Friday, December 29, 2006

More Stupidity from the New York Times

Every now and then, I love to take a shot at the "Old Grey Lady," otherwise known as the New York Times. This bastion of American journalism loves to fancy itself as the "newspaper of record" and the all-wise arbiter of what should be acceptable for our society. Well, here's one for you to ponder and even sneer at. A great example of the paper's liberal secu-clergy cutting off the nose to spite society's face.

The link below will take you to a story in World Magazine written by editor Marvin Olasky. It concerns the infamous Angola Prison in Louisiana and how - horror of horrors - Christianity and a Christian warden are making a difference in what was known as the bloodiest prison in the South. Weapon-wielding assaults have plummeted from 321 in 1995 to 97 last year. Christian witness and Christian programs have made the difference. But the omniscient ones at the New York Times are incensed. How dare something make a positive difference in the lives of these inmates!

Funny, but isn't it the liberal media and activists who are always keening about rehabilitation, humane treatment and the horrible state of our criminal justice system?

Anyway, read..and do a slow burn. And think strongly about telling the New York Times where to put it.

World Magazine

Thursday, December 28, 2006

When Events Come in Like a Flood

This will indeed be a Christmas season to remember. I am certainly going to be processing it all for some time to come.

First, the passing of former president Gerald R. Ford. While Mr. Ford took positions on some issues further to the left than I'd like, I still respected him for doing his best to heal the country after the Watergate period. He conducted himself honorably while in office, stood for his principles, and most notably, conducted himself honorably AFTER leaving office. He continued what has been tradition for former presidents - not to be critical of or undermine their successors in office, and to be available to give counsel or serve when needed. Former president Jimmy Carter would do well to follow Mr. Ford's example from now on, but I am afraid he's too dense to take the hint. Anyway, Gerald Ford only had 2-1/2 years in office, but they were well served for the most part. I pray with all my heart that he knew Jesus as his Savior and is in the presence of Christ now.

Second, the passing of musician James Brown. I am certainly saddened by his death, which is doubly difficult for his family and friends coming right at Christmas. I am also saddened as I am uncertain of his walk with the Lord. As is usual with entertainers of his style, much is said about "singing and celebrating in Heaven." However, Mr. Brown's lifestyle didn't seem to quite jive with Christian conduct. He once said his music came from himself and God. I hate to say this, but God will not be authoring any song about being a human "sex machine." With Rev. Al Sharpton doing the funeral, I am even more in doubt. For those who are alive and remain, remember that God expects more than lip service faith. Saving faith produces fruit and a changed life. Musically, James Brown was not my cup of tea, but that has nothing to do with my comments. It's spiritual. If Rev. Sharpton does what he ought to do, he will remind people that they need to get right with God because they don't know when their time to die will come. Unfortunately, I have a hunch the reverend's "sermon" will be more political than anything else. There are many clergymen whose funeral messages indicate they believe unsaved people will be entering heaven. We hear it all the time. A pastor's role is certainly to bring comfort to the grieving, but it is also his duty to preach the Gospel and to prophetically rebuke sin. It does no one ultimately any good at all to see someone live a wild, non-Christian life and then assume "the saints go marching in." It doesn't work that way. What about James Brown's eternal destiny? Ultimately, that is in God's hands and He alone knows. I do know that He will not be mocked. And He will be just. No one will be in Hell who doesn't deserve to be there. No one deserves Heaven, of course. That's what Christ came to deal with through His shed blood on the cross. When someone has saving faith, that will be evident in their lives.

Third, the pending execution of Saddam Hussein. My prayer is for the salvation of Saddam's soul before they pull the lever. There will probably be plenty of rioting and bloodshed after the ex-dictator keeps his appointment with "Jack Ketch," but the sentence must be carried out. And the Vatican ought to shut up, quite frankly. I wish Rome had been as merciful when they were busy burning saints like John Hus at the stake.

Fourth, a local matter here in Illinois. The state wants to take away former governor George Ryan's pension due to his felony convictions. I am no fan of Mr. Ryan and believe he deserves to sit in the slammer for a while. But to take his pension penalizes his wife and family, who are not responsible for Mr. Ryan's wrongdoing. This is vengefulness on the part of the state's Democratic leadership, pure and simple.

Finally, things in the Middle East continue to percolate. I have often wondered if we are nearing the time for the fulfillment of the Oracle of Damascus in Isaiah 17. If Syria attacks Israel with missiles - especially missiles tipped with poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction - I expect Israel will destroy Damascus. In fact, they've already warned Syria about that potentiality. It wouldn't take much for the powderkeg to be ignited. As an aside, I don't believe the Rapture of the church absolutely has to happen first, either for the Damascus prophecy to be fulfilled or for the Gog and Magog (Russia) invasion of the Middle East. Something has to set the stage for the end-time "Man of Peace." Something so awful that the world will run to anyone who they think can bring peace at last. Even a false peace.

When I think about eschatology these days, I often ponder the words of the Apostle Peter regarding the future Day of the Lord . . . "Since all things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness . . . (2 Peter 3:11). Yes, I am aware that some theologians differentiate between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord, but I am talking in generalities for the time being. While I am premillennial in my eschatology, the Second Coming of our Lord ought to be something eagerly sought and anticipated by all believers. It is indeed the Blessed Hope of the Church. However, I am now hearing some pastors boast about never preaching on prophecy. They either don't understand it or they don't think it's relevant, which in and of itself is shocking coming from evangelicals. And the fruit this attitude bears is bitter.

Ever wonder why more and more Christians seem to be almost antinomian in their views of personal conduct and morality? Do they ever think about the Lord's promised return? How can they if they never hear about it in Sunday school or from the pulpits of their churches? In the Emergent Church extremes, one often hears about building the kingdom of God here on earth with little thought of Heaven (and no thought at all of Hell). Sounds like the 60s again, doesn't it?

