And it shall be . . .

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Isaiah 24:2 “And it shall be: As with the people, so with the priest; As with the servant, so with his master; As with the maid, so with her mistress; As with the buyer, so with the seller; As with the lender, so with the borrower; As with the creditor, so with the debtor.”

     This is the opposite of the trickle down effect!  We are inclined to think that the rich and  powerful shape the social environment for us all.  Here we have Isaiah predicting a time everything gets turned ‘up-side down’.  In our time it’s hard enough for a person to move up in our money and prestige class system; how much harder is it for the masses to effect the elite they way Isaiah foretells.  Not as ‘hard’ as we may think.

 The prophet Hosea claims the same for the religious rulers; “They feed on the sin of My people And direct their desire toward their iniquity. And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways And repay them for their deeds. They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.” (Hosea 4:8-10)  Hosea tells us that the religious rulers have stopped following the LORD.  They prance around in pretty vestments but have emptied their station of any real authority and power.  Yet, they will have ravenous appetites.

     Isaiah says the same; “The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate. . . ” (Isaiah 24:3-6)   The Bible tells us that not only will people languish – ruler and regular guy alike, but also the land will be consumed and polluted.

     When societies lose their direction, when leaders wander because they have lost their way a spiritual vacuum occurs in the ‘upper stratosphere’ of society.  An unholy updraft occurs that carries all that is base and broken in the struggling masses and it  moves upwards into the ‘privileged’ sector of society.  Those who fancy themselves so good and so wealthy that they are ‘immune’ to the diversions and appetites of the masses become besotted with the very things they look down on.  They eat and never have enough.  They play the harlot but do not increase.

     A spiritual ‘trickle up‘ effect becomes predominant.  Those that rule cater to the coarser appetites of the people who they should be calling to higher standards to the point that they themselves and their children hunger for those very things.  They believe their own lies and take the very yoke they entice or try to please others with upon themselves.

     How does all of this work in our church fellowships today?  People and priest alike dance an unholy pirouette around each other leaving God right out of the relationship.  Ed Stelzer describes the dynamic; “Believers who think like customers contribute to the underachieving church in America. The damages move far beyond ineptness at engaging the mission of God. The incessant demands of a consumer congregation cause irreparable damage to those who lead such congregations. Some of the consumer demands are based on pastoral perception, too. Pastors often experience chronic anxiety because they fear their flock.”  The pastor’s fear of God is replaced by the fear of man!

     What happens to the Pastor? Ed Stelzer writes; “A codependent pastor needs a needy congregation. And we have too many of both.  . . . It is a vicious cycle where everyone ends up disappointed—including God, . . . .  The pastor who insists on being the focus of local ministry trains the body of Christ to sin; believers who demand all ministry to be done by ‘professionals’ lead the pastor to sin. So who started all of this dysfunction? Was it the needy, consumer-driven congregation? Or was it the pastor, hungry for significance? ”   This social dynamic works much like a fractal at all scales of social organization from the local community to national politics, from the sacred to the secular.

     How do we get out of this unholy codependent dance with our leaders?  How do our leaders redeem themselves and their people?  There is only one way out.  The apostle Peter tells us the way in his confrontation with the leaders of his day; “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:30-32)

     As a nation, as a community, as a Christian fellowship, as leaders and as citizens we must recognize and follow the one true King;  “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11)

     Come Lord Jesus!

Justice that saves.

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Isaiah 11:3,4 “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.”

     Is there a justice that goes beyond what is seen or can be shown?  Is there a justice that looks deeper than the facts of what happened and who did it?  Is there a justice that does more than restrains and punishes?  Where can we look for justice that really sets things right.  Is there a justice that transforms?  Is there a justice that saves?

The Bible speaks of such a justice system; “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. . . .  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)  God’s justice is based the capital punishment of One for all.  Jesus died for us so that we might live for Him.

     This justice compels because there is no compromise in it.  And yet it’s mercy extends to all.  It overturned the entirely merited death sentence of mankind by the capital punishment of the One who made no transgressions; “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18,19)

     This is the justice that restores; “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  (2 Corinthians 5:18,19)  Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

     Even by our own laws and justice we stand condemned.  We stand condemned individually because we are bystanders to crimes committed throughout the world.  We do nothing about it.  We stand condemned corporately because our industry, polity and commerce manufactures inequity and misery.  We live luxuriously while others starve and are killed.

     Jesus knew what we are and He still offered Himself for us; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   Love compels.  All are  compelled to chose because of this uncompromising pure act of love.  We can accept the justice that saves or reject it. We cannot sidestep it.  We are compelled to respond.  The witness of Jesus Christ to the world cannot be ignored, silenced or erased.

     And not responding is responding because all will have to acknowledge Christ in the end; “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)

     From a worldly point of view it’s completely crazy that one innocent man should die for every guilty person deserving capital punishment for all time.  What kind of justice is that?  The world would be completely turned around if God’s justice system took hold.  Many don’t want that.  The world’s justice system and God’s oppose each other;  “Why do the nations rage,and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1-3)  The powers of this world do everything they can to silence the Gospel.

     The Bible tells us without any doubt that we are all going to stand before His justice; “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) What any person do to prepare?   The answer is simple.  Believe; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

      Scripture tells us the heart of our Judge and the humility of those who are righteous; “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:37-40)

     Jesus came on a mission from God; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed . . . ” (Luke 4:18)

     Come Lord Jesus!


Why the terror and mayhem?

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We look aghast at the news of terrorism, mayhem and violence in the world.  It isn’t just in far away strange countries anymore. The violence and killing is here!  It  is on the streets of our nation’s capital.  Killing in the name of terror is in the parking lot of the shopping mall.  Hate and violence is in our neighborhoods and even next door.  Why?  What’s driving it.

Kelly McParland in looking at  the terrorism in Africa and France observes;

 Most Canadians can’t comprehend organizations like ISIS, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram, which ruthlessly employ murder and mayhem to halt any movement towards democracy, tolerance or individual rights, which serve as the very foundations of western culture. While determined to stop the spread of extremism, Western authorities remain uncertain on how to go about it. They hope that in a country like France, with a determined government, professional police force and reliable institutions, some headway can be made. In Nigeria, which has none of these assets, westerners can’t even pretend to know what to do. So they don’t.

It’s that admission of hopelessness that is behind the differing reactions to the atrocities in Paris and Baga. In France we think we can help. In Nigeria we have no idea how.

Why an atrocity in Paris is different from an atrocity in Nigeria, National Post,  Kelly McParland,  January 15, 2015

Rex Murphy ponders why the world reacts differently to the terrorism in France and in Africa.  Is Kelly McParland’s theory correct?  We think we know what to do in France but in Nigeria we don’t.  Common sense tells us that often there is a big difference in thinking you know what to do and actually knowing what to do.

If you know the cause of a problem you have important insight about what to do about it.  There seems to be as many theories of the cause of terrorism as there are terrorist groups.  Amy Zalman in her discussion of what causes terrorism argues;

 In fact, the question, “what causes terrorism?” is not quite the right question to be asking, because we will never be able to answer it. We cannot say that the presence of one factor provokes terrorism in the same way that we can say with scientific certainty that certain toxins cause diseases.

The Causes of Terrorism by Amy Zalman, Ph.D. http://terrorism.about.com/od/causes/a/causes_terror.htm

If we cannot say ‘scientifically’, sociologically or politically with any certainty what the root causes of terrorism are, do these theories really give us any great insight as to what to do about it?   And there is the real problem for all who simply wish to live free and peaceably – you cannot effectively deal with something you don’t understand.

The answer is spiritual.  Terrorism is evil.  Evil wears many faces and belongs to all sorts of religions.  Evil is an atheist, a theist, a pagan and an agnostic.  Evil is an equal opportunity killer and hates all races, creeds and colors.  Evil wears military ‘camo’ and religious vestments.  Evil rides a horse and drives a tank.  Evil sits behind a desk, speaks in corporate board rooms and lectures in universities.  In all ways, in all manifestations, evil has one telling mark – it devours!

The Holy Bible tells us plainly what is happening and gives us the history of it;

 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.. . . Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:7-9,12)

Scripture tells us what is happening right now and what we can do about it on a personal level;

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:7-9)

And who we can follow to victory and safety;

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33)

Sadly, many prefer putting up with evil and terrorism.

Why will the poor always be with us?

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Two thousand years ago, Jesus said that the poor will always be with us but we wouldn’t always have Him.  He was right.

Rich people get richer and poor people increase.  The Huffington Post reports;

 The rich keep getting richer, and by next year, just a handful of the upper-class will have accumulated more than half of the world’s wealth.

