Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sexual Abuse of Children – America’s Secret

Over the past few months, a few conservative TV and radio hosts have been lamenting the increase instances of child sexual predators being given lenient jail sentences or no jail time altogether by many judges throughout the country. Two-fold is their justifiable disgust, in that a) many in the judicial system seem to give more deference to the so-called “mental illness” of the vultures who prey on innocent children and b) the fact that there is so little outrage about this subject by the vast majority of those in the press, the electronic media, politicians or the general public.

I believe the cause of this seeming indifference to exposing and cracking down hard on child sexual abusers is the fact that this problem is and has been the dirty little secret that infects a significant portion of families throughout the United States. Many all-American families contain both victims and victimizers of child sexual abuse. Typically the victims are so traumatized by their abuse that they are simply unable to address it publicly. There is also fear that if they speak out they will be challenged by the authorities and violated all over again, not believed by family members and treated as the accused rather than as the victim. Instead, they live out their lives in shattered trauma under its tremendous strain – as it influences most everything they do and most relationships they attempt to have. The victimizers (of which there are probably millions) are kept hidden by those who are fully aware of their crimes, mostly to avoid the embarrassment and disruption of their family’s seemingly all-American existence. These enablers – most of whom are probably spouses as well as assorted family members, are far more interested in maintaining their "standards of living", as opposed to telling the truth or truly supporting the victims of these disasters, namely the children in their families.

It is this “train-wreck” of the American way of life that I believe is the main reason why today’s child predators receive the kid-glove treatment from most in positions of authority. Many in these positions of authority are themselves touched very personally by this all-American disease – either as the victims or the victimizers. But the Lord who always has the final word says this: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14 NIV).

God however is also very very merciful. For the victims He and He alone offers the opportunity to rise above this attack that is undoubtedly authored from the pit of hell. The Bible says to you: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-11 NIV); God also says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13: 5-6 NIV).

To the victimizers of child sexual abuse the Bible says to you: From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17 NIV); I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7 NIV); And if I say to the wicked man, `You will surely die,' but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right-- if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live. (Ezekiel 33:14-16 NIV).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Lie that is "Mother Nature”

Today is the first day of spring, and like clockwork the violent weather of thunderstorms and tornadoes has begun primarily in the plain states with the usual devastating consequences for those in the paths of these weather systems. I happen to be watching the Weather Channel this evening, and there was video footage of a woman, whose roof was ripped off by a tornado last week, and whose remaining house was being imperiled by a snowstorm this week. Among the comments of another man similarly affected was the fact that “…mother nature sure can be violent”. Cut away then to the Weather Channel anchor whose comment, introducing the next story about a drastic change in the weather pattern in the southeast, was that “mother nature is at it again…”

I just have one question: who is mother nature? It is an extremely common phrase that is used by millions throughout the United States to allude to the ubiquitous and oftentimes overpowering presence of the weather over the daily affairs of people (an ironic sidebar is that when doing the spell check for this blog, I was instructed by Microsoft’s spell-check tool that the phrase ‘mother nature’ ought to be capitalized – which I happily ignored!) I submit that this phrase is yet again another way that this godless society demonstrates it’s disregard for God as the true controller of nature and everything else that affects people’s lives.

However, let’s see how much clarity God wanted us to have, that He alone is the author of all that is the weather in this world, as recorded throughout His Bible: When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens--and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground…(Genesis 2:4); "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit." (Leviticus 26:3); Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the LORD's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17); "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his…if he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. (Job 12:13&15); Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea… (Exodus 10:18-19); For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD… (2 Kings 3:17-18); When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. (Jeremiah 51:16)

I know there are many who will say that my harping on the fact that people routinely say “mother nature” is an example of me being just another religious nut. However, if necessary, I will be a religious nut to defend the fact that God should get every acknowledgement that is due Him for His sovereign control of everything that occurs in the natural realm of this world. In effect, the Bible states it this way: But God's angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 The Message Bible)

(All scripture courtesy of the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

South Dakota Does It Right

Earlier this week, the state of South Dakota threw off the hypocritical facade of some political moderates within the conservative movement by adopting a statewide ban on all abortion procedures. South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed a bill that bans all abortions except those to protect the life of the woman. The ban is scheduled to be effective July 1st, 2006, and will certainly face hostile opposition. To this I say, finally, someone in government with the “guts” to stand up for God’s principles against the nuanced “intelligence” of man.

