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Archive for July, 2008

Obama Guest Editorial


About …”back to basics tomorrow.”

That is good Jack. But, like it or not, healthy or dysfunctional, recovering or not, we are not immune to the world and its daily grind. That is why it is sometimes good to do case studies, which I believe is what Obama Is No Friend of Israel has been.

It takes an alert and an informed mind (and a disciplined one) to keep both of our feet under us in these perilous and deceit-filled days. Life is not about feelings. It is about Truth. Some cannot handle the Truth. So, they must embrace, live with, and promulgate their feelings. Apparently that is all they have….and all they believe they need to have.

Hmmmmm…….

Gary

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Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and
in whose spirit is no deceit.
Psalm 32:2.

I am continually amazed at how candidates are positioned on issues by
their politically savvy staffs. Take Barack Obama’s position on Middle
Eastern issues for example.

The war in Iraq is going well and within inches of being
successful—finally. This should be a cause for celebration for Obama,
but it isn’t. It’s in his best interest for us to be losing. It’s what
his most loyal supporters want, and they expect him to cast victory
aside and produce defeat. That’s why Obama will not say the surge has
been successful. He can’t champion victory, and his staff will not
permit him to admit the obvious.

Could you imagine the World War II generation rooting for Hitler to
win?  Of course not, but that’s what we have today. Millions in our own
nation want us to fail. Actually, it’s more than that. They demand
failure, and their champion is Barack Obama. That’s how radical he
really is.

Because this is not popular with enough Americans to win the
presidency, his staff has also tried to modify his position slightly,
especially his kindred spirit with Muslims and his antipathy for Jews.
In his speeches, he is being positioned to deceive voters about who he
really is. Because he is charismatic and very articulate, millions
believe what he says instead of who he is. In politics, this is called
good positioning. In God’s Word, it’s called having a deceitful spirit,
which God will not bless.

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British officials gave a survey to eighteen hundred Muslim students in the UK. They discovered one-out-of-three believed killing in the name of Islam was justified. It also came to light that 40 percent wanted Islamic Law imposes in the UK. Could you see Princess Diana in a berka? Those who took this survey were shocked by the results.

What is really shocking is not the results of the survey but the surprise of those who took it. The encroachment of Islam is a serious problem in the UK, and it’s even a bigger one in France. In our lifetime, we could see the Cathedral of Notre Dame become a mosque. The French haven’t taken seriously what’s been happening until quite recently, and now it may be too late. The roots of Islam run deep in France—all because nobody was paying attention. It’s happening in the UK as well, where the Brits have also been asleep at the wheel.

The United States is next and, if we’re not mindful, we’ll elect a President that will welcome Muslims with open arms. Barack Obama’s “Christianity,” which he learned at the feet of a militant proponent of Black Liberation Theology, favors Muslims over Jews. At the same time, Jewish voters, who traditionally vote for democratic candidates, foolishly support Obama’s candidacy.

Unless the Jewish community wakes up, which is doubtful, they will hand the presidency to Obama. In swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania, the Jewish vote may well be the deciding factor, and Obama can’t win unless he carries at least one of these states—maybe both of them.

Isn’t it ironic? The Jewish community, whose naïveté rivals that of the French and British, may sow the seeds of destruction for America, as well as Israel.

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Barack Obama’s worldview, which was molded for twenty years by Jeremiah Wright’s Black Liberation Theology, favors Islamic nations over Israel; and so will his presidency. Not since the failed Carter administration has there been a candidate who embraces Islamic causes so thoroughly. By comparison, Carter’s perspective looks benign.

Obama doesn’t realize that nations who favor Israel will be blessed by God and nations who don’t will not. Nearly 50 millions evangelicals in America believe this, all of whom should oppose Obama’s candidacy because of it.  The Jewish community should as well; but they don’t recognize Obama for who he is and will race like the lemming to potential destruction believing he has their best interest at heart.

