Sunday, November 29, 2015

Good Good Father - HOUSEFIRES - Have a blessed Sunday

You're a good, good Father It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are And I'm loved by You It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Thursday, November 26, 2015

He Has Found a Way (Happy Thanksgiving, 2015)

He has found a way
To cultivate life despite the fray
Of monstrous pressures riven day by day.
He has found a way
To feed, to clothe, to make for you a home. Each decade
He guides the change, he turns the page
Of our lives by subtle encounters, he places
On our hearts desires we cannot explain;
Learning a language, moving to unknown towns, we take
That job, that lover we met by so-called chance.

He has found a way
Like that fish caught on the pier, his glimmering tail
As shiny as the gold coin in his mouth, the right amount
The fisherman needed to pay
The temple tax, exact sum, no more, no less.

He has found a way
To string miracle after minor miracle to display
His power in bringing strangers together to play
And laugh and fellowship as family, gained
By the marvelous love that moves unrestrained
Beneath the labyrinth of pathways
We know as life and liberty but He knows is grace.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pedophilia in the Hadiths

Here's a link to a very helpful list of how Mohammed gave his blessing to pedophilia. The following is an excerpt from Sahih Bukhari 7.62.64.
Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64 :
Narrated by 'Aisha
That the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).

14) Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Book #73, Hadith #151; also Fateh-al-Bari, 13:143) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The 7 Most Annoying Things About American Christianity

Confusion #1. Faith is as faith does, or, is it?
Pollster Frank Luntz asked Senator Ted Cruz if he remembered the last time he asked for forgiveness. Instead of the expected reply - "well, just this morning..." - he made reference to it having been a period of time and then pointed back further to a time he asked his parents for forgiveness. They were in the process of divorce and he opposed the divorce, sending Bible verses to that effect to his parents. I thought that was a very cool response but he didn't, saying he had "hurt" his parents (see
Confusion 2). Thus confusion #1 concerns how Americans are quite comfortable playing favorites with the commands of Jesus. Here's how the narrative usually goes; we are to pray without ceasing, but we don't because we're not perfect (Excuse #1), we are to present the Word of God to others, but we don't always have to because of Excuse #1, we are to live as Jesus lived but we don't really have to (see Excuse #1 again). In summation, because we're still sinners, we can repeatedly do whatever we want because we're not perfect. Our disobedience is proof we need a savior, right? Wait, did I mention disobedience?

Confusion #2. Hurting someone's feelings is a sin per se.
Not to be too harsh on a candidate I actually like, but Cruz's preoccupation with his unfaithful parents' feelings The left has taken feelings to a point of linguistic totalitarianism and, unfortunately, that sickness has begun too permeate our entire society. Cruz - and Scripture - was right, His parents were wrong. But their hurt is somehow a sin. The entitled behemoth of a couch potato that America has become has elevated feelings to equality and perhaps even supremacy over logic and morality. The Eleventh Commandment has eclipsed 1 through 10, placing, "Thou shalt not hurt anybody's feelings" into the Greatest Commandment.
Many Christians are opposing the Word of God because it hurts people's feelings. My advice to anyone who has had their feelings hurt by Scripture - and that includes me - it is to your infinite benefit to work through the Word rather than to dismiss it. Fortunately for her, the woman at the well didn't suffer hurt feelings when Jesus reminded her she was rejected by multiple men. Today in America she would likely have run away to file a defamation lawsuit against Jesus. Fortunately, people were smarter back then and she ran off to tell the village that the Messiah was in the house.

Confusion #3. I'm too sexy for my church.
"I don't need to go to church. I can watch Pastor Joe on TV." Well, if you're in a body cast, that's OK, but that isn't the case for people who are too special to be seen with other Christians who might have tattoos, piercings, or putative judgmental attitudes (in those cases where you are the one with the tattoos and piercings). Too many Americans who call themselves Christians despise actually worship Christ with other Christians. They're either too good or too lazy (e.g. lukewarmly convicted). This speaks volumes about the so-called believer and little to nothing about the church. Go ahead, pick up your lazy mat and walk.
Too many Americans are non-denominational to a fault; they place themselves by default in a hyper-dogmatic denomination of non-denominationalism. Being too cool for pews, they are mere part-time spectators of a sport they're not sure they're all the crazy about, or at least their actions would tell you that.

Confusion #4. Hey, you're a Christian, so why the spine?
This confusion is strongest on the left but snares right of center Christians also. It goes like this; "Hey, you're a Jesus freak, so give that homeless guy who asked me for $5 a ten - you know, go the second mile, - then shine my shoes. But hurry, I'm late for work." Our detractors have redefined us as mindless, servile bumpkins, and we've gone on the defensive by maintaining an identity of limited mindless, servile bumpkinness, OK, bumpkinness isn't a word but I did just add it to my laptop's dictionary, so there. While we are to have a servant's heart, we still have a God-given brain and a deep sense of right and wrong.

