I’d like you to go to UNDispatch and read an initial insider reaction to the atrocity in Afghanistan yesterday. The Islamic aspect of the massacre is non-existent, of course (after all, this is the UN), but the conclusion is still germane: it is time for the UN to leave Afghanistan.
Because a pastor in Florida burned a Koran, Imams in the Afghan city, Mazar-i-Sharif, chosen by the UN for a headquarters because of its “peacefulness”, preached violence against the “Crusaders”, and after their Mosque services rode around in cars using bullhorns to continue to inflame a growing mob.
That mob, which some have estimated to have been 20,000 strong, broke through the barriers to the UN compound. Because they were simply unarmed citizens and not Taliban extremists, the UN force did not fire on them. For their restraint, the guards were murdered, and then their arms were used to hunt down others in the compound, who were in turn brutally murdered in cold blood.
This is the Muslim concept of protest, directly led by religious leaders, on display for the entire world to observe.
This is the Muslim concept of moral equivalence: you burn the pages of a book, we slaughter you.
And it gets worse. Harman Karzai, the Afghan president, himself set the stage for the massacre by using the Koran burning incident to agitate the Afghanis. Just as in Pakistan and all the other heavily Muslim nations, riling up the Islamic base is good politics for regimes lacking real leadership credentials.
One of the provisos of the Christian principles of Just War is that for a war to be justifiable there must be a reasonable chance of success (or that the situation is so bad that the alternative, failure, must be less acceptable than death itself). Afghanistan is sinking back into tribal and Islamic quicksand. It will take real leadership to pull her out, and more than merely in the military realm. It will take moral leadership, something the Muslim clerics clearly do not have a clue about. Harman Karzai is incapable of that leadership, and so is Barack Obama. Until something changes, we are wasting precious blood and treasure.
Meanwhile, we must remember that there are souls trapped within this horrendous cycle of ignorance and evil. Souls that Jesus loves and died for. I think of the young woman on the cover of Time, whose nose and ears were cut off by her arranged husband who grew tired of her. And she is only one of countless victims of a culture that turns men into animals.
Since the powers of this world are no longer even treading water, I would like to submit that the real war in Afghanistan, the one that matters, is being fought by intercessors, in their prayers and, for some, their acts of obedience. The world’s rulers are increasingly out of ideas, and simply do not have a clue about what to do. They are just trying to keep a semblance of order on deck, as the Titanic sinks down.
We have been warned that this would happen, so this is only further confirmation of the truth of the Scriptures. Our redemption draweth nigh, but until then we have work to do in God.
God bless you, and God bless the innocents that are suffering.
I’ve been silent for a while, but I wanted to pass these two pieces from openheaven on to you.
God is doing something massive in these last days. The spiritual warfare has been intense, but the tide is turning, and through it the Lord is raising up a people who will be fit to share His very throne with Him, to partake in the Divine nature itself, and to rule and reign with His delegated authority.
Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, we have been warned, and we are seeing this before our very eyes, virtually on a daily basis. Day by day the greatest country the world has ever seen is being brought lower and lower by the weight of its own corruption. Natural disasters worldwide are on the dramatic increase. There currently is a ray of hope in the Arab nations, but this can, and probably will, turn toward the dark side in an instant, setting up a true end-times scenario with respect to Jerusalem. The nations, it is abundantly clear by now, have absolutely no answers. They can only offer photo-ops and smooth oratory. But satan does not care how white their teeth are, and he does not bow before polished oratory.
Jesus told us that when we see the signs of last-days anguish, we are not to despair, but rather to look up to our soon-coming redemption. Even though we are going through a crucifixion now, the eye of faith not only can see the victory coming, it can see the Bride being prepared by the very fiery trial besetting us.
And so I’m going to pass on these two articles from openheaven.com, which I think speak powerfully of the creative work the Lord is doing in the church at this very moment. Openheaven has an email list that sends out roughly weekly, containing such articles and also a useful summary of Christian-related news.
