible to such that we could conclude that those descriptions are or are not clear.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Great Controversy

 

The Great Controversy

http://www.worldslastchance.com/books/the_great_contro_eng.html

Beware of Christian Terrorists

Beware of Christian Terrorists
In Burlington Township in New Jersey, the school district conducted a mock hostage taking. However, this particular school district decided that in their mock hostage taking, the group that engaged in the activity was right-wing religious fundamentalists. In other words, Christians are terrorists. In this incident, they are called the new Crusaders. The drama acted out even had students playing the wounded and the dead as gunfire echoed through the school. Apparently the gunmen (Christian terrorists) were striking back because a girl had been praying in the school before class and was expelled. Thus, the motive of the fundamentalist Christians was revenge.

No other group in America would tolerate this kind of hostility. Imagine dramatizing the villains as Islamic fundamentalists. While in the minds of some there is little difference between Christian fundamentalists and Muslim fundamentalists, political correctness is displayed among most all minorities except Christians. It's open season on Christians. Whatever the bizarre scenario, since it is prophesied in the Bible, we shouldn't worry and we should just accept that Scripture is being fulfilled. The Bible promises a lot of opposition to Jews and Christians and particularly in the "last days." So don't sweat it according to these people.

While the Bible promotes turning the other cheek, it also stresses contending for what is right. America is being assaulted from within by judges, Leftists, secular humanists, atheists, corrupt leaders, liberals even in the pulpit and in academia. If the righteous roll over and play dead as is often the case, America will collapse from withinYou don't need to remind me that America is not prominent in the Bible in the "last days." So you want to give up the fight?

David Barton, President of Wall Builders, states, ". . . in the same region (Northeast), even federal courts say it is okay to start teaching second graders about homosexuality and 'homosexual marriage.' " He goes on to say, "The common thinking that is prevalent is that we do not have to notify parents that we're going to indoctrinate kids because this is such an important societal value that all citizens need it."

Okay, it was a drill, a drill for policemen, school administrators, and other state and county officials. Officials said,  "We wanted to see how well we work together and respond. We also wanted to see how we can make them better."  Fine. Have your drill. But in America you cannot demonize Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, homosexuals, or Muslims. You can easily, however, demonize Christians to your heart's content.

Jay Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice, has a petition for you to sign here: https://www.aclj.org/Petition/Default.aspx?SC=3265&AC=1

Stand up and be counted because if America does not hear from the Christian and conservative right, the Left will easily move in and create a kind of chaos this country has never before known.

God Bless.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Incomplete Anti-Imus Lobby

The raging media controversy over the stupid racial insult Imus threw at the Rutgers women’s basketball team – “nappy-headed h-o-s” – has led the usual cast of professional victims, like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP, to deplore the racist underbelly of the broader American culture. 

But where were these people when the subject was gangsta rap? With these arrogant and profane multi-millionaires routinely insulting and deriding people, especially black women, with language one hundred-fold more offensive than anything that ever came out of the I-Man’s mouth?

Have the NAACP and other prominent minority groups marched with pickets outside BET or MTV for running raunchy rap videos full of N-words and “*” references? Did they protest when the song “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won the Academy Award? Its derogatory lyrics included the N-word and the word “h-o.”

To be sure, there have been some leaders in the black community, like the late C. Delores Tucker, and more recently, Bill Cosby and Richmond, Virginia, mayor Douglas Wilder, who have campaigned mightily against this cultural self-destruction, but their appeals have been met by sneers and jeers from Hollywood, which honored “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” with an Oscar.

Lobbyists for the NAACP and other groups have been equally silent over the shocking volume of racial material disguised as “comedy” on advertiser-supported basic cable TV. In the last two years, the Parents Television Council has counted more than 140 uses of the N-word on cable. Where were the campaigns to get those performers or executives canned?

This count includes the March 7 edition of Comedy Central’s “South Park,” kicking off its eleventh season with its usual shock-joke routine. The network would not risk mocking Muhammad for fear of violence, but the March 7 show used the N-word 42 times in a half-hour. One of the main character’s parents guessed the N-word on a “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle, and so the whole town of South Park repeatedly mocks him as “the [N-word] Guy.”

In between the constant N-words, Comedy Central showed an advertisement for a new comedy show called “Halfway Home,” about ex-cons in a halfway house. A white man under assault from people throwing water balloons looks at a black woman with a balloon and yells about his wet sweater vest: “This is cashmere, you fat ******.”

Clearly, those alleged equal-opportunity insulters at Viacom are not as afraid of the NAACP as they are of the Muslims – because the NAACP doesn’t care. Their last leader, Bruce Gordon, now a board member at CBS Corporation, demanded Imus be gone: "We should have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to what I see as irresponsible, racist behavior." Try to find any news account of Mr. Zero Tolerance campaigning against harsh rap music while he headed the NAACP.

