Meditations of a christizen (christian-citizen)upon today's topics.
|I, Brother James, cultivated through my imagination and birthed via writing instruments (pen, laptop, etc) 'The Word Courier's Journal'. It is one of several literary efforts so conceived to include the "word", the mind altering, eye opening, life saving gospel of Jesus Christ into the every day conversation on those things deemed relevant to those readers who stumble upon this column. I and all other followers of the Lord are called to witness this message across the globe or at the very least to those around us. Jesus did say "Go therefore and teach all nations..." (see Matthew 28:19 KJV Holy Bible) Here lies a modest attempt to introduce the unknowing people to the Lord and immerse they who know Him in discussion with respect to His outlook on all that matters.|
|They say (whoever they are) “better late than never.” I suppose that is correct. Still, it is unfortunate that Frank Taafe did not act based upon the motto “better on time than late.” Frank Taafe for the uninformed among the few faithful readers of the ‘Word Courier’s Journal’, is a former friend and neighbor of George Zimmerman, who publicly supported him in the past. He even went so far as to cast George Zimmerman as the victim in the sordid affair of Trayvon Martin’s death.
He has now changed his stance. I discovered this recent development while looking at allchristiannews.com, a web site that reports on news of interest to those who profess faith in Jesus, the living Christ (anointed one) as Lord of their lives. Apparently, tragedies within in his own life circle have led him to look at things anew. He like Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents, have also buried a child. According to the article he lost two sons within the last two years.
He begs forgiveness from the country for not having spoken up earlier. He now accedes to the notion that Zimmerman’s acts were racially motivated. I in my particular christizen (Christian-citizen) outlook believe him to be a racist murderer. And more importantly, to our Lord the hatred alone would make him guilty of murder even if he never fired a shot.
George Zimmerman’s actions alone prove him to harbor a murderous intent. He was already traveling with a loaded gun when he encountered Trayvon Martin. (see The Color of Evil ‘Word Courier’ entry July 23, 2013) Furthermore, he decides to follow this person although he is not doing any harm to anyone or anything. He then initiates a confrontation fully knowledgeable of the advantage his loaded gun would give him in the event that Trayvon would resist attack.
I for one don’t need to read someone’s mind when presented with those facts as admitted to by the perpetrator himself.* I am not interested in his opinion of African-American males when he displays such behavior. He murdered, therefore he is a murderer. The truth is best when told on time.
* for further detail visit
-Nigeria is one of the 10 most populated countries in the world. It has nearly 175,000,000 people within its borders.
-Nigeria is a member of O.P.E.C., (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) along with three other continental African nations, Algeria, Angola and Libya.*
-The World Bank International Monetary Fund recently confirmed that Nigeria has replaced South Africa as the African nation with the largest economy. The $510 billion G.D.P. (Gross Domestic Product) places it largest in Africa and ranked 26th in the world.
We here in the United States don't always here about Nigeria as we do other large nations. I just typed this up to let my few readers know that this nation is a major player on the world scene and what happens there can influence beyond its region and throughout the world.
*See Word Courier entry "Green Eggs and Ham" with regard to biblical description of Libya's origins. Also see Genesis 10:6 Holy Bible.
The Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group based in Nigeria, kidnapped roughly 200 girls from their boarding school approximately two weeks ago. The girls literally were rudely awakened in the dark of night as armed militants carried them away from the seeming safety of their school bunks into the unknown. The mass human theft made the news but has received sparse coverage given the magnitude of the event.
Boko Haram’s stated purpose is the establishment of an Islamic theocratic state for Muslims who wish to live in one. However, the means to achieve their lofty goal is less than ideal. The mass kidnapping happened within 48 hours of a bombing in Abuja for which they gladly take credit.
Nigeria’s military apparatus doesn’t have an answer for them. Parents and other loved ones of these girls took to the forest into which the girls were last seen with their abductors. They have taken action because the Nigerian government has not responded to their satisfaction. We in the faith community here in the U.S.A. could take a cue from these Nigerian parents.
Islam is practiced by more Nigerians than any other religion. People of the Islamic creed comprise a plurality if not an outright majority of Nigeria’s citizens. The heavily Muslim north includes areas previously governed by the Sokoto Caliphate an Islamic theocracy. British colonialist seized power from them in the year 1903. Chibok, the location of the girls’ boarding school, lies within the north where Boko Haram has established a foothold.
Christians, who are fewer in number, tend to occupy the south and central parts of Nigeria. The Christian church body to which this author belongs has also established a presence in Nigeria. Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, is a Christian. The government though is not based upon Christ centered theology.
