Oct 25, 2011

Love Our Enemies? You have got to be kidding!

Are we truly the peacemakers Christ has called us to be?  Are we taking to heart the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? Do we love our enemies or would we prefer to bomb them into the stone-age?  Are we praying for those who persecute us or would we rather take retribution into our own hands? Do we turn the other cheek and return evil with good? Do we first check for the log in our own eye before pointing out the speck in other's? You may answer affirmatively to all these commands, but I, on the other hand, find them contrary to my innermost being. What is Jesus' way? And is it the way Christians have been taught to respond?

I find there's a huge disconnect in the way we live personally and the way we expect our government to act. If our neighbor threatens us, do we immediately decide to blow up their home?  Yet, collectively, I believe we have adopted a rather unchristian retributive mindset. Why doesn't our individual call translate to the larger context?

Listen to one man's story of how he is living the Gospel of Christ.  He talks about "the Jesus way," which translates into loving his enemies as he shares the love of Jesus. He is truly a minister of reconciliation.  My prayer is that this short film will touch you as it did me.

Daoud Nassar
On Facebook and throughout the internet, I hear vehement opposition from Christians regarding President Obama's decision to pull our troops from Iraq. Why?  Quite simple. Iran.  Iran, we are told is a a direct threat to Israel. Is that true? Consider myth #6 from 6 Myths you probably believe about American's Enemies.  I don't condone this writer's use of occasional crass comments, and I certainly don't consider him an expert on world affairs, but he makes some compelling arguments that are worthy of consideration. Nonetheless, doesn't all this saber rattling toward Iran sound familiar? Isn't that the way it's been done time after time, country after country?

I sincerely don't want these geopolitical arguments to usurp the attention I think this video deserves. I merely brought up because of the the way we have been conditioned to view the world. Anything either America or Israel does is right, fair and noble. Both nations are deemed models of altruistic virtuosity. But is that really the case?  How much do you really know of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict other than the fact you've probably been told that Palestinians are a bunch of dirty, suicide-bombing antagonists?

Surely, this is a very complex issue that find plenty of fault on both sides, but what you may not know is how the Christians within Palestine are and have been treated.

Many may be unaware that there are, and have been, Christians living in Palestine for generations. Daoud Nassar (the subject of the above video) is an Arab Palestinian Christian who lives on a small farm outside of Bethlehem. Each summer he hosts a creative arts camp for refugee children and teaches them to strive for peace in this region. Matt Carter interviews Daoud about his land, the difficulties he and his family are facing, and how his faith has characterized his life in tumultuous times.

For more information on Daoud and his organization please visit: www.tentofnations.org

Oct 21, 2011

Is Mormonism just another Christian denomination?

Watch this very short video for one man's answer.

Now let's consider what Mormonism believes about Christianity?

Lately, Mormonism has been the subject of considerable news and internet chatter primarily due to Mitt Romney's run for the presidency. The question? Is Mitt Romney a member of a cult, or is Mormonism simply just another Christian denomination? In that light, instead of answering this question through the lens of various Christian leaders and apologists, I thought it would be instructive and enlightening to turn the tables a bit and consider what leading Mormon founders and prophets had to say about Christianity. At this point let me be clear. This blog article will not concern itself with the debate whether a Mormon is fit to serve in this nation's highest office. That's for another time.

Now, it is important to note that the below quotes do not come from merely nominal members of the Mormon church, but in fact issue from a founder and other "inspired" Mormon church prophets who speak directly and unequivocally for the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.

As you are about to find, not only have some Mormon leaders made it clear that they do not consider Mormonism "Christian", these leaders have insisted that no one can be saved apart from Joseph Smith. Also, some are on record as stating that even Islam is better than Christianity. All I can say is, brace yourself!

Mormon leaders who have condemned Christians:

"This is not just another Church. This is not just one of a family of Christian churches. This is the Church and kingdom of God, the only true Church upon the face of the earth..." ~ Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.164-165

"What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world" ~ Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

"...all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels." ~ Prophet Joseph Smith , The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent" ~ Apostle Orson Pratt proclaimed, The Seer, p. 255

"The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God" ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171

"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon" ~ George Q. Cannon said, Gospel Truth, p.324

"When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness." ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73

"With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world." ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:199

Orson Pratt
"Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth." ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176

"Christians—those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about—some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth, and at the same time preaching righteousness to the children of men. The poor devils, they could not get up here and preach an oral discourse, to save themselves from hell; they are preaching their fathers' sermons —preaching sermons that were written a hundred years before they were born. ...You may get a Methodist priest to pour water on you, or sprinkle it on you, and baptize you face foremost, or lay you down the other way, and whatever mode you please, and you will be damned with your priest." ~ Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 5:89

"The Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called"- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.196

"But as there has been no Christian Church on the earth for a great many centuries past, until the present century, the people have lost sight of the pattern that God has given according to which the Christian Church should be established, and they have denominated a great variety of Christian Churches ... But there has been a long apostasy, during which the nations have been cursed with apostate churches in great abundance" ~ Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 18:172

"Christianity...is a perfect pack of nonsense...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167);

"Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom." ~ Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

"What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast." ~ Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225

"What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing... Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God."- John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225

"Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the people were left in spiritual darkness. For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation ...Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the 'Christian' churches were in error, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men." ~ Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p.282

"...the Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable, ...But with the Bible it was not and is not so....it was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization (Christianity), founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was."- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13

"Must we, under the broad folds of the American Constitution, be compelled to bow down to the narrow contracted notions of Apostate Christianity? Must we shut up our consciences in a nut shell, and be compelled to submit to the bigoted notions, and whims, and customs of the dark ages of popery, transferred to us through the superstitious of our fathers? Must we be slaves to custom and render homage to the soul-destroying, sickening influences of modern Christianity? No!" ~ Official Church Publication "The Seer," Vol.1, No.7, p.111

"And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this (Mormon) church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth..." ~ Supposedly Jesus Christ Himself, Doctrine and Covenants 1:30

Salvation not Through Jesus Christ, but Joseph Smith?

