Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pray for Egypt

This Sunday morning, Jan. 3oth, one of my pastors as he prayed the prayer for the whole church, prayed for Egypt. It reminded me of part of the Lord’s Prayer, asking for the people’s needs including freedom while at the same time praying that they would not fall into a greater calamity, that they would be delivered from evil. It is the prayer we should all be praying.

Christian Iosso, Coordinator of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote an essay about the peoples of the Arab world rising against their totalitarian governments. It is of course about much more, but like the title, God’s Spirit—Moving in the Arab world? , Iosso does equate the movement with something God may be doing. He writes:
One doesn’t have to be a so-called Islamist to stand up to an authoritarian regime, and even many in the Muslim Brotherhood see God’s hand in the movements for greater freedom. The protests in Jordan, for example, show the Brotherhood among a range of organizations pushing for a constitutional monarchy.
It has been reported, in fact, that the Muslim Brotherhood has offered to be a part of a coalition government in Egypt. And while God does allow all that happens in our world, he is after all sovereign; the god the Muslim Brotherhood sees in all of this is not our God. The Brotherhood does not see Jesus as God’s revelation of himself. And speaking politically, the freedoms they would eventually propose for the Egyptians would not be the kinds of freedoms that belong to a democracy.

The Muslim Brotherhood was established in Palestine in 1935 by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Banna the brother of the man who founded the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, Hassan al-Banna. However, the leader of the Brotherhood in Palestine was Haj Amin el-Husseini, known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He is known for his ties to Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Professor Jeffrey Herf in his book Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, writes, “A significant historical scholarship has documented the actions and beliefs of the most important public face and voice of Nazi Germany’s Arabic-language propaganda, Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.” Herf goes on to detail el-Husseini’s connections with Nazi Germany where he eventually lived until the end of the war, helping with Nazi Arabic war propaganda. Herf writes:

The mutual admiration between Husseini and Hitler, based on their shared hatred of the Jews, has long been a matter of public record. Details about his collaboration with Heinrich Himmler and his knowledge about the Holocaust came to light after the war. Husseini was a key figure in finding common ideological ground between National Socialism, on the one hand, and the doctrines of Arab nationalism and militant Islam, on the other.[1]
Hamas is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood, formed from one of its charity branches.[2]

The Brotherhood first founded in Egypt in 1928, is very conservative and insists on Sharia law. Herf lists the program they wished to pursue in Egypt after World War II. Part of that program not only meant gender separation in school but different curriculum for male and female. All of culture from the arts to relationships to women’s make-up would be overseen by a theocracy. This is not freedom, certainly not democracy.[3]

I write all of this to say that it is God, the biblical God, who pulls down and lifts up leaders. He alone is sovereign over our lives. I keep thinking of the verse that admonishes the disciples “you will be hearing of wars and rumors of war. See that you are not frightened, for these things must take place, but that is not yet the end." (Matt 24:6) There is a true Prince of Peace who is coming. There is a righteous kingdom that is here but not yet.

Keep praying for all of the people in the Middle East. Pray that they will have peace and not despair. Pray that wicked people, whether old leaders or potentially new leaders will be moved far away and the Arab people’s world will change. But more importantly pray that they will find the true freedom and love that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

[1] Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, (New Haven: Yale University Press 2009) 8. There is a lengthy foot note after this statement mostly in German. I will not attempt to put it on a blog posting.
[2] See Wikipedia: Muslim Brotherhood
[3]Nazi Propaganda 250

Friday, January 28, 2011

Working on my frustrations with IPMN's Facebook page

Did you ever get so fed up with something on a Facebook site that you wanted to comment and couldn't. But what if it is a Presbyterian Facebook site? You would think that if you were Presbyterian you should be able to speak-out. But not on the Israel/Palestine Mission Network Facebook site.

So what I have done, and I may make this an every so often, habit, I have copied out a whole section of their Facebook with their links and comments and I am going to comment.

"Israel Palestine Mission Network Rand Paul calls for a halt to aid to Israel

U.S. Democrats and pro-Israel lobbies slam Republican Senator's call to halt Israel aid
Tea Party representative Rand Paul tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he has a lot of respect for Israel but he doesn't believe the U.S. should be funding the Mideast arms race during financial crisis.
Top of Form
3 hours ago ·
4 people like this.

Israel Palestine Mission Network
Quote:"You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as, you know, a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East. But at... the same time, I don't think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else. We just can't do it anymore. The debt is all- consuming and it threatens our well-being as a country,” Paul said.See More
2 hours ago ·
1 personFran Foley Lawrence likes this.


Ralph Garlin Clingan Presby elder RP needs some help with that Israel as democracy mistake!
2 hours ago ·
1 personKate Sobolewski likes this.

Bill Doerrfeld I disagree with much of Rand Paul except for this. I believe a democratic nation is one which separates church and state. The Jewish state of Israel doesn't meet this definition."

The above section is the first link I have copied out. The IPMN have quoted Ron Paul. I will quote Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, who called the proposal shocking.
“Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most stalwart allies”, Lowey said. “A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a staple of our foreign policy for more than sixty years. Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable. It is unclear to me whether Rand Paul speaks for the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or simply himself”.

Also see the comment by Bill Doerrfeld, I wish to respond to it. England has an official state church and is still a Democracy. The same is true of several European countries.

And that comment by Clingan is wrong. When we had problems with awful racism in the United States we did not stop being a Democracy. Instead we used our form of goverment to work on such problems until they were solved. Of course there are more that need working on.

