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6.30.2005    |    "best seats in the synagogues"
Matthew 23 has some of Jesus' strongest preaching, and you've got to know that this is therefore some of the strongest preaching in all creation. Matthew 23, vv. 2-9 is a warning about hypocrisy and pride. I am perhaps naive, but it seems to me that if a Christian does nothing else, he should at least attempt to follow these teachings of the Lord. And how many of us, myself most certainly included, succeed at this bit of discipleship?

Let's look at the record, as they say:
Matthew 23: 2"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, 3so practice and observe whatever they tell you--but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven
We all know those who don't practice as they preach, and I won't take any cheap shots at the Catholics for having "Father" as a title for their priests. How about those "best seats in the synagogues?" Many churches have little memorials to families who have been members for generations, or who have been particularly generous of their time and treasure. Plaques in memory of, or dedicated to, but almost always with credit being taken by the Smith family, or whoever. Stained glass with built-in panes proclaiming who provided the money for them. Seating that is known to "belong" to particular families, with, at the least, sharp looks and some words to anyone else who deigns to sit in one of the "best seats."

Then there's the dress code, which ranges from none to extreme social pressure to wear suits and ties, even in high summer. Something tells me that Jesus would not really look at what y'all are wearing should he come back and attend our Sunday services.

All of this simply means that it is also as Jesus tells us, that church is not a museum for the saints. It is a hospital for the sinners, which includes all who attend church, as well as all who do not. Matthew 9:
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Think on these verses, and on Jesus' admonitions against pride and hypocrisy, the next time you might find youself seated next to someone who may not smell so good or who isn't dressed in what you might think of as their "Sunday best."

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6.29.2005    |    "ye were strangers"
Fascinating how quick some folks are to cherry-pick a verse from Scripture when it suits them. When a very liberal columnist quotes a verse, watch out, is the usual sound advice. Sometimes, however, they do get it right. Case in point: the instructions the Lord gave to the Hebrews in Exodus Chapters 22 and 23, specifically 23:9:
... thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
This verse was partially quoted by Harold Meyerson in his column today concerning a massive injustice about to be carried out on a family of illegal immigrants. Yes, the Gonzalez family are in the country illegally. At least in the technical sense as having been in violation of U.S. immigration law. The family settled in Jefferson City, Missouri, and has, according to Myerson's column (and other sources I've been able to glean from the media) been both law abiding and productive. Other than immigration law, of course.

Sr. Gonzalez worked as a courier for then-governor Bob Holden in 2002, who fired him when he learned of his illegal status. Despite popular support in their community and from their church, the Gonzalez' are about to be deported back to Costa Rica, that hotbed of jihadis. And this is the nub of the matter, which Myerson correctly identifies without alluding to the source of what would be right, and what is wrong, with this situation.

What is wrong with this situation is that the Gonzalez family is hardly a terrorist threat, which should be what drives our hardness on immigration law. The need to appear to be strong against terrorists is certainly what motivates much of this hardness of heart on the part of politicians and bureaucrats.

The source of how we should deal with strangers in our land is God, who instructed the Hebrews in the first place. God, who, in Exodus 22 and 23 lays down the laws that look, sound, and feel very much like Jesus' second commandment, what we usually call the Golden Rule, and which is very much not being applied to the Gonzalez family: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39). Of course, it would be politically incorrect to make such an attribution in the Washington Post.

Yet that is why, in this instance, the law might have been broken, but a higher law should negate the man-made law. Surely we can find a way to temper the iron-clad meaning of the law with mercy? The problem becomes one of having the ability to stand up and proclaim that this family, though they broke the law, have otherwise demonstrated that they should be allowed to stay, and, in fact, welcomed into our American family.