[There is] "no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God" ~ Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p.190

"No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith...every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are... [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—"Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!" But it is true." ~ Prophet Birgham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p.289-91

"He that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ" ~ Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.312

"If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him [Joseph Smith]" ~ Apostle George Q. Cannon, as quoted in 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142

"I tell you, Joseph holds the keys, and none of us can get into the celestial kingdom without passing by him. We have not got rid of him, but he stands there as the sentinel, holding the keys of the kingdom of God; and there are many of them beside him. I tell you, if we get past those who have mingled with us, and know us best, and have a right to know us best, probably we can pass all other sentinels as far as it is necessary, or as far as we may desire. But I tell you, the pinch will be with those that have mingled with us, stood next to us, weighed our spirits, tried us, and proven us: there will be a pinch, in my view, to get past them. The others, perhaps, will say, If brother Joseph is satisfied with you, you may pass. If it is all right with him, it is all right with me. Then if Joseph shall say to a man, or if brother Brigham say to a man, I forgive you your sins, "Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;" if you who have suffered and felt the weight of transgression—if you have generosity enough to forgive the sinner, I will forgive him: you cannot have more generosity than I have. I have given you power to forgive sins, and when the Lord gives a gift, he does not take it back again." ~ Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.154-155

"It is to be feared that in course of a century, some gifted man like Paul, some splendid orator, who will be able by his eloquence to attract crowds of the thousands who are ever ready to hear, and be carried away by, the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal of sparkling oratory, may command a hearing, may succeed in breathing a new life into this modern Mahometanism, and make the name of the martyred Joseph ring as loud, and stir the souls of men as much, as the mighty name of Christ itself. Sharon, Palmyra, Manchester, Kirtland, Far West, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Ramus. Nauvoo, and the Carthage Jail, may become holy and venerable names, places of classic interest, in another age; like Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, and Mount Calvary to the Christian, and Mecca and Medina to the Turk." ~ Prophet Brigham Young, History of the Church, Vol. 7, p.40-41

Islam Better than Chistianity?

"The Greek and Roman Churches, which have been called Christian, and which take the name of Christians as a cloak, have worshipped innumerable idols. On this account, on the simple subject of the Deity and His worship, if nothing more, I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, education, and prejudices, to the side of Mahomet, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism." ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.38

"Though Mahometan institutions are corrupt enough, and need reforming by the Gospel, I am inclined to think, upon the whole, leaving out the corruptions of men in high places among them, that they have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations; and in many localities there have been high standards of morals. So far as that one point is concerned, of worshipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war only acting on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity." ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.41

"..instead of saying that Mahometanism prevailed against Christianity, and that Christianity was in danger of being done away by its prevalence, we would rather say, that where Mahometanism prevailed, it taught and established one truth at least, viz., the true and living God, and so far as this went, it did preserve people from worshipping idols. And had the crescent waved on the tower of London, or on the church of St. Paul, instead of the cross, and had the Mahometan religion been enforced instead of the Roman religion that was enforced for a series of generations, and had tradition riveted what the sword enforced, then that nation and the surrounding nations would have been worshippers of one true God instead of idols; they would have recognized it in theory at least, whether they would have worshipped Him in spirit and in truth or not. But now [Christians] do not recognize Him in theory, for they acknowledge as their god an imaginary being without body, parts, or passions." ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.39

"Now, if we take Mahometanism during those dark ages, and the corruptions that are so universally prevalent over the earth, and the idolatrous systems of religion, falsely called Christianity, and weigh them in a balance; with all my education in favor of Christian nations and Christian powers, and Christian institutions, so called, with all my prejudices of early youth, and habits of thought and reading, my rational faculties would compel me to admit that the Mahometan history and Mahometan doctrine was a standard raised against the most corrupt and abominable idolatry that over perverted our earth, found in the creeds and worship of Christians, falsely so named." ~ Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.40

Oct 14, 2011

The Jesus Tomb Unmasked

If the bones of Jesus Christ have been discovered, Christianity ceases to exist. Come on this journey to discover if the claims made by the Discovery Channel documentary are true.

This film does a devastating critique of Discovery Channel's "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" (produced by Avatar director James Cameron). The same scholars who were interviewed in this documentary are interviewed here. Many of them express their dismay over how they were taken out of context to make it appear that they think the supposed lost tomb of Jesus was authentic.

What explanation can be given for the empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth? The New Testament records the first-century event: The disciples of Jesus reported that he was risen from the dead, while Roman soldiers were paid to claim his followers secretly removed him from the tomb.

After 2,000 years, the latest challenge to the historical resurrection of Jesus comes in the form of a bone box discovered in Jerusalem. The recent documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus has popularized the hypothesis that Jesus' followers stole his body from the tomb by suggesting that the bone box inscribed with "Jesus son of Joseph" may contain the remains of Jesus of Nazareth.

As a new twist to the ancient debate, this challenge demands a response. Join us as we take a hard look at the evidence and answer the questions concerning the reliability of the resurrection. Have the bones of Jesus of Nazareth really been found? Is the resurrection history or myth? Find out here in this episode of Expedition Bible.


Oct 9, 2011

Princess Brides Cast Reunites after 25 Years!

This has got to rank as one of my all-time favorites. Charming, witty and just plain good clean fun. How can anyone not like this movie? And it's even that much more heartening knowing how much the cast enjoyed it and each other.

