Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

The Signs of the Times

I don’t know for sure that I’m living in “the last days.” I suspect I am, in the biblical sense. For sure, I’m living in MY last days!

I was just telling someone today (oh, and when I did, I wasn’t thinking, “hmmm … this might make a nice post”):

“Let me tell you where I’m coming from … why I’m pastoring The Bridge. I think it’s information you’ll appreciate. When I was asked by my good friend to help out by speaking at Emmanuel Tabernacle from time to time, I saw doing so as temporary. Just for a few months. But it turned out that I really liked the people … and that “like” opened my heart to love them. The crew that was at the church at the time was beat up … bruised. The fights over petty things, and the power plays by some of the leaders, left people shellshocked. My protective instincts kicked in. I wanted to see, with my own eyes, a healing take place. It wasn’t long when they asked me to stay on. In October of last year I felt I had a green light from God to do so. I was on my face (literally on the floor of the former pastor’s office) asking Him, “What am I doing here?” and I felt I heard Him say, “Lowell, I love these people … and I WANT you hear.” It wasn’t a question of what I wanted to do – whether I felt sympathy for them or not. Didn’t matter. God was telling me, “THIS is something I want you to do for Me.”

“I’ve pastored/lead ministries since 1970, but I’ve never felt called to pastor. I have always felt called to do whatever He wanted me to do, where He wanted me to do it, and for how long. That, by no means, makes me an expert on followership. But all that time has allowed me to see and experience a lot. Also, being a preacher’s son, and seeing the ungodly underbelly of the Church from time to time from that perspective (how some in the family of God behave) has also been a part of my life experience, too.

“I haven’t always done so, but early on in my ministry life I decided/determined to be honest, and as transparent as I could be without being shameful or stupid. While I was experiencing the death of my first wife, that approach to ministry was dramatically reinforced. “Life’s too short to mess around” was the big message God gave me during her dying process.

“So … that candor that you heard last Sunday has been “purchased” – I’ve paid for it with the currency of my life. Forty years worth of life.”

I want to be candid without being harsh, and transparent for the sake of others … not because I feel this need to flush my junk out of my system.

I’m looking around me now … at my world … and I’m thinking, “How much longer can this insanity last? When will God say, ‘That’s quite enough!'” I’m watching TV like everyone else. I’m tuned into YouTube. I’m reading the blogs. It’s freaky. With all the reports of natural disasters, wars, the murder of innocents (and the killing of the ‘not innocent’), the economic uncertainty, the famines, etc., wouldn’t you think, “Yep, this is what Jesus, John (the saint/disciple), and the other prophets saw coming.”

Funny thing is, I’m not discouraged. I’m really surprised by that! I’m actually excited … and not because I’m some sicko hoping to see misery piled upon miseries, or like the rubber-neckers who slow down to see if anyone died in the accident. I’m excited because I feel I know what’s coming! And what’s coming will be tough, and will require sold-out determination, rock-solid faith, unwavering trust, and a depth of love I’ve never experienced or lived out but I’ve heard described in the stories of Jesus and His initial followers. But tough or not, it’s great! If … if you believe God’s in it all.

What are the signs of the times? Read Matthew 24, 25 and check out Luke 21. Then … you tell me. Comment. How do you interpret those biblical texts in light of what you’re reading and seeing and feeling right now. I’m interested in what you’re seeing.

Bankrupt? You Don’t Have To Be

Today our President and the Congress debate solutions to the Wall Street crisis of 2008; US politicians are on the TV and the radio, posturing.  All this has become front page news and the lead story of media broadcasts because of the current state of the American economy.  

You know it and I know it:  any fix they come up with will be temporary, just like all the previous fixes.  We can hope for some semblance of financial balance (i.e., restrained government spending, moral investment, honest and honorable leadership, wise and unselfish stewardship of accounts, etc), but given the track record of Washington and Wall Street, would you agree that our hope for long term financial solutions is on thin ice?  

