A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts

June 20, 2016

Appeasement Will Be Our Ruin

     Whether in politics, in our culture, or in our religion, appeasement has become the byword of this generation.  Webster's dictionary defines the word as "To pacify; to dispel anger or hatred; to make quiet; to calm; as to appease hunger or thirst; to reduce to a state of peace; to still; as, to appease the tumult of the ocean, or of the passions."  In other words, to appease is to use diplomacy and compromise to forestall a confrontation.
     We are seeing appeasement today, almost everywhere we turn... on the world stage, our government seeks to placate potential enemies by surrendering our national sovereignty and defense; culturally, we have yielded moral ground to segments of society that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our character and conduct; and religiously, we are allowing other gods to usurp the supremacy of YHWH, and diminish the Authority and Victory of Jesus.
    This infection of appeasement has now reached a stage I never thought possible.  The Southern Baptist Convention, the US’s largest Protestant denomination, is now helping to build mosques.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Don't believe me?  Here is a direct quote from BaptistNews.com: ... a legal dispute between a Muslim community and a New Jersey township is showing a different side of inter-Christian relationships. Baptist and other Christian organizations accustomed to cultural and legal sparring have joined the fight for the construction of a new mosque.  “It’s good when we can join hands with … folks we are sometimes on the other side of,” said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.  Those folks include the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the International Mission Board, both agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. The National Association of Evangelicals is also supporting the mosque-building case.
     Apparently, it is in the name of religious liberty that the Southern Baptists (along with other evangelical groups, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Sikhs) have determined that it is a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to build mosques -- even though there is the potential that American legal institutions are beginning to come under threat from Islamic codes and sharia law.
     So, here is something I think we better consider:  Have our denominations and churches become "American" first, and "Christian", secondly?  As Bud Ahlheim, a writer at Pulpit and Pen, recently wrote, "Proclaiming there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved seems uncannily hollow when you’ve just joined hands to help build a Christ-denying mosque. Once again, Christianity becomes just another flavor of religion to an onlooking world and our witness as Southern Baptists diluted by our religious liberty defenses."  Sadly, one has to ask, "Are these Christians still willing to make that proclamation?  Or has the Church decided that the way to peace is to appease the Islamic faith -- and thereby attempt to pacify and calm their anti-Christian rhetoric and beliefs -- by declaring that we all worship the same God?"
     The most recent example of appeasement in history led to genocide and world war.  Less than 80 years ago, the world attempted to appease Hitler and we know that was a mistake.  The 1938 Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia, and it started Hitler on the road toward the extermination of over 6,000,000 Jews.  I fear that the American Church may be traveling that same road.  By choosing appeasement towards a faith whose radical elements have sworn death to our nation, and who have demonstrated their willingness to generate their own genocide of Christians and Jews, the Church is treading on dangerous ground.  They may think they are exemplifying American Christian justice and grace, but I have to wonder if any of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have stopped to seek God's will in this matter.
     What has God told us in His Word?  Pastor John Rothra, a Baptist preacher himself, has written an excellent article concerning this subject.  He points to the Book of Judges as a guide to what God thinks when we choose our own path, rather than the one He has commanded.
     Joshua had just died. There was no single military leader, but instead each tribe was responsible for conquering their respective regions. God was to be their king and they were to be God’s people.  You will remember that God instructed them to destroy all the native inhabitants and to completely conquer the lands God promised them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But Israel decided on its own, that this was too harsh an action.  Rather than conquer the enemy, some tribes chose accommodation, peace treaties, enslavement, or mutual cohabitation.... in other words, appeasement.  That might have seemed more humane to the ancient Israelites (and to us today), but it was not God's will.
     As Pastor Rothra points out, in order to appease and cohabitate with her enemies, Israel adopted false gods, heretical practices, and abandoned God’s righteousness for a righteousness of their own. This was not an accident. They did not fall into sin. Rather, the Israelites chose this sinful path.  The Israelites did not maintain the Supremacy of the One True God, and began accepting other gods and beliefs as equal to their own.  To put it simply: the people did whatever they deemed was right in their own minds.  Isn't that what the Southern Baptist Convention is doing?
     There will be those who will concentrate on the fact that this is a problem of the American Church, and I cannot deny that.  But as my wise husband pointed out to me, satan has been trying to destroy the relationship between YHWH and those whom He calls His own since the beginning.  We see that in the ancient Book of Judges.  And it only took a century after the Church was founded for the Enemy to infiltrate it and try to utterly destroy it.  But the seeds were planted and it was the will of God that faith in Jesus should spread to the ends of the globe.  The devil is still trying to destroy the Church by any means he can.  Today, when people (and the Church) seek to mirror the world, we see that we will do whatever we must to ease the conflict among us; to pacify our enemies; and to obtain peace and conciliation.
     But I have to add another aspect of this apostasy, from my spiritual warfare perspective.  You will recall that in Ephesians 6, Paul warns us that we are fighting against various ranks of the Enemy's army.  They are spiritual and not made of flesh and blood; they have specific assignments, such as the Prince of Persia in Daniel, Chapter 10.  Among the Rulers, Powers, World Forces, and Spiritual Forces are the retinue of satan's false gods who are assigned to battle against God's people on earth.  Allah is a very real entity, and just one of those Rulers who is in dedicated conflict with the Most High God.  We must not lose sight of that fact!
     We must face the reality that we can't have it all -- we can't profess faith in YHWH, the One True God, and yet help to build houses of worship to a false god.  We can't let political correctness and religious liberty supersede the position of YHWH.  We can't profess to be part of God's Church, yet put our own desires to be magnanimous and inclusive before God's will.  That is merely a form of self-idolization, and results in the lukewarm Laodicean Church.   And what does Jesus say He will do with that Church?  He will spew them out!
     That is the warning that I think all Christians must take seriously!  Is appeasement of our faith pleasing to God?  What is He more interested in ... His Church gaining political power, influence, and unity among all religions and false gods -- or seeing that we are committing ourselves to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  The last time I checked, Islam rejects the deity of Christ.  How can appeasing that religious philosophy be, in any way, pleasing to my God?

Galatians 1:10    "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."


April 27, 2016

Are We Really Free To Express Our Faith?

     You may have heard the recent news story about the lay preacher, Dr. Eric Walsh.  If not, let me clue you in.  Dr. Walsh was offered a job as a district health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health.  Before he could even show up for his first day of work, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities.  You see, Dr. Walsh is not only a physician, but a lay preacher for the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
     So, even though, by law, Dr. Walsh's religious beliefs are no grounds by which he is to be considered eligible for employment, "DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these [beliefs] and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online; analyzing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural and other matters of public concern as expressed in his sermons and other public addresses."  Then barely a week later, DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted.
     According to the Fox News Opinion site, there were members of the Georgia Department of Public Health that do not share Dr. Walsh's Biblical worldview, and they used their power to punish him.  Perhaps they were heavily influenced by The Health Initiative, an Atlanta-based group committed to LGBT health issues, and strongly opposed to Walsh’s hiring.  So opposed, in fact, that they told The Georgia Voice, an LGBT-oriented bi-weekly newspaper based in Atlanta, Georgia, "Dr. Walsh’s public displays of anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric will become symbols of the department and will further isolate an already vulnerable population. We believe this hire is detrimental to the well-being of our community, as well as to the effectiveness of the Department to conduct meaningful outreach to LGBT Georgians."
     So what exactly was the "anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric" that the good doctor was spewing?  Well, Dr. Walsh preached sermons upholding the biblical stance on marriage (a union between one man and one woman), and other topics such as creationism, health, sexuality, world religions, science, and what the Bible says about homosexuality.  So, basically, he was fired -- before he ever started! -- because of something he preached in a sermon.  (NOTE:  The Georgia DPH has now released a statement saying, "During the background check process, DPH learned Dr. Walsh failed to disclose outside employment to his previous public health employer, which also was in violation of California law."  If that was the reason for his termination, then why all investigation into his sermons, and why the statement from The Health Initiative?  I'm not buying it!)
     But this wasn't the first time Dr. Walsh was discriminated against.  The website, Saved To Serve, reported that it all started when Dr. Walsh was invited to be the keynote speaker for a commencement at Pasadena City College in California. LGBT activists and students vehemently protested and Walsh backed out. Not satisfied with the cancellation, the LGBT community and its sympathizers wanted to further damage him emotionally and professionally which resulted in his resignation as director of Pasadena’s public health department. And then the hate followed him all the way across the country to Georgia.
     All this controversy brings me to what I think is a natural question ... Does Religious Freedom really exist in this country?  Or can one small group of the population control the nation's social conscious and launch what amounts to a legally-accepted act of discrimination against people of faith?  You see, the LGBT community in the Atlanta, Georgia region is only an estimated 4.2% of metro Atlanta's population.  Yet, they are able to work in cooperation with government agencies like the Department of Public Health, and corporate giants like Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel, and the NFL to coerce Christians from preaching their beliefs in their churches, and can actually effect opportunities of employment.
     One can see these same groups pressuring Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto the state's House Bill 757, which would have protected religious freedoms, and would have amended current law "relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion."  The Governor was quoted as saying, “Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”  Well, Governor, can you show me where the good state of Georgia is willing to work side by side with those of Faith?  Are they to be silenced when they express their views of what they want for their families and communities?
     I have stated it over and over, and sadly, I feel it is necessary to do so again... I do not wish to force my religious views about sexuality or marriage upon another.   While I may not agree with the homosexual lifestyle (based on my faith), that same faith does not require that I force my opinion on another.  That is a decision that I am perfectly willing to let every individual choose for themselves.  I am not called to be another's conscience.  I do not want to control how you live your life.  (Those of my friends who are gay, can attest to the fact that their relationships do not interfere with our friendships). BUT, at the same time I expect to be allowed to live my life in the freedom of my faith, and that includes attending a church that teaches a Biblical perspective on marriage and creationism, for example.  Just as the LGBT community wants to be free to live their lives according to their belief system, I would ask that they offer me the same courtesy.  Allow me to choose for myself, the lifestyle I want to live; do not limit my voice in the public square, just as you want to have yours heard.  And, most of all, let the laws of the land protect my rights, as well as yours!
     It is becoming more and more apparent that we cannot count on the Constitution or our lawmakers to protect our religious liberties.  As long as churches and religious organizations tie themselves to the government's 501(c)3 shackles, it will allow the government, whenever it chooses, to control what is preached, taught, or done to a great extent within those institutions.  And we must admit that government is increasingly bowing down to the pressures of our culture.  Let's face it ... we are being judged ... and condemned ... by those who wish to silence our voice, even if it is done within the confines of the Lord's House.  The sad thing, for me, is that like any social or cultural force, it is the radical branch that wants to force their agenda.  
     So, right now, we are seeing professionals like Dr. Eric Walsh being fired for their religious beliefs.  Seems to me that we are not too far away from what the Bible tells us will be the result of standing for our faith.  Read about it in the Book of Revelation.  It starts out with threats; then we will be prosecuted, fined, and jailed.  And then it's only a step or two until we are being prohibited from buying or selling, and then ultimately killed for refusing to renounce our faith.  Those with no faith in the God of the Bible will say that is a ridiculous statement.  But can you look at what happened to Dr. Eric Walsh, and see that we are more clearly on that destructive path; more so than on a path towards mutual acceptance and tolerance?  How did we get here, so far and so fast?  The Enemy obviously knows his time is short, and we can take consolation in knowing that our Victory is on the horizon.

Revelation 2:10    "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."

December 3, 2015

Look How Far We've Come!

     I'm sure you are all familiar with the circulated email campaigns that pop up in our Inboxes from time to time.  Most of the ones I get are either political or religious, and some come quite close to resembling chain letters.   You know the ones .... If you love Jesus, then pass it on.  And just yesterday I received one from a dear family friend, that at first glance, I planned to scan quickly and move on.
     Yes, it was dated and had made the rounds before, but as I read it, I realized it deserved a second look, and an update, if you will.  It is a true story, and verified by Snopes.  (If they are willing to give credibility to a faith-based story, then you know it actually happened, right?)
     Here are the facts:  The following is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee by school Principal Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the state of the country at that time (in how far we had drifted from God) to the position we find ourselves in today, some 15 years later.  Principal McLoud's statement from 2000 appears in black, and my current comments appear in red...

     McCloud:  It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country.  Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.
     Just ask Bremerton, Washington High School Football Coach Joe Kennedy, who was placed on paid leave in October 2015, after he refused to stop praying after football games.  The disciplinary action by the School District meant Coach Kennedy could not even be on the sidelines.  But that didn't stop him from attending the game as a fan, sitting in the bleachers.  
     As students and players approached Kennedy in support, members of the Seattle chapter of the Satanic Temple clad in ritual black robes attended the game to show their support of the School District's decision.
     McCloud:  As I understand the law at this time [2000], I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's OK.
     On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage.  In the opening paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, the court proclaims “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” (Emphasis added.)  
     The court's recognition that individuals be permitted to self-determine—to define and express themselves—has unmistakable extension to rights for the transgender community.  In turn, this ruling now means that you may be forced to share restrooms with persons of the opposite sex who are still "searching" for what identity they want to express!
     McCloud:  I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK.
     Safe rooms are now becoming commonplace on school campuses.  These are zones where the newly designated LGBTQ students (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) can gather in welcoming, inclusive spaces so that all people are empowered to reach their full potential.  I have been told by students that this often translates to rooms set aside for make-out sessions.  
McCloud:  I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, it's no problem.
     Now the promoter of selling baby body parts, Planned Parenthood, has instituted the Peer Education Program, which provides semester-long training on high school campuses.  Peer Educators perform service projects to teach their fellow students about "healthy relationships, teen violence, body image, and sexuality, reproductive health, and more."  I don't know about you, but I don't want an organization that fails to admit they are murdering babies and then selling their body parts for profit, to be teaching any teenager in my family about their body image, sexuality, reproductive health ... and I certainly want to know what the "more" is that they have to offer.
     McCloud:  I can designate a school day as Earth Day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, Mother Earth, and call it ecology.  I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple-minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.  However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated.
     All one has to do is take a look at the suggested accommodations that the University of Missouri proposes for religious celebrations on campus, and you will see that every attempt is being made to diminish the Christian God.  You will find celebrations for major religious holidays for Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus, Islam, Jews, Druids and Buddhists outnumbering those for Christians.  
     In addition, in September 2015, students at a Tennessee public school were instructed to transcribe the Shahada, one of the Five Pillars of Faith in Islam, and write “Allah is the only god.”  This after an entire unit on Christianity was skipped.  Could the agenda be more clear?