Confusion #5. The "I DID build that!" Mentality or the Bootstrap Myth. This is a right-of-center apostasy. It was sifted like wheat during the 2012 presidential campaign after Pres Obama declared that capitalists did not build the roads and other infrastructure they use to make their living, inferring that government had made their fortunes possible. Obama said, "That road, that didn't build that!" While he was wrong that government paved the way for their fortunes - after all, government gets its fortune from the very same tax collecting and paying machines that are businesses - the business people were wrong to think that they built their own success. We do not lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps; it's even a ridiculous visual. What a dishonor to God it was that so-called Christians posted signs saying, "Hey Obama, I DID build that!" No, you didn't. God is the only good and God is the Christian's only good. Just as Daniel said in Chapter 2, " I don't have the answer but there is a God in Heaven who can give me the answer." So if you find yourself atop a billion dollar business, don't be delusional, God built that. he used His resources, His people He put in your path, and He gave you the right decisions to make at the right time. You're a slug on the doorstep who was assigned a title, unless you're not a Christian. Then you could believe whatever nonsense you want.
Liberal economist John Maynard Keynes accused Conservative ideology of being a thought experiment where so-called Christians can make an excuse not to help less fortunate people; cut taxes (for me) and the poor will be able to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Not so. The financially blessed have a responsibility before God to help the poor.

Confusion #6. Hating on immigrants and cheering people's deaths.
These two go hand in hand as they both deal with man's habit of raising himself and lowering others.
It's a conservative apostasy where the most dangerous sinner isn't the image in your mirror but the Syrian refugee on your TV set or the gay person preparing your Cafe Mocha. It's the subtle but real dehumanization that makes us a stench to the God we supposedly love. He has given us His Word to embed His perspective on our minds and hearts. Yet we disgrace Him, and we demote Jesus and His work on the cross by lifting up our lowly selves in a vain attempt to see over people's heads and, in the case of cheering evil people's deaths, to ignore their humanity and God's authorship altogether. I was horrified the night the killing of Osama Bin Laden was announced and the millennials went crazy celebrating his death. God is perfectly good while Bin Laden, and you and I, are the opposite; we're perfectly bad. Where there is no equality in evil, there is no repentance. God chooses not to bless those areas with His presence. Failing to see God's point of view in any thing deepens our separation from Him.

Confusion #7. Somehow your being blessed with moolah means you're God's chosen.
Yes, the Prosperity Gospel led by apostate extraordinaire Joel Osteen. God blesses all people despite their moral standing. They are all His creation. We who come to faith aren't the only ones who were created by God. Often faith is a crucible that is unimaginably difficult for a season or for many seasons. Your financial blessing is either a blessing or...a judgment. It all comes down to how you serve with the blessings you've been given.

American Christianity's Eternal Victory.
Yet we still have a legacy that gives us a powerful hope for the future. The United States of America was created on the true basis of Christianity, that there is no authority between God in Heaven and His people on Earth. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. If governments do not recognize this principle, they become irrelevant and must be abolished. Thus the independence of America rests on the relationship between God and man. Mess with that fellowship like a jealous matchmaker, government, and you die. As it should be. So I want to end this rant on a positive note. God bless America because she is exceptional. May she always rest on a sure foundation just as Christianity rests on the same sure foundation. On Christ - God with us - the solid rock we stand.
All else is sinking sand.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Walls Are Closing In on Venezuela's Chavismo - Jose Cardenas