Yes, yes, I know. Can't show favoritism, and if we allow one family from Costa Rica to stay, how do we turn down a family from Saudi Arabia or Egypt? Simple, really. Change the law to allow judgments to be made on a case by case basis for families and for minor children, and allow waivers for certain specified periods of time (say, 10 years minimum) with exemplary behavior. And by all means, look into families from places known to be sources of jihad with much, much, greater scrutiny. Yes, that would be profiling, and it would be the exact right thing to do.

Now, it's possible that the inner workings of immigration law do allow for this, and there are parts of the Gonzalez family story that are hidden and dark. It's possible. Most likely, however, is that it has become the politically correct thing to show a hard face against illegal immigrants, regardless of the circumstances. It is for certain that Missouri's senators have chosen not to take a stand, although Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) did go to bat for the family with Homeland Security -- and was rebuffed by them.

Deporting the Gonzalez family may be the correct reading of the law. But it is not the correct reading of God's law. God will always temper His justice with mercy. It is a lesson that we forget at our peril.

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6.28.2005    |    "clear wall of separation"
According to the New York Times, yesterday's split (and hair-splitting) decisions demonstrated the virtue of the founders, who, according to the Gray Lady,
came up with the idea of a clear wall of separationbetween church and state, [and] had it right.
This would likely come as a shock to the actual founders, as opposed to the liberal elite's 21st century mescaline-fueled dream of what it should have been. The founders, almost to a man, were men of rock-ribbed Christian faith who knew the King James Bible backwards and forwards. Even that most famous of exceptions, Thomas Jefferson, alleged to have been a deist, usually attended Christian services and showed the Scriptures enough respect to try to rewrite them.

Whatever TJ may have believed in his heart of hearts, he clearly had no problem with acknowledging that the nascent United States was a Christian nation, with religious tolerance for all at the Federal level (more on this below), and, accordingly, with no particular sect receiving favor, official sanction, or official funding. This is the essence of the religion component of First Amendment, which, in its glorious simplicity is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
The simple object by those who wrote those words was not to prohibit displays of the King James version of the Ten Commandments; it was to prevent those pesky Anglicans (or Congregationalists or Baptists or...fill in any denomination you care to name) from doing what the Mother Church in England had done -- make itself an integral part of the government as the established, official church. And, in turn, be supported by the taxes levied on all.

Then there is the Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Which should give us pause if we consider that the founders, most certainly did not have the view that one size fits all as regards the alleged "clear wall of separation." In different words, those of us who still believe in a vestige of state's rights know that at the time the First Amendment was enacted, it was applied strictly as written: "Congress shall make no law..." As in the Federal Congress. States were left to do as their legislatures saw fit, and some states at the time came close to having established religions. More importantly, some states also at the time banned members of certain faiths, such as Roman Catholicism, from holding state office.

It seems there is only one Justice who still shares this vision, at least partly, and that is Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas has all the right enemies, as the Washington Post's editorial states that his suggestion that the First Amendment's establishment clause does not apply to state governments is "radical."

What is actually radical in the year of our Lord 2005 (hope the ACLU doesn't sue me for that) is the notion that the founders were somehow against the idea of religion as an integral part of the national life. In private, all choices in the matter of faith (assuming those choices didn't include sedition or murder and mayhem...oh, those would be some of our dear Islamic brethren, wouldn't it...how very politically incorrect, John Luke) to be accepted. In public, all displays of religious content to be at the discretion of each jurisdiction.

Do Muslims or Hindus or atheists object the Ten Commandments? Too bad. Welcome to America. If you like it here, first understand who we are, and you are welcome to join us once you accept this...or leave. We are a Judeo-Christian nation, and such displays are merely part of how we were founded as a nation. King James Version if possible; others are acceptable. We've no established church here in America.
6.27.2005    |    "God Bless America!"
This morning on my walkabout, I noticed what has become a fairly common adornment to cars and trucks -- a front license plate or rear sticker that proudly proclaims, "God Bless America!" Sometimes with no less than three exclamation marks. Those who display such, I am certain, mean no harm nor disrespect to God -- though such a declaration could interpreted as us commanding God as to how He should dispense with His blessings.

