December 21, 2010

Hurting at Christmas

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? 
And none of them doth light on the ground, without your father... 
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
— Matthew 10.29, 31 Tyndale/Coverdale Bible (Modern Spelling)

This should prove to be one of the more unusual approaches to a "Christmas article" that you have read, I'll wager. It will have some pretty raw honesty, and I earnestly hope you'll stay with me.

There have been several teachings I have come across lately that remind us not to forget that the reason for the humble birth in the manger of Bethlehem was the cross at Calvary. I would like to go further and remind us of the glorious end of it all.

The attached video by Petra as excellent lyrics (reproduced below the video). Written while the fear of global nuclear war was still strong, it is emphasizing a point that is as relevant now as it was then: God is in control. He has plans (Revelation 21.1-8), and humans are not going to thwart them. He is the Creator of the universe, you know.

And the Creator of the universe bothered to redeem fallen mankind. Why should he even notice? Psalm 8.4, 103.14. I have heard people say that some things are too small to warrant God's attention, don't even ask. Well, in that vein, even our "big stuff" is nothing to him. But he chooses to care about us!

That's right, our Creator cares about us. He is a holy and righteous God who will punish sin (Revelation 21.8), yet has mercy on fallen, sinful humanity (John 1.12-13, 3.16). God became a man (John 1.14), died on the cross for our sins, rose the third day (1 Cor. 15.3-4, Galatians 2.6) and has big plans for the future of humanity.

Jesus defeated death (1 Cor 15.55-56), and that victory began in the manger in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2). We tend to forget, but we're indirectly acknowledging it every Christmas.

Listen, I have had plenty of sorrows the past couple of years. They have been my own as well as sorrows shared with people I care about. For those of us who have had tragedies, we need to remember that we are celebrating the birth of God in the flesh who defeated death. As I said, he has big plans for the world, but he has plans for you...and me. He loves us (Galatians 2.20), and is with his people every step of the way (Heb. 13.5-6).

Listen to the song. No, it's not "Gospel Music". It's Christian music, and this band has ministered to me many times over the years. They even played a part in my return to Christ.

"He's still got you and me in his hands..."

Words and music by Bob Hartman, from Petra's album "Back to the Street", 1986
Based on Hebrews 1:3, Matthew 20:29, 6:34

Hearts are failing left and right, children fear this planet's plight
Fatalistic fears abound and take their toll without a sound
But through the vague uncertainty - comes a bold assurity
This world is under sovereignty - divinely ordered destiny
He holds this world together with the Word of His power
Safe within His hands - 'till its own appointed hour

He's still got the whole world in His hands - tonight
And only He knows where the sparrow lands - tonight
And nothing in this world can stop His plans - tonight
'Cause He's still got the whole world in His hands
In His hands tonight

Humanistic lies lament the holocaust is imminent
Doomsday prophets in the news predicting who will light the fuse
The fate of His creation isn't subject to a man
The final consummation is according to His plan

He's still got you - He's still got me in His hands tonight

December 20, 2010

A Few More Persecutions

Buon girono. As much as I dislike interrupting your Christmas festivities, I want to lay out some timely information (cause in part by listening to Crosstalk America). My Christian readers should be made aware of what is happening in the world; we should be informed, lean to deal with situations as well as pray about them. Unbelieving readers... well, I take a bit of  pleasure in showing you that, despite your desire to dismiss and disbelive these things, they are still happening nonetheless.

First, Dr. Gaskell is suing the University of Kentucky because he claims that his faith cost him a job. (You'll be surprised that my reference is the New York Times, even they seem to think that the story has merit.)

Do you want to scream, "Separation of church and state"? OK. Here is the state making it a point to suppress religious expression. The Federal Reserve ordered a bank in Oklahoma to take down crosses, Bible verses and Christmas buttons.

From the "Don't Mess with Muslims" Department:
On the lighter side, and not related to the persecution of Christians, a man in Austria was yodeling while mowing his lawn. His Muslim neighbor took offense, and the man was fined. Note that yodeling is from Austria and neighboring regions. Islam is not.