Well, I am afraid the world is in for a big wake up call in the not too distant future. The church had better wake up before then. Big time.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

An Unexpected Christmas Eve Comment

Well, I said I'd be taking a few days away from the blogosphere unless something notable happened to make me post. Well, it has. And I don't know what to make of it.

For those of us with any age at all under our belts, we remember the ubiquitous holiday movies and television specials. We tended to look forward to them every year. Living out in the boondocks as I do, I watch satellite television much more than I do network or local television, but even on satellite, one can generally see plenty of Christmas-related offerings.

This year seems different. While I've seen a few Christmas-themed things advertized, the large majority seem to have NOTHING to do with Christmas. More appallingly, some movie channels are offering things that would be the LAST thing you'd expect to see aired at Christmas. I am talking about things like "The Omen," "Cape Fear," various slasher epics, etc. Or, you see a film ostensibly about Christmas only to find the storyline taking some perverse twist from what the season is supposed to mean.

A sign of the times? Perhaps. I truly don't think this represents the majority of Americans, however the media continues their juggernaut to form a society more akin to their secularist likings. Fox News Channel has commendably tried to buck the trend, but even some of their offerings raise my eyebrows. As an aside, ever wonder why the movie "The Nativity Story" hasn't been marketed or covered as well as "The Passion of the Christ?"

I expect we'll see more down the road. The wild-eyed left feels energized because the Democrats recaptured Congress. This would not have happened without the aggressive propaganda from the mainstream media. I am not saying the Bush Administration didn't have missteps. Believe me, I'm pretty irritated with George. However, one should not underestimate the impact the media had on this past election.

Finally, while I am ragging on the media, I want to climb on Fox News Channel's case. It does little good to comment on the outrage of the way the beauty pageant contestants are behaving, only to have you guys actually show the racy photos in question. Even the legitimate pageant photos are nothing more than soft core pornography. Years ago, you might have been able to watch a pageant with your family, even during the swimsuit portion. At one time, the swimsuits were modest. Now, they might as well be nude, and I have to wonder at the judgment of any parent (especially Christian parents) that would watch these things or allow their children to watch them. And the news channels don't need to show two teen girls French-kissing to get their point across. Believe it or not, some kids do watch the news. You shouldn't have to give the evening news or talk show programs an "R" rating.

Enough rant. You get the idea.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Seventh Sola

I know some will find it odd that a Christian blog would post a "commercial" shot taken at the famous "Mall of America," but I am doing it to make a point.

Even at this blessed time of year for Christians, it is hard for many of us to resist the siren song of commercialism instead of remembering what this holiday is ultimately celebrating. I would like to remind us all (and yes, me too!) that we are praising God for the first Advent, the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ in human flesh. He came to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the dead for our justification. He ascended to heaven after His resurrection, and those of us who are called by His name look forward to the soon time when His Second Advent will take place.

But for now, we remember with thankfulness the event that changed the world forever . . .

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2:1-20).

We will be taking a blogging break for several days, perhaps until the first of the year. However, if events occur that urgently need Seventh Sola treatment, we will post.

May you and yours have a most blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saddam and Islamic Terrorism

The following link will take you to the wonderful Imprimis newsletter, a publication of Michigan's Hillsdale College. In the article, Weekly Standard writer and Hillsdale Visiting Fellow in Journalism Stephen F. Hayes examines the question of whether or not Saddam Hussein's regime was into terrorism. This has been an ongoing source of dispute, and Mr. Hayes' article sheds much needed light on this much obfuscated issue. By the way, the answer is yes.


Friday, December 15, 2006

The War on Terror vs. The War on Nazis

As some of you know, I love old films from Hollywood's Golden Age..roughly from 1930-1955. I watched a film this evening called "Hotel Berlin" made right at the end of World War II. At the end of this most excellent movie, they ran a scroll of the following statement from the "Big Three"..Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin:

Our purpose is not to destroy the German people - but we are determined to disband all German armed forces - break up the German General Staff - eliminate all German industry used for military production - bring all war criminals to just and swift punishment - wipe out the Nazi Party and Nazi laws from the life of the German people - Germany must never again disturb the peace of the world.

Interesting, isn't it?

Now, let's change a few words.

Our purpose is not to destroy the Islamic people - but we are determined to disband all Islamic armed forces - break up the Islamic General Staff or Jihad - eliminate all Islamic industry used for military production - bring all Islamic war criminals to just and swift punishment - wipe out the radical Jihadist Party and Islamic law from the life of the Jihadist people - Islam must never again disturb the peace of the world.

In World War II, the notice from the Big Three received the cheers of the world. Today, faced with even an uglier threat to Western civilization, most today would shrink away from calling a spade a spade in such fashion. I realize that there are differences between then and now, and that not all Muslims advocate the jihadist vision. However, the battle against the jihadists ought to be conducted in the same fashion. But we're too afraid to do it.

Think about it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Road to the Mark Part Two

In case you found my previous post a bit nutty, below is a link to a major article from a major Canadian paper, the Toronto Star. It discusses how "chipping" human beings will be routine in a few years, and how society will be lulled into it bit by bit.

Remember you read it here.

Toronto Star

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Road to the Mark?

I don't know how many people have caught the new credit card commercial out there. The name of the actual card is not important, but what the commercial symbolizes is.

In the commercial, it shows a plethora of people at a very busy restaurant. The music is that old piece used by old cartoons to illustrate mechanized movement - the name of the piece escapes me, but anyone who has watched old Looney Tunes cartoons would recognize it immediately. The cooks are flipping flapjacks like clockwork, the diners are picking up their plates and paying with plastic. Then, some unfortunate dolt (that's the impression left by the commercial) has the unmitigated gall to pay with cash, bringing the whole place grinding to an immediate halt. Several people crash together, strowing the contents of their plates all over. The cashier gives the man a very dirty look and hands him his change. The idea is, keep progress going by ditching cash and paying with your credit card. Don't get in the way of progress.