Below is the next section I picked up:

"Israel Palestine Mission Network ‎"The Claims Conference was set up in 1951 by 24 Jewish organizations to negotiate with the German government on compensation for Holocaust survivors and their heirs..."

Report: Holocaust compensation group withheld over a billion Euros from Jewish survivors
Leading barrister Jeffrey for Board of Deputies of British Jews Jeffrey Gruder says conference did not hold the money for the owners or their heirs, but allocated it to other purposes.

3 hours ago · 11 ·
Peter Leitzke likes this.

Boni Julia Caracciolo how much "compensation" did the other millions of non-jews receive after the war?"

I am not at all sure why this got posted on IPMN, except often when something bad is committed by either Jewish people or about Jewish people or by Israel, IPMN posts it as if to say, "see how awful they are." But it was the comment by Boni Julia Caracciolo that I wanted to respond to.

There was no other group of people, as an ethnic group, that the Nazi's attempted to totally destroy. And they almost succeeded. No other group lost six million people. Of course God would not let that happen. But that comment by Caracciolo, is one often made by anti-Semites.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Richard Falk and Hillel Neuer again!

Here are just two more important videos from the 25th of January 2011. One is very short. It is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemning Richard Falk for his published conspiracy views about the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers.

The last one is Hillel Neuer of the UN Watch speaking before the U. S. Congress on the State of the UN Human Rights Council. Please remember this should concern Christians just as much, perhaps more, than anyone else.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Richard Falk, 9-11 and the United Nations

Sometimes the lies and evil intent of humanity overplays itself. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, a man whose supposed expertise is pointed to by many pro-Palestinian groups including the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), was today condemned by Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the United Nations. Falk, on a recent blog posting has written about 9-11, the destruction of the world trade center, and insisted it was a conspiracy and the cover-up was the work of the United States government.

In an article, “Ban Ki-moon condemns UN Palestinian human rights official for backing 9/11 slurs,” Natasha Mozgovaya and Shlomo Shamir state “In a rare condemnation by the UN of an official within the organization, Ban said Falk's remarks were "an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack."

Falk who had already revealed his thoughts in the preface to one of David Ray Griffin’s books, in his blog posting used the assassination of a Swedish leader and the shootings in Arizona to persist in his conspiracy theories. He writes”

What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin(and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials.
Several persons, including the United States Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, have asked Ban to remove Falk from his position. But the answer seems to be that he was appointed by the “the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, a 47-nation body created by the UN General Assembly in 2006,” and therefore cannot be removed by the General Secretary.

Here is an interesting explanation by UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer about the problems with the UN's Human Rights Council.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Debbie Berkley and a series on Narnia

My friend Debbie Berkley on her blog, "Cloud of Witnesses" is writing and posting a series on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. The latest post is "There is No Other," and it is about "The Silver Chair." Debbie is picking out all of the great sections and making comments on them that relate to our Christian walk with Jesus. Such as the one she makes about Aslan, the great Lion, who as a picture of Jesus is the only way to living water:
Christ is there at the stream. It can be frightening to find him there. We might have to make some changes in order to get to that stream. Perhaps we will have to give up some cherished ways of life, some self-indulgences, some habits. We might prefer some other teacher, some other religion.
Another friend, Barb Moody commented on this last posting that the scene where Puddleglum in the underworld burns his hand to shake off the witch's spell, is her favorite. That reminds me that the scene was done in the movie with my favorite Dr. Who playing the Marshwiggle, Puddleglum. I may have posted it before but here it is again:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

If it be your will

For the rest of the weekend, a song by someone I knew at Warehouse Ministries. Mike Roe is a friend of several of my children. In the Warehouse days his band was the 77s, today it is the Lost Dogs. But this is a rare solo. The song is "If it be your will" by a great writer, Leonard Cohen.

Friday, January 21, 2011

North Korea and the followers of Jesus

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) news has an item that speaks of what seems to be a good way to feed some in the broken land of North Korea. The article is, “Northern Korean Christians help feed most vulnerable: PC(USA), CWS help noodle factory and bakery supply orphans, elderly.”

The article states, “The Bongsu Noodle Factory and Bakery, operated by the Korean Christian Federation — the government-sanctioned church and PC(USA) partner — turns one metric ton of flour daily into much-needed noodles and bread for distribution to orphanages and homes for the elderly.” And then it lists other PCUSA organizations which have aided the noodle factory and Bakery.

This looks like a wonderful program. Still, given the horrible persecution of Christians in North Korea I have several questions.

I looked up the church federation and found this: "North Korea permits only a facade of Christianity to perpetuate the myth of religious tolerance... The government-approved Korean Christian Federation (KCF) presents itself as the presiding body representing 'North Korea's Protestant and Catholic churches.' However, their obeisance to Kim Il Sung... " … "Though Pyongyang's KCF 'Christian' clergy are scrutinized for primary loyalty to Kim Jong Il, many of the laity at Pyongyang's three churches may very well be bona fide believers, "[1]

I also read on Wikipedia that there are only 12,000 members of this state church. There is also an interview “provided by two members of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), Hwang Shi Chon and Kim Nam Hyok, director of the international department and deputy director of the organizational -department, respectively, of the Central Committee of the KCF” at

Some of the devastating facts they unintentionally reveal are that they have a seminary that only takes ten students every three years. And when asked about Bibles they state , “Of course. In our country, freedom of worship is guaranteed under the Constitution. More than 50,000 copies of the Bible have been printed in our country, translated into Korean by members of our federation.”