I was taught, by some fairly humble people, that it was never wise to issue commands to He Who Is. You never could tell; sometimes He's not really open to being told what to do by one of His creations. Best to be subtle, engage the Lord in conversation, and let slip, very softly, what it is you'd like for Him to do.

Word is, at least in the Word, the He is mighty patient with us. Lord knows He's told us enough through His prophets what He expects. And, more importantly, what it takes to withhold His blessings. Consider but one example, from the prophet Ezekiel (chapter 14):
6"Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 7For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the LORD will answer him myself. 8And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
Getting back now to that "God Bless America!" business. I presume, in charity, that what is meant by some who display this is "May America be deserving of God's blessings." To which I say, Amen. I suspect, however, that most who display the sentiment "God Bless America!" are convinced that America, qua America, must be blessed by God; is in fact so blessed, and nothing more need be said. Or done.

It is hard not to believe that America has been blessed, especially if you've seen something of how the rest of the world lives. Blessed, at the least, with material abundance the likes of which have been unknown throughout recorded history. As those who study the history of religion in America must know, many Puritans considered America to be the new Israel, and thus was born, in the 17th century, the notion of Americans as the new chosen people of God. It is not much of a stretch, and in fact is eerily consistent with the exemplary passage from Ezekiel cited above to think how far we have strayed from what is required of a people chosen by God. Chosen, not to receive rewards in this life, but to carry the torch of the One True God to the rest of mankind. If we are rewarded for being faithful, that is hardly a bad thing. But it is neither the only thing, nor even the principal thing. It is the result of bearing true witness to God; not the other way around.

Right after the heinous attacks on 9-11, Jerry Falwell (in)famously partly blamed Americans themselves, saying that God might have allowed the attacks because of our moral decay; that we should repent before God and seek His protection. Pat Robertson agreed; both were roundly condemned by virtually everybody.

Yet, is it not possible that Americans, having been blessed with so much, have lost sight of the fact that we all need to renew our blessings with God, day in, day out. That if we are, truly, a people chosen by God, we weren't chosen to enjoy triple lattes and watch American Idol. And it follows, as surely as night follows day, that if we continue to wallow in the debased, foul stew that is our "culture", sooner or later we will cease to be a people chosen by God. Should you have any doubts as to what happens when a people who had been chosen stray, I refer you to my brother Ezekiel, and my brother Amos, and my brother Isaiah, and I think you get the point.

God bless America, if and only if America glorifies God.

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6.26.2005    |    "keep it holy"
The Big Guy His Own Self tells us, in no uncertain terms, to keep the Sabbath day holy. This is the news flash from Mt. Sinai, as recorded in Exodus 20:
8"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Seems rather straightforward, doesn't it? Oh, you say, how do I survive the other six days of the week if I don't go out to buy things on the Sabbath? After all, I don't really have time while I'm working, and, on Saturday, well, the kids have soccer, baseball, and I'm just sooo tired.

Then there are those who breezily remind us that Jesus had fulfilled the Mosaic Law, thereby freeing us from those pesky commandments. At least the allegedly slavish adherance to the letter of the Law while ignoring its spirit. My take on the Sabbath is conflicted, and since I am weak, I pursue all sorts of things that might not be considered "holy." Typically things like grocery shopping, going out for a brunch after church with my wife, that sort of thing. According to the old school preachers, I should spend eight hours in church, followed by another four hours of Bible study, followed by quiet prayer and then to bed, fully fortified to face the evils of the outside (non-church, non-Bible-fearing) world.

Well, I said I was weak. I don't do these things, but, as I've learned, all things in moderation. What, you can't mean that. How can one ever get enough of the Bible? Well, I say that, among other things, God tells us to go forth and take dominion over the earth, to multiply, and do some good while we're about it.