A new report released on Monday by Oxfam warns that this deepening global inequality is unlike anything seen in recent years.

Using research from Credit Suisse and Forbes’ annual billionaires list, the anti-poverty charity was able to determine that the richest 1 percent of the world’s population currently controls 48 percent of the world’s total wealth.

If trends continue, Oxfam predicts that the most-affluent will possess more wealth than the remaining 99 percent by 2016, The New York Times reported.

 Richest 1 Percent To Own More Than Half Of The World’s Wealth By 2016, The Huffington Post, by Jade Walker, Posted: 01/19/2015

Why?  The world we live in is incompatible with Jesus and His kingdom.  More often than not a  good deed or outreach to the poor is tainted by baser motives of selfishness.  When you’ve got a lot it so easy to feel really good when you give a little to charity.  We even get tax receipts!

The opening of John 12 describes the scene where Jesus is having supper with close friends and disciples  Mary, the sister of His host lavished some expensive perfume on Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.  One of His disciples complained; “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”  (v. 5) This sounds like a good question. It certainly makes the disciple look good at first glance.  Scripture goes on to reveal the deeper more selfish motive behind the disciples outrage at the ‘waste’; “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”  (v. 6)  Jesus stepped in to defend the woman by revealing her motive; “Leave her alone, . . . It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (v. 7,8)

 As this was happening this passage describes the storm clouds gathering against Jesus; “. . . a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.”  (v. 9-11)  The world is hostile to Jesus and since the beginning has sought by any means to suppress His message and followers.  Organized religion is more often a willing accomplice if not outright instigator of this persecution.

Here in North America we try to kill Jesus by drowning Him in luxuries and blinding Him with the glare and glitter of plasma TV’s and other consumer goods.  We’re not fooling anybody but ourselves.  Jeff Goins calls it like he sees it in his ‘letter to the affluent church’;

Please stop complaining about the economic difficulties in America. Seriously. It’s beginning to bug me. I’m bothered by the tough employment situation as much as the next person, but I just can’t help but be irked by how you’re coping with this so-called crisis. So, if you don’t mind, please stop your whining.

Please stop thinking that the “blessed are the poor” verse in the Beatitudes now applies to you, because you had to stop going out to eat more than once a week. I would appreciate it if you would stop lamenting how you’re strapped for cash and forced to “cut costs” just after you bought your teenager her very own cell phone with text messaging plan. There are real people who are hurting during this time, and it’s apparently not you. Not while your kids play their hand-held video games in the backseat of the Suburban and you and the Mrs. enjoy worship tunes blasting from the iPod. Not while you drink Starbucks coffee after church and spend your Sundays taking naps in a well-heated home.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/poverty/features/16122-a-letter-to-the-affluent-church#fHMLExzfriwcy0cU.99

What can you do about it?  Get to know your neighbour.  If he or she is in need – help them!  Share what you have, use less and take some time to talk to old people, sick people, people in trouble, and smelly people.  True charity isn’t rocket science it’s love in action.

The Bible tells us what true religion is; “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  (James 1:27)

How the world would change if even those who call themselves Christians would get completely into religion in ‘pure and faultless’ way?

Jesus told us what  is righteous; “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)

Until His returns the poor will always be with us.

Wizards, mediums and all unholy things of magic!

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Isaiah 8:19,20 ” And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

     There is so much uncertainty today.  People are anxious and look for any kind of advice that they feel is special and ‘out of the ordinary’. Others just think magic, spirits and wizardry is a welcome break from a hard world. Death and loss of a loved one is more than some can bear.   They can’t let go and look to mediums to help them connect with the ‘spirits’ of their loved ones. Sadly this kind of go between contact often ends up more frustrating and painful than the loss was.  As this scripture underscores – where is the common sense in that?

     Barnes’ Notes tells us; “Among pagan nations, nothing was more common than for persons to profess to have contact with spirits, and to be under the influence of their inspiration. The oracle at Delphi, of this nature, was celebrated throughout Greece, and throughout the world. Kings and princes, warriors and nations, sought of the priestess who presided there, responses in undertaking any important enterprise, and were guided by her instructions”.  And so it is with us,  Contrary to what people think, paganism runs strong in North America.

     Our kings and princes of Hollywood and Netflix often profess their belief in the spirits of the dead and other forms of sorcery.  School systems and their officials promote sorcery in the classrooms; “The reading phenomenon known as ‘Harry Potter’ is sweeping the globe, and it truly has an international presence as readers in 200 nations, in over 40 languages, indulge in this series. A U.S. consumer research survey reports that ‘over half of all children between the ages of 6 and 17 have read at least one Harry Potter book.’ With the financial backing of Warner Brothers, Mattel, Coca Cola, and Scholastic, Inc., Potter is sure to be a force to reckon with for years to come. Public school educators and many parents in America are thrilled with a series that has captured the imagination of children like no other in history, prompting a revived interest in reading. Reading is a good thing, but not all is as innocent as Potter fans would have others believe.” (ChristianAnswers.Net)

     Oddly in a technologically advanced ‘first world’ nation many retreat into what they think is a fantasy world of witchcraft, astrology and magic.  Some believe magic is ‘ok’ as long as it is ‘white’ magic done for good.  This is a delusion from the pit of hell.  The Bible tells us; “”Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21)  The occult and witchcraft isn’t fake and harmless it’s real and deadly.

     People who retreat into the fantasy of ‘Harry Potter’ and what they think is make believe and just good fun turn  away from the Word of God when they do this.  The Bible tells us that witchcraft and the occult is real and deadly.  It should not be dabbled with.  Christians who ‘play around’ with Ouija boards or promote any kind of acceptance of witchcraft are either ignorant or deceived or both.  They don’t know the Bible or they don’t believe what it says.

     Isaiah plainly tells us that if what we say and do doesn’t line up with God’s Word there is no light in it.  The promotion or acceptance of any kind of sorcery, magic, astrology or witchcraft is evil.  Not because these things are pretend but because they are real and put people’s eternal souls at risk.   Why would parents and educators deal in this stuff?  Because our world has become pagan to the core.    Few believe God’s Word anymore.  Sadly even those who profess to call themselves after Him will be drawn into these things because they slip out of His Word.

    Scripture warns us; “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,  and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)  Set aside your horoscope,  popular books on witchcraft and  praise for ‘white magic’.  All of it is a dark lie and unholy.

     It’s so easy to start loving the unholy things of this world because they are available popular and seem like good fun.    It can be very lonely to stand up for what the Bible tells us especially when many including confessing ‘Christians’ are going along with witchcraft, Harry Potter and the occult.

     The Bible tells us;  “. . .  do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

     Come Lord Jesus!

It’s not about the cartoons!

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Years ago as a small child I endured a great deal of bullying in the school yard.  I remember wondering why the kids didn’t like me?  I thought if I just tried harder to please them and not get them mad at me I wouldn’t be bullied.  I remember after one particularly nasty hurtful episode wondering; ‘Why did they beat me up, I thought they liked me!’

As a child I didn’t understand that there wasn’t anything I could do or say  that would change their dislike of me because it was who I was that they hated not my actions or appearance.  To them, I was a dirty immigrant kid and that would never change in their minds no matter what I did or didn’t do.

I wonder if a lot of the terrorism that occurs today has its roots in something even more sinister and deeper  than ‘revenge for insults’.

Some tells us that the terrorists attack because they are retaliating for offenses to their religion.  Jen Gerson argues that the offensive cartoons were the cause of the terrible massacre in France;

 Don’t be naive: this isn’t about the racism of the French state. It’s about a trio of fanatics who murdered innocent people for insulting Islam in a bid to frighten others from doing the same. And when Canadian news outlets avoid running the cartoons, the effort succeeds.

Others believe that the cartoons are offensive and they should not be re-published as some sort of ‘push back’.

In his email to CBC staffers, Mr. Studer continued: “We wouldn’t have published these images before today — not out of fear, but out of respect for the beliefs and sensibilities of the mass of Muslim believers. Why would the actions of a gang of violent thugs force us to change that position? This isn’t the time for emotional responses or bravado. There are better ways to honour and stand beside our fellow journalists.”

Jen Gerson, National Post,   Canada’s media talks tough, treads carefully over Hebdo cartoons, January 9, 2015

Does it matter whether or not  the cartoons are re-published?  Not to the terrorists.  What cartoons can be blamed for the attack on our soldiers guarding the War Memorial last October?

What are the  issues that the terrorists have with the West?  Stewart Bell’s article in the National Post sheds some light on the rational for the October attacks in Canada.  In discussing, John Maquire’s video, (one of our homegrown terrorists) he writes;

 The video refers repeatedly to the October killings of two Canadian Forces members in Quebec and Ottawa by men who had adopted Islamist extremist beliefs. It said the attacks were a “direct response” to Canada’s military role in Iraq.

“The more bombs you drop on our people, the more Muslims will realize and understand that today, waging jihad against the West and its allies around the world is beyond a shadow of the doubt a religious obligation binding upon every Muslim.”

Responding to the video, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said terrorism remained a serious threat to Canadians. “That is why we are taking part in the coalition that is currently conducting air strikes against ISIL [another acronym for ISIS], and supporting the security forces in Iraq in their fight against this terrorist scourge.”

ISIS fighter from Ottawa appears in video threatening Canada with attacks ‘where it hurts you the most’,   Stewart Bell, National Post, December 7, 2014

What are the roots of this rage against the west?   Bernard Lewis in his essay “The revolt of Islam” writes:

 Almost the entire Muslim world is affected by poverty and tyranny. Both of these problems are attributed, especially by those with an interest in diverting attention from themselves, to America—the first to American economic dominance and exploitation, now thinly disguised as “globalization”; the second to America’s support for the many so-called Muslim tyrants who serve its purposes. Globalization has become a major theme in the Arab media, and it is almost always raised in connection with American economic penetration. The increasingly wretched economic situation in most of the Muslim world, relative not only to the West but also to the tiger economies of East Asia, fuels these frustrations. American paramountcy, as Middle Easterners see it, indicates where to direct the blame and the resulting hostility.

The New Yorker, November 19, 2001

It isn’t about cartoons or perceived religious insensitivity or lack of tolerance – it’s about hate!  Religion is being used to add fuel to the fire and to kindle  violence.  That’s nothing new and nothing specific to any particular religion.  Many hateful  murderous tyrants  shout and snarl, God is with us!’  They have in the past, they do now and will in the future.

It is beginning to dawn on people that it doesn’t matter what we say or don’t say.  It doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do with respect to these terrorists.

It does matter to us.  Some actions we do, we do to our detriment.  Rex Murphy points to the real damage done to our way of life by bending backwards into pretzel like contortions to appease those which can never be appeased;

 This part of the world has a sack full of pieties when it comes to free speech, but its own actions, and frequently its own words, put the lie to all of them. Bowing to ruthless protest has become a habit. Labelling speech some people simply do not wish to hear as “hate speech” succeeds in silencing it. In matters big and small, on issues from global warming to abortion, there is collusion — we call it political correctness — over what should not be said, what cannot be said.

It’s worth adding too that there is no such fastidiousness when it comes to images rebuking, mocking, insulting or demeaning any of the symbols — the cross, the host, the mass — of the Christian faith. The North American media and so-called comedy shows make a tiresome habit of slandering or crudely defaming the majority faith of the North American continent, all the while lying — yes lying — that they are equal opportunity offenders.

We are not Charlie Hebdo, National Post, Rex Murphy, January 10, 2015

The  hard lesson that I had to learn as a child under a continual barrage of bullying and violence was that it didn’t matter what I said or didn’t say.  It didn’t matter what i did or didn’t do, my tormentors still hated me.  It wasn’t about me it was about them and their hatred of me!

In dealing with the bullies in the school yard, I learned that I had to have enough self-respect to stand up for myself and my family.  That didn’t mean disrespect for others that I thought couldn’t or wouldn’t hurt me.  It meant being respectful to all and not just trying to appease the bullies by being careful not to ‘offend’ them.  It meant insisting that others respect me for who I was.

We have to stand up for ourselves as a community and as a nation within a global community.

It isn’t about the cartoons!  It’s about freedom and what’s right, for us and for all.

And the need to stand up for it!

Trust Me enough not to test Me!

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Belief is beyond lip service and going along with the crowd to ‘look’ good.  Belief means trust.  And trust is demonstrated by your choices.

God made it very clear that His people were to have no other gods before Him; “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you — for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:14-16)

What happened at Massah?

