Blog Archives: May through August 2006

August 21, 2006

How much good will UN Peacekeepers do in Lebanon (If they ever show up)?
For the past six years, the UN has had a “peacekeeping” force of 2000 in Lebanon. What has it accomplished? During that period, the Lebanese “government,” has refused to disarm Hezbollah in its midst, per the UN resolution to do so. Instead, Hezbollah dug bunkers, established rocket launchers in private homes, and generally took over southern Lebanon.

Now, at the behest of France, the UN wants to move into Southern Lebanon a peacekeeping force of 15,000 blue helmets. Not only has the officially elected Lebanese “government” refused to disarm Hezbollah, it is likely the UN troops will also fail to do so. They will simply be a symbolic “presence” while Hezbollah continues to function as the real government of Lebanon.

As I write, it is Hezbollah that is handing out money to Lebanese homeowners whose houses were shelled by Israeli Defense Forces during the recent conflagration – which Hezbollah started by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, and launching rockets at Israel. It is only right that Hezbollah should make restitution since none of it would have happened were it not for them.

However, it is well worth it for Iran-supported Hezbollah to ingratiate itself with Lebanese people, whose support it needs to continue operations against Israel from their country. By taking the initiative, it has preempted both the UN and Israel in appearing to be the good guy. It means that as Hezbollah regroups, retrenches and plans its next attack on Israel, it will have the people on its side to lend support. It is functioning as a government within the government.

To make matters worse, Hezbollah will be able to do all this hiding behind the 15,000-strong UN force – if it ever materializes. So far, France, whose idea it was in the first place, has offered to contribute only 400 soldiers to the farce, err, I mean force.

If Hezbollah decides, and it will, to again attack Israel – perhaps on grounds that Israel has broken the ceasefire – Israel will have to decide whether to attack an enemy that is now hiding behind the so-called peacekeeping force! If Israel fires on Hezbollah positions, not only will civilians be killed, as before, but UN soldiers will die as well. This would give Hezbollah a massive propaganda victory, and turn world opinion against Israel even more strongly than before.

In other words, by placing a peacekeeping force in Lebanon, the UN is making it that much more difficult for tiny Israel to defend itself against a roiling sea of rapacious enemies. Israel is increasingly being placed in a no-win situation.

If the UN were to do its job properly, it would disarm Hezbollah, and remove its forces from southern Lebanon. It would then replace itself with regular Lebanese Army soldiers and move out. Of course once that happened, Hezbollah, being stronger than the Lebanese Army, would displace Lebanese regulars and resume its attacks on Israel from the Southern part of the country and the whole exercise would have been for nothing.

The only long term solution is for everyone to back off and allow Israel to go into Lebanon and clean out Hezbollah, once and for all. Granted, that would mean many Lebanese non-combatants would die. Yet it was Lebanon that refused to remove Hezbollah six years ago, when it had a UN mandate to do so. Now it is paying the price for failure to do what it said it would do. Behind all this bloodshed is Iran, the sponsor of Hezbollah. Ultimately, it is the enemy that will have to be fought and defeated. Meanwhile, it is quite content to rearm and refinance Hezbollah, and use Lebanon as a killing field. --Brian Knowles

August 17, 2006

How Many Jews Rejected Jesus?
We can never know with certainty the answer to the above question. The common assumption is that the Jews as a people rejected Jesus. Certainly some Jews wanted Jesus dead, as the Gospel writers document, but was Jesus universally hated by Jews in first century Judea? Those same Gospel writers also note that Jesus had a large popular following which became a source of envy and resentment from the small but powerful religious establishment. His enemies were few, but influential. The common Jew was impressed by Jesus, in fact, he was so popular that there was an organized movement to make him a king (John 6:15).

Despite Jesus' humiliating, criminal-like crucifixion at the Passover, news of his resurrection rekindled interest in him as Messiah. On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), about seven weeks after his resurrection, thousands of Jews were baptized and became committed followers of Jesus and his Apostles. In the years following the Jesus movement swept throughout Judea and to scattered Jewry from Spain to India. The disciples continued the mission Jesus gave them, "to the Jew first" (Acts 3:25; Rom 1:16) and then to the Gentiles. Was Jesus' mission to his fellow Jews a virtual failure?

We need to keep in mind that initially the church of the Apostles was almost 100% Jewish: the twelve apostles were Jewish, the initial growth of "Christianity" was Jewish, and the writers of the NT books were all Jewish. Initially, converts did not call themselves "Christian" but simply regarded themselves as Jewish followers of Yahweh, the Creator and God of Israel. They saw themselves as part of "The Way" (Acts 9:2; 24:14)--God's new revelation in Jesus of the path to the Kingdom of God.  They were God-fearers who recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah God had promised. For most of the first century Christians continued to assemble in the synagogue with Jews for regular Sabbath services. The hard division between Christian and Jew began in the second century.