I sure hope this is true

In what just may be the longest train wreck of the 21st century, the movement known as chavismo is on the brink of another major crisis as Venezuelan voters head to the polls on Dec. 6 to ostensibly elect a new legislature. Ostensibly, because Venezuelan governments under the late authoritarian President Hugo Chávez, and today his loyal, but hapless, successor Nicolás Maduro, have developed a habit of turning sure electoral defeats into “surprising” victories.
By any objective measure, chavismo — a blend of political and economic centralization and virulent anti-Americanism — has made a wreckage of the country. Venezuela suffers the world’s highest inflation rate, estimated at upwards of 200 percent, while the IMF expects the country’s economy to shrink by as much as 10 percent this year. Plunging oil revenues due to the collapse in international prices have gutted government spending. As one analyst told the Financial Times, “Venezuela is running on fumes. The current oil income is insufficient to allow the country to pay its debts, fund its imports, and service its foreign bonds.” Violent crime, smuggling, and corruption are staples of daily life.
It is with no exaggeration that the Miami Herald headlined the pre-election environment as one of “scarcity, mistrust, and chaos.” The turmoil has taken its toll on Maduro’s legitimacy and popularity. The polling firm Datanalisis reports the opposition maintains a 30 percent lead over the ruling party for the upcoming elections, while a Venebarómetro poll found that the government’s approval rating dropped from 50 percent in 2013 to 20 percent this past September.
And things continue to get worse for Maduro. Last week, two nephews of his wife were arrested in Haiti and flown to the United States to face charges they conspired to ship 800 kilograms of cocaine to the Unites States. Those arrests follow a Wall Street Journal report last May that U.S. law enforcement agencies are investigating high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government, including National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, for their suspected roles in drug trafficking and money laundering.
On the international front, the Maduro government is facing increasing international scrutiny over its lack of commitment to free and fair elections. Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro sent an extraordinary 19-page letter to Venezuela’s electoral council stating, “There are reasons to believe that the conditions in which people will vote … aren’t right now as transparent and just as the [electoral authorities] ought to guarantee.” Almagro also noted, “unfair electoral advantages in the governing party’s use of public resources in the campaign, access to the press, confusion in voting cards and the disqualification of some opposition political figures.”
At the same time, more than a 150 elected legislators from the United States, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru signed an open letter urging the Maduro government to allow credible international observation of the elections and to release all political prisoners.
Indeed, last month, Brazil announced it would not participate in a feckless, Venezuela-friendly UNASUR electoral observation mission after Venezuela rejected the delegation leader, a former Brazilian defense minister and judge, and denied Brazil’s request to monitor pre-election conditions to ensure a level playing field.
So what does all this mean for December’s election?
First, given chavismo’s long-standing refusal to grant the opposition any legitimacy, the likelihood it will accept an opposition-led National Assembly is virtually nil. Although Maduro has claimed that he will accept the results of the election, he also has said his party will win “by whatever means possible,” adding that “[he] will not hand over the revolution,” but rather “proceed to govern with the people in a civic-military union.”
While it may be too brazen to declare victory outright in the face of so much public dissatisfaction with the ruling party (although nothing is impossible under chavismo), the government is capable of all manner of dirty tricks to vitiate the powers of a legislature led by the opposition. For example, the outgoing assembly could grant Maduro the power to rule by decree for the foreseeable future. Another option would be for Maduro to contrive some “national emergency” where it becomes “necessary” to cancel the elections.
The bottom line, however, is that the Maduro government will not escape these elections with whatever is left of its legitimacy intact. A government “victory” will be seen as manipulated; conceding defeat and then gutting the powers of the legislature will accelerate the growing regional intolerance of its undemocratic behavior; and cancelling the elections outright will likely send thousands of Venezuelans into the streets in protest.
For months now, chavismo has been careening towards some sort of denouement. December’s legislative elections could be the trigger. It may be that (shamefully) no leaders of sitting governments have to date spoken out about the untenable situation in Venezuela (in contrast to dozens of former presidents and regional commentators who have), the trend line is such that regional governments will soon have no other choice than to confront the deteriorating situation there. The Obama administration, for its part, has clung to a policy of accommodation with the Maduro government that is way past its expiration date. It’s time all regional governments recognized that a passive approach to the spiraling crisis in Venezuela is ironically contributing to the instability that everyone claims they want to avoid.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ben Shapiro - Three Things Obama and The Left Get Wrong About Evil

Three Things Obama and The Left Get Wrong About Evil

NOVEMBER 16, 20151798In the aftermath of the Islamic terrorist attack on Paris that ended in the death of 129 innocents, President Obama took to the microphones to discuss the nature of the attackers. “This is an attack not just on Paris,” he said. “It’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.Of course, it wasn’t an attack on all of humanity – radical Muslims somehow escaped the attack, probably because they were the perpetrators. But Obama’s statement is indicative of a leftist view of evil that endangers us all. According to Obama and his compatriots, evil is a sort of sickness, outside the realm of normal humanity. It’s not an outgrowth of evil ideology or a perverse victim mentality. Evil is something foreign and alien. Or, as HBO’s John Oliver so stirringly put it, the Paris attackers were “f***ing a**holes…working in service of an ideology of pure a**holery.” Sort of like the guy who scratched your car and then never left a note.
The truth is far less sanguine. Human evil is rarely an outgrowth of a Bond villain-esque love for suffering and pain. Psychologist Roy Baumeister, in his book Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, goes so far as to mock the comfortable “myth of pure evil,” which he describes as an amalgam of attitudes toward evil: the idea that evil people intentionally inflict harm merely for the joy of doing so, that victims are universally good and innocent, that evil people are somehow different from the rest of us, that evil is chaotic, that evil seems to infect people like a virus. Virtually all of this, Baumeister says, is false.
So, what motivates human evil?
Ideology. Evil people are often motivated by either desire to do good in utopian fashion, and are therefore amenable to utilizing violence against innocence to achieve those ends. “Idealism leads to evil,” writes Baumeister, “primarily because good, desirable ends provide justification for violent or oppressive means.” This is the nature of radical Islam, which calls for a theocracy and justifies violence to produce it. Obama and the left ignore this, because their Marxism forces them to the idiotic view that human evil is a result of poverty rather than ideals. That’s nonsense.Unjustified Self-Esteem. The left has taught us that low self-esteem leads to brutality and evil. That’s untrue. Evil people tend to be motivated by egoism out of proportion to actual achievement. “[T]hose who harbor inflated self-esteem will be likely to encounter a relatively large number of ego threats – and hence be prone to hostile, aggressive, or violent responses. It is conceited people who will be the bullies. People who think they’re better than they really are will be the dangerous ones,” says Baumeister. Spending our time flattering Islamic civilization, only for members of that civilization to discover its technological and material inferiority, sets us up for murder.
The Microaggression Mentality. Evil people are also motivated, in large part, by a wildly overdeveloped sense of victimhood. “Hypersensitive people who often think their pride is being assaulted are potentially dangerous,” says Baumeister. “Even when a neutral observer would conclude that no serious provocation occurred, it is still important to recognize that, in the perpetrator’s own view, he or she was merely responding to an attack.” In other words, crafting a world in which perpetrators seek offense from every comment – telling Muslims all over the world that every attack on radical Islam represents an attack on Islam generally, or throwing around the word Islamophobe to describe risk-averse foreign policy drives evil behavior rather than quashing it.
All of this is well-documented in social science. But the left must ignore it, because all of it cuts against their strategy: making nice with radical Muslims, pretending their ideology doesn’t exist, and boosting their self-esteem without reference to achievement. The real way to fight evil would be to recognize the durability of radical Islam; label it for the backward, barbaric doctrine it is; explain to Muslims that they need not be identified with it if they embrace moderation; and demand responsible action before granting legitimacy for any religious ideology.
That would be evenhanded; we hold ourselves to the same standards in the West.
But we won’t do it, thanks to the stubbornheaded stupidity of leftist thought. That “othering” approach to evil will only make it more common.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why is the Left flirting with support for ISIS?

