Dan's Meditations

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It is here. I don't like it. I wish that everyone would play nice. I wish that we didn't have crazy Islamo-fascists in the world who were committed to the destruction of Israel and America. I wish we could have world "Peace in our Time." But that's not reality. Reality is that WWIII has begun. This is going to be a long war. A war of ideology. Millions of people hate us and want us dead and are committed to our destruction. They believe that if they die killing Israelis or killing Americans, they will get 72 virgins in heaven. Heaven is, of course, a place where the orgasms never stop. And where, if you are a man, then you get to be worshipped by more beautiful women then you can handle.

Check out these links: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207606,00.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hassan_Nasrallah.

To all who are calling for a cease-fire in Israel, I would emphasize this statement made by Nasrallah:

"I am against any reconciliation with Israel. I do not even recognize the presence of a state that is called 'Israel.' I consider its presence both unjust and unlawful. That is why if Lebanon concludes a peace agreement with Israel and brings that accord to the Parliament our deputies will reject it; Hezbollah refuses any conciliation with Israel in principle."

Given this kind of stance towards Israel by Hezbollah, it necessarily follows that everyone who is calling for a ceasefire are siding with the terrorists. To call for a ceasefire is to deny Israel her right to defend herself, and it gives terrorists the opportunity to regroup, reorganize, rearm, and spread their propaganda of hate and Islamo-fascism. These people are not going to quit. They are committed to the destruction of Israel.

Either Israel does not have the right to exist, or Israel has the right to exist. As with all moral issues (abortion, death penalty, God in schools), there is no neutral ground on this. If Israel has the right to exist, then she certainly has the right to defend herself from those who have committed their lives to Israel's destruction. If you deny Israel's right to exist, then you have set yourself against the chosen people of God - arguably the most persecuted people in all of history.

Hezbollah has got to go. The whole world ought to be coming to Israel's aid right now. The United States ought to help Israel out by providing intelligence support, economic aid, weapons, and troops.

But we have to recognize that this is not just about taking out Hezbollah. It is time to go after Iran. Ahmadinejad is a clearly a terrorist. He and his thugs are fueling the fire in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in Israel. He should be given an ultimatum: Stop supporting Hezbollah terrorists and the terrorist efforts in Iraq, or the United States is coming after you.

See, here is the big problem. It is a real mess.

We have the religion of Islam. Millions of Muslims hate Jews and Christians. Millions of Muslims (rightly) recognize that faith and politics can not be separated. But they wrongly presuppose many creeds that are heretical and wicked. They deny the deity of Christ. They deny the doctrine of grace. Thus, they are a self-righteous and arrogant people. On top of all this, their false prophet, Mohammed declared that it was Ishmael and not Isaac on Mount Moriah. So, after 2200 years, the Arabs all of a sudden invent a creed by which they get all the land and the blessings promised to Israel. Thus, the existence of Israel is an intolerable evil, in their view. And America's support of Israel is equally intolerable. Thus, many millions of Muslims are zealously committed to the annihilation of Israel.

Secondly, we have the Israel - the chosen people of God. Israel has been chosen by God. They have been promised land and blessings. Those who curse Israel will be cursed; those who bless Israel will be blessed. And all nations on Earth will be blessed through Israel. This says nothing about Israel being any "better" than anyone else. This is simply due to the Sovereign choice and Sovereign plan of God. Through Jesus, the Messiah, many of these prophecies have come to pass.

Unfortunately, many millions of Jews (but not all Jews) have rejected the deity of Jesus. They think he was a heretic. This is wicked and unfortunate. As far as the gospel is concerned, they are blind and lost, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs. The Jews have been persecuted, raped, murdered, mistreated, partially annihilated, etc throughout history.

In 1917, they were granted a "small notch of land" by the League of Nations - a notch of land that included all of present day Israel and the disputed land (so-called Palestinian territories) as well as all modern day Jordan. The whole region (which had been known for thousands of years as Palestine) was set aside as the Jewish homeland. Then, in the early 1920's, Britain unilaterally trumped the League of Nations mandate, taking over 70% of the small notch of land, and granting that land east of the Jordan to the Arab Palestinians (present day Jordanians). The rest of the land (west of the Jordan) was to be the Jewish homeland (for all the Jewish Palestinians, aka Israelis).

If this rhetoric is causing any of you to be confused, it is probably due to the fact that you have been brainwashed by the Arab Propaganda machine, and because you known next to nothing about the history of the region. I admonish you to do some reading and get the facts.

Check this out:

Then there are the secularists. They religiously deny that God has any authority or right to get involved in politics. The word of the Lord is great for your private life; just keep it out of the public arena. Of course, the secularists don't understand, believe, or accept that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. They are full of contradictions and foolishness. They are not philsophically sound. They act as though they have authority in the world, but all they have to back up their supposed authority (to make moral, social, cultural, and political judgments) is their gut feeling. Some secularists don't realize that justice is essentially a moral and religious issue. Other secularists do realize this, but still contend that God's word has no authority in the public sphere.

Secularists come in a variety of shapes and sizes. On one hand you have "traditionalists," who acknowledge many of the fundamental assumptions that have shaped Western civilizations for the past two thousand years. Many of those assumptions are Christian in nature. This makes sense considering that you can not study the history of western civilization without seeing the influence of the Christian church throughout the said history. Many "traditionalists" are all for "God," in the public sphere, but they want to somehow tame God. They kinda are missing the point that Jesus is the Lion of Judah. He's not a tame lion. When He gets involved, He takes over. He has power and authority. He is Sovereign over all creation. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.

So, while I often find myself in agreement with the traditionalists on many issues, there arguments are usually always secular in nature. This demonstrates a lack of wisdom, faith, and integrity. Either these people are not really Christian (and so they don't know better), or they are Christian, but are in compromise. They need to be "transformed by the renewing of their minds." (Romans 12:2).

But then there are the crazy radical socialist secularists (isn't it interesting that very, very few radical non-tradiational, pro-feminist, secularists make a lot of noise about the "greatness" of capitalism... just an interesting tangent idea). Here you have the ACLU, most of the media (aside from Fox News and most of Talk Radio), most of the Democratic party, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ted Kennedy, Bill and Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, Ned Lamont, Chuck Schumer, etc. They hate the West, the 10 Commandments, and anything that remotely smells "Christian." They are religiously committed to a secular society. Postmodern secularism is their contradictory religion. Essentially, they are committed first and foremost to do whatever they think and whatever they want. They have exalted "self" in the place of God. On their own supposed authority they say that women should have the right to kill their unborn, women and minorities deserve "extra equal" opportunity, the death penalty is bad - but killing those on feeding tubes is cool, God is the real problem with everything - keep God out, negotiate with Islamic terrorism, and do not let Israel fight to defend hereself. In fact, many secularists have sided with the Islamo-fascists. They want Israel to be destroyed. They want to negotiate with the terrorists (after all, Muslims are not Christian, and anything that is not Christian is definately cooler than Christianity).

So, you can see why World War III is such a mess.

This calls for wisdom. The stakes are high in this war. What are we fighting for? What are we fighting against? What do we really value? What is justice? What would Jesus do?

I do not have all of this figured out yet. But I do know a few things.

God loves us all. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins - the just for the unjust - that those who believe could be saved.

The greatest commands of the Bible are to love God and to love our neighbor.

The Bible commands us to do justly. "The just shall live by faith." It was "by faith" that heroes of old "established justice." "Everything that does not come from faith is sin."

Israel has the right to exist. Anyone who tries to deny Israel that right needs to be brought to justice - quickly and decisively.

Islam is erroneous. Christians need to reach out to Muslims in love - to share the gospel with them, and to gently show them the errors of their doctrines. We need to introduce them to the person of Jesus Christ.

Muslims who live peacefully should be respected for their commitment to peace.

Muslims need to repent for their idolatry.

Everyone needs to repent for their idolatry.

Israel needs to humble themselves under God's mighty hand, and acnkowledge Yehshua - the Messiah.

Politicians need to recognize that they are God's servants - that they must fear the Lord and study His word - so as to understand and carry out justice.

We Christians need to repent for our plethora of sins. We need to model for the world authentic Christian community. We need to do justly and love mercy. We need to stop looking to the world for answers, and we need to look to the Bible for answers.

We must fight the good fight of faith. We must confront evil wherever it arises (and we ought to first look into our own hearts and confront the sinner within).

Dear God, Give us grace.

Johnny Cash

I just saw Walk the Line this weekend with my wife and a friend. What a great movie! Johnny Cash. What a life! What a story of God's beautiful redemption! I'm listening to his music right now. I just love his voice, and the sense that his music comes from the deepest core of himself. There seems to be so much compassion in his music - as if he is speaking the love of God over the lives of broken people. He seems to have so much empathy for his fellow man - for poor, lost sinners like himself.

He was certainly a gifted and talented musician, and I'm so glad that he shared his gift with the world.

What could happen if we all creatively used our talents to help one another? What could happen if we authentically loved one another - humbly sharing one another's burdens?

How often have I looked down my nose at my brothers and sisters - pointing fingers - judging. How often have I been frustrated that I have such a difficult time connecting with people on a deep level. How often have my friends put up with my crap with God's patience and grace and love. God forgive me, and help me to walk in love.

I feel like listening to Johnny Cash is helping me to receive God's love for me. Not that I base my faith on feelings - and not that I base my faith on Johnny Cash's music. But the Scripture does say, "Behold! What manner of love the Father has given unto us. That we should be called the sons of God!"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's so important about faith?

Many people look at the Christian gospel, and are completely incredulous. Romans 3:22 says, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:18 says, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

Why is faith so important? What is so special about faith? Why is it that faith is the dividing factor on which everything hinges - that those who believe are saved and those who do not believed are condemned? How does a just God make everything hinge on faith?

There are many people who, on the world's standards, are very good. Yet they will spend eternity in hell unless they repent and believe. The Christian gospel asserts this. Not having faith is apparently a major offense to God. But many ask, why would it be? What is it about faith that makes it so important?

And sadly, most Christians have done a pretty lousy job at providing answers for these questions. Many times they will respond with, "You just have to believe, brother!" That's true, but 1 Peter 3:15 says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Faith is not blind. Real Christianity is not blind faith. In fact, I would guess that many have bought into some pernicious perversion of Christianity - a form that requires blind faith - and by doing so, they have quit thinking and thus have been given over to a depraved mind. So, now, in their minds, they're saved, but in reality, they are depraved and are no better off than unbelievers. Meanwhile, they drive away honest intellectual seekers by their blind faith, anti-intellectual attitudes.

Let's go way back ... all the way back to the beginning.

In Genesis 2, we see the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, and all was good. Sin had not yet happened. The Garden of Eden was a place of perfect peace. The Hebrew word is "Shalom." Shalom - the peace of God. To get an understanding of the word Shalom, I encourage you to check out this website: http://www.therefinersfire.org/meaning_of_shalom.htm. Shalom is an awesome word. Peace, completeness, health, blessing. None of these adequately defines shalom, but all of them describe shalom.

So, Adam and Eve sinned and screwed up the Shalom of God. And after them, so have we all. But check out the second generation. Genesis 4:1-12 describes the account of Cain and Abel. Here are verses three through seven:

"In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'"

You know the story. Cain did not respond well to God's rebuke. Cain murdered his brother Abel.

In Hebrews 11:4 it says, "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith, he still speaks, even though he is dead."

So apparently the difference between Cain's sacrifice and Abel's sacrifice is that Abel's sacrifice was done in faith.

But why would that matter? Why would God care about faith? So what if Cain didn't have much faith or any? Why didn't God give both Abel and Cain participation ribbons? Why wasn't Cain's sacrifice accepted as it was?

Faith matters to God. Here is the reason.

God is real.

God is our Heavenly Father - our Creator. He loves us with an everlasting love. He holds the whole universe together by His powerful word. He is transcendant. He is highly exalted - holy and awesome and magnificent. He is also immanent. He is close - as close as your next breath. In fact, He is so real, that His breath gives life. In fact, Genesis 2:7 says "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." He is real, and He is the authority on "real." He is the great "I AM." He is Yahweh.

Perhaps some of you haven't gotten it yet. Perhaps some of you haven't gotten it, but you're buying into it. Don't do that! Be intellectually honest. Don't embrace blind faith; that is very dangerous. Think this through, but "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

Since God is real, and He is the kind of God that He is, it is fitting and proper to acknowledge Him, to honor Him, to worship Him. Failing to do this would be like failing to acknowledge and honor a person who deserves acknowledgement and honor. It is a sin of omission.

When I am at a social gathering with my wife, and I meet someone new, I shake hands and introduce myself, and then I introduce my wife. Truthfully, there have been times that I have not introduced my wife, and she has let me know that failing to acknowledge her presence is not right. Likewise, failing to acknowledge and honor our Creator by not having faith is sin. It wouldn't be a sin, if He really didn't exist. But He does, and so it is. That's why, "everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23b) That's why "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) That's why God is just to give His righteousness to sinners who have faith, and why He is just to condemn sinners who do not have faith.

So God did not look with favor upon Cain's sacrfice, and as a result, Cain became angry, and his countenance became downcast. He was mad! He didn't approach God properly, and He became angry that God stood up to him, and told him to do what is right. Cain was big on his rights. He wanted that participation ribbon. We can speculate that he was a radical egalitarian. If God was going to look with favor on Abel, he better darn well look with favor on himself too! He may have even convinced himself, while he was plotting Abel's murder, of God's injustice. "How dare He treat Cain with such special treatment! How unjust!" Whatever the reasons, we know that Cain was angry, that his face was downcast, and that he killed his brother.

When God confronted him, he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Typical attitude of modern capitalistic Christians. Typical attitude of ... well ... me. We, like Cain, care about Numero Uno. I look at those in the ghetto, and I rant, "Parents should be doing their jobs!" As true as that is, what am I really doing to cultivate Shalom in the ghetto? What am I doing to cultivate Shalom with my neighbors? It is easy to sit on the Shalom that others work for in my safe, nice, little church group. But there is a world out there - full of strife and sin. How am I, as an ambassador of Christ, cultivating Shalom out there? It is easy to rant. It is not easy to be socially competent and effective, while maintaining the integrity of the Scriptures.

Shalom. God's peace. A peace that passes all understanding. Completeness. Wholeness.

Cain cared more about himself than he did about Shalom.

Many people think, "Sure! I'm all for peace. Shalom! Shalom!" These people should consider the fact that they're going to have to ante-up. Many people prefer peace, but are unwilling to fight for it and defend it. They want justice, but they will cave in under pressure to be "politically correct," rather than to really step out in faith - putting themselves out there - taking risks - being vulnerable - even being willing to sacrifice their lives in order to defend God's Shalom. This is a big sin in the postmodern world. And sadly, it is a big sin in the postmodern church - a church that mimics the surrounding postmodern world in practice - but with Christianese rhetoric sprinkled on top. And like I said previously, this is my big sin. How often have I hardened my heart, when I clearly heard the voice of God encouraging me to step out in faith and to be vulnerable with my heart. Sadly, most of us simply do not love God with all our hearts. For this, I pray that God would give me grace to repent.

At the same time, what a vision! We don't have to be like Peter Gibbons (from "Office Space") - living out "trite meaningless lives" - selling our souls to the vanity of postmodern political correctness. We have been given a cultural mandate to labor for the Shalom of society. Teachers, engineers, scientists, historians, news reporters, politicians, soldiers, firemen, policemen, architects, artists, landscapers, musicians, coaches, social workers, judges - whatever the vocation is ... how cool it would and can be if we dedicated it all to the glory of God - to the cultivation and defense of God's Shalom - to the establishment of justice, peace, tranquility, and love. A society where God's praises are sung, God's Presence is enjoyed, God's Word is studied, God's principles are honored, God's justice is established, God's family enjoys sweet fellowship with God and with one another. A city set on a hill. The light of the world. The salt of the earth.

The alternative option is murder, rape, pillage, slavery, depravity, injustice, postmodernism, ignorance, stupidity, rage, anger, hostility, unforgiveness, perversion, and faithlessness. What I hope we see is this: By failing to be assertive in the cultivation and defense of Shalom, we are by default contributing to the antithesis of Shalom.

That's why we need a Savior.