Category Archives: Islam

Middle East Madness

The culture of the Middle East is strange to say the least. It makes me wonder if we can ever understand, much less coexist with these wild and crazy guys. Some loony in Florida burns a Qur’an and the offended form a mob to riot, burn and kill their own people. Some stupid cartoonist makes fun of the Prophet and gets on a hit list for his trouble. A daughter dares to step out of line and her own father commits an “honor killing.” How do you solve a problem like Sharia?

Then there are the constant videos of men riding 36 to a small pickup (“ute” in Australia) firing their weapons into the air in defiance of the law of gravity, namely: what goes up must come down. James Foley, a war correspondent and New Hampshire native who was captured in Libya wrote in one dispatch, “On several occasions, young fighters have killed their own and injured others while firing into the air in celebration, overwhelming an already overwhelmed central hospital in Benghazi.”  Perhaps you’ve seen the news report interviewing a young man with a head wound from those pesky bullets that keep returning from whence they came.

How many Middle Easterners have been killed by their own bombs and bullets as opposed to outside forces?  We hate Jews and Westerners so what can we do?  I know, let’s blow up a mosque, market, café or whatever! Excuse me, but among the many senseless acts of mankind, does that make any sense at all?

I don’t think so either.

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Filed under Culture Wars, Current Events, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Politics, Religion

Osama bin Laden 1957-2011

I confess, I rejoiced to hear of the death of Osama bin Laden. I felt like “high-fiving” anyone within reach.  Then I began reading blogs from my fellow disciples and kinda feeling guilty, especially when they quoted Ezekiel 18:23[i] and 33:11[ii]. Then I started reading those passages in context and realized that the Holy Spirit was saying that the real pleasure would have resulted from his turning back from his evil ways and his death to the old man of sin.

I felt a little better when I read Psalm 58:10, 11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; / He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. / And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; / Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”

There is no doubt Osama had to die.  He relinquished his right to life by taking the lives of thousands of innocents. But O how I wish we could have sought his heart as doggedly as we sought his head!  How wonderful to have given him life before his death! What a day of rejoicing that would have been! But like so many depraved murderers before him, he remained unrepentant for his heinous crimes. I’m glad he’s gone.

Congratulations to the incredibly brave team that took him out. I understand that many months of careful, exacting planning and training preceded the mission. That provoked the inevitable missionary reaction: Doesn’t it stand to reason that no less is required of us in the Kingdom as we seek the souls of the Islamic world? Where are our well-trained, equipped and courageous teams? Where is our strategy? Where is our passionate and urgent sense of cause?

The Muslims of the Middle East have long memories of so-called “Christian” violence and oppression. Hatred from those memories spawned Osama and his ilk. Many will willingly fill the vacuum of his leadership fueled by the same hatred.  The only way to stop the process is to permeate their culture with bombs of love and missiles of peace. Fortunately we serve a God defined by love who gave Himself as the Prince of Peace.

At long last, let’s give our Muslim friends reasons to love us instead of loathe us.


[i] Ezekiel 18:23“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

[ii] Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

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Filed under Attributes of God, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Current Events, Evangelism, Good & Evil, Holy Spirit, Islam, Jesus Christ, Judge, Kingdom Growth, Love, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, Peace

Current Events and Concerns

Observing my blog stats over the last few days, a well-known truth has been freshly demonstrated: if you don’t post very often—people quit reading. But, that harsh reality seems to be balanced in my case, with having nothing much to say. Oh, I suppose I could find something on which to pontificate, but I tend to wait until I feel compelled to put pen to paper. Waiting until my labor is induced may not be often enough if I want to build a readership. So, in an effort to catch up, let me give you my thoughts on a number of current events and concerns.

Presidential Candidates — It seems a shame to me that, among potential republican candidates we are presented with a billionaire who has funny hair and fires people on TV, another man whose choice of a religion makes me think he might fall for anything and a woman who very few people seem to take seriously. Ya know what I mean fellow-mavericks?

The Federal Deficit – Every responsible businessman and householder knows you can’t spend more than you bring in or you will get in deep doo doo.  From the smell of things, I believe we are up that famous creek without the proverbial paddle.  As anyone who has gotten in over their head is aware, cures for this sort of thing are notoriously painful.  In the case of the United States it is a question of who will make the tough choices and who will bear the brunt of the pain.  Who will be the offenders?  Who will be the offendees? Someone must be cruel to be kind (in the right measure). Unless I miss my guess most of the victims will be those who didn’t have much in the first place.

The News Media – Is it really true that people demand to be told about the upcoming wedding of Bill and Kate every five minutes? Are we really that infatuated with the formalization of a relationship of two people who have been living together for years?  “Fairytale wedding?” Please, give me a break!  And is it really true that we don’t give a flip about what’s happening elsewhere in the world? I beg you, tell me what’s going on in Europe, Asia, South and Central America and Africa. Does it take disaster or war to draw our attention away from politics and Charlie Sheen?