To many, an outright ban seems overly harsh, particularly in the cases of rape and incest. Perhaps, however, this issue should be based not on the reflexes of human emotion - which is almost always faulty and dangerous - but on the principle that God, and God alone, be the arbiter of the ending of a human life. Most people get this easily enough when it comes to the case of killing another person whom they can see, touch and feel. That is why it is mainly the criminal mind who actually goes through with a murder. However, a baby in a womb is mostly abstract; you can’t see them, they don’t talk to you, they don’t generally force their persona on the external world. So their deaths are somewhat theoretical and to some debatable. I know however that many a pregnant mother (and some fathers) who unfortunately have gone through with abortions will vehemently disagree with the preceding sentence. And rightfully so! In the Bible, King David probably disagreed as well, as the following poem which he wrote to God attests: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
(Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)

It is the intense sinning of men and women that create the social pre-conditions that require the “need” for abortions to extricate people from unwanted pregnancies. The list of these social conditions is lengthy and full of real broken lives: pre-marital sex, rape, incest, inconvenience, fear of limited resources to support the child, spousal abuse, child abuse or just plain old human selfishness – such as the “I don’t want my body being broken out of shape” syndrome. Whatever the case, America has put over 40 million children to death because of these and other reasons since 1940.

The issue of abortion in general boils down to people’s unwillingness to submit to God’s authority. When a couple gets pregnant and “wants” the baby, there is joy unspeakable with teddy bears and cigars for all. Many unbelievers can even be heard uttering “thank God” once or twice along the way. An indirect but tacit acknowledgement that without God’s permissive will, the joy-giving baby would not have been born. However, when the pregnancy is not planned, not wanted or otherwise inconvenient, suddenly, that same permissive God who again made the decision to give that baby life, is seen as having “no rights” over the body of the woman. The same body that God himself created at the start of that woman’s life.

Pro-abortionists rail against the specter that a woman’s body “is not her own”. But in actuality it is not. It belongs to God. Just as a man’s body is not his own either. It too belongs to God. In the Biblical Book of Genesis, God made it plainly so when He said in response to woman’s first recorded sin: "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children... (Genesis 3:16 NIV) To man as a result of his first recorded sin He said: "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19 NIV)

So you have in the militancy of the pro-abortionists, a direct repudiation of God’s right over the body of a woman. Just like in the perversion of adultery, men are in fact saying to God, you have no rights over my body. However God says: The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it… (Psalms 24:1 NIV)

I give Governor Rounds and the legislators in the state of South Dakota a sincere salute. They are in effect saying that in South Dakota, they will perform no more murders of innocent children for the sake of human convenience. I pray the rest of this country takes notice and follows suit. If not, a patient God will not have patience with America indefinitely. As the Bible puts it: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God…For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10: 26-27; 30-31 NIV)

Slobodan Milosevic’s Likely Fate

Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, died today in prison as a result of his leading role in the Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign that saw thousands of Kosovo Albanians killed during the 1990s. For all his bluster, butchery and self-important preening, Mr. Milosevic ended up at the same place that is decreed by God for everyone: “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).

The awesome thing about God's Gospel is this: God punished Jesus Christ for every life that Slobodan Milosevic butchered. Jesus took Milosevic's punishment - the beatings, the humiliation and the nails through the body. If during his life Milosevic failed to acknowledge Jesus’ death as a substitute for his own, the fate of the “rich man” in the following parable is Milosevic’s position today:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, `Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, `Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' `No, father Abraham,' he said, `but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' (Luke 16:19-31 NIV)

Since it is appointed to everyone to die once and then to face the judgment, I urge every reader of this blog to ask themselves the same question that I proposed for Slobodan Milosevic above. Are you the ‘rich man’ above? Have you accepted that Jesus was punished for every one of your bad deeds as well? If not you will have to answer for them personally (just like the "rich man").

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Godly Town

An interesting development taking place recently is the creation of an all-Catholic community in southwest Florida being funded extensively by Thomas Monaghan, founder of the Domino's Pizza chain. Mr. Monaghan is apparently a devout Catholic who rejects the more liberal tenets of the Catholic Church since the Vatican 2 Council of the 1960s. Actor Mel Gibson is another adherent to this view of Catholicism.

That Mr. Monaghan is attempting to do this, particularly through his own funds in collaboration with others is very understandable, when you consider the day to day existence that is becoming more and more an all out assault against Biblical principles within modern society. To be sure, there will be many Catholics who will welcome the opportunity to live largely insulated from the secular world within this community.

There may be doubts about whether this approach is biblically based particularly if it results in the reduced ability to co-mingle with unbelievers such that the light of Christ cannot be consistently shared with them by those within this community. However, perhaps the lifestyle that is generated by this community may serve to be such a positive contrast against the murder, robbery, child abuse and general mayhem of our regular society, that it will in and of itself be a witness to those “outside” who don’t believe. Certainly however, the enemies of God will be shining a harsh spotlight looking for every hint of hypocrisy within this town, and broadcasting it to the rafters if they think they find some. The combat will be interesting to watch.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

America’s Christian Star Power

A few years back, the world of the American evangelical elites was rocked when one of their ‘brighter’ lights Bishop Carlton Pearson stunned the Christian community with his embracing of a doctrine of the ‘gospel of inclusion’ which essentially advocates that everyone will go to heaven, regardless of his or her actions on earth. Needless to say Bishop Pearson lost his lofty standing among the evangelical faithful given that this radical concept flies in the face of the written Word of God summed up by Romans 3:23 - This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe... (NIV) The last section of that scripture appears quite conditional: only to all who believe – a clear implication that this imbued righteousness is excluded from those who don’t believe.

Recently, a Dallas Morning News article called attention to the rise back to prominence of Bishop Pearson:

Carlton Pearson has still got it. The dapper clothes. The voluminous vocabulary. The toothy smile. And, perhaps most important, Mr. Pearson still has an unshakable conviction in his controversial "gospel of inclusion"… - The Dallas Morning News
I am bemused by the “it” that Mr. Pearson supposedly still has. Could it be the same “it” that Jesus exalted throughout his earthly ministry? Well let’s continue with the article:

Mr. Pearson maintains that he's on the leading edge of what will eventually become mainstream theology. "Within the next five years, everyone will be preaching inclusion," he said after a recent service in borrowed space at an Episcopal church in Tulsa…A decade ago, Mr. Pearson was atop the evangelical heap…
Now I am certainly not one to cozy up behind the rhetorical subjectivity of the mainstream media (represented here by the Dallas Morning News), as they have a well-earned reputation of hostility to most things Christian. However, I am inclined to suggest here that their choice of words within this article is a fairly representative description of Bishop Pearson’s admitted standing within the evangelical universe prior to his fall. Mr. Pearson's renewed position casts him on the “leading edge”; he is quoted as saying “everyone” will embrace his position. Perhaps he will regain his standing atop the “evangelical heap”. I wonder where Jesus’ words “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:12 NIV) would fit in today’s evangelical universe. I fail to sense any of the humility that Christ exalts within Mr. Pearson’s sentiment. Even if Mr. Pearson is in fact correct in his new found philosophical position, it would have more power if he casts it’s credibility behind the person of Christ rather than the authenticity of Mr. Pearson’s potentially trail blazing position.

It is this ‘star power’ Hollywood mentality that is so unfortunate among some evangelical circles. This celebrity atmosphere is replete with Religious ‘stars’ whose classically posed headshots can be seen adorning the Madison Ave. type commercials on Christian television, heralding their appearances at some upcoming convention or “special appearance” in your area. The latent effect of this marketing environment, is a Christian community who responds not unlike their secular counterparts with such in-Church water cooler talks as “I‘ve got to get my tickets for T.D. Jakes at the convention-center next month…” In the same church, the local pastor bemoans the fact that hardly anyone will turn out for his early morning prayer meetings.

I pray that Christian leaders will begin to recognize the danger in how their marketing creates an exaltation of themselves as the “star attraction” among many churchgoers. I pray that such recognition will bring about a collective refocusing on the reality of Jesus as the only person worth exalting at all times, with all utterances and in all circumstances.

A God who sends people to Hell?