What makes matters worse is the financial track record of most Americans, period.  I think most folks would agree with me again:  we – ourselves – are not reliable when it comes to reigning in personal spending and making wise investment choices.  Most Americans find it a daily challenge to restrain greed – our constant, enduring and ongoing lust for MORE.  We want more of everything – more food, more X-Box games, more skin, more credit, more house, more … more … more!

We have a sin problem at the root of our financial problems.  Actually, every human being has sin as the root of every problem.

Rather than talking about the sin problem, God came up with THE long-term (actually, an eternal) fix.  He came up with THE cure.  He provided THE answer.  He has THE solution.

I love the language God and His servants used in the Bible to describe what He was prepared to do, and did, for mankind.  

Jesus said, “… the Son of Man (talking about Himself) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a RANSOM for many.”  The apostle Peter wrote, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were REDEEMED from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect … Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (selections from 1 Peter 1:18-21)

Do you get it?  God didn’t provide a temporary fix.  He ransomed us.  He redeemed us.

A ransom is a sum of money (or other kind of payment) demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner or a hostage.  We humans are prisoners to sin.  We are held hostage by sin.   In Galatians 3:22 you can read it yourself.  “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.”  Jesus Himself said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed …”

The word “redeem” is interesting, too.  To redeem means to gain, or regain, possession of something in exchange for payment.  It also means to pay the necessary money to clear a debt.

God paid a huge price … a priceless price, if you will … to buy us out of our slavery to sin.  God paid for our sin.  He paid blood-money.  He paid in blood.  His own blood.  He paid, even though HE didn’t owe anyone anything.  God, the Father, GAVE His Son … and the Son – Jesus – willingly, lovingly came to die for every sin-prisoner, everywhere, in every era.

If you’re up to your eyeballs in financial debt, hope and PRAY your government leaders do the right thing(s).

But if you’re aware that you’re up to your eyeballs in debt to God for your sin … your personal sin … PRAY.  When you do, ask Him to apply the blood-payment Christ gave for everyone’s sin to your PERSONAL account.  When you do that in faith and by faith, God wipes out your debt.  He balances the books.  He sets you FREE from the debtors’ prison of sin.  He pays the ransom so that you can go free.  He redeems you.

Today, the United States reels and staggers under the weight of huge debt brought on by stupid and/or greedy investments, unsecured debt, faulty lending practices, and selfish corporate and banking leadership.  Contrast that with the weight of sin mankind has been crushed by since history began.  You and I may not be in a place where we can remain unaffected by the state of the world’s sick economy, but we can do something about the weight of sin in our lives.  Thank God (literally), your personal spiritual bankruptcy can be expunged – deleted, erased, and completely removed – by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  All you have to do is ASK.  Just ask.  Ask God to forgive your debt … and He will.  Every time, for everyone.

Think about it.

“Christophobia”

I got one for you.

You’ve, no doubt, heard of “homophobia.”  No doubt.

Have you ever heard of “Christophobia?”  Probably not.

I just invented the term.

Christophobia is the unreasonable and unjustifiable fear of Jesus, and Christ-followers.  A Christophobe may not “fear” Jesus in the sense that he or she is afraid of Him, but he will slam Jesus, vilify His followers, and try to make it impossible for Jesus-Believers to live a Christ-following lifestyle without encountering animosity, prejudice, and persecution.

Most “NoDems” are Christophobes.  (see MiVu article on “NoDems.”)  NoDems see Jesus Christ as a myth – right up there with Zeus, Tarzan, and Big Foot.   They would say that Jesus of Nazareth probably lived, but that His fans created Him in their image … to be their Savior.  NoDems and Christophobes believe Jesus was not the Son of God in the biblical sense.

Christophobia is growing in America.  And while NoDems are not the only people fueling this fear, they are actively involved in creating the laws that will curtail religious freedom in this country.  Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, and NARAL are allied to build on this fear.  Many movie makers see Christophobia as fodder for box office success.  More and more comedians, television script writers, and members of the media are jumping on board the Christophobia express.