On a much darker note, yet another "honor killing". Somali girl Nurta Mohamed Farah became a Christian at age 17. Her parents tortured her, she fled and was subsequently shot to death. I hate this "honor killing" business. If someone leaves the Christian faith, sure, other Christians are ashamed or embarrassed, as well as saddened. But we do not kill people to restore our "honor". Listen, Achmed, if you need to kill to restore your honor, you do not have honor worth restoring, capice? 

And the "religion of peace" marches on.

December 16, 2010

March of the Gaystapo

Edited for clarity

Here is an edited version of a letter I received from a homosexual man:
I know you've done some stuff on this recently, and I know this goes on around the world far more than most people would admit. But can you believe this one? I find it difficult to get my head around this in a country with one of the longest Christian traditions. If lefties are looking for oppressed people to defend, Christians should be at the top of the list these days.

And I absolutely despise the type of "activists" quoted in this story. No wonder so many people think of gay people as abnormal when virtually all of the "spokespersons" spout this loony PC crap. Damn it I hate it!
But this bigotry against committed Christians is just too damn much. And the excuses, good grief! "If she goes to church every Sunday, it may impact on the amount of child care she can give." Idiotic. They sound like a loving family, yet they're painted as unsuitable just because of their Christianity. What next, are they going to start seizing kids out of their own natural parents' homes, if the family is Christian and the kid starts "questioning" his sexuality? There just aren't enough foster parents to go around if they start down that path. What happened with assessing the needs of a particular child and pairing him or her with a suitable family? What the hell happened to common sense?
Oh, you're surprised that this Conservative Christian has a good friend that is a homosexual? I bet the greater surprise is that he is outraged by the story in the UK that is linked above.

The point of this is that the "gay rights" agenda is
advanced more and more all the time. If Christians want to follow the Bible and say that God doesn't like it, then we are "homophobes", or "gay bashing", or — now get this bit of hysteria — causing them to commit suicide.

There are many instances where Christians are persecuted for simply following their beliefs and the homosexual lobby does not like it. How about the Hamilton Square Baptist Church? There was such a riot when gays (ironic misuse of the name, here) attacked and rioted because they did not like the church's guest speaker from the Traditional Values Coalition. People were assaulted and in fear for their lives — including the children. (Note this contrast: Christians will say that God is not pleased and preach the Gospel. However, Sharia law wants them dead. How about protesting and rioting in a mosque?)

Or how about the "demonstration" by "Bash Back" in Lansing, Michigan? An obscene banner, lesbians making out in the pulpit, condoms being flung about — yeah, that's a great way to get respect for your cause.

Back to Britain: A couple that runs a private hotel with a "married couples only" policy turned away a homosexual couple. They wanted to live up to their principles. So, they were sued.

There are stories of preachers being harassed and even beaten when they speak out at "Gay Pride Parades" (they have courage, I'll give them that). Unfortunately, I could not back up what I had heard. Oh, wait. Here's a story, again from the UK.

I have to point out something here: Catholic cardinal Gustaaf Joos said, "I am prepared to sign here in my blood that of all those who say they are lesbian or gay, at most five to 10 per cent are effectively lesbian or gay. All the rest are sexual perverts." Well...I know some homosexuals that are in committed relationships and act like everyone else. Then there are the "gay pride" parades which have actions that you certainly do not want your children to see by people in the creepiest forms of clothing. Maybe the cardinal was onto something?

In the Huffing Paint Fumes and Smoking Doobies Post, Lee Stranahan asks a very interesting question: Why is it that homosexuals are not defending polyamory? Good question. After all, we're in the process of tearing down traditional values and attacking those who hold to them, yes? What next? How about if you want to marry your dog? Hey, another question for my British readers: How do you feel about prisoners getting time off to celebrate the Lactating Sheep Festival or other pagan "holidays"? Special interests keep cropping up.

So, I am making two points here. First, that Christians are being persecuted for practicing their beliefs. Second, special interest legislation — where does it end?

December 14, 2010

Revisiting a Classic

Credit: Freeimages / c-unie
Edited 7-19-2017

Buon giorno. I was thinking about neurotic people on the Internet like my pet troll, Norman. (He's the one that claims almost everything I say is a lie, cannot learn from others, is always right and has tantrums when he humiliates himself or is proven wrong.) So, people like that want to mess with me, and I like to use absurdity to illustrate absurdity (to misquote Rush Limbaugh). I am a follower of Jesus. But I do not go for the modern churchianity version of Jesus or their image of Christians being peace, love and grooviness with sappy smiles and letting people constantly kick us around. (Some atheists have that concept of Christians, too.) When people act up in my presence online, they may very well get shown that their attacks, lies, abuse of logic &c. are not fooling anyone. When I call them on it, they get angry. When some called out this loser, he lost last vestiges of his mind.