Our alliance with Israel has been the cornerstone of American foreign policy in the Middle East for decades, but Obama will definitely take us in a different direction. He wants a world free of nuclear weapons and says so repeatedly, revealing an unacceptable naiveté about international politics and Man’s nature as well.

He gives a good speech and is very charismatic, which leads me to believe he will beat McCain, who doesn’t match up well with him. When this happens, Christians had better watch out, as should Jewish people.

Perhaps this may be a blessing in disguise. If God’s people humble themselves and repent of their wicked ways, God will heal our nation and restore us to greatness. The question is, will we?

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From Audacity of Hope: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” “Mohamed is my continuing source of inspiration.”

THIS SEEMS MORE RELEVANT AS EACH DAY PASSES. ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN JULY, I’VE PUT IT IN THE FRONT BECAUSE OF JESSE JACKSON’S STATEMENT IN FRANCE.

As I watch the news coverage of Barack Obama’s Middle East tour to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel, I’m amazed by what I see. Not only does the press fawn over him, but also it never gets to the heart of the issue—Barack’s worldview. Coming from a twenty-year experience of learning from the teachings of Jeremiah Wright’s Black Liberation Theology, no one has asked hard questions about Obama’s core beliefs.

His campaign has positioned him as a champion of reconciliation, but his background—especially his association with Wright—would suggest otherwise. Black Liberation Theology has a decided anti-Semitic slant to it—one that Obama has embraced in his writings.

The foreign policy of the U.S.A. has Israel as a strategic partner. Not since the failed administration of Jimmy Carter has any president favored Arab nations over Israel. If Obama is our next president, which seems likely, our Middle Eastern policy may reverse, which certainly goes against the collective will of the American people and Israel’s as well.

More Tomorrow.

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

Wisdom—true wisdom, which comes from God, has a high price tag attached to it. If it didn’t, there would be more of it. The process for gaining this precious commodity is arduous and, for the most part, very time-consuming and difficult. Because we are a nation of people who demand instant gratification, there are fewer wise people in America than you would expect.

There’s no way for fruit to mature before its season. It’s the same with wisdom. It takes time, but not all older people possess it. You have to grow old but, in America, you don’t have to grow up. Multiplied millions never do. They’re just old.

It also takes difficult experiences, which force a person to trust the Lord, and God has no problem letting any of His children go through a world of pain, hardship, and despair to get to the other side. In fact, it’s standard operating procedure for Him. He does it all the time, and it can be difficult to endure. In the short run, He may seem cruel and unfeeling but, when seen from His perspective, which is eternal, it’s absolutely necessary. It builds character, or at least it can. If He required hardship from His only begotten Son, why would He require anything less of you and me?

The answer is: He wouldn’t. So when adversity comes, and it will, know that God is using every aspect of it for your benefit, for your refinement, and for your good. Without it, you’ll never become the valuable person the Father wants you to be—never.

If you’re in the midst of difficulty, stop whining about your plight and allow God to refine you all He wants. When it’s over, you’ll be a stronger man or woman than you ever dreamed possible—rich in Christ-like qualities like love, joy, and kindness. But above all, you will be wise.

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

One of the foundational beliefs of Christianity is that the nature on Mankind is sinful and separated from God. Without Christ dying for Man’s sins, we couldn’t be reconciled to God—period. Without Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we would be lost forever—hopelessly lost. This is a fundamental belief of Christianity.

At the same time, Christians seem to have a profound naïveté about life. They’re routinely surprised when sinful people act sinfully. Liberals, by way of comparison, believe Man’s nature is good, but they are rarely surprised when people act sinfully. Nor are they condemning. They accept people the way they are—warts and all.

As a believer, I know there is nothing good in me—in my fallen nature. But I also know that when the Lord came into my life, He imparted His nature to me—full of love, mercy, kindness, and compassion. That means I can rise above my base state and be more than I could ever have been without Him. This is true for everybody else as well but, if I don’t make a conscious effort to be mindful of this, I can become harsh and judgmental rather than merciful and kind.

This is where Christians stumble all the time. They drive desperate people, caught up in sinful lifestyles, away, refusing to give them the same mercy they required a few years earlier. They embrace pride rather than humility, judgment rather than mercy, and rejection rather than acceptance. They cease to be like the Lord, who loved sinful people.

If we are ever to be all that we are capable of being, we must renew our minds and act like the Lord where sinful people are concerned. Witnessing to people you don’t love doesn’t work. In fact, it’s counter- productive and comes off with a holier-than-thou attitude sinners reject contemptuously. It’s why they say the church is full of hypocrites, which is true. If we’re ever to be who Christ intended us to be, this has to change, starting with you and me.

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I’ve learned what attracts someone to Christ is kindness, mercy, love, and acceptance—not being judgmental. Isn’t that what drew you to Him—His love and His mercy? If He was merciful to you, shouldn’t you be merciful?

When someone told me God loved me in spite of all my difficulty, my heart melted—and so did my resistance.

In me, the fruit was real when I first believed, but it still took decades to mature. That’s been my experience. The Lord has been very patient with me—unlike many Christians. He’s patient with most of His children. It’s because He wants each of us to be everything we’re capable of being and, for some of us, it takes a long time.

Look at Psalm 1. The tree planted by running water yielded its fruit “in its season” and not before. That’s why we have to be so merciful with our Christian friends. Their fruit may not be ready yet, and there’s no way to make it ready until it is. Green fruit is sour and not sweet, and it’s usually hard to digest.

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

I always find it interesting when someone says, “Have you been witnessing for the Lord lately?” At thousands of evangelical churches across America, this question is asked repeatedly by well-meaning pastors and layman. Although they may hope it’s an encouragement for you to “speak out boldly,” it has the opposite effect. It’s intimidating, producing fear and guilt in the heart of the recipient.

And it’s the wrong question.

It implies that force-feeding your canned, three-minute infomercial down someone’s throat is the way to witness to people. “I was a rotten person. Then I invited Jesus into my heart, and now I’m nearly perfect.” This kind of witnessing is shallow, disingenuous, plastic, and probably turns more people off than it helps. But the biggest problem with it is this: It’s not witnessing; it’s a sales pitch. “Buy Jesus; it’s a great deal, and you don’t have to put anything down.” It’s like being an AMWAY salesman or worse—Arbonne.

Millions believe this is what witnessing is. Wouldn’t it be better to say to someone, “Because Christ has redeemed you and strengthened you in the inner man, everything you do reflects on Him. He loved sinful people and, if you do likewise, you’ll be a faithful witness to Him in everything you do.”

That’s witnessing that works—changed lives from the inside out. If you reflect the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, and godliness—everything you do will have a positive impact for the Kingdom. It’s walking the walk—not just talking the talk.

More tomorrow.

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Refer to STEP 11:
I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

You’re a witness for the Lord in everything you do—either positively or negatively, regardless of whether you like it or not. That’s just the way it is. Your life is a witness, and it either attracts people to the Lord or pushes them away from Him.

For many Christians, this is intimidating, and they become Christian automatons who stop living life as it’s meant to be lived—joyfully and spontaneously. They cease being free and become legalistic, punctiliously finding fault with those who don’t live life like they do—straight-laced, sober, and sad. They are neither a joy to themselves nor to the Lord. You know the type of person I’m describing, don’t you? The church is filled with them. Their mean-spiritedness, which they wear proudly as a virtue, hurts everyone they touch.

On the opposite spectrum are those who say, “I’m saved, so I can do anything I want.” And they do. Embracing a licentious lifestyle, these Christians act like those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord. Casting aside restraint because they’re “covered,” they do whatever seems right in their own eyes, regardless of the consequences and whom it hurts. The church has its fair share of this type as well.

Both groups witness for the Lord by their lifestyles everyday. The Scriptures call these people carnal Christians, and the fruit of their lives doesn’t attract people to Christ. It repulses them, as it should. The fruits of legalism are pride, faultfinding, backbiting, hatred, arrogance and by far the worst, an acerbic tongue. The fruits of “Whoopee” are sexual immorality, addiction, consumptive materialism, gluttony, and greed.