One reason the evangelism of the Jewish people hasn't received as much treatment as that among the Gentiles is simply for lack of written historical accounts. Most of the NT letters concern the ministry of the apostle Paul who was the evangelist to the Gentile world. The twelve apostles, however, were sent to the twelve tribes of Israel of which the scattered Jewish population, or Diaspora, were but one..

Scholars generally agree that in the first century there were approximately six million Jews living in the Roman Empire, constituting about one tenth of the entire population. Only about one million Jews lived in Judea, or Palestine, the rest were firmly settled in major North African cities like Alexandria, Asian cities such as Constantinople and further east to Parthia and India, and in European cities from Britain to Italy.. Many, if not most, of the attendees at the original Pentecost, when the news of Jesus as the exalted Son of Man (Dan 7:13-14) was boldly proclaimed in the Temple, were from other parts of the Roman Empire and beyond to the Parthian Empire (see the list of nations represented in Acts 2:8-11). These Jewish pilgrims and thousands of new converts returned to their homelands with first hand news of the death and resurrection of a prophet that many believed to be Israel's Messiah. Jesus' apostles followed up by evangelizing those very areas described in the second chapter of the book of Acts. One would imagine that they were at least as successful in garnering converts as was Paul in his ministry to the Gentiles.

Richard John Neuhaus (First Things, February 2005) notes that scholars estimated that "by the fourth or fifth century, there were only a few hundred thousand, at most a million people who identified themselves as Jews. What happened to the millions of others? The most likely answer, it is suggested, is that they became Christians." Fr. Neuhaus asks the question: "What if the great majority of Jews did not reject Jesus?" (p. 59-60).

As I mentioned at the beginning, we cannot know the answer with certainty, but we should not assume that Jesus sent his disciples on a fool's errand. Jesus was rejected by many of the religious powers of his day and was turned over to the Romans for execution. But God vindicated him through the resurrection and launched his church with spectacular growth "turning the world upside down" as some complained. Of course, many Jews remained implacable enemies of Christianity, others ambivalent, and still others accepted Jesus as Yahweh's Messiah. Did the tribe of Judah in mass reject Jesus? I believe the evidence suggests otherwise.

If the early conversion of thousands of Jews in the first few weeks after the resurrection is any indication of a building momentum, I believe it is likely there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish converts--maybe millions--in the decades and centuries following. Perhaps Fr. Neuhaus is correct to assume that is why the number of professing Jews precipitously declined in the four hundred years following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think it flip and irresponsible to categorically say that "the Jews rejected Jesus."  --Ken Westby    

August 14, 2006

Taking the Koran Seriously
If you haven't read Brian Knowles' piece below on "Asymmetrical Warfare," please do. It is very enlightening on the conflicts in the Middle East.

I would, however, like to disagree with Brian on one point. He states that "Western civilization is under relentless attack from a deadly enemy – Islamo-Facism." Western civilization is not battling "Islamo-Fascism." It is battling Islam. Those Muslims who want to kill the Jews and us are merely reading the Koran and taking its words at face value. They are reading, believing, and acting on what they have read in their holy book. We consider these people to be fanatics and Hitler-like. In most Muslim communities around the world, they are admired and applauded for their willingness to live out the words of the Koran, and they are supported both morally and financially by those whose faith in the Koran is not strong enough to put their own lives on the line for their religion.

Today a ceasefire has gone into effect in southern Lebanon. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert believes that the world will see Israel's good intentions and begin to side with Israel in this conflict. I am not a prophet, but I can see nothing good coming out of this ceasefire for Israel. Not only will it allow Hezbollah to replenish its arms and supplies, it will allow the pro-Syrian/pro-Iranian Lebanese government to integrate Hezbollah fighters into the Lebanese military units that will move into southern Lebanon for the purpose of "restoring peace" to the region. I may be wrong, but if event transpire as I fear they will, the latter end for Israel will be worse than the present conflict.