     The following is the conclusion of Principal McCloud's statement over the PA system, and the response of the crowd at the football game:
     McCloud:  This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical.  Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments.  Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules that they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.
     For this reason, I shall render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law — yet.
     AND ... one by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another, and began to pray. They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand.  And they prayed in the announcer's box. The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America — the seat of "justice" in the one nation under God.

     As you can see, by the year 2000, the effects of the 1962 Supreme Court decision (Engel v. Vitale) that removed prayer from schools, had done its damage.  But now, 15 years later, we see that the campaign to remove God from our schools has bled over into removing Him from every facet of our lives and society.  We see pagan culture and religion on the rise; we see alternative and ungodly lifestyles promoted; and we see the murder of God's creation promoted as a "right", and by which the evil organization that propagates it can make a profit.  
     But although the advancement of Evil against the profession of faith in the One True God seems to be winning, we must not lose sight of His remnant --- those who stand with Coach Joe Kennedy; or those parents who protest the teaching of Islam to their children in a public school; or the individual actions that each of us take every day to honor and glorify our Lord.... He ALWAYS has a remnant!
     The Supreme Court, and the lower courts of this land, may execute their rulings against God, but we of the Faith (and the Remnant) know that the True Seat of Justice lies with Him in Heaven, and there will be a reckoning for these unholy statutes.  Until then, we must strengthen our faith, support each other, and like Joe Kennedy, decide for ourselves what our limits are for rendering unto Caesar...

Psalm 119:89-91     "Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You."  


October 26, 2015

The Dangerous Hypocrisy!

     I want you to quickly revisit my blog post of Saturday.  I told the story of a Washington State football coach, Joe Kennedy, whose school denied him the right to pray with his players after each football game; in his words, "To thank God for each of them."  He was, in essence, accused of proselytizing students without their permission and told that religious expression at a public school is not allowed by the Constitution.  That's a cursory summation, but it comes pretty close to representing the facts.
      So, now juxtapose that story with the following one I'm about to tell you.  This time, the narrative  takes place in the state of Tennessee.  It seems that in dozens of Tennessee public school districts, the kids are required to memorize the five pillars of Islam and are instructed to write “Allah is the only God."  One parent said more than 20 pages of her child’s social studies textbook is devoted to studying Islam.  I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that this amounts to three weeks of classroom instruction; more time than is spent teaching the seventh-graders about Christianity.  “In all of the homework my children have ever brought home, I have never seen the level of detail about other religions,” said one mother, Laura Jones. “I was completely speechless.”
     In this instance, the parents' Congresswoman has their backs.  Representative Marsha Blackburn said, “There is a big difference between education and indoctrination.  It is reprehensible that our school system has exhibited this double-standard; more concerned with teaching the practices of Islam than the history of Christianity. Tennessee parents have a right to be outraged and I stand by them in this fight.”
     Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt had this to say, “This ‘teaching’ also occurs while Tennessee students are simultaneously being told they cannot fly American flags and are being discouraged from praying while at school.  Many of our children are not being taught the Ten Commandments in school, but instead the Five Pillars of Islam and the ‘Prophet’ Muhammad as a sovereign to Jesus Christ.”
     Of course, those who are proponents of this indoctrination, such as Paul Galloway, the executive director of the American Center for Outreach, say that parents just don't understand; the middle-school kids being taught about Islam are simply repeating the tenets of the Islamic religion, and that won’t turn anyone into a Muslim.  Really?
     So, why is the same argument not allowed to stand for Coach Kennedy?   He simply wants to thank God for his players and the privilege of teaching them leadership and good sportsmanship.  Can't they see that his simple prayer won't turn anyone into a Christian?  And why we're scrutinizing the false reasons for teaching Islam in the public schools, I want to take offense at Mr. Galloway's next justification.  He says the word “Allah” in Arabic means “God.”
     “So, Christians who speak Arabic use the word Allah to talk about God all the time,” Galloway explained. “There is a basic level of misunderstanding driving this fear and outrage.”  Ummm, I don't think so, Mr. Galloway.  Parents know exactly what is going on when their children are instructed to stand and recite "Allah is God" every day.  And they are very aware that Allah is not the One True God.  "Allah" and "God" are not the same, and they are not interchangeable.
     But the parents in Tennessee are not the only ones who are facing this dangerous situation in their children's classrooms.  Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) says this is not an isolated problem.  “Earlier this year, we reported that public school students in Madison, Wisconsin were given an assignment to ‘pretend you are Muslim,’ while public school students in Florida were instructed to recite the Five Pillars of Islam as a prayer, make Islamic prayer rugs, and perform other Muslim rituals,” Sekulow wrote on the ACLJ blog. “Suspiciously, the textbook discussing Islam had chapters missing. Which chapters? Those on Christianity and Judaism.”
     As Sekulow correctly pointed out, imagine the outcry of atheist groups, if students were instructed in a lesson plan that ‘Jesus is the Son of God,’ or if children were told to recite the Lord’s Prayer.”  The hypocrisy is not only obvious and maddening, it is deliberate and dangerous.  It is incumbent upon all parents to know what their children are being taught in school.  Ask to see their homework. Many schools these days give parents online access to class assignments.  Take the time to check them out.  We know there is an agenda pushing this, and we know it is coming hard and fast.  Satan does not have much time left, and our children are a vulnerable target.  Be in the know and get in the fight!

Thanks to Rod Kackley at PJ Media for his reporting on this issue.

John 17:3    "And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."

October 24, 2015

Good News: He Didn't Back Down!

