The Spirit of Islam

Individual Muslims are not the problem. Certainly most are kind gentle people who are just trying to live their faith, and like many “Christians” may not even know what that really means. The problem is the spirit of Islam. What we see happening now is a spiritual battle between Jehovah (Yahweh) and Satan and we humans are either soldiers or captives. Hear me out…
Jesus Himself, Paul, James, John, Peter all talk about a specific spiritual individual who opposes God. He is named Satan and also called “the enemy” or “that old serpent, the devil.” We see him early in Genesis using deception to coerce Eve into rebellion against God by lying to her. No matter your view of the nature of the Adam and Eve story, it is clear that there was another party that entered in to derail the plans of God.
Most don’t take Satan seriously and Dana Carvey’s Churchlady, which is pretty funny, helps drive the picture of a silly red suited, horned, pitchforked childish thing – and that is exactly how the devil wants it – no one taking him seriously. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament did take him seriously.
Paul sums it up best in Ephesians 6 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
God has made promises to humankind. The devil’s goal is to stop the fulfillment of them. His primary tool is deception.
God promised Abraham a son. That promised son was Isaac and is the patriarch of Jews and therefore of the Christians. But Abraham was impatient and made his own fulfillment by having a son with his servant Hagar. That son, Ishmael is the patriarch of the people group who make up most of Islam. God told Abraham early on that he would bless Ishmael and multiply his seed, but that he would be a wild man and cause Isaac much trouble.
Through Isaac, God promised Abraham’s seed the land of Israel and a blessing to them and the Gentiles (see Genesis 11-12) – that would be Jesus, the redeemer of humankind.
Since that promise to Abraham, the devil has worked to prevent the fulfillment of the promise – to keep the Jews (Abraham’s seed) out of the land of Israel. And who does he use? Ishmael, the illegitimate heir of Abraham. The best strategy is to destroy the Jews altogether. No other people group has ever had so many planned exterminations. No other piece of ground has been so hotly contested as Israel, and it’s the only middle eastern country without oil! And who is it that wants to destroy Israel? Islamic countries. Do you REALLY think this is a coincidence?
There is a real God and His son Jesus is the only name by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12). ANY teaching that says otherwise is a demonic deception that threatens a person’s eternity.
THIS is why I oppose Islam. Not because it’s violent. Not because most terrorists are Islamic. I oppose it even though most Muslims are peaceful wonderful people. For the same reason I oppose Buddhism, Paganism, Hinduism etc. even though they are in fact beautiful, peaceful religions that have done great good on the Earth. But they all say that Jesus is not necessary. And that is the subtle piece that reflects Satan’s deception toward the goal of stopping the promises of God. Paul said it best – “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
I oppose Islam because the spirit behind it is God’s enemy and therefor the enemy of every human being and he is bent on your destruction.

What’s the Difference Between People and Objects?

Teens recently killed two homeless men, apparently just for kicks. Follow my logic. Seriously, I’m not being snarky, close-minded, or radical.

A woman can elect to have an abortion because, for whatever reason, she does not want that which she carries inside her, and it is not a person or it would be murder. Right? Not talking morality. It’s just logic. Ending the life of a person is murder, hence, not a person. Fine. That on its own makes logical sense to me.

A person can kill a pregnant woman who DID want that which she carried inside her and that person is charged with two counts of murder because that which was inside the woman WAS a person (or else it WOULDN’T be murder). Right? Just logic, not morality. That on its own makes logical sense to me as well.

A fair conclusion to end our syllogism is that the determination of what is and is not a person is whether or not he/she/it is wanted. I see no other logical explanation that allows both of the above to remain logical. I seriously think this is sound, objective logic.

In the cultural environment created by this logic, these teens could easily conclude that the homeless essentially are unwanted and therefore aren’t really people so it’s not really murder.

Even if Jesus is an alien, He ain’t like those other guys

A friend of mine recently declared that “Jesus, Buddha and all those other guys were aliens.” I couldn’t believe my ears. That’s ludicrous. Jesus is emphatically NOT like those “other guys.” Oh, the alien part? That didn’t bug me so much. A being from another place comes to Earth and takes on human form to dwell among the Earthlings. Not a real accurate description of Jesus, but much closer to truth than Him being “like those other guys.”

Buddha and “those other guys” were sages whose teachings influenced generations. “Their” teachings were generally about living in harmony with nature and neighbor and that through this, enlightenment and personal growth could come to those that follow the path to which they pointed. Jesus’ teachings contained many of these aspects as well. The other guys always pointed to the path of enlightenment and never pointed to themselves; the path was the way to enlightenment and self-realization. This is where Jesus was NOTHING like the other guys.

Jesus made outrageous claims about Himself (not His teachings) unlike anything the other guys ever hinted at:

Claimed to be:

  • Sent by God the creator, heard from God and spoke for God; John 8:28-29 and many others
  • The ONLY way to God. (Not His teachings as a way to God, but HE was the way to God.) John 14:6
  • With God from the beginning and returning to God; John 17:5
  • The possessor of all things; Matthew 11:27
  • Able to forgive sin; Luke 5:20-21 and others
  • King of the Jews; Luke 23:1-3
  • The only complete source of all truth;  Luke 18:36-37
  • The only source of eternal life; (again, not His teachings, but Him personally) John 10: 28-30
  • Destined to die and rise again; Luke 18:31-33
  • The Son of Man who will return with great glory; Matthew 24:27-30

Jesus declared His own divine authority. He didn’t encourage people to follow His teachings or His path; Instead, He said crazy things like: “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. He certainly had teachings about living in harmony with nature and neighbor but He quickly pointed out that that was useless and likely impossible apart from an abiding relationship with Him. Consider this outrageous quote from Jesus’ lips recorded in John 15:4-5:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Who says stuff like that? Certainly none of the other guys. No, Jesus is NOTHING like them.

I understand how and why some have chosen not to believe Jesus’ claims. There is some sound rational reasoning for that, although I find the rational reasoning comes down on the side of believing His claims. But to think Jesus is like those other guys is just intellectually irresponsible. No more platitudes like “Jesus was a wonderful teacher of peace and love” etc. No He wasn’t. He taught that peace and love were only possible through Him personally. That’s either crazy or true. If you don’t believe Jesus claims, then let’s call Him an ego-maniacal lunatic; it’s the only other option.

Jesus is way closer to being an alien than He is to being “like those other guys.”

 

 

 

Male Intimacy, The Bible, and a Hypersexualized Culture

Read the New Testament and it becomes readily apparent that the “Kingdom” lifestyle is about relationships. Not just our “vertical” relationship with the godhead, but our relationships with those around us. Jesus’ teachings and the apostolic letters all encourage us to engage with those around us and to develop intimate relationships. This includes relationships between men. If you compare today’s male relationships with Biblical examples, we may be falling a little short. Yes, of course, cultures change and expressions of intimacy look different but that isn’t always a good thing. The hypersexual nature of our current culture has led us to divide into homophobic or homosexual positions, and that’s a fundamental problem.

Look at the intimacy shared by men in Bible. The apostle John is written to have laid his head on Jesus’ breast (Jn. 13:23). I get the sense this was not unusual for the culture of the time. Can you imagine? I have a good friend. What would happen if I were to cozy up next to him on the couch and lay my head on his chest for a while? There would be a lot of psychological angst for those that know us as they try and decipher what they’re seeing, and anyone that didn’t know us would likely assume we had a homosexual relationship. I don’t want to send an inaccurate message, so from a homophobic position I would never behave the way Jesus and John did.

In 2 Corinthians 13:12 Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “greet each other with a holy kiss.” Read the rest of Paul and you know he encourages intimacy. We are to pray for one another, confess our sins to each other, exhort one another etc.

The ultimate example is David and Jonathan. Jonathan loved David “as much as he loved himself” (1 Sam. 18:1). Upon Jonathan’s death, David laments, “Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (2 Sam 2:26). I do not believe this means that they had a sexual relationship as the prohibition against homosexual relations was crystal clear in the Mosaic law under which they lived, and David had a clear orientation toward women, hence much of his trouble. So deep was the love and intimacy these two shared that they entered into a covenant together (1 Sam. 18).  This covenant was not uncommon and represented a deep, unbreakable bond between two people which provides for the sharing of all they possess. It is a non-sexual marriage (more “covenant” posts will come some day).

Take this God-given drive toward love and intimacy that inhabits the male soul, no matter how deeply buried, and overlay it with today’s hypersexualized culture and the result is the confusing state of affairs that is modern homosexuality. We can no longer separate intimacy and sex. For that matter, we can hardly separate sex from anything, even our cars (http://therealevieb.weebly.com/1/post/2012/09/ad-analysis.html). A man responding to the draw in his heart toward intimacy and deep friendship with another man is quickly confronted with the homophobic/homosexual dichotomy. It is either redirected into modern male bonding rituals which are specifically intended to avoid homosexual implications, or it begins to stir sexual desire. I believe God would have it be real, Kingdom style intimacy.

When I hear a Biblical defense of homosexuality it is usually centered around Biblical views of loving relationships and commitment. Why would God oppose that? I agree. Why indeed? I think he does not oppose it but imparts a desire for it and requires it from those of us that would represent His Kingdom. Unfortunately, in our hypersexualized culture, responding to that draw will have sexual implications. Many of those that respond to that drive and provide us with outstanding examples of what intimacy, commitment and love should look like, spill into a sexual relationship because it only seems natural in this darkened culture. We must seek fundamental truths rooted in the person and desires of our creator with a conscious effort to question and reduce cultural influence on our pursuit.

Regular Sins and Dealbreaker Sins?

In a brilliant article on Huffington Post, Micah J. Murray speaks eloquently about the tendency of Christians to view homosexuality as a “special” sin. He refuses to “love the sinner, hate the sin” anymore because he feels it singles out homosexuals, keeps them in the “sinner” identity, and ignores their redemption in Christ. Greg Boyd, taking a similar view often speaks of a Christian’s tendency to see his/her own sins as “regular” sins but others, usually gay, as having “deal-breaker” sins.

I do embrace as a Biblical doctrine (see About Me) that two people of the same sex having sex together is sin (a later post will detail why I think that). But the Bible more clearly and more prominently speaks of many other things much more rampant in the world and even in the church. I embrace my fellow sinners as we struggle together to mature. I resist my spiritual laziness, greed, and avarice, while my friend may be fighting lust for his neighbor’s wife. We walk together in the maturing process because we both acknowledge our behavior/thoughts as sin.

But there is a difference with homosexuality. Gay Christians  do not believe it to be sin for them to have sex together. I understand this because from their perspective the very real love they feel for their partners seems wholesome, even holy. And I actually believe that it may be just that (more on that in another post). Therefore the complete relationship including sex can’t be wrong. I get that. But to me scripture is clear on this matter, so my relationship with a gay Christian is different than with a fellow sinner.

In this area, we are not brothers struggling together to mature; we have a more fundamental disagreement. We need to be brothers seeking God’s own truth. One of us (and perhaps both) is not walking fully in harmony with God. If walking in faith is our primary goal, as opposed to “being right” or any ridiculous political agenda or fulfilling personal desire, then we both need to lay our beliefs at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to show us what is right. Neither of us can be entrenched in his position. Above all, a relationship with the Lord demands humility, and that humility demands that we seek and embrace His truth, whatever it is. For Christians, our life is NEVER about our wants and desires, opinions and interpretations; it is about committing ourselves to our savior and lord and serving him with gladness, to walk with him and fulfill his calling on our lives. Doing that requires that we know and walk according to truth.