Of course, all this could change if the rising unrest inside Iran strengthens to the point of overthrowing the current Iranian regime. Seventy percent of the population of Iran is under 30 years of age, and many are chafing under the heavy-handed tactics of Iranian president Ahmadinejad and his band of mullahs and Ayatollah. They desperately want more personal freedom and welcome many Western ideas. --Ken Ryland

August 8, 2006

The Perils of Asymmetrical Warfare
Make no mistake about it: the West is in a war for its own survival. Western civilization is under relentless attack from a deadly enemy – Islamo-Facism. The latest fronts to be opened up in this ongoing conflagration are in Lebanon, and in Gaza. In both cases, these are areas Israel once occupied and then vacated. Once Israel was out, the forces of darkness moved in to fill the vacuum, interpreting Israel’s withdrawal as a victory for themselves. Hezbollah moved into Lebanon, beginning six years ago. Hamas filled the power vacuum left when Israel left that area, and the corrupt, weak, Fatah party was unable to withstand them. Hamas competes with Fatah for power in the various Palestinian territories.

Israel is finding it rough going in Southern Lebanon. Its powerful military is facing a determined enemy, well-entrenched among the civilian population. As mentioned in a previous blog, Hezbollah has had six years to dig in.

If the war between Israel and Hezbollah were conventional, Israel would long ago have wiped out its enemy. Israel, like all nations that are fighting terrorism, is fighting an “asymmetrical” war. It is a war in which military might is less important than strategy. Though Israel is winning – if you measure by casualties on both sides – Hezbollah is winning the propaganda war. Lord William Rees-Mogg recently wrote: “…Hezbollah’s strategic advantage has been demonstrated. Hezbollah has survived the initial onslaught. Israel is now faced with the choice between a difficult further advance into Lebanon or a stalemate. The rockets are still landing. And Israel has paid an extremely high price in terms of international sympathy and support.

“Outside the US, the world’s sympathy is now given to the Lebanese. It is Israel rather than Hezbollah which is being blamed. Inevitably, Hezbollah’s prestige has risen. From the Arab point of view, Hezbollah took on Israel and has, so far, survived” (The Mail, Sunday, August 6, 2007).

In the crazy world of asymmetrical warfare, the good guys can quickly become the bad guys, and vice versa. The world’s Press and Media, leaders everywhere, and even the UN’s Kofi Annan, are casting Israel in the role of villain, while the aggressors, Hezbollah and Hamas get a pass.

The Shia form of Islam is rising to the fore as the deadliest enemy of Israel and the West. It is led, not by Arabs but by Persians. Rees-Mogg assesses it this way: “We now have to analyse the Middle Eastern conflict with a relatively new factor in play – Shia nationalism. It is not the same as Arab nationalism, indeed Iran is the main Shia power and it is not an Arab nation at all. It is, nevertheless, the current champion of Arab nationalism. Shia militancy does not represent Islam as a whole; Sunnis still regard the Shia as heretics. It does not control any Arab governments, though it may come to control Iraq. It is absolutely hostile to Israel and to the West” (ibid.).

Iranian Shia hegemony is a threat to everyone in the region, not just to Israel. The Hitler-like leader of Iran has designs on the whole region. He has visions of empire – global empire. He wants to begin by controlling the immediate region, with its oil supplies. If civil war breaks out in Iraq, which now seems likely, Iran will back the Shia majority and will seek to dominate or control Iraq in the same way Syria has puppetized Lebanon’s weak government. The US and the UK will have to decide whether they are going to try to broker “peace” in one of the world’s most barbarous regions, or get out and allow nature to take its course – in which case the Iranians would gain an enormous strategic foothold in the region; one from which they would not easily be dislodged.

Giving Iran control of Iraq would immediately change the balance of power in the region. The relatively weak military forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Arab Emirates, would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the combined militaries of both Iran and Iraq. It would only be a matter of time before Iran steamrolled over the oil-rich territories of the Middle East.

In Ezekiel 38, Persia is listed among the northern nations that will one day attack Israel (Ezekiel 38:5). Various “authorities” disagree among themselves about specifically who these nations are in modern configurations, but it is certain that they are all to the north of tiny Israel (vss. 6 & 15).

Psalm 83 includes another listing of nations that will attack Israel. It speaks of “Ishmaelites” (Arabs) and “Philistia” (the region of Palestine) as being among the attackers. The people of “Tyre” are also listed (verse 7). Tyre is in modern Lebanon.

The Psalm also speaks of “Assyria” (verse 8). There are still Assyrians in various parts of the Middle East, including Iraq. In fact, expatriate Assyrians have their own website: www.assyriannation.com. Most of them are Coptic Christians. I do not believe that modern Germany is the descendant of ancient Assyria. It should also be noted that the largest single national origin of Americans is Germany.

These verses may speak of coalitions of Islamic nations, or they may refer to mixtures of Islamic and other nations fighting against what they perceive to be a common enemy: Israel.

It is clear that the world of the Middle East is in turmoil, and at the center of that turmoil are various militant, expansionist, Islamo-Facist groups. To read Asaph’s imprecatory prayer concerning Israel’s enemies, read Psalm 83:13-18. --Brian Knowles        

August 4, 2006

Yeshua, Yashua, Ye'Hoshua, Jesus -- Who Cares?
Is it possible that 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? Could Satan have devised a better plan for pitting one Christian against another than by creating hostility over the use of words? Truly, if the Church appears to be impotent in spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God, is it Satan's fault? It is our own. We are too busy fighting with each other many issues including 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 heard 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...every language! 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. --Kenneth Ryland
 

July 25, 2006 

Reason vs. Rhetorical Rubbish re Israel
It was predictable. Not long after the pattern of the current Israeli counterattack on Hezbollah forces holed up in south Lebanon was established, the “peaceniks” began bleating about a ceasefire. What Hezbollah did, and continues to do, to provoke the counterattack is lost in the shuffle. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan got caught up in the rhetoric by accusing Israel of “overreaction.”

In a recent column, Thomas Sowell wrote: “One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.” He had in mind the current crop of “peaceniks.”

At the moment, the Left side of the political spectrum is calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon. The fact that a ceasefire would leave the situation pretty much where it was at the outset is immaterial to them. The fact that Hezbollah would interpret a ceasefire agreed to by Israel as a victory is of no consequence. The fact that three kidnapped soldiers would still be captive to Hezbollah is insignificant to them. The fact that Hezbollah continues to rain down rockets on innocent Israeli citizens means nothing to the cut-and-run crowd. They just want the “violence” to stop no matter the cost to Israel.

The peaceniks don’t understand the fact that the death of Lebanese civilians is entirely the fault of the terrorists who use them as human shields. Israeli soldiers seek to hide and protect civilians behind themselves. The terrorists hide behind hapless civilians. You can’t hit the terrorists without taking out some civilians. The terrorists know this, and use it to propagandistic advantage. They couldn’t care less about the people they are taking down with them. As always the useful idiots on the Left have risen to the bait, casting Israel, not Hezbollah, in the role of villain. Some boobs are even blaming George Bush for the current conflagration!

Look, Israel is fighting for its survival. Hezbollah is not. Its members are quite happy not to survive. They value martyrdom above life. They are a cult of death. They murder others and in the process murder themselves.

The goal of Israel is destroy Hezbollah’s ability to attack Israel’s civilian population. It can’t accomplish that without invading the nation that plays host to Hezbollah – Lebanon.  In the process, Lebanon is bound to take some casualties. If Lebanon had refused to host Hezbollah 6 years ago, when Israel withdrew, this would not have happened. Problem is, Hezbollah is now stronger in Lebanon that Lebanon’s own army.

Israel wants its three captive soldiers returned, and it wants the rocket attacks – coming in at an average of one per minute – to stop. Israel must continue to attack Hezbollah until those goals are achieved. It must stay the course and not cave in to world opinion. World opinion is functionally anti-Israel and pro-terrorist. It couldn’t care less about the survival of the nation of Israel. It wouldn’t shed a tear if every Israeli was driven into the sea. To survive, Israel must ignore world opinion and destroy those who would destroy her. Israel’s strategy must be based on facts, not on the inflammatory, emotional rhetoric of an assortment of petulant pantywaists that care nothing for Israel’s dead and wounded, and everything for Lebanon’s collateral casualties.

Am I saying that Israel is always Simon pure? Not at all. Israel is not always even-handed and wholly just in its dealings with those that hate it. Sometimes it does overreact. This, however, is not such an instance.

Hezbollah has had six years in which to entrench itself, unopposed, in southern Lebanon. It has dug underground bunkers, some as deep as nine stories.  It will take some time to root out this nest of vipers. The weak Lebanese army has failed in its UN mandated imperative to root out Hezbollah. Hezbollah is an army of largely foreign terrorists within a weak nation dominated by both Syria and Iran. It is financed and supplied by Iran, and enabled by Syria and an impotent Lebanese government. Incidentally, it was during Operation Desert Storm, while the U.S. was distracted, that Syria quietly took over Lebanon. It has since pulled back, but it maintains a powerful influence in all things Lebanese.

Syria is run by Assad the younger and his Ba’ath Party – the same party that Saddam Hussein headed up in Iraq. It is quite possible that Syria now possesses Saddam’s WMD’s, which, if pressed, it could and would use against Israel.

As Israel’s battle against Hezbollah continues, the daily news will be increasingly filled with inflammatory rhetoric against Israel. Hezbollah, and the people of Lebanon, will be characterized as noble martyrs fighting against a mini-superpower that is backed by the United States. Don’t believe it. Look for facts amid the blinding blizzard of propagandistic confetti that daily fills the air waves. Remember who started this thing, and think about who must finish it – or die trying. --Brian Knowles       

July 18, 2006

A World Full of Jew-Killers
One again Jews are under attack from all sides. Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Hezbolla and most of the Islamic world hate the Jewish state of Israel with such venom they seek its extermination. World public opinion--that odd entity factions cite to bolster their own policies--has always been solidly against Israel. Why? Why does the UN, the mainstream media, and most world governments side against the tiny nation of Jews--even if it means taking the side of terrorists? Why is Israel condemned for defending itself against terrorist, murderous, thugs and those who harbor them?

There are some exceptions to this strange and near universal anti-Semitism, most importantly support from the United States. Jew-hating is nothing new to the world. It didn't arrive with radical Islam or the bogus claims of Palestinians. It didn't first appear with Hitler and his killing machine which murdered six million Jews. It is an ancient hatred that has been practiced with regularity for over two thousand years.

Five hundred years before Christ, genocide for the Jews was the cry of a top Persian official who succeeded in making it official Persian policy. The slaughter was stopped at the last moment by the hand of God upon queen Esther who risked her life to intervene. The Jews were a captive population and posed no threat to the Persian state. Their extermination made no sense. For the two thousand years since Christ Jews have been routinely persecuted, ghettoized, drowned, burned and forced to flee--and blamed for all sorts of conspiracies and as a general source of evil. When Hitler overran Europe he found anti-Semitism present everywhere his armies trod. Most of these defeated governments willingly cooperated in rounding up their Jewish citizens for shipment to extermination camps. Even today, anti-Semitism is alive and growing in Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Union.  How does one explain anti-Semitism?

There are no logical or reasonable explanations for this particular hatred. The Jews are a tiny ethnic population that have been chased from pillar to post for most of their history. And for most of their history they have not had land or a nation to call their own. Yet, as a people, Jews have been an asset to the human family contributing disproportional to their population to important inventions, commerce, arts, and professions that have bettered human life. So why are they so hated? Normally, the secular world stands up for the small against the big, but not when it comes to the Jews. The reason?

My theory is this. Anti-Semitism is not rooted in reason, but is a spiritual, mental disease. I believe there exists a great spiritual war being waged between the spiritual forces of good (light) and evil (darkness). The Serpent was warned by God in the Garden of Eden that his demise would be at the hand of a future son of Eve. Biblical history contains the story of the ongoing battle between God and the Adversary. Centuries later God chose David to become an Israelite king and promised that one of his descendants would be the Messiah. David was a Jew of the tribe of Judah. Jesus was that promised Messiah and like David, was a Jew. When Jesus was but a small child king Herod killed Jewish babies in hopes of killing the Christ. The Old Testament was preserved by Jews to the benefit of all humanity. The Jews are the historical people of The Book and are living testimony to the historical truth of Scripture. The New Testament was written by Jews, all the apostles were Jews, and the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, was also a Jew.

I believe Anti-Semitism is a satanic attempt to attack and exterminate those responsible for assembling and preserving the Word of God; to eliminate the ethnic tribe that produced the Messiah; to remove the light that the Bible gives to the world; to thwart the coming of the Kingdom of God. Satanic hatred is also directed toward Christians--Jew and Gentile--who preserve and perpetuate the knowledge of the one true God (John 17:3). Currently, the sharpest knife in the the devil's drawer is the Islamic-Nazi movement, and it receives active or passive support from most nations. Those people who side against the Jews don't do so because of fact, truth, history, or logic. They have eaten of the devil's rotten apple which has darkened their judgment.  --Ken Westby

July 3, 2006

Opinions du jour
Typically, American editors operate under the principle of “freedom of the press.” A free press is essential for a politically free and democratic society. One of the first things newly minted dictators do when they take over is shut down the free press.

But freedom of the press must be exercised responsibly. The position of “editor” carries with it great responsibility – especially if the entity one is editing influences the opinions of millions of people. The motto of the New York Times is “All the news that’s fit to print.” What factors determine whether or not something is fit to print? The NYT is viewed by many as the most important paper in the country. Once it breaks a given story, other papers follow suit. In the case of the recent revealing of government surveillance secrets in the War on Terror, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal produced their own versions of the same story.

I believe all three editors acted irresponsibly in running the story about how the US government is tracking money transfers among terrorists who want to murder as many of us as possible. It’s not an issue of “rights.” It’s an issue of whether running the story helps or hinders the nation’s battle against militant Islamic terrorists or not. Whom did the story help: the terrorists, or those who are defending us against the terrorists?

The President himself had already appealed to the Times not to run the story. He had pointed out that doing so would not serve the interests of national security. The Times “underruled” him and ran it anyway. What breathtaking disrespect for the office of the President!

Now don’t lecture me on the idea that the President shouldn’t be able to tell a free press what articles to run and not to run. As an editor of many publications over the past 35 years, I am well aware of what freedoms editors enjoy. I return to the issue of responsibility.

The irresponsible application of freedom of the press can jeopardize the security of an entire nation. The running of this article did just that. It has made it that much more difficult to fight the war on terror because it has alerted the enemy in detail to our tactics. It won’t do to say that the enemy already knew we were doing this. Clearly the tactic has worked in some cases, despite what the enemy allegedly knew.

What is treason? What is sedition? One of the definitions of the former is “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” It is a “betrayal of trust or confidence,” “breach of faith,” or “treachery.”

“Sedition” is “incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.” It is “any action, esp. in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.” (All definitions are from the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.)

Some senators and congressmen seem to feel the Times running of this article breaching the national security is a prosecutable offence. They want to sue the Times, as do many other individuals and groups. Some have expressed the idea that what the paper did is tantamount to treason. We can certainly say that doing so benefited the enemy and worked against us. I am not legally skilled enough to know whether the newspaper violated the laws against treason or not. I’ll leave that one to the lawyers and the courts.

One thing is certain: The New York Times and other left-wing papers have a long track record of Bush-bashing for its own sake. If jeopardizing the national security is what it takes to bring the Bush Administration down, they are willing to put us all at risk to do it. They hate the President so much that they are willing to do, or say, just about anything to discredit him and his administration and prevent conservatives in general from ever again winning elections in this country. In other words, it’s about power and nothing else. The Left has lost power and it wants it back. It is willing to stoop to almost any level to achieve it.

When I worked for a major company some years ago, I had a boss who’d grown up in Pasadena. He had renamed The Pasadena Star News “The Daily Disappointment.” I often feel like renaming the New York Times “The Daily Bush-Bash.”

The Los Angeles Times is also dedicated to relentless Conservative and Christian bashing. In recent years, both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Crouch of CBN have come in for prolonged bashings. “Why do you continue to subscribe to the Times?” you ask. I get it for the sports page and the TV guide and the sale flyers it contains (for my wife) – and that’s it. On occasion, the paper runs information-laden articles about the situation in Africa, but always with a politically correct spin – and the typical conclusion is that the Bush Administration isn’t doing enough.

It is difficult to find unbiased news reporting these days. Most newspapers and media outlets have a leftist bias. The one’s that don’t are likely to have a right wing slant. In either case, reporting is not merely factual or objective, but spun to leave in the minds of readers and viewers a certain political perception. Personally, when I view the news on television, or read a newspaper, I simply want to know what happened. I want objective information. I don’t want spin. I don’t want ideology and I don’t want to see the terrorists provided with too much information on our strategies, tools, and methods. And I certainly don’t like to see the office of President constantly undermined. Even if you don’t agree with the man politically at least respect the office. He’s our face to the world.

The Left/Right War in this country is contaminating the always-dubious purity of journalism. Every word is a weapon of propaganda -- not that it hasn’t always been this way but it seems to be getting worse. Whatever happened to straight reporting? Where did good investigative journalism go? I don’t want to be subjected to a daily barrage of Right or Left wing propaganda. I just want information, pure and simple. I want facts I can trust. I can do the analysis myself. Or I can read that of others on the Op-Ed pages. I can forage among the pundits to get opinions. I hope the public indignation the NYT has generated will induce the paper to clean up its act. But I’m not holding my breath. --Brian Knowles

June 12, 2006

Rejoice over Zarqawi's Death?
Absolutely! His name should be included among synonyms for the word "evil" in the dictionary. This piece of human offal was long overdue his baptism of heavenly fire. May his memory be cursed with the truth of his beastly, bloody crimes. And may his fellow soldiers of evil quickly share his fate.

I know some might be squeamish about actually rejoicing in the death of anybody--it's just not the Christian thing to do, right?. I understand the point and I'm aware that God says he takes "no pleasure" in the death of the wicked, but takes pleasure when a people repent and turn toward Him and His path of righteousness and live (see Ezekiel 18:22; 33:11). God doesn't get his kicks out of punishing the wicked, but he draws great pleasure when people chose the path that leads to blessings from him. God is not sadistic, but at times his justice demands wrath against the wicked and he doesn't shirk his commitment to righteous judgment, condemnation, and vengeance. Often the judgment of God is administered by human agents. God used Babylon to punish Israel for its idolatry and unfaithfulness. But we are not God and we experience evil from a different vantage point--that of victims.

When an evil person is removed and receives his just deserts--whether tyrants like Hitler and Mussolini, pervert murderers like Ted Bundy and Adolph Eichmann, or any foul person preying upon another--there is relief. Sometimes the evil removed was so palpable a whole nation breathes a sigh of relief and rejoices. Such was the case with the hanging death of evil Haman who plotted genocide against the Jewish people back in the days of Queen Esther. The Feast of Purim is celebrated to this day by Jews the world over and part of the commemoration is rejoicing in Haman's death (Esther 9:17). The Jews gave credit to Yahweh for thwarting the plans of Haman and seeing that he got what he deserved. They also gave credit to Queen Esther who risked her life and to Mordecai who likewise risked his life to save a nation. Haman had built a huge gallows upon which to hang God's servant Mordicai. Instead, it served to hang Haman. Zarqawi is cut out of the same crud as Haman--vile, willful, Satanic evil. If Zarqawi had the means there would have been no limit to the torture and killing of his enemies, which numbered virtually everyone on earth except a few radical Islamic Nazis like himself. He liked to bomb innocent people, he got two big ones dropped on his sorry head with Haman-like irony.

Also killed with Zarqawi were his 16-year old wife and their 18-month old son. Do the math. This girl was 13 when the slob married her. Of course, in good Muslim style he had had other wives. American warriors leave their wives and children back home and safe; Zarqawi types drag theirs along for cover. Zarqawi's idol, Muhammad, Allah's prophet, married a six-year-old girl when he was in his 50s, but had the decency to wait to lay with her until she reached the ripe old age of 9-years old. We should praise God when such vermin are put where they belong. --Ken Westby

June 2, 2006

42 Years of Marriage!
Yesterday JoAn and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary by going out to Seattle's Morton's Steak House for a steak dinner. The meal and service were both first class and for a nice touch they had printed up personalized menus for each of us which read at the top: "Kenneth and JoAn Westby -- Happy 42nd Wedding Anniversary."   During the meal we reminisced and asked each other a few questions as we sipped the wine and paused between bites of steak. One question I asked of JoAn is what was the most memorable moment or important event that she could single out from our 42 years together. She couldn't pick just one saying that there were too many, but she said what stands out is the continuity of the whole; the continuum of progress from youth to the present. Along the way we had adventures and trials aplenty and most importantly built a family together. The journey is what is remarkable and significant.

Our four children are all wonderful people and are our best friends. They have all become successful as persons of character and balanced temperament. They are happy and have each been blessed with their choice of mates. They each love God and have internalized the values we also hold most dear. We could not be more happy with the family God has blessed us with. And our grandchildren! why, each of them is a unique jewel of a different color and coruscates with facets unshared with their siblings or cousins. What a joy they are and how we savor talking with them and participating in their ever-changing lives.

You know, when you get older your perspective gets higher. By higher I mean you have an elevation that sees the landscape of life from a height of years. You have observed and lived the whole cycle of birth, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, marriage, children, the building years, middle age, and now, old age. When you see a babe, or child, or teen, or young married, or striving career pusher, you can see both their past tracks and their likely future. You have the ability to judge and apply wisdom. Trends and types are seen as one would see physical features of the landscape from a satellite photo which from the surface are unobservable.

Looking back over relationships and lessons is probably a healthy thing to do. What counts most, I think, is the present direction one is going. Learn from the past, but don't wallow in its negative events, sorrows, and mistakes. Rejoice in the present and realize that each day is new and can be lived joyfully before God and man. The sins and mistakes of the past are history and can be totally forgiven and forgotten by God if one asks God for that mercy.

Marriage is a fresh start affair. Each day one has the opportunity to make it good. To submit some of your thoughts and energy into the pursuit of making your mate's life a good one. The Bible talks of not just thinking of your own things, but thinking on the things of others, meaning, don't be selfish; be giving. There is an amazing dynamic about giving. You get back more than you give. The "get back" isn't always in kind, and can take many forms including just the shear pleasure derived from the grace of giving. We underestimate the power we have to impart strength, happiness and comfort to another person--especially to one's mate. We all fall short here, but we can all commit to do better, to be less selfish, to be more concerned with the personal happiness and well being of our mate.

I can see why God made marriage a sacrament and the first institution at creation. It is the prime means, though not the only, for the complete development of a healthy human relationship. It is the ground upon which a family can be built and hence, the building block of all society. I think most of the world's problems can be traced back to dysfunctional marriage relationships and the dysfunctional families born from them.

The best thing about 42 years of marriage is that JoAn and I have journeyed them together. We were not alone in life. We gave comfort and love to each other and fought through all the many trials and challenges that each year brought. Looking back is a great victory and satisfaction that we alone can share. God said, "it is not good that man should be alone," to which I can say an enthusiastic, "I'll drink to that!"  --Ken Westby

May 13, 2006

Zoning Laws: A Weapon against the Church?
When I pastored two churches for the Worldwide Church of God in Oklahoma back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I knew I lived in the “Bible Belt.” One of our members – a farmer – had been a Pentecostal before joining the WCG. He had been well-known for inviting evangelists to set up big tents on his farm to hold revival meetings. Then, no government official ever challenged the man’s right to hold such assemblies on his own property. Today, all that is changing.

In March of this year, Garland Simmons invited the Cowboy Church to begin meetings on his place on Horseshoe Bend Road in Bedford County, Virginia. Once the church was up and running, Simmons received a notice in the mail that the meetings were in violation of country zoning regulations. Not only was Simmons violating allowed property use (agricultural only), but he was also in violation of the county’s building code by allowing the church to meet in one of his agricultural buildings. Simmons was directed to obtain the necessary permits for the establishment of a religious assembly on his property. Permits for the establishment of a religious assembly? Does that not sound a sour note in your mind?

Simmons has retained an attorney to appeal the notices because he believes the zoning restrictions are actually an attempt by county government to authorize, or disallow, a church. Such regulations could, Simmons suspects, even lead to Christians being required to obtain permits for home Bible study meetings.

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

According to Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty Counsel attorney who represents the Cowboy Church, the zoning code, as it is being interpreted, violates the First Amendment rights of the Cowboy Church and its members.

The Church intends to keep on meeting at least until its appeal has worked its way through the legal system. In fact, it has plans to open a second congregation in Thaxton.

We have earlier advised ACD readers that one of the strategies at play in the war on Christianity in this country is the use of zoning laws to marginalize or even eliminate churches from areas of visibility and influence. Just as the apostle Paul demanded the rights that went with his Roman citizenship, so modern Christians must stand up for their rights – or they will surely lose them. Reread the First Amendment above and then think prayerfully about the myriad attempts to remove Christian influence from American life. Ask yourself from which side of the political spectrum are these attacks coming?

For further study: Acts 22:22-29. --Brian Knowles

May 2, 2006

If this idea has consequences…
Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in February wrote an article for the Taipei Times (February 21, 2006, page 9). In his opening paragraph he wrote the following: “For 350 years, sovereignty – the notion that states are the central actors on the world stage and that governments are essentially free to do what they want within their own territory but not within the territory of other states – has provided the organizing principle of international relations. The time has come to rethink this notion.”

He then spoke of “new mechanisms” that are needed for regional and “global governance” that including actors other than states. He wrote, “…states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function. This is already in place in the trade realm.”

International trade is one area in which states are being forced to give up sovereignty; another is “global climate change.” Haass cites the Kyoto Protocol as an example of a sovereignty-busting arrangement. (The U.S. has not yet signed this.)

For Haass, both international trade rules and global climate change make it necessary to “redefine” sovereignty: “All this suggests that sovereignty must be redefined if states are to cope with globalization.” Haass sees the weakening of state sovereignties as a necessity: “Globalization,” he writes, “thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker.” He says that “sovereignty is no longer a sanctuary.”

One of the most revealing paragraphs in Haass’s article reads as follows: “Necessity may also lead to reducing or even eliminating sovereignty when a government, whether from a lack of capacity or conscious policy, is unable to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. This reflects not simply scruples, but a view that state failure and genocide can lead to destabilizing refugee flows and create openings for terrorists to take root.

“The NATO intervention in Kosovo was an example where a number of governments chose to violate the sovereignty of another government (Serbia) to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“By contrast, the mass killing in Rwanda a decade ago and now in Darfur, Sudan, demonstrate the high price of judging sovereignty to be supreme and thus doing little to prevent the slaughter of innocents.”

Haass then writes, “Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute.”

Haass wants to “redefine sovereignty” during this era of globalization, and to “find a balance between a world of fully sovereign states and an international system of either world government or anarchy.”

As President of the CFR, Haass occupies an important and influential position in American politics. The CFR publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, an important force in the world of geopolitics. The idea of “global governance” is gaining ground in the modern world of globalization. Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) like NAFTA, the WTO, various environmental groups, the World Court in The Hague, and other groups strongly support the weakening of national sovereignties in favor of world bodies to which nation-states would become accountable. In the case of the United States, this trend will eventually bring the Constitution into direct conflict with the incremental implementation of global governance. Watch this space for further reports. --Brian Knowles