The Paris attacks by ISIS has marked a turning point for the far left. Thus far their narrative has been that the terrorist movement has been created because of inequality between Third World countries and the developed world due to exploitation of the poor by the developed world. They kill people because they don't have jobs or opportunity, Obama spokesperson Marie Harf said on the news shows. And the left scoffs at the idea that the victims in France were "innocent". Since they were mostly white people, the logic goes, then they couldn't have been innocent.

The ISIS threat has grave consequences for the Left as the terrorists seek to overtake all other narratives with their apocalyptic jihad. ISIS is very clear that we are either with them or against them. George W. Bush said something similar in his speech after 9/11 that, "you're either with us or you are with the terrorists." The Left doesn't want to be on either side as their agenda is non-negotiable as they see it. The result is a struggle by the left to spin the Isis narrative as something less than apocalyptic. As Isis has become more and more successful, the desperation on the left has become more and more pronounced. The Black Lives Matter folks even started a #F*^Paris hashtag, dismissing the murders as payback for France's brutal colonial rule while advocating that the Beirut attacks were not as widely reported because the victims weren't white enough. 

The Left appears to think it possible to make friends with ISIS and that we are the enemy, not them. This can only lead to nihilism as the true aim of the terrorists are clearly laid out in the Qur'an and the Hadiths. The irrefutable goal of each true Muslim is to murder the infidels until there are either no more left or "no struggle left in them" (Qur'an 47:4, the chapter known as Surah Mohammed. See also 8:12. 9:29-30, et al). Since 90% of people in the West are biblically illiterate, it shouldn't surprise us that 99% are koranically illiterate. But, just as true Christians know the Bible and study it daily, so do devout Muslims know their Qur'an. 

If the Left's "blowback" theory for ISIS's existence had any merit, then what was the blowback that caused the Muslims to conquer town after Christian town in the 7th and 8th centuries? What economic  inequality compelled the Saracens to brutally conquer Spain? They were only stopped at the Battle of Tours in France by Charles Martell. Had they won, they would have been well on their way to their goal of murdering all non-believers until none were left or there "was no struggle left in them". Sound familiar? 

Were the Left to espouse ISIS, as they are flirting with now, they would be embracing their own destruction. So my estimation - and hope - is that the Left is at the crossroads between having to choose between two enemies in a crisis; on one side the capitalists they hate and on the other, the radical Islamists who hate them infinitely more than the capitalists. The "Coexist" catch phrase of the Left will come to an end one way or another if ISIS has their way; either they embrace ISIS and disappear physically or at least as a relevant political force, or they join with the capitalists and icky white people against ISIS. While George Bush and the ISIS terrorists have said the same thing – "either you're with us or you are against us", you can still be against the capitalists and live to tell about it. For their sake, I pray the left chooses the latter.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The One Democrat Debate - Bernie Sanders Plays the Bongos

The CNN "debate" pretty much summed up what the intellectually challenged half of our society has devolved into.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Keystone XL Pipeline Exposes the Stupidity & Corruption that is Obama's True Legacy

After seven years of mulling over the Keystone Pipeline, President Barack Obama has made up his mind and his decision is no surprise. In a putative nod to environmentalists, Obama vetoed the Pipeline after both houses of Congress approved it. Here's the background on it.
The Keystone XL proposal faces criticism from environmentalists and a minority of the members of the United States Congress. In January 2012, President Barack Obamarejected the application amid protests about the pipeline's impact on Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region.[66] TransCanada Corporation changed the original proposed route of Keystone XL to minimize "disturbance of land, water resources and special areas"; the new route was approved by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman in January 2013.[10] On April 18, 2014, the Obama administration announced that the review of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline has been extended indefinitely, pending the result of a legal challenge to a Nebraska pipeline siting law that could change the route. On January 9, 2015, the Nebraska Supreme Court cleared the way for construction, and on the same day the House voted in favor of the pipeline. On January 29, 2015, the Keystone XL Pipeline was passed by the Senate 62-36.[60] On February 11, 2015, the Keystone XL Pipeline was passed by the House of Representatives with the proposed Senate Amendments 270-152.[61] The Keystone XL Pipeline bill was not officially sent to President Obama, starting the official ten-day count towards the bill becoming law without presidential signature, until February 24, 2015. Republicans delayed delivering the bill over the Presidents Day holiday weekend to ensure Congress would be in session if the president were to veto the bill. On February 24, 2015, the bill was vetoed and returned for congressional action.[67] On March 4, 2015, the Senate held a vote and failed to override President Obama’s veto of the bill; the vote was 62 to 37, and failed to reach the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.[68] The review by the State Department is ongoing. On June 15, 2015 the House Oversight Committee threatened to subpoena the State Department for the latter's withholding of records relevant to the process since March 2015 and calling the process "unnecessarily secretive".[69] Despite some records being posted by consulted agencies such as the EPA, the State Department has not responded to the request. On November 2, 2015, TransCanada asked the Obama administration to suspend its permit application for the Keystone XL.