And asked what the main work of the Federation is they answer:

The most important task of the federation is to lead Korean Christians to work for the construction and reunification of our country. In order to promote the reunification, we maintain close relations with many organizations including the
World Council of Churches and Christian associations in foreign countries to ensure their support for the peaceful reunification of the Korea Peninsula. As the solidarity of the whole nation is the only way to realize a lasting peace in our country, Christians in north and south Korea and overseas should be united first.
So my questions are, are we reaching any of the other Christians in North Korea. And are we in any way hurting the other Christians because of our alliance with the state church?

My thoughts are with the other Christians of North Korea who are horribly persecuted by the North Korean government. Just recently a young Christian woman from North Korea spoke to the The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism.

Please listen, you will be blessed:

[1] at and from the book, Juche: A Christian Study of North Korea's State Religion. The information is from 1999.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just asking questions

The recent announcement on the Israel/Palestine Mission Network web site , as well as the PNS, that IPMN and two other Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) groups are calling on the Department of Justice to stop subpoenaing “dissenting activists” opens some interesting questions and thoughts about alliances and even righteousness.

Evidently the DOJ and the FBI are interested in knowing if any of the activists groups are supporting terrorist groups. Presbyterians might be interested in the righteous questions.

According to news articles linked in the IPMN announcement, the house of Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network, was raided by the FBI as part of the ongoing investigation. While many may disagree with the Arab American Action Network's honoring of Helen Thomas after she suggested that the Jewish people of Israel should go back to Poland and Germany, it is not a crime. It is, in fact, part of the wonderful freedoms we as Americans enjoy.

And while the AAAN’s push for only one state in Palestine, and not a Jewish state, might be considered political it also belongs to our freedoms.[1] There might be some concerns about AAAN's young people being sent to the U.S. Social Forum where they learn to use divestment tactics that would seem, at least to me, to be against the law.

One young Arab American mentioned in the AAAN newsletter, “met people involved in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel around the country and learned creative tools like de-shelving Israeli products from stores or labeling them with boycott stickers.”[2]

But what the DOJ is really concerned about, as stated above, is activists groups supporting terrorist groups. And this may be because of several connections. The conference,”Palestine: One Land, One People, One Destiny,” notice in the AAAN Newsletter was sponsored by the United States Palestinian Community Network. They write that they are anchored in the following objectives:

· Self-determination and equality for the Palestinian people
· The right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes, lands, properties and villages (a natural right supported by international law and UN Resolution 194)
· Ending Zionist occupation and colonization of Palestine[3]
The USPCN grew out of the first Palestinian Conference held in 2008. That conference was endorsed by many groups including those outside of the United States. The first on that list is the Higher Committee for National and Islamic Forces a grouping of Palestine organizations united during the second intifada. (Please click on the link.)

Although not very active now, some of the groups in the National and Islamic Forces are considered terrorist groups including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. For more information see “IMPN: Stop Investigating Possible Terrorist Supporters.”

So there are questions to be asked and answered and perhaps it is the PCUSA who should ask some of them. Or answer them.

[1] Scroll down on link.
[2] Again scroll down.
[3] The USPCN workshops at the United States Social Forum can be seen here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

David Fischler's rebuttal to a PCUSA's statement about the FBI and the Department of Justice

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the National Presbyterian Middle East Caucus have all joined in calling for the Department of Justice to “end subpoenas on dissenting activist." Here is part of their statement found on the IPMN’s web site:
The Israel Palestine Mission Network* (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) and the National Middle East Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) oppose the misuse of the grand jury process by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the accompanying FBI raids. The DOJ served a total of nine federal grand jury subpoenas to Chicago area Palestinian solidarity activists in the month of December alone, raising the total subpoenas served to 23.These Presbyterian groups call upon their own denominational leadership, as well as Churches for Middle East Peace, The National Council of Churches and all concerned Christian denominations to join them in denouncing the DOJ's bold attempts to suppress peaceful dissent on the part of those working for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
David Fischler of Reformed Pastor has put up an amazing rebuttal of their actions. It well help everyone to understand how the three groups are either unnecessarily concerned or are seeking undue attention for their and other organizations. He even quotes “former Assistance U.S. Attorney Cynthia Kouril of the left-wing blog Firedoglake” about “the hysteria” involved in their document. Please read Fischler’s article, “IMPN: Stop Investigating Possible Terrorist Supporters.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bothered by a Superhero

Superheroes have never impressed me; I mostly don’t like them. I know that makes me almost un-American. But now I am struggling with a Jewish superhero, Capt. Israel.

Oh I don’t dislike this character for the same reason that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network dislikes him, or Veterans Today or MuzzleWatch, the site with an article critiquing Capt. Israel, and linked to by both IPMN and VT. The MuzzleWatch article, “StandWithUs comic book portrays activist Palestinians (and allies) as vermin, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda,” is an overblown piece about a new comic book that the Jewish Advocacy group StandWithUs has just published.

But first I have to explain that the writer, Gilad Atzmon, at VT, in his article, “Captain Israel- A Sickening Hasbara Magazine For Jewish Diaspora Youngsters,” is totally confused. He is linked to and partially writing about the article on MuzzleWatch but he has included another site called Team Super Jews which has nothing at all to do with the Capt. Israel comic, (except one of the team is named Capt. Israel), it is instead a group of Jewish organizations that meet community needs.

