Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Does Love Overcome Hate?

We Christians are called to love our enemies and pray for them. That is a very difficult thing to do when the enemies are real, very close to us and out to kill us. A similar question is to be considered by Americans who believe in freedom of faith and practice of that faith when members of a particular faith are dedicated to war against everyone who does not agree with them. These two issues overlap with each other as we face radical Islam.

I suggest that you read an
written by a former member of a Muslim jihadist terror group in England. He wrote it just after some medical doctors were arrested for trying to kill as many infidels as possible. Many observers were extremely puzzled by the fact that medicals doctors trained in saving lives were actually involved in taking lives.

This man left the terror group when it occurred to him that they were mindless killers and he had a pang of conscience. He does not answer the question about how we Christians need to respond to terrorists but he does lay out why they hate us and it has nothing to do with America's foreign policies.

This article may also help us understand some of the possible motivations of the people promoting the mosque in New York. I am sure you will think more deeply about the Muslim Problem after you read the article.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mr. Obama's Statement of Faith in Christ

I grew up in a small church in Illinois where the tradition was to make a "Public Confession of faith". It was a regular experience for adults as well as kids to say something like this: "I was saved when I was fifteen years old and baptized in the Casey Creek right then."

My friends from the Holiness Tradition might say: "I was saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost when I was thirty years old." Testimonies were as an important part of our Evangelical culture as crossing themselves before a meal was to my Roman Catholic friends.

Why is there so much controversy among Christians about the faith of Mr. Obama? There may be several reasons but, in my view, it is not helpful for anyone, but especially for Christians, to suggest he is a Muslim. In fact, it is harmful. Why? it contradicts our long held practice of accepting a person's word about his or her faith and it makes us look like judgmental bigots rather than fruit inspectors.

In an interview with Christianity Today in January 2008, Mr. Obama talked about his belief in Jesus Christ.

“I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn’t ‘fall out in church’ as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn’t want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.”

This testimony certainly sounds authentic and sincere. I know that some of us do not believe a word of it because we cannot believe any politician. Others disbelieve because they say his policies are contrary to the Christian faith. Others disbelieve because of his biological father's heritage and his childhood.

But conversion is a long tradition with us Evangelicals. Of all groups we need to accept change in a person's life. I disagree with much of Mr. Obama's politics but it is not up to me to judge that he is not a Christian. Why not celebrate it in his life?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We Can Win 25 Grand

With your help, Sweeten Life Systems can win $25,000.00 plus other great prizes. We need your help to win. We have kicked off a new aspect of our ministry that falls squarely within our mission of "Building a lifetime of great relationships"(R)

We received a generous grant to do an in depth research study on the concerns, stresses, insights and conflicts of families with Special Needs kids. The research interviews are completed as is our grant so we need more money to carry out the Action Steps.

We have entered a great contest sponsored by Cincinnati Innovates. One of the ways they judge an entry is by "Fan Voting". Will you be our fan? You can go to their web and vote daily for us. So, please log in and vote for our entry tight now as well as tomorrow and Tuesday, and Wednesday, etc.

After you log into Cincinnati Innovates, look for Special Life Skills and read all about our project. Then, vote YES for Sweeten Life-Special Life Skills!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is Mr. Obama A Christian?

The furor is raging in America and the world about Mr. Obama's faith. Some believe that he is a Muslim and others believe that since he claims to be a Christian and that he attended a Christian Church for 22 years he is of the Christian faith.

I can see how people are confused about it because the Muslim faith has some rules and traditions that are very different from Christianity, Judaism and Eastern religions. In this story from The New York Times, a paper very friendly to Mr. Obama, wrote a very learned and in depth article about this issue. It follows below.

May 12, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
President Apostate?

Chevy Chase, Md.

BARACK OBAMA has emerged as a classic example of charismatic leadership — a figure upon whom others project their own hopes and desires. The resulting emotional intensity adds greatly to the more conventional strengths of the well-organized Obama campaign, and it has certainly sufficed to overcome the formidable initial advantages of Senator Hillary Clinton.

One danger of such charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.

This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama’s election would raise America’s esteem in Africa — indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father’s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.

But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)

It is true that the criminal codes in most Muslim countries do not mandate execution for apostasy (although a law doing exactly that is pending before Iran’s Parliament and in two Malaysian states). But as a practical matter, in very few Islamic countries do the governments have sufficient authority to resist demands for the punishment of apostates at the hands of religious authorities.

For example, in Iran in 1994 the intervention of Pope John Paul II and others won a Christian convert a last-minute reprieve, but the man was abducted and killed shortly after his release. Likewise, in 2006 in Afghanistan, a Christian convert had to be declared insane to prevent his execution, and he was still forced to flee to Italy.

Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.

At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.

Edward N. Luttwak, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is the author of “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Remember, I did not say this or claim he is a Muslim. I take him at his word that he is a Christian. But Mr. Luttwak shows why many people are confused.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010