Friday, September 15, 2017

Self-Care

Bear one anothers' burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ....
For each man must bear his own burden. [Gal. 6:2,9]

These verses speak to the issue of self-care. We are called by Christ to help people with their burdens. Others are called to help us with ours. We realize, if we are practicing the Love of Christ, that we do not want to burden other people with our burdens. They have burdens of their own, and we must be alert as to how we can help them, as Christ would have us. So we work diligently to carry our load--we are responsible; we know that it is more blessed to give than to receive; we have before us always Christ on the Cross, giving His life for us and commanding us to love each other as He has loved us. Our desire is for all people to be responsible in this way, but they have never been, and are not likely to be so in our lifetime. So we must learn to keep our peace in a world with the type of spiritual blindness that makes people sick and weak, and causes them to be more dependent on others than they should be. We help people like this by using our energies to persuade them toward responsibility as the pathway of their greatest happiness. We realize that their dependence is pathological for them. And we are careful not to judge them, nor to do for them what they can and should do for themselves [which is called "enabling."]  If they can receive Christ, becoming regenerated in the New Life that He supplies, then they become more responsible because they begin to be influenced by the voice and Spirit of ultimate Truth--the Love of God in Christ. But this is just religious vernacular to those who have not tasted the beautiful, transforming Truth of Christ. So we do not expect them to understand. I have seen cases in which, for example, a daughter was working diligently to care for an aging mother who had never really been a mother because of an unredeemed personality disorder. The mother was incessantly displeased with her daughter, complaining about the daughter's ministries, accusing her of not "caring", keeping her in a constant battle against guilt, anger and resentment. Caregivers must learn to "guard their hearts" in such situations. If we [caregivers] give too much, we will start feeling resentful and may become passive aggressive. It would not, however be loving to totally abandon the dependent one. We must remember that God loves the caregiver as much as the receiver of care. And that He sustains our hearts as we love and serve. We must not lose our peace trying to give it to others. It seems that some people never take root in the Truth that would set them free. They never get to the soul-fulfillment that Jesus gives us. We must be ultimately OK with this.
And we must not idealize this "soul-fulfillment". Life on this planet never gets easy for anyone. We hear Christ when He says, "In this world you will have tribulation"[  ]. We accept this on a very deep level. But we also hear Him say, "Nevertheless, be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."[John 16:33]  Our Savior and Friend, who has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the world [Mt. 28:20], has overcome every tribulation we will encounter, and secured eternal life for us. Death is our final victory! The afflictions of this world are slight and temporary compared to the "glory to be revealed in us" [ 2 Cor 4:17; Rom 8:18]. But in the mean time, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer has said "If the Lord returns tomorrow, then I will rest from my labors, but today, I have work to do."  We have work to do. The work of faith, hope and love. The work for which we have been ordained by our Lord: to go out into the world with the Light that is shining in us--the Light of Christ Himself.  This work  is accompanied and partly motivated by an ongoing sense of unfulfillment. It is the unfulfillment of Christ Himself who was at times, frustrated with faithlessness, sorrowful, angry and disappointed.  His humanity connects with us. Then His divinity lifts us to new heights of freedom and peace. The unfulfillment is swallowed up in His Love in us. It becomes fuel for a holy fire that we would never extinguish. This is a mystery, but some will understand, not only with the mind, but with the heart. These are the free ones.
Christianity is a religion of the heart, soul, mind and body. All of these are in the domain of the Creator; our "Father" as Christ called Him, and with Whom He was and is One. How could our faith in the God of the entire universe be anything but wholistic.  This frightens some people, I know. They see it as too "dogmatic"; even arrogant. If it were not centered in the Love of Christ, I would think so myself. But I challenge any man to discover a purer, more holy or healthy philosophy to devote one's life to than the Way of Christ---His sacrificial Love---and His command that we love each other. Until we attain that level of maturity, I can see no other pathway worthy of  our devotion. Everything outside of Christ's Love seems like a distraction at best. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" Jesus asks [Mt 16:26].
If we truly embrace Christ in our sincere quest for ultimate Truth, we will find it there, in Him.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Violence

All violence motivated by greed, lust, anger, fear and/or the desire for power, is evil at its core.  There is such thing as holy violence. It is motivated only by Love and the ensuant desire for freedom for the human soul. This is the violence that one would use to protect his family from a violent attacker. But there are threats in the spiritual realm that threaten freedom and peace for whole nations and cultures. The lust for power was recognized by our Founding Fathers who set up a governmental system with "checks and balances" to guard against it. They recognized the dangers that perpetually threatened a government that provided and tried to protect individual freedom from tyranny and oppression. They recognized the dark side of the human soul. They even protected the populaces' freedom to bear arms to prevent being overpowered by a government run amuck. This, of course, places immense responsibility upon the populace to be mature and self-controlled; not quick to violence and willing to go to great lengths to settle all disputes without violence, but rather through the sincere pursuit of the "common good."  Even with this sincere discipline and holy desire, there has been and will continue to be the need for good men who have no ill will toward anyone---who covet no man's property or rights, and who desire to live in peace with all mankind---to take up arms against those who seem to be lost in a deep darkness that spawns hatred and callous disregard for freedom and human life. The primary battle is and will always be the battle for the enlightenment of those who are in this darkness. This battle can only be won if motivated by divine Love---the Love of Christ evident in His prayer from the Cross, "Father forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." Theological debates, though necessary, are only useful if they lead to more of this love in the hearts of human beings. This is the result of all true evangelism. The hardness of heart that opposes the Truth of Christ puts one on a pathway that has as its ultimate destination many variations of hell, including hatred and violence.
Any theology that presents a god that rejoices in the death of any human or that rewards violence and spawns hatred cannot be the God of the universe---the God Who has so generously lavished us with life, beauty. and freedom.

Prayer


Pray this prayer slowly, meditatively. Be careful not to just read it---pray it. Contemplate the meaning of the words.

O Holy Father and Mother,
The Conscious Core of the universe, beyond all concepts, beyond all labels, beyond all religions; the Giver of all that is. Help us to know You as You are. May we feel Your Love inwardly, and therefore know, beyond all doubt, that we can Trust You in life and in death.
Fill our hearts with Love and Peace and Gratitude. We are thankful to You, O God, for life. You have given us Life. Our consciousness is a product of Your consciousness. And we are alienated from Your consciousness only as we are in darkness—the darkness that You allow, in order for us to be free and for our lives to have meaning. We recognize that there are many in this world who do not believe that You exist or who have different ideas about You. We have come to know You through Christ, Who has revealed You as a loving parent, patient, merciful and kind; but also Who commands, and Who has the rightful authority to command us to love each other. We understand that You, O God, are Love—the love that you have put within us for our children! You are constrained, in Your infinite freedom, only by this Love. And we are also only constrained by it. This is a joyful restraint! It is the constraint of freedom. And You, O God, have always demanded that Your people be free. We receive, in this moment, the gift of knowing that we are free, and allow ourselves, with Your permission, to feel this freedom and the peace it brings into our souls.
The Peace that we find in You O God is also constrained by this Love. We recognize the unnecessary suffering that we inflict upon ourselves because we have not known, understood and submitted to this Love. We are appalled that men still brutally kill men, women, children---that there is hatred in our hearts toward each other, and that, even in our most mature relationships there are lapses of selfishness and abuse. We recognize that we have work to do. We pray for the Peace of Christ as we do this work. Help us to be neither lazy nor compulsive in this work of Love. Help us to be diligent---and peaceful. Help us to overcome our fear of man, what he thinks about us or what he can do to us. But, please Lord, help us to never stop loving him and working for his freedom from all oppression; as we allow Your Spirit in us to keep us free from oppression—even the frustrations of our own and our peoples' failures and ignorance. Help us to take to heart Your prayer from the Cross: “Father forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.”
Thank You for Grace—Amazing Grace—that enables us to live free from both denial and guilt. It is only in Your Love that we can look at some of the ugliness in ourselves; and it is only by Your Grace that we can be “cleansed from all unrighteousness.” Thank You for giving us the Righteousness of Christ—unspeakable gift! We receive Your Grace, forgiveness, and cleansing, with deep gratitude and the humility that recognizes that we did not earn it, nor are we entitled to it; any more than we were entitled to life on this planet. You give deliverance as freely as You have given life---deliverance from all oppression. In this moment, we allow ourselves, with Your permission, to feel free from all fear, or to embrace our fears in Faith. We allow ourselves to feel forgiven and healed of all the ways our souls have been twisted by the darkness that is in our world. Free from all oppression.
We seek only to be motivated by Your Universal, Divine Love---Love for all sentient beings, for life and goodness and truth---for all the love that has been and is being expressed in the human family---for kindness and generosity of heart---for the innocence of childhood, and for the opportunity to return to it ourselves---for the delivering power of forgiveness. And for the confidence of Your promises: to be with us always, even to the end of the world; to complete the work that You have begun in us---to give us eternal life---to empower us to love effectively with eternal results.
We renew our devotion to be obedient to You by loving others as we love ourselves; and by doing what we can to facilitate the expansion of Your Love in the hearts of humans---to work for Your Kingdom.
In Christ's Holy Name,

Amen---Let it be so---Amen.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bible: Statements Regarding


Great Statements Concerning the Bible

The only way of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible. ...The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.”
-Benjamin Rush, signer of Dec. of Independence, “Father of Public Schools under the Constitution”

"So great is my veneration for the Bible that …the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society. I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year."
"I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity."
"In what light soever we regard the Bible, whether with reference to revelation, to history, or to morality, it is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue."
"The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible."
- John Quincy Adams

The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced.”
-Immanuel Kant


Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”
My experience in this office that I hold has only deepened a belief that I've held for many years: Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today if only we'd read and believe.”
_Pres. Ronald Reagan

There are a good many problems before the American people today and before me as President, but I expect to find the solutions to those problems just in proportion that I am faithful in the study of the Word.”
-Woodrow Wilson, 28th Pres. Of the United States

"The Bible is no mere book, but a living Power that conquers all that oppose it."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

"The American nation from its first settlement at Jamestown to this hour is based upon and permeated by the principles of the Bible."
- Justice David Joseph Brewer, Supreme Court Justice


"I believe the Bible because it is the Word of God."
- William Jennings Bryan
"I know the Bible is inspired because it finds me a greater depth of my being than any other book."
- Samuel Taylor Coolidge

"It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."
- Horace Greeley

"I have always believed in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, whereby they have become the expression to man of the Word and will of God."
- Warren G. Harding

"The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed."
- Patrick Henry

"That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests."
- Andrew Jackson


"The Bible contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than can be collected from all other books, in whatever age or language they may have been written."
- Sir William James

"Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archaeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts, or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible . . . but always confirms, and verifies the facts of the Biblical record."
- Dr. J.O. Kinnaman

"In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength."
- Robert E. Lee

"All the good from the Savior of the World is communicated through this Book . . . All the things desirable to man are contained in it."
"I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man."
"I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book."
"In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. To you I return my most sincere thanks for the elegant company of the great Book of God which you present."
- Abraham Lincoln

"I consider an intimate knowledge of the Bible an indispensable qualification of a well-educated man."
- Dr. Robert A. Milliken

"We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authority in the Bible than in any profane history whatever."
- Sir Isaac Newton

"I thoroughly believe in a university education…but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible. Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated."
- Dr. Wm. Lyon Phelps, Yale University

"A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education."
- Theodore Roosevelt



"Make it the first morning business of your life to understand some part of the Bible clearly, and make it your daily business to obey it in all that you do understand."
- John Ruskin

"There is only one Book – the Bible."
- Sir Walter Scott

"The whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever-growing influence of the Bible."
- William Henry Seward

"Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years."
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"You ask me what I think of Christ? He is the Chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely – my Lord, my Saviour, and my God. What do I think of the Bible? It is the infallible Word of God, a light erected all along the shores of time to warn against the rocks and breakers, and to show the only way to harbor of eternal rest."
- William Strong

“The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, Isaiah and Saint Paul.”...
"The Bible is the moral code of civilization."
- Harry S. Truman

"A loving trust in the Author of the Bible is the best preparation for a wise and profitable study of the Bible itself."
- H.C. Trumbull

"After all, the Bible must be its own argument and defense. The power of it can never be proved unless felt. The authority of it can never be supported unless it is manifest. The light of it can never be demonstrated unless it shines."
- Henry Van Dyke

"I cannot too greatly emphasize the importance and value of Bible study—more important than ever before in these days of uncertainties, when men and women are apt to decide questions from the standpoint of expediency rather than on the eternal principles laid down by God Himself."
- John Wanamaker

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
- George Washington

"If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
"The Bible is our only safe guide."
- Daniel Webster

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
-Patrick Henry


The Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
-Andrew Jackson


"A man had deprived himself of the best there is in the world who has deprived himself of this, a knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found in it the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty."...
"I am sorry for the men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and of the pleasure."
"It is very difficult for an individual who knows the Scripture ever to get away from it…it forms a part of the warp and woof of his life."
- Woodrow Wilson

"This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe in it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibilities, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents."
- Unknown

The text that led to Martin Luther’s conversion, and inspired the Reformation: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’" (Romans 1:17)

The text which more deeply influenced the life of John Knox: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)

The text which saved William Cowper from suicide: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Romans 3:24-25).