The Middle East – The cultural differences are so vast between this region and the West that I despair of ever being able to achieve our stated goals. People revolt in a small middle-eastern country and proceed to ride around in Toyota pickups shouting slogans (I guess that’s what they are) and firing rifles and artillery into the air. Some insane religious fanatic in Florida burns a Qu’ran (what was he trying to accomplish?) and Afghanistan (where so much Western blood has been shed to set them free from the Taliban), riots (again shooting guns into the air) and wants to throw their liberators out. We should say, “You can’t throw us out…we quit!” and leave them to their hyper-active and reactionary insanity.

Political Parties – It seems to me that someone is going to have to care more about America than some party’s political agenda.  It reminds me of religious denominations whose adherents care more about “our side” than about the gospel and seeking and saving the lost. Our nation is facing several crises that will require true patriots to work in concert. Lobbyists, special interest groups, corporate interests and the like must be ignored until we have solved the problems they and their political cronies have created (for example Monsanto, one of the biggest corporate bullies, spent over eight million for lobbyists in 2010). Given the power of greed, don’t hold your breath.

OK. For all its worth, I have spoken.

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Filed under Asia, Blogs & Blogging, Culture Wars, Current Events, Islam, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, Politics, Random Thoughts, Revolution, Writing

The Paradox of Afghan-American History

I relish the study of history.  The stories of nations, tribes and peoples of ages past have much to teach us.  These days, however, I often wonder why we study and teach history at all.  If we refuse to learn from it, then why not ignore it altogether?  This is especially true when it comes to the war with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The United States of America is a relatively young country…only a couple centuries old.  But enough history has occurred to teach some truths about the American people.  Admiral Yamamoto may not have spoken some variation of the famous line in the motion picture, Tora! Tora! Tora!, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” but it states a historical truth: you can attack the U.S., but then you’d better find some place to hide.

It is difficult to understand what Al Qaeda sought to accomplish by bringing down the World Trade Towers.  But, as the Japanese found out subsequent to Pearl Harbor, American reprisal is dogged, determined and swift.  As they did in 1941, Americans rallied ‘round the flag, mourned their dead, praised their heroic police and firefighters then turned to find and destroy the enemy.  Bin Laden is smart to cower in mountain caves and never show himself again.  He will have to continue to hide until he dies or is caught, tried and executed.  History teaches that truth, justice and the American way yet survive to fuel a terrible resolve.

Afghanistan has a much longer history which teaches that the Afghan people will never be subjugated for long by any outside power.  Check with Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Persians, Russians and the British.  I recently talked with a young, former sergeant who served several tours in Afghanistan.  I asked him, “What should America do about the war in Afghanistan?”  His answer was quick and direct, “We should get out as fast as we can.”

The truth about both Iraq and Afghanistan is historically based.  More than dictators or any other form of oppression, the thing they hate the most is a foreign army, especially if that army is made up of “infidels.”  Recent polls have shown that, for the most part, the Afghan people hate the coalition presence.  Once they leave, history teaches that all the changes the troops have fought and died for will most likely be reversed and the Afghans will revert to their former state of affairs.  This writer firmly believes that too much blood has been shed already for nothing.  History screams its agreement.

Here’s another related historical truth: nation building is risky and often a fool’s errand.  It worked in Germany and Japan because the Allies initially took over completely.  Somalia and Haiti are pure failures.  We never even got started in Viet Nam.  Freedom and democracy are not our gifts to give.  A nation must pay for it with its own blood sweat and tears.  Only then will they value and cherish it.  Can we give this gift to Iraq, Afghanistan?  Not unless they want it enough to struggle and suffer for it.  History is a great teacher, but only if the students pay attention.

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Filed under Change Agent, Culture Wars, Current Events, History, Ignorance, independence, Islam, Middle East, Peace, Politics

Who Owns Israel?

Due to all the “saber-rattling” going on recently, plus a post from the “Fellowship of Christians and Jews,” I thought it might be time to re-run this article.

Do Israelis have a divine right to what is now called Israel?  Who does the land occupied by the modern state of Israel belong to?  Should Christians support Israel’s right to exist as a divine right?  Are the Jews still God’s separate chosen people?  Consider the following points:

  1. The promise of the land of Palestine (Canaan) to the Jews has been fulfilled (Joshua 21:43-45; 23:14; Nehemiah 9:7,8).  The Jews received what they were promised in full.  The occupation of the land by modern Israel has nothing to do with God’s promises.  It has to do with modern Israel’s alliances and the fact that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world can’t get along with each other and get their act together.
  2. The Jews were originally deported from the land for their disobedience just as God promised (Leviticus 26:33; Nehemiah 1:8,9).
  3. Any restoration to the land was predicated upon their returning to belief and obedience (Deuteronomy 30; Ezekiel 36:22-38; Nehemiah 1:8,9).  Most of those who now occupy Palestine are not believers and are certainly not obedient.  Many, in fact, are atheists.  How can modern Israel be the fulfillment of any promise of restoration?
  4. God has not rejected His people but only those who become believers in Messiah Christ are the “Israel of God” (Galatians 3:29; 6:15-17).
  5. Only those Jews who accept Jesus as Messiah can continue in covenant relationship with Yahweh (Romans 9-12) and receive any promise.
  6. Because Christ has fulfilled the Law of Moses, there is no longer a division between Jew and Gentile…we are one in Christ and Abraham’s spiritual offspring (Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 3:28,29).  So, who will be restored to the land?
  7. The Old Covenant given to the Jews alone has been superseded by a new covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13) made by God with all who believe.  Since there is no separation between ethnic Jews and believing Gentiles, who will receive the alleged promises of restoration to the land?

The truth is that modern unbelieving, disobedient Israel has no more right to the land that belonged to the Palestinians than European Americans have to the land that belonged to the Native Americans.  Throughout history, one group has driven out another and occupied their land.  If we are going to restore all of earth’s lands to those who originally possessed it, absolute turmoil will result.  Let me make a few alternative suggestions:

  1. Leave the Israelis alone.  They fought for the land they have and they won.  It is not the fulfillment of prophecy; it is the work of the United Nations and the spoils of war.
  2. Palestinians and Arabs, get your act together and be nice to your neighbors.  The world will be a much better place and nobody will have to blow up themselves and others.  You think God likes what you’re doing?  Neither do I.  And, while you’re at it, do something about this madman dictator of Iran.  He’s not helping your cause at all.
  3. Israelis, quit bullying the Palestinians and give them a homeland.  One of the reasons they hate you is your mistreatment of them.  They will probably never love you, but they might learn to abide you.  One thing for sure, killing children and leveling houses will not win you any points.
  4. Christians, you’re not helping anything with your misinterpretation of prophecy.  Instead of this ridiculous “Christians United for Israel,” and “Christian Zionism” put your efforts into preaching and modeling Christ to both Jews and Arabs.  Are you doing what Jesus would do?  I don’t think so either.  Start preaching the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.  Instead of lobbying with the Jews, preach Christ to them.  And don’t you want the Arabs to be saved?  Well, you don’t act like it.

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Filed under Bigotry, Current Events, Islam, Israel, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, Politics, Prophecy, Religion, Restoration, Scripture

Everything Changed

Like it or not, it is December and we are hurtling forward into the Christmas Holidays when much of the world celebrates the incarnation of God’s Christ into the physical and finite realm of humanity.  Christians believe that God Himself became flesh and blood to live among His creation.  We believe that Jesus was “God with us.”  But if we are going to think about God becoming flesh and walking and working among men, there’s obviously much more to it than baby Jesus in a manger.

For about thirty-three years after His birth, the world continued as it was.  But when, as a man, he began his short ministry the world was never the same again. Everything changed.

It is hard to think of a world without Jesus Christ because, particularly in the Western world (but certainly not limited to it), Jesus Christ is central…especially at this time of year.  Even if you use the increasingly popular “BCE” and “CE” (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”) to measure time, it is simply because BC (before Christ) and AD (“Anno Domini” or “Year of our Lord”) have for centuries been the way history is dated.  Deity becoming human was so explosive it became the turning point of history.

The impact of the advent of Jesus into the world is immeasurable.  What the world would have been without Him is imperceptible.  What the world can become with Christ is yet unrealized.

Today Christians and the way of Christ face expanding challenges.  The “New Atheists” are becoming combative.  Islam once again rattles the scimitars of violent conquest.  How will followers of the Prince of Peace respond?  So far, our reaction is a mixture of rattling our own sabers and stupid, provocative acts like Quran-burning and shouting-matches.

If these challenges are successfully met, it will not be with violence, book-burnings and placard-waving demonstrations.  They will be countered as they always must: by exalting Christ.  It will be done by reconciling humans to each other and to their Creator.  Then, and only then, will the hopeful song of angels be realized: peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Christlikeness, Christmas, Culture Wars, Current Events, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Missions/Evangelism, Peace, Persuasion, Politics, Preaching/Teaching, Theism

Lessons from Iran

From a book review by David Mays of Iran: Open Hearts in a Closed Land by Mark Bradley, Authentic, 2007

While the Iranian government is actively strangling the established churches, the underground churches are growing.  Its continued growth is likely for three reasons.  One, it is very secretive and hidden from authorities.  Two, the churches are very active and vibrant.  Most have never been in a church building, so Christianity grows up around the Scripture, spreads by relationships, and takes on natural cultural forms.  Three, new members recognize the urgency of telling others and take on a sense of ownership very quickly.

While Christianity fades in the West, it is flourishing elsewhere…including very difficult places such as Iran where the law stipulates execution for Muslims converting to other religions.  Do you see the lessons Iranian disciples can teach us?

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Filed under church, Islam, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism