"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Suffering for Christ

      I had a peculiar reaction to this Our Daily Bread. Though the essay is about suffering for the cause of Christ, it seemed to mention as a positive thing that Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. That, after Nero's vicious persecution of the church.
      Superficially, the church's becoming popular and influential in secular government might seem the best thing for God's kingdom. But even a passing look at history suggests quite the opposite. Not long after Constantine, the church apostatized into Roman Catholicism, eventually becoming a far fiercer persecutor of Christians than Nero.
      More recently, we can observe the unholy union of liberal denominations in the National Council of Churches, and its World Council counterpart, as the most bitter opponents of Biblical Christianity since the Roman inquisition. And each successive anti-Christian movement becomes better at counterfeiting the real thing, effectively diluting authentic Christian influence in the world.
      The tragic truth is that most Christians don't realize the correlation between official or popular acceptance for Christianity, and its corruption into merely human institutions. Will we never learn the lesson that first Herod, then Nero, then Constantine taught us? That the best way to grow God's kingdom is to attempt to chop it up into little pieces. We must never rejoice in acceptance, but rather in persecution for the cause of Christ.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Yes, yes"

      If I haven't mentioned it before, I work at Target--oh, hello Target web-crawler, glad you could join us.
      Reader, meet crawler. Crawler--oh, never mind. You're just a stupid little program that looks for any mention of Target online so your user can hastle anyone slandering the Company.
     Depending on the location, Target can be a fascinating place to work, or it can be irksome. I'm blessed, because where I live, most Target guests are level-headed, not holding their noses in the stratosphere out of fear that they might be forced to relate personally to a mere mortal. In fact, some highly interesting people pass through my checklane.
      A case-in-point was a couple who passed through my line last month. They appeared prosperous, well groomed and clothed, probably in their late '60s. I suspected nothing unusual until the gentleman took a handful of quarters out of his pocket to pay me ... after his wife had already paid by debit card. When she reminded him that she had paid, he seemed a bit confused, saying, "Yes, yes," but displaying a wry expression that made it appear he was joking. Even then he tried to give me some quarters, and his wife nearly had to drag him away from the register, telling him again that she had already paid. By then his "Yes, yes," conveyed a subtle, plaintive quality and it was obvious that he was confused.
      What struck me was the patient love and respect she showed, though he was being difficult. I don't know what kind of dementia he had, but his wife's love had overpowered the irritation or disgust she may have felt because of his decent from a forceful, independent man to what I saw. Her faithfulness touched me deeply.
      I have to ask myself if I am capable of loving that faithfully.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Allah or Jesus?

The following editorial was confirmed as having been written by Rick Mathes, Executive Director of Mission Gate Prison Ministry. Although Mathes confirmed it as fact, a few establishment-types deny its ever having happened. Why does that not surprise me? Allah or Jesus?
By: Rick Mathes
      Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their belief systems.
      I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.
      After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers. When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:  "Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"
      There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"
      I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"
      The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes."
      I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven.
      The Imam was speechless.
      I continued, "I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and He wants you to be with me?"
      You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the 'Diversification' training seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim's beliefs.
      I think everyone in the US and Canada should be required to read this, but with the liberal justice system, liberal media, and the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized. Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts.

      Whether or not this is an exact representation of the meeting in question, many Muslim sects indeed believe what Mathes alluded to. The truth will prevail. Infidels beware.

Don't Tear The Cloth!

      Tear your heart instead! That was Joel's message to God's people Israel in chapter two of his prophesy. He began by issuing a terrifying prediction of God's host rendering the earth lifeless ... unless His people Yet even now turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, declares Jehovah.(Joel 2:12)
      Okay, nobody tears their robes and throws ashes into the air anymore. Today's church has more sedate rituals of repentance. We might respond to a convicting sermon by slipping down to the alter and shedding a couple of alligator tears, feeling better for having demonstrated our sincerity before the church. As liberating as that public act of humility feels, how long does the life-change last, if there was one at all?
      We moderns habitually guard our hearts from the pain, embarrassment and inconvenience of breaking--or tearing--as God commanded through Joel. Oh sure, we might occasionally become infatuated with someone and come away with a "broken heart," but that's not the kind of agonized tearing that leads to true repentance, as God constantly commands. Without it we will never turn away from the sin that renders us spiritually impotent, and condemns us to perdition.
      So, don't make a religious show of tearing the cloth you wear on your body, or performing any other ritual of repentance. Instead, tear away the armor you wear on your heart so God can rend your heart unto repentance.