Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Birthday, America! What a special nation you have been! What a special nation you continue to be! You are the "land of the free and the home of the brave." You are the melting pot of the world. Around the world when people share dreams, many of those dreams are focused upon the opportunities that are accorded people here.

I have often wondered why America has survived as long as it has. It was birthed during days of a bloody revolution that lasted for many years. Growing pains soon followed resulting in sectional clashes, the ultimate one leading to a Civil War that would tear this nation apart. Other wars would follow, some of our own creation. Yet all the while America remained strong. Oh it had its moments when the American spirit was severely tested. One thinks of those difficult days during the Vietnam War with protesters marching down streets of major cities, clashing with police forces. One also thinks of the great unrest between the races during the 1960's. Pictures of the Democratic Convention in Chicago still linger in my mind.

But through it all, America has survived. In many instances the difficulties and hardships it has faced has caused it to grow even stronger. There has always been a certain amount of grit in America's psyche. Tell us something can't be done - and we will prove you wrong and do it. Americans have always loved a challenge. Perhaps it is the remnant of the Spirit of 76 that resides in the hearts of many of us.

But, something is astir in America today that, I believe, threatens to destroy the very fabric of who we are. We are becoming a nation divided by our diversities. In the past the diversity within America was one of its strengths. Swedes, Norwegians, Poles, Germans, Latins, and Asians all came to America...learned its language, accepted its principles, supported the unity that was America. They became Americans...not Swedish-Americans or German-Americans or Asian-Americans. They were just plain Americans! Today, however, diversity is pulling us apart. We are not just Americans anymore. No, we are Hispanic-Americans or African-Americans or...well, the list goes on and on. Many come into this country illegally. They do not learn our language. They do not abide by the principles of this great nation. They are here, but they are not Americans. And I wonder how much longer this can last before our nation completely unravels.

It is time that we revisit those hallowed corridors of Independence Hall in Philadelphia; walk among the quiet tombstones at Arlington; stand in silence peering into the dark waters shrouding the battleship Arizona. It is time that we listen to the words of Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence; the words of Abraham Lincoln uttered on a cold November day at Gettysburg; of a George Washington as he bid farewell to the American people as he left the office of President. It is time that we come together as whites, blacks, browns, yellows, and red-skinned people who call ourselves Americans. It is time that we acknowledge the words of John Kennedy in his inaugural address: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. If we can do this, America will be a better place for each of us and for our children and grandchildren.

So, Happy Birthday, America. And may God bless you with many more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Inside the Revolution" - A Review of Rosenberg's Newest Book

I have recently completed reading Joel Rosenberg's newest book. It is titled "Inside the Revolution." It has a fascinating cover complete with portraits of Osama bin Laden, Thomas Jefferson, and Jesus Christ. Immediately one is forced to ask the question: What do these three people have in common? I have to admit that I was puzzled. Interesting, each of those three persons represents a philosophy or a way of life that wants to dominate the Middle East and the entire world. Osama bin Laden - the radical philosophical emphasis of Islam. Thomas Jefferson - the moderate philosophical emphasis of democratic freedom. Jesus Christ - the life-changing philosophical emphasis of a relationship with a holy God and a loving Savior. According to the author, all three are powerfully at work within that region of the world we know as the Middle East.

The first two hundred pages focus upon Osama and the way of the radicals. I must admit, their philosophical bent upon total world domination by Islam and Sharia law is frightening. Some one asked me to explain the difference between Sharia law and the Old Testament law under which the Israelites lived. On the surface they seem to be very similar: strict laws that govern every aspect of living, from food preparations to sexual practices, from health regulations to social mores. Yet, I believe, there is one important underlying difference. In Sharia law there is no room for grace. There is little, if any, room for mercy. Under Old Testament law, the sacrifices offered the opportunity for grace, for forgiveness, for a withdrawal of penalty. Another took your punishment, namely the lamb or goat. I find it difficult to comprehend a world in which there is no room for grace. But such is the world Osama bin Laden and his followers are planning for us.

