Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why Christians must be Politically Active

In the previous post about our latest struggle to find the right balance between evangelism and engaging the culture, we rejected the opinion of those who advocate that we should completely ignore cultural issues in favor of spreading the Gospel. We'll emphasize here that evangelism is of ultimate importance, since it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that our culture will be truly transformed. At the same time, as God's representatives, we must also oppose those things that He hates.

After writing this article, I ran across an article on the subject written by an author that I highly admire, Star Parker, the founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal & Education. The article called Why Christians must be Politically Active was written about 18 months ago, but remains just as relevant today, if not even more so.

Christians face an ongoing paradox regarding engagement in political life in our country. Christian Man, so to speak, sees the world through different eyes than Political Man. Christian Man sees the world through a lens of responsibility. Political Man, or if you will, Secular Man, sees the world through a lens of “rights.”

Because of these very different attitudes about how to approach life, Christians have a natural inclination to not see politics of central importance to their lives and, as result, to not be engaged. Christians see the quality of their lives as a natural outcome of their relationship with God and how they assume the responsibilities that He asks of them. This then reflects on how they manage their relationships with their families, business colleagues and customers, neighbors, and communities. Political, or Secular, Man sees the quality of life as a political outcome. They see their life and property as secure not because of admonitions to not kill and not steal, but because they believe these are rights and that government will protect them.

Over the years, political/secular consciousness has, sadly, advanced in our country and increasing numbers of Americans believe that our prosperity and our success reflect political decisions rather than religious/moral decisions.

We can see the results of this tangibly just by taking a look at the growth of government. The more materialistic Americans have become in their attitudes, the more they believe that what is most important is their rights rather than their responsibilities, the more we have turned our lives over to government control and solutions. A hundred years ago, government - federal and local - took less than ten percent of our income. Today, it is more than one third. If things continue on their current path, by mid-century it will be one half.

Why should Christians care? We need to care because the pretense that life is a political rather than a religious/moral challenge and problem amounts to a departure from the Truth. And a departure from Truth must inevitably lead to failure.

We’re already seeing it. The government programs, all designed in the last century to “solve” our problems for health care and retirement, are failing. I’m talking about Social Security and Medicare.

Our public schools that are educating the majority of America’s children have been increasingly secularized and politicized and the quality of education that these children are getting is dropping. Public education in our urban areas is in severe crisis. Children, largely black and Latino, coming from communities and families that have been broken by the welfare state, another major symptom of the secularization of the country, get little education in these schools, and at least half never graduate. The result is a growing American underclass that is becoming locked in a cycle of poverty and crime from which there is less and less hope of exit.

The paradox facing Christians that I mentioned in my opening is that, because Christians naturally relate to life through personal responsibility rather than politics, they are more inclined to not be politically active and engaged. On the other hand, secular Americans, for whom life is all politics, are more likely to be active and engaged.

The result is that secular Americans have had a disproportionate impact on our country over recent years. It is imperative that Christians look outward into our public spaces and get involved in the political process.

By this I mean more than just registering and voting. Christians must actively scrutinize public policy in the country and inject our values into what America is doing. Christians must take back America. The political greatness of our country is that it is free. But it is up to citizens to decide what to do with that freedom.

We are in a crisis because the wrong people have been making the wrong decisions for too many years. As result, the very freedom that permitted all this is being eroded, and erosion of our prosperity will soon follow. Christians need to step up and get our values for the preservation of life, for the protection of family, and for personal responsibility rather than political materialism, to define again the fabric of America.

This will restore American greatness and get us back on the path for which we are destined.

Christians and Culture - Part 463

As those who have followed our ministry from the beginning are aware, one of the most difficult issues we’ve faced is in balancing our emphasis on religious and cultural topics, that is, to what extent should Christians be involved in political and cultural matters? The more we explore this question, the more convinced I become that, while ultimate change in behavior is only brought about by changing the heart, we also have an obligation to engage the culture.

In Israel during Biblical times, there was no separation made between the sacred and secular. A person was to honor God with all one’s thoughts and actions. I believe Christians make a great mistake by treating religion, the arts, science, politics, etc as parallel streams to be studied and engaged separately with no intersections. If the Christian world view is true, it must be true for all the “spheres”. A person’s life view will determine not only how he or she views God, but everything else as well.

