Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ouch! The New Normal is Stepping on My Toes




We are like lambs.  With heads bowed, we nibble on the grass of the gay rights agenda and are on the verge of going over the cliff into moral irrelevancy.

Homosexuality is an ancient practice.  It has been accepted and rejected throughout the ages.  It is not new.  Some of the leading historians of Europe, the Far East, Middle East, and African civilizations boast of homosexual practices centuries old.  The distinction today is, unlike in times past when it was seen largely as a sexual practice, contemporary gay activists force upon everyone else the idea of “normalizing” homosexuality because it should be viewed as an immutable trait.    Gay activists would now have us view homosexuality not as a sexual preference as it has been viewed for centuries but as an identity like race and gender which therefore should be accorded equal rights with respect to marriage and so on.

The gay agenda is rooted in what can be described as normative moral relativism which means that because no one can call homosexuality right or wrong, society must simply tolerate the behavior even when there is disagreement on the morality of the act. This of course ignores any application of a biblical worldview.

The Bible is clear.  The practice of homosexuality is a sin along with a host of other sins like fornication and adultery (1Cor 6: 9, 10). (I recognize that the doctrine of Gay Theology disagrees with this biblical interpretation.)  I believe I can be born with a propensity for a certain sin; that does not give me the argument to make it an acceptable lifestyle.

Now let’s assume that the church remains asleep-which it is-gay activists are well organized, systematic, relentless and are succeeding. Through legislation, media, and their shear will, homosexuality is now taught in California public schools, is in the pulpit, private organizations, the military and even in the hallways of the federal government. Activists are succeeding in “normalizing” the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (“LGBT”) lifestyle.  Here are just a few examples in case you’ve missed the current events:

Currently, gay marriage is legal in twelve states which include Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C.  The Illinois legislature is voting this week and will likely become the thirteenth state to allow gay marriage. California’s Prop 8 is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.  California is next.  These new laws pose dilemmas for churches and wedding vendors who oppose gay marriage for religious reasons protected by the First Amendment.  Some are now being sued for not supporting gay marriage ceremonies.

On May 11, 2012, California became the first state to mandate that the contributions of gays and lesbians in the state and country be included in social science instruction and in text books in its public schools.  The legislation, known as Senate Bill  1437, not only affects textbooks and instructional materials for kindergarten and grades 1-12, it also affects all school-sponsored activities and mandates highlighting the purported positive contributions of the LGBT community.  That’s correct-K through 12.  This is quite simply an overt setup to indoctrinate the next generation of voters in California.

Just last week on May 24, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) voted to alter their century-old tradition of being morally straight.  With the support of the Mormon Church, the BSA voted by a wide margin to allow open homosexual members but not as Scout leaders yet. Randy Sharp of American Family Association estimates that 400,000-500,000 boys and adults will resign their positions with BSA in the next year or so.  But for the goal to “normalize” the LGBT lifestyle, I would think gay activists would just start the Gay Scouts and leave BSA alone.

Clarifying the position of those who opposed the vote, Rob Schwarzwalder said, “No one hates homosexuals.  This isn’t about fear or homophobia, and this isn’t about bigotry. This is about the moral values of our Judeo-Christian heritage which teaches the only appropriate sexually intimate activity that exists is between a man and a woman within marriage.” Mr. Schwarzwalder is absolutely correct.

The activism also reaches into our own federal government.  As an example, just last week the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Pride circulated a memo to its managers called “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers” which is a directive to affirm the LGBT lifestyle no matter the manager’s own religious convictions. It is clear that a manager in the DOJ who fails to affirm the LGBT lifestyle will likely be out of a job.  We are now even losing our right to think freely and to define morality for ourselves.

These examples demonstrate a state-mandated conformity of homosexuality that now creates a constitutional and moral dilemma.  “In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith,” said Dale Schowengerdt of Alliance Defending Freedom.

It is the freedom to live and work according to our faith that gives America its cherished diversity and protects us from state-mandated conformity, he added.

Government infringes upon the individual’s First Amendment rights by requiring the individual to go against his own moral conscience (e.g. teaching homosexuality in schools, performing gay marriages, affirming the LGBT lifestyle in the workplace).