The new character Capt. Israel in the first edition of the comic book explains the history of Israel. It isn’t bad just a bit simplistic. But the part that IPMN, VT and MuzzleWatch are complaining about is the advertisement for the next issue which will be about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. On that page the BDS movement is portrayed as a giant horrifying snake.

An inset by the snake states “You think BDS, stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? It’s more like Bigotry, Divisiveness and Slander! See Capt. Israel expose the Extremists behind …” and then written outside of the inset and over the snake are the words, “the venomous BDS.”

So first the complaints of MuzzleWatch: There is a wording problem. Evidently the writer, Cecilie Surasky, at MuzzleWatch, thought that venomous meant vermin rather than poisonous. She mistakenly believes that StandWithUs has called the members of the BDS vermin. Surasky writes, “

Perfect, shining Captain Israel needs a diseased, less than human “other” to give him his all-man mojo. Episode 2 will feature Captain Israel’s undoubtedly victorious epic battle against “the venomous” Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement. …

I wondered what it was about the evil serpent-the colors of the Palestinian flag- that looked so familiar to me? Where on earth did they get the inspiration to portray the Palestinian and international human rights groups that support the BDS movement as a big, fanged, serpent? As vermin? (And then I remembered I had seen it in different (Genesis inspired) anti-Semitic propaganda about ‘conniving’ Jews, and thought, why not just call them all “cockroaches” and get it over with? )

No, snakes are a symbol of evil not of vermin. But Vermin fit into the MuzzleWatch author's next conjecture, which was to see Capt. Israel as a symbol of an early Zionism which supposedly wished to portray Western Jewish males as “the image of the hypermasculine, colonialist-explorer and militaristic nation-builder, an image dependent on the homophobic repudiation of the “feminine” within men.”

Surasky, who is using a large quote from a book entitled, Beyond Flesh, (a book about gays and lesbians and their history in Israel), adds, from the book: “

By stigmatizing Israels [sic] Eastern populations as agents of death and degeneration, Zionism created internal biologized enemies, against whom the Zionist society had to defend itself. In the name of securing the life and reproduction of the new Ashkenazi Jewry, Israeli society discriminated against both its internal enemies, the Palestinians, and its own citizens, the Mizrahim (Oriental Jews).
This is a lot of nonsense and has nothing to do with either Zionism or what StandWithUs was attempting to teach as they try to help Jewish children understand Jewish history and in their next issue the BDS movement. A movement which does consist of many people who wish to destroy Israel as a Jewish State.

But here is my greater complaint against Capt. Israel. And I write this as a Christian who holds the Hebrew Bible to be the word of God. The character of Capt. Israel takes on transcendent qualities which only belong to God. He is dealing with, not a comic book story, but real history which includes biblical history-God’s word to be exact.

In the first issue when speaking about ancient Israel and the modern State of Israel, Capt. Israel states, “I was there when Jewish civilization and national identity was formed,” and, “I watched as Herzl’s book had great impact on the Jews of his time. …” To be truthful if Jewish leadership were angry when Jesus stated “before Abraham was born, I am,” then surely there must be some Jewish objections to Capt. Israel’s statements.

Additionally the front page of the book quotes Mark Twain and his famous question about why the Jews have survived through out the ages. The booklet states “find out inside.” But there is no real answer inside except for the actions of the Jewish people. Where is God in all of this?
At this moment in time, I would think that above all the Israelis should be directed to the keeping power of God. I am thinking of the text which states:

Listen to me , O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:3)

The Jewish people exist because God has in grace blessed them and kept them. There is a Jewish State of Israel because God has allowed it to be so; God keeps his promises. And a captain did appear in Israel greater than any real or comic book captain:

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No, rather I come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13-15)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A video with questions about Israel and Hamas!

It’s not the weekend but I just can’t resist.

So who else would like to answer the questions?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

IPMN, James Wall, Veterans Today and the tragedy in Arizona

I hesitate to write about anything that has to do with the awful tragedy in Arizona, it is too much like walking on sacred ground with my shoes on. [1]But after thinking about it, praying about it and reading an extremely distasteful article I have decided to write again on some of the same subjects I have written before. Yes, this is about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), James Wall and Veterans Today as well as Gabrielle Giffords who is Jewish and pro-Israel.

Just today Gordon Duff the Editor of Veterans Today, a loathsome anti-Semitic web site, wrote and posted one of the strangest and most despicable articles I have read, MURDER IN ARIZONA-MORAL FLEXIBILITY AND RELATIVISM. It was about Gabrielle Giffords. The point of his article was that Giffords had decided to highlight her Jewish heritage to get elected. She was somehow under the watchful eye of those Jews who, according to Gordon and others on his site, control the United States, world banks, wars, etc., etc. They, according to him were displeased and so sent someone her way that had been programmed to get rid of her. He begins this way:

We all agree, Gabrielle Gifford [sic] is an “innocent,” a decent woman, progressive and caring. When faced with political defeat, Gifford, a “pro-choice” liberal with strong credentials for taking the honorable side on issues, “found” a Jewish relative and “converted” to Judaism. Finding a Jewish relative and “unfinding” Christ is a form of “moral relativism.” Anyone who doesn’t see that the link between genealogy and revelation is purely financial is lucky to have lived long enough to read these words.
He ends the part on Giffords this way:

In the process, however, Gifford [sic] had to also, not only “unfind” Christ. She also had to find herself ready to answer the phone and do what she was told when the call came in and it comes in, over and over. It isn’t all “goodness and light,” sending unlimited money to Israel or weapons, depleted uranium and white phosphorous to be used on Gaza. It also involves keeping silent when asked. …

Relativism and flexibility is how people the Nazi’s put into concentration camps can now, 65 years later, be running one ten times the size of anything Hitler imagined. Gifford is “right with that” and has stated it repeatedly. Won’t she be surprised if she learns she may not have been the victim of a “random act of violence.” Did we have a “little Mumbai” in Arizona?

After this Duff goes on to write more on the subject he writes endlessly about, that Israel was supposedly responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center towers.

So where does the Israel/Palestine Mission Network and James Wall, a contributing editor of the Christian Century who blogs at Wallwritings fit into this awful scenario? Simply this, James Wall has never rescinded his view, when he wrote, “The website Veterans Today is not a “sludge-bucket”. It is a progressive website that sees injustice and calls it for what it is, which explains why these days, I find myself more at home with my new friends at Veterans Today …”

And IPMN links to everything that Wall writes on Israel.

The connection goes deeper. IPMN constantly hunts for alternative news sources to find articles that will show how Israel is an evil state. In doing so they often connect to very bad sources including other sites that use some of the same writers as Veterans Today, such as this article, Daily Israeli Crimes Against Humanity, on this news site,

My intent here is to show how very terrible Walls discernment is, how relentless his one sidedness. For him it appears that it is better to be on the side of vile anti-Semites then to say anything good or constructive about Israel. And the same is true of IPMN. They will continue relentlessly.

Although I pray for the situation, I no longer hope for any change in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on this issue. Perhaps it is one of God’s ways of bringing judgment. What I do know is that God allows evil to only go so far and he has the finale authority. His judgment, and mercy, will be the final word.

[1] I want to point out two excellent articles. The first is George F. Will - The charlatans' response to the Tucson tragedy. Will uses the history of the assassination of political leaders in the United States to point out the foolishness of tying political meaning to the act of a mentally induced crime. The other article is by David Brooks of the New York Times, is The Politicized Mind. Brook’s article ends with the acknowledgement that we need better care for the mentally ill.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not heaven or hell; simply Jesus

John Vest, on his blog, John Vest: Posts from the blog of an untamed Cynic has written an interesting post, “What is at stake in Progressive Christianity?” He explains that in what he calls, ‘conservative, fundamentalist/traditionalist Christianity’ there are easy answers but not so in progressive Christianity. He writes:

“ … what is at stake [in conservative, etc. Christianity] is eternal salvation. If you believe in Jesus (however this is understood), you will go to heaven when you die. If you don’t, you will go to hell. It really is as simple as that.”
But he does admit that he is being simplistic.

As for progressive Christianity Vest writes, “Heaven and hell simply do not play a significant role in our teaching and preaching—probably because most progressive Christians don’t believe in heaven and hell as they are described in the Bible and traditional Christianity. So if avoiding hell is not the goal, what is?”

I didn’t write over there because I want to take this all a different direction. I am aware that some very conservative pastors, evangelists and churches may make heaven and hell the fundamental (pun intended) focus of their ministry but as a reformed, orthodox, evangelical I object. But first, to be very clear, I do believe in a biblical and literal heaven and hell.

Vest writes about the high stakes and the zeal of conservative Christianity. He wonders what will work for progressives. He asks, “What can I say to my progressive congregation that will inspire the same kind of zeal I remember from my evangelical days?”

But, it is not what works, nor is it about how to stay out of the fire. It is instead about the purpose for which we are made-it is about our relationship with the living God. As the Shorter Catechism puts it, the chief end of humanity “is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Personally the thing that either drives me or brings me to my knees in guilt is the knowledge of Jesus’ great love for me. Better still the thing that causes me to rest and rejoice is Jesus’ great love for me. And greater still the reason for my desire to care for someone else, or tell another of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is my knowledge of his great love for both of us.

The Christian is called to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. That news is more than fire insurance, it is about living in relationship with the God of the universe. And one is able to have that fellowship because in Jesus we are able to connect with our Holy God. In Jesus we possess a righteousness that is not ours but his.

One example of that wonderful relationship and its beginning is the true story of Frederica Mathews-Green's conversion. I wrote about her in a very early posting, Holy Ones and Monsters :
Traveling with her husband in Europe and Britain, Mathews-Green met Christ in a cathedral in Dublin. She writes, “One day in Dublin I looked at a statue of Jesus and was struck to my knees, hearing an interior voice say ‘I am your life.’ I knew it was the one I had rejected and ridiculed, come at last to seize me forever. It was a shattering experience from which I emerged blinking like a newborn, and decades later I still feel overwhelming awe and gratitude for that rescue, that vast and undeserved gift.”
The whole life of a believer hinges on Jesus.

My God, I Love Thee (My Eternal King)

This song has been attributed to several authors including Fran­cis Xavier

My God, I love Thee; not because
I hope for Heav’n thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
May eternally die.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E’en death itself; and all for man
Who was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessèd Jesus Christ
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the hope of winning Heaven,
Nor of escaping hell.

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Nor seeking a reward,
But as Thyself hast lovèd me,
O everlasting Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A call to come out or a call to love Jesus?

Many years ago I read a travel magazine about a cruise someone took which finally led to several side trips to ancient Asia Minor cities. The author wrote about being in the ruins of the amphitheatre at Ephesus and hearing someone at the very top singing amazing grace. I think of this when I read Jesus’ words to the seven churches of Asia Minor.

Jesus calls Ephesus to repentance because she no longer loves him. He sees the church, buried and busy in good works and correct teaching, but fallen. If she does not repent, her lampstand will be removed from its place. For Ephesus, really for any of us, to repent means to return and love Jesus again.

In two places, in Revelation, there is grave sin within the church and the Lord calls the sinners to repentance and threatens them if they do not, but he does not threaten the whole church. He, in fact, commends those who are faithful.

To the church at Pergamum Christ points out that there are members who “hold the teachings of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.” The church also has some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Although scholars are not sure what the teaching of the Nicolaitans was, we all know from the Old Testament that Balak was involved with seducing the Israelites to commit sexual sin as well as the worship of false gods.

But what is interesting here is Christ’s words to Pergamum. He does not say he will come and make war against that church, but rather, while calling the whole church to repentance he says, “I will make war against them [those who hold the false teaching] with the sword of my mouth.

And his promise is that those who overcome will receive hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it that only the overcomer knows. Christ has this intimate relationship with the faithful in his church. He knows who they are and they know him. Christ makes a separation simply by his own knowledge and relationship with his people. It isn’t the sheep who separate from those who teach idol worship or immorality. It is the certain knowledge of God which separates.

Another church where this is more clearly seen is Thyatira. Christ accuses Thyatira of tolerating “the woman Jezebel.” Whoever or whatever this woman is she also teaches church members to worship false gods and commit sexual sin. Once again it is only those involved in this teaching, those who tolerate, that Christ makes war against. The separation isn’t physical, it is spiritual, but with a reality that God himself will supply.

The text states, “I gave her time to repent and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am he who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each of you according to your deeds.”

But to those in this particular church who have not taken up the sins of Jezebel he promises no other burden. And Jezebel and her false teaching are burdens. The promises he gives here are interesting. “Authority over the nations,” which is equated with the authority Jesus has now been given by his Father. But beside this the morning star. He gives of himself. In Jesus Christ we have the authority to overcome both idolatry and immorality. We walk in him and wear his righteousness. He is the morning star.

Recently, I read a letter written to those evangelicals who are staying in the PCUSA. The person who wrote the letter was condemning them for staying. While some have left because they believe that is God’s call on their lives, and I think there is faithfulness in that, many are called to stay. It is after all Jesus who is the Lord. And he is the final great separator, not his people. What Jesus Christ asks for is simply faithfulness and our love. He does not call us away from our calling.

The amphitheatre may lay in ruins but amazing grace is sung. It may lay in ruins but there is a permanent place filled with grace.

We have a permanent place in Jesus Christ: “He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God and my new name. “ (Rev. 3: 12)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For love of sisters and brothers ...or not- if they are evangelical

Sometimes I start a posting on one subject and discover I need to write on a slightly different subject. I use the word ‘slightly’ because I was preparing some links on the persecution of the Coptic Catholics in Egypt and elsewhere when I uncovered another area of persecution, the Evangelicals of Syria.[1] And with it I uncovered a Church official who is willing to let other Christians suffer for the sake of…and here I can only guess, position, political correctness, jealousy, heresy or maybe his own fear.

As I was looking at the links I intended to use I read the Presbyterian News. Under the heading of the Episcopal News Service is an article, “International ecumenical and interfaith leaders condemn New Year church bombing in Egypt.” One of those in leadership, “the Rev. Nadim Nassar, a Syrian-born Anglican priest and director of the Awareness Foundation,” stated:

It grieves us ... to see the tragedy of this attack on Coptic Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, a place where Muslims and Christians have lived together for years. We pledge our prayers and concerns to all who are persecuted or live in fear for proclaiming their faith … Christians, Jews and Muslims must unite in condemnation of such killing and act together to pursue peace with justice for all.”
But Nassar, who is a priest in the United Kingdom, has a blog and what he has written there is hardly his concern for other Christians. And if what he says is correct, which I, with hope, doubt, the Presbyterian Church is also lacking some care.

The Economist has written an article, “Syria’s Evangelicals Don't try too hard: Protestant Christians are under rare fire,” about the crackdown on some Evangelical Churches and missionaries in Syria. They quoted Nassar and he took exception to how they used his quote. While the article mentions that it is those Protestant Churches “which cater for refugees from Sudan and Iraq and expatriate workers, as well as for Syrians,” that are being persecuted, it is also because they evangelize. It is against the law in Syria to be instrumental in someone’s conversion.[2]

But the main reason the Economist gives for the persecution is “that Orthodox and Catholic leaders, disgruntled by the success of these new churches, have complained to the government.”

The author of the article writes, “Father Nadim Nassar, a priest, says that tension in the region has made life harder for all Protestant groups. “Protestantism has long been viewed as an extension of the West and all Protestant groups have been affected by a backlash against them.”

Nassar in his complaint on his blog explained that he was speaking of the whole Middle East region not just Syria. But about the Economist’s statement that the Orthodox and Catholic had complained to the government Nassar writes on his blog:

I believe that this statement is considerably wrong for two reasons. The first reason is that it is wrong to single out the Orthodox and Catholic leaders as even the mainstream Protestant Church, the Presbyterian Church, expressed their doubts about these churches. The second reason is that the churches that were closed down were American Christian hard-line evangelical churches that suddenly appeared in the country with a lot of foreign money and that is what drew the attention to them.

We must understand that American hard-line evangelical Christians mostly have a political agenda which usually supports, and is supported by, Israel. Such an agenda is definitely not welcomed in Syria or in any country in the Middle East! The political ideology underpinning the theology of the very influential American far right churches is not a secret. But its popularity in the United States does not mean that other parts of the world - especially the Middle East - should accept it, nor should we automatically label those who are against it as ‘anti-Christian.’ The foreign missionaries at the churches that were closed down were spreading a hard-line theology that threatened our social cohesion and our ecumenical relationships.

But what churches were being closed down. The article mentioned “the missionary arm of the Evangelical Free Church of America,” and evangelists from the United States as well as South Korea. They also stated that “independent local churches, all of them licensed by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, have been hit, too.”

Nassar finishes his blog posting with this, “Until these “popcorn” evangelical independent churches appeared out of nowhere, pouring money into the little groups they created, the national evangelical churches in Syria always enjoyed respect, acceptance and support from the government in different cities in Syria.”

If that is a fear ridden statement, I am sorry he has so much to fear. If it is simple arrogance rather than joy that the gospel is being preached and refugees helped, God have mercy on him. His organization, Awareness Foundation, supposedly promotes reconciliation and diversity, but it is doubtful that he truly believes in love for one another. May he be reconciled with all of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Hopefully the Presbyterian Church did not complain, as he stated, about the Evangelicals in Syria.

[1] I was preparing to link to Dexter Van Zile’s article, Copts Under Siege. Please do read this.
[2] See also NEWS ALERT: Syria Closes Evangelical Churches In Crackdown

A newspaper article and letter about David Thompson: should we laugh or cry?

When reading the article in the Sacramento Bee, The Conversation: Can a mix of faiths meld under one roof and the letter to the editor “Ex-pastor’s account isn’t complete,” one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The Article is about David Thompson who was the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Sacramento.

Thompson is the only person who testified to the Ecumenical committee at the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church had stolen churches and millions of dollars from Sacramento Presbytery. Needless to say my husband and I were the only ones from Sacramento at that meeting who heard him. We were appalled.

The Committee designated to explore that possibility found that it was not true.

The Bee article is about a new spiritual outlet Thompson has started since renouncing jurisdiction and leaving our denomination. The article begins with a question, “Would blending different religious faiths into a new form of worship appeal to you?” The author and Associate editor, Foon Rhee, writes”

“The Rev. David Thompson gathered a half dozen kids for "children's time" during the Sunday service. Though it was the season of Advent, he didn't talk about Joseph and Mary, or the baby Jesus.

Instead, he told the true-life story of how a Jewish girl in Poland was saved from Nazi death camps by a Catholic woman who smuggled the girl into her home on Christmas Eve – and how they had a tearful reunion in America years later.

‘It's a lovely story,’ Thompson told the children. "The most important thing you will do in life is love. You have to learn how to love people different than you.’”

The story is lovely, but incorrect; knowing and loving God, enjoying him forever as the catechism puts it, is the most important they will ever do. That means that while loving people different from yourself or the same as yourself you will not compromise your relationship with Jesus Christ.

The article goes on to explain what kind of services the new spiritual organization provides:

Besides the regular weekly interdenominational Christian services, the fourth Sunday of each month features another faith tradition. A Muslim imam has spoken; so have a Buddhist representative, a Sikh and an American Indian. Next month, the service will focus on Middle East peace.

The Sunday gathering is called an "ecumenical forum," not a worship service. There are no church members, but "friends."

"The Experience is not just another church," it declares about itself. It "provides a gathering place to understand and explore the spiritual wisdom of all religions, and to consider the beliefs of agnostics and atheists.

… As we begin to understand the important contributions of our diversity, we establish the groundwork to trust and cooperate effectively in addressing our personal and global challenges in this 21st century."

Thompson is of course now free to follow the direction he was already heading. He believes only in faith, not in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Any kind of faith is acceptable to him, except perhaps that faith which sees Jesus Christ as the only way.

But once again, as is usual in most newspaper articles it is explained that Thompson was forced to resign because he advocated for the ordination of practicing homosexuals. That he had in fact ordained two elders who were homosexuals. As the article states, “One of them was Darrick Lawson, an openly gay pastor's son whose ordination as a deacon at Westminster by Thompson helped lead to his demise.”

But that isn’t the reason that Thompson was asked to leave. And this is where the letter comes in, and the feeling about not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The letter begins:

As the gay son of a Presbyterian minister, my parents, my partner and I are proud members of Westminster Presbyterian Church. I am concerned that the message from David Thompson continues to be that he was forced out at Westminster because of his support for gay rights. That is not the truth.
He continues:
Darrick Lawson was not the first gay man elected to church office, nor the last. My partner was recently ordained as a deacon.
This is a picture of our denomination. We are a needy Church whose members need once again to lift up Jesus, his sacrifice, his redemption, his transformation. These poor broken people, and we all are, need their lives changed by the love of Jesus Christ. For all of us it is hard to lay down our lives and give them over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but that is his calling to those who belong to him.

"But you beloved, building yourselves up in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. (Jude 20-23)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Peacemaking: the roots are biblical

The LA times in their Middle East section, which they call, “Babylon & Beyond: Observations From Iraq, Iran, Israel, the Arab World and Beyond,” has news of a new Palestine National Orchestra. This is a good article it speaks of something worthwhile that is happening in that troubled part of the world. It also reveals the existence of a music conservatory for Palestinian students, The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which has existed since the mid-nineties.

So what is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA’s take on this article which they linked to?

One of the commenters, Daniel Quinn, writes, “Lovely... A bit miffed (but not surprised) that the Zionist mouthpiece in LA mentions an ancient Iraqi city that no longer exists whilst referring to the PALESTINE NATIONAL ORCHESTRA, giving ownership of the event to Israel and, oh yeah, the Arab world and beyond.” [Please note that the LA Times is being referred to as a Zionist mouthpiece.]

He undoubtedly did not notice that all Middle East news comes under the heading Babylon & Beyond. But, then, neither did IPMN’s chair of their communications, Noushin Framke. She responded, "totally agree with you re: Babylon being evoked with present middle east by LA Times - Babylon, center of depravity, Babylon, place of exile for the Jews, Babylon, defeated and pulverized... In the middle east, Babylon is depicted in a very different light in history books... "

Note there is no comment about the reference to the LA Times as a Zionist mouthpiece and one wonders what the last sentence means.

And then there is a link to PACBI-Listen to Our Voice!. IPMN writes beside the link, “Many IPMN fans and members have approved of the ONE VOICE movement but this PACBI report tells of why it is one-sided, engaging Palestinian youth without recognizing their inalienable rights. Please read & file this important and revealing report”

Yes, this is a link to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. And the thought here is that the organization OneVoice to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, is a problem.

This is what OneVoice writes about their purpose:

OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward a two-state solution. The movement works to forge consensus for conflict resolution and build a human infrastructure capable of mobilizing the people toward a negotiated, comprehensive and permanent agreement between Israel and Palestine that ends the occupation, ensures security and peace for both sides, and solves all final-status issues in accordance with international law and previous bilateral agreements. The 1967 borders form the basis for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state, with permanent borders and any modifications to be agreed upon by both parties. The movement recognizes that violence by either side will never be a means to end the conflict.
Please explore the site it has some wonderful projects, including: Imagining Bethlehem: 1,000 children discover the city, and OVP's Christmas trees are full of visions and wishes.

So what does the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel have to say about OneVoice? It is a long article but they begin, “From time to time, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) brings to the attention of BDS activists, both in Palestine and abroad, Palestinian-Israeli joint activities that, while purporting to further “peace,” in fact pursue an agenda that is harmful to the realization of just peace and Palestinian rights.”

The main focus of their disagreement is that OneVoice encourages the young people of both sides to be patriotic and care about their own nationalities while at the same time respecting each other. For PACBI there is an insistence that the Israeli youth should stand against their country and accept that Israel’s complete history has to do with colonialism and apartheid. They summarize this way:

It is clear that OneVoice is one of those projects that bring Palestinians and Israelis together, not to jointly struggle against Israel’s colonial and apartheid policies, but rather to provide a limited program of action under the slogan of an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state. In essence, however, and by ignoring the history and reality of the apartheid and colonial system in place, OneVoice and similar programs serve to normalize oppression and injustice. The fact that OneVoice treats the “nationalisms” and “patriotisms” of the two “sides” as if on par with one another and equally valid is a telling indicator. (Bold mine)
The truth is that most of the BDS movement including the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel are focused on a one state solution which excludes a Jewish State. In the midst of a sea of Arab States as well as Iran the elimination of the two state solution is an unconscionable goal. In the midst of the continued hatred of the Jewish people the elimination of the only Jewish State in the world would be a disaster.

And to insist that young people must bad mouth or reject their own culture and nation in order to be legitimate in their pursuit of peace is unacceptable peacemaking.

While we should have no problem with an organization like PACBI refusing to have anything to do with those organizations that do not ascribe to their political views, we should have problems with a Presbyterian organization such as IPMN that ascribes to a one sided ideology which is not concerned with true peacemaking. IPMN so identifies with radical thinkers that they have begun turning their backs on valuable peacemaking organizations. They have stepped outside of the confines of the beatitudes of Matthew 5 and turned instead to a radical solidarity movement that excludes everyone but radicals.

One cannot be a peacemaker and ignore the love of Christ for the sinner which includes one's self. To live into that love demands calling sin and sinner to account But love must be there in words as well as actions. To reject the loving peacemaking of others because one party will not hate is shameful. And to allow 'fans' to call others names without correction is politics not loving concern.

Corrie ten Boon in her book The Hiding Place tells how she and her sister realized that in the midst of such horrendous wickedness, in the concentration camp where they were imprisoned, still they were accountable for their own seemingly lesser sins. Jesus Christ is to be honored by our lives including our words and thoughts. True peacemaking should be honored; false peacemaking as ideology and revenge is a cancer on the body of Christ.

This video has 'almost' nothing to do with what I have just written, but I think I will put it here It is part of a true story that I have just mentioned.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Time for a holy Sabbath

Have you ever felt too tired for any more words? Sometimes there is nothing left to say. Sometimes it is time for God’s word and time to seek God in song. It is time to hand it over to Him, to his love, care and keeping power. Time for a holy Sabbath.

Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice , acceptable to God , which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)