Here is an internet classic. Some of the material is dated, so just read around it. I removed profanity and made a few tweaks. It's interesting that the author was complaining about neophytes to the Interent, but his own railing was sort of neurotic. (In the author's case, the reality was that non-geeks were getting online and the kingdom of Virgin Geek Males was crumbling to the barbarian invasion.) Note the juvenile complaint about AOL users. AOL and other online services (like Compuserve) made Internet access available and much easier to common people; no need for a Master's Degree in computer science.

Some things are dated, some are still true. If you get whiny online, you are the object of scorn and derision. The more you whine, the more heat you get. It depends on the crowd, of course. Otherwise, you simply (mercifully) get ignored until you have something worthwhile to say, learn how to "play the game" or simply find a playground that shares your interests and personality type. The Internet and Web are much bigger now than when this was written, and there is a place somewhere for just about everyone. Even the Normans of the world.
Welcome to the Internet. No one here likes you.

We're going to offend, insult, abuse, and belittle the living hell out of you. And when you rail against us with "GET LOST YOU YOU GEEK WIMP SKATER GOTH LOSER PUNK!1!!", we smile to ourselves. We laugh at you because you don't get it. Then we turn up the heat, hoping to draw more entertainment from your irrational fuming. We will judge you, and we will find you unworthy. It is a trial by fire, and we won't even think about turning down the flames until you finally understand.

Some of you are smart enough to realize that, when you go online, it's like entering a foreign country ... and you know better than to ignorantly play with the locals. You take the time to listen and think before speaking. You learn, and by learning are gladly welcomed. For some of you, it takes a while, then one day it all dawns on you - you get it, and are welcomed into the fold. Some of you give up, and we breathe a sigh of relief - we didn't want you here anyway.

And some of you just never get it. The offensively clueless have a special place in our hearts - as objects of ridicule. We don't like you, but we do love you. You will get mad. You will tell us to go to hell, and call us "nerds" and "geeks". Don't bother — we already know exactly what we are. And, much like the way rap has co-opted the word "nigger", turning an insult around on itself to become a semi-serious badge of honor, so have we done.

"How dare you! I used to beat the crap out of punks like you in high school/college!"

You may have owned the playing field because you were an athlete. You may have owned the student council because you were more popular. You may have owned the hallways and sidewalks because you were big and intimidating. Well, welcome to our world. Things like athleticism, popularity, and physical prowess mean nothing here. We place no value on them, or what car you drive, the size of your bank account, what you do for a living or where you went to school.

Allow us to introduce you to the concept of a "meritocracy" - the closest thing to a form of self-government we have. In The United Meritocratic nation-states of the Internet, those who can do, rule. Those who wish to rule, learn. Everyone else watches from the stands. You may posses everything in the offline world. We don't care. You come to the Internet penniless, lacking the only thing of real value here: knowledge.

"Who cares? The Internet isn't real anyway!"

This attitude is universally unacceptable. The Internet is real. Real people live behind those handles and screen names. Real machines allow it to exist. It's real enough to change government policy, real enough to feed the world's hungry, and even, for some of us, real enough to earn us a paycheck. Using your own definition, how "real" is your burrito? Your stock portfolio? Your political party? What is the meaning of "real", anyway?

Do I sound arrogant? Sure ... to you. Because you probably don't get it yet.

