Dan's Meditations

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dealing With Evil

Last night was interesting. The blood was certainly pumping.

My Italian relatives, my family, and my uncle and aunt from New York all went out to eat. During the meal, (and I was at the kiddy table, so I had nothing to do with this), my dad and my Italian uncle started talking about the war in Iraq. They are both against the war. When we left the restaraunt, they were still talking about the war. I did not actually witness any of this. (By the way, I am in New York state right now). Then, in the parking lot, a couple guys who heard the conversation, started cussing out my dad and my uncle expressing their views about Iraq: "We just need to f-ing kill them all!"

Now, I didn't see or hear any of this, but in the ride home in the van, my Italian uncle and aunt were talking about a mile and minute in Italian at each other. They were really pissed off.

The thing is this: My Italian relatives are already brainwashed. They already hate Bush, and they actually think that the way to deal with terrorism (at least in Iraq) is to not do anything. They think that our actions in Iraq is fueling terrorism, not dettering terrorism. They think that the attacks in Spain and the attacks in London are "punishment" by the terrorists for being involved in Iraq. They fear, and predict, that Italy will be hit right before the next election. And they blame America for it, because we have apparently pissed off the terrorists and have created terrorists.

I think that my description of their views is accurate, based on the discussion we had last night. But it might not be. Liberals contradict themselves so much that I have a hard time understanding what they are saying sometimes.

But the point is, this experience caused them to cement themselves in EVEN MORE. They said, "What?! So, if you are against the war in America, people think that you are a communist, and you might be verbally assaulted?" We spent a good deal of time last night trying (unsuccessfully, I think) to let them know that the views of the two people in the parking lot are not the views of most Americans.

Now, my Uncle John (american uncle) is conservative and for the war in Iraq. Furthermore, he thinks (and I agree) that the US should give Iran and Syria six months to demonstrate that they do not in any way support or harbor terrorism. We think they need to be given an ultimatum. And, if Iran and Syria don't satisfy our demands, then we should go to war and take out those despotic regimes, and establish new governments that respect human life and basic fundamental rights.

But what strikes me as interesting and disconcerting is the mindset of Europeans (and the left in America) versus the mindset of the "religious right."

On September 11th, 2001, as I saw the twin towers come down on national television, I was infuriated with a holy fury. My response: We need to aggressively take these people out. I'll be praying for their salvations, because their lives in this world are quickly coming to an end. This is about protecting the innocent and doing justice. Evil must be confronted and defeated.

On March 11th a few years ago, Spain got attacked right before the election. When I saw their response, I was incredulous. They were waving peace signs and expressing their desire to be pacifist. "Violence begets violence." The attacks actually caused the election to swing - in favor of leaders who would seek to appease the terrorists! I was thinking, "What's wrong with these people?!" They just don't understand the nature of terrorism.

You would think that these people would learn from history. Appeasing evil makes evil people more bold! Appeasement does not work. The language these people understand is force.

Just look at Europe in the late 1930's. Hitler came to power and took over Czeckoslovakia. Chamberlain's response: Go have a meeting with Hitler and ask him to play nice. Then come home saying, "Peace in our time!" Sleep peacefully Great Britain. Everything is ok. Churchill, on the other hand, spoke up and spoke out decarling that Hitler needed to be confronted and stopped. He was mocked and ridiculed. He was also right.

Had Hitler been confronted early and decisively, millions of lives would have been saved. But, people had their heads stuck in the sand, and they actually believed that the way to deal with Hitler was to negotiate and have meetings and do basically nothing.

In the US, we are divided. About half of us think the war in Iraq is the right thing to do, and half of us don't. In Europe, virtually all think that the war in Iraq is crazy, and that Bush is evil. Why the difference?

I think it is interesting to note that Europe is essentially a post-Christian society. Very few people in Europe believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. Very few people read the Bible on a regular basis. They deny moral absolutes. They are "progressive" and basically leftists. They think that we need to appease the terrorists (although my Italian relatives denied that when I said that).

Why do I think so differently? I think it is due to my faith. First of all, I recognize evil as evil - absolutely. Secondly, I say it needs to be confronted. As we dedicate ourselves to doing justly and confronting evil, I am convinced that God Almighty has our back.