In short, to live a balanced life, anchored in Scripture and focused on His Son, and driven by His grace. To bring Scripture and the Son and God into our everyday lives, Sabbath included, but also Monday through Saturday. To remain in the isolation chamber of church, reading only Scripture, is to become a "bubble boy", as in one so afraid of the world's diseases that one loses immunity to those ills.

I make zero claims to live a life that anyone should consider holy. I make full claim to seeking a balance and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, always, always giving thanks and praise to Him no matter what I happen to be doing.

And to seek His forgiveness when I stray. Which is often enough.

Blessings on all this Sabbath day.

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6.25.2005    |    Liberals are so much fun...
...when they're not imposing their Fluffy Bunny faith on the rest of us. It seems that David Obey, a doctrinaire liberal from Wisconsin, has weighed in on the alleged atmosphere of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy. And, as surely as night follows day, a doctrinaire liberal columnist, E.J. Dionne, has weighed in today in Obey's support.

Let us be clear -- religious bigotry, as has been alleged to have surfaced at the Academy, has no place in the world. Evangelism most certainly does. Dionne, and Obey, as far-left Catholics, may be excused for not understanding that all Christians are told, directly by our Savior, to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mt 28:19). It's been said that many Catholics neither read nor understand Scripture, leaving that to their priests. The Catholics I've known give the lie to this. However, it's for certain that these two, Dionne and Obey, don't quite understand the nature of Jesus' command to all Christians, or they perhaps wouldn't raise quite the fuss about Christians doing what Christians are supposed to be doing.

As for Obey, he claims to be Catholic, but will not follow core Catholic teachings on the value of unborn life. Dionne makes this sound like this is being a good Catholic, and paints those in the Catholic hierarchy who have a firmer grasp on the Gospel of life than Obey does as being "hard-line."

Well, Fluffy Bunnies like Dionne and Obey may be surprised at this, but Jesus was himself quite hard-line on morality and on respect for God's gift of life. Bishops who wish to enforce this, within the confines of the Roman Church, aren't "hard-line" so much as faithful to the message of Christ.

Nevertheless, Obey claims that his bishop "did not have the right to 'dictate how I vote on any public matter.'" Making it sound like the bishop, and by extension, the Catholic hierarchy from the Pope down to the village priest, has a position on the Environmental Protection Agency's budget. As well they might, but that's not at issue. The "public matter" at hand in the right for the unborn to be born. This is, in fact, a public matter. But it is first a moral matter, in which one's faith must inform Obey, or any other lawmaker, on how they should vote. Another word for this is "conscience."

Which Obey, and presumably Dionne, would prefer not ever be consistent with the message of Christ -- should that message somehow conflict with Obey's re-election prospects or his standing within the pro-death Democratic Party. Or, as Dionne so adroitly puts it,
Obey struggles to balance the demands of his faith with the obligations of pluralism -- and for this, he receives few rewards.
Sweet phrase, that: "obligations of pluralism." Shorthand for, if some Muslims, atheists, or others object to any of the teachings of Holy Mother Church, too bad, Mom -- gotta uphold that "pluralism." This is not just weak Christianity; it is weak morals. It sacrifices that which the believer holds dear, that which is ground truth, for the vagaries of the poll.

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6.23.2005    |    Let your light shine
Jesus Christ instructs us to "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Hence, evangelicals going wherever the Spirit leads them, to "baptise all the nations." Doing good works, and planting churches.

Some of the Christians already on the ground resent some of this in Iraq, where we are told, in a front page story no less in the Washington Post, that "Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq -- Newcomers Raise Worry Among Traditional Church Leaders." The "traditional church leaders" especially include those of the Chaldean and Roman Catholic churches in Iraq. Churches who long ago made their Devil's pact with Saddam and were allowed to keep their privileges in a majority Muslim nation.

Christians have apparently been departing Iraq for decades, and for obvious and good reasons. The famous intolerance of Islam for any other faith for starters. The brutish, unchristian nastiness of the Saddam regime right behind. Well, Saddam is gone, Iraq has been liberated by many thousands of Western Christians who actually believe that people should be free to worship as their conscience dictates. Hence the rise, modest, perhaps, of truly evangelical Christian churches.

