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Posts from the ‘Christian faith’ Category

When God Brings Justice His Way

Justice. We’ve heard the cry for it from school and restaurant shootings, from the family and friends of a black teenager gunned down by a young cop only 90 minutes after his swearing-in, and from a growing number of men and women violated sexually by predatory men in positions of importance or prominence. Sometimes the word “justice” gets replaced with “vengeance,” which means something else entirely, but nonetheless, we hear the desperate calls for it from those who feel powerless against those in authority over them. Common with all of these cries for justice is the anger and vehemence with which these calls are made. Some of the demonstrations surrounding some of these events have almost taken on the tone of lynching parties, which is a natural result of what happens when violence has occurred claiming innocent lives, and those left as victims in its wake feel they have no power to change what has caused the evil in the first place.

I can personally identify with that sense of hopelessness and despair, along with the rage that usually accompanies situations in which one becomes a victim of other people’s evil schemes, finding I can do nothing about them except cry out to God. In dealing with my own situation, I have found God guiding me to different scriptures to aid me in praying about the problems in accordance with His will. One of those scriptures I’ve been praying out of in recent months is Psalm 94, identified by scholars as one of the justice psalms. In this psalm, God is implored to avenge His people who faithfully follow and serve Him on those who oppress, rob, and even murder them. The oppressors in this psalm are those in positions of power and authority who have the means to crush anyone at will who tries to stop them or call them to account. They tend to attack those who are the most vulnerable and least capable of fighting back. The psalm begins with a call for God to be the God of vengeance, and to bring “recompense” or turnabout, onto those who have attacked and abused others. The psalm describes the offenders as those who laugh off any kind of acknowledgment from God of their actions, assuming He pays no attention to whatever they do, no matter how evil it may be.

The psalmist follows up this description of the offenders with a series of rhetorical questions that point out the folly of regarding God as either uninvolved, unconcerned, or nonexistent when it comes to watching and taking note of what evil is inflicted on others. God is described here as the one who made the ear and the eye, and most certainly hears and sees everything that goes on within and among His creation. He is also the one who gives humans the capacity to learn, and gives His reprimands to nations and individuals that defy Him and His principles. A key verse in this psalm is 11: “The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” The idea here is that there is nothing that anyone on this earth can do that will ever escape God’s notice, and that they will be held accountable by Him for it.

As for those who have been violated and victimized in one way or another, the psalmist writes that they are blessed by God if they follow Him and listen to His correction for the sin in their own lives, allowing Him to teach them the right way He has laid out for the world to follow. Such persons find God intervening and providing help and peace in trying situations caused by those determined to harm them. The psalmist makes it clear that God never turns His back on His children who call out to Him for deliverance and justice. He also declares in the psalm that God will work in a nation or culture to change the powers in control toward that which He declares to be right, bringing a halt to the injustice and oppression. Then in verse 16, the psalmist pours out two rhetorical questions which focus attention on God’s intervening grace and help while oppression is ongoing. The questions bring out the fact that God will not wait until the day of final judgment, when Christ returns to earth, to mete out His justice against those who absolutely refuse to stop doing evil to His faithful ones.

This leads into the final stanza in which the psalmist writes of how God has protected and cared for him through all the attacks against him, and of how He continues to help him. He describes how God’s mercy and love keep sustaining him through an ongoing threat against him by those in places of power. He shares how God even helps him with anxiety over the oppression, bringing peace and hope where there appears to be nothing but hopelessness and despair. Then, in verse 20, another rhetorical question concerning corrupt evil powers is raised: “Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree?” This question drives home the fact that God will not work with a corrupt government or business or any other human organization that seeks to cruelly oppress the most vulnerable, weakest, and most helpless people. Even as such evil powers gather their forces together to silence and destroy those who are endeavoring to live for God, the Almighty is working to bring their evil schemes back on their own heads, as the psalmist describes. God knows the plans that arise in the hearts and minds of evil people even before they hatch them, and He is prepared to rescue and protect His faithful followers from being destroyed spiritually by them. The psalmist points out this contrast between the plots of those trying to destroy their faith and God’s protection for them from that fate. Psalm 94 concludes with verse 23 in which God is shown bringing the wicked conniving of evil people back on them, ultimately destroying them if they remain unrepentant of their wrongdoing.

The reason this psalm has resonated with me in recent years is because I too, as a writer, a husband of a loving wife of 24 years, and as a Christian minister, have been the target of an evil plot by a large organization I can’t even name directly, because I don’t know who all it includes. For the past 15 years, since my wife and I moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina, to seek new ministry opportunities, I have found myself instead being attacked by the large and powerful LGBTQ community and their supporters in the Asheville area with an all-out effort to force me into the gay lifestyle. I’m talking about phone calls from gay men wanting me to come and have rendezvous with them, lesbians practicing witchcraft telling me to my face “We’re going to make you come out,” and numerous hacks and attacks on my computers with Trojan horses and other malware attempting to block me from writing anything about homosexuality. Added to this has been day and night harassment in our apartment while I have been there in an effort to unnerve me, getting me so upset, that I might spout a verbal threat against someone personally, for the purpose of having authorities summoned immediately to have me taken away to a state mental hospital. There psychiatrists would be charged with the task of “deprogramming me of my bigoted religious beliefs,” and persuading me that I am a queer who needs to leave his wife and go live that way among the LGBTQ community. The main practical problem with this: I have absolutely no desire for or inclination to engage in gay sex, the litmus test for determining if one’s sexual orientation goes that way.

