I must admit I am biased, not for Obama, Clinton or McCain, but I do tend to view things from the perspective of the gospel. World events, elections, no matter what is going on, I ask myself: is this a positive or a negative for the Gospel? Initial excitement for a political candidate can quickly change to disappointment. I remember in 1976 when, then candidate, Jimmy Carter announced he was born again. It had been unthinkable for a politician to admit such a thing, so naturally I felt incredible joy. In retrospect our opinions differ on the effectiveness of the Carter presidency. Whenever we deal with humans we are bound to, at some point, be disappointed.
I have traveled to Africa for more than 25 years, and there is no country I have visited more than Kenya. To me Kenya has always represented Africa’s best hope for democracy and peaceful interracial relationships. This is why it is so shocking to hear the devastating news over the past weeks. Kenya has always struck me as a country of optimism, but obviously that good feeling has taken a hit after the December 27th election.
People from most religions aspire to live according to a code of good morals, and Christians are no different. The Judeo-Christian morals are best summarized in the Ten Commandments. However, when it comes to how to live a moral life, Christians who believe the Gospel view things vastly different from other religions. Within Christianity there are two very different schools of thought; one based on the Gospel of grace, and the other a moralistic view of Christianity. The Gospel view is that good morals are unattainable by human effort. Though an appearance of morality can be obtained through various rules, rituals and behavior modifications, true morality starts with a transformed heart.
The Bible contains thousands of promises. In the Old Testament we find promises concerning the coming Messiah, God’s salvation plan for the world, and promises for the Jewish nation; promises of blessing, inheritance and divine favor. All these promises, no matter who they are promised to, have one common denominator, one thing which regrettably has eluded millions of Christians. Look at these words:
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ…was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-20)
The devil has no power. His only means of influence is to deceive believers, and if we believe the devil’s lies we empower him. Consider the demonic opposition recorded in the books of Acts; believers were made homeless, taken to prison and beaten. Philip went to a city dominated by witchcraft. Paul preached in cities where idolatry and magic held sway over the people. How were these evil forces were dealt with?
Seeing, but not seeing, is a common problem. Christians see that Jesus carried their sins, but they still don’t see themselves righteous; Jesus bore their sickness, but they have a difficult time to see themselves healed. We see that Jesus has become our righteousness, redemption, wisdom and sanctification, but somehow we still look for all of the above. Out of one side of the mouth we say, “God has given us everything in Christ,” and out of the other side we claim to be a very “needy people”. On the one hand we agree with Jesus that if we drink the water He gives we’ll never thirst again, while on the other we say, “Lord, I’m so thirsty for you”. Do you see the contradictions? Is this schizophrenic life normal Christianity?
Her wizened face expressed bewilderment; “I don’t understand, who are you talking about?” I was taking a stroll with some of our team members in the outskirts of Bali’s capital, Denpasar. This was the third person I had stopped to talk with and her answer proved to be the same as the previous two responses.
Almost all Christian publications carry frequent articles about Israel and ours is no exception. Topics typically range from political support for the nation of Israel in its current military struggle, to encouraging Christian tourists to visit, to articles that promise blessings to those who bless the Jews.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Israeli – Arab war that dramatically changed the map of the Middle East, initially tripling the land governed by the nation of Israel. The conflict in 1967 was preceded by months of escalation of tension culminating on June 5th by the Israeli Air Force destroying 400 aircraft of Syria, Jordan and Egypt; most of them on the tarmac. Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula after four days of battle, and when Jordan and Syria joined Egypt, Israel counter attacked. By June 7th Israeli troops had captured Jerusalem’s old city and had taken control of the entire West Bank. By June 10th both Jordan and Egypt had accepted a cease-fire, while Israeli forces had also captured the Golan Heights. Syria accepted a cease-fire by June 10th. The war left 679 dead Israelis and an estimated 21,000 dead among the Arab nations. Thousands of others were injured.