Friday, October 24, 2008

What Does It Really Mean To Make Peace?

The New York Times reported last year a group of Christians leaders met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Their goal was to have a warm, friendly exchange to demonstrate the only way to prevent war is through dialogue.

In their meeting held across the street from the UN Building in NY, the Iranian president spoke about the commonality of the messages of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In light of his desire to destroy Israel, I find his religious commonality approach to be ridiculous.

The panel from the Christian perspective included a Quaker, a Catholic, an Anglican, a Baptist and a representative of the interfaith World Council of Churches.

The gathering was organized by the Quakers and Mennonites, especially in light of their commitment to dialogue and pacifism as a way to resolve conflict.

No Jewish leader was willing to attend the meeting.

The constituents tried to prod the Iranian president about his position on the denial of the Holocaust, human rights abuses, Israel and Iran's nuclear weapon build up. Ahmadinejad conceded nothing and often deflected questions by putting the focus on Israel and US policies.

A year later the president of Iran still makes his daily threats against Israel and spews his hatred for America. The only thing the Iranian president took from the meeting was the respect shown to him by the Christian clerics - a respect he does not deserve.

Is negotiation with a despotic ruler the way to achieve peace or merely a display of naivete when it comes to the evil lurking within a religious/political ruler?

I think when two people disagree on an issue, there is always room for negotiation and discussion to reach a resolve. Husbands and wives do it all the time and so do friends.

However, on a worldwide scale, when an individual is so committed to his stance of hatred against a country or a people, the evil in his heart overpowers any attempt to make peace.

For example, in 2000 at the Camp David Summit, President Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat met to discuss the Israeli/Palestinian issue. In a total surprise act of peacemaking, Barak offered Arafat and his people more land that was ever offered by Israel in exchange for peace and the cessation of Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israeli citizens. Arafat did not take the deal. Clinton was shocked and so were Arafat's aides. Why?

Arafat's hatred for Israel and desire to destroy the Jewish state was stronger than his desire for peace.

Can you carry on diplomatic discussions with a person resolved to see your demise?

Our country is naive to think the next president of the US will be able to solve the war on terrorism using words as weapons or as a healing balm. I'd rather have a Commander -in-Chief in the White House - John McCain - who understands firsthand the evil of war and knows the deep hostility of those who perpetrate the slaughter of innocent lives.

For your information, the day after the Camp David Summit in 2000, Palestinian terrorist sent several suicide bombers across the border into Israel.

I cannot cast my vote for a man -Barak Obama - who has no war experience, does not understand the darkness of the heart of a terrorist and would use diplomacy as a substitute for direct confrontation and military threat to show that the US will not tolerate terrorism.

My fear is that while a man like Barak Obama speaks peacefully to individuals like Ahmadinejad, behind the scenes he and his henchmen are plotting to obliterate Israel and do irreparable harm to the US using nuclear weapons. It is my opinion that a vote for Obama is a vote for naivete and ignorance of the real danger that lurks among terrorist groups and nations.

What do you think?

Check out some new blogs I posted on my page on the John Tesh Network.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dry Bibles, Wet Bibles or No Bibles

I'm a confessed church-hopper.  It's been that way for almost a year.  I keep asking myself, "Why?"  In one or two smaller churches I've met some wonderful, loving people and in other congregations, I met no one because they have an "invisible visitor" policy.  I've attended warm, inviting large sanctuaries and cold, indifferent smaller places of worship.  I've walked into churches that held business meetings on Sunday morning instead of conducting business with God. I've walked into congregations hurting in my heart to hear from God and walked out with a church budget spread sheet that I tossed in the nearest trash can. 

Actually, all of these obstacles can be overcome either through my own friendliness, or willingness to get involved in small groups to meet people on a more personal level, or just by having a church make a commitment to reserve Sunday morning for the teaching of the Word of God. It's all fixable. 

However, three problems keep cropping up in churches that I can't do a thing about.  This past Sunday I attended a large, modern church and after 20 minutes of listening to the sermon I had to leave. I've never done that in my life as a believer.  This church displayed one of the three problems I am about to discuss.   

Here they are in case you're curious,

First, some pastors preach out of a dry Bible.  These men stick to the word and like glue they adhered to the text so much they are unable to say anything practical or useful from the Word.  In my own experience teaching the Scriptures, I'd pray for the Lord to make the Word come alive to touch hearts of people in the congregation. I'd plead with the Lord to bring tears, laughter, joy and relief to the people hearing the Word.  

Yet some pastors have turned their teaching into an extended Bible commentary.  Great information.  Intellectually stimulating comments.  But dry and lifeless.  The pastor probably never leaves his study and interacts with real people with failing marriages, chronic illnesses and troubled teens.  These pastors cannot bring the Bible into the 21st century.  Perhaps a year away from the pulpit and working in a supermarket or a hospital might make them "real people" and not so plastic and rigid.  What a waste! I could've stayed home and read a good book.

Second, the wet Bible is used by the pastor who will get up before the congregation and say, "As I was preparing this message last night . . . "  Those words tell me this man is not prepared.  He has not studied or poured over the word during the week.  His presentation is superficial and predictable.  I heard a pastor this week give a watered down message. He would read a passage of the text and then say, "Isn't this crazy . . . that God would dwell with His people?"  I thought to myself, "Crazy?"  What a strange way to describe God's presence. This pastor used this term about 6 or 7 times.  I had to leave. He said very little about the text.  I would have found more respect for the Koran in a mosque than I found in this church for the Holy Bible. I felt ashamed to be a Christian where such little respect was shown for the Word of God. He might as well been preaching out of a Marvel comic. 

The watered down sermons are the ones where you hear tips and principles and 7 how to's on finding peace or fixing your family or re-roofing your house.  Most mega churches are based on this kind of preaching where the pastor thinks he's "one of us" because he wears sandals in the pulpit and a Hawaiian shirt and no tie. The pastor is not one of us; the pastor is held to a higher standard. He livs in a fish bowl where people watch his every move.  If he says the word "shit," that'll be the topic of the week in the small groups,  If his kids screw up in school, the uproar is much greater than if Joe Blow in the back row has 4 teens who are all smoking dope.  In the same way,  in trying to be "one of us," the pastor does not study the word "like one of us."  Who is he trying to kid?  

Finally, there's the no-Bible pastor. No Bible!   He's not even looked at his Bible. His message is about nothing. Ideas. Concepts. A book he's read. His identity as a Jewish person or a black person.  Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor, is a no Bible pastor.  He's got fire, but it's not the fire of the Holy Spirit.  It's the fire of his politics or hatred of whites.  It's not the fire of the Holy Word.  If the word of God is not taught in the pulpit, it's time to go home and watch Sunday afternoon football and pop open a few beers.  The pastor is wasting your time.  If he's afraid to teach the Scriptures because people might leave because they're seeking a purpose-driven way to wash their car or have the greenest lawn on the block, then he needs to seek a new profession.   If the pastor is just catering to all the people who want their own "personal Jesus," he does a disservice to the bigger picture of the God we worship as our King not my personal divine servant.  I wonder if some Christians are confusing Jesus with Tinkerbell or Jiminy Cricket? 

Some pastors even hold the Bible when they speak but the words they speak do not come from the Bible. They tell stories and anecdotes and get people laughing.  They're entertainers.  They want to build their church on being a funny pastor or erect a mega-congregation on telling people how to get rich or healed or be successful.   They are no-Bible pastors. They give their people the "Show of  Shows" as they prance back and forth across the stage like a Vegas night club act. if they're gong to go that far, then bring out the Vegas dancing girls along with the Viva Las Vegas pastor. 

So which pastor is the one you ought to be looking for?  It's simple. You'll know the moment he opens his mouth.  He's the man who has humbled himself before the Word of God, prayed over it and meditated on the text and read the commentaries, studied the original languages and prayed over and over, "Lord, what do you want to say to your people through this passage of holy text?"  But if every week you're hearing a man of God teaching the same thing over and over - the same prophetic message, the same cry for more giving, the same focus on the importance of Israel, the same favorite passages, the same promises that God will heal all diseases, the same focus on faith . . . . this man has not been in the Word of God.  He preaches out of his own mind . . . an un-submitted mind to the Spirit of God.  He's got his mind all made up what he's going to say and he's going to bend the Scriptures like Gumby to make God's word adapt to his pre-conceived ideas.   

So what if every church is not a mega church?  Big deal!  But every church deserves a pastor faithful to God's word whether that church grows to 17,000 or stays at 170 in its membership.  The goal for the pastor is not to be purpose-driven but to be driven by the Spirit of God through the words God has inspired and placed in the pages of a book that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. 

Football games this Sunday or Church . . what will it be?  If your pastor can't take you line by line through the Scriptures, then those seats on the 40 yard line might be the better choice.  

You can always find a good self-improvement book at Barnes and Noble; but when the word of God is taught no book in Barnes and Noble or you can find on can compare to the empowerment of self-improvement God can accomplish in your life through His word. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC Tries A Deceitful Attempt at Christianity

You may have heard them at the Democratic Convention . . . the Agape International Choir.  It sounds like a Christian choir . . . almost evangelical.  But don't let the Christian-sounding name of this "gospel choir" fool you.  

If you've spent anytime in the Southern California area as a Christian "in the know," you've already connected the dots between this so-called Christian choir and the pseudo Christian group known as the Agape Spiritual Center.   This is their choir and the Agape Spiritual Center is far from being a Christian or the center of anything but New Age thought.  Here's the link; check it out for yourself: the Agape Spiritual Center. They are far from standard Christianity.

Their website speaks of their belief in a Christ consciousness rather than the Person of Christ.  They do not embrace Jesus as the only savior but include Him in A salad bowl of New Thought-Ancient Wisdom history which includes Gnostic teachings and the American New Thought Movement.

They do not use the standard Bible in their services but a metaphysical, Gnostic-inspired edition written and interpreted from the original Aramaic rather than the original Greek translation,

So if the Democrats try to pass off this choir as a "good ole' gospel singing group," don't buy into it.  The Democrats are so clueless and have lost all spiritual moorings that they cannot even choose an evangelical Christ-honoring choir to represent the spiritual side of the Democratic party.  Move over, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, you've got company.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Have's & the Have Not's of Christianity

Spiritual class system in Christianity? What?  Didn't know such an animal existed did you? Well, when you've got men who claim to be prophets and neo-apostles and who have reached a higher spiritual plane, then we have a spiritual class system within the Body of Messiah.

We have the have's (those who have reached a higher spiritual place) and the have not's (who have yet reached the higher spiritual dimension).  One group has discovered the secret, the formula or a special prayer that has ushered them into a greater spiritual dimension than the average Christian.  

Yet, in these meetings where those with greater spiritual unction are presiding, chaos reigns.  People  are falling on the ground, speaking out of turn, uttering tongues that are not interpreted or writhing in convulsions on the floor "touched by the Spirit of the Living God." 

However, throughout I Corinthians 14 where spiritual gifts and manifestations are discussed, Paul exhorts these gifted individuals to operate in order in their meetings.  if Paul walked into some of these so-called Holy Spirit services today, he would be dazed and confused, and would admonish the participants for their inconsistent behavior.  

Rather than orderly or reverent, these meetings are led by people filled not with the Holy Spirit but themselves. It is so obvious when a viewer observes these services that these men are inflated with their own egos, telling the audience how special they are.  They draw attention to themselves and not Christ by informing the audience that they have a special anointing, a gift, a revelation and have reached another level of spirituality.  These teachers appeal to Christians who are seeking something special from God; they are not there to worship the Lord.  They want to bring God down into their meeting so He can give to them what they want . . . a healing, a miracle, an anointing, or some special manifestation of the Spirit.  Christ is not the center but their own desires become the center.  This whole movement of neo-apostles and prophets is nothing more than a spiritual me-centered movement. 

I often wonder about the anointing these so called prophets claim to have.  They travel from city holding their meetings, dumping their false teachings on unsuspecting sheep, claiming to speak for the Lord promising healing and prosperity.  Then they leave town to travel to the next city to start their ministry all over again.  No one asks them questions about what occurred in the previous town, especially any prophecies that were made or claims of healing that were pronounced.  How do we know these supernatural signs really took place? Who's checking up on these people?  Where is the spiritual accountability? 

It's rather rare that the one person who wanted the "power" of God and was willing to pay for it to do signs and wonders  was Simeon, a man Paul rebuked for seeking signs and wonders. 

With this class system these false prophets have set up, it makes you wonder about the people who are under their guidance and teaching.  Are these people coming to know the Lord under these neo-apostles truly coming into a saving relationship with the Lord?  Are they being told false information about the gospel and promised things God will do for them but without any biblical authority?  

I am concerned for young believers who come into contact with any shades of the Kansas City/Toronto blessing movement. In essence, these unsuspecting sheep will eventually face a spiritual crisis once the reality of life hits them. They will find out out God does not heal every disease nor does He answer every prayer the way we assumed He would.  Even worst is the fact these new believers under the tutoring of these neo-apostles will be led into doctrines of demons and become part of the great falling away at the end of the age.  

Perhaps these false teachers are manifesting supernatural experiences among their followers . . . My question is this:  who is the source of these supernatural experiences . . . is it God or is it Satan?  I am not a betting man but if I were to play a game of roulette, my money would be on the red! 


Monday, July 28, 2008

Is Jesus Ever Enough?

If I could summarize the neo-apostolic /prophet movement in one simple concept, it's this:   For these people Jesus is just not enough.  Added to that I'd also say for these followers of Christ Scripture is not enough either.  

The "stars" of the Kansas City prophetic movement and the Toronto blessing "spiritual celebs", always have the same message year after year, decade after decade:  "What God has given us in the Bible is not enough. We have more information and revelation from the Lord and He has chosen to give it to us.  "Isn't that special?" says Dana Carvey's church lady.  

What are these so-called neo-apostles really saying?  God has deposited newer revelation with this one select group of people who are the new apostles of the present age. These so-called prophets would fit wonderfully with the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith and the originator of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.  I'll tell you why. False prophets always start out the same, making the claim God has spoken to them and if you want to know the latest on the Lord's truth, you need to get the latest manifestation of truth through them.  The facts and the patterns are always the same; only the names have changed:  Todd Bentley and Che Ahn and others of their ilk.  

When will Christianity see through the false prophets  Satan keeps sending our way to waste our time,  distract us and get us off the main road of the biblical faith.  A friend of mine reminded me recently in an email that evangelical Christianity has been truncated. We are quick to quote from Ephesians 2:8-9:  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. " We often stop with these words and Christianity becomes a lawn chair we rest in and allow the Spirit of God to shine His blessings down on us.  But verse 10 continues: For we are God's workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."   Verse 10 kicks us out of the lawn chair and tells us we've been saved not only to receive grace from God but to give it to others.  The question every Christian needs to ask himself is this: Since I am saved by God's grace, how can I be serving Him and others - both believers and secular people.  Our task is not to be seeking miracles but to be a blessing to others. When are we going to grab on to this principle and digest it into our spiritual metabolism?

What I find fascinating is that these new prophets are quick to tell us  we are entering an "age of the revival".  Speak to the word "revival" to most Christians and you'll gather a crowd and bring in the dough.

And of course, these self-appointed new prophets are the ones" anointed" by God to bring in this great outpouring of the Spirit. Yet the Scriptures tell us there will be a great falling away before the end. (I Timothy 4:1: The Spirit clearly says that in the latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons). 

 Jesus wonders when He returns to earth, will He find any of His followers who have remained  faithful to Him remaining?  At the end of the age, according to Scriptures  false teachers will arise to tell people what they want to hear and will perform signs and wonders to deceive the elect of God.  It will become more difficult to remain a Christian and you will have to pay a greater price to name the name of Jesus and not be part of this "end times" crowd.

We already have seen men who preach strange doctrines and exhibit bizarre behavior having nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity:  Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and now Todd Bentley.  Beware of this man lest he lead you . . . and your church astray with signs and wonders and teachings that contradict the Bible. It's all part of Satan's plan to confuse God people.  

Currently, we have pastors who have erected mega- churches not based on God's word but based on messages which are essentially pop psychology.   We witness churches packed with 30,000 people like Joel Osteen's congregation in Houston, Texas, who has no Christian message of salvation through Jesus . . .  but a message of peace, prosperity and health.  Jesus is a an "add-on" to Osteen's message. Face it, Joel Osteen is not a man who preaches the truth of the New Testament.  If He preached the truth and said it is not God's will for everyone to succeed, be prosperous, be healed of their diseases and escape suffering, he'd lose  a big chunk of his members and most of all, money.  The prosperity crowd would just go looking for another Osteen somewhere else. Their not interested in Jesus but six easy-steps to financial success.

Osteen tickles the ears of his listeners.  When pinned to the wall in a recent interview by Larry King about whether he (Osteen) believes Jesus is the only way to salvation, Osteen buckled and wimped out and smoothly glided away from answering the question.   

 Excuse me for putting this problem in these terms but a lot of ministers have Spiritual ED (Erectile Dysfunction). They haven't got the stamina to "stand tall" for the truth of the Word of God but deliver limp messages from their pulpits.  I go from church to church and I hardly hear the Word anymore. God needs to send an outpouring of spiritual Viagra on these men, to get their spiritual libido back to teach the word.

Another issue brought up by the neo-apostles is that of the Kingdom Now theology.  I thought we were rid of this false doctrine back in the 1980's but here it is again.  Here's how this false teaching plays out:  if the church prays enough, shares the gospel, performs enough healings, slayings in the Spirit and continues to seek a higher spiritual dimension. we can bring the kingdom of God on earth.  Here we have a case of men who have overdosed on spiritual Viagra. Who do these men think they are?  Jesus never told us we have the power to bring the kingdom of God on earth. 

 Included in this brew of misguided  of spiritual leaders is Rod Parsley, a man who speaks in militaristic term about bringing the kingdom on earth and going after Muslims. I wonder if this man has spent too much time reading reading Hitler's Mein Kampf more than the Bible Luckily,  Presidential candidate John McCain distanced himself from this dangerous nut case and avoided a major scandal (which Barack Obama did not have the sense to do with Rev. Jeremiah Wright). Parsley's message is dangerous and damaging to the image of Christianity.

What is the secular person to think when he or she hears the battle cry for Christians to bring God's kingdom on earth?  Rod Parsley sounds like he's calling for holy jihad against secular society in the name of Jesus.  This man speaks a twisted, demented gospel message which must be exposed and rejected as false teaching. 

I pray for God to bring these men down and replace them with humble men of God, aware of their sin who just want to teach the Scriptures and are not off on any super-spiritual Levitra kick.  The sooner God gets rid of these people and gets them out of the pulpit, the better. These men have no business in the pulpit as they mishandle the word of God.  The truth must come out and let us stop being wimps before these loudmouth, ego-centric pastors. 

 What these men from the Kansas City movement and the Toronto blessing have done in deceiving 1000s is worse than physical adultery.  These men are guilty of adulterating the word of God to build their own kingdoms and power bases.   They are much worse than the sin of Ted Haggard but the church is afraid to confront these "little gods."  It's so much easier for the leaders of the church to admonish leaders who have committed fornication or adultery.  The evangelical body is allowing the leaven of false doctrine into the Church. Which concerned Jesus more?  Adultery or false prophets?  You know the answer. 

These false prophets speak about hastening the day of the Lord. No church or leader or any so-called prophet carries that kind of authority.  Read the parables of Christ that discuss how Christians are to behave in the last days  before His return.  He uses one concept over and over:  be vigilant, watchful, sober-minded. 

 Revival at that hands of these spiritual madmen is not going to hasten the day. It will only usher in a time of a great apostasy.  Hand -in-hand with this is the fate of Israel.  If more Jewish people accept Jesus as Messiah and Lord, perhaps the day of His coming will arrive sooner? Can you see these spiritual loons trying to bring Jewish people to the Lord at a greater speed and intensity to hasten the day of Jesus' return.

Look at John Hagee . . . this man has made friends with Israeli leaders in high places at the price of changing his theology . . no longer believing Jewish people need Jesus for salvation. What a messed up but gifted preacher John Hagee is . . another pastor John McCain quickly distanced himself from., 

Scriptures never tells us we are to hasten the day of Christ's return.  We are to watch, wait and be faithful. Only the Father knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will come.  It's in the hands of the Father.  

There's so much work to do to clean up the Body of Christ and and sweep away the dirt of these false prophets once again slithering like snakes bringing this new wave of false spirituality into the Body.

Christians can only be prepared by sticking to what it says  in the Word of God and not be fooled by signs and wonders and dynamic persuasive speakers. Look at Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ . . a man who who screams in the pulpit and and preaches hatred for this country.  Would you be fooled by his dynamic presentation?  Is truth determined by oratory delivery or by content?   

Let us learn to be diligent as this next swell of false prophets starts to build and the wave of their deception breaks on the church.  Learn to swim and stay afloat and not be washed away in flood of their lies. 


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Devil In Disguise

Here are we are again . . . another movement has resurged from within Christianity making the claim to hearing the latest from God.

I've been a follower of Jesus since 1969 and I've watched these "manifestations of the Holy Spirit" may their way into the Body of Christ through so-called Christian teachers, do their damage, confuse Christians and then fade slowly away into the distance. It's only a matter of time before Christians get bored enough with their me-centered personal relationship with Christ to create a void for these false teachers to gain control.

The issue for me issue for me is not charismatic vs. non-charismatic. Those categories out outdated and don't apply. The only issue is this: what in the world is Christianity anymore? We have these whackomatic Christians doing their Holy Spirit voodoo magic on one hand and then we have the super-intellectuals speaking academic gibberish to each other while the Church sits idly by not know what to say.

Once again the Church is being attacked by a new crop of "anointed" men and women of God; I prefer to call them Christian witch doctors - sames like Todd Bentley, connected with the Kansas City movement in the 90s, the Toronto crowd (Arnott) and Che Ahn in California. It seems the body of Christ cannot get away from the constant outpouring of demonic poison these individuals keep pouring into the churches, bookstores and Christian gatherings.

When I witness the antics and the messages of these people, I say in my heart, "I don't belong to that religion. That's not Christianity. I'm not sure what it is? The Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey Circus?" I know that sounds terrible for me to say but it's about time someone has the guts to say that these so-called "men of God" do not represent New Testament Christianity. It is their own brand of Le Cirque du Soleil with Jesus attached to it.

If that's biblical Christianity, then I am not a Christian. What I see is a whole other religion that can only be described with such words as pagan, maniacal, disorderly, trickery, Christian voodoo-ism, and a religious expression of people bored with their lives and frankly out of love with the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, they are doing a Christian make-over otherwise known as "useless-ism."

The main message of this current phase of spiritual truth is for the Christian to seek supernatural encounters with God. These alleged spiritual leaders speak of receiving messages from angels and yet no where in the Scriptures are we told to seek angelic messages, nor are we told to command God to send angels.

In addition - and this is so old school - when these Christians claim that the Lord has slain them in the Spirit and they have been put in a state where they are not in control of their own bodies and minds, there is nothing in the Bible that teaches this. Why would you seek an experience not described in the Bible? If anything, you can find similar out-of-mind experiences in paganism and animistic cults. These experiences are not of God but come from the very pagan faith God told the children of Israel to avoid and destroy - men, women and children.

What is wrong with these Christians? Maybe they should just admit they are bored of Jesus and are looking for something more than just Him. Christ is not enough for these extreme super-spiritual believers. They want experiences.

The word of God does not tell us to be anything but sober minded, self controlled, steeped in the word of the Lord and to continue to test the spirits. If we are to obey these things, then we do not turn off our minds and or lose control of our bodies. It's the exact opposite according to this new flow of Christian teaching.

After walking with God since 1969, I am witnessing the same old, ultra Holy Spirit manifestations. Nothing has changed except the men in charge. Instead of Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland or Lester Sumerall, we have new deceivers to take their place.

These men are demeaning the name of the Lord Jesus. They always have. They speak of Jesus as their "Pal . . . who leads them into higher spiritual dimensions." They are irreverent as they puff themselves up with their own encounters with God. No longer do we see men struck with the sinfulness of their condition. Instead, we are seeing a crop of new spiritual leaders who claim to be "little gods" and are deceiving the stupid sheep who follow them and give them their money and applause.

None of these men have secret knowledge or any higher spiritual dimension, as they claim. They are liars and charlatans. Whenever anyone in the Scriptures came close to the presence of the Lord, they walked away from the Lord struck by His majesty and humbled by their sinfulness. Today we see the opposite. Isaiah the prophet saw the glory of God (Isaiah 6) and fell down in fear; Paul prostrated himself in fear and Moses' face had to be veiled.

The Kansas City movement or the Toronto blessing is made up of the old fashioned mesmerists with their snake oil and false elixirs. If there will be a falling away in the end times (and there will be), these men will be the pied pipers leading people to a false gospel, an erroneous Jesus and a false religion they will try to call Christianity. However, what you are witnessing on the stages, platforms and podiums of these churches is a deception sent by Satan to take Christians away from their calling of giving glory, honor and obedience to Christ. Instead, these accolades which belong to God are being given to men. Just listen to their followers sing the praises of how great these pastors are. If you can't see through that, then you need a healthy dose of
Christianity 101 Triple Strength.

Don't be fooled. This
new "move of the spirit" is not the Christianity of the New Testament but the false religion of paganism, new age philosophy and science of mind. Test the spirits. Squeeze the fruit and you'll see the ooze of their poisonous teachings revealed before you.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christianity Today Magazine: It's Not There

Among the best films I've viewed in 2007 was writer/director Todd Haynes's film I'm Not There, an artistic portrayal of the life and songs inspired by singer Bob Dylan. The uniqueness of the film lies in the fact Bob Dylan was not in the film at all . . . save a for a few moments of concert footage while the final credits rolled by. Actors Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw are all Bob Dylan.

When I perused the latest issue of Christianity Today (which I have subscribed to since the late 1970s). I couldn't help but think this historic evangelical magazine has developed to a point where most of the articles are played by actors but none of the subject matter engages the real issues facing Christianity in the present time.

The lead article "God Is Not Dead Yet" is a mock of the 1960's version of Time Magazine that pronounced on the cover, "God is Dead."  The current piece discusses the dog-eared issue of the proof of God's existence from the perspective of the latest crop of religious philosophers. Another article reports on the interest of young and old people flocking to new apologetic arguments for the evangelical faith. Dovetailing with the need for new creative ways to tell the "old story" of the ever powerful gospel of Jesus Christ, is an interview with Andy Crouch. Another article by CT editor was entitled: Second Coming: Ecology. I'm actually glad evangelicals are thinking about the environment and not being pessimistic about our world that "is coming to an end anyway."

Rusty Leonard, a financial manager, wrote an article on how to change how you give to the Lord and invest. An article by Franklin Graham was most appreciated since he wrote about the Christian outreach to China's Christian community after the Sichuan earthquake.

So where's the beef, Mr. Lapides? Why do say that when you read Christianity Today magazine, "It's Not There?" Why? Because CT has been writing about the same subjects over and over for 20 years. Raising money. Apologetics. Philosophy of religion issues the average believer in Jesus does not follow or care about.

What's my proof? Once a year CT publishes a list of what they believe are the best Christian books of the year. The books cover the gamut of many spiritual topics. They are usually weighty, scholarly books save for the fiction category. 

I did an experiment one year and checked out a few local Christian bookstores in Los Angeles and asked for the books on the list. Perhaps I  found 10% of the books on sale in these Christian bookstores. I did not try Barnes and Noble or Borders, but I probably would have had better luck finding these Christian books (awarded by CT as the best of the year) in a secular book store.

What's going n? Who's out of touch? Perhaps it's me . . . or Christian bookstores . . . or could it be CT? Are we writing theological books that Christians don't care about? 

This all came to a head when Barack Obama's pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright started his rampage, using his Chicago pulpit to bash America. Using a pulpit where the Word of God is to be exalted and honored . . . and instead Rev. Wright twisted his calling of God to bring condemnation on a country where both blacks and whites have fought to preserve our freedoms. 

Here's an alleged man of man who even honored with a lifetime achievement award the noted antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Obama sat in the pews, read the newsletter giving honor to the Black Muslim hatemonger and did nothing.

Regarding CT, "It was not there." "Christianity" was not there, nor were it's leaders-black or white-save for Eugene Rivers who called Rev. Wright "a tragedy". Yes, the Rev. Wright issue may be over, but the irrelevancy and the cowardly behavior of CT is not over by any stretch of the imagination. All the winsome apologetics in the world can never make up for its silence when a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ was on the news night after night because he stood for hate.

True apologetics should have stood up and condemned this man a a false representative of the gospel. And yes, I listened to several of his sermon in toto and some were worse than the media snippets and sound bytes we all heard.  And where is CT . . . ? It's Not There? We're worried about the newest religious/theological arguments for the existence of God.

If CT stood up and condemned the racist hatred for Americans and white people that came from Rev. Jeremiah Wright that many have been the best argument for the existence of God CT could ever put forth. People don't come to believe in the existence of God by reading philosophy of religion books  . . . people come to God when they hear the voice of the prophets condemn false "prophets" who use their God given talents to speak evil and disparage a country where the freedom to preach the good news of Christ is still celebrated.

CT . . . .? It's not there?  Yes, I chose but one issue to harp on. It was an issue I wrote to the editors about and even the leadership of PreachingToday (which sells Rev. Wright's sermons), but I was ignored. It looked like CT ignored Rev. Wright and the great black evangelical leaders of this country found no voice in the pages of Christianity Today.

I wonder who this magazine really represents? The average Christian who speaks to the secular community about Rev. Wright . . .  or is CT a reflection of an irrelevant  evangelical scholasticism and elitist Christian intelligentsia that has looked at its reflection in the pool of narcissism for way too long?

CT . . .? It's Not There . . .


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Russert: A Man Who Truly Met the Press

I will miss Tim Russert because he's such a rare moderator and journalist.I can think of a few interviews when I thought he didn't play fair, square and balanced. I may not have leaped for joy over his interview with President Bush or his superfluous talk with Bill Clinton. Mostly, Tim was like a dog gnawing on a bone who kept chewing and chewing until he broke through and got to the marrow. I loved him for that.

I know Tim's deep fondness for the NFL's Buffalo Bills. He wished them to make it to the playoffs every year and was often disappointed. Forgive me, Tim, for not sticking with a football analogy but you were more of a pitcher than a quarterback.

You did not throw softballs nor did you lob in change-ups to fool the batter. You tossed a hardball pitch every time. But what I loved about you is that your goal was not to strike out the batter and humiliate him but to give the interviewee in the batter's box every opportunity to slam the ball out of the park.

You wanted your guest to speak the truth, expose their hearts and not let them dance around the incoming pitch. The ball had to be hit in the name of getting to the truth.

Did you have your favorites? Were you harder on conservatives than on liberals? Maybe . . . at times. But you rarely went soft on the softees, You made them stand up for what they believe.

Now we have a presidential election before us. What's it going to be like without Tim Russert? I'll miss your hard piercing look into the eyes of your guest that went along with the kindness that exuded from the rest of your demeanor. You had it down and I could never get enough.

If I wanted to know what McCain is made of or what Obama really believes, it was Tim Russert who was the man for the job. You'll be missed in the months leading up to the November '08 elections.

I send my thoughts and my prayers to your family . . . especially your Dad who's lost such a special son whom he can be proud of. Though I was hardly able to watch you on Meet the Press since I was off to work, I always found a way to discover that you had to say that morning.

Sunday mornings with a cup of hot coffee and a newspaper will never be the same without the aroma of Tim Russert's dogged questions to get at the truth lying deep within the heart and soul of the person you interviewed.

Thank you, Tim for some incredible years showing this world what journalism is all about.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Identity Already Stolen

None of us would want to have our identity stolen by some devious person who takes our bank account numbers, our credit cards and social security number and wrecks havoc with our financial life. I've had a tatse of it a few years ago and spent many hours on the phone with my bank's fraud department and speaking with detectives trying to fix a mess. It was a world of pain.

A few days ago I'm tossing out my garbage. peer into the dumpster and see unopened financial documents scattered everywhere. Bank statements, Utility bills. Credit card offers. Tax assessments. Stock statements. And these envelopes are all unopened. It's an Identity thief's dream come true.

I start flipping through the letters and realize they belong to someone living close to me. My mind starts wandering: Did he just get so mad at his life that he threw his mail away? Did his roommate or girlfriend do this to him out of anger? I could not figure why anyone would deliberately throw these statements into the garbage.

At least shred them . . . ! Duh! Double duh!

I run into my apartment and grab a Trader Joe's bag and start collecting this person's valuable mail. After a while it dawns on me that if I was to delve into these private papers, I could take over his financial life. Unfortunately, I'm too nice of a person to try to get away with an Identity heist.

With everything stuffed neatly into the shopping bag, I trump up the stairs to this guy's place to return his mail. No one home. He doesn't return for three days. Now I've got this Trader Joe's bag crammed with someone's personal, financial life.

Finally, I see him arrive home; I burst through my front door calling out his name. He stops on the staircase and I tell him about the treasure I found in the dumpster. I had to clarify I am not a dumpster diver. I was trying to be a good neighbor by returning his identity to him.

Then I discovered he had already lost his identity. Barely a" thank you" came out of his mouth. He muttered something about the fact it might not have been a good idea to throw bank statements and credit card offers into a garbage container. He thought for awhile, "I could have shredded them . . ."

I leaped down the stairs with my identity still in tact, grabbed the grocery bag and tossed it up to him. I said, "I was just thinking looking out for you. I was concerned these papers could have fallen into the wrong hands and you'd be a victim of identity theft." Still no reaction. I then asked, "Have you ever been the victim of having someone else go into your financial stuff?" "No!" I responded, "I have and it's hell!"

He proceeded to walk upstairs, mumbling that now he has to shred these documents.

What is identity theft? Is it only relegated to stealing someone's financial records and then going into their accounts and helping yourself to their hard earned cash? Let's take it one step further:

Identity theft takes place when you barely care enough that someone else cares about you. It also takes place when you can't even thank someone who thought enough of you to save your butt from a major disaster.

One more thing. Identity theft has already taken place when you have no street smarts and no desire to wise up and get some before you fall victim to a lot of unsavory characters lurking in the dumpsters of our lives looking for something to steal from us: our self worth, respect or reputation.

Don't become a victim of identity theft. Know who you are as a child of God at all times and refuse to allow evil, stupidity and sheer laziness to steal that precious identity from you.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Are the Times Really Changing For Bob Dylan?

Bob Dylan was recently interviewed by the Times of London in light of the opening of his art/exhibition in London next week. At the end of the interview Times writer Alan Jackson couldn't let the American songwriter leave without asking for his take on the American political situation in the face of the November 2008 election.

Here is Dylan's response verbatim:

Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval. Poverty is demoralising. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor.

"But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama.

"He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to."

He added: “You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future."

Both the Times of London and ABC News have taken Dylan's comments as a full endorsement of the senator from Illinois. I wonder . . . .

Was Dylan simply commenting or making observations about the political situation in the U.S.? Does this sound like a full endorsement? Knowing Dylan as I have since the early 60s, it is not unlike him to provide a cryptic response to an open ended question.

Is Obama going to make some kind of lasting change? I heard him say the word "change" twenty-nine times in his "acceptance" speech for the presidential Democratic nomination the other night. That's a start.

But saying the word "change" does not indicate any change. Bob Dylan in his song "The Times They Are A Changing" expressed more content than Obama did in his entire speech. What is Obama going to change?

Obama mentioned that "we will start taking care of the sick." Has he gone into the ERs of America where people without medical insurance or American citizenship are still taken care of and their babies are still delivered free-of-charge?

What about the fact Obama mentioned that people don't have jobs? Has anybody gotten a job in the past eight years? Of course! Will there be no jobless people if he becomes president? Sure, if he raises taxes and the hard working members of our society start paying highly increased taxes for government created jobs? But once that happens I'll be bringing home less because I am being taxed more. Obama will not bring change but higher taxes and bigger government.

Missing from his "acceptance" speech was any mention on the war on terrorism or his stance on our ally in the Middle East - Israel. Is he going to bring change by pulling the troops out of Iraq? What about the rise of terrorism if our presence is gone from Iraq? Yes, he'll bring change: Increased terrorism and more freedom for Islamic extremists.

Israel's existence is in danger. As Israel celebrates it's 60th Anniversary Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kept up his virulent anti-Israel and antisemitic statements, likening Israel to a "dead fish" and a "stinking corpse" and calling it a "false regime" which "from the point of view of the nations in the region does not even exist." He also stated that Israel "will be wiped off the map of the world, and that "the day will come when the Muslims uproot it.

Ahmadinejad added that the elimination of Israel would benefit the entire world, since Israel caused harm to humanity at large - and especially to Europe, which was "bearing the political and economic burden of this false regime."

I did not hear Obama speak of this serious danger of the very existence of evil. I did hear his pastor Rev., Wright liken the United States supporting Israel as supporting "state sponsored terrorism." And if Obama gets any closer to the pro-Palestinian former president Jimmy Carter, he will most likely lose the Jewish vote, if he cares.

I wonder if my friend and musical hero Bob Dylan has taken into account that Barak Obama surely has the rhetoric of change but mostly what he says is vacuous and lacking substance.

I close with the words from one of Dylan's songs Political World from the album Oh Mercy, in which the artist wonders if peace is really part of the process for the politician and the world we live in. Is Obama for peace or for appeasing the anti-war segment of our society that ignores leaders like Ahmadinejad who speaks death and destruction of other nations:

"We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all,
It's turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall.

We live in a political world
Everything is hers or his,
Climb into the frame and shout God's name
But you're never sure what it is."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Stepping on a Girl's Hand

I was 22 years old. I had been back from Vietnam for a little over a year . . . living in Los Angeles, searching for God among the hallucinogenic aromas of Sunset Strip. I had tried it all . . . scientology . . . . satanology . . . zen Buddhism . . . Alan Watts . . . and anything that promised me to get in touch with the Wholly Other.

I was exhausted and run down with all these "cereal box religious experiences". It sounded like this: I am God . . .you are God . . .we are all God . . .every thing on the planet is God. I couldn't tell if I should raise my hands in worship to the heavens or look down at the sidewalk to make sure I didn't step on God in whatever form He appeared in.

I was told by some religious groups that to get holy, I had to give up just about everything. For example, Buddhism teaches all suffering is the result of our cravings and desires. So If I could stop desiring, I would stop my personal suffering.

Suddenly, i realized I wanted to suffer. I liked to suffer. To become nothing, selfless, and float into nirvana didn't touch any buttons down inside me. I didn't want to walk around in a saffron robe acting like I had no sex drive nor the tools God gave me to go to go along with it. A sexless holy man was too much like watching silent films with no picture.

I enjoyed life and religious thinking made me feel that I should not enjoy life. I should only enjoy God and people who love God and individuals who wanted to please God. I was made to feel I needed to join the "stop sinning" club. I was told to stop smoking dope, stop dropping LSD, having pre-marital engagements with women and the list went on and on. Instead, I was to read the Bible, pray, attend church and prayer meetings and then presto . . . I would find happiness.

To be honest, taking drugs sounded more exciting. Sitting in a church pew as opposed to swaying to the music of the Doors at the Whiskey didn't move me at all. I was not a church-going guy!

After all, I didn't think I was that bad of a person. It was the summer of 1969 - the Manson murders - when all this was taking place and I was nowhere near the likes of Tex Watson or Charlie Manson. I wasn't murdering, or stealing or committing adultery. I was a clean cut, long-haired, wild guy who thought he wasn't as far away from God as everyone told me I was.

Christians were starting to drive me crazy. According to them, I needed to accept Jesus and then I could be holy. But I kept arguing back that I wasn't do bad. So . . . I had a drug habit. Big deal!

I went to Vietnam . . . didn't that count for erasing some of my bad karma? I figured 2 years in the Army was not a bad trade off for getting stoned for 6-7 years of my life. I even visited Buddhist shrines in Japan and Shinto ones as well. I helped South Vietnamese people find jobs on the Army base where I worked, drove our 2 1/2 ton Army truck to orphanages and gave out food.

I even got Bar Mitzvahed at age 13. I might be closer to God than people would agree with. Why in the world did I have to "Make Room for Jesus"? Besides, I'm Jewish and I had no spare rooms in my life for another deity (as I assumed He was).

One hot summer August afternoon I went into the Mojave desert with a few friends. A guy, his wife and my date. We had taken a lot of LSD . . . probably enough to send a horse on a three month drug trip. I was dumb and stupid and took a gamble on my life.

We stopped the car out in the desert heat. I wanted to climb to the top of a ledge I fixated on. Somehow getting to the top of the summit made me feel I would be connecting with God. Yes, it was a contradiction. If I was so good and holy, what did I need God for?

As we climbed the Mojave rocks, we headed straight for the top of this elevation. I did not have hiking books or any of the rock climbing gear. We were too stoned to even think of that.

I placed my foot down on a rocky ledge to get to the next level. But when i put my foot down, I smashed the fingers of my date's hand who had used the same ledge with her hand to get a grip on the rock wall. She yelled out in excruciating pain.

I quickly lifted my foot and kept going. I didn't say I was sorry. I was on my way to the top of the mountain; I was on a spiritual high. I was holy and full of divine light. I could not stop for such mundane obstacles like pain.

When I reached the summit, I expected to see the hand of God, instead I saw the hand of my date. She was nursing the hand I stepped on. But in my drugged state I had transcended the fleshly level; I was pure spirit or pure bull shit.

What turned my life around that day? My date' hand. I think her name was Denise. I stepped on this poor girl's hand and I didn't care. The flesh was evil in my mind and pain was not real not real. All that Eastern crap. But I realized I was pure crap as well. What a selfish, insensitive person I was. All I cared about was this God of my own making but I didn't care about this girl's throbbing hand.

In that moment I saw a dark heart . . .a heart that did not care about anyone but himself. I loathed my selfish heart. Yet I still have that heart. It's not as dark. Jesus has scrubbed it down in the past 37 years. And I don't step on girl's hands anymore. I would rather hold them. And I hate breaking or wounding anyone's heart. I can barely live with myself when my darkness is exposed.

On that day the twisted, wretched selfish chamber of my heart was revealed to me. I hated what i saw. Into that empty, selfish heart I realized I did have room for Jesus. I had room for Someone with a heart greater than myself who didn't step on people's hands.

Yet everyday I still step on someone's hand metaphorically. I am still selfish. I am insensitive.

I cry when I step on people's hands. But Jesus wipes my tears and reminds me who I am without Him. He reminds me that I will never love people like He does. But I have every opportunity to ask Him to keep me from stepping on hands and to learn how to nurse the hands I damaged back to health.

Denise, wherever you are . . . . I'm sorry I stepped on your hand. But know this . . . your throbbing hand allowed the pain in my heart to throb so much that i cried out to Jesus to save me from own selfishness.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Down to the Basics

A balanced pile of smooth river stones . . . what does it mean?

It speaks to me of simplicity and symmetry.

I've spent a chunk of my life thinking a certain symmetry of achievements will make me happy: big house, fat salary, cars, success, fame and a bunch of other things. If I could only amass certain items I'd have the symmetry I wanted. Yet I've had some of those things and now that I'm looking at the latter end of my life, I realize my life lacks the very thing I wanted - symmetry. Why? Because I left out simplicity.

I could organize and put my life together but if I am using the wrong stones, it doesn't matter how good I look. A good looking appearance made out of the wrong building blocks will soon crumble and fall.

When I hit forty, I wanted to stop achieving for a while. I hit a plateau. I knew half my life was over and all I saw ahead of me was more steps on the ladder. I looked at my job and the stepping stones still ahead of me; I looked at my son who was 3 at the time and realized I needed to pour my life into his. My marriage was rocky . . . some issues belong to me and some to my spouse. I was not happy. So I made myself happy by getting involved in my son's life.

Achieving personal and monetary success was boring me. I wanted something more than a pile of good-looking stones.

Even my relationship with God was not cutting it. I needed something more than God could give me. That may sound irreverent; however, it is an honest statement that some religious people are afraid to utter. God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." He never said, "All you need is a relationship with Me . . . your Creator." Yet I'm sure some Christian can pull enough verses together to make a case to say "all you need is God." That might work using your concordance; however, it doesn't work in the human soul.

Hitting forty was my crisis. I asked myself one morning while working out at Gold's Gym attempting to get a hard body, "What in the world is this all for? I can't keep living day in and day out serving God, barely paying bills, trying to be the best Dad and knowing something else is missing."

Hitting fifty was suppose to be the start of a new era . . . the golden years. A lot of wonderful friends celebrated this important day with me. I felt appreciated but rather than being the golden year's, the fifties turned out to be fool's gold. A lot of symmetry but I was missing the simplicity of what I truly wanted in life.

When I turned sixty I felt like hiding in shame. In fact, I refused to celebrate because I had not found true happiness yet. My older son was in college and my precious younger son was poised at the cusp of adolescence. My marriage was still far removed from giving me what I wanted in life.

In a summer visit to see my parents in South Florida, I went into a Publix market to do an errand for my mother. I watched this couple in their 80s interacting in the check out line. "Morty, go get me the pickles. I forgot to get the pickles." His response? "Get it yourself. Why can't you remember anything?" A light bulb went off for me. These two people . . . after at least 30-40 years of marriage . . . did not like each other and ended up bitter and took it out on one another. I said, "I don't want to end up in life like the embittered Morty and his crabby wife. I'd have nothing to look forward to other than age and sickness and a jar of pickles. I must do something drastic to get back to the simplicity of life."

Then I realized what I need the most is the simplicity of a loving relationship. Like the pile of smooth stones, the bottom rock is a healthy and fulfilling marriage . . . and everything else stands on that one thing.

I don't buy the myth that after awhile the romance is gone or the thrill leaves the marriage. What happens is the romance is replaced by decorating a home, the kids, the job and the recreation money buys you. The romance is never gone if everything else is built on the bottom smooth stone. But once that stone is replaced, the decision has been made to seek joy elsewhere.

What have I learned after 60 years? It is not good for man (and woman) to be alone. Everything else really doesn't matter much. if it takes simplifying your life in order to get to that point, then do it. I don't care how high you've piled those stones and how impressive your pile looks. Without a loving, warm relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you've built your life on a pile of dust that will blow away when you die.

This is my life path. I want one thing. I want the bottom stone . . . that stone that has been smoothed out by years of remaining in the river of life and allowing the waters to smooth out the rough edges.

I still have my rough edges and still need more time in the river, but I know what the raging waters of life are doing to my soul, and I like it. My life path is a road to simplicity . . . a life where the so-called blessings of life never have a chance to destroy the relationships in life that matter the most.

Life needs to be simplified not complicated by our possessions, luxury SUVs and stock portfolios. I am unimpressed by anything but two people who really love each other. Now that's an accomplishment. That's a life path worth walking on.

Written by Louis Lapides January 2008 and re-posted from his EONS page.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama Needs To Say No-Bama to Michael Moore's Endorsement

Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2008) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today called on Sen. Barack Obama to reject the endorsement of filmmaker Michael Moore.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Moore endorsed Sen. Obama in a 1,100-word posting on his Web site. Moore wrote, "Can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote - and yours - on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?"

"Michael Moore has consistently expressed views that are radically anti-American and anti-Israel. Michael Moore has placed a disproportionate blame on Israel for the Palestinian's use of terror and violence and calls Americans an 'ignorant people,' said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. "Senator Obama must reject Moore's endorsement. We call on Barack Obama to reject his endorsement to show Michael Moore that this kind of hateful rhetoric will not be tolerated."

Anti-American and Anti-Israel Statements by Michael Moore

"Hey, here's a way to stop suicide bombings - give the Palestinians a bunch of missile-firing Apache helicopters and let them and the Israelis go at each other head to head. Four billion dollars a year to Israel - four billion dollars a year to the Palestinians - they can just blow each other up and leave the rest of us the hell alone." -- Michael Moore

Moore dedicated his book, "Dude Where's My Country?" to Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Movement volunteer who was killed when she climbed in front of a Caterpillar bulldozer that was destroying tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists to illegally smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza.

In 1990, speaking before the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Moore announced that he would refuse to attend a screening of his movie, "Roger and Me," which was being held in Jerusalem. He was quoted as saying that he would not attend until Israel ceased to occupy the West Bank and Gaza. (Arab American News, 1990). Moore tried to prevent Fahrenheit 9/11 from being shown in Israel (New Yorker Magazine, February 16, 2004).

In an open letter to the German people in Die Zeit, Moore asked, "Should such an ignorant people [as the United States] lead the world? Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way." (David Brooks in the New York Times, June 30, 2004)

To read more about Michael Moore and his views on Israel, click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cell Phones: The Enemy of Self Development

It was nobody's fault. I was standing in a parking lot and noticed a person I hadn't seen for awhile. He was wearing a BlueTooth headset with the spacey blue light blinking over his left ear. Like a lot of business types in Los Angeles, he was in the receiving mode.

We exchanged an awkward greeting for a few moments: "Hello! How are you? What are you doing these days?" Then he stopped dead in his tracks. A call was coming in . . . he had to take it. Business or pleasure, I'm not sure.

It did not matter. I was on my way to pick up a Soy Chai at Starbucks so when he picked up his call, we parted with a smile.

A little guilt inducing voice inside of me that sounded a lot like Larry David said, "You were glad his cell phone rang. You have too much to do and you were uncomfortable talking to him. What would you do without cell phones and those doggone Bluetooth head sets? You'd have to talk to him."

Of course, you wouldn't catch me wearing a BlueTooth headset. It's got "nerd" written all over it. I purchased one once and used it for two days. I felt like a a Star Trek dweeb in any store I beamed into. It actually felt Orwellian as the blue light blinked incessantly telling everyone I am one "plugged-in dude." I got rid of it.

But hold on. I still carry the Motorola Razor in my back pocket . . . on vibrate mode, of course. It's good for a brief rear end massage when a call comes in. Besides, if it is true (and it very may well be accurate) that the electomagnetic micro waves from our beloved cell phones will eventually afflict us with cancer, I figure I can handle butt cheek cancer as opposed to major brain cancer that will fall like the apocalypse on the wearers of the Blue Tooth headset.

Back to the conversation interruptus that that occurred this morning. It's getting harder and harder to complete a conversation these days. Perhaps the scene in Clueless depicting high school girls walking through the halls together speaking to one another on the cell phones is not that far off. We've placed a priority on receiving and making cell phone calls more than speaking to a live person.

In fact, according to a Psychology Today article "Mood Tools: High-Tech Tethers," flipping open the phone as soon as a bad mood strikes or a question comes to mind is "making you less independent, and unable to tap your inner resources and experience life's contrasts more fully."

Hans Geser of the University of Zurich calls cell phones "pacifiers for adults." At the tiniest glint of loneliness or insecurity, we whip out the cell and plop that digital binky up to our ear and "suck away."

We are removing all sense of longing and homesickness. While serving in Vietnam, I lived for the mail call. I would long to receive a letter from someone back home . . . my parents, my brother or step sister . . . even a "Dear John" letter was better than nothing. Today we have email and text messaging. Who can be homesick anymore? We'll go on iChat or Skype and talk or teleconference and sidestep any delayed gratification.

I really don't need to say "goodbye" to anybody anymore. I don't need to miss anyone. After I leave their presence, I can text them or call them from the road. Gone are the days when I would pull off the freeway to frantically look for a pay phone to check up on somebody and experience some anxious insecurity. Life is "less dramatic because we can always keep in touch ."

A lover waiting for his beloved at the train station is not the same as Hollywood once depicted such reunions in vintage films. The longing . . . the uncertainty . . . the anxiety that takes place when the two lovers finally embrace after not seeing each other for weeks or months is now diluted. Why should they miss one another? They've already been speaking to each other on their cell during the entire train ride and exchanged myriads of photos of each other using the camera on their cells.

Sure, I enjoy the convenience of having a cell phone. However, it is truly a high-tech tether that carries the potential to rob us of facing the frailty of being a creature made out of dust . . . a human who needs to experience his or her own inner resources in order to become more human. Face it, you and I are not made of binary numbers ("ones" and "zeros") but we've been put on this analog planet to remain as close to the dust as possible. It's the realization that we are dust here for a flash of time that drives us to seek an Eternal Creator who will never take another call while listening to us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Obama Refuses to Ask Carter to Cancel Hamas Meeting

Washington, D.C. (April 16, 2008) -- Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks released the following statement today:

"We commend the decision of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Howard Berman and Committee Member Rep. Gary Ackerman to take a principled stance and ask former President Carter to cancel his planned meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal," said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. "Now more than ever, Senator Barack Obama must explain why he will not join the growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers demanding that President Carter stop undermining the Middle East peace process. Senator Obama's silence speaks volumes about his weak support of Israel."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama's Pro-Hamas Church

From INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 4:20 PM PT.

Election 2008: It's bad enough that Barack Obama's church took sick joy in 9/11 for "racist white America" supporting "Zionists." Now we learn it also is a mouthpiece for anti-Israeli terrorists.

Last July, Trinity United Church of Christ reprinted a Hamas manifesto written by a terrorist fugitive wanted by the FBI. It was published across two pages of the "Pastor's Page" section of the church bulletin. Rev. Jeremiah Wright's name is copyrighted at the bottom of the pages . . .

In his newsletter, the preacher gives Mousa Abu Marzook a platform to justify the Palestinian terrorist group's denial of Israel's right to exist, while defending strikes against Israeli targets. Marzook is identified in the church bulletin only as the "deputy of the political bureau of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement."

In fact, Marzook was kicked out of the U.S. several years ago after the U.S. declared him a specially designated terrorist. The Palestinian was indicted in 2004 for conspiring to funnel millions to Hamas to carry out kidnappings, bombings and other attacks on Israel. Believed to be hiding in Syria, he remains a fugitive.

Even if Wright didn't know Marzook was wanted by the government, Hamas has been designated a terrorist group since 1995, blacklisted by a Democrat administration. Wright had to have known from headlines that Hamas targets innocent civilians in pizza parlors and buses for suicide bombings, eviscerating children and elderly with fireballs laced with nails and ball bearings. These are not warriors, but terrorists.

Obama, for his part, says he is shocked— shocked! — that his church would support Hamas.
"I certainly wasn't in church when that outrageously wrong piece was reprinted in the bulletin," he said in a carefully worded statement that denies only his attendance and not his prior knowledge of the bulletin.

The Democratic front-runner for president seems to think if he just claims "not present," he won't be linked to his longtime church's radicalism. But a history of 20 years of church attendance and close ties to Wright make that impossible.

When videos showed his pastor blaming America for 9/11 and damning it to hell, Obama insisted he did not attend service on the days those particular sermons were delivered.

Obama also pleaded ignorance about Wright last year honoring anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan with a "lifetime achievement award," even though the church featured Farrakhan on the cover of its magazine and held a gala in Chicago to celebrate his "greatness."

Yet, Wright is the man Obama says has been "like an uncle" to him all these years. It strains credulity that in all their conversations, he remains in the dark about his radical ties.

Yet now that Obama knows Wright sympathizes with terrorists, Obama continues to defend him and his church.
"This is a pillar of the community," Obama said, "and if you go there on Easter, and you sat down there in the pew, you would think this is just like any other church."

Maybe any other church in Gaza or the West Bank. But certainly not in post-9/11 America.
Who does Obama think he's fooling? He needs to sever ties with Wright and his church, regardless of their support.

If he can't stand up to them, how can he stand up to terrorists?


Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama's Closeness to Rev.Wright Still A Problem

Even after Barak Obama delivered his race speech, A More Perfect Union most of us remain unconvinced of any widening gap that exists between him and his controversial Pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Despite his overused "words of unity" between whites and blacks Obama still oversteps the main point about his pastor. Rev. Wright does not want unity with white people. Obama and his pastor stand worlds apart on this issue. Barak Obama will not recognize that his pastor does not bring a positive influence on the black community nor the overall community of American people.

My question is, "How can Obama speak of racial unity out of one side of his mouth and then closely embrace a spiritual mentor who delivers now widely publicized sermons contrary to any kind of racial unity?" Rev. Wright has been called a racist and a man who sweats anger towards whites. And this is Obama's spiritual mentor? As long as Barak keeps reaffirming the relationship he has with his former pastor, doubts will be raised as to what truly floats around in the mind of Barak Obama?

Listen to Obama's words about racism in America as depicted in his recent speech:

I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes . . . This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people.

Rev. Wright does not have a faith in the "decency of the American people." He said in one of his sermons that America is the "U.S. of KKK." This "man of God" does not want to end racism but to keep it going because it serves his purpose of keep the black community in a place of a perceived victimization to the "rich while man" as epitomized in the pastor's disparaging remarks about the well-to-do Hillary Clinton. The last time I listened to a democrat praise the Clinton's, Hillary's husband was tagged as America's "first black president."

Obama also remarked that the decency of America (which includes white people) made it possible for him to have his own" American story." Pastor Wright does not believe that! Rev. Wright preaches the gospel of black anger towards the white man.

But Rev. Wright led Obama to Christ, according to the Senator, and because of that Barak cannot disown him. He's like family. However, Wright is family by choice not by blood, so Obama has the ability to place a huge chasm between himself and his pastor.

I won't argue that God used Jeremiah Wright to guide Barak to Jesus, but that was twenty years ago. Since then Rev. Wright has gotten off track. Where is Jesus in his message now? Could he lead Obama to Jesus today or steer him to more anger and hostility towards white people and the U.S.

As long as Rev. Wright preaches this message of animosity towards white people, Republicans, the U.S. government and any black man or woman who is not a liberal democrat (Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice), how can Obama not take a giant step away from his former pastor? How can he not disavow a man who once preached a message that honored Christ but has taken a detour of extreme black nationalistic theology and has found no Christian compunction to refuse to honor the Minister Louis Farrakhan?

We all know by now that Rev. Wright gave Louis Farrakhan a lifetime achievement award back in December 2007. Every year the Trumpeter Newsmagazine, the literary arm of Rev. Wright's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, offers awards to different individuals in various categories.

In a letter from the magazine's publisher, Jeri. L. Wright, the pastor's daughter, she writes, "The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is the recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement "Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Trumpeter Award."

Barak Obama attends a church, whose magazine gave a lifetime achievement award to a man who is a serious anti-Semite. Louis Farrakhan is not some pesky little gnat that goes away after a few swats. Louis Farrakhan is a respected leader in the black community as we witnessed in his involvement with the Million Man March.

In the November-December 2007 Trumpeter magazine an article "An Empowerment Interview," gives the reasons why the award was given to Minister Farrakhan.

The article specifically records the view of Jeremiah Wright on Louis Farrakhan. In the piece Jeremiah Wright applaudes the Nation of Islam leader and remarks on his significant impact, "When Minister Farrakahn speaks, Black America listens."

Wright compares Farrakhan to the E.F. Hutton commericals. So when Farrakhan speaks of Judaism as a "gutter religion," the black community takes him seriously?

In Richard Cohen's Washington Post article he remarks, "Over the years, he [Farrakhan] has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler -- 'They helped him get the Third Reich on the road.'"

Louis Farrakhan is a man stricken, as Cohen rightly says, with "botulism of the mind." How can a Christian leader offer him a lifetime achievement award? How can Barak Obama embrace a Pastor who sees greatness in Louis Farrakahn and continue to attend a church that had no problems with a pastor who delivers hateful speeches about a country Obama would like to lead? It's mind-boggling that the impact of this paradoxical scenario has not hit the hearts and minds of Obama supporters a lot deeper.

How in the world did the congregants of the Trinity United Church of Christ listen to the anti-American, angry rantings of Pastor Wright for so many years and not make a moral and spiritual issue of it? I wonder if there's much difference between Pastor Wright's thinking and that of his congregation . . . a church Obama still attends.

Rev. Wright says of Farrakhan and his anti-Jewish conspiratorial thinking, "Everybody may not agree with him [Farrakhan, but they listen . . . His depth of analysis where it comes to the racial ills of this nations is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest." Rev. Wright, does that include his denigration of the Holocaust?

Barak Obama needs to connect the dots between his pastor and Louis Farrakhan. He can't just say to Hillary Clinton in a recent debate that he denounces the endorsement of Farrakhan if it "makes her comfortable."
Is he personally comfortable with Farrakhan's endorsement or did he simple tell the "rich white woman" what she wanted to hear ?

In no way do I think Obama shares the views of Farrakhan. But his pastor may! This is a pastor who prayed with the young senator just before his Illinois announcement that he'll run for the presidency. Cohen asks, "Will he pray for him before his inaugural?" I ask, "Will he pray at the inaugural?"

I will not take away from any good performed by Farrakhan in the black community. I had one Chicago resident tell me that where Farrakhan's followers live, there is no crime. In fact, I endorse his message of black self-reliance and his impact on the lives of young black men. But his achievements do not earn him the right for decent Americans to turn a deaf ear to his racist, anti-Semtic ravings! As I would critiicize any white man who espouses racism, I cannot turn away from the slippery forked tongue of Farrakhan when he speaks of white people as "blue eyed devils."

In the article in the Trumpeter Magazine, Wright continues to pile on the praise of Farrakhan, "His integrity and honesty have secured him a place in history as one of the nation's most powrfull critics.. . a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and purpose."

It's very clear where Rev. Wright stands . . . Louis Farrakhan is not a problem to him. Will Obama lose his Jewish support over this? Will it affect his perspective on Israel if he WINS the presidency and has to deal with Israel's leaders among whom are Holocaust survivors? Obama cannot flirt with Rev. Wright because the pastor lies in the same bed with Louis Farrakhan.

When I was a kid growing up in Newark, N.J., the neighborhood kids would choose up sides in order to play a game of street stickball. We would use any method available-"rock, paper, scissors" or "odds or evens." You had to wind up on one team or else you sat on the curb and watched.

Yes, Obama's speech was moving, but he still has not chosen sides on the Rev. Wright issue. He is attempting to play for his own team, the team of the American public and Rev. Jeremiah Wright's team all at the same time.

Knowing that Wright has honored Minister Louis Farrakhan as one of his all-star players, Obama has no choice but to choose to leave Wright's team and play for the other side-the side of justice, truth and integrity.

Has Obama got what it takes to make that choice or will he sit on the curb from 2008-2012?