If all of this reads as too far-fetched, let me share with you what I have learned about the radical elements of the LGBTQ movement. They operate under the belief that gay people are the most “evolved” of all humans, and that all of humanity should be moving in that direction sexually. Never mind what God said about human sexuality in Genesis 2. That’s totally irrelevant and mythological to them. What I’ve also learned about them, especially male queers, is that when they want new gay sex partners, they recognize almost no restraints on getting what they want. They will harass a man they see and want in stores or other public places, particularly restrooms, to try to get them to come with them. The usage of witchcraft and sorcery against men who won’t comply with what they want is another tactic some are employing, calling upon the forces of spiritual darkness to turn a straight man away from his wife and family to come join up with them. None of this has worked with me, and won’t, because God has kept his hand of care on me, just as the writer of Psalm 94 wrote, with the promise that His justice is coming against those who have persisted in attacking me in these ways.

One other thing to note in all my experience with this is the fact that LGBTQ rights activists and their friends aren’t the only people involved in this effort to discredit and silence me, which is really the main goal. There is a larger, hidden organization behind them, something that attorney Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice has identified as a “deep state,” one with an agenda to force our entire country and the world into the ultimate realization of Karl Marx’s anarchistic state he called Utopia. The LGBTQ community is easy for this organization to use, since they share many of the same political and social goals. One of their primary objectives is to eliminate all vestiges of the Christian faith that stand not only in opposition to homosexuality and other departures from what God established for human sexuality, but also any teaching that call for people to devote themselves to God in Christ. The belief here is that with Christianity’s influence eliminated from the earth through whatever means of coercion or genocide is necessary, the world will then be able to move unopposed into such a supposedly perfect existence. Once again, the primary method employed in achieving this now is the tactic of discredit and silence, which is what I have been experiencing.

In reading Psalm 94, I find God reminding me He has seen and heard everything that has been done against me and my wife, and His judgment and justice are coming for it. I have no need to seek vengeance on any of these people, because He will expose their evil deeds and plans at the appropriate time. According to this psalm, God will show Himself to be God,and His Word, which so many today so quickly reject as the truth. Does God love LGBTQ people? Absolutely, because He made them in His own image, and sent His Son to die for them, just like He did for me and all the rest of us sinners. But there comes a point in time in Which He says, “No more of this evil!” and stops it in whatever way He deems best. While He permits His faithful followers to be martyred for their faith, He will never allow them to be arbitrarily forced to go against Him or His truth, without His judgment coming against those who attempt this. This is the hope in which I continue to live and work, praying that some from these groups will come to recognize the lies of Satan that have deceived them, and turn away from this evil. That’s all possible through Jesus Christ.

(Scripture quotations from New American Standard Bible, 1995 updated edition).

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Justice vs. Vengeance: How the #Me Too Movement Blurs the Two

As the daily news headlines seem to carry the story of another high profile man accused of sexual misconduct, one message seems to be coming through from the victims: “Sincere apologies are not enough; we will make you pay and pay dearly for what your did to us.” That’s understandable in cases of rape or physical assault involving grabbing, groping, or forcible kissing, exhibitionism, or soliciting sex. But every small infraction a man could possibly commit physically or verbally is now viewed as cause for totally ruining his career, marriage, future, and life. This #Me Too movement now appears to be more than just an effort to obtain real justice for women and men victimized by serious sex crimes. It looks like a movement that is  not only trying to change a cultural environment, but to change the whole culture’s view of human sexuality.

That begs a couple of questions from men like myself who know we have not always behaved in a perfect manner toward women. Likewise, our wives, sisters, and daughters are asking, “Who and what is really behind this?” One of the questions I have about this movement is, Do these women who have allegedly been violated desire to see true justice or vengeance? There is a distinct difference between the two, and I’m not sure this #Me Too movement is making that distinction.

Let me illustrate the difference by pulling one of the cases from the recent headlines: Charlie Rose. No matter what you might think of him personally, Rose earned himself the reputation as an old-school, hard-nosed journalist unafraid to ask the tough questions of everyone he interviewed, regardless of which political party, company, or organization they represented. That’s what a good journalist does.

Mr. Rose also earned the reputation of being a classic ladies’ man, the quintessential cool, smooth, suave, debonair British gentleman who could make women’s hearts flutter just by walking into a room. Unfortunately, many of those women recently learned that he’s really a dirty old man. His sexual antics, as reported by women hired to work for his news documentary show, and by several co-workers at CBS, caused him to have his program yanked off the air, and to be fired by CBS and PBS. That leads to the question: Will true justice be served in the case of Charlie Rose and his alleged victims?

