11 items tagged "current event"
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The age of martyrs is now. It is misguided to believe that the worst persecution of Christians took place in the ancient Roman Empire. We are moved by the harrowing accounts of Christians being thrown to lions in the Colosseum, though the numbers may actually be somewhat inflated. The brutality of the First Century Roman persecution was real and those early martyrs should be honored, but in all of human history the most dangerous time to be a Christian is actually right now.
The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America defends her citizens from a governmental restriction on the freedom of religion, free speech and a free press, among others. It needs to be remembered that the constitution does not even claim to grant Americans these rights. The Constitution says these rights are ours already by God's grace. The Bill of Rights rather prohibits the government from infringing on them.
We are currently seeing a dark and frightening place where a blatant new wave of racism and anti-Semitism intersects with these very rights; speech, religion and the press. We are at a sad place when racist and anti-Semitic speech, protected by the constitution, is not reported, called what it is and denounced in the strongest possible terms by a free press, a press which is likewise protected by the constitution.
A tragic percentage of the main line news organizations, while claiming not to be anti-Semitic, are so limp in reporting anti-Jewish, anti-Israel speech as to be complicit. I know that is a strong accusation, but it needs to be made.
In some quarters there is an idea being touted that if we could just understand why terrorists are hurting, we could meet their needs and they, now “healed” as they would be, would stop their killing. Trying to understand the grievances of terrorists is not just futile. It's dangerous. It's dangerous because it presupposes that the complaints of the terrorists are real and that at some point their thoughts and feelings about those wounds are what we would call "normal." Any such effort to impose rational thought on terrorists only plays into the terrorists' hands. Their life and world view, their goals and their “values," are in another realm from ours, a realm so evil that trying to "understand their wound," as some suggest, is actually counter-productive.
Here are five insights into terrorism that must be understood and absolutely must inform the response.
The New York City Human Rights Commission has just ruled that bars can no longer refuse to serve alcohol to obviously pregnant women. It is worth noting here that the mayor of this same New York City, Bill De Blasio, tried to limit the size of a soft drink one could buy, pregnant or not. This intrusive effort was thankfully frustrated by a reasonable court. De Blasio is a radical liberal who would like to use the regulatory powers of government at every level to run the most personal parts of our lives. He and his ilk do not believe we the people have the good judgment to make our own decisions about anything, even what we eat and drink. Drinking a big gulp may be bad for me, but I am loathe to surrender the right to make decisions that are bad for me.
Having said all that, the point of this post is not really about civil liberties. It is rather about values. The paradox in these two stories is obvious and worth noting. One area of a city government, in order to prevent obesity and diabetes, wants to tell me how much soda pop I am allowed to consume, while another, in the same city, will not let bartenders attempt to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome.
"It's my ball and I will take it and go home if I can't play quarterback."
In a certain less-than-prosperous neighborhood in which I lived during junior high school, that was the profoundly irritating mantra of the only boy who actually owned a good football. We had other balls, but mostly they were ragged or too soft or had become waterlogged to the point where they were like throwing bricks. His family was the most prosperous, his house and yard the biggest and best to play in, and his football said “Official NCAA” right on it in big white letters. You just can't ignore words like “Official NCAA.” We wanted to play at his house and use his football. The problem, of course, was that George, for that was his name, was far and away the worst player among us. Especially he was the worst quarterback among us, perhaps in the entire world as far we were concerned.
He was irritating, harshly critical of teammates far better than he and, worst of all, frequently intercepted. George never
On April 18, a terrorist bomb exploded in a bus in South Jerusalem wounding 21 Israeli citizens, some quite seriously. Delighted to see civilians wounded and maimed, Hamas was quick to praise the attack and promised more. A spokesman for the terror organization said it was "the first of many" such attacks to be perpetrated in the future.
That must be troubling and galling for Israelis to hear, but it was hardly the unkindest cut of all. That stab in the back came from US Vice President, Joe Biden who rushed into the post attack trauma with the comforting pronouncement that Palestinian murderers are not entirely to blame for their atrocities. It seems Biden has come to the mind boggling conclusion that blame for Palestinian murder lies at the door of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his policies.
Will Rogers said, "I don't make jokes… I just watch the government and report the facts."