If you fall into either of these groups, there’s hope. God wants more for your life than wasting it as a self-righteous bigot or a lascivious philanderer. The way to change is easy but doing the consistent work necessary to be the man or woman Christ intended you to be isn’t.

To learn more about about the subject, go to: Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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Refer to STEP 10: I believed that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

How can you tell a Christian from a non-Christian? The Scriptures say you can tell them by their love for one another. If this is true of you, you’re witnessing no matter what you’re doing. If it isn’t, your witness is counterproductive. It’s why millions call Christians hypocrites, which quite often is an accurate assessment.

Let me be even more specific about witnessing. Anything you can do as a believer to lift up Christ is your responsibility. When you do, it’s His responsibility to draw men to Him—not yours. Lifting up Christ is not pushing Jesus. The former leads to salvation; the latter leads to alienation.

If you care for your fellow man; if you have compassion for those caught in addiction, despair, or any acting-out behavior; if you routinely display the fruits of the Spirit; you are a witness every day of your life—whether you say anything or not. You just don’t realize it most of the time.

If your walk with the Lord is shallow, if your beliefs are simplistic, and if you are unwilling to have your faith challenged or questioned, your witness is weak as will be the fruit you produce. Instead of proclaiming that which is not strong in your life with bumper stickers, tee shirts, and canned three-minute testimonies, wouldn’t it be better to strengthen your faith and knowledge before looking foolish to a seeker? It would take time but, when you are better prepared, your fruit would be rich, positive, and lasting.

Intellectually and philosophically, Christianity is time-weathered, profound, and enduring. At the same time, most Christians in America are unable to emotionally handle legitimate questions. They want pat answers to everything and, anything that questions their faith, angers them. That’s not the way Christ handled things and, if we are to be like Him, we can’t be that way either.

Most of Christ’s Disciples were ignorant men, but they changed the world. So can you but, before this can happen, you must strengthen the inner man by spending quality time with the Lord. Without it, you’re destined to have thoughts no deeper than bumper sticker slogans or tee shirt platitudes.

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Refer to STEP 10: I believed that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

Salvation is easy—it doesn’t require anything from you or me. That’s God’s part. He did it all; that’s what grace is all about. The only thing either you or can do is make it more or less desirable to a sinner—the people Jesus liked the most.

If a Christian is smug and self-righteous, legalistic and condemning, haughty and judgmental; not many sinners will be attracted, will they? You know the people I’m describing: the ones Christ displayed anger toward—the heartlessly religious.

Sadly, evangelical Christianity has far too many people like this. They are the ones who condemn homosexuals, telling them they deserve AIDS. They call women who have aborted their babies murderers, forgetting that they, too, were no better. The self-righteous lift up a version of Christ that is not the New Testament version—not even close, and yet these are the people most feared in our churches. Their bitter sting keeps many from embracing God’s love, acceptance, and mercy. The only legitimate fruit they display is self-control, except for their biting, acerbic tongue.

If you display love, joy, long suffering, and a genuine concern for those in need; then you are lifting up Christ the way you’re meant to, and that’s very attractive to sinful, fallen people, desperate for answers.

The choice is yours. If you’re smug and self-righteous, you will have a great impact for the Kingdom—a negative impact. If you display love and graciousness, you’ll also have a great impact on the Kingdom—all positive.

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Refer to STEP 10: I believed that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

If the primary purpose of the Great Commission is to disciple people, then what is our responsibility about witnessing for Christ to the unsaved?

I remember when I was much younger. We would scour the beaches of Southern California witnessing for Christ, sharing the 4 Spiritual Laws with all who would listen. Later, when we were back at Campus Crusade headquarters in Arrowhead Springs, kids would share their experiences publicly and privately. Routinely, kids would say, “I led three people to Christ,” or “I introduced a young man to Christ today.”