 For more on the incredibly powerful theme of our being outfitted for glory, and the power inherent in our prayers, see my review here of Billheimer’s book, Destined For the Throne.
1. Kingdom Impact
By Ron McGatlin
Trading Our Limitations for His Supernatural Life
Becoming One Spirit with Christ Jesus is no small matter. It is beyond our imagination – far greater than we could ask or think. It has not entered into the hearts or minds of natural man’s understanding. However, in this new season of emerging kingdom, God is revealing it to us by His Spirit.
In a moment of time we can be transformed by the Holy Spirit – changed in the twinkling of an eye by the powerful impact of the in breaking kingdom of God in the Holy Spirit. This is new, and we have not come this way before. Christ, by His Spirit, indwelling our spirit-being is transforming our weak spirit into His powerful Spirit that is HOLY HOLY HOLY.
No more mixture and no more falling back. What we could not do, Christ in us will do as we truly become one with Him. We no longer live but He lives His pure, holy life of love, power and wisdom where we once lived.
Yes, there may have been many years of “here a little and there a little” – years of three steps forward and two steps back – years of tearing down our foolish self-focused pride filled lives – years of our erecting our own castles in our own kingdoms – deceiving ourselves with religious platitudes from a god of our own making. We built precept upon precept and line upon line to be snared in our own works only to fall backward and be broken.
Isa 28:13: But the word of the LORD was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little,” That they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught.
In the passing church emphasis age we, for the most part, did not experience the kingdom impacting us, changing us in the twinkling of an eye. In this new kingdom emphasis age things are not as they were.
Judgment is coming swiftly to chasten and turn believers toward the now visible kingdom and away from our self-sufficient, do-it-ourselves lifestyle. Judgment of God is always for cleansing. Falling upon our faces in true repentance and crying out to God are often brought about through the severe disappointments of the devastating failure of a crumbling life under cleansing judgment of God. If everything kept on working well for us in our less-than-holy living, we would not be searching for change. Read more…
This subject is a bit unusual for this blog, but it is important enough that we should spend time on it. I watch the national scene closely, and I believe that America is headed for a major economic catastrophe, unless somehow we radically switch course.
One of the main themes of the recent past election was the economy. The Taxed Enough Already movement, despite being bitterly derided by the Democratic party and their allies in public sector unions and the media, proved to be an authentic people’s movement that provided the electoral energy for the Republicans to win back an historic number of seats in Congress and to give a stinging rebuke to the Obama agenda.
Since then, our domestic headlines have mostly revolved around the worsening balance sheet of the federal and many state governments. The new congressional leadership is carrying the torch for balancing the budget by controlling out of control spending, such as earmarks and entitlements, and by reining in unfunded mandates, such as social security, medicare and Medicaid, all of which are rapidly driving us into insolvency. But vested interests, which are the ones who led the way to our current predicament, do not want their lucrative apple cart upset, and are resisting tooth and nail.
What does this have to do with “Following Christ”, you may ask. Consider this. Jesus very practically warned His followers to flee Jerusalem when they saw approaching armies. Those who kept His words in mind were able to escape slaughter or capture a few decades later, when the Roman general Titus besieged, and then leveled, the city.
Just a few years after the Resurrection, the prophet Agabus from Judea predicted that a huge famine would sweep the lands under Rome’s control. The church heeded his warning and took immediate steps to strengthen that part of the church that was under the most duress at the time, which was the church in Jerusalem itself, which, being at the epicenter of Judaism, was being persecuted and plundered (see Hebrews 10.32-36).
But even more important than any one relief effort was that in reaching out to the hurting saints an ongoing mentality was birthed, whereby the local church began to think globally of the wellbeing of her sister churches. The famine Agabus predicted came during the reign of Claudius, and we can well assume that the churches continued to aid each other during that time. This not only helped the family of believers, it was a tremendous witness to those on the outside that were hurting, as international relief efforts were unheard of back then. This undoubtedly became one reason the Romans would later say of the Christians during the persecutions, “how they love one another”.