Let me answer that this way. There is a three-fold purpose I have identified to true justice in the case of the perpetrator: 1)Conviction for and admission of guilt for wrongdoing; 2)Correcting the behavior and attitudes of the perpetrator so that they repent of their wrongdoing and determine to turn away from it, and 3)Restitution to the victim, if applicable, or the sincere apologizing and seeking forgiveness for the wrong done. This implies that true justice, if it is to be realized completely, requires something from the victim: the willingness to eventually forgive, if not for the perpetrator, for the victim’s own emotional and spiritual well-being. It is only when we choose to forgive someone for wrong they’ve done to us, that we ourselves are released from the control of that hurt. If we continue to hold onto that hurt and refuse to forgive, especially if the wrongdoer has repented, then that can grow into bitterness that eventually eats up the victim, while the perpetrator may still find peace and restoration through other means. The ultimate goals of true justice are healing and redemption: healing for the victim, redemption for the perpetrator.

This brings us back to the matter of what the women of the #Me Too movement are really seeking. In the case of Charlie Rose and the women he hurt, the question that has to be asked is, (this is the Christian minister in me speaking) Does anybody care enough about Charlie Rose, (not the journalist, the person), to find out what led him down the slippery slope into sexual misconduct, in order to possibly help him to take ownership over his actions, confess and repent of them, and allow others to walk and talk with him through the process of redemption and restoration? Does anybody care enough about him to see him become a changed man, one who honors and respects women, or is the desire of his victims and the #Me Too movement to see him spend the rest of his life isolated, broken, and bitter, dying a lonely and painful death, and then rotting in hell? If their desire is truly for the former, then that is seeking justice. If it’s the latter, then that’s merely a desire for vengeance.

Vengeance, in contrast to justice, has just 2 objectives: punish and destroy. It seeks to inflict as much misery on wrongdoers as possible, and ultimately, to see them completely destroyed as persons, and not just removed from positions of authority. According to the Bible, vengeance is only properly meted out by God, and He only does so when people are totally unrepentant and determined to do evil to others (Deuteronomy 32: 35-36). When people seek vengeance against those who violate them, it forces their enemies to fight back for their very lives and souls, not just their reputations, which can eventually lead to violence and bloodshed.

This brings me back to the original questions raised here: Who is really behind this #Me Too movement and what is their real agenda? If it is to seek true justice for victims of sexual abuse by changing the culture that lends itself to abuse through changing the attitudes and behavior of abusers, then this is a badly needed movement that’s been long time in coming. If however, this is a movement to destroy certain people in order to promote another political agenda, that will most certainly lead to a backlash, perhaps even a violent one. What I mean is this: I have a hard time believing that all these women bringing all these accusations against all these men really want to see the men completely destroyed, with careers ruined and marriages and families ripped apart. I’m sure most of them recognize this could backfire on them in the worst way, and even cause the cases of women who are victims of violent sexual assault to not be heard.

What I’m wondering is if this #Me Too movement has been concocted and instigated by militant gay rights activists, using the New York Times and Washington Post as well as real victims of sexual abuse, to paint a dark picture of heterosexuality itself. They might be seeking to discredit heterosexuality by using all these cases as a way of presenting the idea that homosexuality is to be preferred, with heterosexuality being cast as abnormal, inherently exploitative of women, unnatural, and undesirable. This ties in with the argument made increasingly by gay rights activists that gay people are the most evolved of all, and that all people should move away from heterosexuality and become gay. What better way to push this propaganda for the gay lifestyle than to daily mention more and more cases of sexual misconduct my men against women? The fact that any cases of gay men in positions of power who get accused of molesting boys are quickly squelched by the media is further proof of an effort to present gay as beautiful and most desirable, and straight as totally sick and undesirable. I’ve had enough run-ins with militant gays to know this could well be their latest tactic to force their agenda of making the gay lifestyle totally unquestionable, unchallenged, and the only acceptable form of human sexual behavior.

But there’s something the gay community and their supporters do not recognize: God is still on His throne. He hasn’t changed, and He hasn’t rewritten His Word. He will have the final word on human sexuality, guaranteed. That will be the ultimate justice for those who have faithfully followed Him through Jesus Christ, by being redeemed from lives of sin through His shed blood. That’s a promise offered to everyone who would place his or her trust in Jesus. To do so, simply pray by telling Jesus that you recognize you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, that you are willing to turn from your sin and want His help to do so, believing that He died for your sins, and then receive His forgiveness. That offer is there for you whether you’re a victim of sexual abuse, or a sex offender. If you pray such a prayer and find Jesus coming into your life, be sure to tell a friend or family member that you’ve done so.

