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Hostility Toward Christians… Until They Are Needed

8-29-11

As we write this, Hurricane Irene is bearing down on Washington, New York, and the Northeast. Some related news items have prompted thoughts, as did last week’s earthquake felt across the same territory, Irene’s path. No doubt we will all be reflecting on the events of 10 years ago whose flash points were in the same areas: airports in Maine and Boston, from which flew planes that crashed in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.

A well-meaning post has been making internet rounds of late. It recounts how the Washington Monument sustained damage from the earthquake; how the aluminum capstone has a Latin phrase praising God; and how an exhibition a few years ago censored and obscured that fact. This much is true.

The post also claims that the Monument, by law, must be the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, which is not true. And that it is at the center of a perfect cross of malls and streets planned by the capital’s architect Pierre L’Enfant. It is not. And the post quotes a prayer by George Washington that proves he was a Christian. The prayer, however, is altered.

There is a lesson that is a good life lesson, whether it about history quizzes or the Gospel of Jesus Christ: you cannot improve on the truth. Exaggeration leads to suspicion. I hold nothing against well-meaning viral messages, but let us read them with discernment.

The U S Capitol, although shorter than the Washington Monument, stands higher because it is on a rise. The National Cathedral and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception are also higher. The District’s regulation is that a building may be no higher than the width, plus 20 feet, of an adjoining street. L’Enfant designed the Mall years before the memorials to Washington and Lincoln; and the obelisk is off “center” anyway because of weak ground under the original site.

And I will skip Washington’s doctored prayer and present his original – which is a powerful enough statement of faith: I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

Changes in the viral message have him addressing “Almighty God” and closing with “Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Those elements need not be snuck in to convince anyone that Washington believed in God and honored Christ.

I am not nit-picking. For believers and patriots to stretch the truth, to “gild the lily,” can obscure more important things we should very well notice… and be upset about. For instance, what the internet message also stated was that there is a capstone on the tip of the Washington Monument, and it contains an inscription in Latin, Laus Deo (Praise God), and that a few years ago an exhibition at the base of the Monument committed two offenses. A display case held a replica, but one side of the glass display case was tight against a wall, making it impossible for visitors to read one of the four inscriptions. Yes: the Laus Deo. The others commemorated the designer, the dedication ceremony, and the US president at the time, Chester Alan Arthur. Coincidence? Well, the captions in the display case likewise censored the Latin phrase and its meaning – no mention at all.

These things originally occurred in 2007, during George Bush’s term. Offenses to the Gospel and America’s Christian heritage continue today, of course – sadly, too many to mention. It is the world-system, not individuals alone, we need to discern. What I mean to say is that our government seems to think that “freedom of religion” really means “freedom from religion.” If you watch the musical video following, you can see what Founding Fathers and Christian patriots through Lincoln’s time thought on the subject.

But I want to highlight a larger offense, a larger issue; and it ties the three “natural disasters” together in another way. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned any religious aspects, spiritual observances, and all prayers from the city’s 9-11 events in a couple weeks. He violates the Constitution, of course, in proscribing freedoms of religion and assembly. In my opinion, on the anniversary of the attacks, he declares victory – he himself becomes the victor – in the war on America’s spiritual heritage, our biblical foundations, and our religious traditions. “The American way of life.” If he is not booed off the speaker’s stand I should wonder about Christian patriots’ ability any more to be outraged.

However, this is not Bloomberg (I should say the world-system that is engulfing us) at the worst. As Hurricane Irene aimed for New York City, the mayor issued a statement listing what measures the city would take… and that he expected “religious organizations” to do their duty also.

This becomes the week when “H” no longer stands for Hurricane, but hypocrisy. And the dictionary should change the term “Fair-Weather Friend” to either “Foul-Weather Friend” or “Fair-Weather Enemy.”

“Acts of God,” so-called, we can handle. May God save us from acts of men in these end times. Laus Deo!

Washington Monument

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Click: Faith of Our Fathers

God Believes in You

8-22-11

I currently am reading Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God – rather overdue on my part – and enjoying his manner of sharing the Gospel with his congregation at Redeemer Church in Manhattan. “Enjoying” is an insufficient description – I am intrigued, challenged, provoked.

The book wastes no pages before listing Keller’s responses to contemporary culture’s main “problems” with what he calls his orthodox Christianity: hewing to scripture, stressing personal salvation, the centrality of Jesus. Many of the questions he confronts are variations of a basic challenge to the existence of God Himself. It is not new; it has been asked by skeptics, non-believers, and anguished doubters throughout history. “How can I believe in a God who…”. The sentences end with questions about “allowing” sickness, “overseeing” brokenness and hatred, “watching Christians kill each other.”

Keller brilliantly parries the arguments of those who claim a better, or “higher,” morality than the Bible’s; and who maintain that the natural state of the universe, and the universe’s inhabitants, can admit to no God of any sort.