John Bunyan’s favorite text: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37).

The text which challenged David Livingstone: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20).





Just use me – I am the Bible.
I am God’s wonderful library.
I am always – and above all – The Truth.
To the weary pilgrim, I am a good strong staff.
To the one who sits in gloom, I am a glorious light.
To those who stoop beneath heavy burdens, I am sweet rest.
To him who has lost his way, I am a safe guide.
To those who have been hurt by sin, I am healing balm.
To the discouraged, I whisper glad messages of hope.
To those who are distressed by the storms of life, I am an anchor.
To those who suffer in lonely solitude, I am a cool, soft hand resting on a fevered brow.
O, child of man, to best defend me, just use me!
- Unknown

The Bible in 50 Words
God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split, Jacob fooled, Joseph ruled, Bush talked, Moses balked; Pharaoh plagued, people walked. Sea divided, tablets guided, Promise landed. Saul freaked, David peeked, prophets warned, Jesus born. God walked, love talked, anger crucified, hope died. Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.

BIBLE
I find the Bible to be what it says of itself: a hammer that breaks down my defenses, a mirror in which I see myself, and a sure guide.

The Bible is more than a historical document to be preserved.
And it is more than a classic of English literature to be cherished
and admired. It is a record of God's dealing with men, of God's
revelation of Himself and His will. It records the life and work of
Him in whom the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among men.
The Bible carries its full message, not to those who regard it simply
as a heritage of the past or praise its literary style, but to those who
read it that they may discern and understand God's Word to men.
[From the Preface of the RSV New Testament 2nd. Ed.]


We learn 7 different images for the Word of God in the Bible. This Bible study lesson is the list of these images found in the Bible.
1. Like a Double Edged Sword:
* Hebrews 4:12: -" Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
2. Like Fire:
* Jer 23:29: - "Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
3. Like Hammer:
* Jer 23:29: - "Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
4. Like Lamp and Light:
* Ps 119:105: - "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
5. Like Food:
* Mat 4:4: - "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
* 1 Pet 1:25-2:2:"But the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation."
6. Like Seed:
* 1 Pet 1:23: - "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God."
7. Like Mirror:
* James 1:22-25: - "But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves* in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act---they will be blessed in their doing."
Bible study - What is Word of God like? The seven symbols of Word of God in Bible - Double edge sword, fire, hammer, light and lamp, food, seed, mirror


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2325938


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Letter to a Friend

James, Please forgive the delay in responding.
I'm so thankful for you, and esp. your willingness to use your formidable intellect and broad-scoped thinking to propagate the Gospel. It has always, since the time of Christ's coming, been of ultimate importance to do so, but especially in our time when the collective mind is flooded with so much stimuli, and man is armed with powers as never before--military and communicative powers. The materialistic promises and impressive advances of science have had the effect of drawing our minds away from the deeper experiences of the soul; and even cast doubt upon their existence, since they can not yet be measured in the laboratory. Yet we see in societal ills the deleterious effects of such ignorance. [I do not say this in arrogance.]  There are spiritually blind men who possess a high degree of intelligence, and these must be countered by intelligent faith. This is true because humans are impressed by intelligence. Men whose philosophy makes no sense at all in its core can assemble great crowds of followers when the philosophy is clothed in intelligence and presented in bold confidence. But, of course, no philosophy can compare with the Love of Jesus Christ, without which all philosophies, all systems of government, in fact every pursuit of man becomes vain and meaningless, arrogant, and doomed to degenerate into the struggle for power.
Jesus has rescued us from this darkness. And we can now live in a growing, infinite peace, powered by a growing, secure knowledge that we are now connected with the fathomlessly glorious Creator of the universe, who is Love!
 I quote Julian of Norwich:
"Truth sees God; wisdom contemplates God; and of these two comes a third: a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love."
This contemplation and its resultant delight is the wellspring from which evangelism [including apologetics] flows.
We are not thwarted by the pain that we continue to feel in our hearts; nor by our fears and lack of confidence. The pain is the "cross"  that Jesus has called us to bear; the same that He bore--life in this fallen world. It is the pain that drives us to love people with His Love--the only solution to the pain--both theirs and ours. We embrace it in the peace that He gives us—that transcends the circumstances.
We experience ever more deeply the reality of being “in, but not of the world.” We persevere—not in growing strain, but in growing peace and rest and strength, like the widening river as it approaches the ocean.
I've written enough. I mainly want to thank you and encourage you in this supremely important work of fulfilling His great command [Mt. 28], using our particular gifts and speaking into our particular sphere of influence.
You are a good brother, and I thank God for you.
Mark

