Blog Archives for July and August 2005
August 28, 2005
Survey Says God is in
In religious circles, it is almost a given that most scientists are hard-bitten atheists. A recent survey of 1,646 scientists at 21 research universities across the nation belies that notion. Almost 70 percent of them said, “There are basic truths” in religion, and 68 percent believed themselves to be “spiritual” persons.
The least spiritual were the biologists and physicists. In both groups, 41 percent said they did not believe in God. Social scientists were the most devout: About 30 percent of them said they prayed. In this group, 28 percent said they regularly read some “sacred text.”
In the survey, the Bible took some hits though. Fewer than one percent of the scientists surveyed took it literally. About 25 percent believed it to be the “inspired Word of God,” yet it was not to be taken literally in its entirety. A majority – 75 percent – saw the Bible as an ancient book of fables recorded by men.
In an earlier survey, released last month by the University of Chicago, some 75 percent of doctors said they believed in God. About 59 percent of them believed in an afterlife and a whopping 90 percent attended religious services. Of those surveyed, 55 percent of doctors said their religious views influenced how they practiced medicine.
What do we conclude from all this? First, that religion is by no means dead in scientific and medical circles. Secondly, that the Bible has fallen on hard times as a source for objective truth – at least in the surveyed circles. Source: The Washington Times, National Weekly Edition, August 22-28, 2005, p. 23. --Brian Knowles
August 27, 2005
Yeshua, Yashua, Ye'Hoshua, Jesus -- Who Cares?
The Judaization of the Church over the past few years has done more damage to the body of Christ than any direct attack by Satan himself. In fact, Satan could not have devised a better plan for pitting one Christian against another than to create hostility over the use of words. Truly, if the Church appears to be impotent in spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God, it is not Satan's fault. It is our own. We are too busy fighting with each other over how to pronounce the name of the Father and the Son to bother ourselves with bringing the life-giving message of the Son of God to a dying world.
My disgust for this sort of thing is that this insistence on using just the right words portrays God as petty and small-minded. If God's righteousness demands only the use of certain names to address the Father and the Son, what does this say about, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," and "while we were yet sinners, he died for us."
The apostle Paul, himself a Pharisee, fought hard against those who tried to force new Christians to become "more Jewish." One of the great sins of the Pharisees was that they tied heavy religious burdens on the backs of the people. These same Pharisees are alive and well in the Church with their sacred names and Jewish rituals. If a man or woman is Jewish by birth, then let them be Jewish to the full. As natural Jews they can still love Christ. But stop trying to convert Christians into Jews. Rather, we should be trying to make God-fearing Jews into Christians. Is that not the commission that our Lord gave us?
One of the most shameful examples I have heard of recently was the demand of a pastor that his congregation give up the usage of the word "Jesus" and use only "Yeshua." The woman who related this experience was so stunned that she did not know what to do. During a church meeting the pastor asked all those who "named the name of Jesus" to come forward to the podium. After these unsuspecting people reached the stage, the pastor told them that they had to renounce the use of the name "Jesus" and use only the proper Hebrew name, "Yeshua." My first thought when I hear this was, "If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father." My other thought was to rebuke the idiot pastor for his crass and blasphemous use of the person of Christ.
The pastor's rationale was to say that the Greek word "Iesous" was pagan. Of course, there is no scholarly proof of such a statement, but it sells well with the everyone-is-out-to-get-us crowd, and there are some very poorly written and researched papers (mainly on the Internet, not in scholarly journals) that make such a claim. They are generally written by people who have little or no knowledge of Greek or any language other than English, and their knowledge of English is dubious in many cases (just check their mistake-ridden, so-called research). Most would not know a dictionary or a spell checker from a hole in the ground.
Trust me on this: God understands Greek, Hebrew, English, and several other languages. He knows what you mean when you are on your knees pouring out your heart to Him in English or Russian or Vietnamese -- even if you use the word "Jesus," or whatever its transliteration may be in another language. Do these people really think that some poor martyred African nomad who only knows Christ as "Jesus" will be rejected when he stands before the Lord in the resurrection simply because no one bothered to teach him the word "Yeshua?" I tell you the truth; such a person will be received into the Kingdom long before someone who puts stumbling blocks of words and rituals before the people.
