Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The New Civil Rights War Is About to Begin

The lead story that came out of this past weekend was the "kicking out" of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders from a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.  The reason cited for the refusal to serve Mrs. Sanders and to ask her to leave was based upon the fact that Mrs. Sanders works in the administration of President Trump and the owner does not support many of the positions of the Trump Administration.  Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the Red Hen Restaurant "cited the press secretary's work for the 'inhumane and unethical' Trump Administration.  'I'm not a huge fan of confrontation.  I have a business, and I want the business to thrive.  This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.'" ( 

Friends, I found this story to be appalling.  Our nation spent nearly a decade or longer in what is called "the civil rights" movement to counter such attitudes that Stephanie Wilkinson displayed.  I remember the stories, as a child growing up, of how black people were refused service in a restaurant simply because of the color of their skin.  I guess if you had asked the owners of those restaurants they might have said that they had a moral reason for making their place off-limits to blacks.  But, our nation said they were wrong.  Because we live in a democracy a person should have the freedom to visit any place of business regardless of his or her skin color. 

We have heard often these past months of how the Trump Administration has been characterized as being like the Hitler regime.  Friends, how is the attitude of Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, VA, any different from those shop owners in 1930's Germany who posted signs saying that Jews were not allowed in their stores?  Those people were excluded simply because of their religious convictions.

Can you imagine the uproar if, instead of the Press Secretary that was asked to leave, it had been a gay person who was asked to leave because the owner of the restaurant did not want to serve a hamburger to a gay?  Yet, because this was one of President Trump's administrative leaders, it was okay.  Can Americans no longer have a dialogue based upon respect for one another?  Can Americans no longer listen respectfully to one another?  Can Americans no longer hold differing opinions without tearing one another apart? 

There was another huge victory in the United States Supreme Court this past week.  As I shared with you earlier this year, a case came from the State of California concerning a law that mandated that pro-life counseling centers post information about abortion and where those services could be provided.  The Supreme Court ruled that such a mandate violated the principle of freedom of religious expression found within the First Amendment.  President Trump's appointment of Justice Gorsuch has paid huge dividends already.

President Trump's representative to help broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians has held meetings in Jordan and Israel these past days.  Jarrod Kushner is seeking to bring all the parties to the table.  However, there is a strong hesitation, even an antagonism, on the part of the Palestinian leadership to even have the dialogue.  They are still adamant that the only solution is a land without the presence of Israel.  Will Mr. Kushner be successful?  Probably not, but at least the desire of the Trump Administration is to try to open the doors for a dialogue, first helping the Palestinians to see the reality that Israel is a nation and that Jerusalem is its capital. 

I am going to take a brief break from weekly blogs - unless something catastrophic occurs, which I hope will not be the case.  After 46 years of ministry, I am finally taking a sabbatical leave from my church for a month.  Marlys and I will be traveling to Virginia where we have rented a house for three week.  I plan to do some sermon writing on the life of Jesus, read some books, and visit a lot of historical sites.  If something occurs that needs some interpretation from a biblical standpoint, I will write on my Facebook page.  Until we connect again, keep looking for the appearance of our only Hope, and keep working in the mission fields in which God has placed you. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tensions Continue in the Middle East Which Demands Our Attention

Tensions are mounting in Turkey as national elections approach on June 24.  At one time it was considered that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a "shoo-in" to retain his position of power in Ankara.  But recent polls have shown a dramatic drop in his popularity among the people, thus causing many observers to wonder at the results next week.  President Erdogan has sought to take Turkey in a move away-from-center Islamic philosophy and toward a more radical one.  His relationships with Israel over the years has waxed both warm and icy-cold.  He has been aligning Turkey more with Russia and Iran than with his NATO allies in Europe, thus causing many to wonder if Turkey even belongs in NATO any longer. 

I know you are saying, "Why is Max bringing up Turkey at this point in time?"  On June 10, President Erdogan, in a speech before a political crowd in Istanbul, made a statement that should have alarmed the world, but, sadly did not even make headlines among the mainstream news media.  The Austrian government had declared that they were closing many of Austria's mosques and expelling between 40 and 60 imams and their families.  These imams were accused of receiving funding from abroad, particularly from Turkey.  Erdogan responded, "They say they're going to kick our religious men out of Austria.  Do you think we will not react if you do such a thing?  That means were going to have to do something.  These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent."  (

That is an amazing statement that should alarm each one of us.  Erdogan is viewed as a leader within the Islamic community because of how he is shifting the internal philosophies within Turkey.  And, over the years, that radical ideology has guided the Taliban, Boko Haram, and ISIS in their assaults upon all those who oppose their radical interpretation of the Quran.  Erdogan has taken us back over a millennium to those days when there was a war between the cross and the crescent - a time we know as the Crusades.  Those were horrific days with brutality being the norm for both Christians and Muslims.  Does Erdogan really want the world to revert to those days?  Hopefully this was just a political statement made in the heat of a suddenly narrowed political campaign.  But perhaps Erdogan was sharing a deeply held belief among many Muslims.  All eyes will be on Turkey in the coming days to see the direction the people want their country to go.

As you know, Marlys and I have recently returned from two weeks in Israel.  While standing on the Golan Heights near the Syrian border, we heard the sound of mortar rounds being fired in the city that lay just at the base of the mountain upon which we were standing.  These were followed by the sounds of small-arms and then automatic weapons.  It was a battle between the forces loyal to Syrian President Assad and those who have opposed his regime.  Later, Syrian forces actually fired mortar shells across the border onto the Golan Heights.  Israel responded with aerial strikes that destroyed much of the military infrastructure that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were building. 

On June 15, Yachanan Visser, a writer for the Arutz Sheva - the Israel National News association, wrote an article titled, "Analysis: Winds of war as Iran axis prepared for Golan offensive."  Allow me to quote from portions of this article: "On Sunday, the Israeli military launched a massive surprise drill in the Golan Heights involving a large number of reservists who were ordered to report for immediate duty and to show up in full gear.  In a statement, the IDF claimed the exercise had nothing to do 'with current events' and was planned 'in advance as part of the 2018 training schedule,' while the army warned residents of the mountainous plateau they could expect hearing 'loud explosions' and 'increasing traffic of vehicles.'  The statement was most likely meant to reduce tensions in the region and to prevent further escalation toward war after the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition started to prepare for a large-scale offensive against the various rebel groups in the border area with Jordan and Israel."

Reports from independent sources have shown the involvement of the Iranians near the Israeli border, thus their becoming the targets of Israeli airstrikes.  Syrian President Assad stated in an interview with an Iranian television station that "he would not object to the establishment of a permanent Iranian military base within his country's borders if such a base is necessary" (Visser article quoted above). 

Tensions continue to increase along Israel's northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.  I don't think Israel will begin a war with either Hezbollah in Lebanon or with the Syrians, but they are preparing themselves if such a war comes.  This area of the world demands our vigilant observations. 

Before signing off for this week, I want to refer you to a very disturbing article written by Arnold Ahlert on June 18 and published at  This article is alarming in what it presents of the human sexuality curriculum being taught in the California public schools.   When a pro-life group showed a video of what happens during an abortion, the uproar was loud, but just let the lower elementary students read a book titled, "I am Jazz: Reading a Children's Book to Help Understand Transgender Topics in Elementary School" and it is granted approval.  Friends, after reading this article I can see why home-schooling is becoming a growing educational choice for many families. 

Summer is now upon us - a time for some rest and relaxation.  But do not forget to observe what God is doing in His world.  He is carefully preparing the stage for the entrance of His Son to assume a throne that has long been vacant.  Oh what a glorious day that will be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An Historic Summit and a Changing World Order

Of course the major news story dominating the airwaves this week has been the summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un in Singapore.  This was the very first meeting between a sitting United States President and the leader of The People's Republic of North Korea, technically a nation with which we are still at war.  Of course the pundits and naysayers within the mainstream media shouted their disdain for this summit and ridiculed every aspect of it, and they are quick to state that nothing good came out of the summit.  Many within the mainstream media have compared this summit to that between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and German Chancellor Adolph Hitler in Munich in 1938, which resulted in the handing over of the Sudetenland to Hitler.  But, as history has shown, that appeasement of Hitler did not stop his maniacal ambitions.  Did President Trump merely appease Kim Jung Un?  From what I have read of the final document, the term appeasement could not be used of that accord.  Also, President Trump has said that he desires Congress to ratify this accord, hardly what a President would do if all that was accomplished was appeasement.

This was an historic meeting between two nations that fought a bitter war in the early 1950's, a war that ended with only an armistice being signed.  History will be the final judge of what occurred these past two days in Singapore, but perhaps they will rank with President Nixon's visit to China which opened the doors to China becoming part of the world of nations, or to President Reagan's summit with Soviet Leader Gorbachev in Iceland which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the wall of the Iron Curtain. 

Can you imagine what a unified Korean Peninsula would be like?  I could see the Korean Church sending leaders into the North where the Gospel has been rarely heard - even as there was in Eastern Europe and Russia when the Iron Curtain collapsed.  Instead of the North Korean leadership spending hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear research and weapons manufacture, just think how the people of North Korea would benefit if those monies were used to improve their lot in life.  Friends, this is something that I will be watching closely.

Speaking of our changing world, I recently read a fascinating article written by Victor Davis Hanson and published in the National Review.  It is titled, "The Post-War Order Is Over."  I strongly recommend this article.  It can be found at the National Review website.  Allow me to just quote a few portions of this amazing and thought-provoking article.  "The post-war order is over.  And not because Trump wrecked it.  The 75-year-old post-war order crafted by the United States after World War II is falling apart.  Almost every major foreign-policy initiative of the last 16 years seems to have gone haywire.  Donald Trump's presidency was a reflection, not a catalyst, of the demise of the foreign-policy status quo.  Much of the world now already operates on premises that have little to do with official post-war institutions, customs, and traditions, which, however once successful, belong now to a bygone age.

"There is also nothing sacred about the European Union.  It certainly is not the blueprint for any continental-wide democratic civilization - any more than Bonaparte's rigged 'continental system' (to which the EU is on occasion strangely and favorably compared to by its proponents).  The often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites, from the Atlantic to the Russian border, is spreading, not curbing, chaos.  The EU utopian mindset has altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense.  The result is that there are already four sorts of antithetical EUs: a renegade and departing United Kingdom, an estranged Eastern European bloc worried over open borders, an insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity, and the old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony)."

I found his assessment of the Middle East to be fascinating.  Dr. Hanson writes, "The Palestinian issue of the last 75 years is ossified.  If the millions of persons displaced in Europe and the Middle East between 1946 and 1950 - at about the same time as Palestinians left present-day Israel - were not considered 'refugees' for decades, then Palestinians can hardly be singular sufferers.  Perpetual victimhood is not a basis for a national agenda, much less a blank check for endless, virtue-signaling Western aid.  Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was simply an iconic recognition of what has been true for nearly a decade.  The West Bank's rich Arab patrons now fear Iran more than they do Israel.  The next Middle East war will be between Israel and Iran, not the Palestinians and their Arab sponsors and Tel Aviv - and the Sunni Arab world will be rooting for Israel to defeat Islamic Iran."

Finally, I want to share an article from the Patriot Post, published on June 9, 2018.  You can find this article at  "Newly released research that analyzed millions of DNA barcodes has come to a surprising conclusion that effectively turns the theory of evolution on its head.  The massive study, which spanned a decade of work from hundreds of scientists, found that 9 out of 10 animal species on the planet came into being around the same time as humans, 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.  Senior research associate at the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University Mark Stoeckle and University of Basel geneticist David Thaler found that 90% of all animal life on earth appeared at approximately the same time.  Thaler said, 'This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.'

"Another study coming out of Cornell University has found significant inaccuracies in one of the key methods archaeologists use to determine the age of objects made from organic material - radiocarbon dating.  Stuart Manning, professor of archaeology at Cornell University, recently published his study, 'Fluctuating Radiocarbon Offsets Observed in the Southern Levant and Implications for Archaeological Chronology Debates.'  Manning states, "We went looking to test the assumptions behind the whole field of radiocarbon dating.  We know from atmospheric measurements over the last 50 years that radiocarbon levels vary through the year, and we also know that plants typically grow at different times in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere.  So we wondered whether the radiocarbon levels relevant to dating organic material might also vary for different areas and whether this might affect archaeological dating.'"

The article concludes by stating that Professor Manning and his team found that the calibrations using radiocarbon dating for artifacts discovered in Israel and Jordan and identified with the early Bronze Age and Biblical chronology were off by an average of 19 years.  "Manning concluded, 'Our work should prompt a round of revisions and rethinking for the timeline of the archaeology and early history of the southern Levant through the early Biblical period."

This is one of those studies in science and archaeology that will tend to get lost, but it is one that Bible scholars and evangelical believers should applaud.  It really is affirming of the Genesis record.

Friends, God is in control.  These are exciting days.  What opportunities God is giving to us to be His ambassadors to proclaim His truth into the lives of those around us.  Will the trumpet soon be sounding?  Every day we get one day closer.  And to that truth we proclaim a strong "Amen!"

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"Little" Victories, Gazan Strife, and Offensive Proms

Sometimes in life one has to celebrate the "little" victories.  One such "little" victory occurred this past Monday when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony.  The decision of the judges was 7-2 in favor of Mr. Phillips.  Mr. Phillips was the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop located in Lakewood, Colorado.  He was sued by two homosexual men for his refusal to bake a wedding cake for them on the basis of his religious beliefs.  The Colorado Civil Rights Commission entered the case on the side of the plaintiffs.  The Supreme Court strongly rebuked the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its excessively hostile attitudes toward Mr. Phillips and his religious convictions.  It truly was a great day for Mr. Phillips and gave a measure of hope that other Christian business people might experience a similar result.

Yet, here is where I call this just a "little" victory.  In ruling on this case - Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission - the Court did not broaden its judgment to include other similar cases pending within the lower courts.  Their decision only applied to that of Mr. Phillips.  So there is still uncertainty about how the Court might rule in other cases that involve the conflict between the religious liberty of a business owner and a person's right to purchase services from that business - whether it is flowers, or cakes, or pictures, or invitations.  But "little" victories can soon add up to "big" victories.

Last week I wrote of the continued violence within the Gaza Strip and stated that the responsibility for this unrest could be laid at the feet of the leadership - Hamas.  This past week, Efraim Karsh, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and editor of the Middle East Quarterly, wrote a very interesting article that was published in The Jerusalem Post on June 3.  You can find this article at:,-stupid.  I would like to quote from this article so as to document what is truly the reason for the continued unrest within the Gaza Strip.  "No cliché has dominated the discourse on the Gaza situation more than the perception of Palestinian violence as a corollary of the Strip's dire economic condition.  No sooner had Hamas and Israel been locked in yet another armed confrontation over the past weeks than the media, foreign policy experts and politicians throughout the world urged the immediate rehabilitation of Gaza as panacea to its endemic propensity for violence.  Even senior members of the Israel Defense Forces opined that a 'nonmilitary process' of humanitarian aid could produce a major change in the Gaza situation.

"While there is no denying the argument's widespread appeal, there is also no way around the fact that it is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.  For it is not Gaza's economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has cause the Strip's humanitarian crisis.

"For one thing, countless nations and groups in today's world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions that the Palestinians, yet none have embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale.  For another thing, there is no casual relationship between economic hardship and mass violence.  On the contrary, in the modern world it is not the poor and the oppressed who have carried out the worst acts of terrorism and violence but, rather, the militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed circles of society, be they homegrown terrorist groups in the West or their Middle Eastern counterparts."

The author then proceeds to give facts concerning the education and financial means of those who have led the modern terrorist movement.  The facts were alarming.  He then states how, under the leadership of Hamas, the socioeconomic environment among those living within the Gaza Strip has deteriorated. 

"In short, it is not socioeconomic despair but the total rejection of Israel's right to exist, inculcated by the PLO and Hamas in their hapless West Bank and Gaza subjects over the past 25 years, which underlies the relentless anti-Israel violence emanating from these territories and its attendant economic stagnation and decline. 

"This, in turn, means that so long as Gaza continues to be governed by Hamas's rule of the jungle, no Palestinian civil society, let alone a viable state, can develop.  Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so, too, it is only when the local population sweeps its oppressive rulers from power, eradicates the endemic violence from political and social life, and teaches the virtues of coexistence with Israel that Gaza can look forward to a better future."

This article is highly recommended.  More money is not the answer to the problems within the Gaza Strip.  The solution is a change of leadership and a change of focus from destruction to construction, from violence to peace, from hatred toward one's neighbor to reaching out to accept help from that neighbor.  Will this happen?  Only if there is a concerted effort on the part of the people to seek to improve their lives.  To be honest, right now I truly do not see that happening any time soon.  So the violence will continue.  The plight of the people living within the Gaza Strip will continue to be deplorable.  The response from the Western world media will continue to cast blame at the feet of Israel for the plight found within the Strip.  Tunnels will continue to be dug.  Rockets will continue to be fired into Israel.  Israeli warplanes will continue bombing Hamas leadership sites.  And people will continue to die. 

I close with an article, written by Jarrett Stepman, and published by The Daily Signal on May 21.  It is titled, "Only in America's Schools Could 'Partying Like It's 1776' Be Offensive."  "At the rate we are going, saying 'good morning' might become offensive.  The principal of Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey issued an apology after some students deemed the public school's prom theme, 'Party Like It's 1776.' to be insensitive.  'I am writing to apologize for the hurt feelings this reference caused for members of our school family, ' Dennis Perry wrote Friday in a letter, according to the Cherry Hill Courier Post.  'I especially apologize to our African American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording,' he said.

"The principle announced that tickets would not be needed to get into the prom, a name would suffice, the tickets would be redesigned, and 'safeguards' would be laid down in the future to make sure nobody is offended by anything the school does.  What is especially ridiculous about this whole situation is that the school is hosting the prom at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a building that pays tribute to the nation's founding documents. 

"Every American, of any background, has a good reason to celebrate 1776.  While it is true that the promise of freedom imbued in the Declaration of Independence wasn't extended to everyone initially, it nevertheless set the stage for an advancement of liberty in the future."

Friends, what happened in 1776 truly changed the course of the world.  What those men, in that room in Philadelphia, created has been a tool that has challenged the political and civil landscapes of nearly every nation on the face of the earth.  The Declaration of Independence, together with the Constitution, written about a dozen years later, form two of the most powerful documents ever written by human governmental leaders.  Neither document is perfect, but the foundation they have created has stood the tests of nearly two and a half centuries. 

The article concludes: "It is said and disturbing to think that modern Americans today cannot unite behind something as universal as the Spirit of '76.  Episodes like these are making Americans lose faith in their public schools, and demonstrate why the issue of school choice is so essential.  Education goes beyond test scores and angling to get into competitive colleges.  It's about preparing young people to live as free citizens in a constitutional republic.  If our schools are failing to do that, parents need the tools to pressure them to do a better job of teaching them American values and American history.  At the very least, we must give parents the option to put their children in a school that will.  Americans face dire consequences if we allow this system of public education to go unfixed. 

"John Adams once said that Independence Day would be celebrated as one of the most important in history (though the nation's second president mistakenly thought it would be celebrated July 2).  'I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival,' Adam's wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, adding: 'It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.'"

So well put, Mr. Adams.