The next one hundred and fifty pages or so focus upon Jefferson and the way of the reformers. This section began to give me a measure of hope. It was great to know that not all Islamists believed in total jihad. It was encouraging to know that some Islamists actually want to live in peace with their neighbors and to cultivate a world that accepts everyone. The author relates the stories of several leading reformists whose leadership is both inspiring and challenging.

The final one third of the book focuses upon Jesus Christ and the way of the revivalists. These pages were riveting as Rosenberg relates story after story of Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans and Palestinians who surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The stories are one of dreams and visions and miracles. It is almost as if one is reading the story of the Early Church in Acts. Can you imagine sharing the gospel with an Iranian and having that person put his or her faith in Jesus Christ in less than five minutes? It is happening all over Iran. And just today I read of Iraq's first Christian radio station beginning operation proclaiming the message of Christ to all of Iraq. Praise the Lord!

I enjoy reading good books...books that stretch a person's thinking...books that challenge a person's faith. This book is one I highly recommend. It will give you a whole new way of looking at the struggles in the Middle East. And, just think, we know how the story ends.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Iranian Revolution and An Israeli Plan

I trust you have been watching what has been happening in Iran since the presidential elections there this past Friday, June 12. Entering into the election, Reformist candidate Mir Mousavi had gained tremendous ground upon current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who, by the way, had the full support of the Supreme Leader in Iran, the Ayatollah Khameni. Weeks prior to the election it appeared that Ahmadinejad would win by a landslide. But, slowly Mousavi began to build support among the middle class and the students of the universities in Tehran. The world began to wonder if a change in Iran would be possible.

Over 40 million paper ballots were cast across Iran, each one having to be counted by hand. Yet, within hours of the polls closing, the Supreme Leader declared Ahmadinejad the winner and by a rather substantial margin. Immediately Mousavi's camp declared the election invalid and accused Ahmadinejad's camp of election fraud. Soon demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran and across Iran to protest the election results. An investigation into the election process has begun, but there is little hope that the results will change.

What has been the response of the world to this opportunity for change in Iran? Well, there has been a lot of rhetoric, including statements from our President. But there has been no offer of any support. There seems to be a pattern here. After the victory in Desert Storm and seeing that the government of Saddam Hussein was vulnerable, our government had given encouragement to the Kurds and Sunnis to revolt against him. They believed that we would respond with support. Yet, when the revolt occurred, we did nothing. And Hussein's revenge was brutal upon both the Sunnis and the Kurds.

And where was President Ahmadinejad during these days of turmoil? He was in Moscow having negotiations with his friends at the Kremlin, strengthening the ties between Russia and Iran. As one who has been studying Ezekiel 38 and 39 for the past several weeks, I found this to be very interesting and having strong biblical implications.

I believe the situation in Iran will get increasingly more violent in the coming days. And I look for a strong government crackdown on demonstrators. There will be no change in Iran this time, but the seeds have been sown for a future response.

By the way, let me just share briefly a response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's address this past Sunday, June 14. To summarize, he made four strong points. First, in order for a possible two-state solution to be created, the Palestinians had to give recognition to Israel as being a Jewish State. Second, any Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized for the security of Israel...just look at what happened in Gaza. Third, Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel. And fourth, there would be no right of return for Arab refugees to their pre-1948 homes. Immediately the Arab world voiced loud objections. The Europeans and the United States gave a tepid acceptance. But, personally, I think the plan he outlined is the only one that can be achieved, thus giving independence to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis.

My friends, these are very interesting days, aren't they? God's plan for the advent of the King is getting clearer. Don't despair! Look up because your redemption soon draws near!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Daddy, Are We There Yet?"

Excitement ran high in the Frazier household that summer. We had talked about going to California to visit my sister and Marlys' sister and their families for many months. Packing lists had been prepared. The old station-wagon had been serviced. The day finally arrived when we loaded the back end with a mountain of stuff - you would have thought we were going to be gone longer than 3-weeks. Then we seated all three of our children into the back seat. Hardly any snuggle room between them. And, early one morning, we were off. We had not driven very far down the highway when Beth, our youngest, said, "Daddy, are we there yet?!" I tried to explain to the kids that it would take about 3 days to get to where we were going. Finally, at a roadside stop, I got the map out and showed them and then put them in charge of following where we were going.