If you are a Christ-follower, be aware that soon you will have to be more cautious about expressing your faith in America.  Like believers in China, India, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and some countries in Africa … being a Christ-follower will become downright dangerous.

Think about it.

 

Important … But Unreported News

Borrowed from “Winning The Future” (Newt Gingrich) and http://www.humaneventsonline.com.  Photo on the left, Associate Press:  

“Finally, in news studiously ignored by the mainstream media, parliamentary elections in Italy last week routed the Communists and the Greens and marked the third big victory for the Right in Europe after the elections of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“The elections were a history-making win for the party of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.  For the first time since the end of World War II, no one will represent the Communist Party in the Italian parliament.  The Greens were also voted out.

“Michael Ledeen, my colleague at the America Enterprise Institute, points out another significant feature of the elections: ‘Berlusconi is an outspoken, even passionate admirer of George W. Bush and the United States of America.  Reminds one of the elections that brought Sarkozy to the Elysee, doesn’t it?  Best to keep that quiet, or somebody might notice that hatred of America doesn’t seem to affect the voters in Italy, France or Germany.’

“The scale of Berlusconi and the center-right’s victory in Italy opens the door to significant reform for the first time in decades. Could real change be coming to Europe?”

On the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch we get a steady diet of local gossip.  You have to search for national and international news reports between whole-page advertisements for companies selling groceries, cell phones, and clothing.  But lest you think my local newspaper is the only offender, check out the Washington Post and USA Today.  You might find this story buried somewhere.

What’s even more disturbing is the way the New York Times reported Berlusconi’s election.  The unelected politicians that make up the editorial and “reporting” team at the Times did their worse to disparage the Italians and the man they elected prime minister.

And I quote:  “Silvio Berlusconi, the idiosyncratic billionaire …” focusing on his wealth because all socialists suspect rich people of becoming wealthy by robbing the poor.  “In a moment of national self-doubt” raises questions about the collective intelligence and fragile psyche of Italy’s electorate.  “Rejecting the sober responsibility of the departing prime minister … ” insinuating that his predecessor was sober and responsible in comparison to Berlusconi’s “… clowning and corruption scandals, his rocky relations with his wife and political partners, his growing hairline and ever browner hair …”  Good grief!  No hinting here.  The New York Times doesn’t like his politics, his attitudes, his marriage, or his hairline.

What really irked the Times was that Berlusconi knocked out the Italian Democratic Party’s nominee for the office of Prime Minister.  They defended the DP nominee by saying that there was “no difference” in the proposed solutions each man offered to the Italian people, but that Berlusconi won on style points and personality.

As our world shrinks and our politics and human issues become more “global,” it looks like the only real source of news continues to be the Internet.  At least on the Internet you can hear a variety of opinions.  I’m so tired of the slanted “reporting” of the Socialist Party (read mainstream media) in our country.  They don’t hold elective office, these (ironic, isn’t it) billionaires.  They dictate the news.

Freedom to the people!

Pray for Eliot Spitzer

12spitzer_600.jpgEliot Spitzer, 48, the Democratic governor of New York, a married father of three teenage daughters, and “Client #9” in a prostitution ring, made clear that his political career is over.  He is quitting as governor effective Monday.

“In the past few days, I’ve begun to atone for my private failings to my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family,” he said.  “The remorse I feel will always be with me.”

Let’s no throw stones, but pray for Spitzer instead!  “There, but for the grace of God …”

His wife and girls need our prayers, too. 

(Photo by Narayan Mahon for The New York Times)

Money and Power – Power and Money

teens-smiling.jpgFrom the Washington Post this morning:

CHICAGO — At least one in four teenage girls in the United States has a sexually transmitted disease, suggests a first-of-its-kind federal study that startled some adolescent-health experts.

The overall STD rate among the 838 girls in the study was 26 percent, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/) found. They released the results at a Tuesday conference.

