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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Truth about ISLAM (Part 5)

In light of the media coverage about the Roman Catholic pope's visit to Turkey...it is a great time to revisit facts about Islam:

The Origins of Islam

To understand Islam, you must understand the harsh circumstances into which the religion was born.

While Europe and much of the Middle East was transitioning from the Roman to the Byzantine Empire, with roads, irrigation canals, aqueducts, and a culture that included philosophical discourse and theater, the Arabians lived short and brutal lives in warring tribes with very little to offer the rest of the world beyond their own harsh existence.

The inhospitable climate protected the peninsula from conquest and cultural influence, although the Persians did manage to impose a written language on the coastal edges of the region that came to be known as Arabic. No foreign army felt that sheep and goats were worth taking from the desert fighters and the area was remarkably isolated. The renaissance of knowledge that the rest of the world had been experiencing since the Greek revival was largely missed out on by the Arabs, whose entire energies were devoted to daily survival against the ruthless environment and other tribes.

There were pagan traditions in Arabia, particularly among those based in the trading centers, such as Mecca and Medina. Kaaba, the black rock at Mecca, was worshipped by certain tribes with a circling ritual that was later borrowed by Muhammad’s followers. Likewise, Allah was the name that had been given to the moon god, many centuries before Muhammad's time.

Muhammad later created Islam based on these crude pagan practices as well as basic theological elements of Christianity and Judaism according to his own (often inaccurate) understanding. His erroneous interpretation of Christianity, for example, is often attributed to his early experiences with fringe cults in the Palestinian region.

Muhammad was born around 570 AD in Mecca. He grew up poor and orphaned on the margins of society, which was controlled by tribal chiefs and trading merchants. He worked for his uncle as a camel herder. Although his uncle had some standing in the community, Muhammad himself did not rise above his lowly station until he was 25, when he met and married a wealthy widow who was 15 years older.

Having now attained a comfortable lifestyle and the idle time that wealth affords, Muhammad would wander off occasionally for periods of meditation and contemplation. One day, at the age of 40, he told his wife that he had been visited by the angel Gabriel. Thus began a series of revelations which lasted until his death. The Qur’an is based on the oral traditions of these revelations. The Hadith is a collection of narrations of the life and deeds of Muhammad. The Sunnah is the said to be his way of life.

With his wife’s influence and support, Muhammad began trying to convert those around him to his new religion - an amalgamation of Judeo-Christian theology and pagan tradition that grew more sophisticated over time. In the beginning, he did his best to compromise his teachings with the predominant beliefs of the community’s elders, such as combining all 300 of their idols under the name “Allah,” although it wasn’t enough to prevent the resentment of the influential leadership, which mocked his humble background while fearing his influence (with good reason).

At first, he was only successful with friends and family. After twelve years, “the street preacher” could boast about 70 determined followers, called Muslims, who followed him to the community of Medina after they were chased from Mecca by persecution.

The Arab and Jewish tribes in Medina accepted Muhammad for the most part. Those that didn’t were gradually defeated in battle in a pattern that would quickly become the blueprint for the successful establishment of Islam as a world religion. Typically, the enemy’s trust would be gained by non-intrusive measures in which the Muslims would begin to insert themselves into the community while professing their respect for local traditions and political structures. As they began to gain power, however, they would divide loyalties and exercise violence to acquire local hegemony.

An example of this is the power gained over the Jews. At first, Muhammad preached that Christians and Jews could attain salvation through their own faith. This prompted their tolerance of him while he worked surreptitiously toward the power to dominate them. Since many rejected his status as a prophet (in the Old Testament tradition), Muhammad reneged on his earlier teachings and often had them killed when he finally had the power to do so.

After gaining control of Medina, Muhammad turned his attention back to Mecca. He directed his followers to raid Meccan caravans in the Holy months, when the victims would least expect it. Revelations were conveniently provided to him, which allowed his people to murder and steal in his service. The people around him gradually developed a lust for things that could be taken in battle, including material comforts and children. At one point, Muhammad even provided instructions on how women should be raped after capture.

Often the people captured in battle would be brought before the Prophet, where they would plead for their lives, arguing, for example, that they would never have treated the Muslims that way. The Hadiths are quite clear in portraying Muhammad as largely unmoved by their pleas, and ordering their deaths anyway, often by horrible means. In one case, he orders a man slain, telling him that “hell-fire” will take care of the poor fellow’s orphaned daughter.