The perception was that they were responsible for the person being saved, and many were very boastful about it. For me, the whole process was difficult because I didn’t like to intrude on people sunbathing when uninvited. What stuck with me for forty years, however, is this: All I could do was tell the story; I had nothing to do with saving the person—not a thing. To believe otherwise is nonsense and un-Scriptural.

Over the years, I’ve thought about Christ drawing people to Himself, if He is lifted up. That’s my responsibility in life—to lift up the Lord. That’s my entire responsibility in witnessing—nothing else. I can’t save anyone any more than I can damn them. I don’t have anything to do with it. I don’t get a vote. That’s left up the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit.

Then, what is my part in the process?

Lifting up the Lord and nothing else. I lift up Christ every time I act out of the nature He has imparted to me. If I act out of my own self-willed nature, I miss an opportunity to lift Him up. When I am Christ-like, I display love, joy, peace, and all the fruits of the Spirit. When I suffer for the Lord, I’m also lifting Him up. When I choose His ways over materialism, I’m lifting Him up. When I’m kind, expecting nothing in return, I’m lifting Him up.

When I seek my own way, I’m not.

That kind of witnessing works—being Christ-like. It draws people to the Lord much better than a three-minute testimony from a stranger. The former is genuine, while the latter reminds me of an infomercial, something contrived, forced, and disingenuous.

I never buy products sold through infomercials, do you?

More tomorrow.

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Leroy’s Prayer Request


At a Pentecostal church revival, Leroy got in line and, when it was his turn, the preacher inquired: “Leroy, what do you want me to pray about for you?”

Leroy replied, “Preacher, I need you to pray for my hearing.”

When he heard this, the preacher put one finger in Leroy’s ear and the other hand on top of Leroy’s head. He then lifted his eyes and head to Heavens and prayed deeply and profoundly.

A few minutes later, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, “Leroy, how is your hearing now?”

Leroy answered, “I don’t know, Reverend, it ain’t until next Wednesday afternoon.”

Da Judge

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Jack,

As a follow up to your blogs about the Great Commission, I was reminded of something I saw on TV recently. Hannity & Colmes aired the last recorded interview (2005) with Jesse Helms, which was granted to Sean Hannity. They were discussing his life and his perspective about his political career. Mrs. Helms was also part of the interview. No matter what your viewpoint of the senator is or his controversial image, it revealed his character more than anything else.

It was impressive.

Unlike what we’ve become in recent years, putting political correctness as the highest attribute to be attained, Jesse says he sought to simply do what he saw as right, no matter the consequences. Quotes were mentioned from his book and, in one Sean highlighted, he told of a young aid who was concerned with the bad press Mr. Helms might have received based upon a stance he had made. The Senator made it clear that he would do what was right even if it cost him his political career.

He grew to expect the criticism of the press. This doesn’t sound much like most of the politicians inside the beltway today, does it? Mrs. Helms even offered that if the newspapers were too quiet and kind to Jesse he would question what he was doing wrong.

The most impressive statement by Senator Helms was when asked, in retrospect, what he felt was his greatest accomplishment. He just shrugged and didn’t seem particularly impressed with anything he could recall. Mrs. Helms quickly jumped in to contribute what she believed to be most significant. Mr. Helms then followed up and said it was the accomplishment of his parents that he viewed as far more significant. His response was something like: “I’ve been trying to live up to the standard that they set my whole life.” Jesse never forgot where he came from.

Denying moral absolutes and pandering to every special interest group has yielded a mediocre culture that stands for nothing, that condemns nothing, and produces a society that is gray and without focus. Jesse Helms was a colorful character and a lighting rod for controversy. Both his friends and opponents will miss him, because he stood for what he believed.

It’s time that we, as believers, step out of the gray drab existence of multi-culturalism and political correctness—for fear of offending anyone, or for our own desire to be liked. We must stand for the One who declares Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We must never forget where we’ve come from—out of the darkness into His marvelous light.

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