Supposedly, the Pipeline would have risen greenhouse gas emissions because it comes from oil sands as opposed to conventional sources. However, there are three phases of the Pipeline besides the XL that are fine, and, while the environmentalists cite their worry that the Pipeline may spring leaks, the same petro is riding on tanks on railroad tracks. This more dangerous transport method has led to massive spills, most recently in West Virginia. Here's a snippet from that article.

The downside: Trains hauling Bakken-region oil have been involved in major accidents in Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Alabama, and Canada, where 47 people were killed by an explosive derailment in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
Reports of leaks and other oil releases from tank cars are up as well, from 12 in 2008 to 186 last year, according to Department of Transportation records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Just Saturday — two days before the West Virginia wreck — 29 cars of a 100-car Canadian National Railway train carrying diluted bitumen crude derailed in a remote area 50 miles south of Timmins, Ontario, spilling oil and catching fire. That train was headed from Alberta to Eastern Canada.
The train that derailed Monday was bound for an oil shipping depot in Yorktown, Virginia along the same route where three tank cars plunged into the James River in Lynchburg, Va., prompting an evacuation last year.

So, blocking the Pipeline will help continue transporting oil by rail. Who owns the rails? Obama's best friend Warren Buffet does. He makes a multi-billion dollar profit on this dangerous, messy style of transport annually. Obama is securing a primary donor while making his ignorant base of supporters think he is actually doing something to help the environment. Obama's legacy is that he has been a manipulator of a base of economic illiterates and social bullies while growing the big corporation/big government marriage that has flourished over the last generation. I'm sure you can see this pattern in almost everywhere Obama has put his hand.

But in the Keystone XL Pipeline fiasco, Obama has exposed the stupidity and corruption that is his true legacy.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

On Birdman - Why People Living in Sin are Downright Boring, and Not Cool

Tears is the break of my brow,
The moony tempestuous
Sitting downIn dark railyards
When to see my mother’s face
Recalling from the waking vision
I wept to understand
The trap mortality
And personal blood of earth
Which saw me in—Father father
Why hast thou forsaken me?
Mortality & unpleasure
Roam this city—
Unhappiness my middle name
I want to be saved,-
Sunk—can’t be
Won’t be
Never was made—
So retch! 
"On Tears" by Jack Kerouac

Usually I see why a movie won a lot of Oscar awards. In the case of "Birdman" with Michael Keaton, I have no idea why it won its awards. After a few minutes of watching, you realize everyone is hopelessly broken, breathing self-indulgent profanities, getting drunk, and acting childish. A hip drumming and jazz music is running behind the scenes throughout the movie, reminiscent of the beatniks of the 1950s. The actor "Mike Shiner" goes around like a 21st Century Jack Kerouac, complete with the edgy, drunken, and arrogant personality in a jacket with the collar flipped up. The woman of "Birdman" sleep with whoever says something nice to them. In one of the few honest moments, the blond actress looks at herself in the mirror and asks, "Why don't I have any self-respect?" Gary Larsen of "Far Side" cartoon fame had a funny sketch that can explain these type of people. A mama amoeba is yelling at her amoeba son, saying, "That's all you know; impulse-response! Impulse-response!" Bulls-eye.  

People drowning in their own sin become very predictable. While us "religious people" do predictable things - like pray first thing every morning - to the world we are not predictable. When we call on God, He responds in often very unpredictable ways. We forgive when the bastards deserved our scorn and judgment. We pray for others and bear their pain like when I prayed for healing for my brother's extreme psoriasis and became overwhelmed with his dread of the disease. The words "I feel like a leper" kept running through my head; words I never heard him say before. It was the very next week that he told me, tearing up, that he felt like a leper. We forgive the unforgivable - as the world sees it - and we love the unlovable. And God has answered all of my prayers, often in a way that I would never have predicted; at times leaving me absolutely speechless, in awe of His ways.

So the arrogant actor who sleeps around, lives life on the drunken edge, and curses up a storm gets old fast. He is boring and washed up. We aren't surprised. We are all born with the sinful nature. It's the born-again nature that surprises and edifies. You can't learn anything new from Birdman and crew because they are not capable of teaching you anything new. THEY are the walking dead.

