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.