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlottesville, Christianity and Atheism

Hatred of persons is forbidden by Christ {Matthew 5:44}. No political agenda, therefore, that promotes hatred of any person or people group can legitimately claim to be Christian.
The recent events in Charlottesville, VA may be interpreted as the result of the waning influence of Christianity in American culture, coupled with the fact that humans are innately bent toward supreme devotion to something. If we are not devoted to the God of this universe Who is love {1Jn 4:8}—the God of Jesus Christ—then we either languish in meaninglessness or attach ourselves to some purpose; anything from saving whales {a noble endeavor} to promoting one's own race above other races {an ignoble one by Christian and perhaps all rational standards}. This is why it is important not to suppress the evangelistic efforts of the Christian faith. To use a metaphor that I read somewhere: The fires of Christianity are like the fires of the ancient cave men that held at bay the ravenous beasts that would otherwise devour them. As long as the fire burned brightly, men were safe. But you could see the glaring eyes of the hungry beasts around the perimeter of light.
Christianity unifies in love. This is the expressed prayer of Jesus {John 17}. Outside of this unifying love there are hundreds of motivating pursuits that potentially divide people against each other. If our egos are not subdued by a conscious submission to the love of Christ, they dominate the personality, and the “common good” gets left behind in the dust. Our Founding Fathers were clear on this. They knew that government “of, by and for the people” could only prosper in a culture of spiritually mature people who could overcome selfish motives and work, sometimes sacrificially, for the common good. And they also knew, from personal experience, the value of legitimate religion, particularly the teachings of Christ, in bringing men to this level of maturity. That is why we see religion protected from the State, and hear words such as “endowed by their Creator...”.
This belief that free government is bolstered and preserved by religion {and the ensuing morality} is clearly set forth in George Washington's Farewell Address of 1796. Quoting therefrom:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

I compare atheism to cancer, and Christianity to the immune system. All human bodies contain some cancer cells, but our immune system protects us from their aggressive spread. If the immune system is suppressed, cancer flourishes and, ironically, ultimately destroys its own host. There is something sinister in any efforts to subvert or suppress a religion that promotes the love of all humankind—a willingness to practice unselfish, sacrificial service to one's fellows, even those very different from oneself. The life and teachings of Christ exposed, and exposes, that darkness. But the demons scream, criticize and attack—now as then. Or else sit and smile in smug, but ignorant, condescension.

Meanwhile, earnest Christians continue confessing their sins, looking to God to help them become better human beings, love their enemies and help those in need as Christ commanded, receiving the gifts of peace, joy and abundant life expressly promised by their Lord, forgiving, and then ignoring those who gloatingly point at their failures, realizing that they “know not what they do.” 
Mark Graham 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crusades and Jihad {James Willis}



"Here's a response I've been earnestly working out for myself through research to respond to the comparison of modern day Islamic jihadist terror with so called Christian Crusades, as if this is historical justification for jihad, and 'an eye for an eye'. The comparison simply doesn't work if you consider historical facts for the purposes of justification, but ironically the comparison works for enlightening the flaws of jihad.

The Crusades, there were several, were a bad response to the violence of Muslims upon Christian sojourners traveling to the Holy Land, which was used in part as a pretense by Roman Catholic popes at the time to organize a so called holy war to 'defend the faith' and Jerusalem, also in part as a means of establishing an increase in the economic and military power, and the sphere of political influence of the Roman Catholic popes. The Roman Catholic popes at the time, (there were initially more than one at one time) were struggling for power among themselves and with various emperors and kings to rule both church and state. One can argue the 'chick or the egg' theory as to whether or not the economic, military and political power was needed to organize resistance against the Muslim attackers of Christians and infidels, however, that question is still unsettled to this day and ironically is stimulated by the phenomenon of Islamic jihad.