 

Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Hedonism

Harvey Weinstein’s smiling, bearded face on camera hid a twisted, lust-driven character, according to the New York Times and other sources. The growing reports of his unwanted sexual advances toward various women in the entertainment, fashion, and news reporting industries are revealing Mr. Weinstein as a paramour with an out-of-control sexual appetite. But while journalists, entertainers, and politicians alike are expressing shock, horror, and disgust over his lewd actions around women, what I find equally appalling is our news media’s reaction of revulsion to Weinstein’s behavior just two weeks after lauding and praising the “pioneering” life of Hugh Hefner upon his passing.
For Mr. Weinstein’s part, we have to look at how he turned into the man he is. I greatly doubt that as a young boy, Harvey said to himself one day, “When I grow up, I wanna be a disgusting, horny, lustful, womanizing exhibitionist and pervert who engages in deviant sexual behavior with beautiful young women.” More likely, Mr. Weinstein grew up in a home where Playboy magazine lay in the same rack with Time, Sports Illustrated, and the daily newspaper. Added to that, it wouldn’t surprise me if pornographic films and books were also available in his home, which was common among my peers growing up. As an adolescent, he very likely saw more than his share of nude photos of women, plus women engaged in a variety of sex acts, all of which would have fueled his desire for the lurid and the sensual. While this is all conjecture on my part, I’m certain that if Mr. Weinstein receives counseling for sexual addiction, his counselors will find this to be a key aspect of his life history. Growing up in an environment in which the social and moral philosophy of hedonism was embraced as good, fun, and even virtuous, as expressed in Playboy and in other similar media outlets, helped Harvey Weinstein to become what he is today, a man permanently stuck in the early adolescent fantasy world of the Playboy culture who can no longer recognize the reality of how most women really want to be treated.
This brings me back to the disgust I felt over how our news media reported on the death of Hugh Hefner. He was presented in a glowing manner as a ground-breaking media mogul who brought sex out from behind the closed door of the master bedroom and out into the public discourse as the most popular topic of our day. For Hefner, sex wasn’t meant to be a deep, intimate, expression of love between a man and a woman committed to each other for life in the institution of marriage. It was meant to be a pleasure sought after for its own sake. This was a constant theme found in the articles of his magazine, as others have noted, reinforced by the four-color air-brushed images of nubile females appearing in the middle pages of each issue. The very title given to the centerfolds of “Playmate of the Month” suggests not a living, thinking person, but a toy, an object of pleasure for men who have difficulty dealing with their sex drives in a constructive manner. What this reveals about Hefner is that he, like Harvey Weinstein, was also stuck psychologically in permanent early adolescence in which fantasy rules over reality in their understanding of sexuality and of how women really are. Hefner’s view of women, by all accounts, was that they were creatures intended primarily to satisfy the male sexual appetite, instead of being co-regents in the establishment and building of homes and families.
So, the real question here is not “How could Harvey Weinstein do such things to women?”, but rather “Why should what he has done be so shocking?” Harvey Weinstein is a product of the hedonistic, Playboy culture and the sexual revolution it helped to spawn, a culture that preaches a message of “drop your inhibitions about sex by dropping your pants (or your zipper, at least), and get sexual pleasure wherever, however, and with whomever you can.” This is the philosophy Hugh Hefner both extolled and lived by, and according to our media, was greatly admired and envied by many men for being able to live it out. But what made Hugh Hefner any different from Harvey Weinstein? The only real difference I can see is Hefner figured out how to use beautiful young women for his own selfish pleasure and get away with it, while Weinstein couldn’t. Hefner was a paper pimp who paid young women to not only appear naked in his magazine, but also to serve as a “stable” of beautiful babes he kept in his mansion to entertain his male friends like Bill Cosby, and lie down for him whenever he wanted sexual pleasure. Weinstein tried to get that for free without consent, and that is regarded as a crime by the entertainment industry, and likely by district attorneys as well.
I don’t mean to convey the belief that Harvey Weinstein should not be held accountable for his actions. He must be, for his own good, as well as for the sake of justice for his victims. But I find the hypocrisy of our news media particularly nauseating in their praise of Hugh Hefner for helping to launch the sexual revolution in this country, when it is the sexual revolution that helped shape the Harvey Weinsteins of our day. Unless and until we are willing as a nation and a culture to confront the contributing  sources of sexual perversion that show up in men like Weinstein, holding those sources accountable for creating the twisted fantasy world in the minds of such people, the disease of sexual addiction will only worsen, making more sexual predators like Weinstein, and leaving more victims in their wake.

Election Aftermath: Sobering Thoughts for Evangelical Christians

With Donald Trump the President-Elect, and the Republican Party retaining control of Congress, many evangelical Christians may be heaving a huge sigh of relief that at least Hillary was kept out of the White House. They may be thinking that now the country will bu put on the right path, and that a lot of our problems will finally get straightened out. Not so fast–says this little North Carolina mountain prophet.

We are living in a highly politically, socially, and morally divided nation. Tremendous anger was spewed out this year in the election campaign, not only from the candidates, but from constituents across the country who reflected the political spectrum. That anger could easily spill over into violent confrontations between people from varying sides of different issues. We are also living in a highly addicted nation, chemically, financially, and sexually. Combine this with the specter of gangs, sex traffickers, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous and unethical business people, ideological indoctrinators posing as educators, and news reporters functioning as propagandists instead of journalists, and we have the ground work for massive unrest at best, and an all-out civil war at worst.