Whatever else one might believe about cultural ghetto churches such as the Chaldeans and Roman Catholics in Iraq, they are not evangelical in the sense of going out and baptizing all the nations. They are more about their comfortable tribal worship, in the local language, with liturgies specific to Iraq. Are they Christian? I can't really say one way or the other, as I don't know what's in their hearts. As institutions, however, they most certainly fail to honor Paul's injunction to the Galatians (3:28) that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

And any Christian should welcome, with open arms, evangelicals who actually proselytize. But, no, of course they do not. After all, the new evangelical churches might draw some of their members away:
Sleiman charged that the new churches were sowing "a new division" among Christians because "churches here mean a big community with tradition, language and culture, not simply a building with some people worshiping. If you want to help Christians here, help through the churches [already] here."
Welcome to the new world of Christianity in Iraq, Mr. Sleiman -- we are all one in Christ Jesus, even if some of us don't act on this truth.

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6.21.2005    |    Knowledge and Power
It is often said that "knowledge is power." The most perfect knowledge is that of the revelation of God, which is the basic subject for all of Scripture. Mere words, you say? Well, as John reminds us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". Think on this: the Word was God.

This is a very Hebraic concept, acknowledging that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word -- the Word incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ; the words of the Bible, transcribed by men empowered and informed by His Spirit.

The Jewish kabbalists had put forward the notion that God, when He created the universe, first created the Hebrew alphabet to build it with, and that "mere" words in Hebrew have immense power beyond the concepts they may convey. John the Evangelist was, among other things, a Jew, and, to judge from his writings, would have been right at home among the kabbalists who came some 1,000 years later. I don't know how handicapped John may have felt to be writing in Greek, as opposed to Hebrew, but among his purposes was to acquaint all, Jew and Gentile, with the Word made flesh.

John's gospel, and his Book of Revelation, should remind those of us hung up on the literal meaning of words, that words can have power far beyond the mere arrangement of letters on a printed page. Knowledge is power? Yes; true as far as it goes. But the greatest power is that which God gives us in the Word. With a capital W.

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6.20.2005    |    Red Meat for Christians
Think ye be a Christian? Think it's easy? Think again; read "The Gospel According to Jesus" at audienceONE.

If you dare.

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   |    Baptists, Beer, and Guilt
I ended the Lord's Day yesterday with a prayer over my Black 'n Tan: Dear God, creator of the universe, how is it you took the time to grant us a drink of such beauty and taste as the mixture of stout and lager? We are unworthy of such a beverage.

And therein lies a tale. I am not a drinker to excess, unless one defines "excess" to mean "ever" having a drink. I'm usually lucky to reach a total of three beers and a single dram of whisky a week (except on vacation, but that's vacation, when we all need to loosen up...). But here's the thing about drinking on the Sabbath: I felt the slightest twinge of guilt for such heathenish enjoyment of the fruit of the hops.

Then I thought yet again: I did, after, all, use the occasion of having a single beer to give thanks to the One who made that beer possible. Being a Puritan, Baptist-division, however, does have its baggage. And that baggage includes Guilt, with a capital "G." "Have fun, fellas, but not too much." And most definitely regret having it.

Me, I chalk up my enjoyment of beer, along with my enjoyment of many other wordly things, to my sinful nature. Since I also preach against the evils of gambling (I do not gamble), I also feel guilty about being a certain kind of hypocrite, at least in the eyes of certain secular family members who will go nameless in order to protect their feelings. How can you preach against one kind of sin, gambling, yet wax lyrical about the qualities of a good single-malt Scotch?

