HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL
Last week, Israel celebrated its 64th birthday and Christians around the world honored the independence of this nation.
David Harris of executive director of the American Jewish Committee, last year wrote a beautiful observance of Israel’s independence. In the column, he wrote, “The psalmist’s remembrance of the tears of exile in Babylon has been replaced by the joy of the return home. A language of old has been restored. A dry, barren soil has become lush with the fruits of the earth. A people decimated by the Nazi Final Solution experienced sovereign regeneration only three years after the Holocaust. A nation confronted by a war of extinction on its very first day — and relentlessly thereafter with more wars, waves of terrorism, economic boycotts, blood-curdling incitement, assaults on its legitimacy, you name it — has never given up or given in.”
During this year’s independence celebration at Har Herzl in Jerusalem, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin declared that Israel is prepared to guard against “the extremists” who seek to destroy it. “The struggle against those who set mosques on fire is not between leftists and settlers, it is a struggle against zealots,” he said.
With Hamas and Hezbollah committed to the annihilation of Israel, Christians everywhere should be taking seriously the urging of Psalm 122:6, which says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you” (NKJV).
ANTI-RELIGION GROUP TARGETS ANOTHER CROSS
In Woonsocket, R.I., the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wants to oust another Christian symbol, this one a cross that sits atop a historic war memorial. The Providence Journal reported that Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine and the city council are fighting to protect the memorial, while state Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said he “applauded” their work “to fight the attack by the group Freedom From Religion Foundation.”
Last week, more than 1,000 people, many of them veterans, participated in a rally to safeguard the memorial; it was organized by former head of the Rhode Island National Guard Gen. Reginald Centracchio and WPRO radio’s John DePetro to. At the event, Mayor Fontaine stated that the 1921 monument is not about the establishment of religion, but solely about recalling the sacrifices of four local residents killed in WW I and WWII, including three brothers: Alexandre, Henri and Louis Gagne.
The Wisconsin-based FFRF has been targeting such memorials since 1978. The organization presently has a petition drive urging the termination of our nation’s annual National Day of Prayer. The petition reads: “We petition the Obama Administration to: End the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, which violates the 1st Amendment. God & government are a dangerous mix.” I think what’s more dangerous is the fact that these anti-religion groups ignore our nation’s observable history of offering thanks to God for His blessings and protections. As George Washington stated in his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1789, “… it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” If we’re not careful, one day, Mr. Washington’s words might be purged from our nation’s record because they are too offensive.
A NEW KIND OF BULLYING
Last week, at a Seattle high school journalism gathering, anti-bullying and gay-rights organizer Dan Savage went on an anti-Bible assault, taking direct aim on kids in the audience who revere God’s Word, even cursing the Bible and using profanity to describe its contents. After about 100 students walked out on the speaker, Savage cursed them, as well.
The Fox News Channel says that Savage is the founder of the “It Gets Better” project, an anti-bullying crusade that has gained the support of President Obama. Savage, Fox News reported, “also writes a sex advice column called Savage Love.” CitizenLink.com, an affiliate ministry of Focus On The Family, interviewed the father of one of the Christian students who walked out. He stated, “If Dan Savage was a teacher, they’d suspend him without pay for this behavior … How many of the kids who didn’t walk out felt backed into a corner? To me, that’s bullying behavior. It has all the symptoms, as far as I’m concerned.”
Even though Mr. Savage’s behavior was shocking and unacceptable, I do support the effort to halt all bullying in our nation. As Christians, we must be ever-ready to defend the Bible and affirm that it is the supernaturally-inspired Word of God and that all its contents are the true revelation of God. We must never be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). However, we must also remember that we need to be compassionate and respectful to all. I personally denounce any Christian who bullies a homosexual; that is not what God intends. Jesus, our example, was always kind to everyone he met, and we must reflect Him in all we do and say as we point to Him as the loving Savior.
John MacArthur, in his book Titus, gave us a great reminder on how we, as followers of Christ, must always behave. He wrote, “We must not be so engulfed in trying to force social behavior to conform to our standards that we become enemies of those our Lord has called us to win to Himself. We must reject sin and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. But we also must never engage in defamation and denigration of the lost sinners who make up our corrupt culture. When Christians become political, sinners become the enemy instead of the mission field.”