Accordingly, I want Christians to be aware of what is going on, so that they can understand what’s driving the news, consider what may be coming, and:
- take steps to protect themselves
- pray so that the nation can perhaps avoid catastrophe or lessen its impact
- position themselves to strengthen the Kingdom should the calamity strike and Christians be in need
- position themselves to extend the Kingdom by ministering Christ’s love to outsiders in need.
So I’m going to embed a video here that I think says a lot. But before I do, let me issue some qualifiers.
- I do not endorse everything this video says.
- I believe there are some good politicians, who understand the real challenges our nation faces, and who are doing there best, against very powerful forces, including in their own party, to combat the problem.
- I do not believe that both major political parties are the same.
- I do not believe everything Ron Paul advocates. Specifically, I do not believe it is responsible, or even possible, for us to disengage from the world to the degree that he would like.
- I know little about the group producing this video, the National Inflation Association, and therefore cannot endorse them. They seem to be a commercial outfit, but this video seems to be a clean educational effort. I have no connection to them, and neither do I benefit from this in any material way.
Most importantly, I believe that the solution to our problem is not primarily economic, it is spiritual. The video ends up calling us back to an economy rooted in quality interactions. Well and fine, but that is not going to happen unless we turn this nation around spiritually. I know that the two realms – the spiritual and the practical – very often must work together. But still I want to make clear that I am not advocating a strictly secular solution to a problem that is, at root, spiritual.
Regarding the spiritual, recall that great promise God has issued to us:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2Chr 7:14
The spiritual side must lead. Nonetheless, I will emphasize that I do agree with the lion’s share of the content shown here, and I believe it is critical information that every American, every citizen of the West, and every Christian should become familiar with.
This video asks for almost an hour of your time. I believe you will be benefited to give it a viewing.
I just learned with sadness of the passing of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson’s life was a bit reminiscent of that of Paul of Tarsus. In the early 1970s, he pioneered the ushering in of unlimited abortion in the United States. As this compelling and eloquent obituary states, he personally performed thousands of abortions, including that of his own unborn child. Say what you will, Nathanson was not in it merely for the money. He believed in what he was doing.
But at the appointed hour, truth unbidden barged in on Nathanson’s life. When he finally saw an ultrasound of a live abortion, a moment which he later immortalized in the Silent Scream movie, he realized the moral horror of what he had done. Unable to deny the truth, Nathanson turned completely around and became a forceful advocate on behalf of human life.
And more than that, his awakening opened up for him an issue he had previously been closed to – his own compelling need for forgiveness from a God he knew was morally perfect. Jesus said that everyone who seeks finds. Nathanson’s crushing weight of sin drove him to the only assurance of forgiveness we are given, Jesus.
While Nathanson’s passing is the end of an era, there’s encouragement in his life for us. Our God is so big that there is no sin He will not forgive, if only we come to Him with a sincere heart and ask. Paul the great apostle persecuted the church murderously, but when he finally saw the truth, he too could not deny it, and he converted. When God forgives, He forgives completely; it is a done deal. Despite Paul’s past, God chose him and commissioned him to be His vessel:
This man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. -Acts 9:15
Later Paul would testify:
I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. -1Tim 1:16
So it is too, with so many of us, who early in our lives found the lies taught by our morally adventurous culture pleasing to our flesh, but who later discovered the terrible cost of sin, a cost that in many cases had been hidden from us.
Nathanson courageously embraced truth at great personal cost. There was a massive disruption of his professional associations and his friendships, to say nothing of his finances. For this reason, leaving his previous error behind, he went on to become a moral giant. Like Paul he earned the right to say:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. -1Cor 15:10
There is sadness in loss, but the grace of God marches on, collecting trophies such as Bernard Nathanson. He is an example for us of casting off sin and every weight of encumbrance, and pursuing grace and truth, even when it is costly to do so.
Having been in many ways a cultural dropout for years, I had no idea until just a few years ago who Anne Rice was. Then I came across her testimony, describing how a leading vampire genre author had turned to Christ. I picked up her book on her conversion, and I found it to be both curious and a bit perplexing.
Rice grew up as a Roman Catholic in New Orleans. Interesting for someone so masterful with words, she really is a visual person first of all. All her earliest memories are images – visual snapshots of the things that formed her. It wasn’t until much later that she discovered the ability to translate those images into language.
And it is interesting that her return to Christ, after a life lived quite away from Him, was also driven not by words but by images. As Anne was drawn to Christ, she began collecting religious statuary, even traversing the world to do so. She begins watching live Masses on EWTN, but again the key word there is “watching”: she is absorbing the essence of the whole thing, primarily through the visual aspect, more than ruminating on and struggling with the verbal content.After reading the book I reviewed it at Amazon, irenically congratulating Anne for her achievement. But though my review did well in terms of reader feedback, I eventually took it down because I had no peace about it. I finally had to admit to myself that I had serious questions about what I had read. I was uneasy about the lack of focus on repentance, the lack of doctrinal questioning and struggle, and the uncritical acceptance of the Roman church’s authority structure. It seemed to me that Anne had enveloped herself in the atmosphere of Christianity – or perhaps of Christendom – and I that was a foundation I was not prepared to trust.
That was pretty much that for a while, until sometime last year, when Anne dropped the following bomb on her Facebook page:
For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
Once again I was perplexed. Leaving church is one thing, but does one who is truly Saved ever really stop being a Christian? I wondered if maybe semantics were confusing things, but Anne being a master wordsmith, I had to conclude that she means what she says.
Now I want to make clear that I am not endorsing Anne’s statement. I’m not saying we should leave our churches, let alone leave Christianity itself.
And neither am I saying that we should abandon political engagement. In an interview with Christianity Today, Anne goes on to decry Christian political involvement, specifically against the gay rights movement. But is there no place for advocating for “moral” law – say, for the protection of innocent unborn human life? After all, all law ultimately is based on morality. Where do we draw the line?
Anne’s position with regard to Christ and the church is ultimately something that she needs to decide on, and I can’t say that I fully understand it as it has been stated. But after considering the issues that she has raised, there are two things that need to be said.
Half a year ago, looking for fellowship, I joined myself to an online Christian community that was lively and looked promising. I enjoyed myself there for a season, and I dare say that I was able to help some people. Well and fine. But eventually I was forced out by the continual acrimonious doctrinal bickering that was going on. Never once did I see authority step in to curb it, yet they were quick to summarily ban several high quality posters for the mildest bit of independent thinking or for the unpardonable sin of questioning the use of authoritarian dynamic on others.
Now, if it were just one site doing this, we would not have a problem. But it is not just one site. I’ve been on the Net since 1983, and I don’t even want to tell you what CompuServe Religious Forum #2: Christianity was like back then. Let’s just say it was pandemonium, in the etymological sense of the word.
And over the years, I have seen the same thing time and again, to the point where I have to say that discord is a pervasive problem. Where then does one go for real online fellowship? For that matter, where does one go for real life fellowship? I have to agree to an extent with Anne’s evaluation that we are a “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group”.
In the Epistles, the Apostles exhort us to let brotherly love cover all. We are to overlook offenses, forgo our rights for the sake of others, accept those who are weak in the faith, and not argue about doubtful issues. And in His High Priestly Prayer, just before He was taken, Jesus prayed to the Father that we would be one, so that the world would know that He is the One sent for the salvation of the world. What kind of unity did Jesus have in mind? Consider this:
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. -John 17:21-23
That’s an organic unity so profound that we can only get glimpses of it. Yet if we are going to understand the fullness of the hope of our calling in Christ, if we are going to tap into its immeasurable power for overcoming the world, and if we are going to be effective witnesses to the love of God, we are going to have to press forward into the reality of this unity.
There is a time for taking a doctrinal stand. There is a time for disagreements, when core principles are involved. And in this fallen world there is even a time for separation. But we have a problem when contention and the splitting of doctrinal hairs becomes the dominant characteristic of our interaction. When that is the case we fall into the same judgment as the early Corinthian church, which though blessed with all manner of spiritual manifestations, was essentially loveless, divided and in need of rebuke and discipline.
The other thing I wanted to say is with regard to Anne Rice concerns her response to the problem – leaving the church. There are many, many Christians who are dissatisfied with the current state of the church. I saw an interview with noted Christian musician and worship leader Isaiah Hougton. He’s the guy who leads millions in worship each week on Joel Osteen’s TV program. He sells albums, he travels the globe, he performs for presidents. You might think that this guy is on top of the world, but surprisingly, even he admitted that he was tired of “just doing church”.
I visited a church once where the pastor got up and began thundering that we don’t need another sermon, we instead need to get out there and “do” the Gospel. Very true, I thought to myself, but let’s see where he goes with this. Sure enough, the church was treated to a forty-five minute sermon on how we don’t need another sermon. I wondered if I was the only one seeing the absurdity of it. The words were right, the spirit was wrong. And nothing was going to change. That pastor has continued preaching sermons for years now. What does that signify?
The world is looking for what is real, not for structures, hierarchies, rituals or formulas. Last year, Francis Chan, popular mega-church founder and best-selling author, left his pastorate in order to…. well, we don’t know exactly what he is going to do. He left to follow the Lord’s calling. He felt that he was falling into the trap of success. Was Francis right? I don’t know. But success can be a trap, even when it’s achieved within the Christian subculture. Francis at least had the courage to give up the plaudits of man and get out. One could say that he escaped the American dream. Last I heard, he was looking to start up a grassroots ministry in Asia.
I think we need to take a watchful and prayerful, rather than judgmental, position regarding a lot of the unusual movement within the church today. While that movement can be very disruptive to the church itself, it is even more so to the individual doing the moving. But let’s face it, the Gospel record is clear that, if nothing else, Jesus was disruptive. He never compromised who He was, and He never compromised the high demands of discipleship. That’s why he let the rich young ruler walk away. The Kingdom of Heaven is voluntary. If you’re not willing to pay the price, no one is going to force you to do so. But we mustn’t expect Jesus to change in order to fit into our comfort zones.
As we study the Book of Acts, we see that there was much disruptive movement, and even confusion, in the early church. Jesus told the first disciples to preach the Gospel everywhere. Apparently that wasn’t happening well enough, so a persecution conveniently arose which widely scattered the church. And where the church went, the Gospel went too. God works in strange ways.
I wish Anne Rice well, and while I don’t endorse her position fully, I think we would do well to consider her criticisms, in light of what the Spirit is trying to say to the church at this late hour. The reality around us is changing, almost daily, with regard to technology, culture, politics and economics. Difficult times are coming. The church is going to have to change shape and methodology to adapt to the new reality, in order to survive and to be effective. We have a choice. We can remain stuck in the status quo, or we can face the challenging new reality and cooperate with what the Spirit wants to do. Persecution may come, but eves in it, we have the chance to see the greatest expansion of the kingdom in human history. It’s already begun in places like China.
The message that Jesus gave the churches in the book of Revelation was that overcomers will receive glory, but the lampstands of those who will not heed the Spirit will be removed. The challenge is before us. The Lord wants His church to come home and be fully reconciled, and indeed, to stop being a stumbling block. He wants to live among us, and to impart His character and glory to us. He wants to do this for our sakes, and for the sake of a world which at this point is clearly falling apart. He is looking for willing vessels to empower for this very purpose. May the Bride prepare herself for the coming of the King.