The prevailing liberal view is that, a Christian must put his religious views aside when discussing other topics, or must avoid becoming involved altogether, although the same restraint is not placed on the secular humanist. The only time this view is temporarily set aside is during an emergency. For example, after a flood, tornado or other disaster, very few complain that Christians are usually the first on the scene with food and shelter for the victims. After Katrina however, I do remember Diane Sawyer and other media talking heads distressing over the thought that Christian shelters might be forcing refugees to go to church or subjecting them to religious indoctrination as a condition for their food and shelter. While the media fears were unfounded, in their eyes, this would be a much more inhumane treatment than allowing the refugees to starve in the streets.

I hear people say that we should not legislate morality, but someone’s morality (or immorality) will ultimately become law. We have laws preventing immoral acts such murder and theft, while other laws allow the immoral murder of babies. Others confuse legality with morality. This is the guiding force behind such movements as the attempt to legalize gay marriage. Most homosexuals don’t really desire to get married (relatively few have done so in locations where it has been legalized), but equate legality with morality and acceptance. Many believe that if something is legal, it must also be moral. Does this mean that slavery was moral while it was legal and immoral only after it was outlawed? This belief also elevates humans rather than God as the ultimate authority over what is moral and ethical.

The Bible does not offer a lot of specific commands in the area of engaging the culture. Instead it gives us general commands such as the Cultural Mandate of “subdue the earth” (Gen 1:28) and to be “salt and light” (Mt 5:13-15). We are left therefore, to apply general Biblical principles to each situation. I’ve met many Christians with the attitude that, “the world is basically doomed so we should concentrate solely on evangelism in order to save as many people as possible”. Does this mean that we as Christians should turn our heads and ignore challenges to our laws, morals and ethics?

As Christians, we are to hate the things that God hates (see Prov 6:16-19 for one list among many). So, when crooked politicians steal money from the public, drug dealers sell dope to our children, or a new abortion clinic opens near our neighborhood, we don’t ignore the issue in the name of “tolerance” or to avoid forcing our moral views on others. As Christians, we are to transform the culture, not ignore it, and certainly not to assimilate into it.

40 Days for Life 2010

During this crucial time of Prayer for America, we should not forget about those who are them most helpless among us, the pre-born babies. We therefore urge our readers to get involved with the current 40 Days for Life campaign from September 22 to October 31. During this time, committed volunteers peacefully intercede for these little ones made in the image of God through prayer and fasting, constant vigil and pro-life community outreach.

This is the seventh 40 Days for Life campaign since 2007. During this time, participants witnessed countless blessings from God including:

Over 350,000 individuals and 11,500 church congregations have participated in the campaigns

Documented reports that 2,811 lives (plus many more un-reported) that have been spared from abortion

35 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry, and Six abortion facilities completely shut down following local campaigns

More than 850 news stories have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio shows and TV programs locally, nationally and and overseas

Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets; and many people with past abortion experiences have stepped forward to begin post-abortion healing and recovery with a new sense of hope

So far, there are 40 Days for Life campaigns planned in 238 locations in the United States and Canada, plus others in Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. Please visit the Community List Page to find a location near you. For those who can't participate in the current campaign, please pray for those involved and for those parents facing this crucial decision.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prayer for America

As I reflect back on the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I remember how many of our churches were filled to capacity or beyond. I remember having to bring in extra chairs for the aisles and along the side walls, at least for a few weeks before attendance got back to normal.

Now, nine years later, our country faces many challenges. It has long been said that our once great nation would fall from within, and we’re currently seeing much evidence to support this prediction.

So, at this critical time, we must be in extra prayer for our nation. So far, no matter how apostate our nation becomes, God has always been faithful to raise up a remnant of godly men and women. We are happy to report that a few have organized a special time of prayer and would encourage our readers to become involved in one or both of these campaigns.

