• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • June 2008
    M T W T F S S
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Is Virginia’s Islamic Academy Hiding Something?

Patrick Poole writes in an article about the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County, Virginia, which is funded by the Saudi government, that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has found that textbooks used by the academy are filled with provocations to violence and racial and religious bigotry.

Recently, the academy’s 1999 class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, had his 2005 conviction upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on charges that he joined Al-Qaeda and had plotted to assassinate President George W. Bush. Abu Ali was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  Last October the USCIRF requested Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to close the school if academy officials continued to refuse to turn over copies of their textbooks to ensure that passages advocating violence against Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims were deleted.  School officials have variously denied that such passages exist, or said that such (non-existent) passages have been removed, or that they were working on removing the (non-existent) passages.

What’s Wrong With Nationalizing Oil Companies?

President Bush’s speech encouraging Congress to lift the ban on off-shore drilling in order to make America more economically secure and independent was a welcome antidote to his recent silence on this topic.  The point is that we must begin the process of exploration and drilling now if we want to prevent the reduction of oil available and even higher gas prices in the future.

How did Congress respond?  Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and one of the most-ardent opponents of off-shore drilling, declared – with support from his democratic colleagues – that “We [the government] should own the refineries. Then we can control how much gets out into the market.”  In effect, he is saying that the oil companies should be nationalized.

Have the Democratic secular progressives forgotten that Communism and Fascism are historically failed systems of government?  Have they forgotten that wherever socialism has taken root in the economic sector of a society, the results have led to economic disaster?  A good example is socialized medicine which the secular progressives continue to laud as a superior form of providing medical care.  Obviously, these Democratic elites never bother to talk to average Britains or Canadians.  How would you like to be told you have cancer which needs an operation and can only be scheduled 18 months from now?  Ask many Britains who have had to pull their own teeth because the wait is so long to see a dentist.  Ask the woman about to give birth in Canada who has to be flown to the United States because there are not enough doctors or hospital beds to provide her with either.  Why do so many Canadians prefer to seek medical treatment in the United States even when they have to pay for it out of their own pockets?

There are reasons.  Nationalized health care does not work any better than would a nationalized oil industry.  History teaches us that economic nationalization may begin with a bang of great expectations and colorful propaganda, but the end result is a progressing decline in the quality of goods and services.

We have fallen far from the great expectations and traditions of our American forefathers.  The secular progressives in Congress no longer see the Constitution as relevant.  There was a time in our country when elected representatives who called for the nationalization of an industry or business would have been recalled from Washington and booted from office because of voter outrage at such a statement.  Americans would have recognized that these sentiments are part of a Communist or Fascist agenda which is anti-American and anti-freedom.

The gas crisis we have today was created by the very government officials who now want you to trust them with taking over and running the oil industry.  They have sold their political souls to the pseudo-science of radical environmentalism.  They are determined to stop the burning of fossil fuels no matter what the cost to the average citizen.  The truth is that we are decades away from becoming a nation that can rely completely on alternative fuels.  Passing laws in Congress to the contrary, does not enhance creativity or the inventive processes of the human mind.  Lifting the ban on off-shore drilling and other areas in the US may not have an immediate effect on the price of gas.  It will, however, have an effect on the future of our country.  Secular progressives have too long neglected planning for the long term; for the futures of our children and grandchildren.  Now we are paying a high price for their neglect.

In the immediate future, we must vote these political panderers out of office.  In the long run, we must support an Amendment to the Constitution limiting the terms of service for all national office holders.  Our freedoms cannot be maintained if our country is run by professional politicians.

What Is A True Worship Service Like?

When I attend a church worship service, I should be able to see very clearly that the service belongs to God.  It is the responsibility of all who serve in church leadership, to insure that God is pleased with everything that takes place during the service.  Looking out for God’s interest, during the church, service is a very serious responsibility and His worship should not be approached casually.

In our worship, do we seek to work up emotions or can we say that the glory of God is among us?  One action leads to the premise that worship is all about my feelings.  The latter is to shift our focus from ourselves to God.  Someone may say, “Should not the service focus on the needs of the lost?”  Of course we must be concerned with the unbelievers among us, but not at the expense of removing God and His Word from the center of our service.

If we are a God-centered people, focusing on the glory of God during the service, the sinner will truly feel his conscience laid bare as he experiences the awesomeness of God’s Word speaking to his heart.  He will know the reality of God among His people.  Churches that get caught up in marketing schemes can only try to meet the felt-needs of unbelievers who do not know what they really need.  They do not effectually focus on the God who is.  Rather, they encourage the unbeliever to ask, “Who do I want God to be?”

Thus, true conversions become rare because we have accepted an unconverted cultural Christianity as the norm.  The true heart of the church is worshiping the God who is and preaching His infallible word.  The unconverted are welcome, but what they should see in church is the unapologetic awe, respect, and love for a great and holy God.  The congregation cannot even hope to come close to reaching this level of worship until the church leadership truly believes that the purpose of the worship service does not rest on our needs and wants, but instead on the glory of our God.

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