     His story is becoming far too common.  In the state of Washington, Bremerton High School Assistant Football Coach Joseph Kennedy was ordered to halt his on-field, post-game prayers.  The Blaze has covered this story for the past couple of weeks, ever since Kennedy came under fire last month and was investigated by the school district for routinely praying on the 50-yard line after every game, where he regularly thanks God for each and every one of his players.
     While he typically goes on the field to pray alone, students and players often voluntarily join him — and that is what has sparked controversy and concerns over the separation of church and state.
     A subsequent letter from the school district informed Coach Kennedy that while they supported his motivational and inspirational talks with his players, he must limit them to themes such as unity, teamwork, responsibility, safety, endeavor “and the like”.  AND, his talks could not include religious expression, including prayer.  His words of encouragement had to remain secular at all times, in order not to alienate any player.
     But the school district didn’t count on the unshakable faith of Coach Kennedy.  “I never asked anyone [to pray]. They just all showed up one day and the next thing I know, the other team was showing up with us,” Kennedy said.  ”I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, and it’s been about protecting the freedom of other people. It’s about the freedom, and people can believe whatever they want. I’m just exercising my right.”
     But apparently exercising that right could conflict with his job description, and there were veiled threats that an investigation was being conducted and it would be prudent for him to discontinue such religious sentiment.
     Kennedy didn’t back down.  “I love my players. It’s an honor to work with them and teach them about good sportsmanship and teamwork,” the coach said in a statement. “I hope the school district will allow me to continue working with these kids – and thanking God for them.”  And he joined forces with the Liberty Institute, the conservative law firm firing off a letter to officials at Bremerton High School that calls it unconstitutional for the district to order Kennedy to stop praying after games.
     As you might suspect, there was a showdown looming.  Regardless of the imposed ban on prayer, Coach Kennedy wanted to pray after the Homecoming Game on October 16th, and he made it clear that he would exercise his constitutional right to pray privately, regardless of the school’s response.  He reasoned that since player attendance isn’t mandatory during his post-game prayers, they are protected free speech.  “I’m going to do what I’ve always done and I will do my prayer,” he said.
Kennedy is surrounded by the opposing team as he prays
     So after the game ended, just as Kennedy promised, he defied the ban and walked to the center of the football field and took a knee to pray.  But he was not alone. Kennedy found himself completely surrounded by football players —  from the opposing team he just coached against.  An emotional Kennedy talked about the experience: “All of a sudden I feel all these bodies around me and I’m hoping they’re not kids.”
     Although the Bremerton school district has not made an official statement about his actions, and the Coach awaits a possible lawsuit and termination of his contract, his deed has attracted a great deal of attention from not only ordinary Americans, but the controversial ladies of The View.  Actress Candace Buré, an avowed Christian, defended Kennedy’s right to pray publicly.  She pointed out that his post-game prayer session was not mandatory and is therefore protected free speech under the First Amendment.  “The separation of church and state does not mean that we cannot pray publicly,” she said. “It actually guarantees our free exercise of religion so that if it is voluntary, we are allowed to pray wherever we would like to.”
    But her co-host of the show, actress Raven-Symone, immediately confronted Buré, asking, “So why did they take prayer out of the beginning of school, and now it’s just silence?”  And here is where we Christians need to know our history… “I don’t know, I wish they wouldn’t have,” Buré shot back.
     In the future, the Faithful need to have an answer for that question.  And here it is:  The conflict started when Steven Engel, a Jewish New Yorker, came together with other parents in 1958 to sue New York State over state-endorsed prayer that was being recited in schools. The Supreme Court inevitably sided with Engel and the decision was issued on June 25, 1962 — a day that lives in infamy in the minds of many religious individuals and free-speech advocates.
     What was the offensive language that altered the condition of our education system forever?  The prayer, which read, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country,” was relatively benign in nature. Still, the parents were adamant that it shouldn’t be uttered in the public sphere.  The plaintiffs claimed that the prayer violated their religious beliefs and practices. Requiring that children utter it, they argued, violated their First Amendment rights, as the government, in their view, was establishing and promoting religion.
     The lone dissent on the Supreme Court came from Potter Stewart, who argued that the majority had “misapplied a great constitutional principle” and could not understand “how an ‘official religion’ is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation.”
     How sad that this argument has disappeared from our national dialogue!  And this, of course, was only the beginning. It was in 1963 — one year later — when Madelyn Murray O’Hair, an atheist activist, was successful in getting the Supreme Court to ban Bible reading and overturn a state law banning the teaching of evolution.   And it’s been downhill ever since.
     Now, over 50 years later, the battle is still being waged.  While many charge that the public school system has taken the ruling and subsequent Supreme Court decisions too far, others maintain that restrictions haven’t gone far enough.  But at least there are people like Joe Kennedy who are starting to fight back; people who understand what has been taken away from us and our children.  God Bless him and those who were willing to kneel on the 50-yard line with him!

1 Timothy 2:8    "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger and disputing or quarreling or doubt [in their mind]."

September 29, 2015

The Constitution and Sharia Law

     Over the past week, much has made in the media about comments by GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson concerning a Muslim running for President of the United States.  So that we are clear on exactly what he said, I would like to reprint the exchange between Carson and Meet The Press host, Chuck Todd...

TODD: Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what's been going on [with] Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the president was Muslim. Let me ask you the question this way: Should a president's faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?

CARSON: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.

CHUCK TODD: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?

DR. BEN CARSON: No, I don't, I do not.

CHUCK TODD: So you--

DR. BEN CARSON: I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

      Now, I'm sure if Dr. Carson could have that moment back, he would have elaborated on his answer, or explained it in more depth, as he has attempted to do in ensuing interviews.  As he has spelled out in the last few days, he would have no problem with a Muslim President, as long as the candidate denounces Sharia law.  And, I for one, believe that is what he meant by a potential candidate's faith being consistent with the values and principles of America.
     But that is precisely why he is still under fire ... and I have to agree with him.  From everything I have read about Sharia Law, it is not compatible with the fundamental principles of ruling our behavior in this country -- let alone being in harmony with the Constitution.  And I think that a lot of the backlash Dr. Carson has suffered is because either the Elite and the Media don't comprehend the consequences of Sharia Law in this nation -- or they understand it quite well, but are adhering to the same old tolerant, politically correct playbook.  Either way, I fear that they are misguided.
     But you don't have to take my word for it.  You can read the words of Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a master's degree in cognitive psychology and educational techniques.  According to his own biography, Hamid was a member of a radical Islamic organization, Jamaa Islameia JI (of Egypt), with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri, who later became the second in command of Al-Qaeda. After being radicalized in the JI (approximately thirty-five years ago), he had an awakening of his human conscience, recognized the threat of Radical Islam, and started to teach modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts.
     Make no mistake, Hamid is still a Muslim, but he wrote this in an article regarding Dr. Ben Carson's warning about Sharia Law:  “I can state unequivocally that Dr. Carson is correct. Without a single exception, the approved Islamic literature teaches violent principles such as killing apostates, beating women, killing gays, and enslaving female war prisoners for sexual purposes.”