So I hated the movie, Birdman. I don't know how it won Oscars upon Oscars except to serve as proof that Hollywood just doesn't get it. There's a world out there beyond the one-night-stands and perpetual profanity. It's called Heaven. And it's awesomely unpredictable.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Muslims Are Getting Sick of Islam and Turning to Christ in Iraq

The horrific acts of those in ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other violent Islamist groups are turning more reasonable Muslims away from the religion of Mohammed.   Many are moving toward Jesus Christ and salvation, Let's pray this trend moves millions to salvation in the Muslim world.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Children's Bible Lesson on Revelation 2

Bible Lesson
Revelation 2:12-3:16
Jesus calls us to awaken, reject wrong thinking, and repent of sin.
God is Guide
Have you ever been given directions that couldn’t possibly be right? Perhaps they told you that your Science class was right down the hall from your Math class but you knew they were on different floors altogether. Well that same kind of thing happens with the Bible. I have a friend who says that whenever she wants to hear from God she takes her Bible, then closes her eyes, opens it up to a random page, and places her finger down on the random page. She opens her eyes and reads the Bible verse looking for God’s guidance. [Try that with the class] Some of you might be saying right now, “Well, my verse made a little sense, but his didn’t.” The flaw with this method is that, while God can intervene and guide us to the verse, we are controlling our fingers, and, most importantly, WE are applying the meaning to the verses. Often people who practice this don’t consider the context of the verse, only considering what it appears to be saying to them on that particularly day, much like a horoscope. But tonight we’ll learn that the Word of God is alive and active. For us to be alive and active we must be constantly studying His Word. Since the Word of God is inseparable from God Himself, then God Himself is acting as our guide through the study of His Word.
If we do not study God’s Word, we can fall asleep in our sins and be easily mislead. God knows this so Jesus called His people to awaken, reject wrong thinking, and repent of sin. 
Tonight we’re digging deep through Revelation 2:12 through Chapter 3, verse 6; the letters from Jesus to the churches in Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis. First up is Pergamum. Today in the nation of Turkey, this spot is called Bergama. In the First Century, Pergamom was known as a center of medical knowledge and featured one of the world’s largest libraries with over 200,000 books written on sheepskin paper which is also called parchment paper after the city’s other spelling, Pergamon. On the negative side, the city was very strong on emperor worship, and the current Emperor is an evil man named Domitian who hates Christians because they refuse to call him lord.

Now Jesus tends to begin these letters with positive reinforcement for good spiritual and physical deeds followed by warnings or negative reinforcement of those things that He will not tolerate. Let’s open our Bibles and take a look at Revelation 2, verse 12.