Now, the push for a cashless society is nothing new. In my high school days 30 years ago, they were talking about it in consumer economics. Prophecy students have noted the increasing trends and linking it together with this notorious verse in Revelation . . .

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:16-8).

In the view of the Seventh Sola, I don't think for one moment that the merchants behind the credit card commercial have any clue about what is biblically prophesied. However, the enemy of our souls does. As history moves toward its denouement, it is certain that economic conditions will change to the point that the clamor to get rid of cash will grow deafening. This is part of the process of setting the stage. They are already bio-chipping people and animals. It's only a matter of time before some sort of technology is developed to make society cashless at last. It's convenient. It's secure. It's theft/fraud proof. It will save money in the long run. Lots of selling points. Nothing evil is intended.

That's how it will start. But good intentions are often taken over by evil people. That's how it will end.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On Cult-like Evangelical Paternalism

The following is a revised version Kevin sent me after I posted the original. Due to time constraints, I have not edited it for formatting etc. as I did the earlier version.

By Rev. Kevin S. Johnson
Guest Columnist to The Seventh Sola,

My Dad was professor of aviation electronics at Jacksonville Naval Air base
in Florida during World War II. His brother-in-law, my mother's brother Claire,
was decorated with a Bronze Star medallion and three purple hearts for
fighting the Nazis in France in World War II. Consequently, I grew up with a love
for the country that he almost died serving. The hard-fought liberties we enjoy
are graciously bestowed by God Who creates men like my Dad and Uncle Claire
who risk life and limb fighting for them. This understanding of liberty should
be like our mother's milk if we are born in America. 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells
us “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is

Freedom and liberty involve the ability to make choices and not be in bondage
to the will of others. This is why it was left to the democracies of World
War II, led by America, to fight against the tyranny of dictatorship. The very
history of leaving European religious tyranny and then conquering a continent
developed cultural patterns in the United States that produced free God-reliant
men who didn’t live “by the leave” of others. Sadly, in this age of
convenience and self indulgence that ethos is being lost in the "land of the free"
because many are NOT being "brave".

Europe was once known as the “Holy Roman Empire” and, starting with the
Caesars, always had a history of strong armed father figure leaders and the lesser
others who were to “know their place.” Many accepted their lot and developed
a servile attitude. This is different from a “servant’s heart” which is
unselfish even to the point of laying down your life for a friend, —sometimes in
fighting dictators. The selfish self-centered people intent on climbing the
social ladder believe the lie of the dictator who tells them they have a
“servants heart” and are praised for their “service” to the cause of the dictator
and are rewarded. Hitler gave out iron crosses to those thugs who served him
well by killing the weak and innocent. Petty and servile men do not choose
liberty because that entails responsibility and they do not want the responsibility
that goes with making decisions. They are like little children who long to be
patted on the head by their oppressive leaders.

There will always be dictators like Saddam Hussein, and lesser dictators
(some in ecclesiastical garb and in pulpits) who are content to be rulers in their
own domain on a smaller scale, who will take advantage and encourage this
servile weakness in others. There is a name for this throughout history and it is
called “Paternalism”. “Pater” denotes “father” so Paternalism could be
called “father-ism.” Of course, we all are familiar with Roman Catholics
referring to their priests as “father” and the word “Pope” is derived from the same
root as “Papa”. There are misguided weak people who like paternalism because
it allows them the luxury of mental laziness by NOT THINKING FOR THEMSELVES
which takes energy and can be hard work. Jesus had something to say about
paternalism when He said in Mt 23:9* "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for
One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” I once counseled a young couple who
had allowed themselves to be enslaved to the sexual lusts of a petty
dictator/personality cult leader who insisted they call him “father.” The man allowed
him to have sex with his own wife and they still considered themselves
Evangelical Christians!

Of course, people who disobey Jesus in this by being paternalistic, or giving
in to paternalism, are not loving God with all their minds. Mt 22:37* And He
ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' No pastor/leader will be holding your
hand on judgment day at the Bema seat of Judgment before Christ where you will
have to give account for every idle word you have spoken. "But I tell you
that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it
in the day of judgment." —Jesus in Matthew 12:36. If every idle word comes up
most certainly how you voted or didn't vote at a church gathering will be
brought up and judged. How you resisted or gave in to overbearing leaders will be
brought up.

We are warned about overbearing leaders in 1 Peter 5:1-4

1* Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and
witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be

2* shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under
compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain,
but with eagerness;

3* nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to
be examples to the flock.

4* And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown
of glory.

Though Paul considered himself the spiritual father of those he led to
Christ, he made it perfectly clear that it was incumbent on the individual believer
to behave properly so he could be rewarded by Christ in the future. He makes
this abundantly clear:

1Co 3:11-15* "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is
laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold,
silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become
evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the
fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he
has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned
up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through

There are those who call themselves Evangelical Christians but who act far
more like Roman Catholics in the worship of leaders and involve themselves in
personality based cults. Of course the cult leaders will never tell them they
are cultic or dictators. Dictators usually prefer names for their enterprises
that begin with “The People’s” or some such designation that obfuscates what is
really going on. Most who play on paternalism in Evangelical circles are
worldly wise enough to not insist they be called “father”. Some other designation
will do as long as it denotes AUTHORITY. When I have been asked whether I
insist on being called “Reverend” I usually reply I prefer “THE MOST REVEREND
PONTOON BOAT MAXIMUS.” I am poking fun at the Papists and their use of a pagan
Roman title used by the Caesars before them: Pontifus Maximus. After the rein
of Diocletian, Emperor Constantine, while claiming to be a Christian,
maintained the title "Pontifus Maximus.

When someone tells you that they should be listened to because they have a
manmade title and infers they should do your thinking for you, and make your
decisions for you, they are encouraging paternalism. It is false humility that
says “I should just leave the thinking to the experts." You can resist them and
be true to the American Christian heritage that has been purchased at so great
a cost, or you can consider yourself a servile medieval European serf that
believes “Father knows best” and let daddy do the driving. You can betray that
heritage or you can rise up like American generations before you and exercise
the true liberty that entails responsibility to think and to put that thought
into action by making decisions.

