Monthly Archives: November 2018

You never know who is watching

Yes some of us may have baked the caked for the same sex couple, but all of us should rejoice at the impact Jack has had for something higher. To find out how Jack’s faith was used listen here.

Advertisements

BreakPoint: Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Famine The Death of the Yemenis

A humanitarian crisis unlike any we’ve seen in decades is unfolding in Yemen. And it’s being caused by an “ally” of the U.S.

The assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shone a spotlight on the brutality of the Saudi regime. In particular, it has caused people to revisit their high opinion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as “MbS.”

But as bad as the assassination of Khashoggi was, there’s a much greater reason for the world, and especially the United States, to rethink its relationship with the House of Saud: I’m talking specifically about eight million Yemenis who are waiting to perish from starvation or some less-humane fate.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia intervened in what, until then, had been your standard-issue civil war.

What drove the Saudis was the role of the Houthis, a group MbS and others viewed as an Iranian proxy. As my friend Roberto Rivera pointed out a year ago, reality isn’t that tidy. While most Houthis are Shia Muslims like the Iranians, not all Houthis are.

But even if their ties with Iran were as close as the Saudis believe, it wouldn’t come close to justifying what is being done to the people of Yemen. Since 2015, the Saudis and their allies have “bombarded Yemen’s cities, blockaded Yemen’s ports, and prevented humanitarian aid from reaching millions in need.”

Their targets have included “schools, hospitals, homes, markets, factories, roads, farms, and even historical sites.” As a result, “tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children, have been killed or maimed by Saudi airstrikes.”

That’s the “red horse.” The “pale horse” is cholera, which has infected an estimated 1.2 million and killed more than 2,500.

Then there’s the “black horse,” famine. As I said at the top, eight million Yemenis are at risk for starvation. As the Financial Times put it a year ago, “without a change of heart [on the Saudis’ part], Yemenis will starve on a scale the 21st century has yet to see.”

As Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and philosopher John Gray have argued, famine in the modern world is inextricably tied to politics. It’s not a lack of food. According to a 2017 Johns Hopkins study, the amount of food Americans waste every year alone could easily feed 250 million people.

What turns a bad harvest into a humanitarian catastrophe is the actions of governments—when hunger is deployed as a weapon of war, as in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and in Ethiopia in the 1980s.

And in Yemen today.

Making matters worse is American complicity in the suffering of the Yemeni people. The United States has supported the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence sharing, logistical support, and facilitating billions of dollars in arms sales, including a laser-guided bomb that killed forty children on a school bus in August.

While the administration announced it would no longer provide in-flight air refueling, this will “likely have little impact on Saudi capabilities,” according to the Military Times.

So what can the average American Christian do? A lot, actually. First, we pray for those who are suffering. Then we can demand that our government lean on the Saudis, who need the U.S. more than we need them, to allow relief supplies to enter the country without impediment. And we can support efforts in Congress to pull the plug on fueling the Saudis’ war against Yemeni civilians.

Before I go today, I want to tell you what an enormous privilege it has been for me to be one of the voices of BreakPoint since the passing of Chuck Colson in 2012. This ministry is growing and expanding, just as I hoped it would.  I love the Colson Center and BreakPoint. Their work is so important. If BreakPoint has brought the clarity you need to make sense of the culture, and if you appreciate the distinctly Christian worldview take that we bring to the stories of our culture, please pray for this ministry. And please, give generously to The Colson Center and its BreakPoint ministry at BreakPoint.org.

For BreakPoint, and until we meet again, I’m Eric Metaxas.

Resources:

How The U.S. Fueled The Saudi War In Yemen [Infographic] 

  • Niall McCarthy | Forbes.com | November 21, 2018
Rebuking Trump, senators back effort to suspend U.S. support for Saudi-led war in Yemen

  • Karoun Demirjian, Carol Morello, John Hudson
  • Washington Post
  •  

  • November 28, 2018

Religion and the New Supreme Court

John Roberts and company can restore the original meaning of the First Amendment.

Editor’s Note: The following is the fifth in a series of articles in which Mr. Yoo and Mr. Phillips will lay out a course of constitutional restoration, pointing out areas where the Supreme Court has driven the Constitution off its rails and the ways the current Court can put it back on track. The first entry is available here, the second here, the third here, and the fourth here.

John Roberts and company can restore the original meaning of the First Amendment.

In the wake of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, religion will probably present the first test of the new Roberts Court’s commitment to the original meaning of the Bill of Rights. Religion has not become a constitutional battlefield just because conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals (though they are). Religion has not assumed legal importance solely because of the ongoing cultural conflict between traditional and secular visions of our society, either. Religion has taken center stage also because it has become the spiritual and moral refuge from an ever-expanding administrative state.

That state seeks to impose a soulless uniformity on America’s true diversity — of religions and private institutions — in its quest to mimic European welfare states. Elected politicians either have supported the effort or have found it easy to stand by and avoid accountability while the administrative state continues to advance bureaucratic visions of universal health care, welfare programs, or state-run education. Conservatives have had to retreat to the Constitution and the courts to defend the place of conscience in public life.

Their source of support comes from an astonishingly brief text. The First Amendment begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” With these few words, the Founders sought both to protect the freedom to practice religion and to keep the state from interfering with faith in a nation peopled by religious dissenters: the Puritans who settled Massachusetts, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the Catholics of Maryland, and the Baptists of Virginia. Both the free-exercise and establishment clauses, as they are now known, allowed the great diversity of religions in America to take root and flourish, even as they have died a slow death in Old Europe and much of New Asia.

Even though the main commands of the religion clauses may seem clear, the Supreme Court has distorted them for over a century. While the Roberts Court has done better than previous courts, it has yet to fully embrace their full, original meanings. In last term’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, for example, a baker refused to create a wedding cake for a gay-marriage ceremony. He justified his violation of state antidiscrimination law on the ground that it forced him to compromise his religious beliefs. Rather than take a stand on behalf of the baker’s right of free speech and free exercise of religion, the Court — in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy — instead found that an obscure Colorado state antidiscrimination agency had exhibited hostility toward the baker’s faith during a public hearing. The Court’s opinion could be read to mean that states can violate the right to freedom of religion in the future, so long as they play nice in public.

( More )

BreakPoint: Lewis, L’Engle, and the Power of Storytelling Shaping Imagination and Culture

Happy birthday to two of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.

Politics, we like to say, is most often downstream from the rest of culture. I say “most often,” because politics sometimes leads other aspects of culture. But that’s rare. Most often, politics reflects the larger culture more than shapes it.

And here’s another truth: The ideas that shape politics and culture are rarely advanced by argument. Rather, the ideas that matter most are advanced through our imaginations.

That’s why Damon of Athens wrote more than 2,000 years ago: “Give me the songs of a people, and I care not who writes its laws.” Songs touch the imagination. So do stories. Musician and novelist Andrew Peterson said it this way: “If you want someone to hear the truth, you should tell them the truth. But if you want someone to LOVE the truth, you should tell them a story.”

Today is the birthday of two great progenitors of ideas, who were Christians, and who understood the power of storytelling.

Madeline L’Engle, born on Nov. 29, 1918 or 100 years ago today, is best known for her children’s science-fantasy classic “A Wrinkle in Time.” In the book, 13-year old Meg Murray and her brother, Charles Wallace, search for their father, through time and space. Their quest, which involves encounters with many supernatural guides, has been compared to the longing all humans have for a heavenly father.

That similarity was no accident. Madeline L’Engle often described her stories as a way to illuminate spiritual matters. “Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write,” she said. “For only in such response do we find truth.” Stories, she continued, “make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”

To be clear, some of Madeline L’Engle’s ideas stray from Christian orthodoxy, and the recent film adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time,” though successful at the box office, was not faithful to the Christian ideas of the book. In fact, I don’t recommend the movie. But for a book in the tradition of great Christian fantasy writers like C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, it is hard to beat “A Wrinkle in Time.”

And speaking of Lewis, he shares Madeline L’Engle’s birthday. The great Christian writer was also born on this date in 1898, 120 years ago today. Lewis’ razor-sharp mind was often employed in defense of the Christian faith. His non-fiction work, especially books like “Mere Christianity” and “The Abolition of Man,” has stood the test of time. But as I often tell audiences, if you struggle with Lewis’ non-fiction, you can always go to Narnia. You’ll find Lewis’ ideas there, too, articulated with the power of his storytelling.

Narnia, before Aslan arrives, is described as “always winter but never Christmas,” and offers a vivid picture of what it means for a world to await redemption. And, when we meet the boy whose name was Eustace Clarence Scrubb (“and he almost deserved it”) in the opening pages of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” we realize how bad ideas can infect education and fill a culture with “men without chests.”

Lewis understood that stories can help us see truth in ways that cold, hard logic sometimes hides. “That is one of the functions of art,” he wrote, “to present what the narrow and desperately practical perspectives of real life exclude.”

The Bible, though full of stories, is more than just a collection of them. The stories in the Bible make up an overarching Story (capital “S”). It should not surprise us, then, that stories shape our hearts and minds, or that writers like Lewis and L’Engle can help us understand the true Story of the world in deeper, richer ways. Of course, we have their works available in our online book store at BreakPoint.org.

And, as we mark the birthdays of these great Christian storytellers, we pray that God will raise up many more like them in this cultural moment.

Resources:


The Chronicles of Narnia

  • C. S. Lewis | HarperCollins
Mere Christianity

  • C. S. Lewis | HarperOne
The Abolition of Man

  • C. S. Lewis | HarperOne
A Wrinkle in Time, Time Quintet #1 

  • Madeleine L’Engle | Square Fish Publishing | 2007

Do you care what others think of you

Michigan Judge Strikes Down Federal Female-Genital-Mutilation Ban

A federal judge dismissed charges Tuesday against several Michigan doctors accused of mutilating the genitals of numerous underage girls, ruling that the federal prohibition against the practice is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman argued that the 22-year-old federal law prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM), which went unused until last year, constitutes federal overreach.

“There is nothing commercial or economic about FGM,” Friedman wrote in a 28-page opinion. “FGM is not part of a larger market and it has no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce. The Commerce Clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature.”

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested in April 2017 and accused of leading a criminal conspiracy that involved multiple doctors and resulted in the mutilation of nine girls over the course of twelve years. The practice, which is universally recognized as a gross violation of human rights, is traditional among the Dawoodi Bohra, the Muslim sect to which Nagarwala and his co-conspirators belong.

 

While the judge’s ruling entirely clears four defendants in the case, including three mothers who allegedly handed their underage daughters over to Nagarwala to be mutilated, the remaining defendants still face obstruction charges.

(  More    Sad day for little girls in America. )

Church words are not the words of the world and souls are dying to hear the message many in church have

Download MP3 (right click to save)

I was teaching at a national seminar on how to communicate an unchanging Christ in our rapidly changing culture. Well, at the end of a session, a pastor from Kentucky came up to tell me his story he thought really illustrated some of what I had been saying. He said, “When I was a young man, we used to have some big tent revivals in my community. Each night an invitation was given for folks to come forward if they wanted to be, well as this country preacher would always say, ‘borned again.'” The pastor went on to describe how some of the deacons would actually go out into the audience and go row-to-row, and shall we say they were “encourage” folks to make that choice. Near the back, one of the deacons came to a young man who gave him an honest and memorable response. The deacon said, “Son, do you want to be borned again?” To which the boy said, “No.” The deacon pressed the point, “Why don’t you want to be borned again?” The young man answered in all seriousness, “Cause I’m afraid this time I’d come out as a girl!”

Why believers in Jesus finish well or don’t finish well

Audio

What will your legacy be? When you get old – and we all do – will you still have a vital, active faith in Jesus Christ?  Sadly, not all do. Dr. J. Robert Clinton has invested much of his career analyzing why people do—or don’t—finish well. He’s done a comparative study of more than 800 Christian leaders’ lives. His conclusion: “Few leaders finish well.” Clinton lists six barriers: Number 1. Finances—their use and abuse. 2. Power—its abuse. 3. Pride—unchecked, which leads to downfall. 4. Sex—illicit relationships. 5. Family—unresolved problems. 6. Plateauing—because of sin or loss of vision.

Thankfully, Dr. Clinton doesn’t stop there. He also lists five reasons why people do finish well. All five can be seen in the lives of Bill Bright, Ted Engstrom, Billy Graham, and others: Number 1. Lifetime perspective on ministry. 2. Fresh encounters with God on occasion. 3. Personal disciplines daily. 4. Lifelong learning posture. 5. Lifelong mentoring by a number of people.

I couldn’t agree more. Like Paul the apostle, I want to say, “I have finished well” [2 Timothy 4:7]. I trust you want to do the same. Together, let’s reach our world for Jesus Christ.

This is Luis Palau.

The China church in the 1960’s faced the threat of Extinction

In the 1960s the student’s of the Chinese revolution vowed to remove religion and specifically Christianity from their country. Has that happened? Listen as Ravi Zacharias recounts the threat and its outcome on today’s Thought.( Listen to it here.)

Human Trafficking

( Audio )

Kerby Anderson Although human trafficking is in the news quite often, there is still much we need to learn about this scourge in our society. That is why I invited Victor Boutros of the Human Trafficking Institute to join me on radio. His organization has put together a helpful flyer titled, “7 Things Everyone Should Know About Human Trafficking.” First, the problem is enormous. Traffickers are exploiting an estimated 24.9 million victims. That means there are more slaves in the…

Read More