Most of the cast of The Princess Bride reunited on Good Morning America for the talk show's "Totally Awesome '80s Week." "When the movie came out, it wasn't a huge, huge hit. They couldn't quite figure out how to market it," Chris Sarandon, who played Prince Humperdinck, said. "They didn't really know what they had." When the film first opened in 1987, it grossed $206,243 in limited release during its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

Cary Elwes, who played Westley, "I think when I die, they'll say on my gravestone, 'As you wish.' I think every woman wants to hear that." Wallace Shawn, who portrayed Vizzini, recalled people approaching him and wanting him to say, "Inconceivable." Director Rob Reiner's first choice for Vizzini was Danny DeVito.

The "MLT" line that Miracle Max says in the film, one of the most quoted, was ad-libbed on-set, Billy Crystal confirmed.

When asked about the final kiss at the end of the movie, Robin Wright, who played Buttercup, joked to Elwes, "Who are you?" The cast members also reminisced about Andre the Giant, who passed away in 1993.

Fred Savage and Mandy Patinkin were not present. (from The Hollywood Reporter)

(A bit longer version but with a 30 second ad preceding)

Sep 26, 2011

Dispensationalism Exposed

In the sermon (below), Archbishop Scott McLaughlin exposes the origins and outcomes of the popular idea of the "Rapture" of the Church, rebuking Harold Camping's predictions of the "Rapture" in May and the End-of-the-World in October. The entire "Dispensational" system of biblical interpretation is exposed as a fraud and a false system of belief that denys Christ, the Church, and the Gospel. Preached at Christ Anglican Church, Lexington, NC, on Rogation Sunday, May 29, AD 2011

Let me ask you a question. If at the very core, Dispensationalism is fatally flawed (and I believe this can be proven), then how can its eschatology be on solid ground? Many people reject the more hardcore teachings of dispensationalism e.g. an earthly and heavenly path to God, yet they don't realize that, since the foundations of this system are decrepit, the eschatological outgrowths must be one in the same.

However, I find people picking and choosing facets of dispensationalism much like a Chinese menu. The column A, column B approach is not valid because of the way dispensationalism is constructed. People don't realize that the rapture was a necessary fabrication to rid the world of the Church so that God could properly (they say) focus on the apple of His eye, Israel. It is a system that simply cannot be tweaked, though many try. It should be viewed as an elaborate jigsaw puzzle, where if one piece does not fit, the entire puzzle should be scrapped.

Any theology that exalts a physical nation i.e. the modern day secular nation of Israel, and makes it the focal point of history, is unwittingly doing severe injustice to the centrality of Jesus Christ as THE ONLY epicenter with which we must honor and revere. Any system that causes us to take our eyes off of Christ, must be rejected.

If you consider yourself a dispensationalist, I truly mean no offense. I'm not suggesting that you aren't a Christian nor am I challenging your faith in Christ or your sincerity. However, I believe this doctrine is dangerous and at its core is an offense to the Gospel. Please examine your view against the backdrop of Scripture.

C.I. Scofield
These past 40 years (though it began much further back) mark a mentality of retreat that has caused the Church to lose focus and has cost us the culture. The difficult times in which we live are, in my view, the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So a man thinks in his heart, so he shall become. If you expect defeat and are sold on escapism, then we should not be surprised by the results. If we want to take back the culture for Christ, we MUST shed "Leftbhindology." We will not work contrary to our eschatological expectations for very long. Why bother polishing brass on this fast sinking ship?  That mentality has cost us a great deal.

Sep 25, 2011

The Land Promises to Israel - Fulfilled or Unfulfilled?

Are today's inhabitants of Israel, God's chosen people? Is the land given to Israel by the U.N. in 1948, the eternal land of Abraham's descendants?  In other words, is the land of Palestine, Israel's by divine decree?  Does the modern day nation of Israel have a prominent place in God's "last days" eschatological plan? Join Don K. Preston as he attempts to deal with these very pertinent issues? You may be rather surprised by the answers.

Sep 20, 2011

Global Voice of Non-Violence

As I contemplated notifying you of the following event, a very strange and rather unsettling thought hit me. Peace and non-violence are most often associated with hippies and leftist wimps and rarely the overriding themes employed by Christians. It's not only acceptable but it's downright lauded that we squash the commies and destroy all those who oppose us. No, I don't want to come across too cynically, but I do believe we need to change the way we engage others who don't share our views.

At any rate, please consider attending the online September 21st "Global Voices of Non-Violence" teleconference, which seeks peace in the Middle East. Some of you have seen the documentary "Little Town of Bethlehem" which will be featured during this teleconference. For those who haven't, I highly recommend it. It's the wonderful story of reconciliation between Christians, Arabs and Jews as they join the forces of peace.

Matthew 5:9 (NASB) "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NASB) Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

I realize that earthly peace is not the ultimate answer, since man's problem is spiritual enmity and separation from God. However, in my view, earthly peace should be a byproduct of our eternal peace, which is born of faith in Jesus Christ through reconciliation with God.

At this time, sadly, the majority of Christ's earthly body (the Church) does not appear to be spreading a message of non-violence.  Why?  Because they believe (as did I not too many years ago) that future violence and massive death tolls will be the result of the inevitable and imminent plan of God, culminating in the final battle of Armageddon

Therefore, this peaceful effort will forever spin it's wheels unless and until the widely held eschatological presuppositions of our day are challenged. And I believe this eschatological paradigm must be defeated because I do not find it particularly Scriptural. Matter of fact, I think it is an unwitting assault on the Gospel and the integrity of God's Word. 

Until the tail end of 2005, I lacked the historical context necessary to more fully understand Scripture at this very crucial point.  I don't mean that to sound arrogant, but I do count it a great blessing to have providentially stumbled upon a view that I believe more majestically affords Scripture it's most inspired status. 

So, it should not go without saying that, if this imminent horrific Battle of Armageddon (where 2/3 of the Jews are to die) has been ordained by God, then the efforts of organizations like Global Voices of Non-Violence will fall upon deaf ears in the wake of God's sovereign plan. But what happens if this view of Scripture is wrong?  

