Tuesday, August 31, 2010

America Must Turn to God/Chris Wallace Interviews Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday (Part 2)

YouTube - Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday w/ Chris Wallace 2/2

This past Saturday Glenn Beck hosted the "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C. The news media covered the story both Sunday and yesterday.  Yesterday evening Bill O'Reilly on the O'Reilly Factor devoted most of his television program covering the "Restoring Honor" rally.  He interviewed Glenn Beck himself and he had other guests on the program giving their reaction to this past Saturday's rally.  Beck showed pictures of the rally on his Fox News television program.  I watched Sean Hannity last night to see if he would cover the "Restoring Honor" rally.  Hannity didn't cover the event.  I wasn't very surprised.  However, Hannity no doubt has to be in competition with Beck.  Beck's helped boost the ratings on Fox News.  Beck undboutedly has more appeal than Hannity.  Hannity always tailors his show around having guests on his show from both political perspectives.  You hear the traditional talking points representative from both political parties.  It's Democrats are bad and Republicans are good.  I believe Americans are sick of hearing the same talking points from both political parties. 

Last week on his program, Glenn Beck featured religious figures whom he called "the black-robed regiment".  They were preachers who were referred to as that because they wore black robes during the time of the American revolution.  I was concerned about the diversity of religious leaders he had featured at his rally.  The religious figures he had ranged from priests to rabbis, even to Imams.  I believe an Imam is out of place.  What role is an Imam to play in restoring America?  America wasn't built on Islam.  Islam is incompatible with the values of America.  It was an ecumenical event.  Why do I say that?  Because there were several religious figures there all in a showing of unity in the name of America needs to turn to God.  As Beck stated, this wasn't a political event.  They devoted their time honoring soldiers.  Beck for weeks has been saying America needs to turn to God.  He said this would be a rally about faith.  I want to quickly make a point.  I'm not speaking of a political rally where numerous people may gather together for a particular cause.  In situations such as those, you will have people who are representative of many religious denominations in America.   I don't have an issue with that.  However, I have a problem with a rally which is supposed to be about spirituality and there's a group of religious leaders gathering together in a show of unity in the name of Jesus.  For a number of years, we've had a movement which has been saying to set aside our doctrinal differences and let's come together in unity and love one another.  God's not a thousand miles in something like that.  The Bible says that we aren't to be unequally yoked with one another.  Another passage of scripture says how can two walk together except they be in agreement?  Beck's right that America needs to turn to God.  I have no qualms with that.  As far as I'm concerned, he's probably sincere in everything he said at the rally Saturday.  Beck is a Mormon and doesn't know better.  However, John Hagee should know better.  He was in attendance at the rally.  Dr. James Dobson was there as well. 

America must turn to God if it is to be spared.  That's not going to take place by some unity rally from religious leaders.  The problems America faces is spiritual.  I agree with Beck when he told Chris Wallace in an interview that he doesn't believe there's a political solution to America's problems.  He believes the Republican Party has sold their soul.  I agree.  Both parties are engaging in organized crime with one another.  I'm a firm believer in political participation.  I believe voters should vote out incumbent frauds.  However, voting out the Democrats and voting in a Republican majority isn't going to save America.  Anyone who espouses conservatism that believes that the Republican Party is going to save America has their head in the sand.  The Republicans are just as much a part of the problem as the Democrats.  They both take turns playing the bad guy and not-so bad guy.  However, both parties are corrupt.  The fix is in.  Anyone who places their faith in our political system is destined for disappointment.   I no longer trust anyone in the political arena.  I haven't placed a campaign bumpersticker on my car since the 2004 presidential election.  I saw how President Bush and the Republican Congress performed. That opened my eyes to the corruption in our political system.  Those that are relying on a political solution are relying on a false hope.  I do recognize we have a responsibility as citizens to vote and participate in the political system.  Consequently, for several generations Americans have abandoned their responsibilities concerning the political process.  Many Americans vote for the candidate who will promise them government benefits or security.  That's happened for decades.  That's one of the reasons why America is in the shape it's in.  As a result we've gotten the government we deserve.  When we trade liberty for security we'll be enslaved by the government.  The government will continually place more and more restrictions upon us.  The government of this day is usurping power from the American people. They are assuming a role they have no right to assume.  They're playing the role of God in American society.  That's due to Americans being complacent about their responsibilities as U.S. citizens.  When government gives you something, they'll remove your liberties in the process. 

I know I've digressed but the point I'm making is America's problem is spiritual.  Government's not the solution to our problems as the late Ronald Reagan said during his 1981 inaugural address.  I'm going to make a statement that will surprise some people.  America doesn't need revival.  America needs an awakening.  God's people need revival.  Psalms 85:6 says, "Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?"  The church needs a revival.  However, revival won't come about through an ecumenical rally with representives from various religions in a show of unity together.  The ecumenical movement isn't going to solve the problem.  God's people need to repent and right their relationship with God and one another.   God's people need to do as II Chronicles 7:14 says.  We need God's presence in our churches.  Nothing will take the place of God's presence.  We need old-time preachers once again thundering the pulpits declaring "Thus saith the Lord" from the King James Bible in the pulpits.  Nothing else will suffice.  Unless God's people repent, we can't expect to see America awakened.  America truly does need an awakening.  However, God's people need to be revived first.  Then God can work through God's people to awaken America.

I've enclosed the second part of the interview that Chris Wallace had with Glenn Beck on Sunday, August 29, 2010.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Restoring Honor Rally in Washington D.C.

YouTube - Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Honor' Rally pt.10 Beck's Monologue

(Messenger-Inquirer) Fox News Channel commentator Glenn Beck and tea party champion Sarah Palin appealed Saturday to a vast crowd on the National Mall to help restore traditional American values and honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message.  The Restoring Honor rally coincided with the 47th anniversary of the famous speech Martin Luther King Jr. made on August 28, 1963 which was entitled, "I Have a Dream."  Civil rights leaders such as Al Sharpton have accused the group of hijacking King's legacy.  Sharpton held a counter rally and march.  Beck billed this event as non-political.  Conservative activists said their show of strength was a clear sign that they can swing elections because much of the country is angry with the career politicians in Washington who are guilty of out-of-control spending and are usurping more power over the American people.  Palin told tens of thousands who stretched from the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the grass of the Washington Monument that calls to transform the country weren't enough.  "We must restore America and restore her honor," said the former Alaska governor.  Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 2008 and a potential White House contender in 2012, and Beck repeatedly cited King and made references to the Founding Fathers.  This rally had religious overtones to it.  Beck was emphasizing the importance of America turning to and depending upon God.  Beck at times sounded like an evangelical preacher.  "Something beyond imagination is happening," he said.  American begins to turn back to God." 

Beck exhorted the crowd to "recognize your place to the Creator.  Realize that He is our King.  He is the One who guides and directs our life and protects us."  Beck asked his audience to pray more.  "I ask, not only if you would pray on your knees, but pray on your knees with your door open for your children to see," he said.  Sharpton held a counter rally at a high school, then embarked upon a three-mile march to the site of a planned monument honoring the late Martin Luther King, Jr.  The site, bordering the Tidal Basin, was not far from the Lincoln Memorial, where Beck and others spoke about two hours earlier.  Sharpton and the several thousand marching with him crossed paths with some of the crowd leaving Beck's rally.  People wearing "Restoring Honor" and tea party T-shirts looked on as Sharpton's group chanted "reclaim and dream" and MLK, MLK."  Both sides were generally restrained, even though there was some mutual taunting.  One woman from the Beck rally shouted to the Sharpton marchers: "Go to church.  Restore America with peace."  Some civil rights marchers chanted "don't drink the tea" to people leaving Beck's rally.  Sharpton told his rally that it was important to keep King's dream alive and that despite progress more needs to be done.  "Don't mistake progress for arrival," he said. 