     So does Sharia Law look like, sound like, or resemble the Constitution in any form or matter?  I think not.  Our Constitution was written with specific goals in mind:  to form a more perfect union of the peoples of this nation; to establish justice for all;  to ensure domestic tranquility; to provide for the common defense; to promote the general welfare; and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and future generations.
     From all I can ascertain, Islamic (Shariah) Law was made to protect five things: (religion, self, mind, offspring, and property), which the Koran says are the main rights of humans in this life.  But it  is the "violent principles" of Sharia Law that Dr. Hamid says are taught in order to protect these rights that are not only "necessary rules of the religion" [of Islam], but "fly in the face of the Constitution".
     And besides considering both Hamid and Dr. Carson's comments, one must examine the facts in a  World Net Daily article:  There are now an estimated 3 million Muslims residing in the United States as citizens or with permanent legal status, and more than 250,000 new Muslim residents enter the U.S. per year as refugees, on work visas and student-based visas, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. (And that doesn't include the recent push for additional Middle Eastern refugees urged by the President and the UN).  
    The WND article also included a May 2015 poll by The Center For Security Policy that revealed the following:  a majority (51%) agreed that “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah.”  When that question was put to the broader U.S. population, the overwhelming majority held that shariah should not displace the U.S. Constitution (86% to 2%).
     In addition, the article showed that more than half (51%) of U.S. Muslims polled also believe either that they should have the choice of American or shariah courts, or that they should have their own tribunals to apply shariah. Only 39% of those polled said that Muslims in the U.S. should be subject to American courts.  Even more troubling, is the fact that nearly a quarter of the Muslims polled believed that, “It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.”
     So, why all the outrage and condemnation over Dr. Carson's comments?  You may not agree with him, or like his non-political and honest answer.  But can anyone legitimately say that there is no foundation for his concerns?  Where are the ardent feminists and those who celebrate the Supreme Court's recent ruling on gay marriage -- especially, when sharia law in Yemen, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Iraq and Iran approve the death penalty for homosexuals, and women are subjugated citizens? Do they really think they will get an "Americanized" version of Sharia Law in this country?
     And why aren't those who always scream about "separation of Church and State" agreeing with Dr. Carson?  If they are being intellectually honest, it seems to me they must admit that Sharia Law would be a far more oppressive influence on our culture and society than Christianity.  Would these folks protest the restrictions that Sharia Law wants to impose on our society as much as they object to a nativity scene on the public square?
     During a Fox News video poll regarding the Constitution and Sharia Law, the most common answer given by American Muslims was the following:  “The Sharia law is made by God — by Allah; the Constitution was made by people.”  In case you don't get the implications of that statement, I believe those that wish Sharia Law to be above our Constitution would like to see it not only supersede our founding document, but replace it.
     Now, I happen to believe that our founding documents were greatly influenced by Christian-Judeo beliefs and principles, and Sharia Law is in direct conflict with the freedoms of both my faith and my country’s governing laws.  Apparently Dr. Ben Carson feels the same way, and it is refreshing and crucial that men like him have the courage to stand up and defend Christianity and the Constitution.
     All we have to do is look at Europe to see what the metamorphosis of our nation might look like.  Now is not the time for political correctness and compromise.  I say, "Bravo" to Dr. Carson for single-handedly standing for the uniqueness and sovereignty of our nation.  May God continue to give him the courage to be bold and speak the truth!

1 Timothy 2:16   "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."


August 13, 2015

Look What We've Set In Motion!

     I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.  It has been less than two months since the Supreme Court's historical decision striking down traditional marriage and conferring the Biblical state of matrimony upon basically everyone, regardless of sex.  In less than two months, the State has begun exerting its power over those who wish to preserve the religious liberty heretofore guaranteed them by the First Amendment.
     We have seen County Clerks forced to choose between their job and their faith when they decline to issue marriage licenses based on their religious convictions.  We have seen the growing threat against the tax status of Churches who have stated they will refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. There is also the threat against military chaplains who will not disavow the Bible's teachings on marriage. And now there is the case of a prison chaplain who was told he could either sign a state-mandated document promising to never tell inmates that homosexuality is “sinful” or else the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice would revoke his credentials.
     Saying that "it broke his heart", Chaplain David Wells could not comply with the demand and saw his volunteer credentials as an ordained minister revoked – ending 13 years of ministry to underage inmates at the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center.  Those years of ministry included many counseling sessions with youth who were sexually abused both inside and outside the justice system.  Having been abused as a child, Wells was uniquely qualified to help young men deal with the horrors of incarceration and the sexual abuse that often accompanied it.
     “I sat across the table from a 16-year-old boy who was weeping and broken over the life he was in,” Wells said. “He had been abused as a child and turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. He wanted to know if there was any hope for him.... I was able to look at him and tell him the saving power of Jesus Christ that delivered me – [and] could deliver him,” he said.  He was able to counsel the young man, that is, as long as he did not refer to Biblical opinions on homosexuality, which would understandably be part of any conversation about prison rape or sexual abuse within the walls of the juvenile institution.
     I confess that it was difficult for me to find any solid statistics on the rate of sexual abuse in prison.  There were allusions to it, but often no hard numbers.  And if there were, they seemed incredibly low to me ... one claiming only 140,000 assaults in the entire U.S. justice system, and less than 1500 among juveniles.  Yet the personal testimony in the link above makes it clear that the cases are grossly underestimated.  And that makes Chaplain Wells's dismissal even more tragic.
      So, essentially, what we have is this monumental Supreme Court decision that will affect so much more than an individual's right to call themselves "married".  It has the potential to remove all Christian influence from our cultural conversation.  There is now no absolute moral code.  The Supreme Court has essentially ruled that individuals have civil rights based on their sexual behavior, whatever that might be.  For now, that has been expanded to mean two men, or two women.  We are already seeing challenges to that.
     A man in Montana plans to sue after being denied a marriage license to wed a second wife.  And can you really say that you do not foresee someone who wants to marry his pet, which constitutes what the Bible calls Bestiality?  And what about a personal robot?  Think that's preposterous?  Just read this article that presents all the arguments we can expect to hear in the near future.
    And then there is the abhorrent organization NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) which was founded in 1978 and whose aim is to overturn statutory rape laws and force the reduction of “age of consent” laws that require a child to be of a certain age (which varies by state) before they can agree to sexual intercourse.  (Please know that, in general, the LGBT community is just as appalled by this organization and disassociates themselves from NAMBLA).
     I can remember Dr. Laura warning of this organization 20 years ago, and she was nearly laughed off the airwaves for even suggesting that this group existed, or that they promoted and "celebrated the dignity inherent in the natural love of boys."  That's called Pedophilia by any other name.  Yet how long before their individual civil rights will be upheld by the Supreme Court?  If it is the law of the land that one's civil rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual behavior, what limitations have been put in place?  None that I can see.
     While I truly believe that our lost society will eventually embrace all these aberrations, as eccentric as they seem, I also have profound confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to enable those of us who believe in the Word of God to resist these societal changes that fundamentally contradict our faith.  But we must expect pushback and resistance.  Indeed, because we have been silent too long, and have tried too hard to be accommodating and "politically correct", we are now paying the price that comes with compromise, and it will result in social conflict.
     But we must not draw back or shrink from our commission to speak God's commandments into the world.  We understand, like Chaplain Wells, that our Christian influence will be limited by the State.  But God will anoint us with powerful testimonies that will overcome the barriers erected by men.  Like the mighty Apostles of old, we will come back from apparent defeat.  We will not be intimidated; and the strength and boldness that comes from the indwelling Spirit will be evident to all.  So, while the future is unforeseeable, we can be sure of one thing ... the Lord will tolerate only so much transgression before He sets things aright.  And with possibilities such as the aforementioned, we certainly seem to be nearing that limit...

2 Chronicles 16:9    "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars."

July 8, 2015

I Am Encouraged!