Where is the balance for the majority of Americans who don’t really care what lifestyles our friends or neighbors lead but don’t want to be asked to affirm it for religious reasons?   Are we now relegated to being called homophobic?

Judeo-Christian values are the bedrock of America. According to those values, we must respect and care for each other irrespective of our faith, race, gender or even sexual orientation.  America has not been a perfect place and it has some work to be done and we must continue to fight against any type of discrimination wherever we find it. But America is a nation where liberty and freedom flourish for individuals who seek it.  We must not ever alter the biblical or constitutional standards that undergird those ideals and certainly must not do so to satisfy the few.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

It’s NOT about YOU!


Many, many years ago, a very close friend referred to me as selfish and self-centered.  Although I never saw myself that way, she knew me well enough to be able to say it.  It’s true many of us are consumed with our own well-being.  To a degree, that’s a healthy pursuit, but maturity should bring a balance and an awareness that life’s pursuit should not be about you.  An understanding of the Gospel brings awareness that, in fact, life is not about you at all. 

A life changing book is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  The opening words of the first chapter are profound.  He says, “It’s not about you” in the context of understanding the purpose of life.  We must understand we were born by God’s purpose and for his purpose and not to fulfill our own self-centered pursuits.

My wife and I put this idea into action in our lives now that we are more mature.  We recently joined Youth With A Mission (“YWAM”) this month in Ethiopia to see their work assisting in the evangelism of the Gospel, their support of widows and orphans in the various townships across the country and the adoption of the over 5 million orphans.

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. It is the only country where two arch rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have joined forces to convert Ethiopia to Islam.  Ethiopia is believed to be the oldest Christian nation but along our journey we witnessed 10 mosques to every Orthodox Christian church.  Ethiopia is surrounded by Muslim countries and it is a major target for conversion.  My wife and I learned of the deep persecution of the Church in Ethiopia and met several ministers of the Gospel whose lives are threatened as they evangelize non-believers.  Many being former Muslims themselves, they are incredibly brave souls.

Religion has always been a major influence in Ethiopia. Ethiopian culture and tradition have been greatly influenced by both Christian and Muslim religions. Sunni Muslims, the largest religious group, account for 45-50% of practicing religious beliefs. The Amharas and Tigreans are predominantly Christian and adhere to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Catholicism and Ethiopian evangelism (Mekane Yesus) are also important religions in Ethiopia.[1]

We spent a week with Joy Casey from YWAM visiting pastors who are creating disciples for Christ, seeing YWAM church building projects, visiting orphanages and saying hello to families we are already supporting financially.

It was invigorating to meet evangelists on the front lines on the war between Islam and Christianity; it was inspiring to hear the testimonies of converts to the faith, and it was memorable to experience worship in a place where many would prefer them dead.


We had the chance to encourage the pastors on many occasions, to pray for them and their families and also to lend support.  Through YWAM, we delivered bicycles and shoes to the pastors equipping them for the work of the ministry. It was rewarding on multiple levels.

So the lesson for this week.  God has a purpose for your life.  My wife and I tapped into a mission field that resonates with us.  Ethiopia is a place of missions where we can do some good for the Kingdom of God, for the evangelists on the front lines and for the poor.  Where is God leading you to serve?  Remember, it’s not about you but about His purpose for your life.




[1]/               http://websitetacoma.com/wordpress/missions-2/about-ethiopia/

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Deception at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue


The implosion of an entire presidency has historically occurred not because of the substance of a scandal itself but because of the lies to coverit up.  Unfortunately, President Obama’s promise to make his administration the most transparent in history was his first lie and his second term is certain to be plagued not only by the mistakes the administration has made, but also by the attempt to cover them up.


The cumulative effect of discovering lie upon lie is sure to dog this presidency for the duration of its term.  Here is a short list of the building blocks that reveal the true heart of this administration:

The Obama administration is harassing conservative non-profit organizations.  In February 2012, several conservative groups complained on FoxNews that they were being targeted by the IRS.  This sparked letters and complaints from various senators and representatives to the IRS.  In response, in March 2012, IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman told Congress that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.