12“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 
Remember that Jesus is the Word and the Word is described as a double-edged sword. In Hebrews 4:12-13 the author writes, “12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
I love this study of Revelation because it teaches us about Our Lord and Savior not only as the Son of God who gave His life on the cross to pay the debt for our sin. In Revelation, we see the risen Jesus in all His glory. He has hair like white light, seven stars in his right hand, a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth. John was struggling to describe Him. In Revelation, we are forced to look at Jesus in his eternal majesty. I was amazed at how few pictures of this stage of Jesus’ appearance, this now and forever stage. [Review Google images for “Jesus Christ in his glory”, showing the one image that was somewhat close to the depiction in Revelation 1]
The fact that Jesus pointed to the sword of the word in his intro to the church at Pergamum was referring to the church’s main sin, they tolerate teaching that contradicts the Word of God. But before he lays into the church, he wisely points out their strong points. This is an important communication technique in management. If you’ve had great teachers in your life, they will use it; meaning that they will praise you for what you are doing right before pointing out opportunities you have to overcome flaws. Did you know that great leaders and managers over the centuries have used Jesus as their model for how to encourage and motivate people to be better? Just a thought.
13I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
So Jesus commends the Pergamum church for remaining true to his name, even though Satan lives in their city. Remember that Pergamum had several temples dedicated to emperor worship not to mention all the other nasty things that were in that city. Antipas was a church leader who paid the ultimate price for his testimony about Jesus Christ. Never forget that Satan doesn’t just want to control the person next door to you; he wants to control you. Satan will never rest under you’re under his complete control, first convincing you to do nothing in the face of evil, then doing the evil yourself. So Satan lives and has his throne in Pergamum. Is our city any different? While we are blessed with a majestic church where we can freely worship the true God, Satan is right down the street. His throne is here in our city and he lives here, too. Will you be true to Jesus’ name like so many of the church at Pergamum?
14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Balaam was a pagan prophet we learned about during the life of Moses who was hired by King Balak of Moab to help defeat the Israelites. God spoke directly to Balaam and Balaam repeated what God has said to King Balak. However, Balaam wanted to please Balak so he advised him to get the pagan women to entice the Israelite men to sin. Once that was accomplished, the Israelite men were owned, you might say, by the evil women and they did whatever they were asked to do, like eating food sacrificed to false gods. Now Jesus is accusing the church at Pergamum of falling for the same trap. And it’s not rocket science. They enticed Israel to sin, and then everything else came right behind it. You see, the problem is sin. God cannot accept sin and we must never accept it, either. But we are weak. We need a Savior. We need to be digging in God’s Word daily, knowing his voice from the voice of evil people.
And Nicolaitans were – on the surface - very nice people who believed it wasn’t important what you did with your body. We have people like this today who think people with certain sexual lifestyles or a past history of sexual infidelity can hold high positions in the church. Whereas we cannot condemn others for their sin because we are sinners ourselves, how can we overlook sin as people who serve the true and perfect God who cannot tolerate sin? This same thing is happening in many churches today. They’re trying to redefine sin, but sin needs no redefining. Sin is separation from God and Jesus already died for all of our sins. There’s nothing new under the sun! The same sins we see here in the churches are the same sins we see today. People will try to tell you that the Bible is outdated but that’s ridiculous. Everything in the Word of God is 100% relevant today.
17Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious..” Let’s stop there a second. Do you know how the ear works? God gave you sensors to process the sensation of sound and you process that sound..where? The brain, right. So what he is saying here is that there are some people who aren’t going to hear the Spirit. That just is what it is. And while we’re called to spread the gospel, remember that when the Bible speaks of hearing, it’s God’s perspective on the hearing, which means that the message touched something. It ignited something in the brain, the heart, and the soul. Some people will be drawn in, some won’t. Before I was saved, I thought that was unacceptable; God was being cruel. He seemed indifferent to the people who were not hearing, but then I realized that I was trying to out-think God. While we must never condemn people in our hearts, we must never distrust God as judge over everyone.
That point leads to the next, that those who are victorious will receive a reward. The victory is trusting and obeying Jesus, not in the way you think is right but in the way the Word of God says is right. And that’s why we are to ask God for that hidden manna. Remember last year we studied how God led the Israelites through the dessert and gave them manna to eat. It would fall on the ground for six days a week. On the sixth day, double the manna would fall so the Israelites could rest on the seventh, or Sabbath, day. What Jesus is saying is that he promises to give you this food for your soul. It’s the logical progression from having ears to hear what the Spirit says. He’s saying, I will feed you spiritually. I will give you wisdom and truths that are beyond your own understanding. When you don’t understand a Bible verse or a situation in your life, pray that God would give you some of that hidden manna so that you may understand what God is doing, and what He wants you to know.
Last, Jesus gives a promise of “a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” There are three historical references to white stones that are pretty fascinating; they work together very nicely to add depth to the Scripture verse. First, the High Priest would wear 12 small white stones attached to his shirt when he went into the Holy of Holies, which was the presence of God in the Hebrew Tabernacle. Each stone had the name of a tribe etched onto it. So we see the high priest, who for us is Jesus, entering into the Father’s presence with a stone with our new name written on it. Second, athletes who won or placed high in competitions in the ancient world were given a stone with their name written on it. Those stones were their ticket to get into the awards banquet. So that has meaning for us believers. Third, jurors in the first century would be given white and black stones when they were ready to issue verdicts of guilty or innocent. A white stone meant innocent and a black stone meant the defendant was guilty. So the white stone denotes our innocence before God, our jury of One.
Then there’s the point of our new name, known only to us, known only to you. But, wait, isn’t God all-knowing? So he knows it, too! Have you ever had a name that only one person ever used for you; maybe it was or is a favorite uncle, or aunt, or grandparent? Now understand that your Father, the God who runs the universe, has a special forever name picked out for you. It’s a name that only He and you know. How cool is that? How intimate is our God’s love for us?
What does the new name mean? It will mean that you have finally been changed forever. Yes, we may all be in the process of drawing closer to God but when we receive our white stone with our new name written on it, we will finally be complete before God. You will have been crowned with the crown that Jesus designed for you from before you came into existence. It will mean that you heard – that your mind, heart, and soul, heard the truth of God’s Word and repented of your sin. The principle for this division is that God‘s Word reveals truth and exposes error.