The really silly part of this whole thing (actually there are several really silly parts) is that these people can't agree on whether Jesus should be called Yeshua, Yashua, Ye'Hoshua, or any of a dozen other take-offs on the pronunciation. But remember; only one of these pronunciations will give you entry into God's Kingdom (I hope I'm in the right pronunciation group).
My admonition to any Christian is to put away such foolishness. Just call upon the Lord with a pure and sincere heart, and He will hear you. The plea of our hearts should be the same as that of the apostle Paul, the Pharisee: "... Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:5-10).
The essence of Christianity, as the
apostle Paul says, is to "know him, and the power of his resurrection...:" Let's
put our faith in that, and not in mere words. Anything beyond this is simply
babbling high-sounding syllables devoid of the music of faith in Christ alone.
August 26, 2005
We try ever so hard to fill up our lives with things, pleasures and excitements in the pursuit of "happiness" and "meaning." But, like a beautiful rainbow in the sky, we can't quite grab it and it seems to disappear before we've had our fill of it. So we proceed to chase after more things, pleasures and excitements thinking we will yet find the fulfilling, satisfying, and purpose-filled life. We have filled our lives up, but we remain empty inside...hollow souls.
We must seek what will truly satisfy our longing for meaning and happiness. Don't spend ten dollars' worth of energy on a ten-cent problem. There are millions of want-to's and have-to's in life and we can let them pressure us into stress and a squandered life. Only when our time and energy-spending decisions are consistent with worthwhile goals, beliefs, and values will our souls fill with peace, meaning, and lasting happiness.
It isn't where you came from and what you've done; it's what you're becoming and where you're going that counts. If we fill up our lives with the knowledge of God and pursue becoming like Him we will find our purpose in life and reap the joy that it alone can provide. The Wise Preacher said, "To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness...." (Ecclesiastes 2:26). Jesus said, "Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21). --Ken Westby
August 20, 2005
Losing A Friend
A good friend of mine and associate in the ministry just died of prostate cancer. I had been talking on the phone with Robert McKibben every week--he lived in Hood River, Oregon and I live in the Seattle area--until about a week ago when there was no answer on his cell phone. I knew of his weakening condition and I suspected the worst. My sadness was confirmed when I got a call Monday from one of his four sons saying that his father has peacefully died.
His son, Steve, said his dad died with a little serene smile on his face. Robert was exceedingly brave in the face of his suffering, having gone from 185 lbs to about 115 lbs in six months. It seemed the weaker his body became the stronger his spirit. He was always so positive and thankful. Robert was a man of faith and accepted with grace that he was about to enter through death's door. Several months ago I had written for the ACD a booklet on "The Resurrection of the Dead" and Robert said he'd read it several times and was encouraged by the future God has for his children. (We'll send you a free copy, just ask..)
I never cease to be amazed by the power of God's truth to overpower even the deepest doubts and fears. Our last few conversations were about what our lives might be like in the years immediately following the Resurrection and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. It made our spirits soar at the thought of working with Jesus Christ the King in bringing peace, prosperity, harmony, and happiness to all nations on earth. In those last conversations we said to each other, "I'll see you in the Kingdom." Truly we will. Robert now waits, as if asleep, for that call of God to live again--this time, forever! He rests in peaceful silence, but his example of faithfulness toward God to the end still speaks. --Ken Westby
August 18, 2005
American Churches Ganging Up on Israel
It is either naiveté or malevolence, but a growing number of major American Christian denominations are seeking to meddle in the bogus “peace process” by making things more difficult for Israel. The latest to chime in is the Evangelical Lutheran Church, with its 5 million members. The Lutherans are campaigning against Israel’s much-needed security fence with the slogan “Peace Not Walls.”
