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Leadership

Blindsided

Saturday
May022015

Don’t Blame Obama for America’s Moral Decay

There is a segment of our society that is ready to blame President Obama for everything, including America’s moral disintegration.

Although Obama’s election and reelection were manifestations of America’s decline, he is not the cause of it. And although Hilary Clinton’s election would be the final nail in the coffin of the America we once knew, she will not be responsible for it either.

So who is responsible for placing society’s body over the bottomless pit of moral decay?

I, for one, place the entire blame at the feet of some church leaders—those who actively worked to obliterate the biblical moral code, and those who, by their silence, essentially acquiesced to its destruction.

It was in the 1980s that the Episcopal Church not only pushed acceptance of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle (under the guise of “love and anti-discrimination”), but then to prove their point, ordained practicing homosexuals into the priesthood.

Then, instead of condemning the Episcopal Church for its departure from God’s creation blueprint, the Presbyterians, soon to be joined by the Methodists, felt that they must join in the destruction. For who on God’s earth wants to be branded as someone who “discriminates”?

Now here we are in 2015, and we’re watching many Bible-waving, evangelical televangelists following the same parade route into the abyss.

But why not? Why become unpopular with society? Why get buried under the avalanche of the new morality?

When I was part of the Episcopal Church, the arguments given by our homosexual friends were very simple: “We just want to be able to visit our partners in the hospital . . . become beneficiaries of their estates . . . collect social security . . . etc., etc.” But most discerning people could see that was merely the camel’s nose under the tent.

Most of my friends and former colleagues, however, could never image the day when one could be fined or even go to prison if they didn’t sanction, participate, or otherwise approve of such departure from God’s created order.

I know I’ll be called every name in the book, but it’s too late to avoid that. I’ve already been called everything there is to be called. But that’s not the issue. God knows my heart, and I hate no one, no matter how much I disagree with them. But I won’t compromise God’s truth.

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon make its most tragic decision since Roe vs. Wade with the upcoming ruling on same-sex marriage. Soon Bible-believing Christians in America may face the form of suffering that ISIS is inflicting upon believers in the Middle East. Then we will need to remember our forebears in the early church who considered it a privilege to die for Christ.

For me, that possibility represents the greatest of ironies. I escaped from the Middle East some 45 years ago to seek freedom and avoid persecution. But now, here I am in this one-time land of freedom, facing the prospect of persecution and imprisonment with thousands of other Christ-loving pastors.

In the Day of Judgment, it will be the church leaders who led us down this path who will pay the highest price. May God have mercy on their souls.

Thursday
Apr022015

Easter 2015: The Persecution Intensifies

Millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ this week. This one event sets apart the Christian faith—for the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is like no event in human history.

Even the people whom Jesus raised from the dead during His earthly life died again. Only Jesus the Christ rose from the dead to never die again.

Jesus’ physical resurrection transformed His timid disciples, giving them a courage so strong that they felt privileged to suffer and even die for His sake. That courage in the face of death slowly but surely changed the world—even causing Roman emperors to eventually convert and embrace the Christian faith.

Now it appears that modern-day Christians are being called upon once again to exhibit fearless courage in the face of persecution in the West, and torture and murder in other parts of the world.

Once someone comprehends that there is life beyond the grave, their earthly life ceases to be the be-all, end-all that it was before. Just as early disciples considered it a privilege to suffer and die for Christ, we in the 21st century must imitate their example.

The true Christian faith today is reviled, not only by Islamist fanatics in the Mideast, but even by some people who stick the title Reverend before their name. However, false Christians and false preachers are not new to the Christian faith.

Whenever true Christianity appears, a fake one is always at its heels. But the hope of the resurrection is far more powerful than anything false teachers and preachers can throw at the disciples of Jesus.

Today’s true disciples, like their forbearers, know the day is coming—and it may be sooner rather than later—when the resurrected Christ will return. Then, He will return as the judge of every human on the face of the earth. Believers who study their Bible know that today’s unbridled hatred of God’s Word and His morality is a tell-tale sign that the day of judgment is right around the corner.

From Nigeria’s Boko Haram, to ISIS, to the Muslim Brotherhood, to the Ayatollahs in Iran, Christians are being used as scapegoats, just as Nero used them nearly 2,000 years ago. While Nero fed the faithful to hungry lions, or dipped their bodies in tar and lit his garden parties with them, believers of this era are tortured, beheaded, or crucified for their faith.

In the West, the media is too timid to kill. Instead they ridicule Christians and make them the butt of every joke—just as the Nazis scapegoated and ridiculed the Jews during the early stages of their rule.

In America and Europe today, people who stand for biblical morality must be prepared to lose their jobs, or live under the threat of economic boycott or other subtle harassments.

But it is only a matter of time before believers in the West are the object of the full hatred and persecution eventually inflicted by the Nazis in Germany.

That should not surprise us—for there are strong parallels between Christians in the West today and the Christians of Nazi Germany. Christians in the West have largely stood by while their brothers and sisters around the world have been killed. Their thinking, like that of Christians in Germany, was that they were safe. Only when the Nazis came after Catholics and faithful Protestants did they realize it was too late.

We must take our stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters. For although the wave of persecution comes our way, there is hope. The greatest of all hope, actually. If the power of Christ’s resurrection tells us anything, it is that if we remain faithful to the end, we too shall be resurrected into eternal life with Jesus. 

Friday
Mar062015

What I Fear More than Islamic Jihadists

“I do not fear Islamic Jihadists nearly as much as I fear the Christian church in the West departing from biblical orthodoxy.”

That was how I opened a speech I made recently to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee. What gives that fear such certainty is the knowledge of a historical fact—namely, throughout history, Islam grew when Christianity was weakened through its departure from biblical authority.

There is no doubt that Islam grew out of a corpse of a church that was beset with heresy and apostasy. Immediately prior to the rise of Islam, viruses of false gospels had marred Christianity beyond recognition.

Christianity dominated regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. But despite that strength, the founder of Islam was confused and frustrated when he listened to some Christian leaders casting doubt on the divinity of Christ—the very heart of Christianity.

The falsehoods facing the church then are not unlike the ones the church in the West faces today. Then, they were known as: “Arianism,” “Nestorianism,” “Sabellianism,” “Ebionism.” Today, they go by names such as: “universalism,” “heterodoxy,” “emergent church,” “insider movement,” “hyper grace,” “Chrislam.”

When you take the heart out, you end up with a dead body with the name “Christian” written on its forehead. That’s what Mohammed found. And that’s what Mohammed believed to be true Christianity.

Mohammed got information from false Christians, and that led to apparent contradictions in Muslim writings—whether in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Those contradictions are the source for war within Islam today, with each faction quoting from contradicting texts.

The North African church was once powerful and influential. It produced great men such as Saint Augustine. Yet, the church fell into the clutches of false teachers as early as the 5th century.

One of those falsehoods is known as the Montanist movement. Among the significant falsehoods that the Montanists taught was the belief that the canon of Scripture was not closed. The Bible could still be amended.

In the 7th century, the Arab/Muslim armies stormed their way toward the pristine coastal Mediterranean towns of North Africa, which bulged with tens of thousands of churches. The conquest was over in a very short time. Having lost their biblical moorings, those churches wondered if God was not bringing a new revelation.

They were so opened-minded that they were like chickens letting the foxes into the hen house. It was only a matter of time before those tens of thousands of churches turned into mosques.

For those in church leadership today who say that biblical orthodoxy doesn’t matter, let me offer a warning. Islamists today are intent on finishing the work of Muslim conquest.

Modern Islamists, such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, recognize that the first and second jihads (from the 7th and 14th centuries) failed to completely subjugate Europe. They now plan for that to be accomplished through the third jihad, which began in the 1970s. That subjugation will be achieved through Muslim population migration and increases, and through the control of trillions of Arab/Islamic dollars that are invested in European capitals.

Looking at the numbers, those Islamists have good reason for optimism. In France and Germany, there are now 5 million Muslims, respectively. In the UK during the last decade, the Muslim population increased 10 times faster than the rest of the population.

Sheikh Qaradawi’s strategy is well on its way to being accomplished.

So how should the West respond?

There is only one answer. The church of Jesus Christ in the West must wake up and shake itself from its long stupor.

Having done that, the church will take Jesus’ commission to heart. Instead of accommodating the pressures of culture, it can once again spread the gospel to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Friday
Feb272015

Mr. President, Your Summit had it Wrong

(Photo: Associated Press)Mr. President,

Your recent summit to “Counter Violent Extremism” was flawed from the start—beginning with its name. Extremism is indeed a threat (especially a threat to Christians), but that is not what we face when confronting ISIS. On that issue, I’m afraid you’re confused.

First let’s look at the definition of extremists: namely, people who advocate or resort to measures beyond norms to enforce their views.

To look at textbook examples of extremism, one doesn’t need to look abroad. Let’s enumerate some acts of extremism inflicted by the US government:

 

  1. Removing the Bible by force from schools after it had been studied in classrooms for hundreds of years.
  2. Likewise, driving prayer out of schools after it had been practiced for a similar time period.
  3. Dragging parents and students to court for either praying or studying the Bible in school.
  4. Destroying small businesses and persecuting their proprietors, whether a baker or photographer, for simply abiding by their religious beliefs.
  5. Losing government or corporate jobs for simply expressing one’s biblical belief.
  6. Threatening or removing military chaplains if they dare to exercise their faithful duty and call on the name of their Lord in public (again something that was practiced for hundreds of years).
  7. Demanding that people participate in training, corporate and otherwise, that they find ungodly, and punishing them if they refuse to do so.

 

That’s to say nothing about the humiliation inflicted on patriotic people of deep faith when a national leader describes them as bitterly clinging to their “guns or religion.”

Need I go further, Mr. President?

Those are classic cases of extremism. On the contrary, however, the activities perpetuated by ISIS are, in fact, not extremism (as being described by the US administration). ISIS is simply following the tenants of their religion.

Most reform-minded Muslims actually feel insulted when ISIS is not described as they truly are: Islamic fundamentalists. When ISIS uses the sword, they are following the fundamentals of their faith.

I wish everyone would read the Qur’an. Then they would know that reform-minded Muslims, like President el-Sisi of Egypt, speak the truth when they state that such commands to violence are in the Qur’an. They refuse to deny that their religion has a problem with the sword and bloodshed. Admitting the truth is the first step to recovery, and as el-Sisi has done, he challenges the imams to seek new interpretations of the Qur’an that are appropriate for modern times.

As a Christian, I love the Muslim people. I am commanded to love and not to hate, and I only hate the evil that is committed.

Let me repeat, as a Christian, I love the Muslim people, and I long for both Muslim fundamentalists and moderates to come to the one true God—the Messiah who died on the cross to save all sinners who turn to Him.

Thousands of Muslims are coming to know Christ as the Savior of the world and as their personal Savior. My ardent desire is that Muslims of all stripes would follow in the footsteps of those courageous new believers. To know God is the desperate need of every heart, even of those who do not recognize it or verbalize it.

But I also fully support those Muslims who want to change the interpretation of their religion, to bring it to the twenty first century.

Mr. President, for the sake of everything that is holy, and for the sake of Muslims who stand against the violence of their religion, let us not confuse fundamentalism for extremism.