Michael Youssef of Leading the Way Ministries launched God Save America, a covenant to pray for our nation from July 1 to November 2. Dr Youssef states that “"We are facing forces that are unabashedly declaring their intention to destroy this nation by disregarding the moral and biblical framework of the founders' convictions. Unless we become involved and are vigilant in prayer, we risk the loss of our freedoms." As of this writing, almost 70,000 people have signed up.

In addition, the National Religious Broadcasters began If My People Pray, forty days of prayer for America beginning September 1 thru October 10. This campaign is being supported by Christian ministries such as Coral Ridge, Love Worth Finding and many others.

If ever our nation needed prayer, it’s now!

Have We Learned Anything in 9 Years?

On this anniversary of 911, after posting a retrospect column by Michelle Malkin, we offer a must read from one of my favorite and most respected contemporary columnists, Joseph Farah, the founder, editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily. Today, he has written a very important article which asks the question, Have we learned anything in 9 years? In the process, Mr Farah goes beyond the usual political rhetoric and identifies the actual underlying spiritual issues, so we take the rare step of reproducing his article in its entirety.
What have we learned in the nine years since history's most devastating attack on America by Islamic terrorists?

Not much.

We're still involved in two seemingly endless wars half-way around the world that doesn’t seem to have any coherent objectives or definitions of victory. Meanwhile, back home where the attack took place, we're planning to allow a Muslim Brotherhood front group to build a victory mosque.

The attack of Sept. 11, 2001, remains a dark cloud in America's history with no silver lining – no awakening to the dangers we face from future subversion by the enemy responsible. It is as if Americans have a collective case of Stockholm Syndrome. Too many of us have become sympathetic to our enemy, the one that killed 3,000 of us and made the rest of us weep.

Who would have believed that only seven years after that attack Americans would elect a president raised abroad as a Muslim, bearing a Muslim name and apparently in love with all things Islamic? It would have been inconceivable. Only when he bankrupted and humiliated the country did Americans begin to wise up.

The mosque at Ground Zero represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of a long-term threat to the security of this nation. New mosques are springing up all over America – most of them funded by foreign money and controlled by the hideous ideology that form the basis for the attack of 9/11.

We're all still screened at airports to prevent yesterday's attack – often by Muslims wearing burkas!

Islam is now taught as a religion of peace in our schools, despite 1,300 years of history to the contrary.

Our media are full of accounts of an imaginary bigotry called Islamophobia.

When Muslims go on the rampage in mass-murder attacks like the one at Fort Hood, members of the media class wring their hands about reporting their names and government officials deny they are examples of terrorism despite the fact that they share the same motivation as the 9/11 hijackers. Muslim Brotherhood front groups parade across our television screens on a regular basis condemning Americans for biases they don't show.

Who could have imagined this would be the paralyzing result of that devastating attack? This is insanity. It's a mental illness. There is no other explanation for it. America is deeper in denial today about the threat Islam poses to our security than it was prior to the attack nine years ago.

Like it or not, Islam is not a friend to Americans, Christians or Jews – no matter how it is soft-pedaled in certain politically correct circles today.

There will be those who try to portray this column as an anti-Muslim screed. It is not. I do not condemn all Muslims. In fact, I have sympathy and compassion for those trapped in their 7th century worldview. I do, however, have a beef with all who subscribe to Saudi-style Shariah law. Muslims in the U.S., who subscribe to Shariah law, have a duty and obligation to place that ideology ahead of any allegiance they might have to the U.S. Constitution. That effectively makes them unworthy of U.S. citizenship.

But, then again, we have a president who wipes his feet contemptuously on the Constitution. So I don't expect even a new class of leadership in Congress to require any loyalty test for new citizens.

There is, however, something we can do – and must do. For those who recognize the truth in what I am saying, particularly evangelical Christians, let me propose a new strategy in line with what Jesus would command us.

Jesus told us to love our enemies. We best express that love by sharing the good news Jesus brought the world.

It's time for American Christians to realize what a fertile missions field we have right here in the United States with an expanding Muslim population and many new gathering places they are building.

If they have the religious freedom to build these mosques all over America, we have the Christian duty to evangelize them, to persuade them they are worshiping a false god and revering a false prophet – one who, by the way, has no record of making even one prophecy!