First to take a position against Israel’s interests was the 2.4 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA). It began divestment of firms that supplied Israel with goods related to security. A similar position was then taken by the 1.3 million-member Church of Christ.
To counterbalance this trend in liberal and mainstream churches, Evangelical churches, in the main, have been enthusiastically supportive of Israel’s struggle for survival – as well they should be.
By the way, the combined population of the churches that are ganging up on Israel is greater than the total population of Israel (8.7 million for the former, 6, 394,000 for the latter). --Brian Knowles
August 16, 2005
Jews are being forced out of their settlements in the state of Israel not by radical Palestinian mobs, but by the Israeli army. The forced exodus is a big gamble that has divided much of Israel's citizenry. No one likes it, but in that delicate dance between war and peace it is hoped this move will tilt the future toward peace. Can peace be bought? Probably not, but it is a painful gesture of goodwill on the part of the Israeli government which, if reciprocated by the Palestinians, can be a step back from conflict and toward peace..
When couples bring to me their troubled marriages I've learned that each mate must also bring sincere goodwill to the table if the marriage is to be saved. Often there is one motivated partner who desperately wants to save the union and avoid divorce and is willing to make major changes to do it. But if the other partner doesn't want to save it (even though he/she may be going through the motions of counseling) it won't survive. The insincere partner may have another agenda, hidden motives, a lover, or just wanting out, but wants to appear sincere by getting counseling. The marriage can't be salvaged unless both partners want it and are willing to work to do it. When the marriage fails and the divorce comes the insincere partner can maintain appearances having "tried" to work out the problems. On the other hand, I've never seen a case where two people having problems and highly motivated to find solutions and stay married haven't been able to work through them. The key is sincere and mutual motivation.
I think Israel is sincerely motivated in its quest for peace with the Palestinians and this agonizing exodus from Gaza is the latest evidence of it. The Islamic Palestinians are another matter. Where has been their sincere displays of goodwill? Is their not-so-hidden motive still the removal of the Jews from Israel...the destruction of the state of Israel? The welcome home Palestinians provide for radical Islamic terrorist organizations is not evidence of goodwill, quite the contrary. It is not time for the Palestinians to take their own painful steps and force all terrorists out of their land? It would be painful. But true peace requires it and if they sincerely want peace they will do it.
Will it happen? For the sake of saving lives we can pray that it does. Are the prospects good? If the two parties were sitting before me saying they wanted to live peacefully together, and we examined what each has been doing and was willing to do to pull it off, I would be pessimistic about the future. It takes two mutually motivated and sincere parties to solve problems. Right now I see just one.
It seems beyond the powers of man to heal the hatreds that spawn violence and war. We must pray that God intervenes to soften the hard-hearted and bring his promises to the "Promised Land." "I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid...." (Leviticus 26:6) --Ken Westby
August 10, 2005
August 2, 2005
Wind in Your Sails
It's been said that sailing is the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while going nowhere slowly at great expense. Those sentiments were probably expressed by landlubbers, like me, who haven't experienced the exhilaration of sailing. I like boats with big motors so when I set the course I don't have to weave to and fro to get there--I guess the sailors call that "tacking." But life isn't like my motorboat its more like a sailboat dealing with changing winds.
You can get where you are going with a sailboat if you know where you are going and can adjust to wind direction. Knowing where you are going and adjusting are the key ingredients. If you don't know where you are going any road (or compass direction) will get you there. Unfortunately, that is how many of us live our lives--directionless and tossed about by the winds of life.
God has set the course for humanity and for each of us individually. He doesn't hide the compass--it always points to "true north." By seeking God we discover his plan for us and the path to happiness, fulfillment, and eternal life. The Word of God serves as a compass to keep us on course. But the winds are something else. They frequently blow contrary to the direction we want to go, push us off course, or can blow us on the rocks of destruction. This is where the skill and wisdom of sailing comes into the mix.
Contrary winds typified the life story of Paul, God's apostle. He was constantly adjusting to the trials and temptations of life; to the vagaries of people, to politics and persecution. But he learned to adjust his sails to keep moving "true north." He wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13). With the guidance and help of God--and Jesus who has successfully navigated all life's challenges--Paul stayed on course to the end of his journey
Sailing offers amazing insight into the human condition: the pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjust the sails. Christians are realists. Sailors understand that sailing is a metaphor for life--you can't change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails in order to reach your destination. --Ken Westby
July 29, 2005
Controversy Heats Up
The new German pope, Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy by condemning terrorism around the world without mentioning Israel. The Bavarian-born pope condemned acts of terrorism in Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq, and omitted mention of the July 12 suicide bombing in Netanya. Israel took the omission as deliberate and summoned the Vatican envoy to Israel for explanation.
A statement of response from the Vatican read: “It’s not always possible to follow every attack against Israel with a public statement of condemnation, and [that is] for various reasons, among them the fact that the attacks against Israel sometimes were followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the rules of international law. It would thus be impossible to condemn the first (the terror strikes) and let the second (Israeli retaliation) pass in silence.”
In criticisms of Israel’s response to decades of terrorist attacks, it is often forgotten that Israel is fighting for its very existence as a sovereign Jewish state in a small fraction of the land God gave it in perpetuity. The Arab nations surrounding Israel have threatened genocide. They are not out to merely hurt Israel but to destroy it. Israel cannot afford a weak response. Israel’s Arab enemies will exploit every perceived weakness, as they have the Jewish withdrawals from southern Lebanon and the Gaza. They view those events as victories over Israel. They look for more such territorial victories until all of Israel is gobbled up.
The world in general does not seem to understand the nature of Israel’s worst enemies. They are genocidal fanatics. They have one abiding goal: the total conquest of Israel and the West and the implementation of Islamic law. Israel is fighting for its survival; its people need our prayers and support. --Brian Knowles (Sources: The Media Line, July 28, 2005; Yahoo! News/Associated Press, July 28, 2005)
July 22, 2005
Muhammad Replaces Marx
Oh, Arabs, Oh Moslems and faithful everywhere, this is your
day to rise and defend Mecca,
which is captured by the spears of the Americans and Zionists.
Burn the soil under the feet of the aggressors and invaders.
--Saddam Hussein, August 10, 1990
Religions, especially corrupt ones like Islam, enable sometimes petty and dishonest human beings to work with one another by depending upon a power greater than themselves. We in the West have little recent experience in dealing with a crusading faith whose energy appears to be renewed and militant. There was a time hundreds of years ago when Europe was in a similar position of fighting off the Mohammedans. Then, they had a better picture that the fight at hand was one of destroy or be destroyed--a battle for survival of faith and country. Europe fought back and repelled the Islamic invaders who had advanced to the gates of Vienna.
In fact, "five centuries ago, in 1483, the first news report ever printed in English was John Kay's translation of an account of the defense of the island of Rhodes against an Islamic assault. The fact that it appeared at all reflected the degree of anxiety about the challenge of Islam, even in a country as remote as England was then from the Mediterranean." (The Great Reckoning by James Dale Davidson & Lord William Rees-Mogg, Summit Books, 1991, p 183)
Since then, England and most west European nations have welcomed as citizens millions of devout Muslims--many of whom want to see their new homeland governments destroyed and replaced by Islamic rule. Do we remember the story of the Trojan Horse? The recent Islamic terrorist bombing in London are but reminders of a centuries old battle still being waged. Davidson and Rees-Mogg write in their prescient 1991 book (which I read shortly after it came out), "Islam will come to define the terms of conflict between North and South. Islam is the religion of Europe's southern border. It is the world religion that historically has posed the gravest threat to the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is also the religion of the frontline states that confront Israel and oppose the aspiration of the Jewish people for a Mideast homeland. Even more importantly, however, Islam is the faith of those who control the world's oil wealth....Whoever controls oil has a grip on the prosperity of the industrialized West" (p 193).
We know the effect a war or terrorist act can have upon our economy. And a healthy economy may be all that stands between peace and collapse into anarchy. Following Saddam's invasion of Kuwait there was a trillion-dollar loss in world capital markets. The economic toll upon America of one day's terrorist activities on 9/11 has impacted the US economy hundreds of billions.
After a half-century of fighting Marxist Communism, the West is unprepared for the shift from a materialist enemy of capitalism back to a religious enemy of Western culture, capitalism, and the Judeo-Christian religion. Will we have the will, wisdom, and courage to make that shift? For the first five hundred years of the last millennium the West had the courage to fight off Islam and prevailed. Of course, in those times Europe had a religion of its own to defend--Christianity. Now it has none. --Ken Westby
July 18, 2005
Circumcising the Truth
For years there have a steady stream of scientific findings that male circumcision is a wise practice for health. It has been demonstrated that women with circumcised mates are far less likely to come down with uterine and vaginal cancers. Men also have fewer infections and are able to keep their male member cleaner with normal care. Now, a major study from S. Africa involving thousands of subjects links HIV-AIDS infection rates to whether a man is circumcised or not.
The study found that circumcised men had a 70% lower risk of contracting HIV from intercourse with infected women. In a continent devastated by AIDS you would think that this news would be welcomed and a campaign to circumcise would begin immediately. But, like the effectiveness of abstinence campaigns that are resisted and criticized as being impractical, circumcision is also criticized by the same politically correct crowd as being a barbaric practice. It doesn't seem to matter to these people--who feign great distress over the AIDS epidemic and continually call for more money for "education" and condoms--that both abstinence and circumcision have been proven to be effective in reducing infection rates and saving lives. One must question their sincerity.
Why this antipathy toward circumcision (which will reduce AIDS infection) or abstinence (which stops it completely)? The reasons are primarily religious, that is, anti-religious. Abstinence is a moral issue that derives it authority from the institution of marriage that stipulates that sex is to be confined to that committed state. Marriage, of course, is a biblically franchised institution and is the first institution made by God shortly after creating the first man and woman. Most cultures have embraced the institution, but only the Bible makes the case that God is its author. Our liberal humanists, who preen their situational "new morality," are uncomfortable accepting any standards that are universal, transcendental, or God-given. They prefer to set the standards themselves. Standards that will not make them feel guilty for they way they and their friends behave. The influence of the anti-religious, liberal elite has promoted a coarsening of our culture with declining civility, hedonism, sexual preoccupation, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and perversion.
Circumcision is opposed by this liberal elite because of its religious origins--whether they admit it or not. It was introduced by God to the patriarch Abraham as a sign of his covenant (Genesis 17). It was how God "marked" his people (male as head of family), or set them aside from all others as being holy to Him. The foreskin that was cut off was understood by the Hebrews to signify being made holy unto God. Cutting off "the filth of the foreskin" was a religious rite in response to God. It carried a moral/spiritual message. It seems logical to assume that God chose this minor operation since the excessive foreskin truly harbored filth in a protected area not cleaned in normal washing (uncircumcised men are routinely advised to pull back the foreskin and carefully wash lest it have bad odors and potentially become irritated or infected).
In the New Testament circumcision was held so religiously important that an apostolic council was convened to decide if uncircumcised Gentiles should be required to be circumcised. It was decided that it was not necessary for religious purposes since the sacrament of repentance and baptism accomplishes the like covenant with God--washing away sin and becoming holy before God. Baptism is also a rite that can be equally entered into by women. Even though not required, the wisdom of God in establishing the practice of circumcision should be respected and evaluated on its merits.
Opponents of circumcision like the International Coalition for Genital Integrity (!) decry the practice as an invasion of human rights by altering the male penis. They contend that the boy baby should first grow up and then get his permission. These fanatics liken circumcision to forcing girls to have mastectomies. The want the male member left uncircumcised, which is the practice of most non-Judo-Christian (pagan) cultures. This protect-the-look-of-the-penis crowd is the same bunch that fights for the right to kill the helpless unborn--who have not been asked by these compassionate liberals if they want to be destroyed. Killing the helpless unborn and letting people needlessly become infected and die with AIDS is apparently a sacrifice we should be willing to make before the "condom god of liberalism." The condom will save us! --Ken Westby
July 12, 2005
AIDS Ravages South Africa
Today’s South Africa is no “workers paradise.” According to a recently released government report, more than 6.5 million of SA’s 47 million people may be infected with HIV. The hue and cry of activists is not about controlling the behaviors that spread the virus, but rather with spending government money on life-prolonging drugs and anti-retroviral drugs.
In 2004, the annual HIV and Syphilis Antenatal Sero-Prevalence Survey revealed that some 29.5 percent of pregnant women in SA tested positive for HIV. In general, prevalence increased among all age groups last year, but it was highest among women 25 to 29 at nearly 40 percent.
Another source reports that in SA one out of every three children is having sex by the age of ten, and 17 out of 100 will spread the virus even if they know they are HIV-positive. The study that revealed this information involved 269,905 pupils in grades 6-11 in all language groups, across a range of schools from all nine provinces.
Other disturbing revelations in the survey were that by age 18, two-thirds of children had had sex. Two out of ten students did not believe that condoms prevented pregnancy or disease. One in ten actually believed that sex with a virgin could cure AIDS, and another one in ten said they had been raped within the last year. In addition, “Three out of every 100 pupils thought that girls liked sexually violent boys and one out of every 10 thought that the girls who got raped, asked for it, according to the study.”
Some 43 percent of the sexual crimes committed against children were committed by children under 18.
These findings ought to be profoundly disturbing to anyone who cares about the state of the South African population. Ultimately, the answers lie in changing the sexual values and behavior of millions, not in condom distribution, or the use of anti-viral and life-prolonging drugs. If there were greater emphasis on prevention, there would be less need for cure. So far however, prevention and public education programs have proven ineffective. --Brian Knowles ( Sources: Yahoo! News, July 11, 2005, quoting an Associated Press report & iol.co.za, 7:12:05.)
July 10, 2005
July 7, 2005
Go Ahead and Say It, "Islamic Terrorists!"
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but for the past fifteen years, most terrorists have been Muslims. Radical Islam has publicly declared that its goal is the destruction of the West, the state of Israel, and Christianity. In the wake of today's terrible bombings in London, one sees again the silly hypersensitivity to avoid linking terrorism to Islam (or at least to a major element within Islam). It seems that Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden can be mentioned, but using the term Islam in connection with terrorism is to be avoided among our politically correct leaders.
Most Muslims are not terrorists and just want to live peaceful and prosperous lives. But the Islamic religion is not a peaceful religion and in the hands of radicals it has become the force behind a worldwide war. It is war against civilization itself. Radical Islamics number in the millions--by some estimates 10% of the world's one billion Muslims are sympathetic with or eager supporters of the war against the West. One just has to recall the spontaneous celebrations, after 9/11, in the streets of Islam's cities (and even in some Muslim communities within the USA). Radical Islam is a great evil like communism or Nazism which cannot be accommodated or "understood" --it can only be defeated.
Islam is a backward and corrupt faith that has advanced by the sword. The nations that embrace it are totalatarian, oppressive to its citizens--especially women and girls, unproductive and economically weak, and breeding grounds for terrorism. If the fruit is bad, the tree is bad.
Militant Islam has taken up Hitler's crusade to destroy all Jews, the tribe that gave birth to our Lord and that preserved and wrote much of Scripture--both OT and NT. Like Hitler, radical Islamics see they will not reach their aims as long the USA and UK stand so they wage war against Israel's prime protectors. By attacking these leaders of the West, they also attack the homeland of Christianity which is viewed at the arch competitor and enemy of Islam.
This vile force that has arisen out of the pit of hell bears the colors of his infernal majesty, the Devil. These terrorists are pure evil and have the same Satanic heart as a Hitler or Stalin. To defeat an enemy it must be declared the enemy. The enemy is radical Islam and to a lesser extent, the religion of Islam itself. Our leaders need the guts to state the truth of what is a religious/cultural war. --Ken Westby