Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Chick-fil-A Is Targeted Once Again

Chick-fil-A is back in the news once again.  One of the fastest growing fast-food chains has been "called-on-the-carpet" - not because of the quality of its food (I love their chicken soup and Oreo shakes) or because of its service, which ranks among the highest in the fast-food industry.  No, according to a piece written by Dan Piepenbring and published in The New Yorker magazine, Chick-fil-A is infiltrating New York with "pervasive Christian traditionalism."


Thomas Gallatin, an in article posted at The Patriot Post website - www.patriotpost.us/articles/55375-the-left-hates-chick-fil-a-because-of-christianity, exposes the hypocrisy of Dan Piepenbring.  "Piepenbring sees as problematic the fact that Chick-fil-A's Atlanta headquarters facility 'is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple's feet.' and that 'its stores close on Sundays.'  Piepenbring writes, 'There's something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers.'  He adds, 'Its politics, its d├ęcor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety.'


"He wasn't done.  Piepenbring relates, 'The restaurant's corporate purpose still begins with the words "to glorify God," and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch.'  Wow, so any company with traditional Christian beliefs that dares to apply its beliefs is 'an infiltration.'  How 'woke' of him to call out this consistent belief system.


"If any fast-food restaurant deserves praise not just for its quality food and service but also for its treatment of employees, community engagement and public generosity, it's Chick-fil-A.  There's a reason it's on course to becoming the third-largest fast food chain behind only McDonald's and Starbucks, and that's not in spite of founder S. Truett Cathy's 'Christian traditionalism' but because of it.  What is 'creepy' is the number of deeply insecure leftists who produce, promote and feed on this kind of intolerant and hypocritical groupthink.  Image if the fast-food chain in question was Muslim-owned - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would be rolling out the red carpet for it instead of calling for a boycott.


"Piepenbring epitomizes the rapidly spreading bigotry of leftists, who are completely unwilling to offer the same tolerance and deference to opposing views and opinions that they demand from others.  Meanwhile, they hypocritically lay claim to the 'pro-diversity' moniker.  Specifically, the Left hates conservative Christianity because it refuses to bow to its 'new morality.'  So, no matter how well-made the product or how good the service, if the business's owner holds a traditional conservative and Christian worldview, then leftist dogma demands it be opposed and maligned." 


I don't know about you - but this makes me want to visit my nearest Chick-fil-A more often.  If this restaurant chain is in the cross-hairs of culture's line of fire, then there must be something worthy of that chain having my dining out business.  I appreciate a company who, although interested in making a profit, has not let that desire for profit deter it from the foundations upon which Chick-fil-A was created.  Would that more companies would return to those initial foundational principles.  So "Eat Mor Chiken."


On another cultural note, I read a powerful article this week, written by Avery Foley which was posted on the Answer in Genesis website.  You can reference this article at:
www.answersingenesis.org/sin/can-church-embrace-homosexual-behavior-in-name-of-love. The author of this article begins with a powerful statement: "Being a Christian is about 'living in the tension'" a reference to the tension between grace and truth.  The author continues, "That's what Christ did.  He loved people - loved them enough to die for his enemies (Romans 5:8)!  He was filled with grace and extended that grace toward sinners (including millions of other believers and me!)  But Scripture tells us he came filled with 'grace and truth' (John 1:14).  And that's the tension!  We love people, but that doesn't mean we wish them to live in their sin.  Instead, we're called to speak 'the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15)."


The article concludes: "There's hope for everyone in the Cross of Jesus Christ, whether you are a liar, a thief, an adulterer, a homosexual, or a drunkard.  God's church is made up of people who've been redeemed from all kinds of sinful backgrounds and who have one thing in common: they've been given new life through the power of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). ... True hope and peace are not found in practicing, affirming, or celebrating sinful behaviors.  They're found in repentance and the new life that Christ can give."


This will be the final blog for a couple of weeks.  Marlys and I will be leading a tour to Israel, leaving on Friday.  We will be in Israel for nearly two weeks.  We have twenty-five in our group, most of whom will be visiting Israel for the very first time.  Oh the excitement just to walk where Jesus walked.  Oh the wonder of being on the Sea of Galilee.  And oh the mysteries that become unfolded as one visits the Old City.  We thank you for your prayers for us and our team while we are gone.  And, upon our return, I will write and let you know of how God worked in our lives. 


So, until then, keep looking up because your redemption is drawing near, and keep working because the fields are white unto harvest. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Of Syria, Gaza, and Guns

Things in the Middle East are continuing to approach the "boiling over" point.  The civil war in Syria simply has no ending - at least not in the near future.  Russia and Iran are doing everything to continue supporting the dictatorial and oppressive regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.  Last weekend it was reported that forces loyal to the Syrian government used chemical weapons against a Damascus suburb that was in the control of anti-government forces.  This was not the first time that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people. 


On Monday, the United Nations Security Counsel was presented with a resolution, sponsored by the United States, that condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons.  The resolution was vetoed by Russia.  Britain and France have threatened air strikes against Syrian government bases.  Israel has already conducted an air strike against the military base from which the chemical weapons were launched.  President Trump has also voiced his anger at the chemical attack and has vowed some type of US retaliatory strike.  Both Russia and Iran have uttered their own threats should the United States strike back at the Assad regime. 


President Trump is in a very awkward position.  Last week he announced his intentions to begin bringing home the troops that we have in Syria.  He declared that victory over ISIS had been achieved in Syria.  He does not want the United States to become embroiled with the Syrian War itself.  Yet, he has stated that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.  Furthermore, will Congress be supportive of the President's actions? 


We do know from the prophetic writings that Damascus, Syria's capital, will play a role in the last days, but will be suddenly destroyed completely.  Perhaps we are inching toward that very time.  You can bet that Israeli intelligence operatives are keeping a very watchful eye on what is happening to their neighbor on the northeast.


For the past several weeks, tensions have reached the "boiling point" along Israel's Gaza Strip border.  This protest has been named the "March of Return."  It is scheduled to culminate on May 14 - the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Israel's Independence.  The goal is to flood Israel with millions of Palestinian "refugees", each claiming the right-of-return to those properties abandoned by family members in 1948 as they fled the War of Independence.  This right-of-return is an essential element in the Palestinian peace narrative.  If allowed, it would turn Israel from a Jewish state to an Arab Islamic State - simply because the Arab population would be the majority.  There have been almost constant border clashes with many Palestinian casualties. 


In this uncertain times, one can hardly afford not to pay attention to what is happening in the Middle East.  Many of the players that Ezekiel describes in chapters 38-39 are coming to the table.  Just last week key leaders from Iran, Turkey, and Russia met in Turkey to discuss the future of Syria and the Middle East.  Wow! These are exciting times for the believer!


Here at home, debate continues over gun control.  Louis DeBroux wrote a piece for The Patriot Post a couple weeks ago that I thought was excellent.  You can find the entire article at: www.patriotpost.us/articles/55014-yes-leftists-want-to-repeal-the-second-amendment.  "The recent mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school renewed the debate on gun control and the Second Amendment itself.  The stakes were raised this week.  The principle of the debate is simple: namely, the right to self-defense is a God-given right that predates government itself.  The Declaration of Independence proclaims we are each endowed by our Creator with certain 'unalienable rights' and that 'to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed.'  Got that?  Rights are secured, NOT granted, by government.


"Not according to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who this week declared in a New York Times op-ed that it is time to repeal the Second Amendment.  He argued that the Court erred in 2008 when it ruled the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms (District of Columbia v. Heller).  Bizarrely, by arguing the amendment pertains only to the right of the government to form a well-regulated militia, Stevens claims to be the only right listed in the Bill of Rights that protects government rather than the individual.


"Indeed, the entire reason for the adoption of the Second Amendment was not to protect sport shooting, or hunting, or even for defense against criminals.  It was to provide a bulwark against the potential infringements on Liberty by a tyrannical government."


The article concludes: "In his Commentaries on the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, the 'Father of American Jurisprudence,' made it clear and unambiguous, declaring, 'The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.'  Disarming law-abiding citizens will not protect innocent people; it will only leave them defenseless against those with homicidal intentions - not to mention at the mercy of tyrannical government.  It is beyond foolish to think otherwise."


Friends, the push toward the confiscation of guns is merely the first step.  In London, a city with extremely strict gun-control laws, the new weapon of choice is knives.  Now the Mayor of London wants to control the knives on the streets.  This is one of those vicious cycles that has no ending until every means that can be used for self-defense is taken away.  When that happens, the government will be in total control.  Those will be the days of the Antichrist. 


We live in a very confused world.  But there is hope on the horizon with that wonderful promise that the Lord is coming soon.  Oh what a day that will be when our Jesus we shall see!  How we need to help people be prepared when it happens.



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter - Under Attack - Really?

Is it just me or is the assault upon Christianity intensifying.  We have seen the video clip over and over of Joy Behar, one of the hosts on the ABC program "The View", and her rank against Vice President Pence because he declared that he talked with God and God talked with him.  For her, that was a sign of mental illness.  I guess she has never prayed before - perhaps she doesn't need to because she seems to have life all figured-out.  But I believe that someday Joy Behar will be in a position where she will strongly want to hear from God. 


This past week, Thomas Gallatin wrote an amazing article for the Patriot Post.  You can read the entire article at: www.patriotpost.us/articles/55089-leftmedias-deliberate-mischaracterization-of-Christianity.  The author writes: "From National Public Radio to NBC News to CNN, the mainstream media's ignorant misrepresentation of basic and central Christian beliefs and doctrines would be understandable if it wasn't for the fact that Christianity is the religion practiced by some 70% of Americans.  On Good Friday, MPR published an article that addressed a report that Pope Francis had denied the existence of hell.  NPR originally described Easter as 'the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.'  After receiving much deserved blowback, NPR corrected the piece to read, 'Easter - the day Christians celebrate Jesus' Resurrection.'  How could NPR get one of the most foundational beliefs of Christianity so terribly wrong?


"Far worse, NBC News marked the sacred occasion with a piece entitled, 'On Easter Sunday, Christians must remember how easily and often our faith is used to defend white supremacy.'  The article relays a story of a bunch of white southern racists who murdered several blacks and other defenders of Reconstruction one Easter Sunday in 1873 in Colfax County, Louisiana.  It is indeed a horrific story, but it is far from emblematic of Christian beliefs or practices.  And it was 145 years ago.  Ironically, the article does exactly what it condemns - it seeks to co-opt the Christian message, ignoring its central teachings, so as to promote an anti-Donald Trump pro-leftist political cause.  The question once again is how did the MSM get the Christian doctrine of Easter this wrong?


"But then there was what may have been the worst understanding of Easter - this one from CNN.  In an article title, 'How Easter became a #MeToo moment,' which was not listed as an opinion piece, author John Blake asserted that Jesus was a victim of sexual humiliation as a result of being hung naked on the cross, and therefore 'if linking the Easter story with the #MeToo movement is offensive and bewildering to some, perhaps that is fitting.'  Additionally, Mary Magdalene was a #MeToo victim of male authority.  Blake continued, 'The Easter stories in the Gospels have a jarring, unexpected quality about them as well. ... The stories are enigmatic and elusive.  They continue to yield surprises even 2,000 years later.  They are, in some ways, much like the figure of Jesus himself.'  While attempting to sound profound, Blake reveals once again a shocking amount of ignorance of what Easter is actually all about."


Friends, these stories - and they could be multiplied countless times over - are evidence of how our culture has turned against God and the truths of His Word.  How could anyone possible get Easter wrong?  It is very easy if you take God out of the picture.  Then the death of Jesus becomes nothing other than a strong case of injustice.  The death of Jesus becomes a "poster-child" for the cause of social justice.  Instead of Jesus being "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" He becomes merely a means to an end. 


Then I read an article yesterday posted by Fox News.  It can be found at: www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/03/christians-and-white-people-get-unmerited-perks-live-easier-lives-George-Washington-university-seminar-says.  Friends, this article is alarming and very revealing of what the attitude is on many of our secular university campuses.  "George Washington University is hosting a seminar on combating 'Christian privilege' in America.  According to an event description, students in a 90-minute training sessions will learn about ways American Christians receive things they don't deserve and are not worthy of getting: 'How do we...acknowledge that Christians receive unmerited perks from institutions and systems all across our country?'  The Multicultural Student Services Center (MSSC) at GWU is hosting 'Christian Privilege: But Our Founding Fathers Were All Christian, Right?!'  According to the website, MSSC Associate Director and LGBTQ Resources Director Timothy Kane will discuss how American Christians have 'easier' lives and get 'built-in advantages over non-Christians' as well as making 'room for all religious and secular identities on an equal playing field.' ... 'These trainings equip students and staff with the necessary skills to promote diversity and inclusion in the different environments in which they find themselves frequently,' the website says.


"Former Secret Service Agent, Dan Bongino, tweeted about the 'disturbing' story as reported by The College Fix, saying, 'Someone should've told the martyrs about 'Christian privilege.'  Another person on Twitter, Chad Prather, tweeted that with martyrdom, beatings, and beheadings they should host the workshop in Libya, Ethiopia, Iran or northern Nigeria.  'I think America has too much 'university privilege,' Prather wrote."


I want to share one more article that really wrestles with the core issue.  It was written by Emilie Kao and can be found at The Daily Signal website.  It is titled, "Americans Grapple With Evil Amid Decline in Religious Faith."  Let me quote briefly some of the highlights.  "Blaise Pascal once described a 'God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man.'  But in modern-day America, few statements can raise eyebrows more swiftly than expressing faith in the transcendent. ... In a world where we can drive vehicles, communicate globally, and change the temperature of our homes with the touch of a finger, it is easy to believe that we have mastered our physical environment.  Yet we are stumped when the age-old problem of evil rears its ugly head.  It's no surprise, then, that in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy, we fixate on a material solution - gun control - to solve what we assess as a material problem.  But what if the problem is much deeper than raising the gun-buying age by a few years or making it harder to get certain types of guns?  What if the roots of the problem are actually internal and moral, and even spiritual?"


The writer of the article continues by quoting from Professor emeritus of psychology at New York University Paul Vitz.  Dr. Vitz "attributes teens' skyrocketing anxiety, self-harm, suicides, and school shootings to their poor spiritual health.  Despite being born into a world with more material comforts and mental health resources than ever, the next generation seems increasingly drawn toward self-destruction.  Vitz observes that without belief in objective truth, goodness, and beauty, including the belief that they are created in the image of God, the next generation clings to external sources of identity: social media, sexual experiences, and material possessions.  In a sea of ever-changing cultural and social trends, such flimsy sources of meaning can predictably leave some of them bewildered and overwhelmed.  'Countless young people...feel there is nothing for them to believe in,  Emotional numbness is one of the consequences.  They...no longer find self-worth in their efforts to lead lives based on truth and love.'  Vitz proposes that Americans re-examine the value of faith and its power to help people live happier, healthier, and longer lives."


This is the world in which we live.  This is the world that I am leaving behind for my grandchildren.  How vitally important it is that parents, grandparents, and the church do all it can to help prepare those children and grandchildren to have a faith that is anchored securely to the Rock Christ Jesus.