In that light, let me share a brief history to help flesh out the historical context of this great battle, most presume to be in our future.

In AD 66, Cestius Gallus marched into Judea and surrounded Jerusalem in an attempt to restore calm at the outset of the Great Jewish Revolt. (I have hyper-linked these resources for your further study. Also, please consider "audience relevance"... to whom is the "you" with which Jesus is referring?  Us?  No, it's His disciples 1,980 years ago)

Luke 21:20 (NASB) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near."

Gallus succeeded in conquering Beit She'arim "the new city" also called Bezetha, in the Jezreel Valley, seat of the Great Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme religious court) at the time, but was unable to take The Temple Mount. During his withdrawal to the coast, his army was ambushed near Beth Horon, and only succeeded in making good his escape to Antioch by sacrificing the greater part of his army and a large amount of war materiel.

It has well been documented that after this unexplained pullback, Christians who had been watchful of the signs (Matthew 24), fled Jerusalem in mass to the city of Pella.  (notice the location of Pella on the map) They were specifically warned NOT to seek safe haven in the heavily fortified city of Jerusalem (which one would have presumed to be safest place), but instead to flee to the mountains. And that's exactly what they did!

Luke 21:21-22 (NASB) "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled

Soon after his return, Gallus died (before the spring of 67), and was succeeded in the governorship by Licinius Mucianus. Emperor Nero appointed General Vespasian, to crush the rebellion. In the spring of AD 67, General Titus, the son of soon to be Emperor Vespasian (after Nero committed suicide), amassed a multi-national armed force of 60,000 (the 15th legion) on the plain of Megido. The siege against Jerusalem, prophesied by Jesus less than a generation earlier, culminated in the utter destruction of the Temple in the fall of AD 70 (exactly 3.5 years as had been predicted in the Revelation), as not one stone was left upon another.

Matthew 24:2 (NASB) And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."

So, contrary to popular belief, and consistent with the beliefs of many prior to the mid 1800s, I believe this great battle is not in our future. Hopefully you can see why this matters so much. If this event is in our past (the first verse of the Revelation reads, "things which MUST soon take place"), then that will change our entire outlook on the victorious nature of the Gospel. We must, in my view, become ministers of reconciliation both spiritually and physically. 

Join us for the Global Voices of Nonviolence LIVE launch event on Beliefnet.com.
When: Wednesday, September 21, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Where:  Washington D.C., streamed LIVE on Beliefnet.com from the campus of The Catholic University of America
What: The online premiere of the award-winning film Little Town of Bethlehem followed by a live panel discussion
Learn more about Global Voices of Nonviolence

If you can't attend the event, the film and a recording of the panel discussion will be available on Beliefnet.com through Oct. 2.

Little Town of Bethlehem has been screened in nine countries at hundreds of colleges, universities, places of worship, and other venues. Help us keep the dialogue alive. Thank you!
"Little Town of Bethlehem draws us to the "other," the "neighbor" whom we have been called to love. Real people, claiming the moral high ground, give this movie its credibility and lasting relevance."
Robert Seiple
Author, Speaker
Former World Vision U.S. President

Aug 30, 2011

Seffner Armwood Football ranked #1 nationally

Wow, this is pretty impressive. I realize it's a mythical ranking since there's no way to adequately evaluate the talent of high schools that have so little cross pollination, but for Armwood (Seffner, FL) to have achieved this grand status, is pretty dadgum amazing. Now, let's hope they remain hungry and humble and aren't overcome by their own pride.

Jul 18, 2011

Baseball Dreams Cut Short for Disaster Victims

For high school baseball players from Rikuzentakata, Japan, the dream to play in the Koushien national baseball tournament came to an end. But win or lose, the game helped to bring together a community still reeling from the March 11 tsunami.

This is truly sad. The anguish can be so clearly felt by their cries after the loss. Just a game?  Perhaps, but with it was a way to cope. These boys were playing for a whole lot more than personal pride.

Hopefully, with Japan winning the women's World Cup Soccer Tournament, that will provide a modicum of healing for this devastated nation. 

Jul 16, 2011

Things may not be as they appear...

Following is an interview of Yonatan Sapira, a former Captain in the Israeli Air Force. I am truly invigorated by this man's conviction and his willingness to subject himself to scorn as he follows his heart. And contrary to the way he has been characterized, it's rather obvious that a deep love of his country and his Jewish heritage has motivated his quest for peace through non-violence. Yonatan appeared in a recent documentary, "Little Town of Bethlehem", with two fellow activists, one Christian and one Muslim, all three hailing from the same city of Bethlehem. Their common goal?  Peace!

Yonatan is living proof that as a Jew he can love Israel and his people but yet strongly disagree with some of his government's actions and policies. In my view, as one coming from the "religious right" perspective, we have been cornered by a false dilemma: Either love Israel and ALL of its policies, or love the terrorists and their despicable acts against the innocent. As a Christian I simply cannot justify terrorism whether state-sponsored or sanctioned by a militant group like Hamas. The cycle of violence must stop. 
Yonatan Sapira in his Israeli Air Force flight suit

That being said, if we don't seek to understand what might motivate a person to strap explosives to their body with the intent to inflict maximum damage on innocents, I don't think we are being intellectually honest. Which is worse, a terrorist act that kills 9 innocent children or a Israeli Air Force rocket assault on the home of an alleged terrorist also killing 9 innocent children? Oh, but some may say, "The government has the right to self defense and in so doing if children die, that's unfortunate collateral damage."  Really? What if the terrorist is also reacting to the tyrannical aggression of the Israeli government and feels totally justified to act on behalf of those who are oppressed? 

