Tag Archives: religion

Telling the Truth about Islam, Part 4

Courage and humility must find active expression as we confront enemies determined to destroy our cherished freedoms. Here are three more strategic insights for this long conflict:

One: We must repent of and repudiate all historical and present forms of oppression, including any divisions of class, gender, race, religion or political opinion. We will not always agree and should freely debate on all matters eternal and temporal. But we must want for all others the liberties and opportunities we desire for ourselves.

Two: We must humbly reaffirm our enduring values and offer genuine hope for better days in our neighborhoods and nations. Politicians must cease posturing and begin working for the common good. Moms and Dads need to place their children’s needs above their own and nurture their marriages. Local churches can commission their members for value creation in all domains of work.

Three: As we engage (tearfully) in military action, we fight to win without reducing our ethics to the dastardly ones of our opponents. We limit civilian casualties as best we can – yet we cannot tie the hands of troops with actionable intelligence. This will be very difficult, but necessary if we desire victory in hearts as well as military success.

The hardest parts of this conflict are the intractable attitudes of our enemies and the long, patient actions needed for victory. This is why character matters. Zealots cannotultimately win if met with greater moral/spiritual as well as military/political forces. Onlytrue humility can forge this better future.

Challenging the Clichés with Facts: Insights for our Future, Part 2

Global lovers of liberty face an implacable enemy that believes that they are destined to subjugate the world in the name of Islam. Yes, most of our Muslim neighbors reject this intolerant and violent ideology, but their religion has no reforming stream powerful enough to counter the dedication of both Shi’ite and Sunni radicals.

It is up to people of conscience – of all faiths or none – to rally wisely with the future of freedom at stake.

In the USA, the Left and Right are both failing is their responses. Here are some reflections to create a different kind of dialogue:

Compassion and strength are not opposites.
Resisting ISIS, Hamas, Al-Qaeda will require both.
Without losing our values, we can devise military and political resistance that is more than an occasional foray.

I challenge the Left to realize that there are millions of folks – not economically deprived and oppressed – that want our destruction. “Love and peace” banners are not enough. Wishing away the hatred of those dedicated to our demise will not make it so.

I challenge the Right to end jingoism and offer strategic ideas for alliances and long-term effective action. We must not descend to the level of the enemies we face. It is possible to love our enemies even as we resist their hatred and violence.

I challenge oil-rich Islamic nations to welcome millions of refugees in the name of their hospitable religion. A Silicon Valley Imam recently agreed with me that given the wealth of many Islamic nations, there should not be a single Muslim living in poverty.

“Can’t we all just get along?” 
Sometimes the answer is a tragic, “No.”
But Christ offers a divine, “Yes!” to all who repent…and that is our greatest “weapon” – gospel love and truth that transcends culture, ideology and national interests.

A Baptism of Tears

Stan Burgess’ delightful source book, Peoples of the Spirit, chronicles gifts and expressions of the Holy Spirit throughout church history. One of the most interesting experiences is what the Eastern Orthodox leaders called, “The Baptism of Tears.”

When the Spirit falls, tears flow.

God hears the laments of his people and records the tears on his scroll (or stores them in his bottle – Psalm 56:8). Tears of repentance cleanse the soul. Tears of rejoicing lift our spirits. Tears of righteous anger propel advocacy for justice. Tears of compassion empower sacrifice for those that cannot return the favor.

North American Christianity needs a baptism of tears.

Instead of polarized invective that tears up apart, we need the tears of divine empathy to unite our hearts. The God of the Bible weeps and laughs, grieves deeply and dances with joy (Jeremiah 8-9; Zeph. 3; Luke 10, 19).

Imagine our conversations with God and each other if we experience a baptism of tears:

We will weep deeply as we confront the racism of Charleston and shed joyful tears as forgiveness triumphs over retaliation.

We will weep hearing the cries of creation as humans despoil the earth and we will cry aloud with delight as gospel hope inspires ecological healing.

We weep in intercession for our neighbors lost without Christ and shed tears of joy as converts are baptized and prodigals discover Abba Almighty waiting for them.

We will weep when a sister or bother suffers and find our eyes moist when healing flows.

This baptism of tears purges hubris and hypocrisy from our hearts. Tears will inspire love for enemies as we realize their need of grace.

There is a time and place for civil, dispassionate debate, inside the church and in the public square. The issues tearing the church and civil society apart, especially the labeling and libeling, the intolerance and entrenched anger, will not be overcome merely with debating points. Evidence and rational thought are needed in our hyperbolic sound bite-driven world. But tears are needed even more.

Tears in our eyes help us hear with our ears what the Spirit is saying as we listen deeply to each other.

Today I am shedding tears for our violence toward the vulnerable, from the unborn to the aged, the oppressed and trafficked to the hidden abuse in homes.

Today I am crying with joy over the thousands finding Christ each hour, and many believers awakening to this moment of kingdom opportunity.

Tears are not a sign of moral compromise or inner weakness. They are not evidence of sentimentalism. Tears are signs of compassion, empathy and wholeness.

Healing laughter often ends with flowing tears. Deep conviction that leads to repentance is accompanied by cries for mercy, with tears running down the face.

We do not need to make this happen artificially or start a new movement for tears in our services. Authentic works of the Holy Spirit that honor Christ and transform individuals and institutions do not need our manipulative assistance.

If we pray the ancient prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit” and really desire the fullness of the resurrection life of Christ, tears will flow.

Come, Holy Spirit, and baptize us with tears.