How can such anger be de-fused? It starts with us Bible-believing Christians making sure we are authentic in our walk with Jesus Christ. This involves standing up for all of God’s truth, not just those parts which cause us to harp on the things that bother us the most. It involves us not only speaking, writing and praying about the problem of sexual license in our nation, but also the difficult issues of immigration reform, substance abuse, sex slavery, and business ethics. It is the last issue which, by my observations, we evangelical Christians seem least likely to discuss or seem to have a consensus of opinion on.

When I turn to Scripture to see how it describes economic oppression as an issue, I discover some very explicit warnings about letting greed take over and become the primary motivation for owning and managing businesses. The prophet Amos, for example, warned the people of Israel about cheating buyers of goods such as food by skimping on the amount of product they were selling “with dishonest scales.” (8:5) Likewise, the prophet Micah warned the people of ancient Judah of God’s disgust for their greed and covetousness that displayed itself in their lack of business ethics: “Is there yet a man in the wicked house, Along with treasures of wickedness, And a short measure that is cursed? Can I justify wicked scales And a bag of deceptive weights?” (6:10-11) Again, the problem was shorting customers on what they were paying for through the usage of dishonest weights and measures.

The same holds true today for too many American businesses. There are scam artists of every kind imaginable online and elsewhere. Then, you have established companies and businesses who are committing one form of fraud or another, be it banks setting up phony accounts in customer’s names, or cellular companies slowing data speeds on smart phones to curb usage of unlimited data plans. Foods and medicines are being sold in smaller quantities in the same sized containers as before for the same price as before, giving the appearance to consumers that they’re getting the same amount for the price when they’re not. All of this  shows a growing movement in American business to stiff customers with less than what the customers think they’re paying for.

What disturbs me most is the number of people who identify themselves as born-again Christians who think business should be free and unfettered in conducting itself in whatever manner it deems necessary to turn a profit. Obviously, any business has to make a profit to continue, but when profit is the ONLY reason and motivation for someone to own and operate a business, then abuses all too quickly emerge.

Greed, revealed in a lack of ethics in business, is clearly condemned in Scripture, because not only can it involve cheating customers out of money, product, or services, it also generates other harmful effects. It can lead to the mistreatment of workers by employers who care little for the well-being of their employees or their families. In the epistle of James Chapter 5, verses 1-6, we read a scorching indictment of the rich and of their abuse of their servants. Verses 4-5 are especially strong: “Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you: and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” What this tells us is that God takes a very dim view of people making themselves extremely wealthy at the expense of those who work for them. What this also tells us is that business owners who identify themselves as Christians dishonor our Lord when they run their businesses in a manner that inordinately boosts profits for themselves at the expense of their customers and/or employees.

A side issue that is tied to economic oppression is what to do with aliens–undocumented immigrants, to be specific. Our President-Elect has promised drastic action against those who have entered the country illegally, but that is highly unlikely and not  really even desirable. To ship 11 million men, women and children back to their countries of origin is neither feasible nor sensible. We’ve already learned as a nation that simply sending illegal aliens home accomplishes little, especially if they’re criminals, because they come right back and commit more crimes. Do we need to shore up our borders and stop the flood of undocumented immigrants? Absolutely, but we need to make sure we do it in a manner that reflects God’s holy principles governing the treatment of strangers.

Scripture gives us some clear principles concerning the handling of immigrants. In Exodus 22:21-22, we read “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.” This is a clear directive from God to the children of Israel even while they were on their way to the Promised Land not to mistreat immigrants. God went on in verses 23-24 to warn them, “If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear His cry, and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”  Such a warning was given to drive home to the Israelites just how much God loves and cares for the poor, the alien,  the disenfranchised, and in general, those who find themselves in a hopeless condition.

We evangelical Christians need to be very careful about fostering a cold-blooded attitude toward immigrants, documented or otherwise. While there are certainly plenty of criminals, terrorists, and economic opportunists among them  who care little about our laws, there are others who have come across our border fleeing dangerous conditions. There are families who have come into the U.S. from various Latin American countries seeking to escape drug lords and sex-slave traders who want to take their children, some as young as only two years old, selling them into prostitution. A blanket deportation of such persons will not solve the problems they, and we face with human trafficking. Others have fled literal starvation into this country, hoping to be able to provide for their families. As Christians, we need first and foremost, to pray for our new president and Congress that they will pass immigration reform that is God-honoring and scripturally consistent.

This brings us to the other hot button issues we evangelicals have focused much energy and attention on in recent years: abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriage, and religious freedom. Do we need to stop focusing on these and other issues of morality to give attention only to economic oppression? Certainly not! If Satan succeeds in destroying the traditional family, he has destroyed the nation and everything good that could come from it. I am convinced we are already facing God’s wrath and judgment as a nation for the 55 million+ abortions that have taken place since Roe v. Wade. Likewise, the satanic lie that is homosexuality seems to be drawing more and more people, including evangelicals,to conclude that gay behavior, clearly outside the boundaries of what God established in Genesis 2, is all right and should be accepted. The possibility remains that certain portions of the scriptures and their teachings concerning this issue could still be ruled “hate speech” and have Bible-believing Christians and their pastors facing the possibility of criminal charges and imprisonment if they don’t change their position on LGBTQ rights.

