Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Nazis and the Holocaust: Deja-vu. A Review of Defying ISIS

How can a book be both an easy and a difficult read? It can be easy to read when the author is Johnnie Moore and the writing style and size of the volume (a mere 155 pages) are reader friendly. The subject matter, however, makes it difficult to read. What you are hearing in the headlines, reading in your newspapers or online are a mere fraction of what is actually going on.

Moore’s book, Defying Isis, is a call for the Western Church and Western society as a whole, to wake up to what is happening in the Middle East. His argument is presented in three parts: What ISIS is Doing, Why ISIS Matters to You and What We Are Losing. Clearly, we are horrified by the accounts that do make the news but our sense in the Western world that it matters enough to really do something is just not there.

In What ISIS is Doing, Moore gives accounts of atrocities. While including some that you have heard, he also includes personal accounts of terror that devastates and faith that inspires. Read first-hand accounts of those in refugee camps who fled with the clothes on their backs and not much more.

Why ISIS Matters to You, dives into why the West, particularly Christians, should care. First, these are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. Also, a humanitarian disaster and genocide is taking place. Beyond that, as you have read in the headlines, ISIS inspired terrorists are both leaving Western countries, including the U.S., and committing terror in Western countries in the name of ISIS.

As to What We Are Losing, Moore goes into the history of the region. From biblical history through the early days of Christianity, this region is part of our rich heritage and ISIS is seeking to wipe it out by killing and chasing off Christians and other minorities and the plundering and destruction of holy sites and artifacts.

What motivates me the most from the book is the first section. I am convinced that we are witnessing a modern day Holocaust committed by today’s version of the Nazis. Just as then, the world watches and does nothing or little as the body count mounts; as ISIS expands into Libya, Africa, Asia and on and on; even though waiting risks the threat growing ever greater and more difficult and costly to defeat; and even though evidence is growing that an ISIS Pearl Harbor may be only a matter of when, not if.

Moore makes the case that the cost to confront ISIS will be great. However, not to do so or to do so inadequately will only make the cost of eradicating the threat all the greater. This book is a trumpet call to warn of the danger already here and to marshal the will necessary to remove this evil.

As an evangelical, there are statements that he makes that are uncomfortable. We evangelicals are amazed at the faith of our Eastern brothers and have had to reassess our understanding of them in light of their bravery and fortitude. Surely, we have much to learn from them. I highly recommend this book, most especially the first and second sections.

Note: I have an additional copy to give away so leave a comment for a chance to get it for free from Beacon2Light.

Bonus points if you can tell Amazon (honestly) my review was helpful to you
(let me know in your comment in this blog post that you also told Amazon it was helpful)

I received a complimentary copy of Defying ISIS in exchange for an honest review from Allen Media Strategies.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Help and Hope in Light of the Supreme Court Decision to Declare Gay Marriage a Right Under the 14th Amendment

(Note: I don't agree with the link of the Church to the New Jerusalem in Revelation but agree with the rest of what Brother Moore said. I believe the New Jerusalem is a literal entity that will descend from heaven and inhabit space on the New Earth as described in Revelation, not to be spiritualized as the Church)

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

(includes dissents)

A note from me to the general population, especially those who support and celebrate what the Supreme Court has done

When the Supreme Court overturns the will of the people expressed in majorities of voters in various states (esp. by a slim majority), it shouldn't be cause for rejoicing.

If the people in those states were wrong, it is a shame and stain on our people that the court had to side with right against them.

If the people were right, what a tragedy that so few could so powerfully reject the popular consensus in those states and exercise an elite decision that jams wrong down their throats.

So there's nothing to celebrate. The nation remains divided as 5 people awarded millions a great victory while giving other millions a crushing defeat.

A divided America is not something to celebrate but to mourn and the only way to begin to heal those wounds is one civil conversation after another, one on one, continuing the process 5 unelected elites sought to end.

Some helpful links for Christians in light of the decision:

Prayer, Not Despair
by Max Lucado • June 26

Excerpt: Our society seemed to take a seismic shift today. The decision of the SCOTUS regarding same-sex marriage has the potential to leave many Christians anxious and troubled. While those of us who hold to traditional marriage have a right to be concerned, we have no need to despair. What we need is a good dose of this Scripture:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Ph. 4:6,7)

Understanding Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of same-sex marriage makes the understanding of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as important as ever. What does the Bible say? How should we respond to those who challenge or disagree with us? What should we teach our children?

FamilyLife is here to provide you with the resources and tools you need to answer these tough questions. You can tune into FamilyLife Today® on Monday to hear Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine respond to the ruling, and we invite you to read through some of our most popular articles on the topic.
(note: I would disagree on his statement of the new covenant age but see instead the Church age which will end with the coming of our Lord and the beginning of the Tribulation.  The new covenant will not be fully realized until Christ puts all enemies under His feet)

So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity
by Dr. John Piper June 26, 2015

Excerpt:  Jesus died so that heterosexual and homosexual sinners might be saved. Jesus created sexuality, and has a clear will for how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy.

His will is that a man might leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6–9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification, symbolic representation, sensual jubilation, or fruitful procreation.

For those who have forsaken God’s path of sexual fulfillment, and walked into homosexual intercourse or heterosexual extramarital fornication or adultery, Jesus offers astonishing mercy.

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

But today this salvation from sinful sexual acts was not embraced. Instead there was massive institutionalization of sin.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

The Bible is not silent about such decisions. Alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24–27) stands the indictment of the approval and institutionalization of it. Though people know intuitively that homosexual acts (along with gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness) are sin, “they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:29–32). “I tell you even with tears, that many glory in their shame” (Philippians 3:18–19).

This is what the highest court in our land did today — knowing these deeds are wrong, “yet approving those who practice them.”