     You know, it has been so easy to take God for granted as we live, in what I believe, is the most blessed country in all of modern history.  We have lived in a land that has, for the most part, only known prosperity.  And during those hard economic times, we were still flourishing when compared to the rest of the world.  But let's face it ... we felt we didn't have to protect those blessings; they just seemed to flow from the magnanimous hand of God.  Let's face it ... we not only took His grace for granted; we abused His faithfulness and have treated His commandments so shabbily.
     I will admit that the last couple of weeks I have felt little hope that this nation could turn back to God, but I am here to announce that there are signs of hope on the horizon.  Let me just run you through a few scenarios that have popped up on my radar in the last 24 hours ... the first is what I find amazing in a culture that worships celebrity and fame.  Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, an outspoken Christian and Super Bowl champion, recently revealed that he and his girlfriend, pop singer Ciara, have decided to wait until marriage to have sex.  But it is his explanation that makes me shout for joy, and gives me hope that God is still speaking into this generation.
     “She was on tour; she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror, I was sitting in the dressing room, she was getting ready to go…and she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her,’” Wilson recalled. “And I was like, ‘Really, right now?’…And he goes, ‘No, I want you and need you to lead her.’ So I told her right then and there, ‘What would you do if we took all of that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?’…And she was relieved.”  Now here is a young man who not only isn't afraid to go against what our culture promotes, but is man enough to say that he puts his obedience to Jesus ahead of his fleshly desires, and is willing to fulfill the role of leader, as God intended.
     Next is a bit of hope that actually comes from the political scene.  In the midst of the controversy over the Confederate flag, South Caroline State Senator Lee Bright stepped up to the podium and spoke boldly about what he saw after the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.  “Romans Chapter 1 is clear. The Bible is clear,” Bright cautioned. “This nation was founded by Judeo-Christian principles, and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you.”  He went on to say that the acceptance of gay marriage could mean that America is no longer a nation under God, but a “one nation gone under” — a reference to a 1984 speech from President Ronald Reagan during which Reagan said: ”Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”  Bright continued his speech by declaring, “The devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him."
     Hope was also evident in the sermon, if you will, that Glenn Beck gave at a Texas megachurch:  “We are facing all kinds of trouble in our country and in the world. And we have talked about the soldiers that have protected this nation, but I want to spend a few minutes talking to you about our responsibility now to protect this nation,” Beck said. “We are the front line. We are the last line of defense, and if we fail, liberty will be lost.”  But how do we get there?  Beck said, "It is only through God that we will pull our family, and our nation out of the grasp and the jaws of hell, and bring it back to a Christ-centered nation where we need to be.”
     Who are we as a nation, he asked.  “Who are we? Because most people don’t know. And what keeps us going? Most people, again, don’t know,” Beck continued. “We came here for a reason. We are a covenant nation. We’re the only ones besides the original state of Israel that made the covenant with God.”  Now, I will tell you that the millions of secular Americans won't like Beck saying we are a covenant nation, but it is the truth!  From the moment the Pilgrims landed on these shores, they dedicated this land to God, and the founding of this nation was credited to the "Providence of God" by the very men who fought to establish it.  Now, that sentiment is beginning to ring once again across the land.
     Another state representative, this time from Oklahoma, is continuing his battle to keep a statue of the Ten Commandments on the state capitol grounds.  Although the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the statue violates the state constitution, Representative Mike Ritze maintains that the monument is a historical necessity that provides context for all citizens regarding the emergence and crafting of American law.  “I like history, and I look at history and what we were teaching our children … we wanted to link them to as much as the original history — different facts that are being erased in our history,” he said. “In no way, shape or form did we want the monument to be a religious symbol. This is historical heritage of our birth as a nation and birth as a state.”
     But, as I have mentioned before on this blog, the Satanic Temple, a New York group, has railed against the Ten Commandments display, and fought Ritze at every turn.  They even announced their own plans to place a satanist monument on capitol grounds in contrast to the Judeo-Christian-themed display. The group’s members have temporarily halted those plans in light of the Supreme Court decision, and will likely place the display in another state, which proves the point that they have an agenda to destroy Christian influence in this nation.
     For now, it looks as if Representative Ritze has lost the battle, but as more people begin standing up for our faith, I think that the devil will find that his battle plan to go against the state is a lost cause.  In fact, two North Carolina pastors have decided to place a Christian flag above the American flag on poles outside of their churches — actions that they hope will inspire Americans to take a stand for their faith.  “As I was changing the rope [on the flags] one day, the Lord just laid on me that He is first and when He told me that, I switched the flags around," said Pastor Walter Wilson. The pastors want to make it clear that they will serve God before Government, and they are openly and enthusiastically encouraging others to publicly display their loyalty to our Sovereign God.
     And finally, I found hope even in the sad story of the woman who posted a letter online to the father of her aborted baby.  What courage that must have taken, knowing that the feminist crowd would berate her, and there were sure to be negative responses from complete strangers.  Although she did not invoke God as part of her decision, the heartache and grief of her loss was expressed in her final words ... " I was convinced that I was right, and I didn’t need your opinion. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t talk to you because that life was half of you. I’m sorry that I didn’t confide in you and face my fears. I’m sorry that you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye… or even say hello. I’m sorry that you missed the opportunity to be a father. I’m sorry that you didn’t get a choice. But you never know… I may have saved you the endless thoughts, the deep-ridden regret, the aching emptiness as the due date draws near. I may have saved you the guilt of being free of that responsibility and pressure. I may have saved you the anger and fear. But I may have deprived you of one of the greatest joys in your life just as I have done to myself. And there are no words to explain how cruel and selfish I was in making that decision without you… there are no words to express an apology with the utmost sincerity. Please forgive me."
     If that emotional post makes one woman stop and think before committing an act that she will regret, then there is hope that the tide is turning against abortion, which is so offensive to the God of all creation.
    None of these events have taken the country by storm, and none are being shouted from the rooftops.  But all of them happening in one week gives me a spark of hope that people are awakening out of their doldrums and their easy acceptance of our culture.  I'm hoping those who call themselves Christians will stand up and defend the faith.  I'm hoping that every American will remove the scales from their eyes and see that the path we're on has changed direction ... we are no longer looking up towards that shining city on the hill, but are free-falling down into a pit of confusion and chaos.  So, forgive me for being optimistic -- even if it's short-lived.  Maybe there has always been these bursts of hope, and maybe it's just that I am needing them now more than ever.  I'm just so happy to see a little ray of sunshine in the middle of the darkness.  

2 Corinthians 12:10   "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

May 28, 2015

When God Is Removed From War

     As I scanned the news stories across the Web, one particular headline caught my eye ... "Marine Court-Martialed For Refusing To Remove Bible Verse".  The absurdity of that statement made it obligatory that I click on the article.  And just as I suspected, the animosity against Christians in the military is growing out of all proportions to the alleged harm it is causing.
     Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling is accused of displaying a verse of Scripture on her computer -- written on a scrap of paper -- that the military has determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”   The verse?  Isaiah 54:17:   “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”  When Lance Corporal Sterling refused to remove the verse, she was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer.  After representing herself at trial, the Christian Marine was ultimately given a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private.  
     Both lower court and the appellate court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to her case because displaying a Bible verse does not constitute religious exercise.  The Liberty Institute and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, also a law professor at Georgetown University, are now representing Sterling.
     First, let me say that this is not shocking to me in light of the fact that both God and our Constitution no longer merit any respect or consideration in how we run our national institutions.  This is apparent by the U.S. military policies that are being accelerated to allow the recruitment of as many illegal aliens as possible -- young men and women who have no emotional ties to America and no fundamental understanding of how our constitutional republic is supposed to function -- or the history of how faith in God played a huge part in the success of the military victories that established this nation.
     But Lance Corporal Sterling obviously knows the connection between God and military victories. The words she taped to her computer screen are part of a longer verse in Isaiah 54 that reads, No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.