The solution to all of this is that we need to be people  of prayer and the Word. We need to pray not only for the new president and other leaders of our country to be guided by God’s Spirit, we need to pray for repentance for ourselves, the Church, and for our nation, that God will move us all toward Him and away from Satan’s evil schemes. We also need to become people of the WHOLE Bible, not just those parts of it we like, which we see supporting our positions on things of importance to us. We need to read through all of the Bible from cover to cover, letting its overall message of redemption grip us and show us the kind of people we need to be in all aspects of life.

This is where the real hope for America lies; not in the new president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, or in anything else. While we need to stand against the moral and social evils of our day, we also need to stand for racial equality, business ethics, and social and legal justice for all those truly oppressed according to biblical standards. Above all, we need to be ready to present Jesus to all God brings us in contact with. He alone can heal a broken and divided nation, and bring peace to a troubled world.

All Scripture quotations are from the Updated Edition of the New American Standard Bible, published by the Lockman Foundation, 1995.

 

 

 

Surviving Gas Shortages

A pipeline bursts. Gasoline spews out, and the flow of gas to distribution depots and stations slows to a halt. Suddenly, states of emergency are declared to prevent price gouging and to allow more tanker trucks to get through fully loaded to restock the stations. It happened last week in Alabama, affecting the southeastern U.S., including where I live in North Carolina.

The inevitable result: panic buying. Motorists stopping at every station that still has gas, topping off their tanks (even if it only takes eight-tenths of a gallon to fill up) causing stations to run dry before they can be resupplied. It’s frustrating for every other motorist who stays cool through the crisis, figuring out what they need to make it through. But there’s a much better way to handle this problem when it crops up, as we know it will inevitably at most inopportune times.

A key to being prepared for gasoline shortages is to know what kind of mileage your vehicle(s) get, and how far you drive on the average between fill-ups. This means recording odometer and/or trip distance meter readings off the dashboard. Each time you fill up your vehicle, keep your receipt and then check your distance readings from your last fill-up. Divide the total miles accumulated from your last gas purchase by the number of gallons you put in at your present fill-up and that will give you your vehicle’s gas mileage. This will help you know how much gas you need for your normal driving distances.

To keep more complete records of how far you drive and how much gas you’re using on a weekly basis, use a mileage app on your smartphone (there are a number of those), or get a daily planner/calendar with mileage log  pages. You can go even simpler than that. My wife and I keep little memo books with a pen or pencil in our glove compartments, so that each time we stop for gas, we can record all  the necessary information. We write down the date, then the dollar amount of the gas we’ve bought, followed by the actual amount of gas we’ve put in the vehicle. Then we check the trip distance meter on the dashboard (usually underneath the odometer, or electronically imbedded within it and accessed by a pushbutton), record that number to determine the distance since our last fill-up, then clearing it back to zero. Then we write down the odometer reading to keep a more complete picture of mileage and driving distances. It rarely takes more than a couple of minutes for us to do this, and helps us immensely in measuring our vehicles’ performance as well as our driving habits.

Doing this simple record-keeping on your fuel consumption can save you needless panic and aggravation, as well as help prevent shortages occurring the next time a refinery has an explosion, or a pipeline bursts.

Leaving Jew-Hating Behind

Here’s one of those subjects I don’t like sharing about myself, but I find it’s important to spill it out now. A couple of years ago I developed what could not be described as anything but an intense hatred for Jewish people. It grew out of struggles I was having with Jewish neighbors who obviously despised me for my evangelical Christian faith, and who especially hated what I wrote. This wasn’t a huge shock to me, because we Christians expect hostility from Jews over our faith, especially when we express it publicly. But because of what I experienced from these neighbors, a bitter contempt rose in me for all Jewish people of a liberal or “progressive” bent.

I viewed progressive Jews like my neighbors as standing for everything that not only ran counter to my beliefs, but also as people who would do anything and everything possible to force me to abandon those beliefs and become what they wanted me to be. I grew angrier over both what my neighbors were doing, trying to find some way to stop me from writing and publishing anything, and what I saw the wider, Jewish community doing. I came to view all progressive Jews as  aggressive promoters of everything that was causing moral and spiritual decline in our nation and around the world. This not only included gay rights and same-sex marriage, but the worst forms of pornography and lurid entertainment, and the complete mockery and suppression of all Christian truth. I saw their ultimate goal as the criminalizing of the Christian faith and complete eradication of all Christian teaching and influence in the world. While much of my view of the Jewish Left may prove true, it does not give me an excuse to hate the people themselves.

The turning point in this spiritual battle came for me when I read a New Testament passage from the book of Romans. I had read Chapter 9 of the book many times before, but even as I wrestled with negative feelings for those I saw as leftist Jews, God spoke a stern reminder to me through this scripture. The opening five verses of the chapter leaped out at me one day as I was seething over something done by one of the neighbors. The Apostle Paul wrote of his “great sorrow and increasing anguish in my heart”…”for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” (9:2-4) He was saddened over their rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. This grieved Paul because of the Jewish heritage of being singled out by God to be his specially chosen people through whom he would work out his plan of salvation for humankind. The Jews provided the ancestry for the Messiah, and hold the promise of God’s unending love even today, though most have not embraced Jesus Christ.