Later on May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner, who heads the tax-exempt department for the IRS, admitted that the IRS did in fact inappropriately target 501(c)(4) organizations for additional review that included the names “tea party” and/or “patriot” in their applications during the 2012 Presidential Election.  She issued a swift apology blaming low-level staffers in Cincinnati not motivated by politics.

Unfortunately, soon after Lerner’s apology, the Associated Press uncovered a report that contradicts Schulman and Lerner and shows that senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011.

This is a massive abuse of governmental authority under this administration.

The Obama administration lied to the public about the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.    On September 11, 2012, just before the presidential election, the US Consulate was attacked and four Americans, including the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were murdered.

Instead of telling the obvious truth, UN Ambassador Susan Rice lied and told the world that the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to the release of a YouTube video and not a planned attack by terrorists.

The world knew differently and now the truth is being heaped on the head of the Obama administration like hot coals.  As reported by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, we now know that the CIA report was altered twelve times to shade the truth of the attack removing references to the Ansar al Sharia Brigade responsible for the attack, or terrorism. Recall Obama’s campaign slogan for his 2012 re-election bid:  “General Motors is Alive; Bin Laden is Dead.”  Admitting that terrorism was still on the move did not fit into the re-election campaign narrative and so the administration, the president included, lied for months after the attack.  The truth is still not in them.

On Capitol Hill May 8, 2013, Gregory Hicks, Deputy Ambassador to Libya, testified on Benghazi and said, “my jaw dropped. I was embarrassed” when Obama appointee and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice lied on national television that the attack was the result of a spontaneous rally protesting a YouTube video. Hicks and his staff knew otherwise, reported the Detroit News.

Despite the unraveling of the truth, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the target of the US administration and the maker of the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims,” is still in jail today under the pretext that he violated his probation for bank fraud.

The cover-up continues.  Stevens died; Rice lied.

Finally, Operation Fast and Furious is not going away.  In this gun trafficking scandal, it is now undeniable that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), under the supervision of the Department of Justice, intentionally allowed the sale of U.S. manufactured semiautomatic weapons to straw buyers for the Mexican cartel and then refused to confiscate the weapons in order to trace them to the hands of the Mexican cartel ringleaders.  This is commonly referred to as “walking guns.”

The scandal broke on December 14, 2010 when US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by the Mexican cartel.  The cartel left behind two semiautomatic weapons that were later traced to the guns sold 11 months earlier under Operation “Fast and Furious” in Arizona.

The ATF initially denied that it had such a policy of selling firearms. After more than a year of not providing sufficient answers on Operation “Fast and Furious,” Holder provided small details of the program after being forced by subpoenas and a Contempt of Congress charge. 

Holder ultimately testified that, “the use of this misguided tactic [walking guns] is inexcusable, and it must never happen again."   A spokesman for the ATF also said, the "ATF did not exercise proper oversight, planning or judgment in executing this case. We at ATF have accepted responsibility and have taken appropriate and decisive action to insure that these errors in oversight and judgment never occur again." Criminal charges are likely to follow for those involved in this program.

On June 20, 2012, President Obama granted Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to assert executive privilege in regard to the request for documents pertaining to Operation “Fast and Furious” in order to prevent further responses to subpoenas from the Congress. Asserting this privilege implies the president’s direct involvement and awareness of the operation. 

What is clear is that someone is hiding something from the American people and this is the president’s model of providing the most transparent presidency in U.S. history.

Now the president, along with our military, has made bold moves all Americans can be proud of.  The president and the Navy Seals captured and killed Osama bin Laden and they miraculously rescued Jessica Buchanan, an aid worker, from the clutches of bandits in the middle of the desert in Somalia.  This is the kind of triumph of spirit and heart we can all be proud of.  The deception that we find from the IRS, the State Department and the Department of Justice erodes the celebration of the American spirit.

The apparent cover-ups in these federal departments can topple this presidency.  So I simply ask that our president and his administration leaders simply tell the truth.  Americans are far more forgiving if they are not first lied to.

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