I perceive this to be the difference between America and Europe. The Bible-believing, Bible-practicing church is alive and well in America. Europe is in desperate need of missionaries. Europe would do well to read the Bible and to put their faith and trust in Christ, and to stand up and fight for justice.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

To Speak Or Not To Speak

So, this morning during breakfast, my Italian relatives, my family, and I got into a discussion about morality, faith, and politics. It started out with my father musing (although this particular question is so elementary that it wasn't really musing): "Might is right or Might for right?" The truth is my father is a fairly intelligent guy... and the Italians were here... and like most Europeans, the Italians hate Bush and are against the war, and think that Bush-loving America are arrogant, ignorant, and brainwashed. Furthermore, my Dad also doesn't like Bush and was against the war.

So, Cira (my aunt) said, as any person who is halfway reasonable and decent would, "Might for right." After all, this was an opportunity to make a statement against arrogant, big, powerful America and all Bush-lovers.

So, then I quipped, "Of course, might for right. But what is right? Is it absolute?"

And this launched the discussion.

Cira quickly said, "No. It is subjective. There are no absolute truths." Well, within a few minutes I got her to admit that there are some absolute truths. But the thing is, she was all over the place. First, each individual decides for themselves what is right, then it was the law of the land, then it was society in general. Then, yea, there are some absolutes. But she kept trying to go too fast. For example, when she said that the laws of the land are the standard, I asked, "What if a law is unjust?" Well, she used this to launch into a statement against capital punishment.

I was trying to apply the principle of James - to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I certainly did this well. But, I wonder if I should have been more aggressive in my approach. See, as far as I could discern, Cira wasn't really listening. She was hearing me, and being polite, but she was really just trying to make a statement. She is a pretty good debater and good at rhetoric. Logic - not so much. Debate skills - excellent. She made her statements loud and clear, and didn't give me much opportunity to make my statements. In the midst of all this, my brother (who is in the Navy) was loudly and persistently making his statements. He wasn't listening to anyone whatsoever. He just wanted to hear himself speak. (He was defending America's involvement in Iraq).

So, my brother and my aunt did most of the talking in this conversation. I said a few things here and there, and I was certainly calm, cool, and collected about it. But the thing is that I am an ambassador of Christ - who is speaking the word of God. I'm not just another guy. My opinion therefore, is the truth - since my opinion is in line with God's word. My brother and my aunt certainly would have done well to stop speaking and to listen to what I had to say because what I had to say was good and true and right, while much of what they had to say (not everything they had to say) was just foolish secular humanism expressed with blind arrogant smugness. I say blind, because they are so sure of the reasonableness of their position, and it hasn't even entered into my Aunt's imagination that she is totally in "left" field. (Get it? pun intended)

So, I am wondering, what I could have done better to handle the situation and where do I go from here?

Perhaps the best thing to do is to simply pray and to look for more opportunities to gently and firmly contend for the truth in love, and let my aunt read Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis). (Nancy and I gave it to her for Christmas, and she said she would read it).

By the way, to give you more of an idea about the kind of person my aunt is, she gave my sister a book by Michael Moore a couple years ago - apparently expecting that after my sister read the book she would "see the light." Such seems to be the mindset of most of Europe. I wonder what percentage of Europeans even know what a syllogism is, and how to tell a valid argument from an invalid argument. What percentage of Europeans know the difference between validity and truth?

Of course, that wouldn't get them any closer to God. Plenty of philosophers know that stuff well, but still, they are blind to their need for Jesus Christ.

So, I am wondering what to do.

Proverbs 26:4 - Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

Proverbs 26:5 - Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

It seems to me that modern evangelical Christians (myself included) really get this screwed up. We talk and argue when we should be silent, calm, cool, and collected. We are quick to anger, and we want to hear ourselves speak. But our hearts are far from God. Our thoughts are not God's thoughts. But then, when we should boldly stand up for the truth and speak out with some passion and conviction and courage, we shrink back in fear, complacency, and unbelief. We justify it by pointing to Proverbs 26:4 and the verses in James about being slow to speak and quick to listen. But really, we were just being cowards, or we gave in to some other idolatry - perhaps a love of worldliness - which always seeks to keep the truth from really breaking people. We love the world; we don't really want to see people repent because we hate God. Repentance is no fun. We don't want other people to go through the horrible feelings of brokenness that is repentance. So, we let fools think they are wise in their own eyes. Meanwhile, God's word commands us to hold back those being led away to the slaughter, and to speak out against disobedience, ignorance, and unbelief.