It is a paternalistic mindset that will lead to the rise of the final false
father figure of history known as the Beast or Antichrist! He will gladly make
your decisions for you. He will tell billions that they should just sit back,
relax and trust him. 666 anyone? I'm afraid we are already at a point in this
generation where many, if not most, would say,


Are we not to be good followers of Church leaders?

Yes! Heb 13:17 tells us to “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they
keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this
with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” We should
follow our leaders as they follow Christ. The Apostle Paul lays down this
principle in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of
Christ.” Our following human beings is always contingent upon them following Christ.
WE, the individual believers, must judge whether they ARE or ARE NOT
following Christ! This is shown very dramatically by the words of the Holy Spirit’s
commendation of the Bereans in Acts 17:11 which states: “Now the Bereans were
more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with
great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were
so.” If the Apostle Paul was to be examined or judged by the individual
Bereans then ANYBODY who speaks or teaches you Christian doctrine must be judged by
how faithfully and accurately they are handling the scriptures. You must
determine how faithfully they are telling you ALL the counsel of God in the Bible.

Apostle John addressed the issue of a religious leader who was running on
pride and was so sure of himself that he was bringing people up on false charges
and putting them out of the church!

John says in 3 John 1:9 and 10:

9* I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first
among them, does not accept what we say.

10* For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he
does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he
himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire
to do so and puts them out of the church.

If your church is being taken over by paternalists do NOT let them drive you
out! We are told to stand firm. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
(Galatians 5:1). Going to church is NOT a passive activity where you are
supposed to be docile and just look to what you are receiving.

The Holy Spirit in Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us the reason for going to church
and it is NOT passive but proactive:

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who
promised is faithful;

24* and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25* not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but
encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

If you are not "getting your needs met" or are incensed at what you see
before you in your church you are not given leaving orders but "stand firm" orders
that tells you to encourage others in the fight and not desert them to the
paternalistic desires and dictates of personality-cult leaders who are not true
to what is taught in the scriptures at key points (or who neglect large
sections of Scripture in their teachings). It is they who insist it is the same as
loyalty to God to be loyal to them!.

Jesus said His ministry was about delivering from oppression:


As Luther once said: "Here I stand and I can do no other"

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Wilderness Looks More Inviting All the Time . . .

What a week it's been. A snowstorm hits my part of the country and brings all to a standstill. It strikes me as metaphorical as well as meteorological. Why? Because of another kind of storm that has global ramifications.

A friend informs me that the Emergent/PD juggernaut has swept some more congregations away, this time out west. The individuals who raised doctrinal/biblical/methodological concerns were forced out of these congregations. It really is sad. Given the number of relationships shattered, congregations ripped apart, and new believers led astray or deeply wounded by these shenanigans, it amazes me how people naming the name of Christ can think this stuff bears good fruit. If this is good fruit, I'd hate to see the rotten.

As odd as it might seem, events around the world that you wouldn't think are connected might be after all. John Bolton is out at the U.N. The left (including some Republicans in Name Only) managed to stiff arm this fine man who represented the U.S. well out the door. This nation will rue the day.

Someone keeps leaking classified information to the New York Times, continuing to jeopardize our national security and undermine the administration. Whoever is doing this, it seems their hatred of George W. Bush is overriding what concern they ought to have over the damage to our country in the long run.

As we near Christmas, the hatred and contempt people have for Christians (and ultimately Christ) is rearing its head in bolder and bolder fashion. We allow Islamic crescents and Menorahs on public land, but a Nativity Scene is forbidden. Worse yet, a Nativity Scene is not allowed to be part of a CHRISTMAS event because of political correctness. Go figure.

Concerns are being raised over a new coin out from the U.S. Mint. The national motto "In God We Trust" has been relegated to the edge of the coin instead of the coin face.

Delta Air Lines shows a film on an international flight that would appeal only to a pedophile. Passengers object and their concerns are dismissed by the flight crews. Who, pray tell, having even a modicum of morals would want to see a young child gyrating in a sexual fashion mimicing a strip tease? In this day and age when abuse of children is constantly in the news, is this really the image a responsible business would want to put forth?

I could go on, but you get the point. My question now has to be, "How long, O Lord . . .how long?" And how is this all connected? Think about it. In the last days, things are said to go from bad to worse. The world wants to live without God, so the world is getting what it wants. The world is spiritually dead, and it's not going to leave a good looking corpse. As dark as it's getting, we who trust in God must always remind ourselves that this is only temporary. One day, He will make all things new and bring justice. In the past, I have wanted that day to be delayed so that more might come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before it's too late. That wish is growing dimmer, and that is sad because I don't want my own love to grow cold. But the Lord has promised not to allow us to be tempted beyond our ability, and in that promise I must trust. One thing is certain. It's going to get worse in the relatively short term. A LOT worse.


Okay, it's nice to have a brief reality check. I just had the privilege to hear a brief address by the president of the Baptist Union in one of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. The things he had to say reminded me that people HAVE had it much worse than I have, or in America collectively. What will be interesting is if things get as bad here in America eventually. It could happen, and happen a lot more easily than we think.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Defending our Military

Please check out the link below to James Taranto's "Best of the Web" column at the Wall Street Journal's online editorial page. James, whom I have had the pleasure of interviewing on my radio program, has been posting letters from our military personnel and their families regarding their level of education AND their patriotic commitment to our country. It is refreshing and encouraging in light of the insulting remarks made in recent weeks by blowhards like Congressman Chuck Rangel and Senator John Kerry. Need I also say the letters give the lie TO the insults?

The vast majority of Americans, including me, are proud of our troops regardless of their class or level of academic success. The shame is on people like the abovementioned, cynical politicians whose hate for the president and lust for power outweighs their already questionable judgment.

I hope the next elections bear that out.

Opinion Journal

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Christ at Christmas - The Last Straw?

Below is a link to an AP story that will raise your blood pressure right before the Christmas holidays. In light of this event, I am strongly thinking about writing the word as "CHRISTmas" to make a point from now on.

It seems that a Christmas event in Chicago known as "Christkindlmarket" has given the new film, "The Nativity Story," the heave-ho under pressure from city officials. The reason? Non-Christians might be offended by the New Line Cinema picture.

This has rightfully outraged many in Chicago, but I think it's time that the outrage spreads a little. How long are we going to tolerate this nonsense? Islam and other religions might offend me, but I have no problem with them celebrating holidays important in their faith, including public displays. Should I change that view in light of this?

I find it interesting that another public authority approved a Jewish Menorah and a Muslim crescent in a display, but refused a Nativity scene as it might "offend" non Christians. Why is Christianity being singled out? Perhaps its because we've become too much like sheep in ALLOWING it to be singled out. This is a majority Christian nation, but we are being ruled with a rod of iron by a non-Christian minority. This is patently ridiculous.

Christians are not known for rioting and pillaging whenever their sensibilities have been offended, so perhaps the city of Chicago feels safe in sticking one in their eye. I don't want Christians to lower themselves to violence, and indeed, a true Christian led by the Holy Spirit would not engage in it. However, we do have economic and political power if we'll choose to exercise it. I recommend that people make it clear to the city of Chicago that they will pay economically for this, in addition to paying at the ballot box next election. Conventions should be cancelled, performances should be moved outside the city, basically anything that helps generate revenue for Chicago ought to be curtailed until there is a reversal of this idiotic decision and an apology. It's time we showed that there is a price to pay for offending Christians. A big one.

I am tired of this stuff. And I hope you are too.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Michael Richards Controversy

I'm a bit pressed for time this weekend, but I do want to ask a simple question about the Michael Richards racial slur controversy. It's hard to turn on the television without hearing about it in one form or another.

It goes without saying that what Mr. Richards did was wrong. He deserves the rebukes he's been getting. However, has anyone even mentioned that what the young black men did was wrong as well? Not only was it rude to enter the club and make a lot of noise entering a performance, but they began heckling Mr. Richards during his routine. Was that not a bit rude also? Most comics, of course, are able to turn events like that into lemonade or ignore them, but Mr. Richards lost his cool, to his detriment. But it wouldn't have happened in the first place if these rowdy guys had behaved like gentlemen and kept their mouths shut.

It didn't take long for them to find high profile jurismatrix Gloria Allred to help them make the talk show circuit and eventually the courtroom, did it? I guess the smell of greenbacks quickly overrode their "hurt, pain and suffering."

What would have been appropriate would have been for Michael Richards to apologize personally to these young men, and later to the crowd at the club. The young men should have apologized to the comedian for being disruptive. Then all would have been forgiven and forgotten. But the fact that a nationwide incident had to be created has left me more than a bit cynical.

While I am at it, let me address the attitudes that people like "Reverends" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton get upset about. Why is it that they get so steamed about so-called racism, and then turn a blind eye to the behaviors that might well provoke some of those attitudes? Rap, hip-hop and the like dominate the scene these days. Watch a video or walk down a street corner in certain neighborhoods and what do you see? Swagger, thug-like behavior and lewdness are in your face. Criminal behavior is often celebrated and glorified. I have to roll up my car windows and turn my own radio up full blast at stoplights to drown out the obscenities and graphic sexual innuendo blasting from the high-powered systems in the next lane. Did they ever stop to think that the attitudes by which they are rightfully offended are provoked by such behavior?

Look what happens when respected African-Americans such as Bill Cosby, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell decry such behavior and urge more gentleman-like or lady-like conduct. They get called "Uncle Toms" and a host of other gratuitous insults. It's maddening.

By all means, let's condemn racism and give it the shame it deserves. But the purported victims of said racism also need to look in the mirror at their behavior. And clean it up. There's enough blame to go around for everyone.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving from The Seventh Sola

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stop Calling Them Christians!

This week, Lebanese government official Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in Lebanon. It was a tragic murder, as Mr. Gemayel was committed to freeing Lebanon from both Syrian control and from jihadist control. As tragic as this story is, I was even more saddened to see how the media colored the story. One remark in particular from the AP story really bothered me. It was alleged that rival "Christian" groups might have been involved in Gemayel's assassination. Keeping in mind that this could easily be misinformation from the radical Muslim side or even secularists, I have a bone to pick with the way this kind of story is handled in the media. I have seen this time and again and I am really getting tired of it.

From the days when "Protestants" and "Catholics" were killing each other in Northern Ireland to other conflicts around the world, this kind of obfuscation and inaccurate reporting serves only to distort global understanding of what true Christianity is. True, born-again, regenerate Christians do not go around killing each other, especially for the reasons inherent in this awful conflict. The idea is obscene.

While not overlooking the fact that a true Christian can and does fall into sinful behavior from time to time, that is not the case here. These people are nominal at best, or more accurately, labeled Christian in a traditional sense. Faith in Christ, a desire to live a life pleasing to Him, and sharing the Gospel has nothing to do with these peoples' agendas. Their concerns are political and territorial. If there are people waving the Christian banner and committing revenge killings, they had best go back to biblical square one and see what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to say on that question.

I am not speaking of defense of one's home or family from harm. I am not speaking against Christians in legitimate military or police service of their countries defending their nations or keeping order in their communities. I am talking about individuals or private armed thugs engaging in tit-for-tat murders or assassinations and trying to claim that they're murdering for the sake of Christ. For the sake of truth in labeling, I call on them to drop "Christian" from their self-identification until they actually read Scripture and come to saving faith in the Lord.

