Archive for December, 2009

Preparing For The New Year

This has been a very tough year for the IHRG and me.  We have fought hard in the battles we had, but it has been a struggle to keep everything going forward.  The economic crisis has meant that we have to do more on less.  It meant that we had to move some activities to next year that we wanted to do this year.

I am not discouraged however.  Already we have ended the year strong.  We have a couple of cases that are being developed, one in Norway and one in Germany.  We are working on a case in Greece that is still not ready for public discussion.  We are working to protect the rights of missionaries at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia and at the World Cup Soccer Tournament in South Africa. 

I also have the opportunity to go to Lebanon and Syria to meet with key Christian leaders there.  Please start praying now for the team as we prepare for this trip.  There are many issues facing believers in the Middle East and we want to be able to protect them as much as possible.

We are also preparing to meet with two groups of church planters in Europe in January.  We want to meet these men and women, let them know that the IHRG is there to help them if they have issues regarding their religious freedom and the right to set up and operate in Eastern and Western Europe.  This is what we do.

This is just what is before me sitting here at Christmas.  It does not include what will happen as we move into the new year and other issues unfold.  We must continue to be there.

In addition to everything listed above, we are planning to host a conference in Germany for lawyers and other Christian leaders to develop a strategic plan for moving forward protecting religious freedom in Europe. 

We are also continuing to move forward with planning for developing a jail chaplains program for the Czech Republic.

All in all you can see that the IHRG has a very ambitious agenda for the coming year.  We hope that you will be a part of our support team.  You can pray and you can help support our work through tax deductible donations made at www.ihrg.org/Donate.html.  You can also join our mailing list by requesting to be added.  Send me an email at jt1217@aol.com.

Suddenly, I Don’t Feel So Hot!

            Is anyone besides me glad to finally be getting some manner of the truth from the Global Warming Nuts?  It has been colder at my house.  Maybe we need to drive our cars more to heat up the climate so that we don’t have to wear our coats everywhere.

            I have to admit, it is tough giving up the dream of having my Georgia home become beach front property.  I guess we will still have to drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina for our traditional summer beach fun.  Now I have to live with my property values not getting spike.  Of course, this also means that I do not have to worry about hurricanes hitting the house some four hundred miles inland—so I guess it is a fair trade off.

            The trouble with the revelations of this week is that we are learning that the new religion, science is not as trustworthy as we have been lead to believe.  Remember when we were told that these folks did not have an agenda, except to find the truth and make life better for us all.

            In light of this past week’s revelations we have to ask ourselves what else we should not believe.  Maybe we should question the theory of evolution—like global warming, evolution has long been shut off from scientific debate.

            The most important thing we should to learn from this is that no one can separate their own beliefs from their science.  Also, we have learned that you can prove anything if you are willing to ignore critical facts and twist the data to your own ends.

            So, Al Gore, we apologize for judging your lifestyle in light of your ridiculous predictions for the future of our planet.  It turns out you knew more than we did and therefore there was no need to change you energy gorging lifestyle to match the one you demanded of us—the lesser folks.

            Here it is, on the Internet you invented:  Sorry Al, we will no longer judge your lifestyle—we now know that you were nuts all along and my mother always taught me to be nice to handicapped people.

Separating Culture and Church

            We live in a culture that sees a benefit in the individual over the group—at least it has been true until recently.  We seem to be going through a cultural shift that wants us to give up our individual approach to life and live for the group.

            We are also a nation that seems to believe that the Age of Enlightenment was a Christian movement.  The Declaration of Independence, that great American founding document, reeks of Enlightenment, yet it is most often used as proof of our Christian founding. 

            Therein lays the problem I see us facing today.  No where does the Bible declare that we have a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The calling of the Christian is to “lay down your life and follow me.”  One down.  Early Christians found themselves in prison, often with a death sentence over them.  Two down.

            As to the pursuit of happiness, that has never been considered a Christian principle—at least not before we got to this modern me first Christian generation.

            Not willing to stop here, I must look deeper into this “Christian” document.  The declaration does talk about ideas such as endowed by our Creator, giving the illusion of a Christian foundation.  Unfortunately, it later clears up the misunderstanding by naming that Creator as “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God.”  This sounds a lot like something more mystical than the God of the Christian Church.

            While we are busy tipping over sacred cows, let’s look at the concept that America has a special place in God’s heart and is inherently good.  This, to me, is the core of what is wrong with the American church.  We are looking to convert the lost to an American understanding of everything, including God.  Yet, God exists outside of time and space.  He is not a citizen of any one country.  He did not design the world on a model of America—in fact, America is late to the game, both our language and our culture.

            It is always a mistake to take our culture and try to fit the Gospel into it.  Our job is to take the Gospel and fit our culture into it.  Anything that does not fit must be discarded as not part of the true Gospel.

            We are not God’s special children, except that all men and women are created in the image of God and that makes us all special.  We are not immune from the problems of the world system—the last year has shown that to be true.  We are in need of God’s grace and love, before and after our conversion to Christianity.

            The only way we will become what we were created and called to be is to move away from the American approach to life and begin to live a truly Jesus centered approach to life.  I am not claiming to be there, I am merely looking at what seems to be obvious to me.  We are not living in a way that Jesus would be approve when we are living for ourselves without a thought to the world around us.

            We are also not living like Jesus would have when we are more loyal to our country than to our God.


Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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