I believe that the anti-Christ will be using these verses to establish his unholy kingdom on the earth. He will whisper the verse that basically says to shut up into the ears of those who should be speaking up. He will whisper the verse that says to speak into the ears of those who should sit down, shut up, and listen. Obviously, he will use this in the churches to propagate false demonic doctrines in the name of Christ himself. Many will buy into the lie, thinking that they are gaining wisdom and growing closer to God - but being totally blinded to the fact that they are really giving worship to Satan.

So, how do we keep from being deceived? We must hold fast to the Word of God. We must be teachable, and we must be attentive to His voice. We must be radical in obedience to God. When the Spirit of God prompts us to speak up, we must. When he tells us to shut up, we must.

Those who know really know Christ won't be confused. But those who are deceived will also be confident in what they affirm - not realizing their own deception.

Let us pray.
Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Let your kingdom come; let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us for our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Boys and Girls Club

Last Saturday, our 20-Somethings Sunday School class spent the day at the Boys and Girls Club downtown Newport News. This is primarily an African-American community, and last Saturday, the Boys and Girls Club was having their family Christmas party. So, we went to help serve food, tear down, and meet some people. We went in Jesus' name, and we were well received.

Before everything started, James taught a bunch of kids the "uh-UH!" game. I'm not even going to try to explain this game over a blog, but this game is a great party game/youth group game. It involves grunting, pointing, intimidation, cadence, attention, and coordination. You pretty much have to check your pride at the door if you are going to play.

Before the meal was served, the director, Mr. Johnson, gave a short introduction, during which he asserted that this was a Christmas Party (and not merely a holiday party). He said that if anyone had a problem with him calling it a Christmas Party, then he could take their ticket (and so then they couldn't eat). No one had any problem with it. Then he introduced our group, and James talked briefly about who we are and why we were there. James came right out and said that we were there because we care and because we believe in Jesus Christ. He got a big applause for this. Then James prayed in Jesus' name to bless the food.

I'm pretty bad at guessing crowds, but there were probably over 200 people there that we served. We met this one guy, Corey, who is in his 20's. He is from Hampton and he earned a full scholarship at Columbia University. He has graduated, and now he is back in the area and trying to help kids find their way. I don't know if he is a Christian, but it was great to meet him. I got to talk with him a little bit, and let him know that our group prays every Saturday. He and James talked more. This is just the beginning. We will be doing more at the Boys and Girls Club. Those kids were hungry for love; we've got love to give.


I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century. I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it … I did try to be original but I only succeeded in inventing all by myself an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion … and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.” - G.K. Chesterton, famous author and scholar

As I first read this quote, I thought of my own intellectual journey the past 12 years or so. Early on in my Christian walk, when I saw how the early church lived, I actually considered embracing communism/socialism. Then I found out that we have a very big problem: People are selfish.

So, then I went to the other extreme and became an ardent capitalist. But here, you have the problem of monopolies. Again, the problem is that people are selfish.

As I have thought through social/political issues, I keep coming to the same conclusions. Sin keeps screwing up all systems. Regardless of the system, a sinner can always find a loophole to work the system to his own advantage.

And so, through logic, it is made obvious that to put your trust in government or in a secular political idea or in anything other than God Himself, is to trust in an idol that will disappoint you. So, as I have wrestled and wrestled with church/social/political issues, I come to this conclusion: We need Jesus. More and more, the cry of my heart is the Lord's prayer:

"Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name. Let your kingdom come; let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Having thought through all kinds of issues from all kinds of angles, I join in with Chesterton. I have discovered orthodoxy. My soul delights in the Lord and in His Word. His word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. In Him there is peace, joy, love, and life - abundant and eternal. All His promises are "Yes" and "Amen."

Let us delight ourselves in God's Word. He is good. His love endures forever. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass whithers and the flowers fade away, but the word of the Lord stands forever." - 1 Peter 1:24-25

Worship God. Celebrate orthodoxy.