Since we're all learning more about Islam every day, let's put that knowledge to good use. Let's all vow to make new Muslim friends – and bring them to the saving grace of the one true God of the universe.

Spitting on Their Graves

On the anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on America, we ran across an article written by Michelle Malkin in 2003 on the second anniversary of the attacks called Spitting on Their Graves. We were amazed that most of the article could have been written today. Here are some excerpts. The more things change…
Across the nation, public officials will strike somber poses and shed television-friendly tears and bow their blow-dried heads in memory of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

They'll hold hands, light candles, and pass around a plateful of platitudes: "Never forget," they'll intone. "Let's roll," they'll thunder. "God bless America," they'll warble in perfect harmony.

They'll assure us that they are committed to fighting terror and securing our borders and doing whatever it takes to protect the homeland from another horrific mass murder at the hands of freedom-hating fanatics. And then?

And then, from Washington State to Washington, D.C., they'll go back to work, roll up their sleeves, and spit on the graves of the 9/11 dead.

Your pious city councilwoman will return to the office to draft a resolution condemning the common-sense detention and deportation of Middle Eastern illegal aliens suspected of terrorism.

We're omitting the next few paragraphs that were correct at the time the article was written during the Bush administration. They speak of politically correct police chiefs, mayors and local officials refusing to cooperate with federal authorities in the investigation of illegal aliens, and supporting “insecure foreign-issued identification cards and driver's licenses for undocumented workers”. While many “sanctuary cities” (and the state of California) still exist, the roles have now been reversed in many parts of the country. At present, many state and local officials would like to see enforcement of existing security laws, but are being prevented from doing so by the Obama administration. Later in the article:
Your race card-fearing congressman will court Arab and Muslim special interest groups and donors who have coddled Islamists on college campuses, in prisons, and in the U.S. military in the name of "diversity."

Your grandstanding senator will block funding for long-delayed homeland defense measures even as he whines about the need for more money to ensure our safety.

Your incompetent Transportation Security Administration will stonewall pilots who want training to be armed, squander tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on lucrative contracts for weapons-detection equipment that doesn't work or get used, and continue to ban racial profiling.

Your indifferent Interior Department will look the other way as underequipped and understaffed park rangers along the southwestern border remain vulnerable to drug smugglers and terrorists.

Your bloated Homeland Security Department will keep Clinton-era holdovers in pivotal positions, reduce routine inspections at seaports in the name of efficiency, and continue to shortchange interior enforcement against deportation fugitives and asylum con artists in favor of duct tape tipsheets and cosmetic color-coded alerts.

Your corrupted State Department will appease Saudi terror-backers, reward butt-covering managers, assuage European travel industry tycoons, and continue to defend lax visa screening policies.

Your Democratic presidential candidates will unanimously endorse the very kind of amnesty policies that allowed several al Qaeda operatives to infiltrate this country and hatch terrorist plots.

And your Republican Party elites will continue to spurn immigration reformers within their own ranks for fear of alienating ethnic constituencies that will never vote for them anyway.

To those who lost their lives on September 11 because their government failed to enforce its borders, laws, and sovereignty, the politicians and bureaucrats and civic leaders will ostentatiously offer one day a year of dedication in rhetoric - and 364 days of desecration in deed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Jewish New Year 5771

Today at sunset begins the Jewish New Year 5771, so we'd like to wish all our Jewish friends a "L'Shanah Tovah!" (have a good year). This holiday is also known as Rosh Hashanah (head of the year) and Yom Teru’ah (Feast of Trumpets - Lev 23:26-32). Actually, all the Jewish fall festivals, aka "Feasts of the Latter Rain", fall in our month of September this year.

Next up will be Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the most solemn of the Jewish festivals, beginning at sunset on September 17. The official date on our calendar is September 18, but all Jewish holidays begin at sunset on the day before. This holiday commemorates the annual service in which the High Priest would make atonement for himself and the people (Lev 23:26-32), but now Yeshua (Jesus) has sacrificed Himself to provide atonement once for all (Heb 9:11-10:4).