Raids on caravans turned into military victories in which entire tribes were wiped out, their men executed and their women and children raped and enslaved under the Prophet’s direction. Some became Muhammad’s personal concubines, in addition to his fifteen wives. His personal life became a picture of hedonism and excess, all justified by frequent “revelations.” When he wanted a woman, even if she were the wife of another man or a child as young as 6, he was able to justify his lust and inevitable consummation with an appeal to Allah’s revealed will.

Though many of the Arab and Jewish tribes were eliminated and absorbed through military victory and forced conversion, the city of Mecca required a different sort of strategy. In 628, seven years after fleeing, Muhammad’s followers were allowed to reenter the city under an agreement whereby he set aside his title as “Prophet of Allah.” This was a temporary ploy that enabled him to gain a political foothold in the city through the same “fifth column” activities that are still used today by organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which use their host’s language of religious tolerance to disguise ulterior motives.

Once Muhammad gained power through deceit in Mecca, he put anyone to death who would not submit. In what would be the model for future Muslim military conquests, those who would not convert to Islam were required to pay a tax (the Jizya) and accept third-class status.

For those who claim that Muslims were taught only to wage defensive battles against those who attack them, the life of Muhammad stands in stark contrast. One of the most notorious episodes was the well-documented attack against the peaceful farmers of Khaybar, merely because he wanted what they had. He even had one of the residents tortured to learn where the community's treasure was hidden. Muhammad then beheaded the man and "married" his widow.

Muhammad died of a fever at the age of 63, with his violent religion now firmly rooted in the Arab lands. Through his teachings, his followers viewed the worldly life as a constant physical battle between the Land of Peace (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb).

Over the next fourteen centuries, the bloody legacy of this extraordinary individual would be a constant challenge to those living on the borders of the religion’s hegemony. The violence that Muslim armies would visit on people across North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and into Asia as far as India is a tribute to a founder who condoned subjugation, rape and murder in the cause of the spread of his religion.

It is certainly the basis not just for modern day terror campaigns against Western infidels (and Hindus and Buddhists) but also the broad apathy among Muslims across the world to the violence, which is an obvious enabler.

As Indonesian cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir recently put it, "If the West wants to have peace, then they have to accept Islamic rule."


Monday, November 27, 2006

John 18:33b-37 (Sermon for the week of November 26th)


Jn 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered, "You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."


It's important to cover some history with this week's lesson. This look back at history will give us better insight into what is taking place in this reading from the Gospel of John. First, we need to remind ourselves
who "Pilate" is. Pilate's first name was Pontius. He was a Roman governor who was in charge of the area that the Jews inhabited called Judea. Rome was in full control of a large area of the Middle East and the Roman Empire needed to have governors in control of the miliary troops assigned to specific geographic and strategic areas. Roman governors were also in charge of all the duties involved in collecting money for Caesar and the Roman republic/empire. Pilate has two unique traits to his rule that should be mentioned. First of all, there were few Roman governors who had judicial rule over their provinces. Pilate had final judicial authority. He had judicial authority over the Jews. Pilate also governed for a longer time than most Roman governors. In fact Pilate governed over the Jews from the time of John the Baptist to the year 36 AD...a few years after the resurrection of Jesus. So, Pilate knew of many of the events surrounding King Herod, John the Baptist, and the fall of King Herod's son BEFORE Pilate became governor, for this was the reason why Pilate was placed in control of the area by Caesar.

So, when Pilate was presented with what he saw as an innocent man being accused of wrong doing...he couldn't understand why and most likely wished to acquit Jesus. To a Roman, it seemed ludacris for the Jews to choose the release of Barabbas over Jesus and ask that Jesus be killed in place of a known, convicted criminal because the Jews were insulted that Jesus spoke of Himself as the "I AM" and the King of the Jews. Why kill any man for this accusation of kingship when Rome ruled the Jews and could really care less if the Jews lived or died? The only concern Pilate had was to cover his own rear and to make sure Jesus didn't say he is the King of Rome, which would be punishable by Roman law and to keep the Jews quiet. A revolution or uprising would destroy Pilates career as governor and Pilate had the unfortunate duty of ruling judicially over the Jews. So, it became a game where Pilate played lip service to the Jews just to keep things peaceful.

This is why Pilate asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews. I believe Pilate knows that Jesus is not challenging Caesar...and is instead trying to keep the Jews happy. I think this because of Jesus' answer. As the Son of God and Creator...Jesus knew exactly what Pilate would ask and why. Jesus turns the tables! He takes control of the questioning by nicely questioning Pilate...

"Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?"

In other words Jesus askes Pilate: "Are you, Pilate, alone asking me this or playing lip service to the Jews?" It places Pilate in a difficult position, one that a Roman governor couldn't rule was sarcasm, but would put him in his place...as a man who is caught between the Jews and Rome. A MAN who is in the middle between the Jews and the heathen Roman empire and has Jesus, a mysterious innocent "man" standing before him.

One must think about the following question:
It would make logical sense for Jesus to just fess up and tell Pilate that this all was getting out of control, and He didn't mean to call Himself the King of the Jews...wouldn't it?

Any sane man, woman, child, guru, swami, or teacher would call it quits and get out of a situation that could bring the death sentance...Pilate would have released Jesus if he confessed...only an insane man OR a Son of God (who is the Creator and knows exactly what is taking place because He is the only worthy sacrafice for man), would carry on with this unrighteous, undeserving persecution all because He has admitted to being the "king of the Jews".

RIGHT? Wouldn't you retract any and all verbal statements you said that has led to your arrest? If the police came and dragged you out of your house and placed you in front of a judge for calling yourself the King of the World and faced a death sentance if convicted, how many seconds would pass before you would rapidly confess how silly you were and apologize for the mis-communication?

For Jesus not to confess would mean three things:
1) You are suicidal
2) You are insane and suicidal
3) You are the Son of God and must be crucified as the only worthy sacrafice for mankind.

Pilate asked Jesus:
"Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?"

Great question Pilate!
What did Jesus do? Was born through the lines of David just as the prophets fortold?
Well, Yes...
Was born in the time that the wise men said the Messiah would come?
Well, yes...
Taught better than any Pharisee or Saducee?
Well, yes...
Fulfilled all of the prohecies?
Weren't the Jews expecting a Messiah?

So, why kill Jesus?
Because Jesus claimed to be the Messiah?!


You tell me what Jesus did against Rome or the Jews in order to justify His crucifixion!

One must agree that there wasn't a justified reason for a Roman governor to sentance Jesus to crucifixion. Nor is there a justification for the Jews to influence a Roman governor by seeking the death of anyone calling themselves King of the Jews.

For those of us who have been given enough insight through the medium of the Holy Spirit to know who Jesus is...why He came...and why He died and resurrected should take comfort in Jesus' answer to Pilate...

"My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. "

Yes, rest faithers in Christ that Jesus at anytime could will the destruction of any one and any thing. He didn't becuase He had to die...His purpose was not to punish but to give eternal life...He resurrected to prove who He was.
It is His world...His Creation...we need to awaken to the predestined works given to us and rest in the All powerful Lord Jesus Christ!

Jesus' kingdom is not here as we see earth right now. This is our rock, for which we inhabit. Our bodies will die on this rock, but eternal life is there free for the taking...if YOU LEARN TO LISTEN to what Our Lord speaks!

Pontius Pilate's mind must be spinning in circles after what he has just seen and heard from Jesus. He is choosing to stick to the "safe" middle ground that so many run to...safe is not faith. Faith takes work...not inaction and refusing to take a side on the issue of Jesus being a man or being the Messiah.




I will conclude this sermon with Jesus' statement...as you listen ask yourself the following question: Why would a mortal, sane, man make the following statement?
If this person is not a man and is the Son of God, then what is the Messiah telling us??

"You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

God Bless you and your families this week!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christian Persecution in INDIA

More and more we here of this "democratic" society and the twisted pagan Hindu extremists who persecute innocent Christians...would Ghandi approve?

Dalit Christians Forced to Bow to Hindu Idols - Compass Direct

Lambini tribal villagers in Karnataka state prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping on Sunday, October 29, instead forcing them to bow down and worship Hindu deities. Three of the 11 Christian families at the church in the remote village in Chitradurga district refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering that would indicate allegiance to the Hindu deities. The local council chief ordered the village to ostracize those families. This stigma of being ostracized will crush the very spirit of the Lambani, who are very clan-oriented people. On November 6, Hindu extremists forced Christians in a remote village in southern Karnataka to bow down before Hindu deities. The Christians were marched to the village temple, forced to bow down before the Hindu gods and had the vermilion mark applied to their foreheads. A police inspector only watched this violation of the Christians' rights. Pray the families who are shunned by the villagers will draw close to Jesus and know His loving presence as never before.

Pray the police officer and Hindu extremists will repent and come to know Jesus' forgiveness.

Psalm 119:81-88

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, "When will you comfort me?"

83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.

84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?

85 The arrogant dig pitfalls for me,
contrary to your law.

86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for men persecute me without cause.

87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.

88 Preserve my life according to your love,
and I will obey the statutes of your mouth.

Every month The Voice of the Martyrs reports on what is really happening around the world where our brothers and sisters are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Now you can receive a free subscription to The Voice of the Martyrs award winning monthly newsletter. You will be inspired, you will learn to pray and even discover practical ways to get involved.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mark 13:24-32 (Sermon for the week of November 19th)

Mk 13:24-32

Jesus said to his disciples:"In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky,and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree.When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.

Amen, I say to you,this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away,but my words will not pass away.

"But of that day or hour, no one knows,neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

I need to start off this sermon by emphasizing an important point. Who has just spoken of an impending apocalypse?
John in the Book of Revelation? NO!
Daniel the prophet? NO!
Ezekiel? NO!
IT IS JESUS! Jesus who is the focal point of Christianity has just spoken these words that there is a tribulation, the sun WILL darken, the stars WILL fall and HE who is the Son of Man will be "coming in the clouds" !!
There are two prevailing views out there that I am trying to address. Apocalyptic scripture is obessessed on by some areas of Chrisitanity and ignored as "too scary" or "not pleasant to read" on the other side of the scale. I have been shocked to hear some say that the Book of Revelation should be removed from the Holy Bible because it creates confusion and leads to people coming up with alot of "wacky" predictions and talk about the "Rapture".

Well, you know what? If you don't like what what was revealed to John in the Book of Revelation and want it removed...then you better remove the Gospel of Mark and what Jesus said with His own words! The words Jesus speaks in this weeks reading are scary, and should be scary.

The words Jesus speaks should grab your attention and better grab your attention. This is not your world or my world to pick and choose what we like and don't like about God and what Jesus tells us.
If you are a person who refuses to believe in a punishing God and ignore anything "scary" then how do you ignore what is said here in the Gospel of Mark by Jesus Himself? I don't understand this...do you just throw it out as nonsense and tell yourself, "Well, Jesus loves all of us and God wouldn't destroy this earth with his creatures still living on it..." Really?

Then Jesus is wrong and you are right? RIGHT? Why don't these people go and re-write the bible and save all of us better than Jesus did...for you know more than Him and can do better than Him.

OK...then we need to listen to the Gospel message. And the Gospel message this week can be summed up this way...Jesus Christ came to give Himself as a worthy sacrafice to save those who have faith in Him...and those people who are so "wise",those who are so "logical", and those who can't believe in Him or won't believe in Him...there is a time when the patience runs out and those who are here either believe or they don't and those that don't are staying here.

Who says God is saving everyone? Why would God do that? Look around you...do all of these people around you love God? Do all of these people know God? Do they believe in what God did through Jesus Christ? Either you love God or you don't. Either you believe in Jesus or you don't. Jesus suffered tremendous pain and suffering to give us an opprotunity for eternal life...if this isn't the most supreme gift out of LOVE, than what is?

And some say that those who don't believe are going to be loved by God anyways and saved too? Well, I really wish this wasn't so...but it is so...because men make it so, and those people who don't love God will not be loved by God. Jesus saves those who believe in Him because those who believe in Jesus, love God.

This world as Jesus says will go through a "TRIBULATION".
Do you understand what the word TRIBULATION means?
It means "grievous trouble or suffering". That can't be good!

When this time of grievous trouble and suffering happens, will the tide turn and people here will begin to blame God for being cruel? Who knows...but nothing spiritually enlightening comes from man anyways...so I bet they will blame God.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky."

To all of those people who have the bumper sticker on their cars mocking the believers in Jesus asking if they can have our cars when the "rapture" or the time when the "Son of Man comes in the clouds", my answer is YES, you can have my car. If I am living and the "Son of Man comes in the clouds" and then I am not living...then I really want you to be able to drive my car up to a scenic lookout point to watch the sun darken and the stars begin to fall! What a show I will miss! I wonder if the "scientists" left (and there will probably be plenty of them) will be there to explain why the sun could darken!
I will ask those left here to pick the National Geographic out of my mailbox and read about it.
I want them to have my coats too so that they can hurry to bundle themselves up because it will be getting cold...really cold.

Jesus says this and IT MUST COME TO PASS! Jesus did not and cannot tell a lie. For if He lied then He would not be perfect. An imperfect Son of God could not be a worthy sacrafice and there is no one to say that Jesus did not live a perfect life.

I have a healthy fear of God for one reason. Jesus who is the Son of God and spoke these words and I know they must come to pass. Do you? If you don't like "Rapture" talk then you don't like Jesus' talk, because this weeks reading is as Apocalyptic as you can get. If you find it safe to preach the Gospels, then you have to preach this verse. Don't be afraid to talk about it. But don't think you can ignore it either!

When will this happen?
Jesus says:"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates."

Why a fig tree? The Middle East is known for evergreens. Evergreens do not lose their leaves seasonally. Fig trees do lose their leaves. Fig trees grow well in the Middle East and fig trees are also one of the most reliable trees for telling that the seasonal change of summer is near. Other tress may bloom early or late....but the fig tree will begin to form leaves and bloom right when summer is near.

We will know when these events are about to take place just as clearly a fig tree tells that summer is near. It may seem that the present conditions of the world may be lining up for destruction....but the fig tree hasn't bloomed enough for me to say...yes, this is it. I do believe that it will be easier for the us to gauge when this will happen...maybe as we approach there will be a consensus as to what year. I think that this will be the closest that can be predicted....what year it begins.

We will be able to know the year...maybe the month...but not the day and the hour for Jesus says:
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

I want to conclude with one more statement. Through the ages, Christians have endured persecution and attack. The Romans fed us to lions for entertainment, the heretics attacked with deceptive delusions, the physical church governed by men turned from faith and persecuted us by persecuting other people and leaving us with egg on our face. Our faith has led to divisions and ridicule within our own families and subject to ridicule of bumper stickers and the media. This weeks reading are His words and not ours. The tribulation will happen because the Son of God said it would...just like the Son of God said His Words would never pass away.

In fact, His words will be here when this earth as we know has gone away and when heaven has gone away!

"Heaven and earth will pass away,but my words will not pass away."

Non-believers can attack us all they want...but they fight a power they have no clue about. Allowing me to take up my own cross and bear attack is the work of faith and I have experienced this enough to know exaclty what can happen. But if this world and the little men in it think that they can use deception to argue that "religion must be eliminated" and try to convince people relgion is bad in order to destroy the Holy Bible... then take the challenge.

I challenge those people: Try to take Jesus' words from this earth.
Go and advocate that you have a better way and that the Holy Bible is nonsense.
Try to wipe his words from this earth.
Do it...and tell me what happens.

To the believers... rest in knowing that we as believers do not have to make it our mission to keep His Word safe, He will do that all on His own and make some of us the medium to work through.
The printing press helped thwart the plan to erase the Holy Bible.
Mark His words, NEVER...no not EVER will any human, devil, demon,or EVENT take His Word from this earth!

God bless you and your familes this week!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Commentary to the American Public

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.

I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.
Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome...
"But what about the atheists?" is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us.
And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard know that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right. But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back... and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all. God bless our service men that are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God. Nov 2006-2007 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.

Keep looking up.
If you agree with this, please pass it on.



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mark 12:38-44 (Sermon for the week of November 12th)

Mk 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
"Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation."

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood."


Jesus says: "Beware of the scribes who LIKE to go around in long robes..." Why? Anyone wearing long robes are people who are not fit to do manual labor. It is a symbol of someone who does not do manual labor, and as we know, the people in Jesus' time made their living by doing some kind of manual labor.

So by wearing a long robe, the scribes instantly tell the public that they are above manual labor, that they are...well...scribes! Scribes also get to sit in a special place in the synagogue...a seat that places them in the best view... but more importantly it is a seat where the public can see that they have the best seats in the Temple. Beware! Why? Why are these men given such praise and honor? They are men who do not work with their hands...but work with their minds,
they are knowledge workers...for man. They take God's commandments and expound, or clarify them, and make a few adjustments here and there. We know God can't be perfect so we need scribes to set it straight?! NO! They are humans just like us who will die like us and sin like us. Here is the Messiah standing before them again, and does the Messiah get the respect and attention as these scribes? NO!

We must be careful and heed Jesus' words. Just because a man holds themselves in a position that they say is "Holy" does not mean you park your own ability to think, reason, and learn at the door and follow whatever these "holy" men say. They are human like you and me and are subject to imperfection. Get to know the modern day scribes (clergy) as friends and ask them questions if you wish. Better yet, learn on your own first with Jesus leading the way and use the clergy for insight and assistance if needed.

Taking a back seat in your own journey of faith and showing up to church once in a while will not, can not, and never will build faith! You are in serious trouble if you have never had the initiative to yearn for faith. What is preventing you?

"Faith comes from learning and learning by the Word of God" as St. Paul informs us!
You cannot earn admission into heaven by following the instructions of men! If you do not understand why something is said or talked about then why believe a "holy" man? Why not seek the Truth and ask God directly? Beware of false truth because a man calls himself a disciple of God and demands recognition.

If you can learn form them, and like them and what they do...get to know them as you would a friend...but beware of the "scribes" of today that take money, that speak threats, and at the same time place themselves on a pedestal above all others! You are workers of faith...faith comes through trials...learn that mistakes
and wrongdoing come FROM MANKIND and not God! Jesus can not, is not, and will not lead you astray! Men and women will lead you astray...

Let's take a test to prove the holiness of God and the wickedness of man:
Did the Christian Church abuse little children?
Answer: NO!
Did men abuse little children?
Answer: YES!
Who is to blame for this sickness? Jesus Christ or Men?
Answer: ALWAYS HAS, ALWAYS WILL BE MANKIND as the source of sickness and wrongdoing!!

Jesus says:"They (the scribes) devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers." What does Jesus mean here? Well, scribes were known to be lawyers also. So many people had them invovled in legal matters, and managing their money! Scribes are a great occupation! You are an authority on God and his words and can clarify them unlike God can, you are a lawyer and can influence decision making, and you are a personal banker in the trusted position of handling money of other people.

WOW! Who would have thought these scribes are so nice and helpful? Well, they aren't. In fact, they took advantage of people. Widows are looked down upon in patriarchal societies such as found in the Middle East, and are easily taken advantage of. This is still true today. These scribes would watch over the widow's estates, and well, as Jesus states: would "DEVOUR THEM".

Scribes would also sit and pray unusually long prayers to ensure that "God hears them" and people would feel obligated to give them money for their hard work. See the unholy, unrighteous, works of man? "Forget about God...we want a donation...so I will sit here and pray unitl I get one...!"

Don't you see this today? Scribes such as these that Jesus warns us about are still here...we may call them by a different title now or see them in a different kind of "temple".

I will finish this sermon with a couple more points. In the last portion of the reading, Jesus sits opposite of the treasury and watches people place their money "into the treasury". Just for some background information, the "treasury" Jesus is looking at usually contained receptacles for taking money that resembled the horn of a trumpet. In the Womans Court where this widow would have most likely donated her money, would have had 13 of these different trumpets to place money into.

Jesus, being the Son of God, wants to make a point.

First, people give money in order to show off. Jews would throw coins down the trumpets in order to generate noise. The more noise generated by the coins...the more money they were giving. So, people would show off by making the most noise in order to get noticed by other people instead out of pure generosity. These people want to show off and hear a noisy donation in order to get their money's worth! Then Jesus sees the widow...widow who placed two coins in.

First, how did Jesus know that it was only two coins and not one or three? Second, how does Jesus know that the woman placed all that she had as a donation? Think about it. You and I would have come to the conclusion that the widow was a tight wad and penny pincher before we claimed that she put in all she had to give.

I wouldn't make such a statement unless I actually knew how much money the woman had!
It would be easier for me and more satisfying as a sinful man to call the widow a
cheap penny pincher!

How would Jesus know this? Becuase Jesus is the Son of God and knows ALL THINGS! This is a verse to show you that proof. He knows exactly how much these people put in...and the
knowledge to learn is that Jesus knew exactly how much they put in before they themselves knew what they would put in! Nothing is hidden from Jesus. He knows ALL because he CREATED ALL. And that is His lesson here. He knows your thoughts, He knows your heart, and that is why He can be the Judge of mankind. Nothing is hidden...He knows what you have been through...and the injustices you have faced...those who donate money to look good, and those who donate all they had...are known to Jesus.

Jesus lived in a tent of flesh in order to fulfull the Law of the Torah by His undeserving crucifixion by mankind. Through Him you are saved. The practice of donating money IS NOT REQUIRED! Tithing is OLD LAW from the OLD Testament.
IF you donate, do it from your heart in order to help a cause. But it is no longer
required. You are free to give and free not to give...for the Truth has set you
free...and that TRUTH is the life, death, andResurrection of the Only Jesus the Christ!

God Bless you and your families this week!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Christian Persecution in TURKEY

Converts Charged Under Speech Law –Compass DirectA

Turkish prosecutors slapped criminal charges against two converts to Christianity earlier this month, accusing them of "insulting Turkishness," inciting hatred against Islam and secretly compiling data on private citizens for a local Bible correspondence course.

Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, joined the ranks of 97 other Turkish citizens hauled into court in the last 16 months over alleged violations of the country's controversial Article 301, restricting freedom of speech. If convicted, the accused could be sentenced from six months to three years.

Pray God will use this judicial action to awaken the citizens of Turkey to the threat to their freedom and their secular form of government.

Every month The Voice of the Martyrs reports on what is really happening around the world where our brothers and sisters are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Now you can receive a free subscription to The Voice of the Martyrs award winning monthly newsletter. You will be inspired, you will learn to pray and even discover practical ways to get involved.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mark 12:28b-34 (Sermon for the week of November 5th)

Mk 12:28b-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he. 'And 'to love him with all your heart,with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself'is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him,"You are not far from the kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


There is a lot of information to cover in this weeks short Gospel reading that will lead into a sermon to hopefully induce us to rearrange our priorities...so here we go.

Our Lord encounters a scribe who may be a Pharisee or a Saducee, but this scribe is most likely to be a Pharisee based on the question posed to Jesus. A Saducee at this point did not like the "out of this world" answers that obviously originate from a man who is a "teacher" and who is also "wise" and who refuse to believe the answers come not from a man but from The Messiah.

The Saducees in the previous verses before this reading ask Jesus about the ressurrection which is an event the Saducees do not believe in. Saducees did not believe in the ressurrection of the coming Messiah. Jesus is super quick to answer them and goes way beyond their expectations, and this "teacher" called "Jesus" just made them look bad. So, it is natural that a Pharisee would ask a question after this and take a shot. But there is one striking difference from this Pharisee "scribe" than all the other Pharisees that taunt Jesus. I believe this "scribe" is actually asking Jesus an honest question in which the scribe seeks an answer. To a Pharisee, the question: "which law out of all of our laws is the greatest?" would be a very real question that would have no clear answer. I could imagine that this scribe has realized that this "Teacher" is unique and has backed off of his own human ego and is truly seeking the wisdom of Jesus.

Let's look at the question the scribe asks...
Why would this scribe ask Jesus this question out of all the questions one could ask the Messiah if priviledged enough to be in front of Him?
Well, here is something to think about. The moral GUIDELINES of which we all have broken ONCE in our life...called the 10 Commandments seem to be a lot of work to follow. The Good News of the New Testament is that your debt has been paid for your perpetual failings at adhering to the commandments God instructs us to follow. We can't break one of God's commandments ONCE ...nor EVER...if we wish to attain eternal life. Now, if you think the 10 commandments are hard...wait until you read this!

The 10 Commandments are the source of an immense study and practice of which the Torah is the center. This is called the "Laws of the Torah" which we can summarize as "Jewish Law". Did you know that there are a total of 613 commandments which include 365 prohibitions and 248 "positive"commandments? You think 10 are hard to grasp and let alone follow?

Scribes often focus on one of the 10 commandments and devise "additions and improvements" to them by defining, clarifying, and creating rules to follow in order to adhere to the commandment in every situation in life that could possibly arise! And by no means is their study short of intelligence and thoroughness! This is an attractive study for some but I must remind you that the scribes "work" is a study of God's Law BY MEN AND FOR MEN.
This is one reason for Jesus' stern words forthe Saducees and Pharisees.

So to recap this discussion, scribes define and clarify the 10 commandments by creating Jewish Law, and they also try to summarize the law in a few well chosen words. This is the reason for the scribe asking Jesus this question. He is honestly seeking an answer for: "which commandment out of the 10 is the core or center of them all?" A good question indeed!

Jesus' answer? Well, it's an answer beyond our ideas and reasoning.
It is a command. It seems to be two commands that is really just one and is defiently not 613.

Let's look at Jesus' answer:
Jesus begins answering with "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God,the Lord is one". This is called the "Shema" and is central to Jewish practice. It is similar to Chrisitans reciting the Lord's prayer. The Shema is the way that Jews would recognize a teaching because it is recited often in synagogues and comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. The word Shema means: "To hear".

So, Jesus starts out with the call "to hear" and answers the scribe's question quickly and clearly.

FIRST: Jesus states; "you shall love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength".

Allow me to point out the core of this sermon!

What did Jesus answer with first?
To love the Lord God with all your "faculties" OR to love your neighbor as yourself?

For, you will not love you neighbor if you do not love God!

So, let's look at this in another light. Will you willingly love your neighbor AS YOURSELF? Jesus is not commanding us to try our best. Jesus is not commanding us to hate our neighbor one day and love him the next. Jesus is not commanding us to be cordial to our neighbors and just good mannered. He is commanding us to LOVE....yes...LOVE...our neighbor ..AS IF YOUR NEIGHBOR WAS YOURSELF!!! Your neighbor is you!? Yes, and that is how you shall act! This is a work in progress for 90% of Christians and for most of the world!!

How will you ever reach this point in your faith if you do not love God? You may be able to for 1 day, a week, or a month...but believe me it won't last if you don't love God with ALL of your heart, soul, and strength...(Jesus adds in "with all your mind" from the 10 Commandments which is fitting for people like scribes).

So, without the first commandment...the second doesn't happen!

Allow me to say that again...


Trying to reconcile your failures at fulfilling the second commandment by saying: "Yes, I tried my best but I feel I love my neighbor a lot but sorry not as much as myself!" This won't make your failings change Jesus' command! LISTEN TO IT! These two commandments have more wisdom than people think. And this is a subject worthy of a lot of study, discussion, and prayer. I could only hope that it will come easy for all of us...but it is a life long process for many and a difficult one for all of us.

These two commandments are superior than any of the hundreds of commandments the scribes come up with for both require ACTION which is the result of FAITH.

The second commandment is also a study in itself, but allow me to offer some more insight.

The scribe asked which ONE of the commandments is greatest and Jesus seems to give two commandments...
Jesus says "There is no other commandment greater than THESE"

"These" is plural and not singular. Jesus is not saying that to love your neighbor as yourself is the greatest commandment of them all...Jesus is saying that THESE TWO PARTS FORM THE ONE GREATEST COMMANDMENT!

Jesus asks that our life of faith must take on a selfless one where we are not looking out for Number 1 which is us...but instead a life of faith that includes our neighbor on the same level as we include our own selves in this life. This state of being or this lesson of faith WILL NOT happen if we do not love our Lord, GOD!

That is all I want to say THIS TIME on these commandments. There is a lot more to say and I will cover it at another time when we come around to reading this again in the Gospels.

I want to finish with two more points...The scribe acknowledges Jesus' answer by stating, "You are right, Teacher..."

Well, in all the other accounts of the Pharisees answering Jesus, we would find some sort of rebuke...but this Pharisee does not rebuke or challenge Jesus...and that is more evidence that this man who seems to be a Pharisee is asking an honest question!

Notice the scribe uses the word: "TEACHER". The scribe does not call Jesus the Messiah, or Son of God, or Son of David, or King, or anything relating to the Creator...but just ..."Teacher".

What follows after this scribe's statement which begins with "Teacher"?
Jesus replies..."you are not far from the kingdom".

Yes, not far...I guess.
But the scribe is surely NOT IN THE KINGDOM, ENTERING THE KINGDOM, OR PROMISED THE KINGDOM. He is just "not too far from..." How far is far? Two feet? 100 feet? A couple of galaxies away? Some other plane?
No thanks!

I want to be in the kingdom of heaven and not "near" it!
I strongly believe that Jesus would have answered the scribe differently here if he would have confessed what Jesus really is...Our Redeemer...the Messiah!

God Bless you and your families this week.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

10 Questions for Evolutionists (Part 5)

As we study the Evolution theory...more and more questions arise!

Evolutionists vs. Creationists

Evolutionists: Answer ANY ONE of these 10 questions, and we may give you some respect for your THEORY of evolution:

1. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?

2. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

3. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

4. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

5. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

6. When, where, why, and how did
a. Single-celled plants become multi-celled? (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)
b. Single-celled animals evolve?
c. Fish change to amphibians?
d. Amphibians change to reptiles?
e. Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!) f. How did the intermediate forms live?

7. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation. Why must we teach students that evolution is the only explanation for these relationships?

8. How did flowering plants evolve, and from what?

9. Do people accept evolution because of the following factors?
a. It is all they have been taught.
b. They like the freedom from God (no moral absolutes, etc.).
c. They are bound to support the theory for fear of losing their job or status or grade point average.
d. They are too proud to admit they are wrong.
e. Evolution is the only philosophy that can be used to justify their political agenda.

10. Is it possible that an unseen Creator designed this universe? If God is excluded at the beginning of the discussion by your definition of science, how could it be shown that He did create the universe if He did?