The Old Preacher

Viewing the World through God's Word

Category: Terrorism

Blaming Christians

O PreacherI’m almost speechless.  Please read this article by David French from the “National Review.”  It’s his response to Jen Hatmaker’s viral Facebook page (link in article).

 we need the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of Christ-like love in us, even while we call sin what it is!

The Orlando Shooting Launches a War on Christianity

Somehow, Omar Mateen’s massacre has put American Christians on the defensive.
By David French — June 15, 2016
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Radical Islamist Ideology

P.AllanPerhaps today we should just “weep with those who weep” in Orlando.  Or maybe we should be urged to weep, because by tomorrow or Wednesday for most of us the slaughter’s horror will have dissipated.  Mass shootings have become almost commonplace.  And the investigative accounts of the killer’s identity, family life, motivation, etc. seem the same old story.

I listened to President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as a few “lesser” politicians comment.  Sadly familiar.  If ever a sign that we live in a fallen, evil world, this is it—not just the shootings, but the responses.  Know the identity of the politician before he or she speaks, you know what he or she will say.  We call it “politics”; but it really is ideology.  (“A system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy”–Oxford Dictionaries).

The ideologues who theorize guns are the problem push for tougher (“common sense”) gun laws.  Those who theorize our defense is insufficient push for banning Muslims from the country or stronger police presence.  I’m not qualified to speak  specifically on any of these “pushes.”  I do agree with the mostly unheard voices who argue that Radical Islam is at war with America—except I would add, “and at war with the non-Sharia Muslim world.

When Jesus predicted, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6), I understand him to mean that generation leading up to 70 A.D. when Rome finally crushed Jerusalem.  But I also take him to mean “double fulfillment”; that is, wars as part of “birth pains” (Matthew 24:8) will mark these last days leading up to the Last Day.  And, though far different from the tactics of our two world wars, Jesus certainly included this Radical Islamist war.

In World War 2, Hitler held an ideology—broadly, the superiority of the Aryan race.  We beat it with bombs, as today’s war necessitates.  But understanding the enemy and his ideology is necessary too.  How can we not realize our attackers are not “lone wolves” or “isolated crazies”?  Radical Islam intends, in the name of Allah, to take over the world.  Tightening airport security will not defeat demonic worldview.

“The Clarion Project” (http://www.clarionproject.org/understanding-islamism/islamic-extremismprovides an informative introduction to Radical Islam Ideology . . .

Islamic extremism is driven by an interpretation of Islam that believes that Islamic law, or sharia, is an all-encompassing religious-political system. Since it is believed to be proscribed by Allah (Arabic for “God”) sharia must be enforced in the public sphere by a global Islamic state. As such, Islamic extremists consider it to be the only truly legitimate form of governance and reject democracy and human rights values.

Thus, the ultimate objective of Islamic extremists is the merger of “mosque and state” under sharia law. Those who favor such an approach are called Islamists. Their ideology is called Islamism, or political Islam.

(Photo: © Reuters)(Photo: © Reuters)

Islamic extremists believe they are obligated to install this form of governance in Muslim-majority territories, countries and, eventually, the entire world. In the minds of Islamic extremists, they are promoting justice and freedom by instituting sharia.

In some cases, Islamic extremists even describe sharia as a superior form of “democracy.”

Islamic extremists have intermediate political goals which they believe will pave the way for the global implementation of sharia. One of these goals is the removal of non-Muslim military forces from Muslim lands and the overthrow of “enemy” regimes.

Acts of Islamic extremism includes terrorism, human rights abuses, the advancement of sharia-based governance, bigotry towards non-Muslims and rival Muslims and overall hostility to the West and, in particular, Western democracy.

Today we “weep with those who weep”, despite our conviction that the Bible calls homosexual behavior sin.  These are men and women created in God’s image, and our response to them should be brokenhearted prayer, not condemnation.  Our plea for them should be for God’s grace in Christ, as we ourselves continue to need.

It’s also apparently true that most Muslims are not radical extremists, just as not all Christians are abortion-doctor killers or homophobic.

That brings us to how as Jesus-followers we should respond.  We can’t defeat terrorists bent on destroying us.  We can’t out-debate their ideology.  (Though we—here meaning our political leaders—must realize this is a war against an ideology whose adherents mean, in Allah’s name, to take over the world.)

What we can do, what we must do, is pray.  Though written in a different context, the apostle Paul’s words apply . . .

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
(Ephesians 6:13-18a)

Does it seem  absurd to believe that our little prayers can affect how God works in the world?  Remember . . .

The prayer of a righteous person
has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16b)

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Targeting Christians

O PreacherThe park in Pakistan is a regular gathering place for Christian families on Easter Sunday.  Muslim families, too, in this majority-Muslim nation, flock there for fun.  Yesterday it became a place of exploding terror.

A suicide bomb killed at least 70 people.  Many more lie in critical condition.  Among the dead:  29 children.

“The target was Christians,” a faction [of the Taliban] spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said. “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered [the city of] Lahore.”.  So far, 14 of the dead have been identified as Christians.  The rest were Muslims.  Since Christians were targeted, I assume Muslims were merely collateral damage—unless the murdered weren’t the “right kind” of Muslim.

This comes only days after an airport-and subway-terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium that left 35 dead and nearly 300 wounded, four Americans among them.

I can’t begin to comprehend taking my children to a park on an Easter Sunday afternoon, when suddenly a bomb explodes and a raging fire seriously burns over 33 people and incinerates 70, including 29 children.  If I learned one of my children had been

Image: Pakistanis Hunt Militants Behind Blast That Killed at Least 70

burned to death, what would I do next?  What would I think?  How would I pray?  Where would I go?  How would I endure the pain of the next days?  Of the next months?  Would I hold on to my faith, knowing I and my dead child have no other hope but the Lord?  Or would I curse God and die?  Surely, were I to persevere through so dark a valley, it would be only by God’s grace.

I think of Jesus’ words . . .

“I have said this to you,
so that in me you may have peace.
In the world you face persecution.
But take courage; I have conquered the world.”
(John 16:33).

I’ve been warned.  And promised.  But could I possibly have peace and courage after that?  Perhaps God gives a special gift of faith for such evil days.

I think, too, of that unsettling passage in the Book of Revelation . . .

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar
the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God
and the testimony they had maintained.  They called out in a loud voice,
“How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true,
until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
Then each of them was given a white robe,
and they were told to wait a little longer,
until the number of their fellow servants and brothers
who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
(Revelation 6:9-11).

I’m not a Revelation expert.  But three implications seem clear here.

One, the Sovereign Lord has a day when he will avenge the blood of his martyrs.  If I was a parent whose child burned to death yesterday, I would want revenge.  (I suppose I should call it “justice” to be more holy.)  I would be briefly angry at God.  I would be angry at President Obama for his nonchalant attitude toward terrorist attacks.  But eventually, by grace, I would put my hope for justice in the hands of the Sovereign Lord whose judgment day is coming.

Two, this world is not a friendly place for Christians.  It doesn’t seem so hostile to us in the U.S.  Even the persecution some have recently endured here (a baker forced out of business) is pretty mild compared to bombing innocents in a park.  For the most part, we can feel rather at home here.  That’s not only because persecution so far is little.  It’s also because we get co-opted by the culture , until the biggest difference between us and the world is we go to church on Sundays and read the Bible occasionally.  Reviewing violence in today’s world, I’m reminded it’s coming here.  With eight grandchildren whom I dearly love, I don’t even want to think that.  But how can I blind my eyes to what seems a blatantly fearful reality?  When you come down to it, we are really aliens and strangers in an unfriendly world (1 Peter 2:11).

Three, more committed Christians will be killed.  In the text above, the martyrs in heaven (!) are told they must wait a little longer for the Lord to avenge their blood “until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”  More will be martyred.  There’s a number that God knows or perhaps has set.  Then his justice will prevail.

I sometimes wonder what professed Christians in America’s churches will do if terrorists show up here to target us.  Will our numbers sharply shrink?  I think, too, of those preachers who invite unbelievers to come to Jesus with promises of practically heaven on earth.  And of pastors who blithely welcome new members thoughtless about the day membership may make them a terrorist’s target.  And I wonder, too, if I would shut down my blog and become a closet Christian if terrorists targeted us here.

I hope I sound realistic, not pessimistic.  I’m concerned that our—and my—Christianity may be too weak to stand whatever tests may come.  So I write to remind us all—and me especially—that now is the time to prepare.  Today I must toughen up in my faith.  And I must remember, come what may, I’m on the winning side.  After all, our Sovereign Lord said . . .

“But take courage; I have conquered the world.”

Listen! This may help.  He’s “Overcome”!

 

 

 

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Is Paris Burning?

P.AllanThat’s the title of the latest commentary from Ravi Zacharias.  I greatly respect him and the perspective he brings as a world-traveling defender and advocate of the Christian faith.  I can’t read him in bed at night, though.  My mind can’t swim as deep as his.  I have to re-read to follow his thoughts and understand his insights.  So, if your mental swimming is as limited as mine, don’t give up.  Read it again.  It’s worth it.

* * * * *

RZIM_Is_Paris_Burning_Ravi_Zacharias_Paris_Attacks_blog

The layers that obscure the truth are burying humanity in large numbers. Yes, Paris was burning again and those flames and the dead bodies may well be a grim foreshadowing of what the future holds. I was in neighboring England the night the massacre scattered across Paris took place, as people going out to enjoy a dinner or concert or a football game were the targets of hate-filled and ruthless killers. The newspapers the next day had similar words: “Carnage”; “massacre”; “assassination”; “murder”; “blood”; “death”; “screams”; “terror,” and so on. Television programming was preempted and viewers were cautioned that some of the scenes of the slaughter were graphic. It was real. A few hours later, names and pictures of the dead were shown. It was like we had heard this before. But it was new and real: the victims’ lives cut short in the peak of their careers. Children who weren’t going to come home. People looking for their loved ones. Marriages suddenly broken by death. A young graduate with life ahead of her. And so on. One doesn’t have to know the individuals to feel helplessness and pain. This is twenty-first century murderous man. War in small increments can be deadlier than large scale war because it doesn’t just desensitize the killers; it desensitizes all of humanity.

Killers who do not represent a country and whose belief is debated ad nauseam as to whether it is a version or a perversion are truly sinister and are the cancerous cells of our time. They are protected by having no roots either in country or belief. The West is being taken down in small portions till one day the lie of the murderers being protected by smooth-talking power brokers with a bodyguard of lies will be seen for the terrifying belief that it is. No contrary view will be allowed then. For now, the layers of distortion cover the graves of the murdered. The whole world has become a courtroom where clever lawyers make truth unattainable. Whether it be 9/11 or the carnage at the Boston Marathon or blown-up planes or Paris, we will not find answers because to ask the question is either to receive a lie from some politicians or many in the media, or to invoke the wrath of hate-filled killers.

So we ask! What is the belief behind all this that kills with such callousness? We do not get any answers. We are told by some that it’s a religion of peace. Others call it a political theory at its core covered with the garb of religion to give it maximum protection as it invokes the laws of blasphemy. What is the answer? We had dare not unpack the truth. In one sense, strangely, one feels almost pity for these murderers. The possessor of hate loses the essence of life much more than the victim does. Living with a heart so deceived breeds a decimating misery within and spreads the venom globally. There must be scores of young men within the belief who do not wish to inflict such pain but who now live with the pall of suspicion over them. Such is the contagion of a poisoned soul.

But the quest for answers still haunts. In one Middle Eastern country, an awful thing happened. Two young Muslims turned atheists were on a program. They argued for the reality that blood had been spilled across the centuries and that there was no denying that from its earliest days to the present, this was the same blood-letting in the name of the belief as originally given and carried out. Then one of them asked the cleric a question that was as pointed as could be. It was a powerful question with an irrefutable fact within the question. The question laid bare a reality that was deemed blasphemous. The next day that man and his family were murdered, just for asking a fact-laden question that was unanswerable without conceding the truth. For that, he and his family paid with their lives.

That’s the depravity of our age. It is death to ask the pointed question because the answer, if true, betrays the real truth. The masquerade is on and it is deadly. We watch hundreds die. We hear speeches full of distortions; we tolerate deceit and even reward it. Some in power and in the public eye whitewash the reality while the blood of the murdered cries out from the ground. Our children and grandchildren will inherit the whirlwind because our media pundits and misguided speech-makers have sown to the wind by trading in lives for their power.

It would be easy to lose heart and become cynical. But No! There is One who sees all things, knows all things, and will ultimately triumph over all things. There is only one message that addresses the truth as the truth. The Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, came to this earth and was also the victim of hate. Lies sent him to the cross. Power overruled reality, as politics and religious demagogues once again made the lie seem noble. But the Lord who sees the beginning from the end amazingly conquered not in spite of the dark mystery of evil, rather, He conquered through it. James Stewart of Scotland, pointing to the cross, said it in the most powerful terms I have read. Commenting on the verse from Psalm 68:18, “He led captivity captive,” he said,

It is a glorious phrase—“He led captivity captive.” The very triumphs of his foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve his ends not theirs. They nailed him to a tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the city gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up the gates of the universe, to let the king come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had God with his back to the wall, pinned helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.

The lie has a shelf life. The truth abides forever. God can even conquer through our perversion.

One more thing. I would be remiss if I left the guilt and darkness out there. That is the seduction of a fake righteousness. We all have to look at our own hearts and see the evil that is within each one of us. Only then can we find the answer from which all other answers flow. Some time ago, I was in Romania. A sculptor had some of his works on display. One was a horrific, fierce-looking, long nail. When you picked it up, as rusty and jagged as the nail was, the head was polished and shiny. And when you looked at that polished head, you saw a reflection of yourself. It is sobering. Very sobering.

You see, the nails that cause hurt and pain and death ultimately point to our own hearts. Only when we as individuals see the evil that is within will we find an answer for the evil that is around us. Maybe, just maybe, someday a carnage will take place that might cause everyone in power to see their own hearts as God sees them and tell us the truth of what these killings are all about. Only then will truth triumph and we find real answers. Until then, the flames will gain ground and not just Paris will burn, but the next story of scorched lives in another city will make us forget this one… or possibly, awaken us to the cost of a lie. More than ever we need the Savior. Lord have mercy!

Ravi Zacharias

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