By caging a million and a half people like animals (Gaza) and separating them from vital resources, is causing severe reactions. And by Israeli's settling on land that is not their own is also soliciting acts of aggression. How would you or I react if our neighbor illegally began to anex our property and expanded his home onto our land?

So simply because I can't possibly condone the Palestinians firing missiles into Israel, does not mean that I shouldn't seek to understand the underlying motivations of the combatinants. Perhaps their cause is just though their methods of retribution are abhorrent? 

Is the U.S. supporting the Israeli government's policies that are helping foment this kind of violence?  
Please listen carefully to Yonatan's plea. He is not a terrorist sympathizer, but neither does he side with the dehumanizing policies set forth by his own government. Lastly, please pray that Yonatan will come to know the true Prince of Peace. 

Jul 1, 2011

Former Israeli Air Force pilot describes why we joined the Gaza Aid Flotilla

I constantly receive articles, emails and videos extolling the virtues of Israel while impugning the legitimacy of any and all facts to the contrary. Be that as it may, I think we need to at least attempt to separate the political reality from what I believe are false Biblical assumptions.  We ought to make a distinction between the modern day nation of Israel from the Israel of the Bible. Only then, once one makes this necessary differentiation, will we be free to make rational political judgments. 

Within the Christian community, it always seems to devolve into an either/or ultimatum. Either we unequivocally and unabatedly support Israel, OR we aid and abet the Muslim terrorists who want to drive them into the sea. This is nothing but propaganda employed to keep us from making critically informed judgments and it is NOT the only option. This is a false dilemma. I believe it's imperative that we throw off the yoke of bias and bigotry and make sound judgments based upon Biblical principles. 

Was Jesus not the Prince of Peace?  Did Jesus not say, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God"?  So why do we insist on taking sides?  Contrary to what we are constantly told in mainstream evangelicalism, both sides are at fault.  And unless we remove the beam from our own eye, we will never see the problem and therefore will never work toward a solution. 

Unless we divest ourselves from what I believe are unfounded biases from a skewed view of Scripture, we will never fully comprehend the complexity of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, nor appreciate the potential for a peaceful coexistence. Ultimately, in my view, the ONLY lasting solution is Jesus Christ. But the way things stand right now, how is Jesus perceived by the Arab population? As their adversary solely because of ethnic origin. This myth must be dispelled because it is NOT Biblical. I attempted to address that HERE, so since that is not the full intent of this post, please consider my thoughts from what I believe is a sound Biblical perspective.  

Let me quickly interject a documentary that is pertinent to this subject. If you have not see "Little Town of Bethlehem" I highly recommend it. The movie's goal is to foment peace within the embroiled Middle East and specifically Palestine. The movie traces the lives of 3 men, each born in Bethlehem and views the conflict through these very disparate lenses i.e.one Jew, one Arab and one Christian. These three have one common goal:  A desire for peace through non-violence. And that brings me to the main reason for this post. 

Below, you will find a video of Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli pilot who decided to take the path of peace.Yonatan's connection to the above documentary?  He's the Jewish man from Bethlehem. Had I not known Yonatan Shapira  through the movie (http://www.egmfilms.org/films/little-town-of-bethlehem/), it's likely I would have believed the lies and the propaganda about his Flotilla effort. This man's father was a highly decorated fighter pilot in the Israeli army and he, along with Yonatan's brother also joined Yonaton's peace efforts.Watch the video and determine for yourself if this man is merely a propagandist being used by the anti-Israeli forces.

The path of peace takes a great deal more courage than that of war. As Christians should we not do everything in our power to foment peace, both individual and societal? God broke forever destroyed the wall of enmity between us and Him by the blood of our Savior. And Jesus asks that we extend that ministry of reconciliation to the world. 

Jun 14, 2011

Heavens to Murgatroid! The Asteroids are coming!

Given comments like those of Pat Robertson's below, is there any wonder why there's so much eschatologically-induced confusion and why there's currently an interpretational free-for-all within the Church? I don't mean to be overly harsh (well maybe just a bit austere), but I truly believe this stuff is destroying the credibility of the Bible. Couldn't this video have just as easily been produced by the Onion? Ugh. :) Can you believe I backed this man for president in the 80's? Don't answer that. LoL

Listen, I'm not questioning this man's commitment to Christ or his love for the Gospel, but I am truly appalled that, after a pitiful 40 year track record of errant prophetic speculations, we continue to give him a hearing. At what point will people say, "Enough is enough"?  My roommates and I considered quitting college in '73 because of his warning that the end was near. It's truly a travesty that people perpetually condone the kind of hermeneutic that gives Robertson license to make these kinds of outrageous predictions. 

Makes the video below more plausible every day. One of my all-time favorites!  LoL

Jun 9, 2011

Coffee Table Extraordinaire!

The TouchTable looks like a giant iPhone that marries satellite imagery with a plethora of data sources. TouchTable, Inc., the creators of this amazing device, have developed applications for intelligence gathering and law enforcement, but the sky's the limit for the consumer as well. So if you have $60k sitting around the house, looks like this one's got your name on it. :)  These are amazing times!

Jun 3, 2011

Presuppositions & Assumptions

Consider the following mind trick from David Copperfield. Can he read your thoughts?
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I think this is a great lesson as we attempt to interpret the Bible. Though we may be unaware, we often don't approach Scripture with an open mind. And that's not so much an  indictment as it is reality. Our minds are filled with presuppositions some of which may be untrue. Regarding such, in 1958, J.I. Packer wrote the following in "Fundamentalism and the Word of God":

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world. . . . It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be "catholic" tradition, or "critical" tradition, or "ecumenical" tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures. (Fundamentalism and the Word of God, by J.I. Packer. [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958.] pp. 69-70)

Isn't that profound?  I try to remember to read this quote at least once a month since  I consistently find myself in unwitting violation.  It's nearly impossible to approach the Scripture without bias, so the best we can do is recognize it when it exists and pray that the Holy Spirit will allow us to overcome it. 

Following is a case in point. A friend forwarded my recent blog post, "Pray for Israel..." to his pastor, and among being called a cult leader and other reprehensible ad homs,  this pastor wrote:
"As for the Jews, you align yourself with Hiltler, Stalin, and the entire Muslim world today, and I guess you feel very ecuminical in that; but I can tell by yuor slant who you read after now.  It surely is not the Bible.    Since Revelation tells us that all of it will be done shortly (Rev 1.1), and ends by saying all of these things will happen shortly; all of Revelation has been fulfilled to you.  Do you really believe that?"
For my purposes here I won't focus on the inflammatory stuff. It speaks for itself. However, I would like to call attention to his comments regarding the Revelation. Is it possible that he's succumbing to the rudiments that make Copperfield's trick seem truly amazing? The pastor referred to the following verses:
Revelation 1:1 (NKJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

Revelation 1:3 (NKJV) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Revelation 22:6-7 (NKJV) 6 Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. 7 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

Revelation 22:10 (NKJV) And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
Revelation 22:20 (NKJV) He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 
Now, let me ask a question? If you picked up the Bible for the first time and read the these verses from the Revelation with no preconceived ideas (as Packer suggests), when would you believe the time of the Revelation was to be fulfilled? Do "MUST SHORTLY take place...for the time is NEAR", seem like references to a 2,000 year period?  By the pastor asking rather mockingly, "Do you really believe that", it's apparent that he doesn't believe that Jesus spoke truthfully through the angel. And I find that quite alarming and sad. Does this not strike at the heart of Biblical inspiration and at the deity of Christ? Remember, in the Revelation Jesus was no longer speaking as a man as He was when He prophesied that His coming would be within a generation (Matthew 24:34).  This time, approx 36 years after his "this generation" proclamation, He's speaking from a position of exaltation at the right hand of the Father. At that point, Jesus clearly knew not only that the "time was near" but He was then also privy to the exact day and hour. 

How far have we come where the ones reading the literal timing of things to come are the ones who are considered the cult leaders? When this fellow says, "It's surely not in the Bible," I have to wonder what Bible he's reading. Daniel was exhorted to "seal up the vision" because the things with which he was prophesying were "many days yet to come" (almost 600 to the time of Christ). Yet, the recipient of the Revelation was told, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy" because "THE TIME IS AT HAND." 

I don't know how the contrast between Daniel and the Revelation could be any greater of an indictment upon the modern day prophecy experts who insist that the Revelation's prognostications are still future? How can we continue to say that we believe in Biblical inspiration and yet totally disregard the above time statements? 

I realize treating these passages literally is not in vogue, but isn't it time to discard our presuppositions and let the Bible speak for itself?  What's wrong with considering these matters with an open mind, not being ruled by assumptions that may be Biblically unwarranted? 

In and of itself, properly interpreting Scripture is a very difficult task. So it seems imperative that we realize how easily we can be fooled. If you were initially amazed by the Copperfield "trick", it should stand as a lesson regarding presuppositions. You assumed, as I did, that all of the cards in the second set (minus the one we fixed our eyes upon) were different. We were tricked by an incorrect assumption. 

And we have assumed, based upon years of sermons, books and conversations, that the Revelation MUST be entirely in our future, right? However, if it was written in the first century, that is simply not a possibility, unless Jesus was intentionally misleading John. And if that was the case, we have far more grievous issues to deal with than eschatology. 

Do we have the faith to first believe Jesus and then concern ourselves with the "how can this be true", later?

May 28, 2011

Pray for Israel? - What about the Palestinians, the Sudanese or the Canadians?

I received a short email (below) asking that we pray for Israel. Rather innocuous enough, right?  Why not pray for the peace of a nation constantly embroiled in conflict, and opposed on all sides by the many who want to drive them into the sea?  Clearly, there's great value in praying for peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace!

However, as I began to contemplate the root of this simple prayer, I was plagued with the following question. Why is it that we are consistently encouraged to single out this particular nation, often at the exclusion of other strife-laden lands? All sorts of war-torn and/or poverty stricken nations come to mind that need God's peace and grace. So what about the modern day nation of Israel deserves this kind of special attention?  Does God still have a unique purpose for this tiny land now inhabited by a people whom many Christians still believe are living under a divine mandate? 

The horrors of Aushwitz
And I must say, in the minds of many, even posing this line of questioning about Israel’s special place in this world immediately conjures up visions of anti-Semitism.  So at the outset, let me be clear that I don’t have an anti-Semitic bone in my body. The Auschwitz death camps were a filthy stain on mankind’s sordid history and it disgusts me to hear some hate-filled souls try to deny that the savagery ever took place.

Having said that, I don't believe it's morally justified for those who have been so severely persecuted to vindicate themselves by committing atrocities on a similarly vulnerable people i.e. the indigenous Palestinians. The truth is that bigotry and ethnic cleansing should be abhored no matter who the perpetrator is.  I believe it's racist to favor one people group over others regardless of the group's composition. 

Let me be clear at this point. I love the Israelis. I visited Israel in 2000 and found the people to be quite industrious and engaging.  But to be quite frank, I also love the Arabs, the Brits and my postal carrier. Aren't Christians supposed to love ALL people without prejudice?  

So please, before you castigate me with racially-charged rhetoric and mischaracterize my probing, consider what "pray for Israel" implies. I have found the constant cry of anti-Semitism to be a faulty but rather effective defense mechanism shielding this necessary discussion from objective conversation while summarily insulating Israel from even the slightest bit of criticism. 

So, don't you think it's at least reasonable to ask if the New Covenant, in fact, sanctions the exaltation of one nation, Israel, above all other nations?  In other words, is God partial to those of one genetic predisposition over those of another fleshly lineage? Some might answer that question affirmatively, but I believe they would be ignoring the bulk of the New Testament writings. I'll deal with this matter Biblically in a moment.

As I further contemplated this whole notion, it dawned on me that I hadn't received similar prayer requests for the plight of other nations.  Darfur and Sudan immediately come to mind. So, since the majority of Israel’s citizenry blatantly rejects Jesus Christ, why specifically should we pray for this secular nation? Yes, of course I believe we should pray for the salvation and peaceful estate of everyone who resides within its borders, especially since unrest has become a way of life.  And surely we should abhor all violence and decry acts of barbarism. However, that's really not the intent of my question. I'm speaking strictly of the special treatment afforded one nation, Israel. 

So, if we're going to give Israel a special dispensation, I think it's apropos to at least ask who it is that lives within its borders. Are they God-fearing? Is this a nation patterned after Old Covenant Rabbinic Judaism? Is there a continuity of land ownership since the time of Christ and before? Does modern day Israel bear even the slightest resemblance to the people who inherited the Promised Land 1,500 years before Christ? Unfortunately the answer to each is a resounding NO. The vast majority of Israelites are secular but those who are devout hate Jesus Christ. In "Christians in Israel an Endangered Species" was written the following:
The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us He was a bastard—“for polemical purposes, it was necessary for the Jews to insist on the illegitimacy of Jesus, as against the Davidic descent claimed by the Christian church.” His mother, “…Mary…was known to be an adulteress.” 2 Concerning “Miriam,” or “Mary,” the Talmud in Sanhedrin 106b says: “… “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.’…’”

Israel is a completely secularized society with little interest in Yahweh and an outright aversion of Jesus Christ. So why do some expect God to bless those who bless Israel (Gen 12:3), if they reject and abhor "The Way, the Truth and the Life"? 

If Jesus was enamored with sacred bloodlines, why then did He tell Nicodemus, a devout Jew, that must be "born again"? (John 3:3) or he "cannot see the Kingdom of God." And why did John the Baptist tell the Jewish religious elite that God could manufacture children of Abraham out of stones? (Matt 3:9)  This passage doesn't speak about the restoration or regathering of the Jews according to the flesh. Quite the contrary. John foretells of the wrath that was "about to come" upon this wicked and adulterous generation. So in the New Covenant, if to God, ethnic origin is of no consequence, what therefore is the allure of favoring modern day Israel?

Talmudic Judaism is vehemently opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this point it should be noted that the "Anti-Missionary" law conspicuously passed during Christmas week on December 27, 1977. Although it remains legal in Israel for a Christian to talk with an Israeli about Christ, it is a crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison to attempt to convert an Israeli to Christianity by use of any material inducement. If a Christian gives even a gospel leaflet to an Israeli, he violates this law. Also, if the Israeli converts to Christianity after receiving the leaflet he himself could face 3 years in prison. 

So the question remains. Should a nation which enacts such laws, be considered a brother in the New Covenant simply because they share thousands of years of pre-Christ heritage? 

Once again let me ask why should we not also specifically pray for nations other than Israel such as South Korea, which are experiencing major revival and are also sandwiched by evil on all sides? Has anyone ever suggested that we pray for South Korea?  I don't mean to sound obtuse, but why do we constantly sanctify the modern nation of Israel as though they are the apple of God's eye? 

The truth is that they are just like every other godless nation that needs Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, they no longer enjoy any privileged status nor do they maintain any divine right to the land in which they currently reside. And if you think they do, please watch the video below. Are you aware that there's not one New Testament verse that speaks of a Holy Land. Quite the contrary. Jesus, when he was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well made it clear that physical locale was being rendered totally insignificant. This is powerful and it must not be missed.
John 4:21-24 (NKJV) 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Did you catch that? Neither on Mount Gerizim or in JERUSALEM! Why? Because the worship of God was no longer going to be confined to temples made by human hands. 

On May 14, 1948, those who identified themselves as Jews were given the land by U.N. mandate. But, regarding that piece of real estate, there's a dirty little secret that no one seems to talk about. There were people living in the land at the time. And a whole lot of them. It wasn't just barren dessert as it has been portrayed. Yet, how many times have you heard it said, "A people without a land, and a land without a people"? The implication? The land was vacant. That's simply not true. Do you realize how important it is to recognize that fact? 

During the past 63 years, it's an understatement to say that those Arab and Christian inhabitants of the land of Palestine have been severely persecuted.  In the process of the "regathering", close to a million Palestinian refugees have been created. Many were killed. Villages were bulldozed to the ground. Land was confiscated, and illegal Jewish settlements have continued construction on land acquired through war. You simply cannot imagine the horror. 

All of this is detailed in one of the best books I have ever read, Elias Chacour's Blood Brothers. (You cannot read this book without it severely altering your paradigm). Please know that although Elias Chacour (a very young Palestinian Christian when his father's land was stolen in 1948) is not a bitter man. And he isn't seeking retribution nor is he motivated by revenge. He simply desires to foment peace. And interestingly enough, this man was voted Israeli man of the year in 2002. 

So is there any surprise that the indigenousness Palestinian people who resided in the land prior to the tanks rolling in, in 1948, might not appreciate the outright confiscation of their land.  Should there be any wonder why their constantly degrading socio-economic circumstances might cause some of them to lash out in barbaric ways? Does any reaction warrant suicide bombings or other forms of terrorism?  Of course not, but have you ever considered what might motivate a person to do such an evil thing?  If you put a boot on a man's throat and hold him down for a prolonged period of time, would it later surprise you if he reacted?

On the surface, "Pray for Israel" seems rather innocuous enough. Surely Christians ought to care about peace. But have you ever wondered what kind of a message this sends to the billion or so Arabs that surround them?  Were the Arabs born on the wrong side of the tracks?  Are they doomed simply because they have the wrong genetic predisposition? When was the last time someone said, "Pray for Iran" or "Pray for Syria"?  I believe the underlying and insidious message we're sending to the rest of the world (especially the Arab world) is one of favoritism based solely upon a what I believe is a misperceived birthright.  So let me ask again. Where we get this precedent of singling out Israel? 

Did you now that there is no Jewish race? In "Who Are the Modern Jews", Scott Stinson quotes none other than the Jewish Encyclopedia for that answer. It states, ""The question whether the Jews of today are in the main descended from the Jews of Bible times, and from them alone, is still undecided".  I found this to be a rather startling admission from a source that can hardly be accused of anti-Semitism. The Jewish Encyclopedia further explains. "Some anthropologist are inclined to associate the racial origins of the Jews, not with the Semites, whose language they adopted, but with the Armenians and Hittites of Mesopotamia, whose broad skulls and curved noses they appear to have inherited" (Jew. Enc. X (1905), 284).

Contrary to the opinions of many Christians, I believe these things have been clearly documented. Blasphemy, you say?  (Let it be said that this is NOT intended as an indictment to those who currently reside in modern day Israel. I am simply attempting to establish the fact that few Jews living in Israel are In Israel are of Abrahamic lineage. Not since the AD 70 Diaspora when 1.1 million Jews died in the wake of the Roman siege, was national Israel vital. And those who survived this first century holocaust (according to Jesus brought about by their rejection of HIM) were assimilated into the surrounding cultures/nations.  

Today, there are no priests. There is no temple and God will never allow it to be rebuilt since it would stand as an abomination to Jesus' once-for-all perfect sacrifice. (Heb 9:11-28) And there are no genealogical records documenting racial origin. For good reason, they were forever destroyed in the war. Everything was summarily destroyed by God as He avenged the murder of His Son (Matthew 23:36; Matthew 22:6-7). And from the cross forward, the only true children of Abraham are those born of faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal 3:6-9; Rom 9:6-8) It has nothing whatsoever to do with bloodline. 

The ax was at the root of Israel's tree in AD 27 (Matthew 3:7-12) and it was about to be cut down and thrown into the unquenchable fire, never to rise again. Jesus Christ is THE Israel of God.  He is THE seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16).  Only those born from above (John 1:12) are "In Christ" and therefore children of Abraham according to promise (Gal 3:29). The gates of the Kingdom have been opened wide for people of all cultures and nationalities. There is neither Jew nor Greek in the New Covenant (Gal 3:28). The dividing wall of separation has been forever demolished. 

Ephesians 2:14-17 (NASB) 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away , and peace to those who were near; 

I hate terrorism, and there should be no doubt in any Christian's mind that Islam is a religion that opposes Jesus Christ. But so does Talmudic Judaism! They, Israeli and Arab, both need Christ, so why pray specifically and single-mindedly for the peace of Israel (at the exclusion of the Arab population) when the Israelis are oppressing a people (the Palestinians) who live within their borders? Why are Christians not encouraged to pray for the peace and safety of the heavily persecuted Palestinian Christians? This is a sad mystery. 

In the end, this obsession with Israel has become very disconcerting.  Many people become so emotionally charged that reason is kicked to the curb. Why not pray for the peace of the whole world? Why not pray for a race-blind world where the Gospel is free to proliferate without ethnically imposed restrictions? Once we remove the racial barriers sequestering the Gospel from the entire Arab world, who knows what may happen. The way to defeat Islam is not to nuke their countries but to convert its adherents. But unfortunately, under the current climate, the Muslims won't hear the message of Christ because a Biblically sanctioned bigotry drones the Gospel's clarity. Although the only path to peace is through Jesus Christ, the only way to Christ is through an unobstructed message. 

I believe a pervading ignorance of that which took place pre-1948, fuels a misdirected blame for the current Middle East circumstances. I abhor all violence, but to ignore the atrocities committed against the indigenous Palestinian population, at least 10% of whom were Christians, is to fight a battle blind-folded.

I recently watched a video of a Jewish Rabbi who was filled with aspirations of peace. As he was decrying violence he made a rather poignant statement. Basically he asked, "How can we who know the severity of suffering (referring to the holocaust) if we don't recognize the suffering of others? We, above all, he said, ought to be the most cognizant of oppression and abuse. They cannot right the wrong of the Holocaust by doing the same to others. 

In closing, let me make it clear that I believe in Israel's right to self-determination and self defense regardless of the past.  However, not at the expense of innocent people. Because, in the process, the rage emanating from the innocent (63 years of oppression), foments the cycle of violence while radicalizing a whole new generation. And the beat goes on. I believe we must acknowledge the past before we can move forward. 

If you still feel compelled to pray for Israel, please also pray for Palestinian people. No, that doesn't mean we are under obligation to condone the actions of Hamas or Hezbollah or side with those who desire to drive Israel into the sea. It simply means that we are champions of those who cannot speak for themselves. It means that we are peacemakers and it means that we love Jesus Christ. 
Matthew 5:9 (NKJV) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
The solutions to these very serious and vexing problems are solidly within our grasp. The Prince of Peace, through His redemptive blood, can and will one day tear down the walls that separate us. The answers are within the bounds of Scripture. In the New Covenant, race should NEVER be a motivating factor. The dividing wall of separation has been eternally torn down. So in the future, let's pray for the peace of ALL, knowing that ONLY the Gospel can bring both vertical (between God & us) and horizontal (between each of us) peace. 


Forwarded message:




As an addendum, if anyone would like to more fully understand the Palestinian / Israeli conflict from a Biblical perspective, I highly recommend the following books, DVD's and websites: