Death of Christians in the Middle East

Christians in the Middle East

Christians in the Middle East and the state of Israel are similarly under attack, recently from the ‘Caliphate’ and from western governments and organisations. While Hamas, the terrorist organisation that joined with Iran and vowed the total annihilation of Israel launch another violent protest against the Jewish state. Interestingly western governments, the United Nations, Europe, and Britain being among the most vocal in condemning Israel for Palestinian death. The tragedy is even starker as Christians living in lands formerly under the control of the ‘Caliphate’ have been betrayed by many in these same Western government and international organisations. It’s a fact that governments pay lip service or ignored the tragic fate of Christians in Middle Eastern states.

Another unconcealed heartbreak, is the so-called churches in the west, Bishops of international renown who were often too indifferent to condemn the persecution of Christians in Iraq, Syria and part of Turkey. Complicit likewise is the western media that acted as if they considered these Christians to be agents of expansionism who deserved to be purged from the Middle East. These media houses and correspondents have always reported from the Palestinian side of the dispute and vocally condemned Israel for the violence, while giving Hamas the freedom to attack a state that historically was banished and for many centuries kept from their lands by Arabic expansionism, Islam under Saladin and the Ottoman (Turks) Empire.

The nation of Israel have to be fighting for daily survival and regular protection of itself against terrorist organisations and western governments that always lay blame at their feet. Complicit likewise is the so-called ‘human rights’ organizations abandoned Israel and Christians but, focuses on Palestinians death. Western capitals were not willing to give sanctuary to Jews even when Hitler was murdering millions in gas chambers. The same way these western governments was not willing to give sanctuary to Christians when ISIS murdered approximately 1,131 of them and destroyed or damaged 125 of their churches. The west is under indictment for the crimes of neglect against Jews and Christians. Western governments must now and with speed launch a rescue ship and set aside adequate funds to help Christians rebuild their lives in the lands where their people were martyred by Islamic fundamentalists. A similar cry must go out for western states and organisations to stop the flagrant unabated prejudice against the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

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Spiritual Gifts – Church Reformation, Part 2.

 

Partners,

Continuing from where we left off last time on the issue of Spiritual gift theme. As you will have remembered the arguments are that spiritually, the international church has misapplied the gifts distribution. Samuel went to Jessie’s house to appoint a king over Israel, but he went ahead of God and was looking on the outward appearance of the sons of Jessie. Each of the ones Samuel chose, was rejected by God because, he was not the one God wanted. Man does not see like God sees. When God told him the difference between man and God in leadership choice, Samuel realised it was God who choose. Like Samuel, the church ignores the Holy Spirit role in gifts distribution, and continue to appoint whomever they feel is fit and proper for office. This is so because the church has fallen, biblical ignorance and spiritual blindness so is wondering around like in a drunken stupor. Even more she is wounded, limping along like a wounded pet. She prays often, but no healing comes, no deliverance, she is ineffective! So she wished and hoped, waiting that change will come eventually. She is aware that we are struggling, and if God should arrive now, she is in trouble as many will be lost. However, change will not come until the right steps are taken to give the Holy Spirt its rightful place and opt for the gifted in areas of the church. People with spiritual vision are praying and hoping for redemption, and freedom from self-propelled men now in charge of the modern church.

 

 

 

The modern church is not at the apostles’ spiritual high level and operating below par at a mere 10 percent standards. At this rate she probably will not recover for the next two to three generations. This so because biblical precepts, on church administration and leadership gifts has been trampled under feet. It is operating under the rule of men, decisions taken by church administrators, based on feelings and vested interest, without biblical consultation, and standards. So because people are operating outside their gifts, or because basic gift identity and leadership training is lacking. Present church leadership does not affect events, which are hallmarks of a good leader. But instead responds only when serious situation develops, and not immediate but several months down the line. By which time it is either too late, and comes after a split. This purely for lack of vision and the spiritually gifted in charge.  The Jamaican saying, “a we run things, things no run we”, is not their motto. Many will attend leadership or pastoral seminars, their weaknesses open up and laid bare before them even to the point of embarrassment, but will return to their home churches and continue the same way as before.

 

 Without vision the people perish! This most sacred, powerful and important institution is being govern by headstrong men, those who are in the wrong gift position, and lacks training in leadership and church administration. The weakness has been blatantly obvious in the worldwide body, but many churches has taken and are taking steps to stop the slide and remedy the situation. Limited progress is visible in Europe and on the continent of Africa, Jamaica and the Caribbean where their boards has called a moratorium on leadership appointments until training is pursued. They are beginning to train the new ministers for office, which has been done for centuries in north and South America, and growth is taken place. However, it too is relative but at least something is happening. Once more even this approach seems imperfect, because very little actual steps are being taken to identify and chose the gifted. Very few conduct a test to identify the gifts among the applicants before training is pursued. If one does not have the gift, even training and appointing will achieve limited success.

 

 

 

The church is in the docks, under indictment for rejecting and undermining the Holy Spirit role in selecting the order of church administration and leadership. Jesus Christ is the prosecuting attorney, His blood becomes the proclamation voice for justice. God the righteous judge and head of the international church court of justice, is presiding. There is no defence! The verdict is issued – the church is declared Guilty of all the charges levelled against her. Guilty of abusing and ignoring the spirits role in gifts distribution and office appointment. Guilty of misapplication and the mismanagement of the church administrative process. But there is a note of caution and advice. The church can change and will change, but not with the present generation of leaders. It has been said, that the most important generation, is the next, and not the present one. The reasons why we have to set systems in order, leave good examples for them to follow. Or the next generation will look back and curse us for not doing the right things.

 

 

 

This abuse is blatant everywhere, but in North America, the Baptist movement is just a case in point. Although the movement have many colleges, universities and institution of learning that prepares and train its leaders for office, it has a tendency to place training before being gift tested. So the system is open to abuse, because anybody who show an interest and may be doing it for the wrong reasons, can be trained without the spirits influence. There is also a segment where many people who are appointed to senior offices, bishops, pastors, etc. are done on the basis of their singing abilities, or have been international known gospel artist. Then there are the others who have become reverend, not because they have been spiritually gifted and trained, has never taken a divinity or theological course, but on the basis that they are talented singers. Unfortunately this trend has spread far beyond the borders of north America but has captivated the interests of many churches internationally, as one just have to be a great singer, to be appointed to a leadership role. As soon as you can hold a note, you are elevated and placed in church governance roles. Are they gifted or are they talented singers and where is the Holy Spirit in these appointments? God help us because singing is not in the gift list Paul identified and listed in (Rom.12, 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4)? So singing ability should not be the basis on which church leaderships are appointed.

 

The modern church, has rebelled against the Holy Spirit, and is being run by self-propelled, money grabbing, wealth accumulation, ego driven, power hungry despots that leads only to ruin. They have no desire to uplift or advance the church, but for the sound of their own voices, and their personal and self-interest. They preach the get rich gospel, live in big mansions, get about in chauffer driven cars and private jets, forgetting Christ humble status, He said, “fox have holes, birds has nest, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head” (Lk. 9: 58). In the modern church it is money and power that grants influence over many things. Paul’s response, to the present situation would be, “shall I praise you in this? I praise you not! Because you by your personal interest and blinded ambitions has turned God’s church into a den of thieves”.

 

 

 

Cosmetic changes can be seen in many places, but Europe is a problem that either cannot or will not be solved, though training institutions are being set up, this is only a beginning. When the weakness is identified, some think you have personal vendetta, which is miles from the truth. It is definitely about the organisational systems, and the British establishment is reluctant to change and therefore out in the cold. It lacks the vision to take the necessary steps for church development and growth. Digging in its heels, dragging its feet and would appear reluctant to make changes, so out of touch. We come this far and it is too late to change, is their motto. Could this mean that we are in denial? That the present leadership is lacking biblical knowledge, and understanding? Failing to see, is blind to the biblical process of gift identity and leadership training? It’s everyone’s guess and one have no alternative but to conclude that they reject the biblical standards having lost direction as salt lost savour. Could it be that only a few has taken a gift test, and know what their spiritual gifts are, but unwilling to advance their training? That they will recognise they do not belong in a socially rewarding role and not a spiritual one, so are too scared to take a test? Or because just one or at the most two of the leadership recognise that they have the proper leadership gifts for the position they hold? That they lacks appropriate training, and too ashamed to admit it? Maybe because they will lose their public image and therefore loose face? Could this be a lack of knowledge and understanding or could it be a pride thing for many or all of them? Remember, pride goes before a fall. It is clear they still are allowing themselves to be dictated to by a minority of older folks, some even in pastoral roles, probably on the board, who still are claiming, ‘Church of God, or even Christian leaders don’t train, or go to college’ because? ‘The Holy Ghost train them’. This statement is nothing short of lack of biblical knowledge and spiritual vision. With only one of the members of the executive leadership has any theological training, and zero has any training in church leadership and administration, it lacks bite, authority and effectiveness. The lack of skilled, competent and erudite management can be seen in some of its most recent decisions, and smells foul play. It’s almost resemblance to Satan taking up a seat or is standing up like a man in the office of power in the church in England, dictating the pace and blocking progress. Only Satan benefits when there are no adequately biblically trained leadership and gifted people with management skills in church governance to bring about change and carry the organisation forward. They cannot see that without training, even understanding that if this was the way the Holy Spirit operate, they would not be so lacking in capability. Yet, they have so much spirit, ‘Hallelujah’ (not a bad thing) shouting being the high mark of their spiritual capability, but cannot see the obvious failures. How then did we the international church get the Holy Spirit gifts so wrong?

 

 

 

Christ spent 3 ½ years teaching and training his disciples and when they were trained He sent them out two by two, this is biblical. The modern church in appointing men to the office and then train them, may also be doing it backward. Much like putting plaster over a weeping wound, because the damage is already half done. Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted is a waste of time. It should be gift identity first then training. Less than half the British church leadership has gone through spiritual gift testing, or leadership training, and possibly will not pass the gifts test for the office they hold! If the leadership is brave enough to call for a gift test today and to see who qualify to hold the office they are given?  If they pass the test, then see who have taken a training course? How can any leader be in a role and not be able to develop training material to train those whose souls they are watching over? Read again the gifts list of 1 Corinthian 12, and examine carefully why the gifts are given. It is for the unity of the church, the education and equipping of the workers, the body of Christ. If the leaders have no gift, no training how do they train others?

 

 

 

I have travelled extensively and whenever folks from other fields ask where I am from and I told them, their heads bow, they farrow their brows, they drop their heads and look down with disappointment. They have little apart from the doctrine to commend the British church for. They will say that the message is sound but it lacks the trained people to carry or proclaim it. On an airplane across the Atlantic a man told me, ‘you need to train your leaders!’ Why would so many people know about us but not attending our congregations? They are not oblivious to the weaknesses that pervades the leadership! However, over the years whenever I mention this, I am rebuked for critiquing the leadership. If anyone, advise that the entire British leadership resign and they make a new start, you will be side-lined and ignored, even shunned as one who means the church no good. Yet examine for yourselves, who do you think mean the church well, the men who shut their eyes to the blatant weaknesses, age old problems that needed to be rectified, and claiming that all is well? Or is it the man who identify and point out the weaknesses, and try to give biblical advice so they are corrected? When the prophets of Israel points out failings, i.e. Jeremiah, was he not beaten, and shunned, even labelled as the troubler of Israel? Many leaders in Europe that you will speak to, will admit that they see the problem. They will talk about in private, but are too spineless to speak to the broader leadership. Because the one who break ranks, the one who aired it publicly will be classed as a troubler of the church. However, we must think that God wants the church to change, where the Holy Spirit choose the leaders, where the church is ready to accommodate new comers, gifted and trained people who can see it revive and to help it grow.

 

 

 

The modern church still in 2018 needs reformation of its systems and functions, but who will reorganise and bell the cat? We still believe that it is church boards, organisation or institutions of learning (Colleges/Universities), appoints people to positions in the church. That task is solely the Holy Spirit (Rom 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4). The church has a duty to identify the gifted, train and appoint, but it is so packed with cronyism that God has to intervene, to change things. The modern church is under indictment! Many of us knew of the Great Reformation, even know some of the reformers names. But must be forgiven if we think that the reformation ended when they died. The Reformation, specifically referred to as the Protestant Reformation, was a schism in Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe. One might ask why reformation matters, and whether it matters to us this side of modernity. Because it happened approximately 500 years ago, why does anything that old be relevant today! Because this is the age of science and technology where we have knowledge that far surpasses anything in the past, let alone 500 years ago. It is as good as prehistoric! And because it concerned religious creed, and we live in a secular age, surely it is not necessary. Of course, many people still believe in God, but no-one actually thinks that religion is important any more. Yes it may have relevance for us in our personal and private lives, but there is no influence at the level of government or decision-making. Surely what a German monk kicked off in the church 500 years ago cannot possibly be of any significance today.

 

 

 

The fact that The Reformation is old and faith cannot be denied and yet I want to show you now that it is incredibly relevant to us today. Indeed, without this Reformation our modern societies would look extremely different in 2018, and we would certainly not have the freedom and the prosperity that we enjoy. More importantly, without the Reformation, we would still be under a dark and oppressive regime that uses the fear of death and judgment to persuade people into conformity, rather than having free access to a gospel message that sets the individual free from those fears for time and eternity.

 

 

 

Yes reformation is needed too in the British leadership. Just two board members need to stand up, break ranks, and call for reformation. Say enough of this kind of behaviour, and call for an end to unbiblical practices. Shout and let their voices heard across the country, even call a solemn assembly like the prophet Joel, change would come. If they, ask the church to put out a moratorium on leadership appointment and ask the Americans for help in setting up a system. Then do the obvious, gift test the potential leaders, and train them. For at the moment anyone can start a group, and because they set it up, they want to be the leader, and church obliged. So, stating unequivocally, that no new appoint will be made to leadership, until a workable framework is established. Where the spiritually gifted are identified, and the necessary training sought, given or acquired before appointment to office. If “a week is a long time in politics” really when political storm in threatening, and trouble is on the horizon. Think about, ten, twenty, thirty years, that is a long time to try and affect change anywhere let alone in a spiritual organisation. Here only small probably insignificant voices are expressing concerns. We are in the minority, and sometimes it feels like we are alone crying, in the wilderness and shouting for vicissitudes in the British establishment. At the risk of being ostracized, having one’s head spiritually detached, the people must rise up to the challenge. Ask every church leader you know in Britain, to write his ‘gift identity and training’ goal down and give it pride of place on the bookshelf of their lives, where it can be seen often. Or place it on our bedside table where we can see it before we go to bed at night or as we awake in the morning to face the new day. So that we never again, forget!

 

 

 

This is not a goal for now, but for the rest of, our natural lives. It must be, in all good conscience and God given ability, which we will all commit to a gift test in the world church. Some of us has done it already and know where they stand and may not need to do it again, but need training to develop. Others who haven’t should, just to see and determine what our gifts are. Then enter into training to develop our ability, and continue training throughout the life of our ministry. That is the only way that we will know where God wants us. If it turns out you were in the right role all along, after the test, that’s a feather in your cap. Having the gift identified is only the first step though, we need training to effectively administer in the role. What it then means is that we need a preparation regime, so we are fully equipped to effectively function in the office we are appointed to. Further and in addition, make a personal commitment to take a course in theology or divinity, knowledge and wisdom is key. Remember this, not everybody will see or even appreciate your goals. People who lacks spiritual vision and who are unable to seek educational development becomes an enemy. They are Satan’s implants designed to hold back and restrict the performance and growth of the church. They will put obstacles in your way to upset you, put you off, to change your mind, tell you it is not necessary, even tell you, you can’t do it. Some days you will even get sick of seeing your goal list, especially if you have not taken a first step to achieve it. Other days you will be reminded that either you are doing great or maybe you need to pick up the pace a little.

 

 

 

As labourers in God’s vineyard, ask God what is our purpose and find it putting God first, ahead of all other plans or goals. Ask Him to help us identify our gift/s, and what is the training that we need to function effectively and perform it? As since we at one time or another, by watching others perform, come to love or desire a certain gift ministry, but that does not mean that’s where God wants us! God create the blue print, and effected it through the gift of His Son, so He knows where everyone fits in the body of Christ Gifts are none given willy nilly, like office for rent apply within, when I run our you run in, kind of a operation. Without the right foundation a building topple, a block laid out of line will heap of problems for a building inspector. God wrote the blueprint for the church, and is its inspector therefore, is not disorganised, nor did He leave it for church leaders to place people that they think fits an opening. People mostly are drawn to the more demonstrable, i.e. preaching, pastoral, teaching etc. the more in your face gifts role, and even if they don’t qualify, they pursue it. Many when they cannot get a leadership role, will split from their present church and starts something just because they wants to be a leader. Many ‘wannabies’, people starts churches because they want to handle the money, church ownership can be a lucrative business depending on the city you are in. Some even use Paul’s split from Barnabas as a reason to justify their actions. But does God gave sanctions or justification to schisms?

 

 

 

Ministry partners, Britain is currently the un reluctant link for change and reformation in the Church of God family worldwide. Every other country or nation of believers has moved or is moving towards a gifted and trained leadership. Change will not come with the present leadership, because most of us are without the necessary gift for leadership and follow up training regime. However, there is hope for the future, maybe the next or a few generation down the line, but with a new set of leaders, it will happen. I know I will not be around to see it, and many of you reading this may not be around either! Nevertheless, I hope that you make your plans to achieve your goal beginning in 2018, if you are not gift identified and already trained. Or make 2018 the year when you determine that you will start out on the road to get gift tested, get trained and achieve your biblically appointed Holy Spirit influenced goals.

 

Love, Joy, Peace in Jesus,

 

Victor

 

Ministry Partner

 

Spiritual Gifts – Church Reformation, Part 1.

Dear Ministry partners,
This is a long personal from the heart, and presented in a rough draft, but will be presented in a more condensed article format later. Nonetheless it is worth the read and you will find it an eye opener if you have not seen it this way before, but try and find the time to read it. Likewise, I hope that when you read it, you would have already many years ago determine what it is you wanted out of your spirit led life and went for it! If you haven’t yet decided, what are you waiting for? Time waits for no man is an overused cliché, but truth are naturally that way! Whatever is the achievement you want to put on the mantelpiece of your life depends on many factors. Of vital importance though, make shore it is the will of God for you. Likewise and very importantly too, is that time and chances happens to us all.
It is an acceptable fact that if God created the universe and mankind within it, that He knows our bodies, inside out, every bones, every sinews, every vain that circulate blood through us. He knows humanity completely, personally and intimately. He knows our beginning and our ending, because man’s occupation of the earth and allotted time was planned for him from before the beginning of creation. God by planning a Spiritual Kingdom for His Son, drew the blueprint, designed the shape and form, organised the necessary elements, the parts that would make up the building block, then set things in motion by laying the foundation of the world, and institute man that would be the centrepiece of His creation. God planned the activities of man that would culminate in the establishment of the Kingdom for Christ, before the foundations of the world was laid. He knew that for man to fully accomplish his incredible human potential, he needs assistance, as the enemy he would eventually encounter, Satan, is an experience fighter. Mankind on his own does not stand a chance against him, so God pledged him help, the Holy Spirit, as his rescuer, guide and coach, a comforter through his life journey to the Kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ. God promised “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2: 28-29 NIV). Prior to this, Old Testament believers were empowered with the Holy Spirit selectively, now God is promising liberal out pouring. It’s not for the few, but ‘on all people’ for the many believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus repeated this promise of the father to His followers, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1: 4-5).
After the reassurance of Christ of the Holy Spirit coming was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2: 1-4). The mass gathering of people in Jerusalem from all over the world, saw this strange phenomenon and were amazed, but Peter stood up and address the crowd, in order to put their mind at ease. “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’ (Vs: 14-17). However, many if not all faith groups has overlooked or ignored this most important factor in the life of the church making it necessary for reformation. That it is the Holy Spirit who distribute gifts to the Body of Christ! Therefore it is the Holy Spirit order of church leadership and administration that man should follow.
A church ministry research institute done in America, found only 2 percent of church leaders are functioning in their Holy Spirit gifted place of ministry. 98 percent of leaders then are out of simcha with the Holy Spirit. That means that the church internationally is only functioning at approximately 10 percent of its God delegated power, and empowered capacity. The obvious reason why it has no power to carry out the Great Commission of Christ is the Holy Spirit importance is undermined, its directives misunderstood and continuously misapplied.

 

Paul noticed this confusion among the Corinthian saints, (1 Cor. 12), and wrote to correct any ignorance and conception concerning Spiritual Gifts working in the body of Christ. The Corinthians had, as does the modern church a wrong concept as to why Spiritual gifts are given to the church, and how they operate in empowering the body of Christ and to advance the gospel message in the world.
“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. And verse 3, “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit”. He went on to explain that there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (V. 4-5) and that to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (V.7). He went on to describe the types of gifts, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues. (Vs. 8 – 10), and in (V.11) explains that they all are, “the work of one and the same Spirit”, and he, (Holy Spirit), “distributes them to each one, just as he determines”.

Are bible students getting this, it is written in all our bibles, that it is the Holy Spirit that distributes gifts, not our church boards, or seminaries, not the great institutions of learning, universities etc. To Paul the gifts are for to create “Unity and Diversity in the Body” of Christ, not divisions. The misunderstanding that’s permeated the Corinthian church centuries ago still exists today where people elevated certain gifts above others. Paul is clearly saying the Holy Spirit distributed the gifts to the body and none is above another. So no open door policy was left, nor is it down to people to choose their gifts, or for institutions to make people whom they choose gifted. What the institutions are meant to do, is identify people to whom the Holy Spirit distributed the gifts. Then through instruction and training, help to develop and establish them as seasoned and more rounded performer in ministry.
Paul went on (V. 12 – 27), to press home an important point by using the human body as an illustration of unity. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ”. It cuts across ethnic, cultural and class barriers, “whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”. “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many”. The Holy Spirit would guide the church in making important decisions about appointing the gifted people in their right roles for unity of the body and effectiveness in operations but only when we are careful to obey its leading. Instead of allowing the gifted members to perform certain task, as with the human body, the modern church is packed, infiltrated with self-interest serving people where everybody wants to lead, manage churches, board members, pastor, teacher whether appointed by God or not. As if mirroring the experience of Moses when Aaron and Miriam, rebelled and challenges him for the leadership of Israel. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Num. 12: 2). The Lord heard their groaning’s and they suffered the consequences of their actions, they were punished, which is happening to today’s churches. It is powerless and weak, because the modern church has failed to submit to God’s order of church leadership and governance, has open the door for that Satanic influences. He hasn’t crept into the church, we open the gates and clearly invited him in. Humanity has inadvertently become Satan’s tools, because of our general attitude of rebellion against God’s authority. This defiance permeated the modern church, where we rebelled against God’s order, of Holy Spirit gifted, ordained and appointed leadership which displays ingratitude but also a rejection of God’s authority.
Now deliberate and reflect carefully, before reacting, around ‘what is the most important God designed organisation in the world’. I make no apology for saying, that it is the body of Christ, bar none! So, why then would we, the international church organisations, the supposed body, treat it with such disdain and disrespect? Read Pauls letter to the Corinthians ‘Over’ and ‘Again’. Then check your lexicons, try different translation, bible dictionaries and commentaries and see if you get the message? Study for text revelation, ask God for text illumination, of the truths therein and not rely on our own ideas. The understanding will come, we will be enlightened why the church internationally is not performing to its ultimate spirit intended maximum potential. The church is s spiritual organisation, is it not? Just as He knows the human physical body, He knows the church, the spiritual body. He knows that if it was up to man to distribute the gifts he would distribute the more desirable gifts to his friends. So as He placed the eye in the head, the feet at the bottom and the hands in the middle, etc., He knows why they are there. Likewise with the spiritual body, He knows why He distributed the gifts, and dictated how, why and where they should operate in the body. Why then do we ignore the spirits delegated modus operandi and instead employ secular terms and conditions to operate and govern the body of Christ?

The church is operating at only 10 percent of its God given Holy Spirit empowered capacity, because of the existence of unqualified leadership that are not Holy Spirit gifted. It means that 98 percent of people in the church leadership internationally, are in the wrong roles. This does not mean that people in leadership are without qualifications in their own secular right. Really, what it means and without any qualifications is that, the gifts the spirit distributes to individuals are ignored by many organisations, and people are instead given or appointed to a role in the church that the spirit did not determined for them. “All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines”. This means that if the appointed officers’ gifts does not fit the position they inhabit, they are only occupying space.

It means that the church is misplaced because gifts that are distributed for its proper functions are misplaced by organisations! This then resulted in too many people ‘though they mean well’ are given, or appointed to the wrong leadership roles. The road to hell is packed with good intentions, so good intentions are not enough! Saran is the author of this international spiritual blindness and confusion that now enveloped and permeated the church? Church organisations, boards of governance, international management authority will be held accountable. Surely God wants the gospel to be preached effectively, so that humanity can be saved into the Kingdom of His Son. Only Satan, the archenemy of man who is against Gods plan for man. Surely Satan does not wants Gods plan to be accomplish in the church and the world. So he masquerade himself, as an angel of light took up key positions in the churches to block the progress. He is responsible for producing mediocre, ineffective, unlearned leaders in the seat of power, people who cannot interpret the Scriptures and convey the message so people hear, understand and be saved.
The worldwide church, the multiple organisations, that comprised the body of Christ internationally, (or supposedly do), and the myriads of institutions of learning, needs reformation and should face impeachment for its failings. They are to be blamed as they have rebelled against the order of the Holy Spirit. Would Paul and should we the members of Christ body appoint or sanction “wrong” gifted, some novice but privileged to church leadership positions? The biblically ignorant and spiritual babes, who don’t know their gifts, has never taken a gift test, so don’t know where God wants them, never taken any kind of training, not even the minimum course for a pastoral role, a diploma course in theology or divinity, has become leaders! So if one is placed in the wrong roles, has no biblical training, neither experience in leadership, how in all good conscience can he be made overseer in the body of Christ. He is a blind leader of the blind, as they know no better and because the people likes it so. Someone once said that, “no one can lead someone further than he has gone himself”. Really, how can we lead someone where we ourselves has never been? American pastor, public speaker and author, John C. Maxwell once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. The truth of this statement is so blatantly obvious, even spiritually blind people can understand it. How then can a leader in the body of Christ, and spiritually sited people cannot see it? How can a leader train others, if he himself does not have the gift, has no prior training or experience? Can anyone now see why the church has no teeth, struggling and has limited effect in the world?
The instruction of Paul to the Corinthians are that the gifted are to teach others to do the work of ministry. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4: 11-12). So that the principal purpose for which all of the spiritual gifts are distributed among the members is to build up the Body of Christ, the church. Paul reminded the saints in Rome, (Romans 12:4-6), that we are all one body in Christ and that each of the members of a body belong to the other members, even though they have different functions. How many present leaders, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors etc. are known today who have the gift, been trained and have the ability then to train others? How many do not have the gift to preach or ‘prophesy’, to interpret and prepare homilies, or lessons from the Scriptures? Not able to develop training materials for the church on biblical doctrine or even write a proper discourse or lecture? Humility goes out the window for many, because the role of the spirit gift distribution is downplayed, in many cases none acknowledged. Anyone who shows an interest, is in the right place or apply for the role is appointed, without question, even on the basis of friendship, buddyism and personal preference. For many wannabies it is not about spiritual qualification but about the power and prestige, the status and honours those upfront roles yields. Going back to the bible and Paul’s instruction, is the first steps in reforming the process, because it is the Holy Spirit that appoints by giving or distributed the gifts for ministry, not church boards. We forget as well, that those most obvious roles, the much sought after leadership roles are ‘servant leadership’ roles, not Lordship ones! Pauls advice to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12) must always be at the forefront of our minds when we pursue an office.

The church then has an important task of submitting to the spirits directives and gift test its membership, identify the spiritually gifted in a certain field before training and appointment. Those up for appointment should in turn do a deep soul searching, and ask ourselves the question, is this my gift or where God wants me? Ask God, and seek the Holy Spirit guidance, then ask the church to do a gift search analysis. Many ask their friends, as sometimes members of the church can see our gifts before we do. Once we determine our gifts, we should not run ahead and start leading or preaching. Again after gift identity, training for personal development should be the obvious response, then there should be an internship or probationary period before taking up the most important office on earth. Nonetheless those already appointed should ascertain that they are in their gifted roles, then get ourselves into training to get the necessary improvement and so we can effectively perform in the office. If you are called on by your board to serve, ask them questions, and if you feel unqualified, refuse it. Better the refusal early when you are ill prepared for office, than to take it and find yourself struggling, and have to resign in shame. However, to the shame of many no matter how ill-equipped and badly they perform will not see the need for reformation. If they help you to identify your gift, it’s a start, then ask them are they willing to foot the bill for your training. If they refused, then don’t take the office, you will become part of the problem not the solution.

Too many people, many ministry leaders are in the wrong roles and are too ego driven to admit it. The taste of the office is so alluring to many that even when they recognise their limitations will still assume the office to their own shame. For the Holy Spirit will not indict the board only but you also for taken it when you know you do not qualify.
The Holy Spirit in distributing, gifts had no problem with one who has secular disciplines, has a PHD, is a scientist, an engineer, and philosopher or have a world of experience in any field. These skills are important in their own rights and in some organisations used to compliment and is enhanced by the Holy Spirit to help the church in numerous ways. However, secular disciplines are not enough to be appointed to the most important offices in the church. Christ body or church leadership should only be through the Holy Spirit gifts and follow up training should be nothing less than in biblical matters. Paul’s instruction is that church leadership should be based only on biblical themes, scriptural knowledge, and spiritual maturity, not on manmade systems. Understanding hermeneutics is key in leadership, because church leaders need that skill to interpret the Scriptures, the biblical literature and its message which was not originally written in English.

If we do not have the gifts from God, apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers etc. distributed solely by and through the Holy Spirit, why are we in those roles? Undoubtedly we will stumble along, possibly some get by, but by and large our performance in the pulpit will lack effectiveness and credibility. This is how and where many church leaders are today, just getting along, but barely getting by. We are not being honest to ourselves, and to the church of God. If we are appointed to a role, and we know we are not qualify for it we should refuse it. We should be able to see our limitations and admit it, and only humility does that.
Many organisations create and develop leaders to accomplish their organisational goals. If someone in a job and they notice any shortfall they may have, they send them on training courses, so they can better perform their task. Some secular organisations are able to see a certain potential in others, and know where their strengths are, so they are given further opportunities. Though the majority of churches operates like this, by appointing leaders, then train and develop them in those roles, it has very limited success. The church is very different, and should not operate like secular organisations. As it is the Holy Spirit determines and distributes the gifts in their various office or mode of operation in the body of Christ. The gifts are not given by church organisations, committees or boards, but by the Holy Spirit! The body of Christ then has the duty of identifying the spiritually gifted, acknowledge them, and then train people in how to fulfil their gifted roles effectively. Church leaders cannot effectively perform in the office we are given, if we are not spiritually appointed and then train to deliver effectively. It is like trying to force square pegs in a round holes, it will not happen!

Church boards have the power to appoint leaders to offices, give license and credentials based on their constitution, but if the appointment is not on biblical principles they are just adding numbers. The international church needs to get back to the bible. From Paul’s message to the Corinthians, we acknowledge that church authority do not distribute Spiritual gifts to its members, God does through His Holy Spirit! So what is this most important role of church organisations as opposed to secular ones? Simply this, they are to identify the gifted members, open up training opportunity, facilitate or encourage training, then appoint. It is not appoint then train, it the other way round, Identify (gifts) – Train –Appoint! After understanding Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians, there should be a whole pile of soul searching and resignation from leadership and church boards, going on right now.
But ego gets in the way, many leaders lacks humility, don’t know or will admit their limitations but see the appointment to office as a progression, i.e. first a Deacon, then an evangelist, then a pastor, so they will not resign. The question then is, who develop this model, is it even biblical? Where in the bible can it be found? Not thinking or even aware that we are already rejected, and cannot see that we are not performing, because self stands in the way. Some people genuinely think they are in the right role, but why? The research done in America reveals that too many people are appointed to the wrong positions, primarily because of limited availability and years of service. Church leadership should not be about convenience or whose face fits ‘buddyism’, it a Holy Spirit determined and gift distribution, God directed role. The church identify, facilitate training then appointed to office and effectiveness will be seen and felt. And even after training is ascertained, no leader should take up this awesome responsibility of the most important organisation in the world, the body of Christ, but instead do a period of internship, under a seasoned campaigner or under guidance of a more experienced elder!

PART 2 NEXT TIME.

Fasting by God’s Design

How meaningful is our yearly fasting before God and does it make us ready for supper? As the world of Christianity prepare for one of the most important ceremonies in its yearly calendar, taking the ‘Lord Supper’, many are undoubtedly engaging in or planning a series of fasting meetings, as it were, ‘to make ourselves ready’ or ‘worthy’ to take the supper. This because many interprets Paul’s message to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 11), who were taking the Lords supper in an ‘unworthy’ manner, to mean spiritual inadequacy, corruption and ungodliness. The unworthy manner Paul clearly addresses was a lack of respect, visible by their haste to eat, not waiting for others, gluttonous behaviour, not eating at home but looking for a belly full, even getting drunk on the wine’, and as such not recognising the solemnity of the ceremony and the important symbolism it represents.

Firstly, if it was about holiness, then no man is holy to take the supper. Secondly, no man knows the time or hour of the Lords return, He may come as a thief in the night, if we are not already prepared, and we will not have any notice to prepare. Visionary interpreters and preachers have warned that this type of yearly exercise of rigorous fasting before supper, is not in line with Scripture, because if we are not already ready and prepared to take the supper, then we are not ready for the Lords imminent but sudden return. So the supper is not about being ‘unworthy’ in the sense of being sinful to take it, but ‘unworthy’ in the sense of not recognising the significance of what the symbols ‘unleavened bread and wine’ of the Lord’s supper represents, Christ death, His blood shed for humanity’s sins, being our Passover Lamb.

Israel’s by God’s Design

Israel in mourning the destruction of the Temple, went on a series of fasting, but was it fasting for God’s benefits or theirs?

‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?’ (Zech. 7:5 NIV)

In the fourth year of King Darius’ rule, a delegation is sent to the Prophet Zechariah in Jerusalem) by the Jews who remained in Babylonia. They enquired Zechariah whether they should continue fasting and mourning the destruction of the first Temple since the Jewish people had returned to the Land of Israel and had begun rebuilding the Holy Temple. Is it appropriate to continue to fast and mourn over the destruction of the Temple, as they have been doing annually for decades?  The prophet’s response is clear. In God’s eyes, fasting and other external signs of mourning have no value if not complemented with sincere repentance and principled behaviour (V. 9-10). This answer was directed to the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, as well. The Jews in this period made the physical return to the Land of Israel, but their actions needed to match the spirituality and morality required of the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Israel made sacrifices to return to the land but it was their actions that carry the most spiritual significance for the world.

I will submit that if the world, both Jew and gentile truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and gifted interpreters, but seek his direction by fervent prayer and fasting. As those who would know God’s mind should consult with God’s ministers and, in doubtful cases, such as ‘Lord Supper and fasting’ should seek advice of those whose spiritual giftedness make it their business to search for the truth in the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished soon. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purposes. There fasts was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in their prayers. Holy callisthenics are to be done to God, looking to His word as a rule thumb, and His glory as our goal, seeking to please God and obtain His favour.

However, self-gratification was at the centre of all Israel’s actions, and so it seems for us in modern Christendom. For God it was not enough to sacrifice or weep on fasting days. Rather they should have searched the Scriptures and enquire of the prophets message, that they might have seen what was the ground of God’s controversy with their fathers. Whether Jew or gentile are in prosperity or adversity, we must be called upon to leave our sins, and to do our duty of representing God in all season, living holy lives. The season of Lord Supper should not find us napping, that we have to arrange special fasting to get us ready for the day. If you find yourselves in this situation I suggest you take a serious look on what Paul meant by ‘unworthy’ in his advice to the Corinthians.

Christian worldview?

Dear Friends,

2018 has come like a thief in the night, it wasn’t long ago that we were welcoming in 2017 with much fanfare and fireworks, but it fizzled out with little more than a whimper. Oh pray tell, where did the time go?

I am not sure if any, some or all of you has ever been faced with the question of ‘what is a worldview? Let alone a ‘Christian worldview?

It in a wider sense, can be considered ‘a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world’.  So that a ‘Christian world view revolves around the battle of good and evil. Synonyms attached: beliefs · credo · faith · convictions · ideology · ideas · thinking · notions · theories · doctrine · tenets · values · principles · ethics · attitude · line · view · viewpoint · outlook · world view · school of thought etc.

Some dictionary defines it the following ways:

‘A comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint’ – Merriam-Webster.

‘A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world… i.e.

‘I have broadened my worldview by experiencing a whole new culture’ – Oxford English Dictionary

‘A comprehensive, esp. personal, philosophy or conception of the world and of human life’ – Collins English Dictionary.

What they are concluding together is that a ‘worldview’ denotes an all-inclusive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. So that a ‘Christian worldview’, can be interpreted as a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. A person’s worldview is his ‘big picture’, a harmony of all his/her beliefs about the world. It is our way of understanding reality as opposed to concepts. So our worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important to us.

For example a bowl of grapes sitting on a table is seen by several people. And a botanist looking at the grapes classifies as is. An artist sees a still-life and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and catalogues it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large. Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian, deals with at least these three questions:

1) Where did mankind come from? (Where did we originate and why are we here?)

2) What is wrong with the world? (Where did this decay come from?)

3) How can it be fixed? (Who will fix it?)

 

Of the many dominant worldviews in modern times, humanism, atheism, naturalism, etc. naturalism which answers the three questions like this: 1) Humanity are the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose. 2) Man do not respect nature as he should. 3) Mankind can save the world through ecology and conservation. So that a naturalistic worldview generates many related philosophies such as moral relativism, existentialism, pragmatism, and utopianism.

Of greater impact on our world, and on man himself is the Christian worldview, as it answers the three questions biblically, therefore authoritatively: 1) Humankind are the unique creation of God, designed to govern the universe and have communion with Him (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) Adam and Eve the first humans sinned against God and subjected the whole human family to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and greater still is the hope for mankind, God will one day restore His creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25). Therefore, a Christian worldview leads mankind to believe in moral principles, miracles, human self-worth, and the possibility of redemption through Christ.

Therefore, it is important to remember that a worldview is comprehensive. It affects every area of life, from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of dogmas to repeat at church gatherings. Christianity as was practiced by Christ and taught by the apostles in the Biblical text, is itself a worldview. The Scriptures never differentiates between a ‘religious’ and a ‘secular’ life; the Bible presumed that the Christian life is the only life there is. Jesus Christ proclaimed Himself ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6) and, in following Him leaves no alternative path to redemption and salvation, that is humanity’s worldview!

Does God love us, Humankind?

Love is one of the most used, yet one of the most misused and abused word in human language. How often have we used it, say it, sing it, think it, and even write about it? Yet it widely remains either misunderstood or misapplied. How often have you heard “I love you” from someone who ends up hurting you the most? So what is love? Paul gave the folks in Corinth (1Cor. 13), a great lesson on what true love is. He gave love, its true definition in human terms, but also how it is applied in the great scheme of things less they have any doubt. But read this, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Considering how humanity treat each other, how life means nothing, this is hard to take in, isn’t it? On top of that consider the estimated 4 ½ million babies aborted each year. The world rage war against Hitler, and we join in condemning him for his death chambers, yet the womb has become death camp for millions in the name of modernity. When will we start loving the loveless, the helpless those with the greatest needs among us?

The greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Clearly, from these verses it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal kingdom. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So, the concept of God loving people is prevalent throughout the Bible. Most famously, it appears in John 3:16, which assures us that God loves the world to the highest degree, and gave his only Son, the greatest gift, that id humanity believes in him we will have eternal life. But what exactly does this divine love consist of? The answer might very well be found in the original language of the Bible, Hebrew.

Love in Old Testament

In Deuteronomy, we find a seemingly very strange commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your might” (Deut. 6:5). But wait. How can you force yourself to have a feeling? However, the Biblical “love” that is portrayed in this verse is very different from the “love” that we find in romance novels and Hollywood movies. The Hebrew word for love in this verse is ‘ahav’. This word does not refer to passionate or amorous love. The word ‘ahav’ at its most basic level refers to loyalty. Loving God means being faithful to Him alone. Israel in the commandments was commanded to love God only, and whenever they strayed and served some unknown god, they were severely punished for their unfaithfulness.

Engage in Biblical Study

So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24). The message that we derived from these teachings are that the Bible is not concerned with subjective inner feelings, but with objective outward actions. Do you yearn to be loyal to a loving God? “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3: 7, 15; Psalm 95: 1-7). Additionally, if you are thirsty for the insider’s perspective into the Biblical message, or to broaden your concept on love, now is the time to become active in a Biblical study.

The Seven Social Sins

Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.

Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for.  Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?

We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7

The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).

Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.

Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited.  One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).

Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?

 

 

Christians are the ‘salt and light’ of the World

The ethical message of ‘salt and light’, Matthew 5:13-16) is part of the broader teachings of Christ called the Sermon on the Mount, which is the first of five great treatises recorded in Matthew (Ch. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25). Which consists of three types of materials, 1) the beatitudes, i.e., declarations of blessedness (5: 1-12), 2) ethical admonitions (5: 13-20; 6: 1-7:23), and 3) contrasts between Jesus ethical teachings and Jewish legalistic traditions (5: 21-48). The Sermons ends with a short parable stressing the importance of practising what has just been taught (7: 24-27) and an expression of amazement by the crowds at the authority with which Jesus spoke (7: 28-29).

Sentiments vary among theologians as to whether the Sermon is a summary of what Jesus taught on one occurrence or an accumulation of teachings presented on several occasions. Matthew then would possibly have taken a single sermon and extended it with other relevant teachings of Jesus. Whatever side you agree with, what is undeniable is the Sermon on the Mount is a call to moral and ethical living. Its principled call is so high that some have dismissed it as being absolute, impractical in an application and therefore have projected its fulfilment to the future kingdom. However, there is no doubt, that Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, gave the sermon as a standard for all Christians, realising that its demands cannot be met in our own power, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us along the way. Also true is that Jesus on occasion used hyperbole to make His point.

Therefore, here is Jesus in His Homily using the concepts of salt and light, which He has done on a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One such instance as written here in Matthew 5:13: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot’. Back in the days, in the Middle Eastern world, of Christ and the Apostles, first century AD, Salt had two purposes, ‘flavouring and preservatives’. Many of us take our fridges a 19th-century invention, for granted many shoppers often seen pulling their groceries from their cars and loading them in our refrigerators weekly. Nevertheless, in those days it was not so, and because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was applied to preserve food, especially meat that would quickly spoil in the desert environment. The concept of believers in Christ being the preservatives to the world, is powerful (Psa. 14:3; Rom. 8:8). The presence of Christians preserves the world from the evil that is inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin.

Likewise, salt was used then, as now, as a flavour enhancer. In the same manner that salt improves the taste of the food it flavours, the followers of Christ stand out as those who ‘improve’ the flavour of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the taste of the food it seasons. So that where there is strife, Christians are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, he is to be the ministers of Christ, healing wounds, and where there is hatred, he is to demonstrate the love of God in Christ, returning good in the place of evil (Luke 6:35).

In the similarity of light to the world, the good deeds of Christ’s followers are to shine for the entire world to see. Now examine how Matthew 5 highlights this truth: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matt. 5:14-16, NIV). The impression Christ is giving here is similar, the presence of light in the darkness is something that is unmistakable. Therefore the presence of Christians in the world must be likened to the light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but correspondingly in the sense that Christian’s good deeds must be evident for all to see. Moreover, indeed, our actions will be obvious if they are done in accordance with the other principles that Jesus references in His Sermon, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Particularly take note that Christ concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on and become aware of their status in Christ, might be led to ‘glorify your Father in heaven’ (v. 16).

In light of these teachings, Christians should take serious note of the sorts of things that could hinder or prevent us from fulfilling our roles as salt and light in the world. The sermon plainly states that the difference between the Christian and the world must be preserved; therefore, any activity on our part that shadows the difference between Christians and the rest of the world is a step in the wrong direction. This can happen either through a choice to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or expediency or to disregard the law of obedience to Christ.

How often do we hear the term peace being floated about, yet we see an environment packed with tension? ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other’ (Mark 9:50). The proposal here is that saltiness can be lost specifically through a lack of peace with one another. Therefore, to maintain our salt flavour we are commanded to have peace among us. Likewise, ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out’, (Luke 14:34-35). Here we find a reference to the metaphor of salt once again, this time in the context of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. This loss of saltiness occurs in the failure of the Christian to daily take up the cross and follows Christ enthusiastically.

Apparently, then, the character of the Christian as salt and light in the world could stall or prohibited through any decision to collaborate or settle for that which is more expedient or comfortable, rather than that which is truly best and pleasing to the Lord. Moreover, the status of salt and light is something that follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. If we abolish the commandments, and teach men so, on what basis can we guide our spiritual walk and in obedience to Christ? It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of obedience and genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become hazy and our testimony is stalled. However, by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world? However, the concept of Christianity is seen as a myth to the wider world, and they say it cannot be proven by science. In the eyes of philosophers it beyond reason, that Christians are foolish and using ‘God as a crutch’. In the eyes of many, the stock of the world jokes, trampled under feet, harassed and killed for their faith in many countries, Christ is saying without you, the ‘Christian’, the world would have no light, and no taste!

If you Judge – You are playing God!

If you are like me, you are inclining to judge yourself more punitively than others ever will. Though they do not know that when they judge you, that they are second in line. But also they judged you with an air of self-righteousness, ‘that could never happen to me’, how could he do that? When in fact they have done worst, that is if night becomes day, and all hidden secrets revealed, becomes open truths. They are going against the advice of Scripture too, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matt 7: 1-5). This advice came from Christ lips to His followers, Christians, and the advice is not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously as can be seen from the context. Christ expressed similar thoughts further up in chapter 23: 13 – 39. To obey Christ command according to this text we must first evaluate a person’s character, whether he is a ‘dog, or a false prophet, or whether his/her life shows fruit. Repeatedly in the Scriptures Christians are exhorted to evaluate each other carefully and choose between good and evil people and things and those who masquerade as angels of light (2Cor. 11: 14).

Many of us have become experts, masters of the art in judging others, you aren’t even readily aware, when they do it to you or someone you know, not until it later register when you have time to reflect. Moreover, you think, my God, did he just do that or why did he say that? Since judging others means that we are having or displaying an overly critical point of view, and we are taking the place of God, He hates it not only because it is wrong, but because we are taking His place which no man is in the position to do. The problem of leaky lips, betraying confidence, being overly critical of others, taking a spiritually superior position is particularly rife among modern leaders. We walk around with that aura of authority, oh look at us, we have never commit a fault, we are blameless from birth, but when we hear something, instead of speaking to them in confidence, help them to overcome their weakness, praying for them, we pass judgement, we condemn rather than heal, because we become little gods. So much so that many are reluctant, church members will not approach their leaders about a personal culpability. Wow, so scary of their leaders has so many become that they prefer to transfer membership to another congregation. ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5: 16).  Anyone, but especially leaders who leak a personal issue that someone reveal to him in confidence, an issue that will cause embarrassment if passed on betray the trust of members of their congregations or others who confide in them in. A leader with a leaky lip needs to be disrobed because he has let his parishioners and his church community down.

People do tend to get upset about others who challenge their own personal behaviour, and so many are reluctant to approach them. If you see it or hear it, address it, but if you cannot address it directly, speak with someone who can, and only with a view to heal. Even so whatever way you try, whether they work or not you can pray for their healing, do not do anything that will destroy them. The alternative is not to judge them or leak such information to anyone else because it will never stop until everyone knows, and the church splits. God is not the author of divisions! These types of problems, of the ‘unguarded lips’ kind, exist only because we have biblically ungifted, untrained, unprofessional leaders, managing churches. Many who have never taken a course in leadership or church management, but placed in a role that does not suit them, they do not know how to handle it. Therefore, when are told or hear something indirectly, they quickly pass judgement only because they want to be seen as being with it, that is not setting a good example that is not leadership. Scripture makes it very clear that there is one supreme Judge of all, the Lord God and that He alone has the authority to determine right and wrong motives and behaviours. Many Old Testament passages corroborate to the truth of God as Judge:

‘God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7:11). ‘He shall judge the world in righteousness, and he shall administer judgments for the people in uprightness’ (Psalm 9:8). ‘Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God himself is Judge. Selah’ (Psalm 50:6). ‘For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us’ (Isaiah 33:22).

Did Jesus advise his followers not to judge others? What about making general comments about is right or wrong in others? In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke a lot against people passing judgement on others. It is clear from reading the wider context that Jesus was commenting on people who make it a point of practice of making personal judgments against others, when their own lifestyle and behaviour was questionable even extremely compromised than the people they were passing judgement on. However, reading in context, the wider application, the object of Jesus’ comments may not be easily detectable. Jesus was very clear about those in the religious establishment in Israel who came in for fierce criticism. Jesus target the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious institutions of His day, Jesus had the authority to judge them, not man.

The Father has committed authority and judgment to the His Son. Jesus confirmed His authority before He ascended to heaven after His Resurrection (Matt. 28:18). ‘For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son’ (John 5:22). ‘I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day’ (John 12:46–48). ‘Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). These scriptures among many others clearly prove, very clear that one day Jesus will rightly judge all humanity based on each individual’s faith in, or rejection of the Son of God. For a world filled with people who believe in moral relativism and for many practicing Christians who exercise virtue on the basis they can earn morality will be filled with dread and anxiety on the day of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the righteous Judge of the universe and He has made a judgment about salvation, as Peter declares,  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12).  Humankind will have no time to debate whether the judgment is right or wrong because God the arbiter has decreed His justice through His Son, Christ.

Now reflect on the notion of judging as it relates to believers and nonbelievers. Obviously, the approaches are different when dealing with them, but the goal is appeasement. Nonbelievers need to know Christ and be reconciled to Him, and believers need to mature in Christ and be reconciled to each other. There scriptures show that Jesus was very displeased about the conduct of hypocrites than probably anything else that He faced. Therefore, His warning against judging others was primarily aimed at those who thought they were superior to others. In other words, get your own house in order before you criticize others. We all have sinned and fall short of Gods glory.

Stop beating up on yourself, when you are judged, you are a work in progress, which means that you get there a little at a time not all at the same time or pace, we are not all ‘speedy Gonzales’. The songwriter ask on behalf of all who are being judged, ‘please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet… when God get through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold’. Never throw in the towel, because someone belittle you, put you down, do not ever quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win, ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ. Countless numbers of Christians wants to quit, feel they have to abandon, their walk with Christ because of a leaky heartless, unforgiving congregation. Many others are under pressure to quit because of a minor infraction and because of someone in the group are looking mockingly in our direction, telling us it is time to. Yep we want to hide when we are judged when seemingly things get tough and because of being aware of our culpabilities but which remain unobserved from the masses only because they are ineffectual.

When we make our mistakes, we feel embarrassed, we let ourselves down, and it is between God and us, no human judge, no one else. No matter how many times we falter and fail, fall flat on our backs, pick up, stand up and start again, we can bounce back from anything Satan throw at us and inspire the many unrighteous judging. It is not what people say about us that should determine who we are; shape our future or what we should become. We should not look back on our past mistakes, but move forward from them with confidence, as God for help in times of faintness. ‘Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame’ (Isa. 50: 7). God’s servant will be honoured in time, but he must endure the cutting, hypocritical judging with self-assured determination to face up to his detractors. So that we increase self-assurance and replace fear of, with victory upon victory, and our strength, well, we will act no less courageously than those judges whose affluences have previously opens corridors of opportunities. For however, strong hypocritical judgers may appear, underlying they display deficiency only by the means to demonstrate the complete magnitude of their injustice ignorance. Remember that even a poisonous serpent is safe to handle in the cold climate, when it is lethargic. However, be aware that its venom is still present, though sedentary. In the same way be on the alert for noxious tongue, though they seem snoozing, sociable and gentle the virulence is still there and has the ability to distribute discomfort.

 

Sharia law – Compatible with Western Christian Values?

David Cameron, former British Prime minister made a very fundamentally flawed step when he allows some functions of sharia law to operate side by side with British law. This has been seen in some quarters as a retrograde and wrong step because it devalues the British system and it now allows a two-tier law system to operate in Britain. There are not many other western countries that allow a two-tier law system to operate within their borders. For this Europe is doomed, Christianity will be loss, western values crumbles! Western societies are shaped, were patterned after Jewish and Christian values. If you travel to Russia, you either abide by their laws or are thrown  in prison or out of the country, the French, the Australians, and many more countries are the same. If you travel to Saudi Arabia and you fail to abide by their Islamic law you are put in prison or thrown out of their country. So why does a western government allow this two-tier system to happen in a western democracy?

There are no democracy in Islamic states, they believe in dictatorships, one strong man at the helm of power. This is what the Turkish president is seemingly heading towards, a one party state and government, that has no opposition to question or challenges it. Why Cameron did this only he and his conservative government knows except to muddy the waters, or being seen as tolerating Muslim values, pushing the Islamic agenda. What was in it for him? The current mayor does repeatedly and consistently proclaims that Islam can co-exist with western or British values? Well thinking people knows this is not possible and could never be. Is the teaching of sharia law consistent with the Ten Commandments law that shape western values? Western laws have their roots in Christian values, and it is impossible for any keen sighted person to accept otherwise, and that is that sharia law violates Christian values, and by extension western principles.

It was not until the 6th century A.D., some 600 years after Christianity, when Islam was created. When he started to preach no one accepted his message, in fact he was ridiculed and driven out of the city. He went to another city and happen to raise a following. Some time later a group of men overthrow the government, by this time he was ready to return. There is a strong school of though that he orchestrated the overthrow of the government  from the second city where he fled to. He returned and immediately established his caliphate government. However, when he arrived with his new message he claimed was from God, it was the new kid on the block; it appears as if out of time, much later than Judaism and Christianity. It was not established to confirm the Biblical literature, but rather cynically to dishonour its key message, that Christ is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, and the final and last prophet from God to man. To validate its message, he has to do a few things, deny Christ Messiah-ship.

And even when he accept Christ as a prophet, he denies His divinity, and further down the line many Imams claim that Christ was not crucified, and they can prove it.  The four Gospel writers declare that Christ was crucified; the book of Acts gave evidence of multiple people who not just saw Him when He died, but saw Him when He was resurrected. Why the Imams of Islam want to deny that though they were not alive then, is a puzzle? The only answer is that if they accept that that Christ was killed, buried and rose from the dead, their message has no relevancy.

Therefore, Mohammad did not come with a message that would exist in harmony with the Holy Scriptures. Despite the plain difference in ideologies or interests with the Bible, the Koran does not indicate a message of harmony with ‘the people of the book,’ the Jewish people and Christians, rather his clear intent was to replace them. That is the age-old message you will hear from the Imams. They will never stop until Islam replaces Christianity in the west. Not until the Islamic flag is flying from the roof of the white house and Buckingham palace. They are buying up choice properties in western capitals. In 2016 alone over 2000 Mosque were built or opened in America alone. The number in other western countries and the cities of Europe dwarf that figure. The interfaith movement was meant to be a body that promotes dialogue, but is being used to foster Islamic growth and to build more Mosques in the Hub of European capitals. If there was an effort to co-exist with Christianity, why are there millions being injected in the west to foster Islamic programmes, colleges, centres? They are being given special places in many schools to pray.

To achieve their goals, millions of dollars of Saudi Arabian money have trained agents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to infiltrate vital agencies of the west. They are place at strategic point in universities, public and private institutions, agencies of government, public administrations to accomplish their goals. They must make Islamic values look good to westerners, a religion they can relate to, and become a member of. Their motto is ‘Islam is a peaceful religion,’ but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If was peaceful why is there a war ranging between the factions of Islam, between Shea and Sunni? The west can never understand that Islam is at war with itself. That Sunnis and Shea can never see eye to eye in the interpretation of the prophets teachings. Mohammad had ordered his army to attack Syria, but died before it happened. However, shortly after the death of Mohammed, Abu Baker sent the army to conquer Syria. There were many pretenders to the throne of Mohammad, but Abu Bakr succeeded him. He raged war against other pretenders and by so doing extended the territories of Islam under the flashing sword. People in those territories invaded were given a change to convert to Islam or face the sword. Many millions converted to Islam under the threat of death.

When Islam came along, Christianity has blazed a trail of success in all the regions of the Middle East. Thanks to the successful preaching’s of Paul and many other New Testament prophets the God News of Christ, the Gospel message has reached millions, people were converting, the church was growing, ancient false gods were being toppled over. People were being saved into the kingdom of God, not through the edge of the sword but by the convincing power of the message that Jesus died to save the lost. The enemies of God must find a way to stop this spread, their religion of multiple gods, was being weakened by the day. Christianity became a threat to them. Their alternative answer to this threat was to claim, there was one God also, and Mohammad was his prophet. The claim now of a single ‘monotheistic’ God they assume would stop the march of Christianity in those regions. Only, this new proclaimed god was not the God of Israel, because the Gospel message already proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and ‘Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’ the Christ of God.

Therefore, to authenticate, they claim, a new message was given, the Koran contains this new message, and Mohammad is his messenger. However, there are no independent authentications of this new message delivered by the angel Gabriel to the new messenger. If there was authentication which there is not, then all the Old and New Testament prophets made a mistake in their prophesies concerning Christ. If there was a new message delivered in a cave to a new messenger, then God was dismissing the teachings of Christ His own Son, who Himself declared in the ears of many, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I AM well pleased.’ If God now rejects His Son, should there not be more than one message or messenger to confirm this rejection? For something so vital, for the sake and redeeming feature of the whole human race, would God appears to one man and give no clue, that He no longer love His Son or the message He gave? God sent His son to die to seal the faith of humanity that through Christ humankind would have hope. Would God then 600 years later dismiss the sacrifice of His son to accept another?

The fact is, this is whole thing incredulous, and the mere suggestion that God would do such a thing is making God a liar. However, Satan is the liar; he is the father of lies, a liar from the beginning, look what he told Adam and Eve. He saw the growth of the Gospel message, and to thwart the message of Salvation in Christ, to mix up people’s minds, as to Gods motive in sending Christ, He sent his counterfeit messenger. Only this messenger appears as an angel of light, but is not from God, a phoney that would make it hard for many to deny Him, unless God reveal truth to man. He deceived and continues to deceive many who will not look to the true God for help. This new message was not to coexist with Jews, the ‘people of the book’ and the Gospel of Christ. If it was why the centuries of almost relentless hostilities, and attempts to replace the Jews and Christianity?

Many scholars who have read the Islamic law books and analyse sharia has concluded that Islamic values are essentially ‘a rebellion against the Ten Commandments’ issued to the people of Israel on Mt Sinai. These biblical scholars believes that Islam infringes the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as when Allah commanded Muslims to kill Allah’s enemies, and in the process, they kill and be killed in jihad if they are to be guaranteed heaven. Being compliant, a parallel legal system would effectively nullify actual freedom for many of the people possibly forced to use it, and the ability to receive equal justice under law. Sharia is the reason there is a death warrant was issued on Salman Rushdie for writing the ‘Satanic Verses’ that analyse the tenets of the Islamic message and its messenger by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran for apostasy. Many other authors, commentators, journalists have died violent deaths at the hands of Islamist who believed that though there is freedom of speech, you do not have the right to question the prophet, or paint a cartoon of him. What does it matter if someone depict you in a cartoon? Does it hurt you, does it devalue you or your message? Are we not allowed to laugh at ourselves ones in a while? And the truth should be able to stand up to any and every criticism! Scepticism does not devalue truth, it generates exposure and gives it light and wings to fly on. That should be lauded, no?

What the Islamist are then telling you and the rest of the world to do is accept the message and the messenger who brought it blindly without any question of legitimacy. The thing is they have the right to question you and your faith, they called Christ illegitimate, a bastard child because Mary and Joseph were not married when Mary became pregnant with Christ. However, it stands to reason and it became a standard that every man has the right to question his belief system in western culture. This right is being taken away, because many are offended if you want to ask valid questions. How then can sharia law be consistent, or live in harmony with Christian and western values and culture?