Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hamas on Hamas!

Heads are spinning over the Islamic militant group Hamas since last week's big win in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Think about it, Hamas, the ruthless terrorist organization bent on obliterating Israel, captured 74 of 132 seats.

Founded in the late 1980s on the principle that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad," Hamas has since claimed responsibility for hundreds of deadly attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets, including numerous suicide bombings. The question now is whether Hamas will turn away from its terrorist past in order to maintain their international favors.

Some analysts say yes. They say that Hamas has more or less abided by a ceasefire for the past year, and that it has moderated its traditionally militant stance. They also say that much of Hamas's popularity stems not from terrorist activities, but from the network of schools, health clinics, and soup kitchens the group operates.

Other analysts say that all sides of Hamas are still, ultimately, dedicated to the same old goal - destroying Israel. They point out that, whatever services Hamas may provide to ordinary Palestinians, it has never renounced the program described in its 1988 charter.
So, what does Hamas say about Hamas?

"The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)"

  • "The movement's program is Islam. From it, it draws its ideas, ways of thinking and understanding of the universe, life and man. It resorts to it for judgment in all its conduct, and it is inspired by it for guidance of its steps."

  • "The basic structure of the Islamic Resistance Movement consists of Muslims who have given their allegiance to Allah whom they truly worship. . . . They fear Allah and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors, so that they would rid the land and the people of their uncleanliness, vileness, and evils."
"Killing the Jews"

  • "The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. . . . The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
  • "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is . . . consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that."
"Through Jihad"

  • "Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. . . . These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitrators. . . . There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

  • "The day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab, and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters."
"Extending Assistance, Financial or Moral"

  • "Muslim society is a mutually responsible society. . . . Mutual social responsibility means extending assistance, financial or moral, to all those who are in need and joining in the execution of some of the work. Members of the Islamic Resistance Movement should consider the interests of the masses as their own personal interests. They must spare no effort in achieving and preserving them."

  • "Jihad is not confined to the carrying of arms and the confrontation of the enemy. The effective word, the good article, the useful book, support and solidarity--together with the presence of sincere purpose for the hoisting of Allah's banner higher and higher--all these are elements of the Jihad for Allah's sake."
"Nothing Can Overcome Iron Except Iron"

  • "The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion. . . . Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that."

  • "This is the only way to liberate Palestine. . . . It is one of the laws of the universe and one of the rules of existence. Nothing can overcome iron except iron."
Want to learn more?

Read Hamas's complete charter at Yale Law School

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Gay Bus Tour To Hit Christian Campuses

A tour of 25-30 gay activists calling themselves Soulfarce, Oops! I mean, Soulforce will be holding "Bible studies", press conferences and discussions on Christian campuses across the country to confront the fact that these colleges teach that homosexuality is a sin. Soulforce has quite a list of colleges where they intend to dialogue with students.

This is the same group that wants to crash the White House Easter Egg Hunt: On January 13, IRD uncovered a plan by the pro-homosexuality organization Soulforce to crash the upcoming Easter egg roll on the south lawn of the White House. Numerous news outlets have since reported on the plans by the activist group to exploit the annual event for political purposes. The issue was raised during the daily White House press conference on January 18.

What the below articles don't tell you is that one of the activists behind this Easter Egg propaganda ploy, Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Pride Coalition, is from Massachusetts and is "married" to Massachusetts' own Cheryl Jacques, formerly state senator then failed national director of the so-called "Human Rights Campaign." (See their family photo in InNewsWeekly's feature article.)

The below links will expand your need for MSM information overload!

IRD Press Release: Pro-Homosexuality "Soulforce" to Crash White House Easter Egg Roll
White House Press Briefing: January 18, 2006
The Weekly Standard: A Gay Easter?
CNN: Gay Families Plan to Attend White House Egg Roll
WorldNetDaily: Homosexual Easter at the White House?
Washington Times: Inside Politics: Easter Parade
Agape Press: IRD Exposes Pro-Homosexual Group's Plan to Invade White House Event
MSNBC (video): Egg Roll Controversy

Perhaps next they will crash house churches and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders." (The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Co 6:9). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sanctity of life!

Last Sunday (January 22, 2006) was “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”. Monday a group called Silent No More gathered in DC to campaign on behalf of life. The following two blog accounts give testimony to the hopeful message of this Silent No More gathering.

From Get Religion:

The goal, of course, is to cover the mainstream and, in the pro-life movement, that means covering young people and women from evangelical, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sanctuaries, with a vocal presence of Orthodox Jews, as well.

Perhaps the most important group at the moment is called “Silent No More,” in large part because the women with the somber, black “I Regret My Abortion” signs are the archetypal opposites of the people who used to dominate television-news reports about these events. You know, that would be the angry men with red faces, bullhorns and bloody posters.

From Pro-Life with Christ:

Some of notable features of the event included the growing presence of women with signs reading, “I regret my abortion.” The women are part of the Silent No More campaign that made its first appearance at the Washington march in 2003 and have been a presence at the Canadian march in recent years.

Christopher Smith, the Republican congressman from New Jersey, said the Silent No More women “are proof that there is reconciliation and there is hope.”

We are so glad to have the women of Silent No More here with us on the stage. Their testimony gives witness to the lie that the other side puts forth, that abortion is pro-woman,” Smith said.


Psalm 139

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Go fly a kite!

Benjamin Franklin, the oldest Founding Father, having just passed his 299th birthday, who claimed to "love Company, Chat, a Laugh, a Glass and even a Song," is also one of America's most important and influential Founders.

He may be best known for taming lightning and governments, but what made his storied contributions to mankind possible were his hard work and skill as a businessman. Franklin was a self-made man in the real sense that he rose from obscurity to prominence. Born the youngest son of a Boston tallowmaker, he was apprenticed to his older brother James, a printer. Chafing under James's harsh control, at age 17 he ran away nearly penniless to Philadelphia. There Franklin thrived as a printer, editor, and merchant, launching several newspapers and penning the famous aphorisms of Poor Richard's Almanac.

He retired comfortably at 42 to devote himself to his interests in science, invention, and public service: experimenting with electricity, crafting bifocals and the Franklin stove, and founding the first public library, volunteer fire brigade, and other civic endeavors. A loyal British subject, Franklin was slow to enlist in the Revolutionary cause, but by 1776, he had committed himself fully to American independence. Internationally renowned, he served abroad ably as a diplomat, returning home to lend his reputation and political acumen to the crafting of the new U.S. Constitution. He died shortly afterwards, in 1790, at age 84.

While serving as an ambassador in Paris during the American Revolution, Franklin made a point of wearing the simple dress and hairdo of the American "natural," much to the delight of French intellectuals and politicians. In 1779, he wrote to his daughter that her father's face had become as well known in France as the man in the moon, so common were the medallions, pictures, and prints of it sold to an admiring public.

But Franklin was also self-made in the sense that he fashioned himself into an American icon to be loved (or loathed) by generations to come. He painted the icon in his posthumous Autobiography, which became one of the most read books in America. In it we see Franklin's rise from poverty and anonymity to money and fame. But it's also a story of moral as well as material redemption. Franklin describes himself as a precocious genius whose reading of modern books caused him to fall from his father's morality and religion; he became a hot-headed smart aleck and an all-too-freethinking delinquent.

After reflecting on the harms he inflicted on, and suffered from, those close to him, Franklin gave himself a spiritual second chance, came back to God, and departed on his famous project to achieve moral perfection. His aim was to get control of himself in order to serve God by serving his fellow human beings. This was his object lesson for all Americans. Franklin depicts himself in the Autobiography as a morally committed political man (his feats of natural science are almost invisible), who rationally and pragmatically balances all sides of every issue, never loses his cool, and cares always for the common good.

"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pray for Middle East Christians!

Pray for Christians of the Middle East who suffer as persecuted minorities within an increasingly intolerant Muslim society.

Update: As this prayer bulletin is being written, the Arabs of the Palestinian-controlled territories are voting for a 132-member parliament. Hamas, a terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, is contesting the elections on a platform of 'change and reform'. With Hamas expected to make significant gains, Palestinian Christians and women fear the imposition of a hard-line Islamist agenda. In December 2005 the leader of the Hamas contingent at the municipal council of Bethlehem, Hassam El-Masalmeh, told The Wall Street Journal that Hamas intends to re-institute the 'jizya', a tax mandated by the Qur'an (sura 9:29) to be imposed on non-Muslims who have chosen not to convert to Islam and must now pay for their right to life. (Jizya is a form of systematic religious humiliation, persecution and extortion). Please pray for Palestinian Christians.

Click to see: Be Perfect!

Click to hear: Here is love! (WMP)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 362 – Wed., 25 Jan 2006

Christianity & Canadian Politics!

It is no secret that Canada made some news earlier this week by electing a conservative government for the first time in about a dozen years. The conventional wisdom says that it all came down to a well-run campaign and a corrupted liberal party government as the new Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to the center by avoiding issues like abortion and gay marriage, not to mention religion. But is this really the case?

According to some religious journalists, Harper, a smart and serious fundamentalist ran for his nation's top leadership position, and even the paper of record, The New York Times, responded with a 100% religion-free story? Can it be? Well, says Kathryn Joyce, it's not without precedent. When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000 - presenting himself as a business conservative with a fondness for the philosophy of Jesus Christ, but a business conservative first and last - there was some media speculation about the Christian "code language" underlying his public speeches, rumored to broadcast special Jesus signals to the heartland that zipped right over the egg-shaped heads of the liberal, coastal elites.

Just as with Bush’s first campaign - which also rode in with the benefit of an incumbent party scandal - the media have largely overlooked the real significance of the religious conservatism hinted at by Harper’s religious language, and have effectively de-fanged Harper’s social conservatism - in Harper’s own terminology, the Burkean or theocratic conservatism - that Harper turned to in 2003 when building a coalition between economic and religious conservatives that would be strong enough to take on the Liberal majority. But while the media shapes Harper up as Bush-lite, and U.S. conservatives frightened of smothering their own pick with too much public support make embarrassing promises that Harper won’t be an "American toady," few seem to realize that Harper is politically and religiously much further right than Bush himself, and his language suggests that he takes the conflict between left and right much more seriously.

Canadian evangelical journalist Lloyd Mackey has literally written the book on “the pilgrimage of Stephen Harper”, and he talks about attending Harper’s C&MA church here. Mackey, whose new book, The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, has painted the candidate as one of a new breed of "secretly"-Christian politicians bucking the secular Canadian status quo by doing Christian political works little recognized by the outside world.

BTW: In 1997, Harper addressed the Council for National Policy, which was founded by Left Behind apocalypse novelist Tim LaHaye and has included as members a who’s who of the radical right, including James Dobson, Grover Norquist, Paul Weyrich, Gary Bauer, Brent Bozell, Holland and Jeffrey Coors, Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly and Oliver North.

Monday, January 23, 2006


According to the recent Drudge Report President Bush has so far skipped BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN -- the Hollywood hit about two homosexual cowboys.

During a Q&A session at Kansas State University today, a student asked Bush: "I was just wanting to get your opinion on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN if you'd seen it yet."

The crowd laughed softly before the student said loudly: "You would love it! You should check it out."

"I haven't seen it," Bush said flatly. "I'd be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen the movie," he said to laughter. "I've heard about it."

The president waited a second or two, then said, according to a transcript: "I hope you go -- (laughter) -- you know -- (laughter) -- I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm, is what I was about to say. I haven't seen it. (Laughter, applause.)"

I haven’t seen it either and probably never will!

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1.25-27).

Who's driving the Super Bowl?

The Seahawks?

"Seahawks Ride Defense Into Super Bowl"--headline, Associated Press, Jan. 23

"Seattle Rides Hasselback, Alexander"--headline, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 23

"Seahawks Ride MVP to First Super Bowl"--headline, Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.), Jan. 23

"Seahawks Ride Momentum to Second Straight Win"--headline, Seahawks Online, undated

The Steelers?

"Steelers Ride Broncos to SBXL"--headline, Edmonton (Alberta) Sun, Jan. 23

"Steelers Ride Big Ben, Turnovers to Super Bowl"--headline, MSNBC.com, Jan. 23

"Steelers Fans Ready to Ride the Bus to Detroit"--headline, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jan. 23

May the best rider win!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Whats the most popular religion in the world?

“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious” (Acts 17.22).

In terms of numbers, Christianity is the world's most popular religion, with approximately 2.1 billion followers. This includes just over a billion Catholics, about 350 million Protestants, and the Orthodox and Anglican faiths. The religion statistics resource Adherents.com hosts a fascinating pie graph that breaks down the world's major religions by population.

Islam is the world's second-largest religion, with roughly 1.3 billion followers -- including 940 million Sunnis and 170 million Shiites, as well as those belonging to other Muslim faiths like Sufism. Depending on your resources, the third-largest group is either Hindus or atheists. Both hover just under the billion mark. Traditional Chinese religion (which is related to, but distinct from, Buddhism) takes fourth place with 400 million, and Buddhism trails close behind.

The Hindu organization Om Sakthi hosts a nifty timeline tracking the origin of the world's religions. Islam's rapid growth is impressive, especially considering it's one of the younger major faiths (it was founded in A.D. 622). Right now it's considered the fastest-growing religion in the world.

FYI: I hesitate to use the word ‘religion’ either of the content of the Christian faith or of its expression in worship and service. Mainly, because it is my conviction that Christianity is not simply one among many religions. It differs qualitatively from all others in that its content is divinely revealed and its outward expression by believers is not an attempt to secure salvation but a thank-offering for it.

The word religion is ambiguous. Its etymology is doubtful. Cicero refers it to relegere, to go over again, to consider. "Religio" is then consideration, devout observance, especially of what pertains to the worship and service of God. "Religens" is devout, conscientious. "Religiosus," in a good sense, is the same as our word religious; in a bad sense, it means scrupulous, superstitious. According to Augustine religio is the ground of obligation. It is that which binds us to God. Subjectively, it is the inward necessity of union with God. Commonly the word religion is used in its objective sense as when we speak of the Pagan, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Mohammedan, or the Christian religion. Subjectively, it expresses a state of mind. What that state characteristically is, is very variously stated. Most simply it is said to be the state of mind induced by faith in God, and a due sense of our relation to him. As more concisely expressed by Bretschneider, "Faith in the reality of God, with a state of mind and mode of life in accordance with that faith." Or, more vaguely, "Recognition of the mutual relation between God and the world" (Fischer), or, "The recognition of a superhuman causality in the human soul and life" (Theile). "Faith founded on feeling in the reality of the ideal" (Jacobi). "The feeling of absolute dependence" (Schleiermacher). "The observance of the moral law as a divine institution" (Kant). "Faith in the moral order of the universe" (Fichte). "The union of the finite with the infinite or God’s coming to self-consciousness in the world" (Schelling).

The above definition of the word religion is drawn from Hodge, C. (1997). Systematic theology. Originally published 1872.)

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 126-27).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Warns of Attacks but Offers Truce!

this is an audio post - click to play

Al-Jazeera on Thursday aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden, who says al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce "with fair conditions." The audio tape broadcast lasts a full 10 minutes and it began: "This message is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end those wars."

The tape's release came days after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that was targeting bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and reportedly killed four leading al-Qaida figures, including possibly al-Zawahri's son-in-law. There was no mention of the attack on the segments that were broadcast.

Certainly the fact that we struck and hit al Qaida operatives means that those in the area who thought they were safe, now have to be looking over their shoulder some more, adding more stress to their daily lives.

And the more they have to worry about security, the less time there is to plan murder, as Ben Laden’s tape indicates.

Almost immediately after the strike, the Arab Media channel al Arabiya declared that Zawahiri was still alive according to their "sources". If this turns out to be true, one has to wonder who their "sources" are? They would seem to be pretty good if they could get word from remote regions of Pakistan that fast.

In fact, one would have to wonder if they are directly plugged in to the terrorist network.

BTW: One of my inside sources informed me that the US intel is pretty good on this one, perhaps only surpassed by al Arabiya.

FYI: My interest in this is pastoral. I pray over each fallen soldier and their families as their names are made public. And I’m wrestling with the condition of war on our planet. My eldest son recently loaned me his copy of “The Kingdom of God is within you” by Leo Tolstoy, to help in the conceptual process of coming to terms with the broader issues.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4.1-3).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Faux Chronicles of Evangelicalism!

Looking for some inspired reading on the evangelical movement in North America? Check out this faux Chronicles of Evangelicalism story commencing with the landing of the Congregationalists in the New World to the beginning of Fundamentalism.! This morning I read this little deveotion from the book of Third Drafts, chapter 1, posted on “that is not my blog

[1] These are the generations of evangelicalism in the land of North America.

[2] Now congregationalism begat Pilgrims who sailed from Leiden to Massachusetts and were soon joined by their brothers, the Puritans. [3] Pilgrims and Puritans begat theocracy, which in the days of Hutchinson, also called Anne, and Williams, also called Roger, begat discontent. [4] Discontent begat Baptists, and soon all manner of church polities and creeds prospered in the land, while prosperity itself begat spiritual apathy and slumber. [5] Then came a day of Great Awakening, which begat New Lights. [6] And thus did the Old Lights squint, and great was their outcry throughout the land, [7] but the sons of Edwards and the sons of the Wesleys and the sons of Whitefield did not heed their cries, [8] for they saw the mighty works that God wrought among them.

[9] Then the sons of men listened to the Paineites, who spoke of “Common Sense,” and “The Crisis,” and [some mss. read “later” here] “The Age of Reason,” and the kings of the earth took sides and waged war, and the Montesquieuites and Rousseauites rose up in the land, [10] and they said, “Let us be called the United States of America, where no king rules from New England to Florida, and west to the Mississippi!” [11] And so every man believed that which was right in his own eyes, and thus it was even after the warring ceased.

[12] In the turmoil of those days a great darkness fell upon the land, and men looked for light, both old and new, but could not find it. [13] The sons of Calvin and the sons of Arminius cried out, and behold, the land was soon filled with Taylorites and Finneyites who imagined that they created the light themselves. [14] But nevertheless the light spread, and a Second day of Great Awakening came, which begat revivalism, and revivalism begat manipulative evangelistic techniques, and manipulative evangelistic techniques begat many verses of “Just As I Am.”

[15] Now in those days, a son of Africa was counted as three-fifths of a person, and could be owned by a son of Europe in the region of Dixie. [16] And for two generations the Foxites and the Wesleyites stirred up many of their evangelical brethren to cease this abomination, crying, “Abolition! Abolition!” [17] But before the reign of Lincoln could commence, the cries went out from Dan, Virginia, to Beersheba, South Carolina: “Secession! Secession!” [18] And, lo, 600,000 men were slain on the field of battle before the rebellion was ended.

[19] Soon after, when every man had returned to his house, behold, Moody said to Sankey, “Let us sing great hyms to large crowds in spacious halls on both sides of the Atlantic!” [20] And thus revivalism, which had begotten manipulative evangelistic techniques, now also begat mass evangelism, [21] and mass evangelism begat interdenominational cooperation, [22] and interdenominational cooperation begat organizations, and agencies, and publishing houses, and Bible conferences.

[23] But while the sons of Darby gathered in Niagara, the sons of Schleirmacher said to the sons of Darwin, “Let us circumscribe the truth of Scripture according to the limits of our scientific presuppositions.” And it was so. [24] And when the sons of Luther, and the sons of Calvin, and the sons of Arminius, and of Wesley, and even of Moody and of Darby—when they heard of these things—each one said to the other, “If the foundations are being destroyed, what should the righteous do?” [25] And thus they took up pen and ink, and each man flew to his printing press, and each man contacted his colporteur, they did great battle against the sons of Schleirmacher and the sons of Darwin, and all who would come against them. [26] Now the rest of their acts, and all they did in defense of the propositional truth of Scripture, are they not written in the books of The Fundamentals?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Christian Wrestling!

After preaching a sermon from Ephesians 6.12 dealing with wrestling amid the powers and principalities a visitor, who professed not to know Christ, asked me if I happened to know any Christian wrestlers. I answered in the negative but my curiosity was piqued when he told me to check out the Christian Wrestling Federation. Before leaving, he went on to explain that these guys would wrestle, body slam each other, blood shooting, full on make-up and masks, and then after everything was finished, they would get all serious and talk to us about Jesus.

I had to go check this out for myself, so I googled the terms Christian and wrestling and was directed right to their website. Their governing verse is 1 Corinthians 9:22 that says I have become all things to all people that I might win some (perhaps the most misrepresented text in scripture). Besides Paul didn't necessarily have in mind a couple of big guys in spandex tights body slamming each other. Of course, I could be wrong about that. Some of the wrestlers body slamming for Jesus are "Devestator," "Jesus Freak," "Psycho Simpson," and "The Cross Factor."

I could probably opine about the dumbing down of the gospel and how Christians are embarrassing Christ with foolishness, but I will restrain myself. I just thought it was interesting how the one group this lost guy actually enjoyed was the CWF. By the way, Christian wrestling can be traced back to the early 1720s.

Aeneas Sage was ordained pastor in Lochcarron, Highlands, in the 1720s. He won little regard for his abilities as a minister because no-one would come to hear him. A strong man, Mr. Sage saw that the 'chief man' in Lochcarron was Big Rory, the champion in the Highland games. The only way for Mr. Sage to gain the respect of the district was to take on Big Rory. Sage challenged Big Rory in putting the stone, tossing the caber and in wrestling. He won an easy victory, and his fame was established at once.

But still the people would not come to church. Only Big Rory came, and so Mr. Sage ordained Rory as an elder and, when the people gathered on Sunday mornings for their games, Mr. Sage and Big Rory would join them and carry them, two each, into the Church, locking the Church while they were away, so the people could not escape. At the opening of the service Big Rory would stand at the door with a club, and so the service would be conducted in a full church. It is said that, "Mr. Sage made the people very orthodox" (adapted from Kennedy, 'The Days of the Fathers in Ross-Shire', P. 60).

Monday, January 16, 2006


Monday morning. Are you stressed? Feel overworked? Underpaid? Unloved? Wanna feel better?

Just say "Fred"!

Stress-relieving methods run the gamut from such old standbys as nail biting to drinking Scotch to listening to whale-mating calls on CD. But Fred?

Author David L. Mocknick of Philadelphia says that the name Fred - derived from Frederick, a German name that means "peace ruler" - has curative powers. Think about it and take a deep breath and shout it out: Fred! Do you feel its officinal effect? If not perhaps you’re procedure isn’t orthodox enough.

But don’t fear, Mocknick has written a whole book (Who's Fred, Ha!: Silly, but Fun Stress Relief: Clear Brook, $17.95).to tell you how to properly use the word "Fred" to be a more relaxed, healthy, effective person.

It's not science, admits Mocknick, 47. "I'm no psychologist and I don't have a medical background. But I've seen it work firsthand."

Check it out: Fredding begins when someone "baits" another person by getting him or her to say a word that rhymes with Fred.

When the target - a waitress in a diner who suggests bread when asked for an alternative to rolls, for example - falls into the trap, the Fredder calls out, "Bread! Fred! Who's Fred, ha!"

That’s it! Now your task is to go fishing for unsuspecting soul who’ll take the rhyme bait.

It's no secret that Fredding is weird - and beware - fredding comes with side effects.

Fredders are subject to strange looks, allegations of insanity, and even, as Mocknick knows firsthand, restaurant eviction. "One time the owner of a diner threw me out," he says. "But I was stress-free when he did it."

And one more thing, Mr Mocknick advises not to engage in Fredding on a first date.

OK, let's try this based on an obituary item in the New York Times last week: "Ramona, a Zapatista Guerrilla Leader, Is Dead."

Dead! Fred! Who's Fred, ha!

Believe it or not, I do feel better.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Whats up with Zarqawi?

It is no secret that al Qaida and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has worn out its welcome in Iraq. As the US and Iraqi governments move to split the mostly Sunni insurgency from the Islamists, al Qaida has even fewer leg-breakers on the ground. The al-Qaida operation that resulted in the bombing of a wedding party in the Jordan has further separated them from the target constituency.

There is yet more evidence that Zarqawi is being rejected by his "constituents".

Sources close to the guerrilla groups in Iraq told the pan-Arab, Saudi-backed London daily, al-Hayat that new disputes have exploded between it and the organization "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia" led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, after he carried out last Thursday's bombings in Karbala and Ramadi. Dozens of Shiite and Sunni civilians were killed. The Iraqi guerrilla groups told al-Hayat that they would not unite with the Zarqawi group, as a result.

And in return, he's lashing out at those whom he feels is responsible for his isolation.

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, denounced Arab countries working for political reconciliation in Iraq as United States agents, according to an audio tape posted on the internet.

"The countries that met in Cairo ... were involved in destroying Iraq and co-operated with America by opening their land, air space and waters, and offering intelligence to it," said the speaker on the tape, believed to be Zarqawi.

He was referring to an Arab League conference in November that tried to reconcile Iraqi political factions.

And criticizing those who won't accept him as their master.

An Internet statement in the name of the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group rebuked Sunnis for participating in last month's Iraqi elections, saying they had "thrown a rope" to save U.S. policy in the country...

He also called President Bush a liar, saying: "All that you hear from the liar of the White House is that the situation in Iraq is getting better."

Iraq the Model reports

The Islamic Party didn’t need much time to voice their rejection for Zarqawi’s message and his ideology that recognizes only violence as a way to reach goals.

The 2nd man in the Islamic Party Ayad al-Samarra’i stressed that the Party has no intention to abandon the political process.

Salih al-Mutlaq is another Sunni politician who apparently feels that Zarqawi was addressing him as well. Al-Mutlaq has also condemned violence again today and stressed that “ending violence is the key to stability in Iraq”.

What matters most about such immediate firm reactions to Zarqawi’s call is that they show that the gap between foreign terrorists like Zarqawi and Sunni Arabs in Iraq is growing wider by the day and perhaps the Sunni politicians’ decision to join Allawi and let him lead their alliance will contribute to pushing them to a more reasonable, moderate attitude rather than the relatively extreme attitude they adopted for a long time.

Well, I have to say that things aren't looking so good for Zarqawi in Iraq which means that things must be getting better.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Death to America!

Iranian Pilgrims in Mecca Shout "Death to America, the Great Satan" in an Anti-American Rally…

Following are excerpts from a rally of Iranian pilgrims in Mecca, aired on Channel 1, Iranian TV, and on Al-'Alam TV, on January 9, 2006.

Crowd: Israel is the enemy of Allah.

Man: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Crowd: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Man: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Crowd: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Man: (Chopped off) from the land of the believers.

Crowd: From the land of the believers.

Man: The Audience will now split into two groups: One group will settle the score with America, and the other will settle the score with Israel. This group now: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!

Man: All together now: Death to America! Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!

Etc, etc, etc....

The mind of sinful (mind set on the flesh) man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace...
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ro 8:6). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Deadly Stampede @ Hajj!

This morning I read that a stampede broke out among Muslim pilgrims at the annual Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca killing dozens.

It was the last day of a symbolic stoning ritual at the Hajj, and the Interior Ministry said an unknown number of people were killed. The Al-Arabiya network reported that dozens of pilgrims died.

It seems that the pilgrims were returning via Mina after performing a farewell ceremony that involves walking around the
Kaaba - a cube-like building in the centre of Mecca's Great Mosque - seven times. Essentially, this ceremony is performed after the Hajj has finished.

The stampede broke out as tens of thousands of pilgrims filed past al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin. As we have come to see, the stoning is the riskiest ritual of the Hajj, as worshippers jostle to try to target the stones, often causing weaker pilgrims to fall under foot.

The ritual has seen deadly stampedes in the past, including one in 1990 that killed 1,426 people and another in February 2004 that killed 244. Moreover, the latest deadly stampede come days after more than 70 people died when a hostel for pilgrims collapsed in the Saudi city of Mecca.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied adult Muslim is obliged to perform it at least once in their lives.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV,
John 14.6).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Muslims: People of what Book?

I first encountered the phrase “People of the Book” as an undergraduate in the department of Religious Studies at CSUF. Technically, three of the five or six major religions of the world fit under that rubric. From its beginning, Islam has had a special relationship with Judaism and Christianity. Thus, Jews, Muslims and Christians are considered among religious scholars as the "People of the Book". Of course, from a Muslim’s perspective, Jews and Christians do not enjoy full rights in Muslim states. However, tradition dictates that as long as they pay a special tax (the jizya), their beliefs should be tolerated.

Disregarding taxes (render unto God), not all who claim to be “People of the Book” will be found in the Book of Life! In later Judaism and the New Testament the concept of the Book of Life is used of the life of the age to come. Specifically, in the New Testament the book of life is the roster of believers, e.g. Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 22:19, etc.

At the last judgment everyone not enrolled in the book of life is consigned to the fiery lake (Rev. 20:12, 15); this is the book of life of the slaughtered Lamb (Rev. 13:8; 21:27), in which the names of the elect have been inscribed ‘from the foundation of the world’ (17:8). The same idea is expressed in Lk. 10:20, ‘your names are written in heaven’; Acts 13:48, ‘as many as were ordained (i.e. inscribed) to eternal life believed’.

Blessed are the people of the book whose names are found written in the book of life!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Do you know why millions of Muslims are in Mecca this week? Did you know that Mecca is in Saudi Arabia? Well, the Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest place Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Why go to Mecca? What are the core beliefs of Islam anyway?

More than a billion people call themselves Muslim. Of all the world's religions, only Christianity claims more believers. So, what's Islam all about? In a word, "surrender." Perhaps we can answer a few more piebald questions with an overview of the religion.

Islam began with the visions of Muhammad ("the Prophet"), a merchant born in the year 570 in Mecca, Arabia (now Saudi Arabia). One day, at the age of 40, Muhammad was meditating in the mountains surrounding Mecca when an angel appeared to him and said, "You are the messenger of God." Until his death in 632, Muhammad frequently experienced visions that he believed came either directly from God or from the angel Gabriel.

The term "Islam," Arabic for "surrender" or "submission," suggests much of what Muhammad saw in his visions. Humans were created to serve and be obedient to God, and the believer finds salvation in surrendering to God's will.

Muhammad called Allah the one true God and creator, the ruler of a universe whose order reflects his infinite power and wisdom. God gives guidance to humans through his revealed word, and will use adherence to that word to judge humans on the Day of Reckoning. Paradise awaits the righteous, while hell awaits those who reject God's law.

Islam's scripture is called the Qur'an ("reading"). Originally memorized and communicated orally, it was written down a few decades after Muhammad's death. The words of the Qur'an are believed to be God's own, dictated to Muhammad for him to learn verse by verse. Because of this, Muslims believe it cannot be successfully translated from Arabic. Translations of the Qur'an into other languages are regarded as paraphrases and not used for ritual purposes.

Muslims can also look for guidance in the Hadith ("report"), a collection of the words and deeds of the Prophet and his family. A third source of guidance, known as ijma ("consensus"), began to develop in the 8th century to standardize Islamic law and belief. Between the Qur'an, Hadith, and ijma, Islam is held to provide a complete blueprint for human society, encompassing guidelines not only for belief and behavior but for society and government as well.

The Qur'an and Hadith spell out the essential duties of a Muslim, known as the Five Pillars of Islam. These duties are:
  1. Shahada, the profession of faith that "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." This profession of faith must be pronounced at least once in a lifetime, with a full understanding of its meaning and inner assent to its truth.

  2. Salat, the ritual prayer performed five times a day--at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, evening, and night--while facing toward Mecca. On Fridays, there are services in the mosque, with sermons based on verses from the Qur'an.

  3. Zakat, alms to benefit the poor and needy. Islam regards charity and other social service as essential; prayer and professed faith are nothing in the absence of good works.

  4. Sawm, fasting, obligatory between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan and recommended at other times. All healthy adult Muslims, excluding pregnant women, abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during the fast.

  5. Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if they can afford it. More than 2 million Muslims converge on Mecca each year.

For some Muslims, jihad ("fighting" or "striving") represents a virtual sixth pillar, though the concept has been interpreted in various ways. Islamic tradition says that jihad can be fulfilled by the heart (struggling against one's own evil impulses); by the tongue and the hand (supporting what is right and correcting what is wrong); or by the sword (combating the enemies of Islam).

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV, John 14.6).

Friday, January 06, 2006

When the Miracle Doesn't Happen?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). There are sick hearts this week in Upshur County, West Virginia and beyond. When 13 miners were trapped a few days ago, initial hope of a rescue gradually waned. Then miraculous news arrived: 12 of the men were still alive! Yet it was shortly followed by the shattering revelation that the toll was in fact the reverse, and only one had survived. And so what might simply have been feelings of grief have ricocheted from exultant confidence in miracle to resentment and rage.

During the crisis hundreds had gathered in the Sago Baptist Church to watch and pray. When the initial good news came through there was rejoicing and church bells rang. But when the gathering learned hours later that their miracle had not happened after all, “They didn’t know what to do. They began to holler and curse,” local resident John Casto told CNN, in a voice cracked by tears. “Just a few minutes before that, we was praising God.” What had been a place of united praise was now full of furious shouting.

Our pastor got ‘em settled down and he said, ‘Look to God in this tragedy,’” Casto went on. “I don’t believe in cussin’, but one guy said, ‘What in the hell has God ever done for us?’”

Why does God allow life to be this way? It's bad enough that 12 men died an excruciating death trapped below the earth. Why allow this sucker punch to their families? It makes no sense.

John Casto tried to explain, in an accent thick as the hills, how this works, how faith can make sense out of tragedy. “You know, I’m not kin to none of these people under that hill over there, but each and every one of ‘ems a brother to me. Each and every one of them.” He then looked toward the reporter and said, “Because you’re my brother,” and then turning to the cameraman, “and you’re my brother. The way I look at it.”

This was a deep moment of theological reflection made simple. It was a moment, in the midst of bitterness and turmoil, that Casto exposed the power of Christian faith in a cruel and skeptical world. “Because I love Christ,” he went on. This is not the sort of thing you usually hear on the news, and the camera was already pulling back. The reporter’s voice softly murmured “All right, John.” But Casto continued, “We’re gonna to pray for each and every one of these people.” At this point, the reporter patted him on the shoulder, with a “that’s enough, now” gesture. “We’re gonna pray that this community will leave today in peace and always be in peace, in the town of Sago,” Casto said.

At that point, the film ends. But John Casto got to say his piece. Hope based on a particular outcome is a flimsy thing; it can be shattered by events. Hope based in a particular Person (Jesus Christ) will endure. Whether a miracle occurs or doesn’t, we are never alone. “Thou who hast made me see many sore troubles wilt revive me again; from the depths of the earth Thou wilt bring me up again” (Psalm 71:20).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stem-Cell Study: No Cure for Lying!

December was a really bad month for Embryonic stem cell research pioneer Hwang Woo-suk. Dr. Hwang is the cloning superstar who was riding the express train to the Nobel Prize until several weeks ago. He received Time magazine’s invention of the year award for his cloned puppy and earlier last month he won Scientific American’s researcher of the year award. What's that all about? Why the rush to enshrine Embryonic stem cell research types? What if you get a bogus result?

A bit of background: In early 2004, Hwang produced the world’s first human embryonic stem cells from cloned human embryos. He faced a huge uproar a few weeks ago over the fact his research eggs were supplied by his subordinates - a no-no in the medical community because of the appearance or reality of coercion. And then there were the confirmed rumors that still other women were paid for their ova.

In May, Hwang’s team published proof it developed the world’s first human embryonic stem cells tailored to match the DNA of individuals. Late last month, after weeks of heavy speculation, the news came out that the study was fraudulent. Nothing but smoke and mirrors!

In short, A panel investigating Mr. Hwang’s stem cell cloning study discovered that he had produced 11 lines of apparently-cloned stem cells through a technique that bypassed the cloning process, and simply placed two sets of cells in separate test tubes, with one set labeled as “cloned cells.”

For the religious groups, the key question seems to be whether or not to consider embryonic stem cells, upon which Hwang’s cloning experiments, are based, as living entities. The three main religions that oppose Hwang’s research define stem cells as living creatures and therefore the destruction of stem cells for scientific purposes could be equivalent to murder.

Further, it is important to distinguish between stem cell research in general and embryonic stem cell research. We don’t want to give the impression that those who oppose research that requires the destruction of human embryos oppose the larger field.

Scientists are constantly making head way in research to locate non-embryonic sources of stem cells, such as in umbilical cord blood and even skin. It is true that adult stem cell research is even now saving lives. This research continues to suffice nicely for those who want the benefits of stem cell research without traversing difficult ethical questions about using embryos.