Five Fold Today The Journey That Many Will Take - Wayward Christian Soldiers - My Glory Will Be Seen Upon You - U.S. Christian Leaders Apologise For Iraq War - Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate - Take a Risk - The Ability to Do

March 7, 2006

The Journey That Many Will Take

Stephen Hanson

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped. Psalm 17:5

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;Psalm 25:4

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3

Come to the mountain and listen to Me, says the Lord. For I have many things to reveal to you.  The road is steep, but it has been traveled before.  Listen to the hush and the stillness that fills the air.  There is the sound of small birds and other animals around you. Continue up the path with your eye upon the peak in front of you. There is a fragrance in the air. Sit upon the bench provided for you here.   Gaze upon the distant hills and valleys below.   You will notice that there is a haze and darkness that fills the land.  There is a slumber that has filled the heads of many of the people below.  Get up from your place and continue your walk on up the mountain.  Watch where your feet are now walking because the path now becomes rocky. Now, you will notice that there is a "Y" in the road. You will notice there are footprints that have led in the pathway that leads to the right.

Many have gone that way for it is the easier path.  But when you begin your journey on the left side, you will see that it is designed for you.  There will be subtle things that will help you to realize this.  As you continue on this road, you will now see the crest of the mountain right in front of you. Evening is approaching and the light is changing all around you.  Rest, for the journey will continue.

Stephen Hanson

Wayward Christian Soldiers

Charles Marsh

In the past several years, American evangelicals - and I am one of them - have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message?

Recently, I took a few days to reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war.

In that period, from the fall of 2002 through the spring of 2003, many of the most respected voices in American evangelical circles blessed President George W. Bush's war plans, even when doing so required them to recast Christian doctrine.

Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, whose weekly sermons are seen by millions of television viewers, led the charge with particular fervor. "We should offer to serve the war effort in any way possible," said Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "God battles with people who oppose him, who fight against him and his followers."

In an article carried by the convention's Baptist Press news service, a missionary wrote that "American foreign policy and military might have opened an opportunity for the Gospel in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Both Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, and Marvin Olasky, the editor of the conservative World magazine and a former advisor to Bush on faith-based policy, echoed these sentiments, claiming that the American invasion of Iraq would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims.

Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the hugely popular "Left Behind" series, spoke of Iraq as "a focal point of end-time events," whose special role in the earth's final days will become clear after invasion, conquest and reconstruction. Jerry Falwell declared that "God is pro-war" in the title of an essay he wrote in 2004.

The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president's decision in April 2003.

Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to Christian moral doctrine.

Some tried to square the U.S. invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort.

Some preachers tried to link Saddam Hussein with wicked King Nebuchadnezzar of Biblical fame, but these arguments depended on esoteric interpretations of the Old Testament.

The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: Our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.

Such sentiments are a far cry from those expressed in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974. More than 2,300 evangelical leaders from 150 countries signed that statement, the most significant milestone in the movement's history.

Convened by Billy Graham and led by John Stott, the revered Anglican evangelical priest and writer, the signatories affirmed the global character of the church of Jesus Christ and the belief that "the church is the community of God's people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology."

Unlike the Pope John Paul II, who said that invading Iraq would violate Catholic moral teaching and threaten "the fate of humanity," or even Pope Benedict XVI, who has said there were "not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq," Stott did not speak publicly on the war. But in a recent interview, he shared with me his abiding concerns.

"Privately, in the days preceding the invasion, I had hoped that no action would be taken without United Nations authorization," he told me. "I believed then and now that the American and British governments erred in proceeding without UN approval."

Stott referred me to "War and Rumors of War," a chapter from his 1999 book, "New Issues Facing Christians Today," as the best account of his position. There he wrote that the Christian community's primary mission must be "to hunger for righteousness, to pursue peace, to forbear revenge, to love enemies, in other words, to be marked by the cross."

What will it take for American evangelicals to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world.

Charles Marsh, a professor of religion at the University of Virginia, is the author of ''The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today.''

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the International Herald Tribune
© 2006 The International Herald Tribune

My Glory Will Be Seen Upon You

Dorothea Montague

My precious people, I say unto you....

Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (Isa. 60:1,2)

What a glorious promise to those who are Mine. Go forth, My people and lead unto Me all those who are living in darkness, that they accept Me into their lives and that My glory will be seen upon them.

Yes, My precious ones, you are seeing great darkness the world over...wars and rumors of wars, as foretold in My Word, famines in many countries, pestilences such as the aids virus and different kinds of flu virus spreading across the world and earthquakes evident in various places. My people, be warned for all of these catastrophies are part of the great tribulation which has been prophesied to take place in the latter days and is even now in progress.

O, My people, seek Me and My will for you with all your hearts. Walk ever closer to Me and come into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Me. It is My desire to speak with you, to teach you the things of Me, to send you forth into all the world, to put My words in your mouth, to touch the hearts of all whom you meet. Beloved, as you release your minds and hearts unto Me I shall fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit, giving you My power for ministry.

Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears, and go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them,  'Thus says the Lord God,' whether they hear or whether they refuse." (Ezekial 3:10)

O, My people, you are aware that I am at work in your lives, preparing you to serve Me with all your hearts. I am allowing you to endure suffering to draw you closer to Me for it is through your suffering that you are able to minister to the suffering people around you. I am opening up new avenues of ministry which will lead you to a new anointing to touch the hearts of unbelievers, a new power in speaking forth My words that will draw people unto Me.

O, My people, My glory shall rise upon you and all shall see the presence of the Holy Spirit within you. I would urge each of you to seek a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, giving you more power in ministry, giving you My words as I use you as a vessel to speak them forth to unbelievers, to give you the gift of healing as you pray for the sick and all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as you have need of them.

My people, do not allow fear to enter into your hearts as even in the midst of the greatest tribulation I shall be with you and you shall see multitudes swept into My kingdom. Search out the reports of the aftermath of the hurricanes and the storms and other disasters which have come on many parts of the world and learn how multitudes in the midst have found Me as their Lord and Savior. Multitudes have received a new compassion for their fellow man and have come into a new era of people helping people.

Beloved, it is a new day in your world and even in the midst of sin and evil I am raising up those who will obey My great commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. I am raising up the youth who will fearlessly testify of their salvation to all whom they meet and many will be won for Me.

The glory of young men is their strength. (Prov. 20:29)

Even as tribulation deepens yet shall My plan and purpose for My people be achieved and My glory shall be seen upon them.

U.S. Christian Leaders Apologise For Iraq War

Ximena Diego

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (IPS) - Christian leaders from the United States lamented the war in Iraq and apologised for their government's current foreign policy during the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which ended Thursday.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, the moderator of the U.S. Conference for the WCC, told fellow delegates from around the world.

Kishkovsky is the rector of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Sea Cliff, New York, and is an officer in the Orthodox Church of America.

Taking an unusual stand among U.S. Christian leaders, the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC) criticised Pres. George W. Bush's actions in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"We are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation," says the statement endorsed by the most prominent Protestant Christian churches on the Council.

"Our leaders turned a deaf ear to the voices of church leaders throughout our nation and the world, entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of our own national interests. Nations have been demonised and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous."

The message, written like a prayer of repentance and backed by the 34 Christian churches that belong to the WCC, mourns those who have died or been injured in the Iraq war and says, "We confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war."

Among the attendees was the Rev. Bernice Powell-Jackson, North American President of the World Council of Churches. A civil rights activist for more than 25 years, Jackson previously served as executive director of one of the Justice and Witness Ministries predecessor bodies, the Commission for Racial Justice.

The U.S. Conference of the WCC also criticised the government's position on global warming. "The rivers, oceans, lakes, rainforests, and wetlands that sustain us, even the air we breathe continue to be violated... Yet our own country refuses to acknowledge its complicity and rejects multilateral agreements aimed at reversing disastrous trends," reads the message.

Earlier this month, a group of more than 85 U.S. evangelical Christian leaders called on Congress to enact legislation that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists believe contribute to global warming.

The U.S. Conference of the WCC message also said, "Starvation, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the treatable diseases that go untreated indict us, revealing the grim features of global economic injustice we have too often failed to acknowledge or confront."

"Hurricane Katrina," it continues, "revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract. As a nation we have refused to confront the racism that infects our policies around the world."

The statement comes days after the National Council of Churches (NCC), the United States chapter of the WCC, endorsed a U.N. report on the situation of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Separately, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, NCC General Secretary Robert W. Edgar called on the U.S. to bring the detainees to trial, release them, or to "close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility without further delay". It also asked Rice for access to the Guantanamo facility "to monitor the physical, spiritual and mental conditions of the detainees".

At the Brazilian conference, the Rev. John Thomas, president of United Church of Christ, was quoted as saying: "An emerging theme in conversation with our partners around the world is that the U.S. is being perceived as a dangerous nation."

He called the Assembly "a unique opportunity to make this statement to all our colleagues" in the ecumenical movement. The statement says, "We come to you seeking to be partners in the search for unity and justice."

Thomas acknowledged that not all church members would agree with the thrust of the statement, but said it was their responsibility as leaders to "speak a prophetic and pastoral word as we believe God is offering it to us".

The final WCC event featured a candlelit march for peace through downtown Porto Alegre with up to 2,000 people -- including two Nobel Prize-winners -- taking part.

Organised by local churches as part of the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence, it was accompanied by Latin American music from Xico Esvael and Victor Heredia. Young people carried banners highlighting peace and justice issues. One, depicting the world held in God's hand, read "Let God change you first, then you will transform the world."

WCC president Powell-Jackson urged the crowd to commit themselves to overcoming violence. Prawate Khid-arn of the Christian Conference of Asia told them, "If we do not take the risk of peace, we will have to take the risk of war."

Israel Batista of the Latin American Council of Churches spoke of poverty, injustice and abuse of women and children and asked, "How are we to speak of peace?" Still, he said, "In spite of violence, we will persist in the struggle for peace."

After an address by Julia Qusibert, a Bolivian indigenous Christian, the marchers sang the Samba of the Struggle for Peace and the Taizé chant Ubi Caritas, among other songs. The march paused while Nobel prize-winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel improvised a poem and addressed the crowd at the Esquina Democrática or Democratic Corner.

The evening was brought to a climax with an address by the second Nobel Prize-winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He began his impassioned speech by saying, "We have an extraordinary God. God is a mighty God, but this God needs you. When someone is hungry, bread doesn't come down from heaven. When God wants to feed the hungry, you and I must feed the hungry. And now God wants peace in the world."

The WCC is the largest Christian ecumenical organisation, comprised of 340 Christian denominations and churches in 120 countries, and said to represent 550 million Christians throughout the world. The U.S. Conference of the World Council of Churches alone represents 34 Christian churches, including Orthodox, Evangelical, Lutheran and Anglican churches, and four million members throughout the country.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but has worked closely with the Council in the past. Since its origins in 1948, the WCC gathers in an Assembly every seven years with each member church sending a delegate.

Flatulent Right Wing Fills Radio with Hate

by Bill Berry

The man who does my parents' taxes in Green Bay seemed nice enough. He shook our hands and greeted us with small talk as we sat down to go over papers.

But the acrid sounds coming from a stereo tuner near his ancient desk filled the office like dirty smoke. It was right-wing radio, an angry white man on his afternoon shift. I was amazed that this accountant was taking my parents' money and making us listen to this to boot, but I reminded myself I was there to help them.

On this day, the topic was poor Dick Cheney and how the liberal media wouldn't leave him alone after his little hunting mishap.

Soon the accountant was trying to wrench my 80-year-old mother into this angry world. He asked her if she thought such a trifling matter was grounds for Cheney's resignation. She snapped back, saying that she didn't think the hunting incident merited Cheney's resignation but that there were plenty of other reasons for it. She added that the two men with her felt just as she did. The accountant curled his lip in Cheney-esque fashion and went back to work.

My skinny little mother won that battle, but the drone of the angry white men goes on day after day, and they still cling to the myth of the liberal media as some sort of overpowering beast. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who spoke at last year's Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, has been keeping a close watch on this. In a speech in San Francisco late last year, he noted that the notion of a liberal media is a right-wing ruse.

"There is a right-wing media, and if you look where most Americans are now getting their news, that's where they're getting it. According to Pew (Research Center), 30 percent of Americans now say that their primary news source is talk radio, which is 90 percent dominated by the right."

Unshackled by any meaningful oversight from the Federal Communications Commission or any sense of fairness, the right has elbowed its way into the mainstream, backed by big bucks. As Kennedy noted, "Twenty-two percent of Americans say their primary news source is Fox News, MSNBC or CNBC, all dominated by the right, and another 10 percent, Sinclair network, which is the most right wing of all." Sinclair also happens to be primarily Midwestern, a broadcast company whose owner makes news employees swear they won't criticize the war in Iraq or the Bush administration.

Right-wing radio may be the most pernicious of all in the way that it sneaks its way into the workplace day after day. If one person listens, then all in earshot must, too. You hear it everywhere, in the places where people work hard for a living.

There's good reason for these people to worry, but not about poor Dick Cheney. We are about one Supreme Court decision away from an end to collective bargaining for working men and women. Anyone concerned? Nearly 50 million Americans lack health care insurance, and many times that face shrinking benefits and growing premiums. Now there's something to worry about. Higher education? It's slipping out of reach for many.

But on it drones, this electronic flatulence. Call it the great distraction. It makes little distinction between Muslim extremists and loyal but liberal Americans. When Al Gore recently criticized the Bush administration for trampling on civil rights, right-wing radio accused him of treason. One can only hope that they didn't sentence him to a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

The message on a daily basis seems to be that it's OK to hate, to shout other people down, to go about one's life in an angry mood.

Perhaps more frightening is this: If this brand of thinking is now mainstream, what is next? What supplants the right at the far end of the spectrum? What will feed the monster in coming years?

Bill Berry of Stevens Point writes a semimonthly column for The Capital Times. E-mail:

Copyright © 2006 Capital Newspapers
Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

Take a Risk

Mary Lloyd

Matthew 4:16, 17
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Hebrews 10
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

I see you in the shadows, hiding behind the wall that you have built against Me.  I see the bricks of discontent and disappointment, unforgiveness, unbelief: and the fear which grips you against the dawning of My New Day.

Behold, your Deliverer is come, I AM here to release you, to recover your sight in the land that is called Pleasant: I will wait no longer. I will rebuke the blind darkness. I will rebuke the devourer of your joy.

See the  plants that flourish here behind the wall: suspicion, mistrust, anger, stubbornness, disobedience, and a quenching of My Spirit. In the dank shadows they flourish.

But I have called you to grow in My Light. Here you will be strong. Here you will be fearless. Here you will do those things I have called you to do.

You must take a risk.

Risk everything you have and are familiar with in order to receive what I want to give you. Risk what you think you know. Risk what you think you own. Risk all that there is in these quenching shadows for one brave sight of My Light.

Piece by piece, dismantle the wall. Feel the warmth of My love and My light flood in upon your face. Break through beyond this darkness where My truth is. Herein also is Joy, Peace, and all good things that pertain to life abundant that I have promised you.

I have called My children to repent of their darkness.

I have called My children to live and to grow in the Light.

Faith is a risk.
Will you take it?

Love from Mary

The Ability to Do

A. W. Tozer

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. --Luke 24:49

A definition of the word "power" means the ability to do. You know, because it is the Greek word from which our English word "dynamite" comes, some of the brethren try to make out that the Holy Spirit is dynamite, forgetting that they have the thing upside down. Dynamite was named after that Greek word, and the Holy Spirit and the power of God were not named after dynamite. Dynamite was discovered less than 200 years ago, but this Greek word from which we get our word "power" goes back to the time of Christ. It means "ability to do"--that is all, just "ability to do."

One man picks up a violin and he gets nothing out of it but squeaks and raucous sounds. That man doesn't have the ability to do. Another man picks up the violin and he is soon playing beautiful, rich melodies. One man steps into the prize ring and can't even lift his hands. The other fellow walks in and he has power to do, and soon the fellow who did not have the abiltiy to do is sleeping peacefully on the floor.

It is the man with the ability to do who wins. It means the dynamic ability to be able to do what you are given to do. You will receive ability to do. It will come on you.  The Counselor, 61-62.

"Again, Lord, help us to not be afraid of this all-important manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Come on our churches in power as we rely upon the Spirit for 'the ability to do' whatever You have called us to do. In fact, let me see Your power at work in my life even today. Amen."

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