     I'd like to think that LCpl Sterling knows that she is upholding a long tradition of warriors who know the name of Jehovah Nissi ... The Lord Is My Banner.  I'd like to think that she knows that this is the name of God that Moses disclosed to Joshua before he went into battle against the Amalekites.  As long as Moses raised the staff (banner) of God, Joshua and the Israelite army were assured victory.  Perhaps LCpl Sterling understands that this battle was all about God.  Joshua, Moses, Aaron, Hur, and the Israelite armies were simply vessels God used, but the battle itself was orchestrated by God. Moses knew this and wanted to make certain the Israelites knew it and remembered it. Nothing that he or they did in the physical realm brought about victory. God’s presence and power took them into the battle and assured the victory when the battle was done.
     So what do the Marines and the Military Establishment find so darn offensive about Sterling believing that to be victorious in the military battles she will face, she cannot fight them in her own strength, but needs the Lord to go before her, just as He did with Joshua?  How is knowing that she needs the Lord in order to assure victory "contrary to good order and discipline"?  Or how can this understanding be seen as "divisive and contentious", which the Marines maintain?  As her Liberty Institute lawyer pointed out, “Our Marines are trained to deal with some of the most hostile people on the planet. I don’t think they are afraid of tiny words on a tiny piece of paper.”
     For now, Sterling's name has been tarnished with the bad conduct discharge, and she is currently out of a job.  But perhaps the Lord has a bigger purpose for her.  Perhaps He chose this battle for her in order to show that He will go before her and win the battle; that she is His human instrument, just as Joshua and his men were.
     I pray that the Lance Corporal will stand strong behind the banner of the Lord, and remain above the demands and accusations; being free from the crushing effects of this unjust sentence.  In the end, I hope she believes that she will be vindicated and triumph over her opposition.  The standing of every person of faith serving in the Armed Forces depends on it.  Without this victory in the Lord, God help our military and the defense of this nation.

Isaiah 50:8    "He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!"

May 20, 2015

Ukraine: Multi-Levels of Persecution

      I rarely take note of it, but sometimes out of curiosity, I will decide to take a look at the native countries of my readers.  Through website analytics I am able to see from which countries readers originate.  The parameters run from who is reading that particular blog post now, or how many have read it today, during the week, the month, or the year; and finally, I am able to see which countries have read it the most during the lifetime of this website.  The numbers are often revealing.
     The readership is pretty evenly distributed, with the majority coming from the United States, of course.  But there is always a minority of readers from United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, China, Malaysia, Poland, and Russia.  But I was shocked that consistently coming in at Number Two was the eastern European country of Ukraine.  Whether daily or all-time, Ukraine's numbers far outran those of other nations.  I had no idea, and wondered what the connection might possibly be between this website and the people of Ukraine.  After a fair amount of research, I may have a glint of understanding.  It is a complex situation in Ukraine, and I would love to get some feedback from those who are living in this tense situation.
     In the meantime, the Christian world's attention is focused squarely on the Middle East and the persecution that is coming against Believers in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sub-Saharan Africa.  The torture and beheadings at the hands of ISIS are broadcast day after day on American news sites.
     Far less known, but just as disturbing, are the persecutions of Christians in Ukraine.  Interestingly, politically disparate websites, such as NPR and The 700 Club, have both published reports that Evangelical Christians in Ukraine are under religious persecution by pro-Russian separatists.  (I must admit that there is conflicting information which states that while the persecution is real, nationalism and ethnicity have more to do with it than the anti-Christian aspect).  Indeed, persecution itself is defined as hostility based on race or political or religious beliefs.  Still, no less than The American Family News Network is also reporting anti-Christian violence in Ukraine.  Whatever the reasons, it is time the Western Church comes to the spiritual aid of our Ukrainian brethren.
    The history of Ukraine is fascinating!  A quick glance at Wikipedia's extensive file on the country reveals that "the territory of modern Ukraine has been inhabited since 32,000 BC. During the Middle Ages, the area was a key center of East Slavic culture, with the powerful state of Kievan Rus' forming the basis of Ukrainian identity. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungary, and Russia. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but Ukraine's territories remained divided until they were consolidated into a Soviet republic in the 20th century. It became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union."  The dominant religion in the country is the Orthodox Church, the eastern branch of Christianity.
     According to the report by NPR, "Protestants from the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine say they are being persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church. Many evangelicals have left because of a crackdown on religious freedom."  But from what I have read, it is my understanding that there is no real difference between the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and the Russian Orthodox Church, other than the ethnicity attached to it.  From the perspective of religious doctrine, they believe the same things.  The persecution is real, but nationalism appears to be the root cause.  (Again, I welcome the facts from those living in Ukraine).
     But we cannot ignore the anti-God influence of the old Soviet Communist regime, nor dismiss the first-hand reports coming from International Christian Concern (ICC), an organization that "acts as a bridge between believers in free countries and believers in persecuted countries."  Less than a year ago, a spokesman for ICC said, "Just this week (August, 2014), four ... volunteers with the Far East Broadcasting Company in Ukraine, which broadcasts the gospel across that country, were pulled from their building.  And it was discovered that they were Christians, that they were believers – and they were actually beaten to death for their Christian faith when it was found out that they were evangelical Christians."
     But this spokesman also reveals that "pro-Russian separatists are opposed to what they believe are immoral influences from the West and instead want fundamental Orthodox principles in Ukraine... They are suspicious of foreign or Western influences and they see evangelical Christians as a threat to the Orthodox faith," he explains. "That's one of the reasons why we've been seeing in the past few months evangelical Christians, Protestants, etcetera being targeted for violence and persecution."
     It may be difficult for us here in America to fully understand the intricacies of hate and violence that exists in the Ukraine/Russia conflict.  But there is one thing that can be agreed upon:  The war in eastern Ukraine has driven nearly a million people from their homes.  Regardless of whether the conflict is centered around ultranationalism or religious differences, the truth is that Believers in Jesus Christ are suffering and their persecution is real and personal.  We should pray for the plight of Christians and refugees in Ukraine... and all around the world.

