Sunday, October 19, 2014
I have mastered the art of making my daughter's homecoming dance date feel awkward and somewhat terrified. Bonus - my daughter was still happy and only a little embarrassed about it all when she got home. #Winning.
The signs have been clear for a while that Christians in America are losing their rights to hold true to their faith. We will be faced with incredibly tough choices in the coming days. These are issues upon which we cannot bend.
A recent case-in-point is the story of Donald and Evelyn Knapp of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The two ordained ministers run the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel where they perform marriages. Their choice to stand by their faith and not perform gay marriages that are now legal in the state has prompted city officials to threaten the couple with jail time and fines if they do not comply with its “non-discrimination” ordinance.
From a purely legal standpoint, the fact that the Knapps charge a fee for their marriage service could possibly allow the city to make such charges. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the charges against the couple, themselves married for 47 years.
This is a pivotal situation. If the city is successful, it will act as an example, setting a precedent that people who mix faith and business will not be under the same promises that have been made to religious non-profit organizations. Faith-based businesses are abundant in our country and people will be forced to make a choice – abandon their faith or abandon their business.
As an organization, we do not fight against gay rights unless they start to trample on Christian rights. Those who operate faith-based businesses should not be forced to chose.
Discrimination Goes Both Ways
If the law states that same-sex marriages are legal, then Christians should obey the law of the land and not discriminate against gay marriages. However, the laws allowing gay marriage cannot supersede religious freedoms. When an ordinance forces one to unreasonably suppress their religious beliefs in order to comply, it becomes oppressive.
Laws and ordinances are meant to protect and enable. They cannot enable and protect one right while subverting another. The Knapps have chosen to perform Christian marriages. Forcing them to perform marriages that go against their Christian faith is a discrimination of its own sort.
As the LGBT movement pushes to establish legal rights, it’s in their best interests to do so in a way that does not trample on other rights. The case in Coeur d’Alene is an example where a conscientious LGBT movement should step in and clearly state that their right to marry does not take away the religious rights of those who do not believe in performing gay marriages. This won’t happen, of course, but it would go a long way towards bridging the growing gap in America between the two sides.
Preparing for the Inevitable
As Christians, our fight is for the faith itself. The political lines being drawn are ugly and we can either fight to keep our “cozy Christian lifestyles” intact or we can prepare for a world where Christianity is no longer acceptable to the masses. It sounds crazy to think that this country would ever go against the faith that helped to build it, but that’s exactly what is happening.
The choices are getting harder. The Knapps are in a situation where they may be forced to choose to stop performing marriages altogether. If they are unsuccessful in their fight, they will need to choose to abstain from marrying anyone. Is it fair? No. Is it better to lose their business and their lifestyle as a result of their choice to stay true to their faith? Absolutely.
There may come a time in the near future where many of us are faced with harder choices. We may be in situations where we have to choose between our faith and our lives. These little battles like the one in Houston and the one in Coeur d’Alene may rile up our feathers and make us want to put on our boxing gloves, but they will be insignificant compared to the battles we may face in the near future. It’s already very apparent in many countries around the world that being a Christian is a risk to one’s life. Those days may come to America as well.
This is not a call for surrender. We will fight to the end. It is simply a call to prepare. There are those who will reluctantly bend their faith in order to maintain their livelihood. There are those who will stay silent on the question of Jesus Christ and God if the question is asked in an unfriendly environment. If people are unwilling to abandon their business for the sake of their faith, how can they expect that they will abandon their lives for the same reason?
People in situations like the Knapps must be willing to walk away from it if their battle is lost. Adjusting their faith is not an option. There’s a very big difference between accepting people’s rights as dictated by the government and breaking their Christian beliefs for the sake of tolerance.
If someone is unwilling to lose their livelihood for the sake of their faith, will they be willing to be beheaded if faced with a similar choice? We all must prepare now to stand for Savior regardless of the situation.
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Saturday, October 18, 2014
The story of the “Houston Five” has become a hot topic on both sides of the aisle when it comes to the rights of gay and transgendered community as well as the rights of church leaders to preach as they are compelled without persecution from the government. The issue at hand for Christians is not about civil rights, nor is it even about freedom of speech. The real issue here is about the willingness to stand for the Word of God without being swayed by the powers of the world.
Fox News recently interviewed one of the pastors who had their sermons subpoenaed. The attention being given to the subpoenas is overblown and misguided. This is a standard legal practice that is not out of the ordinary. It isn’t an attempt to attack religious freedoms (there are plenty of stronger examples of that happening all the time). It is an attempt to flex a little political muscle against those supporting the lawsuit, but it doesn’t go so far as something that could be called “bullying” in legal circles.
From a political and legal perspective, the outburst from conservatives and Christians against the subpoenas is ill spent. Rather than focus on them, the focus needs to turn to meat of the lawsuit itself that opposes the city’s refusal to certify the petition to bring the issue to a vote. For over 2/3rds of the signatures in the petition to be disqualified, one of two things (or both) had to happen:
- The city is reaching with every loophole in its arsenal to disqualify signatures.
- Many of those gathering the signatures broke the rules and either misled people into signing or forged the signatures.
There is no doubt that the first is happening. According to Chron, hey were able to drop the majority of the signatures “after most of the pages contained mistakes that invalidated the entire page of signatures.”
One can also assume that the second happened as well. When people are passionate about an issue, our evil ways often compel us to act outside of the bounds of ethics based upon a “moral license” to achieve the goal no matter what it takes. However, the chances of 2/3rds of the signatures on this sort of issue being manipulated or truly invalid is highly unlikely.
Take a Stand from the Top
Christians should not be protesting against the subpoenas. They are a distraction from the true political issue which is putting the ordinance to the vote of the people, but even that is not the real concern that we face.
We have become too easily distracted. Gay, atheist, Mormon, liberal, Muslim, communist, Catholic, republican – these labels that are placed on people based upon their beliefs and upbringing. As Christians, it is our responsibility to share the Gospel and to give others the opportunity to be saved. When politics becomes the focal point our righteous vigor, it is often wasted on semantics rather than the transmission of the message itself.
We do not condone a gay lifestyle, but we do not oppose those who live it. Only a sinless person has the right to condemn others for their sins, and there has only been One who lived a sinless life.
When the conservative Christian political mechanism brings focus on issues such as the subpoenas, they are distracting us away from the core challenges we face. It becomes an exercise in futility regardless of which side wins and which side loses. That’s bad enough, but there is a far worse result from such things.
Preparing to Stand without Earthly Support
The biggest risk in this and other issues is that it’s so easy to profess our faith behind the protections of the laws of the land. Those laws are headed in the wrong direction and the country is following.
One of the biggest questions I have to ask myself on a regular basis is whether or not it’s valid to engage in the fight to keep America as a Christian nation. Sometimes, it seems futile. The country has been heading down a dark path since its inception. Thankfully, many have fought to maintain the freedoms we enjoy, but those freedoms are slipping away. Is today’s version of “the good fight” one that defends our freedoms?
On the surface, the answer is a resounding yes, but there’s a caveat. What if it’s time to prepare people for a post-Christian America? As crazy as it sounds, there are indications everywhere that we are going to lose the fight, that America will fall into the same trap that so much of the world is falling into where atheists and Muslims are calling the shots and our freedom to spread the Gospel is taken away. Those of us who feel blessed to be Americans would never want to see that happen, but if it’s inevitable, should we be preparing to take our fight underground?
These are concepts that the majority of Americans would not be willing to accept today, but things are changing so rapidly. As a country, we have grown fat with luxuries and complacent with our ease of life. We are ripe for disaster. Is now the time to prepare for a world without the freedoms that we enjoy today? Is it better to fall away from the political battles in preparation for a different world?
Every day, people are falling for the pre-tribulation doctrine. That is the biggest concern, but we are also ill-prepared for life without religious protections. When churches are attacked by far more dangerous means than protests and subpoenas, will believers be ready to live our lives from a completely different perspective, to live under a different set of rules?
Again, I struggle with these questions constantly. Today, I believe we must fight for America and Israel and we must prepare for a world where it’s dangerous to be a professing Christian. That world is already very present in other countries and it’s very likely going to come here at some point in the near future. I urge you to be prepared to fight without freedoms, to live in a world where being a Christian is unacceptable. Today, we have our freedoms and we must continue to fight for them, but don’t let those freedoms make you complacent. We have the full Armor of God at our disposal. It is the only thing that will protect our souls in the days to come.
The post It’s Not About Religious Rights. It’s About Faithful Fortitude. appeared first on Judeo Christian Church.
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Friday, October 17, 2014
Former Vice President Al Gore has made it clear how worried he is about the ramifications of hammering the environment, which he believes stems from corporate influences on politicians and governments across the globe. However, at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference on Thursday, he praised a handful of major technology companies.
“Everyone knows the way we got out of the Great Depression was mobilizing for World War II,” said Gore. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a huge project where we needed to mobilize people around the world for jobs that couldn’t be automated?”
Al Gore hinted that we already have such a project. Over the course of his hour-long talk, Gore listed numerous distressing statistics about the natural disasters that have plagued the globe in recent years, from China to Colorado to Guatemala. He followed this up with some depressing predictions concerning ongoing droughts and the increasingly low inter temperatures.
“We’ve got to take responsibility for consequences of our actions endangering the earth,” Gore retorted. “We need to recognize the age of renewables is beginning,” insisted Gore. He emphasized the business opportunities by renewable energy development and technology, asserting that “the private sector is going to finance most of renewable energy.”
It was then that Gore praised Apple, Google, and Salesforce for their respective energy goals, and also highlighted American business magnate and billionaire Warren Buffett as a prime example of an entrepreneur investing heavily in the renewable energy space, saying that he’s “not someone known for making dumb decisions.”
Continuing from this, Gore expressed his belief that the internet will play a major role in this shift, projecting that the internet will be more powerful and influential than even television, citing that advertising revenue from the internet surpassed that of television last year.
Read more about the story at Venture Beat.
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Earth’s magnetic field is constantly shifting around, and every 200,000 to 300,000 years, it flips north and south completely. Currently, we’re long overdue for a reversal, and scientists suggest that it could very well happen within the next century, potentially altering life in ways that aren’t possible to predict.
For the longest time, the scientific community believed that these reversals took as many as 7,000 years to completely switch, according to a 2004 study funded by the National Science Foundation. Over the last few years, however, many scientists have suggested that the shifts in the magnetic field have occurred at previously unimagined speeds.
A new study which was published in the Geophysical Journal International by a team of scientists from Europe and the United States sheds light on these quick changes, suggesting that the last reversal took a mere 100 years. But how was the team able to discern changes in the magnetic field that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago?
Apparently, the team was able to do this by testing layers of ash that were deposited by volcanic eruptions that occurred over the course of 10,000 years, found in a small lakebed near Rome. A new release from University of California, Berkeley says that the magnetic field directions are “frozen” into these layers of ash, which could be reliably dated to discover when the magnetic reversals occurred, and how long it took for them to complete.
“It’s amazing how rapidly we see that reversal. The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen,” said co-author Courtney Sprain of the University of California and Berkeley Geochronology Center.
Read more about the story at Berkeley.
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