Those who demanded that Don Imus be fired should really try to explain how Comedy Central is merely using a humor context in its aggravated use of hurtful insults, and is thereby innocent and untouched.

For its part, “South Park” tried to have it both ways. After exploiting the controversy of using the N-word 42 times in the episode, the program concludes with one of the leading white children on the show stupidly suggesting he’ll never understand how the N-word hurts when it’s used.

Bizarrely, people who want the N-word abolished actually turned around and praised “South Park” for its 42-N-word episode. On CNN, Kovon and Jill Flowers, who co-founded the organization Abolish the "N" Word, proclaimed that in this case, using the slur constantly was appropriate. "This show, in its own comedic way, is helping to educate people about the power of this word and how it feels to have hate language directed at you.”

But the people who enjoy “South Park” and watched this episode weren’t focusing on any grand moral lesson. They enjoyed the typical “South Park” plotline that the sensitivity police -- people who argue for civility and against coarse language -- should be the ones ridiculed. The central laugh for most was the cartoon Jesse Jackson demanding an apology that included kissing his bare buttocks, captured by a photographer. But try finding Jesse Jackson or his Rainbow-PUSH organization picketing Comedy Central for that episode.

If the NAACP and other groups don’t want to look like very arbitrary and selective protesters of racial insensitivity, they could reconsider their support – through their silence – of the cable industry’s status quo. If their goal is a culture that honors and inspires blacks, they have a lot more territory than the Don Imus show to condemn.

NAACP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson (Rainbow Coalition), Black Panthers, etc......so whats wrong with KKK and White Power? Seems to me they ALL fall in the same catagory of spewing racial hate!

Let's Go To The Tomb

Let’s go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.
Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus
.
Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don’t you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don’t you know they hoped for a pulse? Don’t you know they searched for life?

But they didn’t find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph’s tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light ??? a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don’t know. But there was a light. For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: “What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us” (Rom. 6:5–9 MSG).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What Is Islam?




















Why is it that Islam seems to be the only world religion which consistently produces large-scale terrorism and suicide bombers who kill and die explicitly in the name of their faith? Who are the people who commit such terrorism in the name of Islam? What do they want to achieve through their violent actions, and why?
The current struggle against terrorism won't accomplish a great deal unless people understand just what it is they are fighting against. It simply is not enough to label terrorists "evil people" because few, if any, consciously set out to commit acts they regard as evil. On the contrary, they believe they are doing something justified and righteous - and if that is the case, then no military victory alone can last long. An ideological victory must quickly follow in an effort to change people's minds.

It also is not enough to understand Islam as a religion, because these events are not solely religious. Although religion plays an important role, so do a variety of cultural, political and historical factors - and all of these must be taken into account. In this book, Esposito spends a great deal of time covering the history of Islamic extremism. This is important because Osama bin Laden did not simply appear out of nowhere to capture the hearts and minds of millions of devout Muslims.

Bin Laden is a product of a long history of religious and political ideas, a convergence which may not have been predictable, but it has certainly been destructive. This highlights an important issue which people in the West must learn to understand:the degree to which past and present are deeply intertwined for the Muslim world.

For Muslims, the past is not so much a subject of academic study as it is a reality which is lived and experienced on a daily basis. Thus, European Crusades and colonialism are not parts of the past but rather current events. This is why, for example, there were such negative reactions across the Middle East when President Bush originally described the campaign against terrorism as a "Crusade."

Muslims today see the existence of Israel and most Western foreign policy as simply continuations of the Crusades and colonialism, a fact which Osama bin Laden has exploited regularly. A person like bin Laden can make vague references to historical events which occurred as part of the Crusades and colonialism and expect that the average Muslim listener will immediately know what he is talking about - it is in this context where his widespread appeal can be found and understood.

Thus, understanding Muslims' reactions to the West are key to understanding bin Laden's appeal and current events.
Islam is a "religion of peace,"........or that the origins of Muslim violence lie in the unbalanced psyches of particular individual "fanatics," must be considered as disinformation intended to induce the infidel world to let down its guard. Of course, individual Muslims may genuinely regard their religion as "peaceful" -- but only insofar as they are ignorant of its true teachings, or in the sense of the Egyptian theorist Sayyid Qutb, who posted in his Islam and Universal Peace that true peace would prevail in the world just as soon as Islam had conquered it.
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22

Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins and to show us what our Heavenly Father is really like. The Bible teaches that the antichrist will come and deceive multitudes, making them believe that they can be saved in their sins; his actions will show the world what his father is like.
The word 'antichrist' in the new testament Greek language means 'an opponent of the Messiah.' The dictionary also gives us the meaning of the two words 'anti' and 'christos.' The word 'anti' means an opponent and substitute while the word 'christos' means the 'messiah' or one anointed to religious office. Putting these definitions together we find that the antichrist, while being opposed to Christ, is not openly opposed, but rather a deceiver and substitute for Christ who acts as if he is serving Christ.
In other words, the antichrist is one who tries to take the place of Christ and overrule His authority in religious matters, while claiming to be His servant.