A surgeon is qualified not only to diagnose the disease but to cut out the tumor causing sickness. In a similar way, God gives us the truth of our condition in His Word. So what sin is God revealing to you? To what sins are you deliberately overlooking like the Nicolaitans did? Will you continue studying God’s Word so you can know what is true and what is false? When God reveals your sin to you, will you repent?
Next up – Thyatira. Thyatira was probably the smallest city to have a church. It was known for its textiles and was home to Lydia, a successful businesswoman who became a believer during Paul’s ministry.
II. To the Church in Thyatira
18“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 
Jesus’ words are like Him; powerful, strong, and perfectly holy. Again, I hope that the Jesus we envision is more like the now and forever Jesus as He describes Himself here.
19I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
So the church at Thyatira were doers of the Word, at least more than at first, but, again, they allowed false teaching to thrive in their church. Jezebel is a reference to the evil wife of Ahab, King of Israel. Jezebel lived in the house of the king but her allegiance was to her earthly father, a pagan king. I think we can understand the point of sexual immorality and that it opens doors to all sorts of evil. Today we look at “eating food sacrificed to idols” and we are tempted to think this is ancient gibberish. But, remember, Jesus is God. He’s never ancient. Here he’s speaking first to people who lived in the 90s AD. So when we speak of food, what might food mean in the spiritual realm? Does listening to vile rap music count as “eating food sacrificed to idols”? How about watching vile things on TV, at the movies, or on your computer? What are you feeding yourself with? Jesus is very angry at the Jezebels of the church at Thyatira. In his grace, he calls on them to repent, and, if they don’t, he will lift his hand of protection on them, causing them to suffer intensely. “Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds”. Indeed, isn’t that God, who searches hearts and minds? Satan can’t do that. He can listen to what we say, make deceiving suggestions to us, but he cannot search our hearts and minds. Always fear the One who can search your heart and mind; Jesus is the King of your heart and mind, and your soul. We must recognize that, and repent.  
24Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
“Hold onto what you have until I come”. Hold onto Jesus and the Word of God. It will never pass away. And don’t bother, Jesus instructs us, about the so-called deep secrets of Satan. Today we have many pagan prophets talking about deep secrets. Discard them and hold onto the truth, because the truth of God is no secret. It was never meant to be a secret.
26To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’b —just as I have received authority from my Father. 28I will also give that one the morning star. 29Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Yes, we who overcome – who trust in Jesus and obey Him – will judge the nations. Of course, that will be after the Day of Redemption, but we will be judges and have authority also. Yet if we ignore God’s Word, and get caught up in the false teachings of the world, we invite disaster – a bed of suffering, as Jesus calls it. The principle for this division is that ignoring God’s Word results in disaster.
Right now you might be being tempted to follow a wrong example. Will you turn to God’s Word for refuge and rescue from the disaster that temptation may bring? Have there been times you felt there was no choice but to do something wrong? Will you call out to Jesus for help and rely on the strength of Jesus OUR King gives us to obey God?
III. To the Church in Sardis
Sardis was about 32 miles east of Th`yatira and was known for gold deposits on its riverbanks. Of course, it is now in modern Turkey and it is now called Sart.                                                                        
1“To the angela of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spiritsb of God and the seven stars.
Notice how, each time He introduces Himself, Jesus mentions something about Himself that illustrates for us the eternal Jesus. The seven spirits in His hand points to the totality of the church of Christ. We are safely in His hand – He holds us firm.
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 
It looks like the church at Sardis were bosses in the community, probably a very politically active church. They had a reputation for being alive yet they were dead. What? That can only happen through politics, but we don’t know for certain in this case. It appears the church were strong supporters of church doctrine but not good purveyors of love. If the church at Sardis was impressed with their political influence, God counted it as being dead. What made me wince the most of God’s critique of Sardis was, “I have found your deeds unfinished”. Ouch, that would hurt me to hear! The church at Sardis must have been boastful, gleefully counting their deeds. But God’s response to such arrogance? Your deeds are unfinished. But what is finished? Jesus’ work is finished on the cross. Perhaps the church at Sardis forgot that they were to enter into the finished work of Jesus Christ. Instead, they decided to
3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Here we get a clearer picture of what Jesus is angry about. They fell asleep. They went astray even though they were probably seen as “strong Christians”. They “soiled their clothes” by not trusting in Jesus in all things. It got so bad they fell asleep spiritually. Only a few people had not soiled their clothes, their testimony.
Sin is separation from God our Father. And He sent His Son to remove that separation, to die for us on the cross at Calvary, to tear down the wall that we have built up to block him from our daily lives. And the church of Sardis is a great warning to us because we can lose sight of the gospel while fighting FOR the gospel. If we raise ourselves up, we demote Jesus. If we see ourselves as the only true soldiers in the fight for truth, and we forget the love of Jesus during that fight, we miss the truth. When we raise ourselves up, we bring Jesus down. We become the church at Sardis.
 “I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life”. One last point, in ancient times a person’s name revealed a lot about them. It pointed to their destiny. In Genesis, Jacob’s name meant “deceiver”, and that is what he was until he met God, and God changed his name to Israel, which means “to struggle with God”, because he had “struggled with God and overcome”. Jacob finally had turned away from his former self, the deceiver, and trusted in the Lord. He was given a new name.
 Our last principle is that God the Holy Spirit awakens the spiritually dead through repentance. Does God see that your heart is not alive with love and commitment for Him? He is calling you to wake up, repent from sin, and follow Him. How will you respond? Those who repent will be given a white stone of innocence with a new name written on it known only to them and the God who created the universe.

God is our guide. How is He guiding you tonight? Have you tried to ignore his leading? Will you repent? Others may guide you in the wrong direction, but God will never lead you astray. His Word is always true; it is infallible because it will never fail…you. Will you truly love the Lord Jesus and be loyal to him, to hold on till the end, by believing and obeying his words? Let’s pray.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ezekiel's Vision in Chapter One

This vision points to the Messiah, Jesus. The Four Living Creatures Ezekiel saw, and, later, the apostle John, saw, testified to the Messiah; the face of a man (which Jesus would become), the face of a lion (the Lion of the tribe of Judah), an ox (indicating the hard work the Messiah would overcome), and the eagle (about to rise from the dead). The intersecting wheels may signify the cross and the intersection of God and man through the Son of Man. And of course the man on the throne is Christ. Ezekiel saw Jesus in all His fullness, and was left speechless.