Guilty as charged. Aye, there's that G-word again. Best I can say in my defence is that if an indulgence is a product of God's creation, as against the creation of men, then it's acceptable in moderation. Beer and whisky, in moderation, are most definitely a product of God's creation. Gambling, in which there is nothing intrinsic involved, is purely the creation of sinful man.
Let's try a different tack. Jesus most certainly drank wine when He was reclining at table, as they say. It would have been the beverage of choice in the Middle East in the First Century, and, with apologies to my misled Baptist and Methodist brothers and sisters, the cup offered by Jesus at the Last Supper for certain wasn't grape juice.

In stark contrast, we have heathen Romans gambling over His garments, in fulfillment of prophecy, but think on what side of morality those gamblers sat: Matthew 27:35 -- And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Finally, I always have the repentance dodge: when I sin, which is often, I always repent of that sin. It's a good thing that Jesus is full of mercy and pity, and will take me as I am. Assuming that God has chosen me and caused me to choose Jesus as my savior. At least that is my hope, and prayer.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my occasional drink, thanking the Creator each and every time. And then wondering if God really is the Author of the drink, or was it Satan...

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6.19.2005    |    God's Wrath on Unrighteousness
That's me, and thee, brethren. No one is excused; no one is righteous unless they are redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ. This is Paul's message to the Romans. Paul is quite clear on what he condemns; there is quite the laundry list of sins of commission and omission.

Now the scoffer might turn around and blame God Himself for this state of affairs. He, after all, made us in His image...and what a vile, distorted image we've made of it. From Romans Chapter 1:
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
What Paul is saying, in simpler terms, is that we are idolators. We worship the product of our own hands; we become technically competent and think we are creating things, just as God did and does.

No. We are just moving the building blocks of God's creation around, and thinking ourselves so grand, so great. We award ourselves Nobel prizes, we award ourselves great riches, and think it to be progress. All we are doing is giddily greasing the skids of the slide into Hell.

Do not misunderstand, brethren. I am all in favor of improving the lot of our fellow man, and there's much to said for eradicating disease and hunger. Which, to a certain extent, we've done. Yet there it remains, our unrighteousness, as manifested in things great and small. It amounts to our rejection of God and His Son.

There will be judgment at the Throne; in the here and now we can simply admonish. I'm moved to wish that we would repent of our idolatry and think always of God and His Son and His Spirit as we go about all of our works. In the words of the Jesuit motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam...For the greater glory of God. May all of our works be dedicated to this.

Stated differently, let us always remember Who is really in charge.

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6.18.2005    |    Anti-Semitism...
Or just plain stupidity? There was a gathering of anti-war Democrats who held a mock impeachment hearing (do they have impeach-Clinton-envy?). In a story reporting this lovely event, the normally anti-Bush Dana Milbank's story has the headline "Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War." Thereby belittling the entire klavern. Ooh, can I use the word klavern to describe a meeting of loony lefties?

Yet this was not just another self-righteous gathering of the pure and holy who have opposed the war in Iraq, about which sincere Christians and others may differ strongly. This was an opportunity for some folks to demonstrate that, no matter what the issue, it's those pesky Jews (often pronounced "Jooooos") who are at the root of all evil. Consider this extract from the normally friendly-to-liberals Milbank's article:
The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."
Moran, sadly, represents the district in which I live in Virginia. He is most assuredly not a Virginian in temperment nor politics; more the left-leaning Boston Black Irishman that he is; a Kennedy toady, and a reliably anti-Israel voice in the Congress.

What, John Luke, surely you don't accuse those who are anti-Israel with being anti-Semitic? No, not precisely. However, McGovern, and Moran, and many others on the rabid left use "neocon" as barely disguised code for "kike." Likewise, only a fool would think that we went to war simply to aid Israel. Does it help Israel that there's no longer a homicidal maniac in charge of a major nation that is in close proximity to Israel? Yes. It also helps Jordan. It also helps Kuwait. It also helps Iran. But mostly, it helps the long-oppressed Kurds and Shiites of Iraq.