Indeed, watch the goings on in Washington and you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Politicians so often do such goofy things that it almost seems merciless to laugh. Furthermore, when you try to make a point by using a particularly unexplainable leadership mistake by some politician or another, it sounds partisan no matter how you frame it. In addition to that, the current President is such a favorite fall guy of my crowd, that anything I say will just sound like piling on. If I shine a light on Obama's goofy missteps too often it just sounds like the same old Republican porch swing squeaking away.
Having said that, however, when a leader who aught to know better does something so poorly that it hands you the perfect teaching moment, you just cannot pass that up. Did I say poorly? Nix that. Poorly is far too effete a word for the most recent failed performance of Team Obama.
Less than a week ago in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one Mohammad Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marines and a Navy petty officer. I am absolutely certain the President was as shocked and outraged as the rest of us. I do not agree with any suggestion to the contrary. He is the commander-in-chief and five of his best from two branches had been mercilessly slain by a disturbed Islamic terrorist. I know the President must have been deeply saddened. It's not how he felt that caused the flap. It's what he did, or, more precisely didn't do. Or even more precisely didn't do, then did do, but way too late.
I believe the Supreme Court erred in its recent decision to bypass state laws with regard to marriage. I also believe there will be unintended legal and cultural consequences ahead. For example, I cannot see how the Court can now rationally rule against polygamy. I am opposed to the ruling, and I think it augurs badly for the landscape ahead.
This is certainly not to say "ahead" won't be strenuous. It will be. I see very sobering times ahead, including possible punitive governmental actions against churches and pastors, probably through the looming specter of an adversarial, anti-Christian and politicized IRS. I can see tremendous challenges ahead in terms of handling church membership, leadership and various pastoral offices such as weddings, baptisms and baby dedications. It will be an absolute field day for lawyers.
Having said all that, however, I am not in a depressed and frightened panic. I am not moving to the mountains or retreating from society. I refuse to be made fearful, which may cause hardness of heart and even hate. I am determined that God's grace can keep me loving, positive, gracious and hope-filled. Dark days don't have to make for dark Christians. Here are four things with which to encourage yourself in the Lord.
The Sunday after nine of its members, including the pastor, were shot dead, the Christians at The Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC gathered to worship and hear the Word of God. Reverend Norvel Goff preached the sermon, an unenviable task. I have never met the Rev. Norvel Goff, though I sincerely long to. I would not recognize him if he walked into my house but I recognized the Spirit by whom he spoke. I have never attended a worship service at Emmanuel nor, as far as I know, have I met any of its members but I recognized the Spirit in whom they assembled, through whom they worshipped and by whom they found comfort in their grief and grace instead of hatred.
This is the very Spirit of Jesus who, in the hour of His own death, prayed to God for the forgiveness of His murderers. The Spirit of Jesus was mighty in St. Stephen, who in Acts 7, even while being stoned to death, prayed the exact same
This from Middleton, Idaho:
From inside a house already in flames, the firefighters heard cries of "Fire!" and "Help!"
Obviously there were desperate people trapped inside. The brave firefighters fought their way through only to discover not humans but two parrots. There were no people in the house. KBOI TV in Boise reports that the two birds were rescued in time, given oxygen by the firefighters and are doing well. I have so many questions! One is right there. How did they get the oxygen masks on the birds? I'd like to see that.
The report does not include any background information on who taught the birds to cry, “Fire!” and, “Help!” A second question, please. Were the birds owners prescient? Did they have some premonition about a fire in their future or were they preparing the birds just in case?
"You never know. Someday there just might be a fire while we are out of the house and the birds will be ready."
Another provocative option is that the birds were not taught to scream for help. Did they just know what to say? That's a stretch. But then this entire story is a bit of a stretch.
This may very well be the most controversial post ever on The Leaders' Notebook. I need my head examined for even commenting on this little, out-of-the-way story, especially when I know what I say will not sit well with some readers. My wife says, and of course she is right, that as far as needing my head examined goes, this post was superfluous proof. As they say… here goes, plunging right in up to my eyebrows where angels fear to tread.
The girls basketball team at Arroyo Valley High School recently defeated the Bloomington girls by a score of 161-2. Shocking? You betcha. I'm quite sure that such a loss falls squarely in the embarrassing category. I cannot begin to imagine how embarrassing. I had a small taste of it in high school. As a freshman quarterback I once steered my team to