If you insist on staying, then, at the very least, follow this advice:
  1. No one, ESPECIALLY YOU, will make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the delicious exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 
  2. Use your brain before ever putting fingers to keys. 
  3. Do you want a nude picture of you doing unspeakable perversions getting saved to hundreds of thousands of people's hard drives? No? Then don't put your picture on the Internet. We can, will, and probably already HAVE altered it in awful ways. Expect it to show up on an equally offensive website. 
  4. Realize that you are never, EVER going to get that, or any other, offensive web page taken down. Those of us who run those sites LIVE to irritate people like you. Those of us who don't run those sites sometimes visit them just to read the hatemail from fools like you. 
  5. Oh, you say you're going to a lawyer? Be prepared for us to giggle with girlish delight, and for your lawyer to laugh in your face after he explains current copyright and parody law. 
  6. The Web is not the Internet. Stop referring to it that way. 
  7. We have already received the e-mail you are about to forward to us. Shut up. 
  8. Don't reply to spam. You are not going to be "unsubscribed". 
  9. Don't ever use the term "cyberspace". Likewise, you prove yourself a marketing-hype victim if you ever use the term "surfing". 
  10. With one or two notable exceptions, chat rooms will not get you hooked up with a babe. 
  11. It's usually a hoax, not a virus warning. 
  12. The internet is made up of thousands of computers, all connected but owned by different people. Learn how to use your computer before attempting to connect it to someone else's. 
  13. The first person who offers to help you is really just trying to mess with you for entertainment. So is the second. And the third. And me. 
  14. Never insult someone who's been active in any group longer than you have. You may as well paint a target on your back. 
  15. Never get comfortable and arrogant behind your supposed mask of anonymity. Don't be surprised when your name, address, and home phone number get thrown back in your smug face. Some of us will snail-mail you a printed satellite photograph of your house to drive the point home. Realize that you are powerless if this happens, it's all public information, and information is our stock and trade. 
  16. No one thinks you are as cool as you think you are. 
  17. You aren't going to win any argument that you start. 
  18. If you're on AOL, don't worry about anything I've said here. You're already a brining laughing stock, and there's no hope for you. 
  19. If you can't take a joke, immediately sell your computer to someone who can. RIGHT NOW. Angry? It's the TRUTH, not these words, that hurts your feelings. Don't ever even pretend like I've gone and hurt them. We don't like you. We don't want you here. We never will. Save us all the trouble and go away.  
This page is a mirror of the original, posted at Deeplight.Net. It was written by Robert "redpaw" Jung, Webmaster, managing editor, chief techmonkey of Deeplight.
My point in posting this is to remind people that no matter how much we fuss or neurotically demand that the world change its ways to please us, people are still going to do their own thing. It is much better to deal with what is instead of living in the land of should be. Sure, we change what we can when it's possible and plausible. Otherwise, acknowledge that something is instead of should be. It helps the blood pressure, and you are less likely to be consumed by your online opponents, capice? Plus, some people have no sense of humor. Too bad. It helps, really.

December 11, 2010

Persecution Question

Here is some interesting timing. I did my last article about the persecution of Christians in the US military, which was a sort of follow-up to this one. I received an interesting comment on that earlier post from Whateverman (hope you don't mind your name in lights, so to speak):

By all accounts, Christians outnumber other religious demographics in the US. If you're right, and anti-Christian discrimination gets less coverage than that of other groups, wouldn't you think this is at least part of the reason? It's difficult to cry "discrimination!" (and I'm not accusing you of doing so here) when the discriminated group is in the majority.

My response was to the effect that it's not just people who claim to be Christians that receive discrimination or forms of persecution, but those who actively live like followers of Jesus. An interesting coincidence, later today, Ray Comfort posted an article at Atheist Central that also addressed this topic; it could have been an answer instead of my own. Cool, huh? For that one, click here.

Persecution in the Military?

Yes, I am putting a question mark on the title of this one. I would like to hear from you about what I am about to relate. (If you are going to fire off anti-God or anti-Christian venom, you'll just be deleted.) I am especially interested in the opinions of military personnel, past and present.

There was a story I heard about how "the armed forces confiscated the Bibles of soldiers in Afghanistan and burned them". I hate sensationalism, so I had to check it. There is an element of truth to this, but...

In 2009, a soldier received Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages and, being evangelistically minded, was going to hand them out. Those are the Bibles that were confiscated and burned, even though the story I heard implied that the personal possessions of soldiers were taken away, and that is not the case. The reason these were taken away is that the US military did not want to give the impression that they were there to convert the Muslims. I can understand that, one soldier in an American uniform is essentially representing the military and, ultimately, the United States. 

This is a tough call for Christians. We are called to spread the Gospel (Matthew 28.18-20), but we also have to obey laws. If solders are issued a "gag order" and told that they can never speak of their faith to the Mulsims, then the verse about "obey God rather than man" could very well come into play.