What fools such as Moran and others at the klavern can't abide is the fact that we toppled one of the left's favorite dictators. And why, you may ask, was Saddam a fav? Simply because he had become a thorn in the side of Uncle Sam, and hatred of America is the first and often last reason these idiots need.

Again, serious people may dispute, pro or con, that our war to liberate the people of Iraq was either wise or necessary. But these were not serious people. How do we know they lacked gravity? Simple. Rather than debate the real issues, they played the Jewish card: The war helps Israel; therefore it is bad.

If any of them were Bible-believers, perhaps they should read Psalm 121:4, and reflect on whether getting rid of a threat to Israel was a good, or a bad thing:
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Saddam sure isn't keeping Israel, or any other nation, these days. I hope he sleeps well before he is brought to justice, and then before the Throne for his final descent.

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6.17.2005    |    Snarky on emergent
One of the things I truly despise is when people provide a fog of words to conceal that they've no idea what they're talking about. I've done it a time or two when I didn't know what in blazes I was writing or talking on. I think I can recognize it when I see it.

Emergent-us has a whopper; a veritable fog-generator in the guise of an over-long post entitled, simply enough, "Our Response to Critics of Emergent." The post is here; and this may be totally unfair on my part, since I've not read the entire thing. Truth is, I could'nt...fell asleep along about the third paragraph, and in my daydreaming state, I recalled the ancient bullsh*****'s wisdom: If you don't know what you're talking about, use more words. Let's just say that there's a lot of "I'm ok - you're ok" stuff, very much a part of the relativistic creed of the postmodern "church."

Just saying. The contrast with any Bible-based denomination could not be stronger. You can say in very few words what you believe; you don't need volumes or to turn up the volume to be heard.

Think Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and, last but certainly not least, Soli Deo Gloria. That's a grand total of 11 words. And we're done. The emergent folks are just getting warmed up with many times that number.

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6.16.2005    |    In 2008, Will It Be Mormon in America?
This is the title of a generally complimentary article in the June 6, 2005 Weekly Standard on the man who appears to already be the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Mitt Romney of...drum roll, maestro...the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts. Even the Dark Prince, Bob Novak, has noticed, and commented on Gov. Romney's Mormon faith in his column today. With his usual succinctness, Mr. Novak notes that
Behind the scenes, Republican politicians ask each other the same question that went unanswered when George Romney sought the 1968 nomination: Can a Mormon be elected president of the United States? Nobody talks about it, as Mitt Romney meticulously prepares the field for 2008, but that potential bias is his one great liability as a presidential candidate.
Novak sees Romney's faith as a "great liability"; the Weekly Standard recalls polling data from 1999 "suggesting that 17 percent of Americans wouldn't vote for a Mormon for president under any circumstances." The Standard, as is typical, also provides an indepth profile of Romney that demonstrates why even this cranky old Reformed Christian could vote for a Mormon: because Mitt Romney is pro-life, pro-family, pro-faith.

Yes, yes, I just got through saying, in my last post, shame on those who substitute sincerity for belief in the one and only truth of Jesus Christ. And, Lord knows, the Mormons have perverted (not too strong a word) the Good News of God's Incarnation. They remain a cult, not a Christian faith. So how can a Christian vote for a Mormon?

Simple. We are not electing a Pope. We are not choosing a state religion; First Amendment and all of that. Anyone who thinks that a Mormon would, somehow, subvert our Constitution has perhaps not been paying close attention to how Mormons actually live their lives in the public square. They are Americans, and have been too often on the receiving end of religious hatred to dish it out themselves.

We can hope to elect a man who loves life and knows that God is the Author of our liberty. Mitt Romney fills that bill, even if his precise notions of God are strange and foreign to us -- those notions have clearly not much affected his sterling performance as Governor. Very little else would seem to matter in our democracy.

So, should it come to Mitt Romney up against a typical pro-choice (i.e., pro-death) liberal Democrat, remember, we're not voting on who runs the Kingdom of God. That's already been determined, and there was only one Candidate.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.