Where are the Muslim moderates?
That is a question that many of us have been asking in recent years. Now it’s possible to provide an answer: They’re in St. Petersburg, Florida. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=27260

The Secular Islam Summit
In one respect, Muslim reformists have also hurt their own cause. Until recently, they have not acted collectively and have seldom met, making their task that much more difficult. This conference is a welcome departure from this tradition. The Secular Islam Summit is an excellent example of what could occur if the United States, Europe and the international community would seriously consider supporting the Muslim intellectuals who seek pluralism, human rights and democracy: They would gain important allies in the war of ideas and the “War on Terror.”


“Why do they hate us?”An unambiguous answer: “They hate us because they were taught to do so.”

To Muslim protests that their religion is their own business, “If they tell you have no business in Muslim affairs, tell them they have no business meddling in non-Muslim affairs.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Even the Donkey Knew












I believe that Jesus is sending us a message through an animal less intelligent than we. “Open your eyes - even the donkey knew Me.”

“Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” Matthew 21:2
For thousands of years people have been asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” Skeptics first began inquiring about Jesus’ identity during His earthly ministry. As He traveled from town to town performing miracles and fulfilling prophecy, many would ask, “Is He a prophet or a teacher?” Even though Christ clearly stated He was the Son of God, some still questioned His identity and still do today.

The celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem was one of many times our Lord’s identity was questioned. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the citizens cried out, “Who is this?” Everyone noticed His arrival. Some were moved with joy by His presence and laid palm branches on the ground in His honor. Others watched in wonder. The Pharisees were most likely filled with envy and indignation. However, Scripture tells us that although He was the King of Glory, Jerusalem knew Him not (Acts 13:27, KJV).

Earlier that Sunday morning, as Jesus and His disciples neared the city, He said to two of His disciples, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” (Matthew 21:2, NIV)

Most Bible teachers claim that Jesus rode the donkey through town in order to fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Not only was prophecy fulfilled, but we also see an example of Christ’s all-encompassing knowledge when He revealed where the donkey could be found. More so, we also catch a glimpse of Christ’s ability to make Himself and His authority known to all living things as the untamed donkey yields to his destiny.

Donkeys, as well as their colts, were known as mean, stubborn creatures, and yet, having never been ridden before, amazingly this wild donkey submits to the authority of Christ. In doing so, the donkey testifies that Jesus is Lord. In this truth lies avery important insight. Within the heart of every living soul, whether man or beast, is the knowledge of God. He placed that knowledge there Himself.

The evidence of God is not only written on every heart and displayed in nature, but it’s found throughout Scripture as well. One recorded fact that proves Christ’s authenticity is found in the donkey’s humble obedience to submit to Jesus’ command.

It’s true, if an untamed donkey can recognize the glory of the Lord, so can we even though we can’t visibly see Him. If we could see God, He’d just be another object like the sun and the moon. That would make Him a small God. He’s much - than that. The Bible tells us that God is a spirit. He is not anything you can see or touch. But that doesn't mean He isn't real! In fact, He is more "real" than the things you see around you that will eventually die or disappear, but God never will.

The greatest evidence that God is real occurred over 2000 years ago when this invisible God became a visible person, Jesus Christ, who claimed, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" John 14:9 God not only desired to reveal Himself then, but He wants to show Himself real to you everyday through a loving relationship with you.

Deep within you know, just as the donkey knew, that Jesus longs to enter your heart and take His rightful place as Lord of your life. Don’t let a donkey out smart you. This Easter season is the perfect time to get to know God in a real way. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, April 9, 2007

I Am An American Christian












I have come to think that this kind of interpretive witness I strive to be, is one calling of a true American citizen, and certainly of a Christian who takes seriously the way of Jesus. I am a witness that doesn't ignore the realities of politics and the brutalities of modern terrorism, but responds with something more than power and pragmatism. I am a witness that looks for ways to engage those who have divergent visions of faith and society and advocates for fundamental religious freedoms. More than anything, I am a witness that stitches together humility and conviction in the messiness of the real world—and does so in a way that points quietly, but inevitably, to the faith I profess and the coming of the ends of time.