Thursday, November 29, 2007

If It Wasn't So Scary I Would Be Laughing.

No disrespect towards Islam intended but I must say someone in the Muslim community has got to get a clue as to what religious hatred is.

I do not know if you have heard, but a British school teacher who is (make that was) teaching at a school in Sudan was convicted of inciting religious hatred.
Here is the story from a news network I read on line:

"KHARTOUM, Sudan — British teacher Gillian Gibbons has been convicted of inciting religious hatred for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan....

'It's a very fair verdict, she could have had six months and lashes and a fine, and she only got 15 days and deportation,' said Robert Boulos of the Unity High School, adding they would not appeal the decision.

Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after complaints to the Education Ministry that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad, the most revered figure in Islam, by applying his name to a toy animal.

The maximum penalty for the charge, which has attracted world wide attention was 40 lashes, a fine and six months in prison."

The teacher allowed the students to come up with the name. The teacher's only crime was giving the children the freedom to choose a name for that teddy bear themselves. She was in no way expressing and religious hated for Islam.

And to say that the sentence she received was fair is absolutely absurd! There is no way she should have been in jail at all. Thankfully the Sudanese Prime Minister has officially pardoned her and is shipper her back to England ASAP. Still this whole thing is ridiculous.

If it wasn't so scary I would be laughing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reading My Mail

Below is an e-mail I replied to that was sent out by my aunt. My cousin chimed in with his thoughts and so I had to do the same. (you know me)

Anyway, it was concerning the movie coming out called "The Golden Compass"


Hello from the USA!

You know, Randy, my mother forwarded this to me and I just could not help but throw my 2cents in here on this issue.

Let me start by saying that I went to the Internet Monk blog site; VERY GOOD by the way. (I have booked marked it)
In the article he makes the comment, “You see, I’m firmly in the camp of Chesterton on this one. The more the atheist talks, the more Christianity makes sense to me.”

While I like the comment and resonate with it personally, the problem lies in the fact that the average Christian in most American (& Canadian) homes does not have the intellectual where-with-all to refute and stand up to claims made by this “New Atheism” that is becoming part of pop-culture. In fact most cannot give an adequate defense for the infallibility of Scripture let alone for the existence of God Himself. This is a real dilemma for the Christian today. I say this because most believers do not even know who G.K. Chesterton is along with Dinesh D’Souza, Ravi Zacharias, Norman L. Geisler and C.S. Lewis. These men are great because of their rarity in the faith not their common place. These men are great because they did what Jesus asks of all of us when he says to love God with all our minds. This requires too much time, effort and energy. We are just too busy in this day and age to do what is required to love God mightily in this area. We are saved ourselves and that is satisfactory for us.

Thus, many Christians find themselves in a bit of a bind when faced with such a “threat” as the one this movie offers specifically and Atheism offers generally. Because of this lack of intellectual muscle, Christians find they only have two choices:

1. Admit they don’t have any real reason for believing what they do and embrace as truth the argument they cannot defeat.
2. Protest.

The only other option for the Christian is to just sit there and take the verbal ridicule from their assailant. While I would suggest this is the most Christ-like of the three, it does get quite wearisome after a while and puts the believer in a mindset of not wanting to engage at all. They would just rather be left alone. A “If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you; you live your life and I’ll live mine and we’ll both be fine” type of approach. This is a dangerous position to take as a believer. We have lived in our own ‘Christian subculture’ for too long and it is now coming back to bite us in the seat cushion. If we will not engage our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ then the cultural tide of godlessness will continue to roll in as a flood and drown the spiritually weak among us.

So what are we to do with this new movie coming out? Well my personal preference would be to go see it. I always enjoy getting new insight in how the modern world is thinking. However, given the strength of intellectual state of many in the church today, my advice to the masses would be this: if your faith is not strong enough to withstand such a thing STRENGTHEN IT!!

Blessings to all,


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Made In His Image

In case you are not familiar with me and my family, I have a four year old Daughter with Autism. I was asked a few questions from a new friend about my struggle with this situation this week and I thought I would share them with you.

The question was asked what have I learned the most about God in this situation.
The following is my response:

More than anything else, I think God has challenged me on what it means to be made in His image. It began when my wife asked me to consider praying Scripture over our daughter for her healing. Typically I do not do this. I feel as though when people do something like this they are in desperate situations and, in an effort to "strong arm" God, are claiming a promise of God that was not made to them. They want the promise of someone else for themselves. This has the devastating potential of setting you up for a major disappointment and disillusionment. It was a risk I did not want to take.

However, after some prayer I felt a peace about doing this. So I began to do a word search on the topic of concern. Namely, that our daughter cannot talk. So I decided to look up scriptures for things like speech, lips, mouth, tongue, voice, etc.

The first one I came to was Exodus 4:10-12. Moses is speaking with God at the burning bush. God is asking Moses to go to Pharaoh. Moses in turn gives God a litany of things that disqualify him for the task (something that I relate to concerning my calling as well). One of things was his difficulty in speech. Moses tells God "I can't speak well. I can't do what you are asking."

You know I always remembered this story with God getting angry and fed-up with Moses and saying, "Well fine then, I'll send Aaron with you and he can speak for you!!!" You know what, He does not do that yet. Instead He says something to Moses I was not prepared to hear.

God says,"Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

When I read this the Spirit hit me in the chest like a tun of bricks. God was telling me that our daughters Autism was not the result of a genetic defect. It was not because something went wrong in the womb or in her delivery. On the contrary, it was God's intention that she be like this. God reminder me that He molded and fashioned her with his own hand; that she was just as fearfully and wonderfully made as any other child. To God, She was a Psalm 139 child. She was fashioned by the hand of God Himself. Created with divine design, meaning and purpose, with the same fear and wonder as anyone else.

God also showed me that He heard my prayer and I needed to go in peace and leave Him alone about Delaney's healing. He Himself was going to help her speak and teach her what to say.

Well that was when I realized that God had made her just the way that she was. If I was not accepting of that then I was telling God that He made a mistake with my daughter and I did not approve of or like His creation. How could I say that to God?

After that 'talk' between me and God I was challenged to rethink what it means to be Made in His Image.

Strong Enough To Be Honest

There has been some issue being raised about the private letters of Mother Teressa. In them she expresses doubt and disillusionment with God. She openly struggles with what God is doing and whether He is even there in the first place.

Of course this has brought out many in the atheist community to pooh-pooh on her faith with the "see we told you so" babble.

You know what though, I have to admit, if I had no faith, I would probably form similar opinions about the "Saint of Calcutta" concerning this matter. However, after closer examination I realize that even the giants of our faith, the patriarch's, especially David, wrestled with doubt and confusion concerning the where-a-bouts of God, what He was doing and how long was He going to allow injustice to continue. If you take an honest look at Mother Teressa's life hers is one of similar struggle. She went to the poorest place on the face of the Earth and let the light of love shine in the darkness. She did so in the name of Jesus; to bring the Kingdom to Earth to those who would otherwise never experience it. I would dare say that, were it not for Mother Teressa, those people would still be waiting!

I can only presume the source of such a crisis of faith, but if I were to venture a guess I would be willing to bet that Mother Teressa was looking at the whole of her ministry to the poor, diseased and rejected and was wondering what it all was for. What difference was she making? After all this time, Calcutta is still arguably one of the worst places on Earth. She buries the dead every day. People still go hungry. They are still sick and diseased. All she could do was love them through this hell and she was doubting her impact. She was angry with the conditions there and the hopelessness of the people who are its residents. When you reach the end of your life you want to know that what you have done has made a difference.

I would be willing to bet Mother Teressa was examining the scope of her life and work and began to wonder why God has not done more to change the people and conditions of Calcutta. It all seems quite natural to me. It also makes such a person 'human'. The life of mother Teressa was so transcendent from the world in which she lived that we looked at her as someone who was almost superhuman. In fact, she asked the same questions most of us have asked and felt the things we have felt about God's sovereignty... which makes her one of us (to the great relief of the atheist I might add).

This reminds me of John the Baptist. Jesus called him the greatest of all the prophets. He ushered in the readiness of the coming Messiah, preached with boldness and spoke out against the religious hypocrisy of his day. He was a giant of faith full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet we read that once he was imprisoned he begins to wrestle. He doubts. He questions. He sent his disciples out to ask Jesus if he was the Christ written about in Scripture or should he expect another. Jesus has to encourage John with the truth of the Scripture that showed he was indeed the Christ; that John's work had not been in vain; that the work John had prepared for his whole life was not for nothing, but rather, that it had fulfilled the purpose of God. Mother Teressa needed the same encouragement.

Like Mother Teressa, John's crisis was not the result of a lack of faith, but rather, the result of a faith strong enough to be honest.