I thought of Beth's comment the other day as I was preparing a message for an upcoming Prophecy Conference I have been invited to share at this summer. "Are we there yet?" In essence Beth was asking, "Daddy, how much longer until we get there?" Many believers today are asking a similar question, "How much longer until Jesus returns?" In the hearts of many there is that growing sense of excitement that something is about to happen. How soon will it be?

I am eternally grateful to God for His providing a map for us. Just as I pointed out to my children what to look for and what to expect as we proceeded down the road to California, so God has pointed out to us, in His Word, what to look for and what to expect as we anticipate the return of His Son. Jesus, in His sermon to His disciples about the end times, commonly called the Olivet Discourse, shared many things they should expect: wars and rumors of war, famines, ecological disasters, false religions, etc. Perhaps you should read Matthew 24 and 25 once again. And then there are the prophets - you know, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Twelve - whose books are filled with mileage markers pointing to the end when Jesus returns. Let's see: there is Israel's return to the land - happened in 1948; there is the desert blossoming as a rose - just visit Israel today and you see it happening right before your very eyes; there is the coalition of nations who desire Israel's demise - it seems almost everyday you read about one of the Arab nations who calls for Israel's annihilation; and the list could go on for pages.

Friends, these are just mileage markers. They are just points on a map. But as we near each one - and in some cases pass them by, they are an indication that we are getting closer to the end of the journey.

I remember our children became adept at map-reading that summer. Beth's question of "Daddy, are we there yet?" became "Daddy, we are getting closer, aren't we?" Perhaps it is time that, as believers, we get back to map-reading. Perhaps it is time that we get back into the Word and discover exactly where we are and where we are going. Yes, we are getting closer. The composer of that old Negro-spiritual was correct when he wrote: "Soon and very soon we are going to see the King...Hallelujah!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beware Who Comes Knocking On Your Door!

Recently I came across an article written by Drew Zahn for the WORLDNETDAILY, dated May 22, 2009. It was the account of a San Diego pastor and his wife who were interrogated by a San Diego County official and warned that they faced escalating fines if they continued their Tuesday night Bible studies in their home. In the eyes of the County, such studies constituted a "religious assembly" and that, in order to continue, they would have to obtain a permit which would cost over $10,000. If they failed to obtain the permit, then they would face those escalating fines.

Now, this couple was not asked if they hosted Tupperware parties in their home. They were not asked if they hosted a Super Bowl party in their home. They were not asked if they had friends over for a weekly game of cards. No, they were interrogated because they hosted a Bible study in their home.

According to the first amendment of our Constitution, Americans have the privilege of freedom of religion without the interference of governmental actions. In fact the very words of the Constitution are: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If I host a Bible study in my home, the Constitution of the United States declares that government cannot prohibit that free exercise.

Not all religions in America are being targeted today. Those wearing bulls-eyes on their shirts and jackets are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians. In a recent document from the United States Department of Home Land Security, it is that very group of people who are labeled as being terrorist in nature.

Why are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians viewed as a threat? First, because they view every action of people and government through the lens of Scripture. They ask themselves, "What does the Bible teach?" They are not inclined to consider popularity polls, nor do they consider compromise for the sake of acceptance. Like Daniel of old, they have resolved in their hearts not to defile themselves. In a nation where toleration has become the operative word, evangelical, Bible-believing Christians are viewed as a threat.

Second, they are viewed as a threat because their vision of the future is different from those of our nations leaders. Many today are looking to men for answers to life's difficulties; Christians look to God and eagerly anticipate the return of Jesus Christ. And what a difference that makes!

Friends, I believe the birth-pangs of the persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ are near; they are close at hand. Perhaps God will use this persecution to separate those fully committed to Christ from those just going along for the ride. Are you ready to suffer for Him? Are you ready to lose your freedoms for Him? Are you ready to even lose your life for Him? These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. What happened in San Diego County may happen next in your County. You never know who will be knocking next upon your door.