I would like to linger a moment at what I feel is a proper response to the traps and trappings of a culture that tries to wash God out of the fabric of society, which is a related topic. Many well-meaning Christians are seduced by the argument that we are so inferior to a Just and All-Powerful God that we must, therefore, feel inferior to an indiscriminate degree, and adopt inferiority in all manners. This attitude is not humility, but error. It can make people insecure about their standing as children of God; it can make them susceptible to arguments for a more “logical” conception of God. And this, after all, is the oldest lie in the Book.

It could be that contemporary culture’s problem is not a faulty belief in God, but a mistaken understanding that He believes in US. Of course I do not mean that He has abdicated His throne. But He believes that we can overcome, we can be more than conquerors, we are citizens of Heaven.

We can know this is true because, when we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, God does not see us any more in our sins. He sees Jesus instead, the Jesus within us.

God does not look upon our dirty rags. He sees the blood shed on the cross, under which we are covered.

God does not dither over our quirks, transgressions, and shortcomings. If we are truly repentant and are born again, He sees the Holy Spirit that lives within us. That is why God sent the Holy Ghost!

When we spiritually see God’s viewpoint aright, we should be embarrassed ever again to do other than to boldly approach the Throne of Grace. Not to presume upon God, but to recognize our status as joints heirs with Christ!

How many Christians spend a lot of the their prayer life (or abandon it altogether!) reminding God over and over and over again of things He has already forgotten! For when we repent in the name of our elder brother Jesus, God has said He will throw our sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness.

Does God believe in US? The plan of salvation, the work of the cross, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, would be wasted if He did not! Strive to be worthy, and claim your inheritance!

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Click: God Believes In You

Giants in Our Land

8-15-11

By Cheryl Hults Meakins

Recently it was reported that an online pedophile pornography community was shut down by the federal government, which also confiscated 123 terabytes of video, roughly equivalent to 16,000 DVDs of atrocities against children. The cancer of pornography has grown for decades and this giant seems much more powerful than Goliath ever was.

1 Samuel 17:4 “A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.”

I have a hard time watching the news every day. There are so many choices we have made in America that grieve my heart, even overwhelm me and paralyze me with fear.

It seems while I was growing up, so was sin on the increase in our culture. I stopped at 5’5” but our sins have grown like a cancer and loom before us like Goliath, mocking us, until we tend to live in fear. Will our children be swiped from our streets? Will a picture snapped on a passing cell phone be plastered on the internet? Must I help my children lose their innocence when warning them of the real “stranger danger?” Is this living in freedom?

Hollywood used to condemn movies with bare bottoms and curse words with R ratings. Now those are rewarded with PG-13 ratings. I remember in the ‘80s being disgusted at the mainline magazines that were boys’ rites of passage to manhood. Even worse is the rise of human trafficking in our own nation that is swiftly becoming more lucrative than drug sales for organized crime.

The giants that seemed so big in the ‘80s are dwarfs compared to the monsters confronting us today. The battles we once had to fight we now see were just the opening skirmishes in wars much bigger, and more deadly.

I look in the face of the giants that believers must fight… and I struggle to keep standing. I am overwhelmed with thoughts, even of children who survive sexual assaults, who grow up with pain their souls have recorded and their minds can barely contain.

I confess: often I become paralyzed; by the size of this giant but even more at the depth of healing needed for those who were forced to become victims.

You see, as long as I look at the face of the giant, I will fear, I will give up fighting, I will lay aside my weapons so my hands can cover my ears and dampen the noise of the helpless souls being ravaged by sin. I grieve that the sin we tolerated in the ‘60s, enjoyed in the ‘70s, humored in the ‘80s, and applauded in the ‘90s, has taken up residence in our midst; and now we know its full dangers.

The Church in America needs to know that there are giants in our land! And facing these giants builds a conflict in our focus. We need to attend to our personal godliness and obedience, but we must also tend to those who cannot fight for themselves.

Lift up your eyes, Church! Look to the hills! Where does our help and hope come from? He is our hope and our help (Psalm 121). His arms outreach the growth of any cancer in our nation. His blood will heal any wound and cover any sin.

Louie Giglio found himself afraid to go to sleep. Night after night he suffered as a cloud of panic or anxiety moved in to his mind. He spent months undergoing medical testing to diagnose his struggle but the turning point towards healing began with a decision he made in the face of his attacking giant. One night, as he was awakened again by this cloud he decided to praise the Lord.

Then he remembered Psalm 63:4 NIV – “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” And in verse 8 “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Out of this desperate meditation came these words:

“Be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy, it is unfailing
His arms a fortress for the weak”

Louie later shared these words with Chris Tomlin and a song of healing was born out of desperate obedience. Meditate on “I lift my hands.” And after you have found your peace, let your faith arise, pick up your swords and find a battleground to fight.

I have found mine!

Today’s Guest Writer:
Cheryl Meakins is an author and speaker who is passionate about women stepping into their callings as healers and warriors. More of her thoughts can be found at: www.MeakinsSpeak.wordpress.com.

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Click: I Lift My Hands

The Mystery of the Wonders You Perform

8-8-11

Life happens. As they say. How do we respond? Sometimes we see through a glass darkly. Sometimes we proceed in blind faith. Sometimes we pray to discern God’s will. Sometimes we meditate upon His Word.