1 Peter 4:16    "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that Name."

April 1, 2015

It's Only The Beginning

     All the uproar over Indiana and their Religious Freedom Bill shows us that the agenda to force religious Americans to accept same-sex marriage is far from over.  I am confused by the claims of those who oppose the Bill that it would "discriminate" against those who live the gay lifestyle.  Of course, there are any number of non-religious companies who would gladly service same-sex marriage ceremonies.  Why do they insist that the religious owners go against their faith?
     How can one claim discrimination against gays, when the very definition of the word means "recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another".  Where is the recognition and understanding for the differences of the religious businesses?
     The backlash against Governor Mike Pence threatens to weaken the Bill in order to make it more "palatable" for those who disapprove of it.  But if we think that the discrimination claim will be limited to only businesses, we are naive.  We can expect further harassment and persecution.
     Think about it.  If business owners are forced to go against their religious beliefs, who is next?  What about churches?  I mean, discrimination is discrimination, right?  Why not file suit against churches and pastors who refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies?  Currently, an argument can be made that churches are in a special class of their own; religious organizations protected by the Constitution and their tax-exempt status.
     But what if that tax-exempt status could be withdrawn on the basis of discrimination against same-sex couples?  Then they become de-facto businesses who are subject to federal and state anti-discrimination laws against gays -- which means they are vulnerable to lawsuits and fines, just like any other business.
     But let's not stop there.  Religious universities will certainly be targeted, both as to their non-profit status, and then for fines if they refuse to provide benefits for same-sex spouses, for example.  Can you see how easy it will be to force religious universities to accept the homosexual agenda by blackmailing them through their financial achilles heel?  By accepting non-profit or tax-exempt statuses, both churches and universities have exposed their weak spots to exploitation by anti-faith groups.
     The next logical step would be to go after private religious elementary and high schools.  The battle has already been half won in the states who have forced public schools to teach about same-sex marriage in those states who have approved it by law.  What makes us think they will stop at public schools?  Why should private schools be allowed to “discriminate” against same-sex couples by exempting children from learning about them? Why should homeschooled children be given state-credentialed status without being indoctrinated in the decency of homosexual behavior, all in the name of non-discrimination?
     By now, you should see the hand-writing on the wall, and the plan should be apparent.  Not until people of faith are forced to accept homosexuality and same-sex marriage as the norm, will the enemies of Biblical faith be satisfied.  Until then, they will continue to attack us through our ability to make a living; through our churches; and through the education of our children.
     Right now, companies like Apple are attempting to smear Indiana and cost them billions in commerce.  In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted, "There's something very dangerous happening across the country ... Apple is open to everyone.   We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law, and calling on Arkansas to veto a similar bill ... Around the world we strive to treat every customer the same -- regardless of where they come from, how they worship, or who they love."  Of course, he neglects to mention that Apple does business with countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudia Arabia, who execute their citizens for being gay.  But such is the hypocrisy of the Godless and those who ignore God's Word.
     But make no mistake ... the backlash against Indiana's Religious Freedom Bill is a forecast of what we can expect from those who wish to eradicate faith in our culture.  The question is this:  Will you stand your ground and defend your faith; even if it means losing everything?  You better decide now, because they won't stop until you are forced to make that decision.  That is the goal and the game plan -- get ready!

Thanks to Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com for his excellent observation on this issue.

James 5:11   "Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast."

February 28, 2015

"I Will Not Back Down"

     Yesterday, I talked about the very real danger of this nation losing its identity as independent free-thinkers and upholders of our inherited freedoms.  But I'd like to tell you two stories of individuals that have decided to stand up for our fading values.
     You might recall an essay I wrote last summer that involved William Baer, who appeared at a meeting of his local School Board to protest a book that had been assigned to his 14-year-old daughter.  Mr. Baer stood up to say that he felt the sexual content of the book was inappropriate, and he wanted to voice his objection.  However, the members of the school board didn't want to hear it, and asked him to sit down.  Apparently he wasn't being "respectful" of other audience members.
     Understandably, this offended the conscientious parent and he said he didn't appreciate the school being disrespectful to his daughter by requiring a book (that he clearly felt was immoral) to be read.  He was then told that he had violated the 2-minute rule for speaking and was escorted out of the room and arrested.
     As World Net Daily reports, his "unlawful arrest" and the criminal charges that were filed against him were eventually thrown out of court, but Mr. Baer has decided that "it’s time for elected leaders to stop trampling the First Amendment rights of citizens," and he is fighting back with a lawsuit against the officer who made the arrest, then-acting Police Chief James Leach.  For the past seven months, Leach, along with the subsequently appointed Police Chief, continued to prosecute the case against Mr. Baer, until County Judge James Carroll tossed the case out of court.
     Baer said his lawsuit is as much about stopping the national trend as it is seeking justice for himself.  “These men abused their authority and their positions under color of law. The ‘law enforcers’ became lawbreakers and must be held to account.”
     Mr. Baer is among a growing number of law-abiding citizens who have been arrested for speaking up for their principles.  Parents who disapprove of the Common Core educational system are being harassed at public meetings, and in one such case, in Baltimore County, Maryland, a parent was approached by a burly security guard, pushed, shoved, threatened and eventually handcuffed and forced to leave the meeting.
     It is just such treatment that is behind Mr. Baer's lawsuit.  Baer maintains that the three charges of disorderly conduct brought against him were unwarranted and he wants justice for himself and his family.  “After seven-and-a-half months of being pursued by the State of New Hampshire, through the Gilford Police Department and School Board, I am obviously pleased that all charges have been dismissed. Belknap County Judge James Carroll showed me there still is some justice in our system,” he said.  But he makes it clear that this is not about vindictiveness ... it's about standing up for our First Amendment rights.
     I also want to tell you about the story of a 70-year-old Christian florist in Washington state who is being sued for refusing to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding.  Although she offered to help the couple find a florist who would service them, that wasn't good enough.  The inevitable lawsuit was filed and Barronelle Stutzman was found guilty of violating Washington's nondiscriminatory statute.
     But here's what is so disturbing to me about this story ... According to The Christian Post, the man filing the lawsuit has been a customer of Stutzman's for the past nine years!  She had built great rapport with the customer and an obviously satisfactory business relationship.  But when she honestly confided that due to her faith, she felt she had to decline his request for his wedding, any friendship went out the window.  The "guilty" sentence and summary judgment could involve Stutzman losing not only her business, but her home and savings.
     The state's Attorney General offered Barronelle a way out of the overwhelming judgment ... simply pay $2001 in fines and legal costs -- and agree to service gay weddings in the future -- and it would all go away.  But Ms. Stutzman is no "luke-warm" Christian.  In response to the Attorney General's letter, she replied with a letter of her own:  "Washington's constitution guarantees us 'freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.' I cannot sell that precious freedom," Stutzman's letter asserts. "You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do."
     She also managed to school the AG on exactly what the word "freedom" means.  "Your offer reveals that you don't really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It's about freedom, not money," Stutzman wrote. "I certainly don't relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important."
     This florist certainly has the courage to stand behind her faith and convictions.  "I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend," Stutzman's letter stated. "I've also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating and having a home."
     Not only is she clear about how she wants to be understood, but she speaks for me and, I believe, many more Christians across this nation when she says, "Our state would be a better place if we respected each other's differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences," Stutzman wrote. "Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible's teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs."  Well said!
     In the stories of these two people, we have excellent examples of standing for our principles and values, as well as our religious beliefs.  It would be simple for each to accept the olive branch that has been offered after the miscarriage of justice against them.  For each, it is not about profiting from injustice, but about fighting back against a system that is one-sided and tyrannical.  It is about standing up for their God-given and Constitutional rights.  It's really that simple ... and that necessary.

Proverbs 25:26   "Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked."