Saturday, December 27, 2008

How many Kassams does it take to wake a sleeping dog?

The world is shocked and outraged at the so-called "excessive" show of force by Israel as its airforce struck Gaza city inflicting close to 300 casualties. Hamas is saying that this will lead to all out war.

But wait, let's back up a bit.

Since 2005, over 7,000 Kassam rockets have been fired into Israel, all targeting civilians. This year has seen 3,000 rockets and mortars fired into Israel. Just a week ago, the truce between Hamas and Israel expired. Without provocation, Hamas launched another 200 attacks against the civilian population of Southern Israel. None of this produced any outrage or made front page news around the world. One might be forgiven for thinking that the lack of response to date by either Israel or the world has encouraged Hamas to continue its war against Israel as if it were within its given rights.

Today that changed. Or, did it?

Israel will certainly be villified again, called upon to restrain the use of its superior military force so peace talks can "resume". By now, one would think that the Israelis would have learnt that in a world that openly questions its right to exist, it will seldom find support for even its most limited military responses to Hamas, an organisation committed to Israel's destruction.

The other problem of course is that the Palestinians know how to spin a war. They know that the world will never suffer them to be pounded into submission by the Israelis, and that by taunting Israel into another skirmish the outcome will be an increase in anti-Semitic attacks around the globe. The repeated images shown of bombed buildings burning in Gaza and Palestinian mothers crying over their sons make for high TV news ratings, and low public opinion of Israel. But, when was the last time you saw a picture on the evening news of a building on fire in Sderot after it was hit by a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza? Or a Jewish mother crying for her child whose life has just been lost in the attack? It's a sad commentary on the state of the world in which we live.

I'm reminded of Proverbs 26: 17:

"Like one who seizes a dog by the ears
is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own"
This may be a quarrel that Hamas has made its own, after the Palestinian Authority fell out of favour, but they only have themselves to thank for the carnage they have invited when they refused to letting a sleeping dog lie.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kudos to Rick Warren

By pure chance, I caught most of Ann Curry's Dateline NBC interview with Rick Warren last night. Warren's choice by Obama to give the invocation at his January inauguration has been met by outrage by the gay community. That's because they were already angry with Warren for supporting "Prop 8".

Against this backdrop, Curry clearly decided that the viewer needed her to play some kind of devil's advocate. At one point she actually said this (emphasis added):

Your position has raised the specter that you are homophobic. And that is why people are angry. Gay people are angry. And how is it possible for them to be civil when someone-- maybe deny-- you would say, "I don't like what you are." You understand that.

To me, it seems a lot like she actually condoned the kind of harrasment that the gay community has launched against the likes of Rick Warren and the Mormon church for their opposition to the redefinition of the term marriage.

Warren did a good job answering her heavily biased line of questioning. At one point, she took up the old approach, asking if he would change his position if it was proved that people are born gay. I don't believe she saw his answer coming. See below. And pray for Rick...


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Islam brings its peace to Mumbai

Muslims believe that they can bring peace to the world by making it submit to the rule of shariah law. Islam is much more than a religion; it is a political system, and since the days of its founding father, Mohammed, it has expanded through violence and conquest.

Last week, the world watched on with disbelief as a few Muslims terrorised the large Indian city of Mumbai. A group that is being blamed for masterminding the attack, Lashkar-e-Toiba, aims to place India under Islamic rule. Like Muslims elsewhere, they think that these attacks will intimidate the Indians into acquiescing to Islam. Targeting civilians, who are most easily intimidated, is justified in their minds since, after all, they are bringing them the peace of Islam.

Contrast that with the "peace that passes understanding". Jesus offers peace to every individual that transcends the surrounding situation. It is not about subjugation, but emancipation. It involves no coercion, only willful acceptance. It defies human understanding since a believer can face imminent death and know peace.

The key issue to note is that you cannot offer something you do not have. If you have no peace to offer, you can't hope to ever make peace.

Aside: I also thought this cartoon by Dry Bones was quite apt...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting a perspective for Thanksgiving

In the midst of all the madness out there, it's never a bad thing to get a bit challenged about the state of your own heart, especially with a day like Thanksgiving coming up. I'm not American, but I doubt there is a national holiday anywhere in the world for which non-Americans so easily find appreciation (not just for the food).

In the process of getting prepared to join the locals here in giving thanks to our Lord for all He has done for us, the message at Church on the weekend really spoke to me on two fronts.

Firstly, our good pastor read the entire script of the original Thanksgiving Day proclamation by the Continental Congress in 1777. You can read it all here, or view the original document here. The key excerpt for me was this:

"It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance..."

Yip, that's right, back then the Congress of the United States wasn't afraid to declare that we should set aside a day to get right with God which means forgiveness of sins through the work of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to find this kind of solid preaching from the pulpit of many churches where the gospel has been reduced to social platitudes and prosperity cults.

On another front, I really had to get myself a new perspective on some of the crazy stuff going on out there. I've had a fair bit to say about the response to the passing of Prop 8 in California, especially as it regards the persecution of Christians as they have been singled out as the most obvious target for abuse by the Prop 8 opponents.

The challenging bit for me was to read again Acts 5:17-41 where Peter and the apostles counted it a privilege to have suffered for Jesus. They were flogged and told not to speak in the name of Jesus. Two thousand years later and the name of Jesus is still an offence to those who choose not to believe. When the members of Justice House of Prayer gave praise to Jesus on the streets of a gay district in San Francisco they had to be escorted out by the police (see my last blog posting).

I was fairly outraged by this, but after taking stock of Peter's response to persecution, I've decided to change my stance to one of admiration for the courage of those Christians and I wonder why I am not having a similar effect on the world around me?

So, with the words of the Continental Congress and Acts 5 firmly on my mind, I'll try to find myself a new perspective for Thanksgiving to include thanks, repentance and the hope that I too will be "worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your church or ministry could be next

About a year ago I allowed my wife to talk me into going to one of those dreaded marriage seminars that churches like to host from time to time. I came in prepared to have my discomfort index sharply appreciated, but the only pain I was forced to endure was in my sides (no, not my wife poking me) from all the laughter.

The couple that presented the seminar, Drs Les & Leslie Parrott, hit home some really insightful points with no shortage of humour. I mean, if you can't laugh about your marriage, who can? Aside from doing seminars and writing books, this couple also helped create the eHarmony Marriage website to help couples build stronger relationships.

Getting to my point, I was shocked to learn today that eHarmony has been forced, as a result of a lawsuit claiming sexual discrimination against homosexuals, to start an online dating service for gays and lesbians. See Foxnews' article by Josh Miller.

There's a very real threat out there from those that seek not purely to advance their own agenda but to make sure that the values the church has given the world are corrupted one law suit at a time.

Watch as the battle over the passing of Prop 8 in California continues.

Watch as Christians are removed from certain neighbourhoods/districts.



Yes, this is really happening in America. And yes, your church or ministry could be next.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama's final solution for pro-life

Three years ago, when I moved from Europe to the United States, one of the aspects of the political scene here that gave me much hope was the ongoing debate that still raged over abortion. It's an issue that has long been laid to rest on the continent where you won't find a party running on a pro-life platform.

That might all be set to change here in America, if we are to believe the promises Obama made to Planned Parenthood before being elected. He said "we're tired of arguing about the same old stuff", and blamed the anti-abortion crowd of inciting a "culture war" that's "so nineties".

His final solution to end this public debate is to promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act which would eliminate every restriction on abortion nationwide.



It's alarming that someone who believes they have the right as President to finally end the debate on abortion, does not think the person who fills the most powerful position in America is paid enough to make a judgement on when life begins.



But, I guess it's not the first time Obama has ended a debate without all the facts on his side, and yet has managed to prevail. Amazing.

I recommend signing the Fight FOCA petition if you care.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who's really intolerant?

Since losing the vote on same-sex marriage, opponents of Prop 8 - ok, gays & lesbians - have turned to vandalism, violence and intolerance as a response. Much of this, of course, has been directed at churches.

The dual irony here is that not only is their quest for an extreme liberal version of "tolerance" played out in a completely intolerant manner, but they refuse to accept the values of the church while demanding that the church accept their lifestyle as a proper Christian choice.

Sadly, I fear that they will be victorious in the end because the world has a higher tolerance for extremism than it does for Christian values.

Oh, and don't forget that the rights of Christians, or the crosses they carry, are always fair game to trample on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dry Bones gets Bush

I love Yaakov Kirschen's cartoons and this one couldn't have been timed any better...
























For more Dry Bones cartoons, go to http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will history judge Bush differently?

For my part, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I do believe the outgoing president will be somewhat vindicated in the years to come. He's kept America safe in a very unstable world. He had his failings for sure; not moving early enough on the economy, not doing anything about health care. Does that make him a total failure? Only time will tell.

What's sad is his remark today, "No doubt I'm heading straight home. I miss Texas; I love Texas; I've got a lot of friends in Texas". Unfortunately, he won't be leaving many friends behind in Washington.

The gracious manner in which he has welcomed the Obamas to the White House speaks volumes, especially after Barack virtually won the election on the back of his criticism for the Bush administration.

Guess it's good to heap some coals every so often.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's easier to be evil if you can't recognise it

It's really worth noting that some Muslim states will remember Kristallnacht at the EU parliament in Brussels. Check the list here. Noticeably absent from that list, of course, is Iran, a country that has publicly supported the search for evidence to try and disprove the Holocaust ever happened, while similtaneously planning its own nuclear version.

As if we need further proof, the original plans for Auschwitz were released this week.

Holocaust denial plays a special role for the Jew-hater. By trying to fool themselves that such evil never existed, they hope you'll be stupid enough to believe that no one would ever possibly commit such an evil deed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How can the West hope to outsmart the Iranians?

According to CNN, the Iranians have "criticized U.S. President-elect Barack Obama for saying that Iran's development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable". So wait, let me understand this right ... Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, but it won't accept criticism of its development of nuclear weapons?

Reminds me of the (paraphrased) Muslim response to the Danish cartoons about Mohammed:
"According to the teachings of Mohammed, we'll kill you for saying our religion is based on the teachings of a terrorist"

Or Ahmadinejad's comments that Israel should be wiped off the map, when the Iranian maps don't even show the State of Israel.

I don't know how we're ever going to outsmart these people ...

Friday, November 7, 2008

If you think Obama might be the anti-christ

If you're inclined to believe that Obama might be anti-christ, don't read articles like the one posted on FoxNews yesterday entitled "In Some Nations, People Look to Obama as President of the World". You might just get the wrong idea about the guy ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First day on the blog

Everyone seems to like a good mix of hope and change these days, but I doubt even "The One" has enough change in his pocket to hope that he can save the day.

Anyway, this is my first day on the blog. I'll keep it short before I write myself into trouble.

And don't get your hopes up about this blog. Expectancy gaps are hard to close (apparently).