The government isn’t based upon Islamic law either and there lies the problem according to Boko Haram. They want an Islamic theocracy such as that found in Saudi Arabia and Iran. They want their brand of Islam based upon their interpretation of what is called the Sharia. This group interprets Muhammad’s acts and teaching, of which the Sharia (also called Shariah) is derived along with the Quran, to denounce western influences as against the will of Allah. The name Boko Haram itself is a regional moniker that translates to “Western education is a sin” or “Western education is forbidden.”
Christizen (Christian citizen) Outlook
It seems a thread of anti- Westernism for lack of a better word runs through many of these type groups and their sympathizers. I can understand that to a degree. The imperialist activity engaged in by European colonial empires of long ago has left its stamp on diverse places particularly in Africa. One result is African nations have artificial borders where people who are often traditional enemies find themselves within the same boundaries. A plunder of resources and talent had also taken place. I suspect a great deal of troubles on the African continent can be traced to colonialism.
However, I notice a more disturbing web of discontent among the Boko Harams of the world. They seem to object to any uplifting of females that may take place. The education of girls in particular seems to upset them. This too may well be a relic of European and American colonialism. Still, the antagonism that resonates here reminds me of that which caused the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, who raised the Taliban’s ire simply by going to school. I have no doubt that a spirit of oppression accompanied by the all so human desire to exercise control over others contaminates their souls.
The Christizens know that Godly example is what ultimately lead people to the Lord. Military, economic and other coercive means can bring about only artificial religious observance that relies upon rules and ritual rather than righteousness instead of a heart felt outreach to God.
Our leader here in the United States, President Barack Obama, has finally spoken up about this tragedy. And it appears that America will help them. I salute that with one caveat: help the Nigerian girls, leave the oil* and politics alone.
*See the following capsule entry Nigeria/Quick Facts
The map below shows the sections of Nigeria in which Boko Haram is most active:
|The Christian Coalition talks a good game. They speak of bringing America back to God. The founding fathers were theist meaning they believed in a creator but not necessarily the God of the Holy Scriptures to which the Christian Coalition adhere. Furthermore, previous ‘Word Courier’ entries have pointed out that America’s Christian deeds have not always matched its Christian doctrine.(see Tonto's Story July 7 2013 and Out of Egypt October 2012…..)
The organization use its God given and constitutionally protected right to evaluate candidates for public office and elected officials upon their adherence to biblical values. They typically review concerns about abortion, “gay rights” related topics and faith based disputes. In short, they would have us believe morality is a large part of their decision process.
The U.S. Senate recent rejection of increasing the minimum wage should be problematic to a Christian group that evaluates public officials through a moral lens. I say this in light of how the Republican Party to which they are largely affiliated and some of their favorites voted.
The minimum wage was first introduced in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 along with overtime pay protections and other reforms. The values expressed then were those who work in this great land deserve a wage that enables them to survive. The minimum wage has been periodically increased since to reflect the reality of inflation. The last time it was increased was 2007.
Today or better yet Wednesday (April 30th 2014) an attempt to increase the wage to $10.10 within 2 years and change of the law’s enactment was voted down by the Senate. The proponents of S.460* needed 60 votes to bring the bill one step closer to reality. The final vote tally was 54 in favor and 42 opposed. All but one of the opponents was Republican including Christian Coalition favorites Senators Dan Coats (IN), James Inhofe (OK), Mitch “my mission is to make President Obama a one term president” McConnell (KY) and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
The aforementioned specifically named Senators are Christian Coalition favorites. Accordingly, they should symbolize biblical values. I consider myself a learned bible student. Not an expert, but someone who knows the book when he sees it. I recall Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, Joel, Malachi, and Ezekiel to name a few who chided Israel for denying laborers just wages and other economic oppression. I also remember where James said (and I quote) “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”
The resounding rejection of raising the wage floor seems at odds with Scriptural teaching particularly on the heels of their voting themselves a raise. But of course, there are biblical people who come to mind here. One is Nathan, a prophet and an advisor to King David. The other of course is King David. However, it is King David at his lowest hour, unrepentant for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah.
Nathan told him a parable about a rich herder with a multitude of flocks who unjustly took the lone ewe owned by a poor man and his family. Nathan’s point was that God was angry about how he, David, did his fellow man a servant who devoutly followed him. God was not pleased with how the richly blessed David exploited one who served on his behalf. Similarly, the wealthy Republicans who will receive a $2800 cost of living increase in their salary in January 2015 but could not see fit to allow the people struggling to get by a simple pay raise. These are they who receive high marks from the Christian Coalition.