Although the violence of the Muslims attacking Christians in and on the way to the Holy Land was the original trigger for this corruption in the Roman Catholic church, yet there have been at least two major modern responses to this corruption of note:

1- Martin Luther in the Christian Reformation sought to bring visibility within the church, of the corruption within the Roman Catholic church doctrine and practices of the time, and to separate and preserve both the doctrine and practice of the truth as revealed by God through Jesus Christ. Direct evidence of this can be read in Martin Luther's writings, as well as the words of Christ, and of his witness by John in the Gospel of John. When John writes "in the beginning was the Word", John is referring to that which created the universe according to the Greeks - Logos - becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ but that is not all that was revealed through John. Whereas the Roman Catholic church, in error, teaches that salvation is through Jesus Christ but only through the Roman Catholic church sacraments, in contrast Christians  believe not that God became man or part of man as if descending, but that God through Jesus Christ adopted man into Himself through salvation. Further, in providing propitiation to Himself for our sins through Jesus Christ, God invalidated the need for man to attempt atonement for sins by animal sacrifice or by jihad, as a 'way to God'.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. ( 1 John 2:1 Isaiah 2:1-2 )

2- The United States was founded in part in response to the corruption of church and state known at the time in the Church of England. Although progressive activists would have us believe that the United States consitution  provides for separation of church and state so that church has no influence on state affairs, the founders of the US believed that separation of church and state was the other way round, i.e., that the state has no business regulating and governing the affairs of the church. In this way, men of the church would influence state affairs by being Godly men.

Here's a rough timeline
Muhammad dies 632 AD ->
oldest Quran 790AD, oldest fragments 725AD ->
Hadith (modifies Quran by some, history ongoing) ->
Muslim attacks on Rome and Churches 846, 850, 886-908 AD ->
Crusades 1096-1291AD ->
Martin Luther, reformation 1521 AD ->
United States founding as a nation, 1776 AD->
First Barbary War, Muslim attacks on United States ships with Quran as authority 1801 AD ->
Second Barbary War, Muslim attacks on United States ships with Quran as authority 1815 AD
etc

In contrast to these two corrective measures described above, both the preservation of Christianity apart from the Roman Catholic church (justification is by faith alone, Christ alone, scripture alone, i.e., not dispensed by the Roman Catholic church and sacraments) and the establishment of a Christian nation indivisible, and under God, what we see from those that claim a similarity of current Islamic jihad with the Crusades of the middle ages is simply continued violence upon God's people and other so called infidels. Where is the corrective action on the part of these perpetrators of violence? The corrective action is against those that don't believe in Islam.

Consider, from a global perspective above religion the corrective action of the jihadists appears as backward progress.

However, the perpetrators of jihad would have us believe that their dedication to Allah, intended in part to be atonement on their part for sin and evidence of right living, and to achieve Allah's favor and therefore attainment of paradise, would be gained by their own works for the propitiation of their sin and God's wrath by the sacrifice of Christians and all other so called infidels, like animals at an ancient alter. Only a psychopath will pour gasoline over a captured Jordanian pilot, light him on fire and film him as he screams to death.
Psychopaths that use religion as a cover story are still psychopaths or worse.
Fortunately psychopaths can't ultimately skew the truth of Christ's revelation, only the intentional blindness of the individual to the truth of Christ's revelation will do that, call it voluntary deception.

Further, if someone still claims that the Crusades are justification of Islamic jihad, then they must also acknowledge that the violence perpetrated by Muslims at the founding of Islam hundreds of years before the Crusades, must be owned by the Muslims of today. It works both ways - either human beings make real progress over the mistakes of the past or they will inevitably repeat them.

Instead, Islamic jihad is just one prong of a multi prong attack on diverse cultures different from Islam.
While the news focuses on jihadist terror operations and results, and the filming of captured, tortured, assassinated so called infidels in jihadist videos, the jurisprudence of entire nations are bending under the multicultural pressure of Islamic law fighters that claim, and I paraphrase, "because you offend me, you must change your laws, until they are my laws". This attempt to take over other nations throughout history both through violence and through political change and the resistance of target nations is often veiled in phrases like a "reaction to the expansion of Muslims" or "as a result of the expansion of Islam" to shift the focus to the intolerance of the nation that resists the real goals of jihad from the actors that are trying to bring about change.

Finally, for anyone that compares the Crusades to modern day jihad for justification, note that the comparison brings down the jihadist and the crusader in the argument- both parties used the concept of holy war for the secular purposes of gaining power and influence. Even so, the origin of the Crusades (1096-1291) is based in defensive action albeit with corruption, whereas the origin of jihad is based in offensive action, arguably also with corruption.
James Willis