 The occasion where the Israelites tested God at Massah is found in Exodus 17.  As God was leading Moses and His people toward the Promised Land, they camped at a place where there was no water. The Israelites’ immediate reaction was to grumble against God and quarrel with Moses (Exodus 17:1–3). Their lack of trust in God to take care of them is evident in their accusations toward Moses: “They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’” (Exodus 17:3). The Israelites were obviously in a situation where they needed God to intervene. The point at which they tested God, though, is when doubt and fear overtook them and they came to the conclusion that God had abandoned them (see Exodus 17:7). They questioned God’s reliability because He was not meeting their expectations.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/test-God.html#ixzz3OYlX1Qv6

Satan tried to lure Jesus into this sin when He was forty days and nights in the wilderness:

 Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 in the wilderness, in response to one of Satan’s temptations. “The devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”’” (Matthew 4:7—10). Essentially, the devil was telling Jesus to “prove” God’s Word was true by forcing God’s hand—if Jesus was in peril, God would have to save Him. Jesus refused to test God in such a way. We are to accept God’s Word by faith, without requiring a sign (see Luke 11:29). God’s promises are there for us when we need them; to manipulate situations in an attempt to coerce God into fulfilling His promises is evil.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/test-God.html#ixzz3OYmOSXW9

I know of two instances in the Bible where God invited people to test Him.  The first instance involves King Ahaz:

 “‘Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above. But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!’ And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:11-14)

King Ahaz seems to be very pious and righteous but he didn’t fool God.  God told Isaiah to confront Ahaz; “. . . but will ye weary my God also?”   King Ahaz was really a ‘double dealing’ hypocrite.  King Ahaz had other plans. He was going to ‘take care of business’ himself. He’d made a deal with the King of Assyria to come and help him; “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am your servant and son. Come up and save me out of the hands of the kings of Syria and of Israel, who are attacking me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 16:7,8)  Not only did King Ahaz trust men more than God he also stole from God to pay for his ‘deliverance’.  Ahaz was so unlike Jesus who had compete and utter trust in God!

King Ahaz was into idolatry. He set up an altar to the god of the King of Assyria; “King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria. When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Ahaz sent a model of the altar and complete plans for its construction to Uriah the priest. Uriah built the altar according to all the instructions King Ahaz sent from Damascus. Therefore, by the time King Ahaz came back from Damascus, Uriah the priest had completed it.” (2 Kings 10;10,11) There is always an unfaithful priest willing to pander to idolatry if a ruler of this world asks for it. And both double-dealing ruler and his priest flunky think no one notices!

In this instance, God through his prophet Isaiah was confronting King Ahaz calling him out for his double-dealing idolatry and theft from God!

The second place where God invites people to test him is in the last book of the Old Testament;

Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” This is the only situation given in the Bible in which God tells His people to “test” Him. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for “test” in this verse is bachan, which means “to examine, scrutinize, or prove (as in gold, persons, or the heart).” Just as gold is “tested” with fire to prove its quality, God invites Israel to test Him in tithes and offerings and see that He proves His faithfulness in response.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/test-God.html#ixzz3OYpdIGv3

This instance differs from the first because God was confronting Ahaz  as an individual and here, He is encouraging the Israelites as a nation to trust Him.  And yet, this instance is similar because God is confronting the entire Israelite people of stealing from him like King Ahaz did; “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:7,8)

So far the only Person living a flesh and blood existence in the world  that could be completely faithful to God was Jesus.  Times haven’t changed.

Individually and corporately we fail to trust God time and time again.  As a nation we have turned from Him and now chase after other gods.  Some of the false gods we chase after as a nation are ‘political correctness’, tolerance, and science.  These golden calves trump all common sense.  The first to grab the horn of the altar to these false gods wins all.

Individually we stumble in fear and fail to trust God’s promises every day.  Does disease and illness scare you more than being abandoned by God?  Personal gods of success and happiness are empty silent idols when the dark night of troubled times comes upon us.  If God has delivered you from an illness do you ever doubt Him and think; ‘Oh no! it’s coming back!’  I have!  Sometimes in great distress people will even grumble against God as they did at Massah.  If things aren’t going your way and misfortune looms do you get angry at God and blame Him.   I have.   Maybe you have.

Our modern day idolatry and our fears rob God of the offering every person can make – our trust!   God will forgive our fearful stumbling.  Pride full double dealing like King Ahaz’s will destroy us not only individually but corporately as a nation!

Here’s a promise that we can all count on.  Here’s a promise that we all desperately need; “. . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Thank you Jesus for repentance and grace!

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