My idea is that God does not always hand us multiple-choice quizzes. Sometimes we can do all these things together. They are not mutually exclusive.

Some of my recent meditations are perfectly reflected in the lyrics of a country song from a few years ago:

The Mystery of the Wonders You Perform

Oh Lord, you know that I’m not one to bother you with little things,
And you and I have never been too close.
But we’ve always been on speaking terms, I’ve watched your way of doing things,
And tried to understand you more than most.

No, I haven’t gone to church the way I ought to,
But I always thought you knew in my own way I worshipped you.
While even your own children doubt, and fail to understand
The simple way you go about the things you do.

I’ve seen the doubt upon the face
Of loved ones, as they sadly placed a wreath of flowers on a tiny grave,
And wondered why a child is brought into the world
To only live a little while and die, you could have saved.

But I believe that in your eyes this little child was something special
And you wanted it to be with you, no doubt;
So with outstretched arms you beckoned, so simple, that I reckoned
They can’t understand the way you worked it out.

Once I saw a young man growing till he neared the age of knowing,
Then I watched as something happened to his mind.
No doctor could correct it, it was just as I suspected,
And I marveled at your way of being kind.

They tried everything in vain, and I was there when they explained
To the family, how he slipped into a trance.
I guess you looked into the future, watched him turn his back upon you,
Loving him so much you couldn’t take the chance!

It took a lot of love to die for sinners such as I,
And I guess that’s why you’ve never given up on me.
You understood when some denied you, even when they crucified you,
Knowing all these things were meant to be.

The stable’s such a simple thing, no wonder there were few who came
To see a king the night that you were born.
And I’d ask one favor if I can, help me to better understand
The mystery of the wonders You perform,

The mystery of the wonders You perform.

Writer: Jerry Chesnut, copyright 1970.

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Please listen to the moving performance, and watch the tender pictures. And meditate.

Click: The Mystery of the Wonders You Perform

A Life-Changing Experience – If You Want to Change Your Life

7-28-11

Back in 2004, I was already the author of a few dozen books, and some experience as a writer of articles and interviews and columns. Now that I start thinking about it, I had done a lot of political cartoons and columns too; essays for journals and liner notes for albums. In between those things, I had been an editor, a publisher, and art director too. And I taught creative writing and ran workshops. Yes, I can keep jobs. But I just love all aspects of writing – communicating. God had blessed me richly.

I received an invitation from a Christian Writer’s Conference to speak and hold workshops. I had just been canned from a job at a Christian publishing house, and I wondered whether I would be appearing under false colors. Well, I thought, maybe I can share with aspiring writers how to cope with being let go. Frankly, I was uncomfortable. But I opened morning devotions – an assignment tossed to me by Director Marlene Bagnull, who always knows what she is doing – and I told the audience that I should let them know I was no longer an editor at that publishing house… that I left on account of sickness… (pause) you see, the boss finally got sick of me.

I don’t know about the audience, but it broke the ice for me. To tell the truth, I was quite all right with my situation, but that didn’t stop dozens and dozens (and dozens) of people that week, coming to me, encouraging me, praying with me – strangers, aspiring amateurs, and idols in my field. It was like family. Christian conferences should be like that… Heaven will be like that… and Marlene Bagnull’s Christian Writer’s Conferences are ALWAYS like that.

That is a personal story. I will now tell you some “business” details that can have a very personal impact on your life.

The next of Marlene’s conferences is the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, on the campus of Philadelphia Biblical University outside Philly, Aug 10-13. Short notice, but not too late, worth the effort to attend! “Write His Answer” is the evergreen theme, and for anyone with creative urges, a struggling career, a passion to communicate; eager to meet famous and accomplished writers, industry professionals including editors, agents, and publishers; or to network with other aspiring writers – this conference will be pure gold.

The guest list includes (among a faculty of almost 60) Cecil Murphey, amazing author or collaborator on more than 100 books including 90 Minutes in Heaven; Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE Magazine; Dan Wooding of the essential ASSIST News Service; Steve Lawson of Regal Publishing, who will hold a seminar on Christian persecution and social justice; and professionals including Craig Bubeck (editor, Wesleyan); Dave Fessenden (editor, CLC Publishing); Hope Flinchbaugh (author and publisher, History Maker press); Jeanette Windle (missionary and author); Tim Shoemaker (author, youth minister); and Becky Spencer (singer, songwriter, author). I will speak on creative peoples’ response and responsibility to a culture in decline. There will also be a day’s program for young writers, a Teens Write track.

Worship… workshops… seminars… classes… devotions… critiques of writing samples… all types of holy synergy. Get thee to the Conference if at all possible! You will profit in uncountable ways… and you don’t even have to show a pink slip to show up and be blessed!

Details are here: http://writehisanswer.com/Philadelphia/

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About The Author

... Rick Marschall is the author of 74 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia magazine called him "perhaps America's foremost authority on popular culture") to history and criticism; country music; television history; biography; and children's books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotionals and magazine articles; he was co-author of "The Secret Revealed" with Dr Jim Garlow. His biography of Johann Sebastian Bach for the “Christian Encounters” series (Thomas Nelson) was released in April, 2011. Read More