Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Power of Praise and Worship


Here's an excerpt from chapter 15 (The Vow of Praise) of my new book, The Power of Praise and Worship, coauthored with Terry Law:

The ride into Baghdad was harrowing. General Sada was behind the wheel, zigzagging along the airport road at breakneck speed. I glanced over at the gauges. The speedometer sat on 100 miles per hour. “Why are you swerving back and forth?” I asked, half-holding my breath.

“There are lots of RPG’s [rocket propelled grenades] launched in this area,” he explained, “and I’m making us harder to hit.”
Our guards in the car behind us sped around us as we neared the first stoplight into town. It was red, but they kept going, swerving straight into the lanes for oncoming traffic. The general sensed our fear and calmly explained.

“The suicide bombers wait at intersections,” he said. “They look for VIPs and foreigners, so they can maximize their kills.” I suddenly felt very foreign. Going fast and running red lights suddenly didn’t seem so bad after all.

Over the next five days we met with most of Iraq’s major leaders: President Jalal Talabani; National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie; Minister of Planning Barham Saleh; the Ayatollah of Baghdad, Hussein al-Sadr; and finally with Prime Minister al-Jaafari himself.

We presented our thousands of petitions to the Prime Minister, and then I posed a question: “Sir, when Muslims come to America, we allow them freedom of their religion. We let them build mosques and share their message with anyone who wants to listen. Are you willing to guarantee Christians the same rights in Iraq?”

It was the first time in my life that I had confronted a head of state. He looked at me, and before he could answer I added a second question. “We sent our young men and women over here to die for the freedom of the Iraqi people. We believe that one of the most basic freedoms is freedom of religion. If an Iraqi citizen should decide to change to another religion and is persecuted or killed for it, is that not the most basic abuse of human rights possible?”

I moved straight to the point. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights2 has been signed by most of the nations of the earth, including Iraq in 1948. Would you be willing to include it in your new constitution?”

For more than an hour the prime minister avoided answering me, switching from one subject to another. By the time we left I thought that perhaps our visit had been futile. But two months later, when the new Iraqi constitution was published, all of our requests had been honored in Articles 39-41 and 43.

Click here to order!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Back with a New Book!

Most of the 40 to 50 friends who check this site are far more loyal than a prodigal blogger deserves. So if you wonder why I post so erratically, here's the scoop: I have never loved blogging, but only writing. So I blog when I'm not writing something somewhere else. And for the past six weeks I've been locked away in my tower—okay, the back bedroom—finishing a book that my friend, Terry Law, and I started more than two years ago.

I'm happy to say that "The Power of Praise and Worship," by Terry Law with Jim Gilbert will be released on July 16, 2008. I mean the book, of course, not the actual power of prai...well, you understand.

You would do your humble servant a great honor by asking your local Barnes and Borders-a-Million if they have a copy, so they'll have to look it up. I also wouldn't be surprised to see it on a rotating rack in Wal-Mart, right around where T.D. Jakes sits.

I'll post again, but for now, the cultures wars can wait a day or two.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Hope of Audacity

Barack Obama may not be a racist, but he definitely got his socialist worldview from someone somewhere, and crazy uncle Jeremiah Wright is the most likely candidate by a long shot. Second-tier commentators like Michelle Malkin and Ken Blackwell have hit the rusty red nail on its head, but what about the big mouths, like Hannity, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly? Why don't they harp on it day and night? Why doesn't Sean Hannity make it the incessant theme of a "Stop Obama Express"?

The Irreverend Mr. Wright preaches nothing more than a racially charged version of South American Liberation Theology. A heretical offshoot of Roman Catholicism that became the Sandinista hue and cry in 1970s Nicaragua, it is a syncretistic attempt to portray Jesus as the logical predecessor to Karl Marx. Wright merely adds cornbread to the chili sauce. (He's a North American Hugo Chavez, ergo, a shoo-in as Danny Glover's next pastor.)

Socialism has been called (quite accurately) the politics of guilt and pity, because of the way it hammers at the rich and seduces the poor, so its appeal to the American Left is obvious. They may have traded the irreparably ruined term "liberal" for the hilariously ironic "progressive," but today's Democrat Party, which wants to be like Western Europe when it grows up, is becoming more overtly socialist every day. That's why Jim Wallis is their chaplain, and also why so many of them wanted Hillary Clinton to be America's mommy-in-chief…until Barack came along.

Senator Obama made a huge splash as a freshman when he spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In fact, from that day forward I believed (and warned my friends) that he would prove a far bigger worry than Mrs. Clinton, although I figured he would wait until 2012 or 2016.

A fatherless generation relies on its mother, but craves a father. That is Obama's appeal. While he has the big mommy heart every true socialist must have, he speaks with fatherly authority. And that makes him viscerally attractive to a generation that is all about feeling versus thinking. (Today's interviewers never ask guests what they think, but only what they "feel" about the subjects at hand.)

It is a vain hope that John McCain will be able to point any of this out, because Mr. McCain clearly does not examine life and politics on a philosophical basis. His own worldview is grounded in suffering, not philosophy; that explains why it runs so deep, yet is so inconsistent. Of course, calling him inconsistent would be impolite, so the press assigns him the cute label "maverick," which is their way of saying he occasionally dances some big-government step that they like.

Yes, Mr. Obama may be post-racial, but he certainly is not post-socialist. I just wish he had the audacity to come right and out and say it. Like his pastor.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jesus Left and Right

Note: Our choices in the 2008 presidential election are no longer between Right and Left, but between Left and Far Left. Hence, I write not in Democrat/Republican terms, but about Socialists and Capitalists. One wishes John McCain would stop trying to be both.

If Jesus had been a socialist, He would have:

Ended poverty
Fed every child on earth
Given every one a free education
Made sure they got well-paying jobs
Distributed the earth’s bounty equally
Ended all wars
Disarmed every nation
Made locks on doors redundant
Made thievery undesirable
Reformed all criminals
Rendered policemen unnecessary
Ditto the Bill of Rights
Locked arms with the Dalai Lama & John Lennon

But instead, Jesus was a capitalist:

He invested Himself in mankind
Lived with our limitations
Embraced our weaknesses
Suffered our injustices
He planted a seed, His own body,
In the ground
Only to reap a very small harvest
In the form of a few spiritual sons
Whom He immediately reinvested
Now He rules
Even where His enemies appear strong
His kingdom grows slowly
Almost imperceptibly at times

And of the increase of His government
And peace
There shall be no end!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Boomlet: Poor Ignorant America

NOTE: Expanded at 4:51 pm EST

I've been away from blogging for this past month (will let you know why after next Tuesday). But an Associated Press story here has me fuming.

The article concerns America's current "baby boomlet," which sees our nation with its highest birth rate since 1961. Here's the line that infuriated me:
Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.
The piece (of what I won't say) goes on to say that, oh yeah, Americans also like having babies more than most other countries, but the arrogance of the "experts" is still present. These people obviously have not considered the view that children are a blessing from God, and lots of us like making them for that reason.

Wish I had time to comment further on other paragraphs in this awful swill, but here's the kicker: The boomlet (thanks largely to Hispanic immigrants) only brings our birthrate up to 2.1, which is replacement level. In other words, we've been slowly dying off, and somehow the experts must think that's a good thing.

Sadly, even within the church there are too many young couples who say, "we want two, a boy first" and don't think beyond that little non-multiplying number (remember that "be fruitful" command?). The reason for this, in my "expert" opinion, is that even Christian young people have been swallowed up by the cult of self esteem, and view having children as mere fulfillment of their own lives, rather than God's "great commission" to expand and establish His kingdom on earth.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Real Nightmare Before Christmas

As political gaffes go, Hillary Clinton's 30-second "Christmas" commercial has got to be her biggest one yet. Like other candidates from both parties, she was attempting to jump on the bandwagon started by Mike Huckabee, whose own half-minute was a simple and to-the-point "merry Christmas." What she actually accomplished, however, was to reveal her true faith: statism.

The ad shows Hillary labeling presents with titles like "universal health care" and "alternative energy," as though these items are what she wants to "give" to the American people for Christmas. "Where did I put universal pre-K" she wonders aloud, before finding the label in question.

Perhaps the most offensive aspect of the ad—among several—is the fact that Mrs. Clinton has the nerve to present government programs that our money would pay for as "gifts" she wants to give us. Moreover, such programs would be the equivalent of defective $10,000 iPods.

"I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approved this message," says the candidate at commercial's end. Here's hoping everyone notices.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Expelled



This is going to be fun.

Nightmare on Main Street

It’s 4:30 a.m., and the prospect of an Obama presidency is literally keeping me awake at night. As early as March, 2006 I warned my little cadre of readers about the attractiveness of Oprah’s anointed. Three months later, after hearing the freshman senator from Illinois speak for the Democrat’s national convention, I knew I was right:
Obama touches all the right notes, not just for liberals, but for the many conservatives whose values are shaped more by evangelical emotion and traditions than by a conscientiously applied biblical worldview…[However, in reality] Obama believes in the "many paths to God" idea, that Christ has somehow cleansed him of his sin, but that other faiths perceive that Person and that cleansing in non-Christian terms, and that it's fine by him.

That is why he grants moral equivalence to Islam and atheism in this speech. And if that doesn't bother you, well, you'll probably have the chance to cast your vote for him down the road.
Mr. Obama is a profoundly skilled speaker, and I can tell you from having grown up in the Pentecostal church world that persuasive speech wins the modern American heart far more quickly than proven character. Look no further than the unbelievable resurgence of Jimmy Swaggart (who still manages to stay on the air, thanks to the BET network) for proof.

Ever since Ronald Reagan appeared in the late 1970s (and arguably a few elections prior), the public has responded to the more persuasive candidate. (Bush 41 can thank Heaven that his first opponent was the little bobbleheaded Michael Dukakis.)

That’s why I believe that, regardless of Republican moaning about “electability,” Mike Huckabee has a better chance of beating the Democrat nominee than any other Republican. Mitt Romney might be able to win, and he definitely would stand a better chance if he didn’t come across like he’d been practicing in front of a mirror his whole life. Rudy Giuliani, like Huckabee, is good on his feet, but I believe his personal foibles have rendered him unelectable. Fred Thompson always gives his listener the impression than he’d rather be somewhere else and just can’t wait for the interview to end. And John McCain, regardless of endorsements, would get slammed in the general election for the simple reason that you cannot sleepwalk your way into the Oval Office.

The only reason people say Huckabee is unelectable is because they haven’t heard the guy talk. Sure, he’s got a funny last name, bad teeth, and a little Gomer Pyle in his smile. But when the man starts talking all that fades away. He’s probably got too much faith in government (like Bush 43), and definitely too much faith in public education, but compared to the Ken doll from Massachusetts, the serial polygamist from New York, the no-show-even-when-he-shows from Tennessee, and the cadaver from Arizona, Huck is the Gipper reincarnate.

On the other side, Hillary Clinton is saddled by her own personality. In precise terms—and this is strictly an assessment of style, not a personal accusation—she’s butch, and desperately in need of Julie Andrews to leap out of The Princess Diaries and rescue her. What does it say about the poor woman that she loses votes every time she laughs? Not when she loses her temper, or badmouths another candidate‚—no, she loses when she laughs. No wonder she’s had to resort to husband Bill, the best orator besides Obama, yet a liability in his own right.

John Edwards is a better speaker than Hillary, but comes across as having spent even more mirror time than Romney. And the fact that he rates no mention until this far down in the article is indicative of his chances at winning the nomination.

Nope, Obama is my nightmare. He has been for 18 months, and now, like Freddy Krueger, he’s more than just a bad dream.

Let us pray.

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Urgent Plea

A good friend and brother of mine, "John," has been arrested and unlawfully imprisoned by the Chinese government. Following is a press release about his case. Note that his second daughter is an American citizen. Since China frowns on more than one child per family, she would have had no citizenship had she been born in China. Hence, John and his wife timed their visit to America seven years ago for her birth.

I would appreciate it if other bloggers would pick up this as a "meme" and also publish this press release. If ever a blog swarm were needed, it is now.


--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--

In the shadow of gleaming new towers built for the Olympic Games, just outside of Beijing’s city center, one case highlights the religious persecution and corruption of justice that can still happen to ordinary Chinese citizens.

Just months before China is put on the world stage hosting the Olympics, Grace (EnMei) Shi, a 7-year old American girl, has been forced into hiding with her Chinese mother and 11-year old sister. They fear for their own safety and for that of EnMei's father--Weihan Shi--a 37-year old businessman who was informally detained by the police and is being held in an unknown location.

Contrary to Chinese law, officers at the Haidian District Substation of the Beijing Public Security Bureau not only refused to tell the family where Shi is being held, they also would not tell them what he is being charged with, essentially denying him any possibility of legal defense.

He has become a victim of “enforced disappearance” placing him outside of the protection of law--a violation of “The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance“--a U.N. convention of which China is a signatory.

Mr. Shi, a life-long resident of Beijing, and a travel agent active in promoting foreign travel in China during the Olympics, was arrested in his Christian literature bookstore in a high-class business tower near the Olympics Village, along with some of his employees, his younger brother and his wife--Mrs. Jing Zhang--who have since been released after questioning. After 20 police raided their home at 5 AM on November 28th, the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) detained Shi’s wife, more than once, to question her in connection with Christian literature confiscated from Shi's home, office and bookstore.

Mr. Shi is now in the eighth day of his detention by the Beijing PSB. The family is concerned that he may be quite ill. As a diabetic, going without his medicine for several days, Shi may already be facing the danger of diabetic shock. The Haidian officers have also refused to allow the family to take Mr. Shi's diabetic medicine to him. There has been no proof or assurance to the family regarding his medical condition. Deprivation and torture tactics are often used by the PSB in their notorious detention centers to force those being held to reveal information about others.

The little American citizen--“Grace”--born during the family’s visit to the U.S. in 2000, and her older sister--“Lily”--are reportedly terrified for their mother and father’s safety after witnessing the raid on their home. The mother and two girls have gone into hiding, fearing the possibility that threatened reprisals against Shi’s wife and two children would be used as an interrogation tactic against him before legal representation can be arranged.

Staffers at the U.S. Embassy have been provided information about the case and are reportedly concerned for the welfare of the young American girl.

For more information, please contact:

Ray Sharpe
President
Bethel Energy Group, Inc, (a client of Weihan Shi’s Beijing travel service)
(618) 780-2742

U.S. Embassy Beijing
Political Section
Mr. Gregory C. May
Tel: (86-10) 6532-3831 x. 6742
Fax: (86-10) 6532-6423
MayGC@state.gov

Beijing Public Security Bureau
Haidian District Substation
Director Zhang Weigang (86-10) 8251-9110, (86-10) 8251-9350

China Foreign Affairs Office
Foreign Spokespersons Office
(86-10) 6559-2311 or cellphone (86) 1391-086-9861

U.S. State Department
Office of Religious Freedoms
Assistant to Mr. John Hanford, Ambassador at Large
Joanella Morales
(202) 647-4359
(202) 647-3209 (fax)
moralesjx@state.gov