When that happens, they just might wake up and discover that shooting each others' skulls off in rage, resentment and hatred is hardly the act of a regenerate, Spirit-filled Christian.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scarlett Johansson: Shooting Herself in the Foot

Scarlett Johannson is in the same camp as many in Hollywood. She doesn't have much use for President Bush or conservatives. Below is a link to a story in Contact Music, in which Ms. Johansson mocks Mr. Bush for his "unrealistic" stand on abstinence and wildly distorts his views (and that of conservative Christians). Then, in an almost breathtaking statement, she proudly hails her own "social awareness" in announcing that she gets tested for HIV twice a year.

Earth to Ms. Johansson. Did you ever stop to think that if you followed biblical guidelines on sex, you wouldn't NEED to get tested for HIV twice a year? Are you really that clueless? Apparently so.

I love it when God allows things like this to happen. Intending to score a big one for the left and the libertine lifestyle Hollywood favors, her verbal firecracker blows up in her own fingers instead. I hope more people than me notice the irony.

Contact Music

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Seventh Sola Poll/Query

Given some of the events in the U.S. of late, from O.J. Simpson's sicko ruminations on killing his ex-wife and her friend, to other ongoing degeneration of our culture, I would like to pose this question.

I'm sure many of you remember what the allusion to "bread and circuses" means. The decay of the Roman Empire and her constituents had led to a culture that was debased and easily mollified by increasingly grotesque entertainment. The debauchery permeated their society. Eventually Rome fell. In fact, many civilizations and cultures have followed that pattern.

Of course, I have a Christian eschatology, so I expect the final denouement of the world system to end in a certain way, but let's leave that aside for the moment. Here's my question. In your opinion, has America reached the "bread and circuses" stage yet? Are we doomed as a society? Your comments and insights are welcome, but please - no trolling, and please be civil.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Is Europe Finished?

My apologies for the paucity of posts. I have been locked in staff meetings all week. I have a bit of time today to post a link to a recent book review by Daniel Pipes. He is taking a look at a provocative new book by columnist Mark Steyn, who makes the case that Europe is finished, soon to be taken over by radical Islam and other non-Western mindsets. He views America as the last "Western" country, and warns us to take heed before what is happening to Europe happens to us.

I would argue that it's already happening here. But read Mr. Pipes' review, and mull it over. I'll hopefully have more to say on this issue later. The link is below.

Daniel Pipes Column

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Reminder Regarding The Fallen

I received the following commentary today from Bill Ellis, who writes with the Assist News Service. I am posting it here in its entirety, as it's a good word in the aftermath of the recent scandals in the church.


None escape the wrath of immorality

By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- Immorality, the sinfulness and perversion of the human soul, leaves no person with an exempt status. The ancient sage was correct in concluding, "There is none righteous, no not one." A first century writer stated, "All have sinned."

Nobody is immunized to ward off or delay the effects of evil. None ever become so educated, rich, powerful or influential that they cannot be touched by immorality.

In the span of my brief life there have been three presidents, all of the same political party, who have openly lived sexually immoral lives. They were unfaithful to their wives. They dallied with impure sexual relations as though they carried no lasting consequences. They paid a heavy price for their sin. However, no one political party has a monopoly on immorality.

I have also known men and women, from every imaginable profession, who have failed themselves, their families, friends and colleagues with their loose, unethical and evil lifestyle. They have embarrassed themselves and all who knew them.

One night in an elegant hotel lobby, a drunk, who was a well-known businessman in his city, staggered with a loudmouth while clutching his beer and babes in his dishelved condition. Our eyes met. I wondered where his faithful and caring wife was. We met again a few days later and he profusely apologized for his despicable appearance and conduct.

The greatest enemy of the church is not the ungodly world in which it exists, but rather the rotten and immoral behavior of those who profess to be its members.

I have known many of them, but they will not be identified. They were preachers, attorneys, bankers, newspaper editors, soldiers, policemen, educators, teachers, coaches, coal miners, factory workers, business executives, medical doctors, university professors, actors, musicians, politicians, presidents, members of Congress, governors, athletes and just about everybody else you care to mention. They all had one thing in common. They were immoral, sinful, ungodly hypocrites.

What happens in the face of such blatant immorality? Families, businesses, governments, colleagues and many others are hurt, shattered, disappointed, discouraged and troubled. My heart always goes out in compassion for those who are devastated.

What do we do with the person who has failed so miserably? Cast them out into the trash dumps with the wrecks of society? Absolutely not. A man who knew about the ravages of sinful and immoral living, of humanity's sin against man, gave this advice: "Dear friends, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path" (Galatians 6:1, NLT).

I have prayed earnestly for fallen preachers, fathers in prison, women who have become the sexual toys of evil men, the president of a nation, the man next door. We pray for the fallen and do what we can to lift them into the presence of the One who has the power to forgive and restore shattered lives. We can also write or call with an encouraging word and let them know we will be their friend.

What happens to your faith and mine when others fail? I think mine is strengthened. I realize that I must ever be vigilant. I must guard my own soul and life. We should all remember the words of St. Paul, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12, NKJ).

My faith is not based on what others do or how they live. My friends and I may also fail. We should look to only one person as a living example of how life should be lived. The only person I know who can always be that perfect mentor and example for life is Jesus Christ. Like Governor Pilate, "I find no fault in this man."


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What to Make of Ted Haggard

By now, most are aware of the horrible news out of Colorado Springs — the fall of NAE president Ted Haggard over immorality. The secular regressives and the media are having a field day with this, while Christians are rightly deeply grieved and angered over yet another high-profile Christian leader embarrassing himself, his family and the body of Christ.

I will say this for Pastor Haggard. Thus far, he and his church seem to be approaching this correctly. Haggard has been removed from the pulpit and dismissed from his church, and he is being required to undergo church discipline in view of eventual restoration to fellowship. This is good and right.

However, this situation ought to cause all of us to take a step back and evaluate how things get in this pass to begin with. Over at WorldNetDaily, columnist Jim Rutz this week discussed how a “strong pastor” system tends to increase the vulnerability for tragedies like this to happen. I think this is a legitimate criticism, and indeed a biblical one. We hearken back to the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals, and wonder why the church as a whole hasn’t learned the lesson yet. Some will be quick to label this a Pentecostal/charismatic problem, however there have been enough scandals over the years involving non-charismatics to mute this canard. I think the former generate most of the headlines because they are the ones most out in the public eye through media they own or purchased air time.

I have had much time to reflect on this issue, and I think the problem lies in the fact that we as a church have forgotten what holiness means. We have also lost sight of the fact that we serve a holy God, a consuming fire, who will not tolerate sin in His presence. Mention the term “holy living” now and you’ll get called a slew of names by fellow Christians. You’ll get called a “legalist,” a “Puritan,” “dour,” “out of touch,” “behind the times” and a whole host of pejoratives.

What do we watch on our televisions? What books do we read? What movies do we go see in theatres or (if we don’t dare be caught out in public) what DVDs do we rent to watch in the privacy of our homes? How many times do we tell our children to cover their eyes when nudity pops up on our screens, or say in righteous tones “oooh, bad language!” in an effort to supposedly teach them such things are no-nos? Churl that I was as a child, my first thought when confronted with such adult hypocrisy was, “Oh really? If it’s that bad, then why are YOU watching it, oh godly example of mine?”

There was a time when Christians eschewed worldly entertainment because of the filth contained therein. There are plenty of Bible verses that speak of guarding our hearts and minds against such filth. The Bible says it is . . . disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret (Ephesians 5:12). Why then do we make excuses for the things we allow in our homes to see ourselves, or allow our children to see, listen to, or buy? I do not ask these questions to put unbiblical strictures on to people. If we restrain ourselves from taking part in things like this, our heart attitude ought to be that we are doing so out of love for a God who gave Himself for us, and paid a very costly price over evils such as this. It ought not to be a grudging observance of a "don't do" list so we can appease an angry deity. If we loved God as we ought to love Him, I wonder if we as a whole would do many of the things we think we're free to do under so-called "Christian freedom." I don't think Christian freedom is a license to sin.

For some in Christian apologetics work, there is a bit of reality to the statement that AT TIMES, one must read or see something to be able to comment on it intelligently, especially when taking on an issue in public. However, if we are not careful, that proviso is easily abused to excuse watching or seeing something just because we want to see it. We try to put sanctified clothing on what is in essence our own carnality. When Christians begin making excuses to participate (and fund) evil, we set the stage for not only our own downfall, but also the downfall of those who are not spiritually mature and look up to those who are older in the faith for guidance and discipleship.

So there we have it. I think we all ought to take Ted Haggard’s fall seriously, and to prayerfully allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light into our own lives. If you’re like me, I think there is a lot of junk that could be cleaned out of the attic and replaced with what God’s Word commands . . . Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Cherrypicking of the Left

Time for Solameanie's overtly political post of the day.

As the country (the U.S.) prepares to cast votes on Tuesday, let me say at the outset that I am not satisfied with GOP leadership over the past several years. My displeasure has little to do with the War on Terror or Iraq, but rather in that the so-called conservative party does not govern in a conservative fashion. They pay lip service to the idea. They also take conservative evangelicals for granted and sneer at us behind closed doors. And they think we're not aware of it. All of this makes me mad, but it doesn't make me mad enough to turn power over to the Democrats. The reasons are that the Democrats are governed by the kook fringe of their party, and the positions they take on social issues fly against everything I believe as a Bible-believing Christian.

The left loves to cherrypick "rights." They cynically play the word "freedom" like a crap shoot. Cases in point..they fume and fuss about the Administration's efforts to catch terrorists by wiretapping selected overseas calls, and wave the spectre of lost freedom in the air. They would have you believe that the Bush Administration is one step away from Adolf Hitler. However, if you press the issue of free speech i.e. being able to speak forthrightly about moral issues (especially on college campuses, schools and increasingly the workplace), you will be quickly censored or shouted down if they have their way. They want to strip you of your right to defend your home and family through keeping and bearing arms. They believe that if someone breaks into your house to rape your wife and children, the friendly officers at 911 can take care of it. Don't you dare use or possess a firearm. If you shoot a crook, they'll prosecute you and allow the crook (should he survive) to sue you for damages.

Those are only a few examples of leftist mendaciousness. Their view of freedom is much different than mine. I have a hunch it's different than the majority of Americans, that is if the majority of Americans could see them with their masks stripped away.

I realize that there are conservative Democrats who do not support how far left their party has become. I am not talking about them. I am talking about the types that Lenin and Stalin considered "fellow travelers" or "useful idiots." They find plenty to criticize at Guantanamo, but find plenty of excuses for Stalin's gulags.

I hope America goes to the polls with eyes wide open on Election Day. Things degenerate by increments so it's hard to notice the decay. But decay it does. And will. That's a certainty.

Friday, November 03, 2006

John "Alice in Wonderland" Kerry

I'm pretty pressed for time today, so this will only be a brief comment.

As most of you are already aware of Sen. John Kerry's unbelievably idiotic gaffe regarding the intelligence level of U.S. troops, I don't need to revisit it. But I do want you to be aware of what is going on before your eyes, as it's a classic example of our current generation's chief problem. Words mean things, but Kerry and his ilk don't want you to believe that.

If any of you have ever read "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll, you'll notice the characters Alice meets have quite unique ideas about truth and words. It's postmodernism in novel form. Most notable is the quote from Humpty Dumpty. "A word means precisely what I want it to mean. No more. No less."

Isn't that just what's going on here? Kerry said what he said. Word order, definitions and all. He said it. Loud and clear. But he would have you believe that he was talking about President Bush. However, it is clear from his remarks that this is nothing more than spin and damage control. Ranks up there with Bill Clinton's famous thigh-slapper, "it all depends on what 'is' means."