But still...burning the Bibles is all right? That does add fuel to the fire (heh!) for claims of persecution. It seems rather heavy-handed as well.

Any thoughts from you in the military? Or others, of course.

December 9, 2010

Persecution Shuffle

Blessed are ye when men hate you, and thrust you out of their company, and rail on you, and abhor your name, as an evil thing, for the son of man's sake.
Rejoice ye then, and be glad: for behold, your reward is great in heaven.
After this manner their fathers entreated the prophets.
(Luke 6:22-23, Tyndale-Coverdale Bible, modern spelling)

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus,
must suffer persecutions.
(2 Timothy 3.12, Tyndale-Coverdale Bible, modern spelling)

Buon giorno. That's right, it's not easy to be a follower of Jesus. You want easy? Be a piece of deadwood and float with the current.

Still waiting for input on text size and colors, gang. Subscribers are stuck, they get what the service sends them. Sorry.

My subscribers, followers and regular readers know that I have been posting articles about the persecution of Christians. The instances to which I refer have been blatant "renounce Jesus" kinds of things, including torture, murder, imprisonment and other harassment. In most of the West, and here in the United States, "persecution" is relative. More often, the persecution is toned down to the level of discrimination.

Unlike what some God-haters may say, I am not one of those people that sees persecution lurking behind every tree or hiding around every corner. Unlike what some God-haters may say, the persecution of Christians does indeed exist. (Note: Other groups experience it as well, but I am doing one of the first rules of writing, and limiting my topic to the persecution of Christians.) In fact, I believe that I am going to give regular reports on this subject in the United States and the West. Just because some people do not like to admit it does not mean it does not exist, capice?

Just a moment.

Now I'm going to switch to a less emotionally-charged word and use "discrimination".

The new FCC Commissioner, Michael Copps, wants to have a test of sorts, or a kind of standard, for the "public value" of every broadcast station.

"Is that discrimination, Cowboy Bob?"

In and of itself, no. However, it is an item of concern because someone's arbitrary and subjective standards of "public value" can be used to heavily influence the airwaves. To me, it sounds like the Fairness Doctrine dug up from its grave, zombified and put into a new suit of clothes. The Fairness Doctrine was targeting Conservative radio, because it was successful and liberal radio was failing because nobody wanted to listen to it. After all, radio is a business and it is market driven.

I am concerned that if the FCC has that power, they can simply decide to shut down stations because they have no "public value", even if the public wants to hear those stations. It is one thing to have community standards (including decency), but it is quite another to have bureaucrats in charge.

Just something to think about.

Something else to think about: Just because I cite Christian sources or use Conservative news sources does not make something untrue. That kind of accusation is outrageously, deliberately stupid. It is also hateful to be slandering good people just because you don't like what is being said. I have come across people who think that if the source is Christian, it's automatically suspect. Do those people listen to themselves? We serve a holy and righteous God who does not tolerate that kind of thing, so it's ridiculous to label Christians as a whole to be habitual liars. (Imagine — we serve a holy and righteous God, so we'll be habitual liars as a group to get you to believe in a holy and righteous God. Like, duh!) If they made the same kind of remarks about an ethnic group, it would be racism. As you can see, that kind of nonsense really grinds my gears; it's an excuse to avoid facts.

Anyway. Here is another item that may or may not be outright discrimination: Touchdown! A high school football player, Ronnie Hastie, in Washington state briefly dropped to one knee and pointed skyward after making a touchdown. The referee gave a fifteen yard penalty. Now, I can understand a penalty for the showboating, gloating, "in your face", time wasting stuff that went on before. But this? Pretty heavy handed. (Want more sources for that one? OK. One, two, three, and this fourth one is from Britain. That outta hold you for a while, Gertrude.) But the player will change "for the team". Does he have the strength of his convictions? Tough call.

I picked two "iffy" examples. The first could easily be used to stifle free speech, affecting Christians and Conservatives most of all. It is not clear-cut discrimination. The second example seems more likely to be discrimination because the penalty call was absurd. Not definite, however.

At any rate, discrimination and persecution of Christians does indeed exist, whether you like it or not. Whether you believe it or not.

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