Beck claimed he didn't intend to choose the King anniversary for his rally but had since decided it was "Divine Providence."  He portrayed King as an American hero.  Sharpton and other critics have noted that, while Beck has long sprouted anti-government themes, King's famous march included an appeal to the federal government to do more to protect Americans' civil rights.  It wasn't clear how many tea party activists were in the crowd, but the sheer size of the turnout helped demonstrate the size and potential national influence of the movement.  Tea party activism and widespread voter discontent with government have already affected primary elections and could be an important factor in November's congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races.  Palin told the crowd she wasn't speaking as a politician.  "I've been asked to speak as the mother of a soldier, and I am proud of that distinction.  Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet and you can't take that away from me."  It was in reference to her son Track, who served a yearlong deployment in Iraq.  Palin likened the rally participants to the civil rights activists from 1963.  She said the same spirit that helped them overcome oppression, discrimination, and violence would help this group as well.  "We are worried about what we face.  Sometimes, our challenges seem insurmountable," Palin said.  "Look around you.  You're not alone." 

Beck paced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke through a wireless microphone headset.  "For too long, this country has wandered in darkness.  . . . Today we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished--and the things that we can do tomorrow."  In one of his many references to King, Beck noted he spent the night before in the same Washington hotel where King placed the finishing touches to his "I Have a Dream Speech." 

Alveda King, the niece of the slain civil rights leader, appealed to the Beck rally participants to "focus not on elections or on political causes but on honor, on character...not the color of our skin."  Beck had appealed to those attending to not bring signs with them.  For the most part, there weren't many signs.  There were a few exceptions.

America does need to turn to God.  The thing that disturbed me about this particular rally was there were so many religious participants at this event from Roman Catholics to rabbis even to Imams.  It was ecumenical in nature.  That was the only issue I had with it.  I will discuss this issue further in tomorrow's post as a sequel to this post.  If America is to turn to God, it won't do so through an ecumenical appeal.  Those religious groups preach a distorted gospel which won't save America.  Much of what Beck and Palin said was right on target.  However, religious groups can't save America.  America won't be saved apart from the pure unadulterated preaching of the gospel and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  Tomorrow I'll expound on the theme, "America Must Turn Back to God."  I've also linked YouTube clips featuring the "Restoring Honor" rally with Glenn Beck speaking.  I also have featured both parts of Fox News Chris Wallace interviewing Glenn Beck yesterday morning on Fox News Sunday.

Chris Wallace Interviews Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday (Part 1)

YouTube - Glenn Beck Interview on Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace Restoring Honor Rally Lincoln Memorial Part 1  This is the first part of the interview in which Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday interviews Glenn Beck.  The second part of the interview will be enclosed in the blog title, "America Must Turn to God/Chris Wallace Interviews Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday (Part 2)"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Church at Pergamos

(Revelation 2:12-17) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is; and thou holdest fast my name; and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.  Repent or else, I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."  Pergamum, or Pergamos, was located about 30 miles north of Smyrna; some 15 miles in from the sea on a high mountain over the Caicus River.  It was the great city of Mysia, noted for its wealth and fashion.  Like Ephesus and Smyrna, it too was a headquarters for emperor worship.  It was the chief city of the province, and here was located the "concilia" which had in charge the matters of state religion and incense offering before the image of the emperor."  The city had always been loyal to Rome, so it was natural they would be unrelenting toward their persecution of Christians.  The city was also known for its many temples such as Athena and Zeus.  It was also the worship center of Asclopius, god of healing (emblem--serpent).

Jesus refers to the city of Pergamos as "where Satan dwells", likely referring to the stronghold of pagan worship and the seat of political Roman power for the entire region.  Jesus commended Pergamos for holding fast to their faith in spite of being surrounded by pagan Roman influences. During this time Constantine, the Roman emperor reigned and he was known for wedding both church and state together.  The origins of the Roman Catholic church can be traced to Constantine's combining the church and state. 

Jesus reprimands the church for those who held to the teaching of Balaam.  What was the teaching of Balaam?  The story of Balaam is found in Numbers chapters 22-31.  Balaam was hired by Balak to curse Israel.  Balaam tried to curse Israel for money.  Every time that he tried to curse Israel, he ended up blessing them.  Instead of cursing them, he came up with a plan.  He said, let the woman of Balak's kingdom display themselves before the eyes of god's people.  The Jewish men went after the foreign women, commited fornication with them, married them, and Israel was drawn into idolatry.  The Jews were supposed to keep themselves separate from other nations, but they disobeyed God's commandment.  There had been some in the church of Pergamos who had been introducing various aspects of other faiths and pagan practices.  They mixed pagan and Christian doctrine and practices together.  God labels that as fornication and adultery.  God also reprimanded the church for some who were holding to the teachings of the Nicolaitanes.  It's interesting even though there were some in that church that were holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,  God rebuked the whole church because whenever a church accepts a doctrine that God hates; it's in great danger with a Holy God.  The Apostle Paul labels sin as "leaven" which can destroy the whole church. (I Corinthians 5:6).

Constantine was the reigning Roman emperor during this time frame.  He had to fight his rivals for the sole right to the throne.  Prior to this and even during Constantine's reign, it was Roman policy to persecute and kill Christians.  History speaks of Constantine having a vision one night before a battle, of a cross in the sky and hearing a voice saying, "In this sign conquer."  He took this as a sign from God that he would be able to conquer his enemies and win the throne.  History tells us that Constantine converted from paganism to Christianity.  He issued an edict of toleration for the church ending the 200+ years of persecution and he bestowed many favors upon the church and its members, placing many into positions of political authority, providing money to sustain the needs of the church.  Many pagan temples were taken over by Christians for church building.  To please the emperor, many church leaders accepted and adopted customs from the pagan practices and pagan temples. 

The chruch over these next 300 years dressed itself in ritualism, mystery, clergy, vestments, worship of saints and angels, the introduction of the mass, making the sign of the cross, prayers for the dead, services in Latin, prayers to Mary, and the list continues.  Many of these practices are what the Roman Catholic church practice.  Constantine finally declared Christianity to be the official state religion, strongly encouraging all citizens to convert to it.  Consequently, it was a Christianity that wasn't  rooted in the Bible.  It was a Christianity where paganism was mixed with Christian symbols.  As a result, there was paganism in the church.  The purity of the church was destroyed when paganism was mixed in with it.  The church became married to Roman authority, state acceptance, no persecution, a place of power, prominence and money.  however, God was opposed to it. 

In this very hour in our churches today, you find all kinds of rituals that are added to the church that's pagan.  We've added all kinds of eastern traditions which aren't in the Bible.  That's why the church is in the sad shape she's in this hour.  God's people have commited spiritual adultery by allowing other gods to creep into their lives.  God's people have allowed things that God hates into the church.  We use all kinds of "user friendly" tactics to draw people into the church.  We've allowed rock music, dancing, puppet shows, and all kinds of entertainment as a substitute for the preaching of the Word of God.  Nothing takes the place of old time worship.  Nothing takes the places of preaching, praying, and singing.  That's why there are so many religious people within the walls of the church that have never been born again.  We've entertained them with the things of the world as a result, there's no regeneration.  We can't use the methods of the world to reach and convert the sinner.  Sinners only will be converted through God's way and no other.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Was the Iraq War Worth the Price?

(USA Today) President Barack Obama has announced that the last of the U.S. combat troops will be leaving Iraq.  President Obama will be addressing before the nation Tuesday that Operatin Iraqi Freedom will be ended after combat operations began in Iraq in March 2003.  In a USA TODAY Poll, 60% of Americans say "no" when asked, "Do you think the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over?"  Similar majorities either felt the war didn't make the USA safer from terrorism or made no difference.  The same was said of whether the political situation in the Middle East is more stable.  At the same time, 52% of Americans say Iraqis are better off as a result of the war; 20% say they are not.  The results of the August 21-22 poll comes as the United States prepares to officially end combat operations in Iraq on Tuesday.  President Obama will travel Tuesday to Fort Bliss, TX to meet with the troops and will deliver an address that evening from the Oval Office.  By the end of the month, troop levels will go from a high of more than 160,000 servicemembers in 2007 to fewer than 50,000.  Most of those who remain will focus on training Iraqi police and soldiers to take over the nation's security. 

The seven years of fighting cost the lives of more than 4400 Americans.  The financial cost of the war for the United States has been more than $748 billion, making it the most expensive U.S. war apart from World War II in current dollars.  Scholars, former government officials, military experts and politicians agree its too early to tell whether the cost in lives and treasure will be worth an outcome that won't be fully known for years, even decades.  Even so, many people have they don't have to wait any longer to make up their minds on what they feel about the war.  Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), an opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning said, "It couldn't possibly be worth it."  Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Connecticut Democrat who won re-election as an independent on a pro-Iraq war platform, disagrees.  "We are significantly safer as a result of what I consider to be a victory in Iraq," he says.  "It costs too much; it went on too long; mistakes were made along the way, but ultimately, if we had withdrawn, it would have had a devastating impact on the entire Middle East had a devastating impact on the entire Middle East and our credibility in the world.  I think it was worth  it." 

Operation Iraqi Freedom is a culmination of events dating back to the Gulf War of 1991.  The event that caused the Bush administration to decide to oust Sadamm was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  President Bush and his cabinet charged that given the climate in the Middle East, Saddam was too much of a threat to remain in power.  In October 2002, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to authorize force against Iraq.  In November, the United Nations Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution offering Saddam "a final opportunity" to comply with disarmament.  Three months later, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. and European intelligence agencies believed Iraq was hiding its weaponry and seeking to build weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  This was the argument that President Bush used in presenting the case before the U.N. and Congress that the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq needed to be toppled.  Prior to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, the final U.N. inspect report stated that Iraq failed to account for chemical and biological stockpiles.  U.N. inspector Hans Blix said he had "no confidence" that the weaponry had been destroyed.  Once the war began, the Sunni government of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled around April 9, 2003.  However, the U.S. forces didn't seize the town of Baghdad.  There was all kinds of looting taking place at the armory.  Saddam's forces fled the government and merged with the population.  As a result, there were all kinds of violent insurgent attacks in Iraq.  The terrorist insurgents used IED's to blow up buildings and sections of Iraq.  The toll count of U.S. troops was starting to climb and many Americans were becoming frustrated with the war in Iraq because the situation in that country was very unstable.  There were certain places in Iraq such as Basra which were hotbeds of terrorism.  Finally in 2006 a non-partisan group was formed which was called the "Iraq Study Group" which studied the situation in Iraq.  They made recommendations on changes that needed to be made.  Following the mid-term elections in November 2006 when Democrats regained control of both the House and Senate, Bush fired his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.  Bush tapped Robert Gates in his place.  At the end of the year and in early January, the recommendation was made for a troop surge to take place in Iraq.  David Petreaus was chosen to head the military forces in Iraq.  Then the troop size was increased to 160,000 troops.

One of the consequences of the Iraq War was the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found.  I've inquired about that situation.  I've read that Hussein might have made the world think that he had weapons of mass destruction to keep Iran at bay.  Now, I'm going to ask the question:  Was the Iraq War worth fighting for?  Was it worth the blood and the treasure.  My answer is simply no.  First of all, there was no agenda to win the war.  I believe when Bush sent troops into the war I believe it was intended for American troops to stay in Iraq for the long haul, regardless of the reason.  I've heard speculation for years the reason why we are engaging in wars in the Middle East is because of oil.  I simply believe that's true.  It's about money.  It's about protecting business interests of the American oil industry.  The oil industry has always been a monopoly in America.  There has also been war profiteering by American defense contractors in Iraq.  They've made a killing over this war.  Another problem with the U.S. entering Iraq was simply there was no declaration of war as the Constitution calls for.  Anytime we're going to send troops to war, there should be a Congressional declaration of war.  It places the U.S. on alert that we're in a war and we must band together to win this war.  Another reason why I believe this war wasn't worth the price is because of the silly rules of engagement.  If you're going to fight a war, then the military should give them all the weapons they need and the go-ahead to shoot when necessary.  Overwhelming force should be used when we're fighting the enemy. 

Another problem with this war was the U.S. was involved in rebuilding the nation of Iraq.  They were hoping democracy would take root in Iraq.  I will say on the positive that Iraqi citizens were able to vote in the elections on December 15, 2005.  As much as I'm in favor of citizens being alowed to vote, if the citizenry doesn't know what kind of leaders to vote for, then how beneficial is voting.  Also, if the system is fixed where the only kind of candidates up for elections are corrupt, then voting is not going to ensure anything.  Elections can be manipulated.  Democracy will never take hold in Iraq.  Iraq consists of three different ethnic groups: Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.  I agree with then Senator Joseph Biden that Iraq should've been partitioned in three sections.  There's always been civil unrest between the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.  The political situation is still unstable for Iraq.  They are a totally different country from America.  Not all countries can have a republican form of government.  A republican form of government is incompatible with many of the nations around the world.  A democracy or a republican form of government won't work unless you have a group of citizens that are hard working, looking out for the common good, and are bound by a set of strong principles, like the U.S. was when we were formed as a nation. 

Saddam Hussein could've been removed from Iraq in other ways.  It wasn't worth the blood and the treausure.  The Iraq War has added a trillion dollars to our total debt.  Bush was wrong when he said this war would pay for itself.  He went to Congress every year to ask for funding for the Iraq War.  We should've sold war bonds like we did during World War I and II.  How much safer are the Iraqis since the toppling of Saddam Hussein is debatable.  Even though they may supposedly have more freedom now then when they did under Saddam, there wasn't the level of violence in Iraq like there is now.  Iraq wasn't overrun with violence with Saddam in power like it was when he was toppled.  Saddam was a Sunni so he was able to control the Shiites and Kurds.  Since Saddam's ouster, Iran has grown in power and are now a potential threat in the world with nuclear weapons.  Also, the Shiite population is unrestrained as well.  There's no way that the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, will be able to live together in harmony.  There's too much division in Iraq.  The governments of the Middle East which are dominated by Muslims don't believe in freedom and democracy.  It's a huge responsibility for the average citizen to be involved in regular elections.  A republican form of government requires responsibility and a strong set of moral values from its citizenry, which Iraq doesn't have.  America hasn't profited from fighting in the Iraq War.  Nothing significant was accomplished in this war other than the ouster of Saddam.  I'm afraid Afghan will follow in the same footsteps.  These two wars have been fought for nothing.  Those who were in charge didn't send us there to fight the terrorists.  There were other reasons involved in our going to Iraq that didn't involve terrorism.  As I've heard the old adage, "Follow the money trail."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Living for Christ

(Philippians 1:21-25) "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my laor: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith."  Whenever you read about the life of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, you would have to conclude he was the greatest apostle of all times.  He wrote over half the New Testatment.  He stood for the faith.  He preached the gospel wherever he could preach it.  He made a couple of missionary journeys.  He was jailed and beaten for his stand for Christ.  Yet Paul stated in Philippians 3:8 that he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He had suffered the loss of all things, and he counted them as dung that he may win Christ.  His whole life was centered around Christ.  He counted it a joy to be beaten and reviled for Jesus's name.  Prior to his conversion, Paul at one time was an educated Jew.  He ruthlessly persecuted Christians.  Then one day he walked along the road to Damascus and God blinded his eyes with a light.  It was through this experience that Paul was gloriously saved by the grace of God.  He was a changed man who once had persecuted Christians now was preaching the gospel.  He was the greatest apostle of all times.

The Apostle Paul in Philippians was sharing how personal it was to serve Christ.  Notice in verse 21 he says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  He could've easily have stated, "For to live is Christ and to die is gain."  However, he added the words "to me" to the equation to show that serving Christ is personal.  It was special to him.  That's why he included "to me."  The lesson we can draw from this is that living for Christ is personal.  We must make a choice to live for Christ.  As a sinner, we must choose whether we're going to accept or reject Christ.  Those that accept Christ as Savior and Lord must live for Christ.  Life revolves around Jesus.  God has a plan for those that are saved.  He makes us a new creature in Christ as II Corinthians 5:17 points out.  We are not to live life to the flesh.  We are to serve God with our mortal bodies.  We're to use our bodies to bring glory to God.  For the Christian, there's no other kind of living but a life that revolves around the will of God for our lives. 

Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."  We are commanded to present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord.  We have a cause for living.  We're living to reach the lost for Christ.  Our lives are to be a testimony to the world that Jesus lives and saves.  We're to live upright before the world.  The world should see that Jesus lives by the way we display ourselves.  However, as long as we're living in this body, we're to use this body to bring honor and Glory to God in all things.  We should bring honor and glory to God in church, at work, at home, in our community, and anywhere else we involve ourselves with.  There's no greater joy than to serve the Lord.  Jesus paid it all on Calvary to forgive and cleanse us from our sins.  What is it for the Lord to ask us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice when he put it all on the line at Calvary?

Paul mentioned in the latter part of verse 21, first chapter,  in the book of Philippians that to die is to gain.  Whether we die in this life or we're taken out of this world in the rapture, if you're in Christ, then you have everything to gain.  Eternal bliss is waiting for those that know God.  We'll no longer be hindered by these fleshly, mortal bodies.  We'll be delivered from these sinful bodies.  We'll be in the presence of the Lord forevermore.  Paul was mentioning his dilemma where he would rather depart from this life and be in the presence of Christ.  It was far better for him to die and go on to Heaven.  However, he recognized it was more needful for him to remain so he could minister to those at Philippi.  He made it known that he would abide and continue with them for their furtherance and joy of faith.  Paul's need was to remain on this earth to minister to those churches that he had helped establish. Regardless, his whole life was for the purpose to serve Christ.  There was no other reason for his living than to live for Christ on this earth.  Otherwise, he would've been better off to have departed from this life and be in the presence of Jesus.  Until that time, he would be faithful to the calling of God until the Lord called him home.

The purpose of our lives is to live for and serve Christ.  Nothing else.  God saved us from sin so we could have fellowship with him and serve him.  Just think of the joy that the world's missing when they don't turn from sin and turn unto Christ.  There's no better life to live than the Christian life.  There's a song we sing at church called, "I Just want to Thank You Lord."  One of the verses says, "If I had a thousand lives to live, I'd give them all to the Lord".  The world can't offer us joy, peace, and fulfillment.  That only comes from Christ.  You can only experience that joy when you turn to Jesus and become born again.  Once you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you then learn what living is all about.

The Farewell Address Speech of President Dwight D. Eisenhower

YouTube - Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.

I.

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.  This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.  Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Goodspeed.  I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.  Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.  My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, I long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.  In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward.  So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

II.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations.  Three of these involved our own contry.  Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world.  Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment. 

III. 

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations.  To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people.  Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad. 

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world.  It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings.  We face a hostile ideology--global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.  Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.  To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle--with liberty the stake.  Only thus we shall remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment. 

Crises there will continue to be.  In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.  A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research--these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs--balance between the private and public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage--balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.  Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat.  But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise.  I mention two only.

IV.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment.  Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.  Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry.  American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well.  But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.  Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaed in the defense establishment.  We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.  This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American expeience.  The total influence--economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.  We recognize the imperative need for this development.  Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.  Our toil, resources and livelihood areall involved; so is the very structure of our society. 

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will exist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.  We should take nothing for granted.  Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.  Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.  In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly.  A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.  Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields.  In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.  Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.  For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of electronic computers. 

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

* and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.  It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system--ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

V.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time.  As we peer into society's future, we--you and I, and our government--must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.  We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.  We want demoracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

VI.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.  Such a confederation must be one of equals.  The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength.  That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutal honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative.  Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.  Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment.  As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war--as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years--I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.  Happily, I can say that war has been avoided.  Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made.  But, so much remains to be done.  As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

VII.

So--in this my last good night to you as your President--I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace.  I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.  You and I--my fellow citizens--need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under god, will reach the goal of peace with justice.  May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.  To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strife in the Church

(Galatians 5:13-15) "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."  One of the problems in many Independent Baptist churches is strife.  Of course, strife is something that affects churches regardless of denomination.  However, I'm a Baptist so I'm aware of how Baptists are.  Strife causes all kinds of problems in our churches.  What causes strife? Pride, contention, envy, jealousy, and the list continues.  What is strife?  Strife is a conflict that's strirred up between people.  Many times the issues that are involved are not very significant.  There are some people that desire preeminence in the church, which is the result of pride.  Pride leads to strife.  Many times some of the issues involved are very trivial.  The issues could range from not liking the choice of carpet the pastor chooses when he decides it's time to replace the carpet in the sanctuary to not being chosen for a particular position which you think you deserve.  There are some church members that are upset if the pastor doesn't shake their hand nor greet them when they come inside the church.  Some of the issues could revolve around to not being invited at some other church members' house for a particular social.  It could be a host of issues.  However, strife is produced by pride, envy, and jealousy.

What's the one member of our body that fuels strife?  It's the tongue.  James 3:6 says that the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the whole tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body.  The tongue is set on fire of hell.  Strife is the result of somebody using their tongue to criticize or destroy somebody's reputation.  You would be amazed in many church member's homes that their afternoon meal is roast preacher.  In other words, they use their tongue to criticize and destroy the man of God.  It happens quite often in many of our churches.  People don't like what the man of God says so they open their mouth and spew venom.  That's why there's so much strife and contention in the church today.  There are people who do nothing but flap their tongue consistently and are always critical about this issue or the decisions the man of God makes on behalf of the church.  Then there are church members who are biting and devouring one another.  There are some that are at odds with one another or over another church member's appearance, or their personality, some comment that was made, or something they didn't do that they thought should've been done.  Some church members are hurt because somebody made fun of them or were joking at them.  There are a number of reasons why strife is prevalent in the church.  Consequently, strife hinders the work of God.  The Holy Spirit is grieved when people are being busybodies gossiping about one another.  God hates it.  One of the seven abominations that God hates is sowing discord among the brethren.  Sowing discord will cause strife in the church.

I've seen preachers that were at odds with one another.  I know of preachers that had strife manifested between them.  I can remember one time years ago there used to be preacher's fellowships on a monthly basis in the Independent Baptist realm in Kentucky.  It eventually split.  They would devote their time debating over certain points of doctrine in which there was no clear-cut answer in the Bible.  The Bible says those types of debates are unprofitable and can cause strife and contention.  I know of a preacher who mounted the pulpit in a particular preacher's fellowship.  He preached a message entitled, "The Condition of the Last Day Church", talking about the church of Laodecia (if my memory serves me correct).  He was making mention of revival and he stated he felt America had slid too far down the wrong path to have any major national revival like we once experienced during the eighteenth century.  The pastor of that church called the preacher in the pulpit a reprobate and said he denied the faith.  The opinion the preacher shared concerning revival wasn't heresy.  However, some preachers formulate opinions about certain points of doctrine that's unclear and if another preacher disagrees with them, then strife will result.  It's foolish.  It's all motivated by pride.  It's tragic when Independent Baptist preachers who agree similarly on most points of doctrine will allow themselves to be separated over the interpretation of certain points of scripture which is insignificant.  Nevertheless, that happens.  There are some points of doctrine that's clear-cut and you must be absolutely correct.  If not, then you're preaching damnable heresy.  If any preacher preaches anything that deviates from Biblical salvation that's found in scripture, then he's a heretic.  However, the point I was making was preachers being contentious with one another over insignificant points of doctrine.  Baptists are known for shooting the wounded in their churches. 

How can we remedy the situation over strife?  Proverbs 26:20 says where no wood is the fire goeth out and where there's no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.  Proverbs 26:21 says, "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."  Don't occupy your time with someone that likes to cause strife.  If he wants to rip somebody apart, tell him you're not going to listen to what he has to say.  Don't be a party to gossip.  Don't fellowship with people who devote their time to gossiping and ridiculing other people.  The Bible talks about studying to be quiet.  Just because we hear something or know a particular fact about someone doesn't give us the excuse to open our mouth and spew poison about that individual.  Also, we should not use our tongue for anything that's not a part of Godly edifying.  Ephesians 4:29 tells us to not allow corrupt communication to proceed from our mouths.  God will judge us for every idle word we say.  Also, we're not to give ear to gossip either.  It's just as equally wrong to give ear to gossip as to spew gossip from our mouth.  Don't give place to the Devil.  Those that we have offended, we need to come to them and apologize and ask for forgiveness for ridiculing them.  We need to make things right with those that we have offended.

God is grieved over the strife that's prevalent in the churches today.  That's why there's so much deadness spiritually in the churches.  Many preachers have to preach over all the strife that's prevalent in that local assembly.  It's foolish.  Most of the strife that takes place many times is trivial.  There are certain groups of people who are full of pride and desire to be preeminent in the church.  Anytime pride is involved, then strife and contention will follow.  Strife must be nipped in the bud.  People's lives are destroyed due to strife in the church.  Worst of all, strife could hinder a lost person from being saved.  Is it worth a lost person dying and going to hell over.  When the lost world sees the members of the congregation in odds with one another, is that going to convince them they need Jesus?  I doubt. When they see church members critical over one another it gives the world an excuse to think that if that's what Christianity's all about, then they desire no part of it.  How can the world see that Christ is real if we can't love one another.  I John mentions much about how the brethren are to love one another.  I John says if we can't love those whom we've seen, then how can we love God whom we have not seen? 

When we're on the other side of the grave, we'll recognize how foolish we were for allowing strife to split and separate us.  Life is too short.  Put away strife and contention.  Don't be a party to strife.  Watch how you communicate with your tongue.  If it's not used for Godly edifying, then its wicked. 

The 90th Annivesary of the Women's Right to Vote

On February 14, 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment imminent, suffragists met to transform the movement into the League of Women Voters to help educate women to become responsible voters.  On August 26, 1920, just days after Tennessee became the 36th and last needed state to ratify the amendment.  The Secretary of State signed the proclamation enacting the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.  Women all over America have the privilege to vote today.  The 19th amendment passed following the end of World War I in 1918.  This bill was passed when Woodrow Wilson was still president.  The passage of this amendment predates the "Roaring 20's."

The woman behind the proposal for women having the right to vote was Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  She and others first seriously proposed women's right to vote at Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19, 1848.  This was at a women's right movement.  Prior to this time, Susan B. Anthony was active in the women's temperance movement, but when she met Stanton in 1851, they joined forces and worked together over the next half of the century.  They both were a force.  They gave their lives to this goal.  Although they both died before the goal was reached, they lived long enough to see significant progress and were primarily responsible for the ultimate success.  Carrie Chapman Catt, founder and early leader of the League of Women Voters, younger than Anthony and Stanton, entered the struggle later and became a leader in the suffragist movement that helped lead it to victory with passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Primary Results for Arizona, Florida, Alaska, and Oklahoma

(USA Today) During this election cycle, I've only covered primary results one time--that was when Kentucky participated in the primary elections on May 18.  I live in the state of Kentucky, which is why I covered the primaries held in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania.  Today I'm covering the primary results for both Florida and Arizona.  I have partial results for Alaska and Oklahoma.  The reason why I'm covering this particular primary is because I have a comment I desire to make. 

Big campaign war chests helped four-term incumbent John McCain easily win his Republican primary in Arizona over former Congressman J.D. Hayworth.  McCain spent more than $20 million in Arizona to defeat Hayworth and win a chance for a fifth term.  Taking a shot at his one-time rival, President Obama, McCain predicted voters will place Republicans back in charge of Congress in November.  "Americans can't afford to continue on the course we've been on," he told supporters.  It's tragic McCain defeated Hayworth.  Hayworth ran a very ineffective campaign.  If anyone believes that John McCain has seen the light about amnesty--think again.  He's not going to push to build a border fence like he promised he would do in a campaign ad.  McCain was pandering to conservative voters in Arizona because he knew he had to pander to the right in order to win re-election.  That's how McCain is.  Once McCain wins re-election in November (I predict) he'll be back to the same old tricks as usual.  He'll work with President Obama in passing an amnesty bill next year if nothing is passed this year.  You can't trust McCain.  Republican voters in Arizona made a huge mistake in re-electing McCain.  Voters aren't committed enough to voting out the incumbents.  The time to vote out the incumbents is in the primary.  Sadly, Arizonoans re-elected an incumbent in the primary.  On a positive note, Jan Brewer won the Republican nomination for governor of Arizona.  She's the governor that signed Arizona's new anti-immigration bill, which allowed police to demand identification of suspected illegal immigrants.  In the Phoenix area, former vice-president Dan Quayle's son, Ben, was one of 10 candidates seeking the GOP nod in a solidly Republican district.

In Florida, businessman Jeff Greene is a millionaire newcomer who used his personal fortune trying to break into Florida politics.  He lost the Democratic Senate primary to veteran congressman Kendrick Meek.  Meek will compete against Republican candidate Marco Rubio and Independent candidate Charlie Crist who is currently Florida's governor.  Crist bolted from the GOP to run as an independent due to the huge lead that Rubio had over Crist at the time.  A Quinnipiac poll last week showed Crist leading the field and drawing more support than Meek from Democratic voters.  That's bad news for the Senate nominee of both major parties according to Peter Brown assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute and a Florida resident.  "If Charlie Crist is able to get more Democratic voters than the Democratic nominee, he's likely Florida's next senator," Brown said.  Democrat Alex Sinks' effort to become Florida's first woman governor has been helped by the sharply negative tone of the GOP primary fight, said Jim Davis, a former Democratic Congressman from Tampa.  He said the level of negative advertising has been unprecedented.  Complicating the fall campaign between Sink, the state's chief financial officer, and Scott, ex-CEO of scandal-plagued health care gian Columbia/HCA, is Chiles, son of former Democratic governor Lawton Chiles.  In the Republican race for governor, newcomer Rick Scott upset a party stalwart in Florida's gubernatorial contenst, it sets up a three-way battle for the fall.  Scott used $39 million of his personal fortune to defeat state Attorney General Bill McCollum, back by ex-governor Jeb Bush. 

In the primary races in Alaska and Oklahoma, the information I have is sketchy.  So, I'll report what I know.  In Alaska's GOP race for the U.S. Senate, state legislator Joe Miller has a narrow lead over Senator Lisa Murkowski as of to date.  In Oklahoma's runoff election in the 2nd Congressional district, Charles Thompson beat Daniel Edmonds.  In the 5th Congressional district, James Lankford defeated Kelvin Caley.

Feisal Abdul Rauf: The Man Behind the Mosque

YouTube - Radical Agenda for Ground Zero Mosque

Feisal Abdul Rauf is the man behind the proposed mosque close to Ground Zero, which once stood the site of the World Trade Towers.  On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers were destroyed when Muslim radical jihadists crashed planes into both towers.  The towers toppled within an hour after impact.  There has been debate on whether or not the mosque should be built close to Ground Zero.  There's been polls taken and most Americans oppose the mosque being built around the site where the World Trade Center was toppled.  President Obama recently showed his support for the right to build the mosque because Muslims "have the right" under the First Amendment to practice their religion.  Many conservative radio talk show hosts are opposed to the building of the mosque.  The reasoning behind the opposition to the mosque is due to the wisdom of building a mosque where three thousand Americans perished in that World Trade Center crash.  It's a sore spot for many Americans especially when you consider it was Muslim radicals who were responsible for the terrorist attacks.  Those that are supporters of Rauf, the man behind the mosque, claim he is a moderate Muslim.  Is he one?  We'll find out as we proceed further.

Feisal Abdul Rauf was born in Kuwait in 1948.  He is the Imam of Masjid al-Farah, a New York City mosque.  In 1990 Feisal Abdul Rauf opened al-Farah Mosque in lower Manhattan.  Seven years later, he established the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), a New York based nonprofit organization which has been run by Rauf's wife, Daisy Khan, since 2005.  Rauf is a permanent trustee of an Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) which his father founded in New York City.  Until September 28, 2001--seventeen days after 9/11--the ICC employed Imam Sheik Muhammad Gemeaha, who later would say that "only the Jews" could have perpetrated the 9/11 attacks; that if Americans only knew about this Jewish culpability, "they would have done to Jews what Hitler did"; and that Jews "disseminate corruption in the land" and spread "heresy, homosexuality, alcoholism, and drugs."  Gemeaha's successor at the ICC, Omar Saleem Abu-Namous, said there was no "conclusive evidence" proving that Muslims were responsible for 9/11.  In a 60 Minutes interview that aired on September 30, 2001, Rauf said that the 9/11 attacks were part of a larger Islamic "reaction against the U.S. government politically, where we (the U.S.) espouse principles of democracy and human rights, and (yet) where we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries."  "I wouldn't say that the United States deserves what happened," Rauf elaborated, "but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."  Rauf further stated that "because we (Americans) have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world," it could be said that in fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA." 

On another occasion, Rauf took up this theme again: "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.  You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a milion Iraqi children."  Rauf has clearly suggested that terrorism is an understandable, even if unjustified, response to American actions in Iraq, Israel, and elsewhere in the Middle East.  Rauf has praised Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a Muslim scholar who supports Palestinian suicide bombings as "a very, very, well known Islamic jurist, highly regarded all over the Muslim wold."  He has also expressed respect for the late Egyptian cleric Muhammad Tantawi (who likewise endorsed suicide bombings) and Egypts Chief Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa (who has endorsed Hezbollah and defended Islam's use of the death penalty for apostasy).  Rauf, who has been entrusted with the task of conducting post-9/11 sensitivity training for the FBI, contends that Muslims have been unfairly targeted by law--enforcement authorities in recent years.  "There's no doubt we've been profiled since 9/11," he said in 2005.  "The Patriot Act has kind of made Muslims--there's a sense of 'guilty till proven innocent' rather than the other way around." 

In the summer of 2002, Rauf began lecturing on Islam at the 750-acre campus of Chautaqua Institution, located in Western New York State.  Around that time, he also befriended Karen Armstrong, who later wrote the foreword for Rauf's 2008 book, "What's Right with Islam is What's Right with America." 

Rauf depicts jihad as the Islamic world's defensive reaction to Western provocations, rather than as a seminal Islamic tradition of aggression that long predated any Muslim interactions with theWest.  In March 2004 the "Sydney Morning Herald" quoted Rauf as saying: "The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians.  But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets."  In one particularly significant passage, the Herald article stated: "Imam Feisal...said there could be little progress (in American Islamic relations) until the U.S. acknowledged backing dictators and the U.S. President gave an 'American Culpa' speech to the Muslim world."  In a June 2005 interview, Rauf was asked whether non-Muslims should be troubled by the Qur'an's assertion that people from other religious traditions should be mistreated, subjugated, or killed.  Rauf replied that "many of these verses were revealed in certain contexts where the Prophet (Muhammad) and his followers were not allowed to practice their religion," and thus "permission was granted to the Muslims to fight those who fought them for that reason."  "The vast history of Islam through the 14 centuries of history," Rauf added, "has proven that except for certain moments in history, the predominant attitude of Muslims toward non-Muslims, especially to Jews and Christians, was one of friendship, was one of engagement."  In 2009, Rauf took up this theme again, writing: "Religious freedom is at the core of Islam." 

Rauf believes that Muslim charities have been subject to undue scrutiny since 9/11.  In 2005 an interviewer asked him to comment on the fact that "some Islamic charities are being investigated for terrorist ties."  Rauf replied: "We believe that a certain portion of every (Islamic) charity has been legitimate.  To say that you have connections with terrorism is a very gray area.  It's like the accusation that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden.  Well, America had links to Osama bin Laden--does that mean that America is a terrorist country or has ties to terrorism?  It's that type of logic."  In 2008 Rauf revisited the question of whether sharia could be effectively incorporated into Western legal and political systems.  He hailed "Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams for the "forward thinking" that had led Williams to advocate on behalf of "plural jurisdiction," which would permit Muslim enclaves in Britain to be governed by a separate set of laws consistent with sharia.  In March 2009, Rauf said that "Islamic law and American democratic priciples have many things in common," and he claimed that Sharia's endorsement of "political justice" and "economic justice...for the weak and impoverished" is a creed that "sounds suspiciously like the Declaration of Independence." 

Rauf contends that authentic Islam is highly respectful of women's rights and freedoms.  What kind of proof does he have that Islam is highly respectful of women's rights and freedom?  In a 2009 piece he penned for the "Huffington Post," Rauf stated, "The Prophet Muhammad has been known as the first feminist...Gender equality is an intrinsic part of Islamic belief."  In response to suggestions that Islam could benefit from a movement to purge the faith of unsavory elements such as its treatment of women, Rauf has said flatly: "Islam doesn't need a reformation."  In a 2009 interview, Rauf endorsed the 1979 Iranian revolution which established a theocratic Islamic state.  In a May 7, 2010 sermon he delivered in New York City, Rauf seemed to suggest that the perpetrators of 9/11 may not actually have been Muslims.  "Some people say it was Muslims who attacked (the U.S.) on 9/11," he said, before drifting into another topic.  In a June 2010 interview with newsman Aaron Klein on New York's WABC Radio, Rauf was asked whether he agreed with the State Department's designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, Rauf replied:  "I'm not a politician.  I try to avoid the issues.  The issue of terrorism is a very complex question...I'm a bridge builder.  I define my work as a bridge builder.  I do not want to be placed, nor do I accept to be placed in a position of being put in a position where I am the target of one side or another." 

In recent years, Rauf and ASMA have pursued a project known as the Cordoba Initiative, whose mission is to recapture an "atmosphere of interfaith tolerance and respect" in "Muslim-West relations."  Funded by numerous countries that are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, this Initiative aims to build a 13-story, $100 million mosque/Islamic Center just 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  The proposed name of the structure--"Cordoba House"--implies conquest.  Indeed, the first Cordoba mosque was built upon the ruins of a Christian church in the Spanish city of Cordoba after the Muslim conquest of Spain in the 8th century A.D. 

In August 2010, the State Department announced that it would be sending Rauf on a taxpayer-funded trip (costing $16,000) through the Middle east to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim life in the United States.  This was Rauf's fourth U.S.-sponsored trip to the region.  The first two took place in 2007 during the Bush administration and the third was in early 2010.  Rauf had previously said that he would seek funds from overseas to finance the $100 million mosque project but offered no specifics.  A spokesman for the project refused to say whether Rauf would accept money from Iran. 

From the information I retrieved from the website called, DiscoverTheNetworks.com, Feisal Abdul Rauf isn't a moderate Muslim.  I don't think you can trust Rauf from the information on this particular website.  Imams like Rauf are a threat to America.  The media tries to give the impression that Islam is a religion of peace.  I don't know whether there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim.  I'm aware all Muslims aren't terrorists.  However, some of them haven't been called to commit acts of jihad.  Also, I believe there are Muslims that are Muslims-in-name-only; that aren't that committed to their religion, like many people who claim to be Christian but aren't committed to serving the Lord.  The information I've just mentioned says a lot about Rauf.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

World Net Daily Drops Ann Coulter as Keynote Speaker of the "Taking America Back" Conference

YouTube - Red Eye: Ann Coulter dropped by WND over Gays

(World Net Daily) On September 16-18, 2010, World Net Daily will be hosting a "Taking America Back" conference in Miami, Florida.  Attorney and speaker Ann Coulter was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the "Taking America Back" Conference in Miami next month.  Last week, Joseph Farah, founder and editor of World Net Daily, made a gut-wrenching decision with his team to drop Ann Coulter as the keynote speaker of the convention being hosted in Miami next month.  Ann Coulter has agreed to be the speaker at a Homocon event sponsored by GOProud on September 25.  GOProud is a supporter of same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the military.  Farah confronted Coulter about the news that she's speaking at GOProud in an email.  She claimed she was asked to speak at this event and it's no different than speaking at other events on liberal college campuses.  She said that she probably agrees with those at GOProud more than those events she speaks at on liberal college campuses.  Farah stated GOProud is about infiltrating the conservative movement and dividing it from within with twisted and dangerous ideas way out of the mainstream of American public opinion.  I appreciate the stand Farah took in dropping her from the World Net Daily convention in September.  As of right now, she will remain a weekly columnist for the World Net Daily.  When you read the type of response she gave to Farah's decision to drop her as keynote speaker from September's event, you could make the case she should be dropped as a weekly columnist from the World Net Daily website.  If she doesn't understand the damage the homosexual movement is causing America, she's blind and an ignoramus.

Farah stated his reasoning for creating the idea for "Taking America Back."  "The drift of the conservative movement to a brand of materialistic libertarianism is one of the main reasons we planned this conference from the beginning."  Ann Coulter has fallen in line with many "conservatives" today that homosexuality is a part of our society and we need to learn to accept and embrace it.  It falls on the same line of thought when Glenn Beck quoted Thomas Jefferson when he said, "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, then what difference is it to me?"  As long as there's no bodily injury nor are your finances affected is the homosexual lifestyle a big deal.  That's the kind of thinking you see prevalent in many of today's "conservative" talk show hosts.  Is that the way Coulter feels about the homosexual lifestyle or same-sex marriage?

Coulter responded very negatively to her being dropped from next month's "Taking America Back" convention.  She called Joseph Farah a "publicity whore" and a "swine" for World Net Daily's decision to drop her for speaking at Homocon who openly supports homosexuality.  Coulter said they at World Net Daily were "fake Christians" who are trying to receive a lot of publicity.  She has publicly lashed out at World Net Daily for the "birther" issue and said that not any real conservative believes in the "birther" issue.  There was a CNN poll that stated that 58% of Americans are having doubts that Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen.  Coulter claimed Farah has been pushing the "birther" issue to get hits on his website.  "This "birther" issue that Coulter repudiates is an issue about law.  It's an issue about the Constitution.  The question is Barack Obama a natural-born citizen?  Calling the "birther" issue is nonsense.  Coulter knows better being an attorney.  Farah said he won't trade personal attacks against Coulter.  He said that GOProud shouldn't be embraced by those that support same-sex marriage or the homosexual lifestyle.  Farah states that he and World Net Daily believe homosexuality is a sin.  He states he's trying to stand by principle. 

I appreciate the stand Farah took against Coulter speaking at next month's World Net Daily "Taking America Back" convention.  It disturbs me to see Republicans and "conservatives" embracing the homosexual lifestyle.  No true conservative can embrace the homosexual lifestyle.  Homosexuality is in direct contradiction to the Bible as well as it's in opposition to the values that built America.  Another issue that should disturb these conservatives is the fact that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a right to homosexuals to marry.  There's nothing in the U.S. Constitution nor any state constitution which hints at any right for homosexuals to marry.  We've had laws on the books against sodomy for ages.  The issue isn't about whether or not homosexuals have rights. Homosexuals have rights as U.S. citizens--they don't have the right to be legally recognized for their lifestyle.  For them to have the right to "marry", the government has to assume the role as god and create an artificial right.  That's what the courts have been doing.  They've arbitrarily created this right.  This "right" is based on the whims of judges in black robes.  For Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, or any other "conservative" spokesman to not speak out against this is appalling.  This is a constitutional issue.  It's not constitution.  Homosexual rights nor homosexual marriage is constitutional nor is it a part of traditional conservative values. 

What good is the conservative movement if it ignores moral values?  The family is the basic building block to society.  You can't build a solid, stable country on the homosexual lifestyle.  If everyone were to suddenly become homosexual, the population of America would become extinct in a few decades.  Children don't function properly when they don't live in a stable home environment.  Children will have a weird sense of what being a man or woman is.  Children need both a father and a mother.  They need the love and nurturing of a mother and they need the love and leadership of a father.  Moral and social issues are fundamental to a society.  The Bible declares that.  It's disturbing when these conservatives don't desire to meddle in issues like this.  If homosexual marriage and all aspects of the homosexual lifestyle are legalized and made law of the land, then the government will use whatever tool at its disposal to enforce these laws.  They will silence those that dare to speak against the homosexual lifestyle.  America will go the way of Canda where they aren't allowed to preach against homosexuality in the pulpits.  People will be persecuted if they say anything derogatory about homosexuals.  The liberal media tries to paint those that oppose homosexuality as intolerant bigots.  Ann Coulter is wrong to participate in the Homocon event.  She's sending mixed messages.  I wonder what does Ann Coulter think about homosexual rights?  You can't embrace both traditional American values and homosexual rights simultaneously.  They both are contradictory one to the other.

Monday, August 23, 2010

If it Neither Breaks My Leg Nor Picks My Pocket, Then What Difference is it to Me?

YouTube - Bill O'Reilly: Glenn Beck on Gay Marriage & Abortion

On Wednesday August 11, 2010, Glenn Beck appeared on the "Beck and Call" segment on the O'Reilly Factor, in which he does nearly every week.  Bill O'Reilly was posing the question to Glenn Beck on why he doesn't cover cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  Beck responded and says that's what O'Reilly does on his program.  Beck stated that he doesn't devote time on either his radio or television program about gay marriage or abortion simply because he doesn't think it's that important in comparison to other issues.  Beck says there are bigger fish to fry.  Beck says that America is in flames and he's focusing more on the broader picture.  Beck says he focuses more on faith and persuading Americans to find attend church and find their faith.  O'Reilly then specifically asked him about gay marriage.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the ban on same-sex marriage which was Prop. 8 in California.  Voters approved the ban by a 52% margin.  This wasn't the first time a same-sex marriage proposal approved by California voters was struck down.  In 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down a same-sex marriage ban that California voters approved in either in 2004 or 2006.  Proposition 8 was proposed in 2008 and voters again voted against same sex marriage.  Just recently Judge Vaugh Walker wrote that the same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. 

Glenn Beck stated that gay marriage wasn't that huge of an issue overall.  O'Reilly said this gay marriage ruling could be the law of the land in years to come.  Beck didn't think it was that huge of a threat.  Beck asked the question were the gays coming out to get us.  He cited a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson which undoubtedly was out of context.  Beck said, "If it doesn't break my leg nor pick my pocket, then what difference is it to me?  I was disturbed when Beck made that statement.  Sadly, that's the state of the "conservative" movement today in the political arena.  It's appalling that "conservatives" such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for example, don't want to take a stand against gay marriage or the homosexual lifestyle.  In their materialistic worldview, as long as any laws don't cause them personal harm nor affect their finances, what's the difference?

The ruling by Judge Walker and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should disturb Americans for a couple of reasons:  One reason is because the homosexual lifestyle is in dire contradiction to scripture which condemns sodomy.  (I Corinthians 6:9) and (Romans 1:18-32).  Anytime we walk in contradiction to God's word, judgment will come upon a nation.  A second reason we should be concerned is because the government is assuming the role of granting rights to Americans. The government in this hour is assuming the responsibility of granting rights to the American people.  Congress back in March passed a healthcare bill which in essence says that Americans are entitled to healthcare.  It's very dangerous when government establishes "rights".  A right that a government grants you can also remove your rights as well.  However, if the federal government decides to fully legitimatize the homosexual lifestyle, it will be here to stay.  We'll definitely head in the way of Canda where churches won't be allow to speak a word against the homosexual lifestyle in the pulpits.  If gay marriage becomes law of the land, the government will clamp down on the rights of those to speak out against sodomy.  If the government decrees that homosexuals have the right to marry, then the federal government will provide full enforcement of that law.  They will use whatever tool necessary to ensure that homosexuals aren't "discriminated" against. 

Beck seemingly appears ignorant of this.  The government has no business granting rights to individuals.  As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence, our rights were given by God.  The first ten amendments to the Constitution dubbed as the "Bill of Rights" weren't rights our Founders granted to the American people.  They incorporated those into the Constitution to let the government know they have no right to infringe on the "inalienable" rights given by God.  These are rights that no government has the right to remove from American citizens.  The federal government has no business assigning rights to gays or anybody. We have a government that's becoming a usurper of authority.  They're trying to dictate every move we make.  It's not happened in a total sense yet, but it will happen the rate things are going.  When the government creates a "right", they'll prosecute those that try to infringe upon those "rights."  I guarantee that in the future any preacher or judge that refuses to marry homosexuals could be thrown in jail.  That could happen.  We haven't seen it all yet.  America will become a totalitarian government at the rate things are going.  A totalitarian regime isn't going to be tolerant of any group that violates or speaks out against something they believe is opposed to God's Word.  Hence, that's why there's such an effort to curtail free speech. 

Beck misquoted Thomas Jefferson.  I don't believe Jefferson would make a statement with such a fundamental issue as homosexual marriage.  That issue will cause us harm.  It will affect everybody.  Society will force this upon all Americans.  If we refuse to comply, we will be punished for it.  I believe when Thomas Jefferson was making that quote he was probably making reference to a person's preference for religion or their own personal worldview.  To say that homosexual marriage isn't that huge of an issue is very ignorant, to put it mildly.  This issue will transform this nation if it's made a law of the land.  The government will persecute those that refuse to comply with whatever dictums the government grants.  These "conservatives" want to make light of the seriousness of moral and social issues.  This issue just doesn't affect a particular group of people.  It affects everyone.  Everyone will be affected by this.  Those that are opposed will be silenced if they speak out against it.  Glenn Beck better wake up!  This issue is just as essential or probably more so than all the other issues we face.  America will be totally transformed when the government assumes the role of god and decides who deserves special rights and those who don't.

An Overview of the Book of Philippians

Outline taken by Thompson Chain Reference Bible

Writer: The Apostle Paul
Date:  uncertain.  Probably written from Rome between 60 and 64 A.D. 
THE CHURCH:  The Philippian church was an ideal one in many respects.  It was very appreciative and benevolent.  See ch. 4:15, 15; 2 Co. 8:2
It was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey, in the midst of a storm of persecution.  The beginnings of the work were small, among a few women at the river side.  Lydia, a seller of purple, was the first convert, and she was soon joined by the Philippian jailor and his family.  These, and perhaps a few others, became the nucleus of the church.  See Acts 16:12-40.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EPISTLE.  It is a spiritual love letter to the church.  It contains outbursts of warm affection and gratitude.  Written under hard circumstances, while Paul was a prisoner, he strikes the keynotes of victory and joy.
REJOICING: in prayer, ch. 1:4; in the gospel, ch. 1:18; in Christian fellowships, ch. 2:1,2; in sacrifices for the cause, ch. 2:17,18, in the Lord, Ch. 3:1; for the loving care of the church, ch. 4:10.

CENTRAL MESSAGE Jesus Christ.
Ch.1 (1) As the source of spiritual fruit, v. 11.
         (2) As the theme of preaching, v. 18.
         (3) As the highest motive of Christian service, vs. 20, 21.
Ch.2 (4) As exhibiting the only perfect spirit and example, vs. 5-11
Ch.3 (5) The knowledge of whom, is the supreme prize for which to struggle in life, vs. 7-14.
         (6) At whose appearing, believer's bodies shall be fashioned anew, vs 20, 21.
Ch.4 (7) Whose power is limitless in Christian lives, v. 13.
         (8) Who is the channel of divine supplies for every need, v. 19.
SYNOPSIS
Ch. 1  (1) The Salutation, vs. 1-7.
          (2) A personal disclosure by the apostle, of his inner life and his attitude toward the church.
                (a) His solicitude for its spiritual development, vs. 8-11.
                (b) His assurance that his bonds have proven a blessing to many, vs. 12-19.
                 (c) His expectation and desire, that whatever may be the outcome of his imprisonment, Christ 
                       may be magnified by his life or death, v. 20.
                  (d) His realization of the gain of death for the believer, but feeling that his work is unfinished, he is
                        hoping to visit the Philippian church once more, vs. 21-25.
                   (e) His chief concern is for the faithfulness of the church in the midst of her persecutions,
                         vs. 27-30.

Ch.2 (3) Exhortations, in respect to Christian life and character.
                     (a) To unity, humility, and self-forgetfulfulness, vs. 1-4.
                      (b) To the seeking of the mind of Christ, vs. 5-13.
                       (c) To co-operation with God, in working out personal salvation, and to live as the approved
                             sons of God in an evil world, vs. 12-16.
          (4) The Apostle's commendation of his messengers, Timothy and Epaphroditus, vs. 19-30.

Ch.3.    (5) Warnings against Judaizers, vs. 1-3.
             (6) A narrative of the apostle's experiences.
                   (a) As a high class, zealous Jew, who had abandoned, as worthless, all his legal righteousness,
                    to accept the righteousness by faith, in Christ, vs. 4-9.
                    (b) His supreme ambition being, to know Christ and partake of his resurrection and reach the
                          final goal of a Christlike character, vs. 10-14.

(7) Further Exhortations to the church:
                     (a) To follow the apostolic example, vs. 15-17.
                      (b) To beward of enemies of the cross, vs. 18-19.
                       (c) To be heavenly citizens, looking forwad to a great change at the coming of the Lord,
                             vs. 20, 21
Ch.4                 (d) To steadfastness, unity, helpfulness, moderation, freedom from anxious care,
                               prayerfulness, high thinking, vs. 1-8.

(8) Closing words of appreciation, a promise of divine supplies for every need, the salutations and benediction, vs. 10-23.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Church at Smyrna

Today we're going to take a look at the second church that was addressed in the letter to the seven churches.  Revelations 2:8-11 says, "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna wrie; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." 

Smyrna was an inland seaport about 50 miles north of Ephesus.  During Roman times it surpassed Ephesus both as a seaport and trading center, disputing with that city and Pergumum the claim to "the first city of Asia."  Many considered it to be the most brilliant city in all of Asia Minor.  Its streets were wide and paved.  It was widely celebrated for its schools of medicine and science.  You don't read much about the church of Smyrna in the scriptures, but based on this particular letter, it is apparent that the church in Smyrna was severly persecuted and suffered a great deal for maintaing their faith.  In reading what Jesus said to Smyrna, you don't read where he condemned that church.  He gave Smyrna commendations and encouragement.  This period was known in church history as "the period of the Roman Persecution of the Church" for it was during this time frame that more Christians suffered tremendous persecution and were killed than in other specific time period. 

During these years some historians have estimated that up to five million Christians were martyred for their faith.  Before this time, Rome considered the Christian movement merely another Jewish matter.  As Christianity was spread throughout the Roman Empire, they were viewed as subversive elements to the authority and power of Rome.  Christians refused to worship Roman gods nor would they bow to the emperor.  Rome began to make the conscious effort to completely eliminate Christians from off the face of the earth.  They weren't allowed to participate in commerce.  In spite of all this, the church continued to grow like wildfire in number even though Smyrna was a poor church.  Their passion for Jesus was strong.  One couldn't afford to be lukewarm for Jesus during this time frame.  You were either cold and not in the church or you were on fire for Jesus and serving the Lord.  The 10 days of tribulation appear to possibly also represent a prophetic message for this church age, referring to 10 literal periods of suffering under 10 different Roman Emperors--Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Severus, Maximinius, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, and Diocletian.  Diocletian tried to destroy the Bible from the face of the earth.

God promised to the church at Smyrna a crown of life (Revelation 2:10) for their being faithful in serving the Lord in the midst of persecution.  Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two churches that didn't receive a rebuke from the Lord.  The letter to this church is a direct contradiction to the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel so often taught today.  Read about the church of Laodecia in Revelation 3 and you see how God feels about churches that are rich and increased with goods but lukewarm.  Many times people that are wealthy and increased with goods tend to forget God.  That's tragic but that's how it is.  That aren't many Christians that possess the ability to not let wealth affect their devotion to the Lord.  Wealth tends to blind us and cause us to drift from Jesus while persecution, poverty, and turbulent times will drive us to our knees to depend upon God.  That's why the church during this period flourished spiritually and grew under the 200 years of Roman persecution.  They knew they didn't possess many earthly goods.  If they didn't place their trust in the Lord, they would be destroyed.  God blessed them for being faithful to God. 

I've heard the saying that the church that was born in the fire will leave in the fire.  Persecution reveals those that are real and those that are make believe.  There's a great possibility Christians will experience persecution before Jesus returns for his bride.  There are certain parts of the world where Christians are already persecuted.  It could happen to America, especially when you consider the political situation in our land today.  May God help us!