Ironically, one Senator who won’t receive a 100% rating from the coalition remarked about this cruel irony. Sherrod Brown, of Ohio spoke of this and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer recorded his observations. Furthermore, he of the un favored status with the “Christians” has refused the congressional health care package while the rest of us aren’t guaranteed coverage. All this from someone who went awry on the coalition’s position on the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy.
Some are materially wealthy but morally broke. Someone should remind this coalition of Christians that God is Lord of all: relationships, life and how we do those who serve us.
* S 460 is the Senate version of the proposed changes to increase the minimum wage sponsored by chiefly by Tom Harkin (D-IA) and not cosponsored by any Republicans.
|Amidst all the bad news we hear, such as Russian strong man Vladimir Putin’s imperial excursion into the affairs of Ukraine, the already historically deadly year in Chicago, (100 homicides as of Sunday April 27th)* and other such blights on the world scene, it is a welcome oasis of inspiration in a desert of desperation to hear a story with a happy ending.
Willie Myrick and his bold response to possible tragedy have recently made the news. The 10 year old suburban Atlanta boy sang and praised his way out of being held hostage by a kidnapper. He repeatedly sang lyrics to the song “Every Praise” (every praise is to our God) even as the man who kidnapped him continued to hold him captive. The perpetrator eventually tired of the lad’s singing and let him go. Praise the Lord! (just as an aside he learned that song in Sunday school)**
I contend that this incident demonstrates the reality of the spirits of the air, angels of God and of the devil. The intense praise of the almighty Jehovah, makes cause discord among the demons that drive the depraved who are driven to deliver disarray, destruction, despair and disaster upon our weary world such that it distracts and destroys those demons intent for a moment and even a season. Praise works.
It is proven that praise repels the devil, his demonic army and those people enslaved within their grasp. I bear witness to a less remarkable but still noteworthy example of this. I recall a Sunday (or Friday) night service in the inner city (Chicago) whereby a drunken and/or drugged man interrupted our service with his abusive tone and language. The young minister, a St. Louis native, who was leading the service, decided to out shout the man. Fortunately, one of our matrons stood up and began again praising in song. It drove that person (and his demons) away.
I can’t help but wonder if the most brilliant display of praise ever recorded was part of young Mr. Myrick’s Sunday school lesson. I refer to the time Jehoshaphat, a Godly king of Judah, after having conferred with the prophet and readying the people with a nationwide prayer and fast, summoned the choir to encounter the enemy armies instead of the military.
The bible says that “…he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. “ (see II Chronicles 20:21 Holy Bible KJV) The choir went out to the battlefield and the military of the combined three nations attacking them turned upon one another and slaughtered themselves. Not a shot fired nor a sword swung by the people of God
It is of no wonder that Bishop Hezekiah Walker, lead singer of “Every Praise” and director of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Choir practices the tenants of prayer, preaching and praise. And, I can’t help but imagine that when and if Willie Myrick’s Sunday school comes across that history concerning King Jehoshaphat, he will think to himself as he ponders the lesson, “I know the feeling.”
*www.redeyechicago.com › Redeye statistics recorded by the Chicago Tribune's transit paper.
** Yes, it’s a shameless plug, but I do have a poem in honor of Sunday school on this web page. It’s called “Ode to a Sunday School Teacher”
|Tonight’s entry is directed towards those who identify themselves as believers in Christ Jesus and who expect to spend all eternity with him. I penned the following sentence in a previous ‘Word Courier’ entry: The infiltrations of heretical beliefs violate the believers’ covenant with the Lord. (see WC entry Cultural Contamination of the Christ Covenant –July 13,2012) I wrote then and still contend now that we as believers must be weary of mingling in the mindset of the covenant less world.
The motivation for tonight’s entry arrived via a morning news program of which I happened to glance between making preparations for Resurrection Sunday* morning service and maintaining the cleanliness of my abode. The pundits there spoke of the country’s changing views towards same sex relationships. They noted that polls throughout the years indicate a definite increase in the approval of such things. We as a society have changed our perspective on many issues through the years. Often, we have cast down trends and traditions that deserved a proper burial.
Trends and traditions come and go. However, the truth is eternal. The truth is not poll based. It matters not what the American public thinks about gay “marriage”, regardless of when that opinion is expressed. Perhaps most Americans would reject the concept 50, 30 or even 20 years ago. And, undoubtedly more Americans approve of this now. Whatever the percentages, this isn’t important. The Bible, the Word of God denounces such behavior 100%. (see Leviticus 18:22-24, 1 Corinthians 6:9)
Jesus said “…the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 KJV Holy Bible) not the trend or the tradition shall make you free. Those who will be “saved” and “freed” from eternal damnation will only be free from such strife by the truth. The truth does not change to make convenient for some who want to live in a manner that is repeatedly, expressly and lucidly disapproved of by God. Many among us can refer to this as bigotry if they so desire but it doesn’t change the truth. Every man, woman and child on this planet can say yes that something is right but if God is the only one that says that it’s wrong, then it’s wrong.
Who hath believed our report? The question posed by Isaiah when foretelling the grief Jesus would endure still resonates today. The New Testament alludes to this inquiry as it relates too many during Jesus ministry who did not believe although they had witnessed His miracles. (see John 12:38) The reports out may say America accepts gay “marriage”, but the Lord’s report says otherwise.
* I refer to that holy day that is more popularly known as Easter.
The junior high school lunch hour provides an anthropological Mecca as a location with which to observe interactions between people. The most impressive lunch time lesson that I received about human relationships did not take place in the cafeteria. Instead, it happened at a counselor’s office.
I met my childhood best friend, Richard while we were in the 6th grade. We did not click right away. However, one spring Saturday we ran into each other at the “Y”, also known as the Y.M.C.A. Thereafter, we hung out. We talked a lot usually about music, girls, and our coveted “baddest” rankings where we discussed what boy would win in a fight against another. In addition, playing Saturday baseball games at the “Y” provided a staple of our summers. Ah the good ole days. But, I digress.
I was a brown bagger, one who brought my lunch with me to school. Richard, however, ate the hot meals offered by the school. Typically, lunch carrying kids would get to the tables first because they did not wait in line. It was by sheer chance or on occasion that we sat together at lunch. Pizza day was different. We both ate the hot meal when pizza was served.
1 Lesson, 2 Lunches
The Lord used pizza to prove a point. I will expound. The cafeteria resided on the first floor whereas the lockers were stationed on the second and third floors. One fine day, Richard found himself in a predicament. He had not taken his books to his higher level locker as students started lining up. Ah, but he had a friend. We just sauntered over to Mr. Schaefer’s office. Richard asked the friendly school counselor if he could keep his books in the office. The school office pleasantly agreed and then we were off to lunch featuring the prized pizza.
Flash forward to a future pizza day. It was my turn to be late. In fact, I wasn’t even initially late. I thought I’d be slick and do same thing Richard did and just ask nice Mr. Schaefer to keep my books in his office. He wasn’t so nice to me. He was polite, didn’t yell or anything, but he said no. Furthermore, he lectured me about how it was my responsibility to take my books to my locker etc etc. The speech lasted so long I barely made it to lunch on time. What was the difference between Richard and I?
Richard earned the trust of the school counselor. He proved himself dependable doing errands for the school official. He was consistent and displayed an attitude of gratitude. Me, I was some boy he didn’t know from Adam. I was an unknown, unheard of somebody asking a favor of him. It’s all about the value of relationship, Richard had it and I didn’t.
New Lease on Life
Hezekiah, a good king of Judah, the Hebrew’s southern nation, similarly had this kind of trust with the Lord. I am not saying that the Lord does favors by us because we deserve these. As the Word says salvation is by grace lest any man boast. However, God undoubtedly responds better to some than others.
Hezekiah in his old age was feeling it. He fell ill. One day Isaiah the prophet delivered a message to him from the Lord. He said, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.” (2 Kings 20;1) Hezekiah was saddened by this. He wept as he prayed. He also reminded God of his well established record as a faithful servant. I contend that God did not respond to the weeping so much as he did the record. Relationship matters. Hezekiah got his prayer through, Isaiah returned with good news announcing 15 more years of life and to boot the Lord displayed a miracle as proof of his promise. (see 2 Kings 20:1-11)
Lest we forget, Hezekiah had something to talk about when he read his record. The Scriptures say that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” (see 2 Kings 18:3) He rid the country of idol like influences not the least of which was the brass serpent that hailed back to Moses day. He established himself. Apparently, he already knew the value of relationship before his new lease on life. I wonder if he learned this back when he was in the biblical era equivalent of junior high. Just saying.
|World Vision, the renowned Christian charity, has caused uproar recently with its personnel decisions. World Vision is better known for its generous work in world communities. However, who they will or will not hire put them in the spotlight last week.
The Decision 1
World Vision President Richard Stearns announced to Christianity Today on Monday (3/24/2014) that they were going to change company policy and hire legally married “Christians” involved in same sex relationships. The announcement caused a vociferous reaction from many in the Christian community. In fact, many were angered to the point of threatening to withdraw financial support. The ministry’s contention that the new staffing policy was not an endorsement to gay marriage fell on deaf ears.
The Decision 2
Fortunately, World Vision had a change of heart. The giving ministry’s leader, Richard Stearns reportedly said “we’re asking forgiveness for that mistake.” In addition he said they (the leadership, board etc) concluded that the “change was not consistent with our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.” The u-turn took place no later than Wednesday (3/26/2014) only two days later.
World Vision explicitly states that theirs is a ministry that serves all people, Christians and non-Christians alike. They do not discriminate. Furthermore, theirs is a record dating back more than 60 years of helping those who have need in the name of Jesus Christ. I myself have donated to their efforts on occasion. Ouch! ( Sorry,the outburst came from bone fracture in my arm. That came from breaking my arm while patting myself on the back with that last statement) I must admit my contributions have always or nearly always come about during the Christmas season.
The thing I like about World Vision is that they give you the opportunity to help particular people in a specific way. The chance to give towards a family’s need for livestock, poultry, and other resources are made available through them. Also, they offer the chance to give towards capital developments like irrigation and other infrastructure improvements.
They relieve a lot of this world’s suffering. As such, they should be commended. However, we must keep in mind when doing the Master’s work that we represent…the Master. The Scriptures represent the expressed word of the God whom we serve. A task of serving and saving the lost however beneficial must not leap ahead of the very Lord who gives us that task.
The Bible makes clear God’s view of people in the kind of relationships with others of the same sex that he reserved for man and woman. All good things come from above. It’s the Gospel and its great personality in the form of Jesus Christ who is delivering so many of the people World Vision serves of their distress. We can not separate church work from the Head of the Church. To be perfectly honest, much of this world’s ills are a result of the sin from which Jesus intends to deliver us. It is a dangerous precedent to employ a policy directly contrary to the Word of God, while doing His work.
I would not go so far as to simply stop contributing to them because of the decision 1 spoken of earlier. I would at least have to think about it. Someone will always do something to which we don’t agree. We can’t disown family every time we disagree on something. Nor should we change our place of worship whenever something isn’t as we want. Still, I do see some peoples point when they considered taking away their donations. But lets forgive this temporary lapse of judgment and move on. They do good work. I’d go so far as to say they do God work.
|"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" Matthew 17:21
The Gospels of Matthew (17:14-21) and Mark (9:14-29) document an episode during our Lord’s ministry in which Jesus cast out a demonic spirit that had tormented a boy for much of his life. Mark’s account of the boy’s suffering describes behavior that today’s audience would associate with an epileptic seizure. (see Mark 9:20) The two narratives concur when speaking of how demon possession nearly cost the lad his life. (see Matthew 17:15 and Mark 9:22) Matthew and Mark also make note of the disciples’ failure to rid him of the evil spirit.
The disciples of course were curious as to why their attempts fell short. Jesus responded that this stronghold was so severe that it required a spiritual preparation, prayer and fasting, with which to loosen its grip. (see above Matthew 17:21 also Mark 9:29)
Prayer and fasting are the keys for us mere mortals to break spiritual strongholds. The combination of these empowerment devices have always been and continue as the means to attack spiritual adversaries. The wickedness that is spiritual will eventually display itself in the natural. To that end, the main focus of my ‘Good Friday Fast’* is to destroy the yoke.
I have written about the yoke in previous ‘Word Courier’ entries. (see “Last of the Fast” 8/31/13 and “The Yoke is no Joke” 8/2/13) The yoke that I speak of, my yoke, is not the dramatic terrible thing that beset the aforementioned boy. Yet, it is still serious. It takes both prayer and fasting to counter my own yoke as with any other hindrance to growth towards the divine image of Jesus Christ and fulfillment of God’s will for any believer. As a result, this fast as all fast that I engage in concentrates on yoke breaking.
When I set out to bust yokes I will call on the Lord. God is to whom I will call. When I set out to bust yokes,I need prayer and fasting, the yoke busters. These are what I will call on. When it’s time to destroy the yoke, what am I going to call? Yoke Busters!
*The ‘Good Friday Fast’ is a personal fast of which I’ve taken part since 2004. I fast from certain food and drink offerings for the entire time 40 days until 6:00 p.m. of Good Friday night.