My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. That brokenness has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man. (And there is a great distinction between the orientation and the act — just like there is a great difference between my orientation to pride and the act of boasting.)

What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.

My main reason for writing is not to mount a political counter-assault. I don’t think that is the calling of the church as such. My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.

Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery: “Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).

And on top of sin’s self-destructive power comes, eventually, the final wrath of God: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).

Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions — they are all troubled because of our sins.

The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

This Bill Would Stop Obama Administration From Punishing People Who Stand Up for Marriage

Ryan T. Anderson / Roger Severino / June 17, 2015

Excerpt: In April, members of the Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the federal government’s top lawyer, if the administration could strip religious schools that believe marriage is the union of husband and wife of their tax-exempt status should the Court redefine marriage. Verrilli responded by saying “[i]t’s certainly going to be an issue.”

Congress took the administration at its word and today introduced the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) to guarantee such a scenario never becomes “an issue.”

This bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is good policy in part because it is so simple. It says that the federal government cannot discriminate against people and institutions that speak and act according to their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. That’s it in a nutshell.

President Obama should support the First Amendment Defense Act given his previous stand in favor of male-female marriage, made as late as 2012, and his more recent remarks: “On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.”

Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting
I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.
By Heather Barwick, MARCH 17, 2015

5 Things Jesus Says to the Gay Community
1. I love you

2. I understand rejection

3. I also was tempted

4. I want more for you

5. I will be here for you

(open the link to read the details)

PA newspaper BANS letters/op-eds supporting marriage between husband/wifeJUNE 26, 2015
By: Dan Bartkowiak

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage May Mark the End of the Republican Party as We Know It, Yet Take Heart Christians, God is Still Sovereign

Supreme Court Sees a Constitutional Right to Gay Marriage

This may be the end of the Republican party as we know it. One of the reasons that conservatives have been given to vote Republican is so that conservative values and the view of a literal interpretation of the Constitution may be protected with the advancement of like-minded Supreme Court judges nominated to the bench by Republican presidents.

However, decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage have won the day because of Republican nominated Supreme Court justices joining their liberal fellows on the bench. This argument for voting Republican, in my opinion, is now dead.

A consequence of this may be the 2016 election and perhaps even a few more to come until some new paradigm takes shape or a liberal candidate or president self-destructs.

Pray that this doesn't mean the beginning of persecution over what is presented as gay rights. Pray that churches, individuals and non-profits may continue to exercise freedom of religion in respectful, civil and sacred (biblical) opposition to gay marriage and a determination to maintain that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

And again, I predict, now that this decision has been made, that Facebook will end the accounts of those who have a contrary opinion on LGBT issues. Google may as well.  It may not happen today or even this year but it is coming. I'm not a prophet but this is the way liberals have chosen to address the differences: silence or shout down the opposition. I thank God for liberals who are true to the name and what it means, showing true tolerance to divergent views. 

It is my hope and prayer that those on the other side of this issue will look up health statistics on the LGBT community vs. the general public.  Do that and then ask what is a loving response to what you see.  Remember, Jesus came to save sinners and I am one of them that has been redeemed; not because I am better than others but because God seeks the lost and to heal the sin sick.  Will you come to Him? We are called to take up our cross and follow Him but the things we lose are nothing compared to the things we gain.

Christians, remember, this world is not our home. All those who seek to live godly in Christ Jesus, the Scripture predicts, WILL suffer persecution. But God is still sovereign and reigns above all. Some day, there will be a new Creation where righteousness will reign and no longer will people call evil good and good evil. Even so, come Lord Jesus! And in the meantime, O Lord, help us to be faithful no matter what the consequence.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Persecuted Church: Sudan Punishes Pastors for American Advocacy; Asia Bibi's Health Failing While Imprisoned for Faith; Pastor Abedini Has Marked His 1,000th Day in Iranian Prison, ISIS Terrifies but Jesus Sustains

Sudan Punishes Imprisoned Pastors After American Advocacy

Pakistan (MNN) — Her story reads like a conspiracy theory novel. The main character is a 50-year-old woman, falsely accused. She languishes in jail for six years, charged and convicted of a federal crime with no evidence, and no recourse.

The problem is: it’s not fiction. It’s Asia Bibi’s story. Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International says the mother of five was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. Voice of the Martyrs USA recounts the early part of the case:

On June 19, 2009 there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive. “Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins…. Our Christ is alive.”

That led to a beating and a blasphemy accusation. In November 2010, Bibi was convicted under the blasphemy penal code, and sentenced to death. An appeal has been filed with the Supreme Court, but there’s no word on how soon the case will be heard.

By: John Stonestreet|Published: June 24, 2015 8:00 AM

It was at Wheaton College that the young Betty met a man named Jim Elliot. From their shared passion for taking the Gospel to those who had never heard, the couple decided to go to eastern Ecuador as missionaries, part of a team of five young families. Their objective was to share the Christian story with a violent, isolated Auca tribe.

And the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, impacted millions, challenged churches, and propelled the missions movement. The five men—Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Peter Fleming, Nate Saint, and Ed McCully—were slaughtered in 1956 on a lonely jungle landing strip by members of the tribe.The story and photos, told compellingly in Life magazine, galvanized a generation.

But Elliot stayed in Ecuador, and after meeting two Auca women who lived with her for a year, made the decision to go live with the tribe that had murdered her husband and his friends. She and her daughter stayed for two years, and many came to Christ. Others have since continued to work with the tribe, and most of them now follow Christ. And ministry continued for Elisabeth Elliot, who made a lasting mark through writing and speaking.

Starting on p. 10, here is the Life magazine story that told details of the heartbreaking story:

Elisabeth Elliot's Amazon Page