Finally, sunset on September 22 begins the seven day celebration of Sukkot (booths), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:33-43). Sukkot is a joyous time of celebrating the fall harvest. It is also a time of remembrance of how the Jewish ancestors lived in temporary shelters after G-d rescued them from Egypt. Sukkot looks forward to the millennial rest of Israel (Am 9:11-15, Zech 14:16-21) and to all believers, both Jew and Gentile, from all nations being gathered together to worship G-d and Yeshua (Rev 7:9-12).

This holiday season is a great time for Christians to share the Gospel, demonstrating how the Jewish festivals find their ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua. See our Introduction to the Jewish Holy Days for more information. Many Jews may be more open to evangelism as they celebrate their heritage as G-d's chosen people, particularly when one realizes that believing in Yeshua doesn't mean that a person stops being Jewish. On the contrary, a person's Jewishness will become complete by accepting the Jewish Messiah.

It is also important at this time, and throughout the year, for Christians to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Helicopter Gunner Takes Bullet in Her Helmet

Here's a story you'll not likely find in the lamestream media since it involves heroism by one of our troops. Spc Patricia Fowler, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief, received the Purple Heart on August 5 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Ms Fowler was a crew member of a chase helicopter on a medevac mission May 6 when the aircraft came under enemy fire while flying over Helmand province. Five rounds impacted the aircraft, and one round ricocheted off the window frame striking her helmet. Miraculously, the bullet rattled around inside Fowler’s helmet, then exited without wounding her. The Marine Corp Times reports:
Spc. Patricia Fowler says the Taliban got a lucky shot off, but she was glad to take the bullet. Fowler, a crew chief and door gunner on a Black Hawk medevac helicopter in southern Afghanistan, earned the Purple Heart following that incident in May in which she was fractions of an inch from a much more serious injury, probably death. “I was just doing my job, and they happened to get a lucky shot off,” she said in a phone interview from Afghanistan.

Fowler is part of Task Force Shadow and B Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. In May, she was on a helicopter that was in the role of “medical chase,” providing air support to another helicopter sent to pick up wounded Marines. “I feel worse for those guys than I do for us,” she said of her fellow aviators, who set down in the midst of Taliban gunfire to rescue the wounded Americans. Fowler’s helicopter was circling the rescue site at about 300 feet when gunfire started pinging off the helicopter. They began to climb, and Fowler described a sensation of being hit in the back of the head and scratches on her neck. What she would later learn is now a remarkable story of luck and bravery.

A bullet from the gun of an enemy fighter had bounced off the helicopter, into her helmet and back out, effectively navigating around her head thanks to a bracket in the helmet. “I had no idea at that time I had been shot,” she said. Her fellow crew members could easily see what was a gaping hole in her helmet caused by the ricocheting bullet. She took off her helmet and saw the hole, and “a good chunk of Styrofoam” missing. Fowler had no idea what had happened, having never lost communication from the radio device mounted in the helmet.

Fowler’s helicopter made it to a base where she could be seen by doctors. She had severe pain in her shoulder, which turned out to be shrapnel embedded in her arm from the pinging bullets. “I thought, ‘Cool,’ ” she joked. She admits she had a small breakdown, realizing the narrow miss she faced. “If I’d have been sitting a half an inch further back, it’d have gone through my neck,” she said.

And even though Fowler admits she missed certain injury or death by mere fractions of an inch, she said, “it justifies to me that I was doing my job.” “We took fire away from them,” she said of her fellow aviators and Marines, who were in the heat of battle below. Fowler and her commanding officer, Capt. Nick Horn, laughed while discussing the event and camaraderie in the unit, a sign that morale is high. “Sometimes I guess these guys are really amazing, but I have my few friends that keep me grounded,” she said.

She also shrugged off the notion of being a sort of pioneer for women in the military. “I’m a soldier first,” she said. “I’m not the first female [to be a door gunner], I’m not the last. I just work.”

So, the national media continues to ignore the everyday bravery of our fine men and women soldiers unless they happen to give a poor terrorist a fat lip while resisting arrest, then they're guaranteed top billing on most networks and newspapers for several days running. Yet, despite a lack of support from a certain part of the populous, our heroic troops continue to routinely do their job to preserve our freedoms. To that, we say a heartfelt "Thank You and God Bless".