Disease rates were significantly higher among black girls — nearly half had at least one STD, vs. 20 percent among both whites and Mexican Americans.

Some doctors said the numbers might be a reflection of both abstinence-only sex education and the teenagers’ own sense of invulnerability.  Because some sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility and cancer, U.S. health officials called for better screening, vaccination and prevention.

Only about half of the girls in the study acknowledged having sex.

 

Now … let me get this straight.  If a girl practices abstinence, then she has a 26% chance of contracting an STD?

I know that’s not what the article is saying.  What it is saying is that abstinence-based sex education sets a girl up for failure because (1) she won’t have protection (condom) or be on the pill when she’s out on a date, and (2) even though she might hope to avoid sex – wishing to wait until marriage – having sex is unavoidable because no girl can just say, “No.”  Intercourse is inevitable according to abstinence opponents.

I served on the Chesterfield County (Virginia) Community Involvement Team for Family Life Education curriculum development in the early 90’s.  The CIT was heavily weighted with Chesterfield County school system representatives, and along with a powerful ally they fought with all their might to keep abstinence-based information from students.  They didn’t even want abstinence to be mentioned as an option, much less promoted as a viable alternative to “safe sex.”

Their ally?  The Virginia division of Planned Parenthood.  The chairman of VPP, Ben Greenberg, sat on our CIT. 

No vested interest there, right?

Planned Parenthood will say that their motives for engaging in Family Life Education in our school systems are all noble.  They will say they want to provide information to teenagers so that they will NOT get pregnant.  They are proponents of the philosophy that all teenagers and twenty-somethings will have sex at some point in their pre-marriage, adolescent life.  They say they just want our young people to be “safe” from an STD or they want our kids to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.  PP will advocate that these young people should be adequately “protected” from the consequences of the choice to be sexually active.

Researching for this blog, I went to the Chesterfield County Health and P.E. instruction web link and discovered that the FLE “opt out” and instructional guidelines PDF file for Family Life Education no longer exists.  Why?  Why is it so hard for a parent to opt their child out of FLE?  Just asking.

Planned Parenthood has a vested interest – a HUGE financial stake – in making sex-before-marriage appear safe.  They get multi-million dollar subsidies from manufacturers of birth control pills.  They are supported by a wide range of politically liberal entities because it serves the social agenda (read “power base”) of such entities.  It’s all about power and money folks!  Making sex-before-marriage attractive serves a twisted end – to stay politically powerful because money follows power.

That Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of surgical abortions in America also smacks of questionable motives for providing information on “safe sex” because there’s really such thing as completely safe sex.  Completely “safe sex” requires abstaining from sex.  Abstaining means no STDs, and no unwanted pregnancy.  

I googled “Planned Parenthood” on Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com/) and up came “Need An Abortion?”  Hmm.

Abstinence is not being fairly debated today in the public square because “choice” advocates refuse to do so.  People in the American media (Rush Limbaugh’s “drive-by mainstream media”) long ago bought into the liberal “sexual freedom” agenda because they, too, believe their power to shape our society and culture would be at risk were they not to.  Hollywood has a vested interest in seeing that sexual promiscuity sells, too.  Look at the “video-on-demand” offerings on cable and you’ll see what I mean.  It’s all about promoting “Porky’s” (1982) all the way to “Good Luck Chuck” (2007).  It can’t be about art, can it?  No.  It’s about money … and money buys power … and power buys money.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases?  Liberals and their allies see STDs as the unfortunate but acceptable consequence for holding on to power.  So, if 26 out of 100 girls get the clap/gonorrhea/syphilis/HIV/genital herpes or warts, so be it.  (Liberals can’t sell their ideas of how our culture should look in the public square except by deception.  So, on school campuses of every ilk, from public school [elementary, middle, and high schools] to university campuses, dishonest and power/tenure-driven people spread the lie of “safe sex.”)

Money and power.  Power and money.