Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Praying For Our Leaders

The substantial majority of readers of blogs of this type do not care for Barack Obama’s presidency. This assertion is to understatement something like a kitchen faucet is to Niagara Falls.

Yet Christians are not given the option of letting their disagreement with their political leaders prevent them from praying for those leaders. The apostle Peter wrote that believers are to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good … Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:13-14, 17).

Similarly, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (I Timothy 2:1-3).

Who was emperor when Peter and Paul wrote these words? None other than one of the most notorious political leaders of history, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known generally simply as Nero.

What kind of ruler was Nero? He murdered his mother and both of his wives, for starters. But his grotesque brutality far transcended his immediate family. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, after fire had consumed roughly half of Rome and his popularity was in free-fall, Nero decided to blame the fire on Christians. Tacitus records that, among other things, the early Roman followers of Jesus “were covered with the skins of wild animals and then torn apart by dogs, some were crucified, some were burned at torches to light as night” (The One Year Christian History, p. 322).

Thankfully, none of America’s political leaders – local, state, or federal – can claim such infamy. This does not diminish the wrong that they have done or allow. For example, the silent cries of more than 56 million unborn children aborted since 1973 echo through the corridors of power. Yet we are called to pray for those in authority; God’s Word says it, and Christians must do it.

How, then, should we pray for those in authority over us, whether they be persons we respect and/or with whose political judgment we agree or persons whose character and/or official policies we cannot endorse?
  • 1. We should pray for their health and safety. As recorded in Ezra 6:10, the pagan king Darius asked God’s faithful people in Jerusalem to pray for his life and the lives of his sons. In light of the recent intrusion in the White House of a man armed with a knife, we certainly can pray that the Obama family and all those in power, whether in Washington or the county courthouse or anywhere in between, would be protected and upheld in good health.
  • 2. We should pray that they would execute justice. Honoring and protecting those who live decently and productively and punishing those who do wrong are the fundamental duties of the state (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:14). We should ask the Lord that those in authority would fulfill them well.
  • 3. That they would follow the Lord’s ways and repent if they don’t. The horrific reign of Manasseh over Judah and his later repentance (II Chronicles 33:1-20) should remind Christians that for those in government leadership, personal character and political actions are entwined. Yet Manasseh should also remind us that even evil men, when they repent sincerely, can be used by God to restore what they have ruined.
  • 4. That they would govern with wisdom for the “welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7), not for personal gain or for the advantage of a favored few. Their concern must be for the well-being of all.
  • 5. That God would accomplish His purposes through them regardless of their willingness to be used by Him. Proverbs 21:1 tells us that “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.” We can petition the Most High to work through even those who are resisting Him to fulfill His purposes.
It’s noteworthy that God is unimpressed by political power, including those who think they can defy Him. Consider some passages of Scripture about how the Sovereign of all views such persons:
  • The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:2-4).
  • Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, He takes up the coastlands like fine dust … All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and … brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. (Isaiah 40:15, 17; 22-24).
Terms like derision, laughter, “brings to nothing” and “as emptiness” make clear that God is not especially threatened by those who believe they can unseat His omnipotent and eternal rule. We should not be either.

Daniel 4:17 reminds us that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” The Hebrew the word translated as “lowliest” probably refers to persons of humble origin. In other words, God can raise up a shepherd boy like David, a backwoods workman like Abraham Lincoln, or the son of a ne’er-do-well Kenyan economist like Barack Obama to accomplish what He wants, whether they want Him to or not. God’s people must never forget, and should always take great comfort, in that truth, even as they work actively for public policies pleasing to their Eternal King.

Family Research Council.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ebola and ISIS - Both Dangerous and Relentless

Lately, much of America's attention has been focused on Ebola and ISIS. Both of those lurking threats are dangerous and relentless. 

Even now, we can see that each possesses the capacity to inflict immeasurable, even massive, pain and suffering. As of yet, though, we are still unsure about how much damage they can realistically do to the American homeland.

However, despite all the other existing and potential crises like Vladimir Putin's slow-motion takeover of Ukraine, Russia's teetering on the verge of financial collapse, Iran's impending ascension to the nuclear club, the disturbing prospect of Islam's growing dominance of Europe, various crumbling national economies around the world, and on and on and on, Sweden and Great Britain have reckoned that maybe the most pressing action they need to take is recognizing the non-existent state of Palestine.

Last week, Sweden did it officially and Britain did it unofficially.

Caroline Glick is a senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Post. Writing this week in The New York Times, Ms. Glick noted that the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven said that "a two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence." She then reminded Mr. Lofven and the world that "...PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas has pledged, repeatedly, over decades that he will never, ever recognize Israel."

Her implicit question, which none of the politically-correct European and British politicians can ever answer, is, "How can you say that Palestinian recognition of Israel is vital to a so-called 'two-state solution,' then blatantly ignore the critical fact that the Palestinians have pledged NEVER to recognize Israel and still demand that Israel give the PLO and Hamas all they want."

Ms. Glick rightly observed that those European politicians aren't stupid. She wrote, "They know that if Israel succumbs to their political and economic warfare and cedes its capital city and historic heartland to its enemies, it will be unable to defend its remaining territory." Then she hit the nail on the head, "In other words, they know that in recognizing 'Palestine,' they are not helping the cause of peace. They are advancing Israel's ruin."

To make matters worse, last week U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry implied to reporters that he blames Israel for the success of ISIS. He hinted that the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is "a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation."

I've got a news flash for Secretary Kerry, ISIS follows the long Muslim tradition of hating Jews. That's why they will be just as outraged by a "two-state solution" as they are by the very existence of a Jewish state. They will not rest as long as Israel exists in any shape or form.

Further, they don't just want to wipe out Israel, they want to rid the earth of every last Jew.

Will they be satisfied then? No. Why? Because close behind their hatred of Jews is their hatred of Christians. ANY Jew or Christian living anywhere in the world will always be an affront to their faith.

So when you hear Kerry and company calling on Israel to sacrifice its security for "peace in the Middle East," remember that the appetite of radical Islam is insatiable. They don't want two states anywhere. They want one state everywhere -- the Islamic state!

President Obama is right.

We need to send help to the nations in West Africa who are on the frontlines battling Ebola. In fact, we need to send massive help.

Even more, it's definitely in our best interest to do so. IF -- and that's a capitalized "IF" -- the outbreak there reaches the fantastic, "exponential" proportions predicted by the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) and even our own CDC, it is imperative that the disease be stopped where it is -- essentially, in three nations in West Africa.

However, just as right and important as it is to stop Ebola in its West African tracks, it's dumb to send thousands of unprepared, untrained American troops into the "hot zone" to deal with it.

But, you say, the mainstream media says they ARE trained to deal with it. Yeah, 50 at a time, trained by two instructors for four hours! Just look at who's been catching Ebola. Medical professionals with years of training and intimate and extensive knowledge of the dangers they face and the precautions necessary to deal with it. They probably spent more than four hours just learning the history of Ebola and how to spell its medically appropriate name!

Again, you say, the popular media says our soldiers WON'T be dealing directly with Ebola patients. Big deal. America's first Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, an expert on safely treating the deadly disease, insists that he "did not get Ebola in the isolation unit." He believes he caught the virus outside the hospital, while going about his daily life in Monrovia, Liberia.

Even Thomas Eric Duncan, America's first Ebola fatality, the Liberian who traveled here after becoming infected, did not get Ebola at the hospital treating patients. He came into close contact with an infected person in his own neighborhood when he tried to help her.

So just the fact that thousands of American soldiers are on site, building shelters and isolation units, moving about and interacting with the general population, even living in local hotels at the moment, means they are being exposed daily to potentially infected Liberians who are still asymptomatic, but carry the deadly contagion.

To me, that's an irresponsible way to use the heroic men and women who have volunteered to risk their lives to ensure our nation's security and way of life. On top of that, those thousands will constitute a dense environment through which Ebola could easily spread once some of them contract it.

I think the same lack of forethought is also demonstrated by the President's appointment of Democratic operative Ron Klain as the nation's "Ebola Czar."

While it's true that Klain served as Chief of Staff to both Vice Presidents Gore and Biden, and he is a loyal Democratic facilitator who was instrumental in the Solyndra scandal, and he was a lobbyist for that famous governmental millstone, Fannie Mae, and he is a lawyer, it's also true that he has no medical expertise or experience.

However, maybe that's not so important.

Recently on CNN, Elaine Kamarck from the Brookings Institute, who once served in the Bill Clinton White House, stated that "[President Obama] appointed Ron [Klain] to coordinate the government response... The governmental response has little to do with the medicine part of the Ebola crisis."

Sadly, I think Ms. Kamarck is probably right, too. The efforts of the U.S. government, which is a leading player in the worldwide fight against a MEDICAL crisis of potentially catastrophic potential, are being led by a bureaucrat who probably can't even pick an advanced Ebola patient out of a line-up. But it's apparently not important that he have any understanding of the MEDICAL implications of the disaster, just that he has the tools and experience (and willingness) to protect the Administration's political rear-end during the whole affair.

And here's a late-breaking twist to the story. WorldNetDaily reported that in a recent interview, Ron Klain identified the "top leadership issue challenging the world today" as "how to deal with the continually growing population in the world and all the resource demands it places on the world and burgeoning populations in Asia and Africa that lack the resources to have a healthy, happy life." And for good measure, he immediately added that "climate change impacts that issue...."

So, America's new "Ebola Czar" has no medical expertise or credentials, but he does think overpopulation is the "top leadership issue challenging the world today...." I see now why President Obama thought he was the perfect guy for the job.

Welcome to America 2014.

Now I understand why 58% of Americans surveyed in a recent Fox News poll felt that America was "going to hell in a handbasket."