The implications of this hit me hard, and brought me into a time of repentance. I had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how evil I perceived some Jewish people to be, I had no right to harbor animosity against them. Even as I continued to read on through the tenth and eleventh chapters of Romans, I felt more convicted over the contempt I harbored toward my Jewish neighbors, and secular, progressive Jews in general. I was reminded that as a Gentile Christian, I am “a wild olive shoot”…” grafted in among the others” (11:17), and that I have no business nursing hostility within me toward any Jews. I was also reminded in verses 28 and 29 that even though Jews are natural enemies to me when it comes to my faith, they are still loved by God and will not be abandoned or reject by him as a race when the end of time comes.

This brought me to a point where I had to seek God’s forgiveness for my bitter anger and hatred toward progressive Jews, especially my neighbors, and instead, resolve to be quiet and let God deal with whatever got thrown at me and the people involved. In place of bitterness and rage, I found God in Christ filling my heart with a growing love and concern for Jewish people, and for the nation of Israel especially. I was upset over the nuclear deal with Iran, because as the details of the pact were made public, it became apparent that the accord struck between our president and Iran’s leaders amounted to a veiled declaration of war against Israel. Iran got everything it wanted, and Israel was left more of an open target. I believe in praying for the peace of Jerusalem, because therein, we secure our own peace. To do otherwise is to invite disaster in one form or another against our own nation.

This leads me to address all Jewish people, whoever you are, wherever you may live: as an evangelical Christian, you may hate me through and through for my faith; despise everything I believe in, and wish to see me and all other Christians drop off the face of the earth. If you do, I understand that, because we Christians have fueled that hostility at times with un-Christlike behavior and attitudes toward Jews. You may be gay or straight, a capitalist or a communist, a devout Orthodox synagogue-goer or an avowed atheist, but that does not matter. If you are attacked simply for being Jewish, I will stand in defense of you in whatever way I can, no matter what. You may not want my support, but nonetheless, you will have it, because that is what God in Jesus Christ has placed in my heart for you. If that makes me a target of some really hostile Jews, Islamic extremists, or anti-Semitic white supremacists, so be it. May God make himself real to all of you in the days ahead. Shalom. (All Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011 edition).

 

“Thankful for a Traffic Ticket”

As bizarre as this may sound, I’m thankful today for a speeding ticket I received earlier in the week. While travelling north on I-77 in southwestern Virginia between my home near Asheville, North Carolina, and my parents’ home in Pennsylvania, I was pulled over for driving 78 in a 65 m.p.h. zone. The officer who stopped me was a Lieutenant Lyons from the Carroll County Police Department. There’s no way he could have known that he was pulling over a boiling cauldron of rage behind the wheel of that Ranger.

I wasn’t angry at other motorists on the interstate. I was growing a bit impatient with some trucks that were bottle-necking traffic passing each other, which led partially to the speeding. But what was really making me drive mad was the trouble I was leaving behind at home. It was not the result of a conflict with my wife Julie, but over trouble caused by neighbors that has gone on for over a decade. I have been the target of a relentless campaign by members of the gay community around Asheville, and possibly elsewhere, to make me “come out” and declare myself as gay. I’ve had members of a local homosexual satanist cult approach me at different times giving me the not-so-subtle message in one way or another of: “We know you’re gay, and we’re going to make you come out and join us.” I’ve also had to live with people practicing witchcraft and sorcery living in the apartment below us, using it against me for the same purpose.

The apartment building Julie and I live in is a wooden frame, three-story, six-unit structure with wooden floors. That means we can hear all kinds of things, including neighbors’ conversations. Ours is the middle floor apartment, so the neighbors above us can make noise that can become irritating and keep us awake at night, and whoever is below us can likewise make plenty of noise that can be heard. After twelve and a half years in the place, Julie and I have certainly gotten used to noise. But within the last seven years, it’s a particular kind of noise that’s become the most disturbing for me.

I’ve learned to discern the sound of sorcery-training videos being played, detecting instructions given on how to cast a spell on someone to make them go queer. I’ve also learned to discern the sound of witches’ incantations, which can sound like someone either grunting their way through an exercise or straining to have a bowel movement. Does this sound all too wild and weird? Trust me, it isn’t, because this kind of training material in witchcraft is readily available. I know, because I’ve been the target of it.

I first became aware of this several years ago while I was finishing up the writing of a biblical historical novel on the life of the prophet Daniel. Julie would sit at our computer and proofread my chapters out loud, while our sorcery-practicing neighbor below us listened in on every word. In the course of the novel, I wrote of how the practices of the Canaanite people with their worship of fertility gods and goddesses included ritual homosexual prostitution, carried out in tents right in the outer courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem. My purpose for including this in the story was to show the multiple reasons why ancient Judah was invaded and conquered by the Babylonians in the early 6th century B.C., with Jerusalem and the temple destroyed in the process. This obviously set off alarm bells both with the neighbor below us and the one in the house next door to our building. I became the target not only of witchcraft, but of efforts to stop my writing.

Among the things that have happened to my computers in the course of writing two novels that are now completed, was the planting of a Trojan horse that prevented me from writing the word “homosexual” in anything I was trying to write. I had to get a rather expensive cleaning done along with the repair of my software to make it usable. I ended up being fooled into buying a bogus software protection package for my laptop that gradually began eating up and destroying my word processing program while I was writing my second novel. Again, another expensive repair and cleaning. But I did manage to complete my second novel by keeping the laptop offline most of the time. Otherwise, I found the computer at home constantly monitored to see what I was doing on it. Whoever gave the tools to the neighbors in the building to watch all of my computer usage either had to be some criminal element, or a federal agency. I more strongly suspect the latter, because I could get no help from law enforcement people to track down who was doing what to my computers.

So why am I confronted with this all-out attack against my name, character, marriage, and work? 1) These people do not want me saying, writing, or thinking anything against homosexuality or the gay lifestyle, and 2) they are still convinced I am a closet queer who “needs to come out.” There’s one big problem with their thinking. Granted, I look lie the stereotypical gay man, with thin, bony arms; narrow, rounded shoulders, and a waistline that’s a little too thick. But I can say unequivocally, with God as my witness, that I have never felt any physical, sexual attraction toward men, and I have always liked women as far back as I can remember. I was a shy, bashful, awkward teenager when it came to being around girls, and that insecurity carried into adulthood. But I never had any desire whatsoever to engage in sexual behavior with other men, and recoiled from it when approached by gay men for it.

Obviously, these enemies of mine, many of whom are Marxists as well as devil-worshipers and gay rights activists, do not accept these facts about me because they don’t want to. I’ve said out loud in the hearing of some that I would have to be killed before I would go live the gay lifestyle, and I still stand on that. I very well could lose my life at the hands of gay rights activists and/or their sympathizers, but if that happens, it will only happen because God permits it, and will only serve to prove what they are, not what I am.

This brings me back to my traffic stop and speeding ticket. When Lieutenant Lyons pulled me off to the side of the interstate, I felt an initial flush of embarrassment as anyone would, especially since it was my first speeding violation in my many years of driving. But as the lieutenant took my license and registration to write out my ticket, I felt a strange calm come over me. It was as if God’s Spirit was speaking to me saying, “It’s time to cool down, Brian, and give your anger over to me. You’re driving dangerously and you need to settle down and quit letting this bitterness and rage you’re carrying eat you up.”

I left our apartment that morning feeling the affects of sleep deprivation from the previous couple of nights. The neighbors below and above us seemed to be determined to rob me of as much sleep as possible, especially after hearing I was leaving to go back up to Pennsylvania. Between witch’s incantations directed at me from below, and the little girl above us following the instructions of the couple camping out in the apartment below us to do various noisy things to try to set me on edge, I was seething that morning as I headed north.

What was galling me the most was the fact that everything these people are throwing at me is intended to give me one message: “You’re gay, and you need to leave your wife and come out.” The taunting and harassment, I’ve concluded, are intended  to either make me blow up in a rage so I can be arrested and sent off either to jail or to a state mental hospital to be “deprogrammed of my Christian beliefs” and persuaded that I’m gay and need to go live with queers, or to break me down mentally to where I finally give in, tell Julie to divorce me, and go live in the gay community. One way or another, the primary goal is to silence me and stop me from dissenting against homosexuality any more.

My anger over this cruel and demonic effort to destroy my marriage and turn me into something I am not burned within me even as I sped up over the mountain just inside the Virginia border. The pressure to turn my back on Julie, a woman who gave up everything familiar to her twenty-one and a half years ago to follow me six hundred miles to Pennsylvania was eating at me. So did the thought of the six fruitless years we spent in Michigan where I tried to establish a different career. Then came a year living in parents’ homes where we were both unemployed most of the time. Then finally, it was on to North Carolina where Julie has patiently supported me through a lengthy and expensive process of building a career as a freelance writer and novelist, to give me the opportunity to do what I do best. It’s where I walked with her through the valley of breast cancer. And it’s where she has faithfully toughed it out alone for a good part of the past three years while I’ve shuttled back and forth between her and my parents’ home, partly to care for them, and partly to get away from the evil down there to let God deal with it. My rage and bitterness made me lean on my gas pedal harder, until the Carroll County Police car came up behind me with its lights flashing.

Other than Jesus Himself, Lieutenant Lyons became the best friend I could have had out there on I-77. Even as he wrote up my ticket, God’s Spirit was telling me, “Relax and rest in me, Brian. While you’ll have to pay a speeding fine, I will make your enemies pay for the evil they’ve done to you.” Thanks to the traffic stop, I was reminded that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20, NKJV). I could leave my enemies in God’s hands that day and concentrate on driving safely the rest of the day to my parents’ home that night. So, out of gratitude to Lieutenant Lyons for being God’s intervention in a difficult and dark hour of my life, I will gladly pay the speeding fine to Carroll County, Virginia.