Wouldn't it be nice if we could change what words mean at whim? Along with that, let's change Bible verses around that inconveniently get in the way of what we want to do. Doctrine? Truth? Absolutes? Principles? Away with them. We can change them like the driven snow when they become a nuisance.

Sorry, Charlie. Words mean things. Ideas have consequences. And they will bite you. Hard.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dr. Dobson Responds to Dick Armey

I would normally try to avoid a conflict such as this, but the mainstream papers made much out of former Republican House leader Dick Armey's attack on Dr. James Dobson and Christian conservatives. To their credit, the Associated Press/Fox News allowed Dr. Dobson to write a response. I post a link here for your perusal. It is truly sad when people who are supposed to be brothers in Christ and ought to be allies end up fighting each other in this manner. As things stand, I have to back Dr. Dobson in this one. I hope and pray they can be reconciled before their argument does more damage to the conservative cause, and more importantly, to the cause of Christ.


Fox News

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Learning from Eutychus

Today's post is a bit of a different tack than the norm as it's more devotional in nature. It's part of some recent pondering I've been doing on the subject of how we commonly approach Scripture these days in "McNugget" fashion. We read a passage of Scripture and think of the most common applications used, but fail to see the other wonderful truths and nuggets in these passages. How often have you looked at a passage of Scripture, knowing the verses and events by heart, but one day you see something in that passage you've never seen before?

The incident with Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12 is a good example. I'll post it here:

And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him." When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.

Now, most lessons or sermons I have heard dealing with this incident focus on the miracle - the Lord raising the boy from the dead through Paul. And that's certainly a great part of the lesson. But has anyone ever wondered what God was doing in the life of Eutychus himself? Was Eutychus an indolent, inattentive young man whose mind routinely wandered during prayer (a fault of mine) or during sermons? Was he simply and genuinely overtired? Had he fallen into some sin that God needed to correct? Who knows. God in His sovereignty didn't tell us.

Nonetheless, falling to his death had to have been quite a shock, both to Eutychus and to Paul's audience. What happened with Eutychus afterward? Did he make it a point to consider this a wake-up call and renew his commitment to the Lord with zeal? Was he quietly and humbly thankful to the Lord for raising him? Did his witness to others gain a new fire and depth? I hope so. (EDITED TO ADD)

Scripture doesn't give us specific answers to these questions, but they are worth pondering. And as we ponder these questions, the Holy Spirit will guide us to other Scriptures that address the issues therein. Can we see any similarities in ourselves and Eutychus' possible issues?

There are many, many other Scripture passages like this. The main applications are great and true, useful in training God's people in righteousness. But let's keep digging and sifting. The rich nuggets gleaned through thought and true biblical contemplation are priceless.

Things like this are the results of true "meditation" on God's Word. You won't get it from picking a word for a sanctified mantra and sounding the OM out into the ether.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My "Meanie" Is Coming Out Today!

First, I want you to read this AP story about a tragic incident in which a girl lost her breast after body piercing. Then I'll comment. Warning - I am NOT a happy camper.

Teen Has Breast Removed After Infection

Oct 27, 7:29 PM (ET)

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A teenager who decided to get her breasts pierced for her 18th birthday faces reconstructive surgery after a flesh-destroying infection forced doctors to remove her left breast.
Stephanie Edington of Crawfordsville remained hospitalized Friday at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, where surgeons also removed lymph nodes and infected skin up to her collar bone.
Dr. Robert Goulet Jr., a professor at the Indiana University Cancer Center, said the piercing created an entry point for the bacteria, but the procedure likely did not cause the infection itself. Edington is diabetic, which left her susceptible to infection, he said.
Doctors diagnosed Edington, who had the piercings on Aug. 29, with necrotizing fasciitis, or gas gangrene - a rare condition that results from rapid bacteria growth and leads to tissue destruction. It is only the third documented case in the world of gas gangrene in the breast area, Goulet told The Paper of Montgomery County.
She was in critical condition by the time she arrived at the hospital Oct. 14, Goulet said.
"By the time she got here, the skin tissue was all pretty much completely dead," he said. "She was a very sick kid when she got here."
Edington is on an aggressive antibiotic regimen and has already undergone three surgeries. She faces several more, including eventual breast reconstruction.
She said she was eager to be discharged but worries about what awaits her.
"I would like to get out, but I am scared of what people are going to be thinking," she said.
Edington's mother, Pamela Osban, said her daughter's illness has shaken their entire family. She worries about her daughter's future.
"You have no idea what it's like to almost lose your daughter and then to make the decision to have one of her breasts removed," she said. "Some people say 'It's just a breast.' They aren't an 18-year old girl. It's devastating for her and for the family."

This was just SO needless. While my heart breaks for this girl, I am also very angered at this idiotic craze of body piercing sweeping the globe like a pandemic. Things like this aren't isolated either, despite the implication in the article that it's rare. Perhaps gaseous gangrene in the breast is rare, but serious infections from body piercing are NOT rare.

If young people weren't so eager to poke metal studs into every body part and orifice these days, this kind of thing wouldn't happen, now would it? If they want to hang ornaments on something, why don't they hang them on a Christmas tree instead of their breasts, ears, navels, noses, tongues and other unmentionable areas? I had no idea that gas gangrene and staph infections had become status symbols at school.

I am personally getting REALLY, REALLY tired of not being able to tell the difference between human beings and the Borg. No, on second thought, not the Borg. Many of today's body piercers are not that photogenic. They look more like they went through a trash compactor and had some skin get stuck in between the metallic components.

If I sound angry, perhaps it's because I am angry. I am sure I will be called insulting, unloving, uncharitable, intemperate, arrogant, and a whole host of adjectives. Whatever. It angers me to see kids have their lives destroyed through this kind of behavior. Name your poison. Drugs, sexual activity, alcohol abuse, and now carving up their bodies like there's no tomorrow in the pursuit of "self expression" and "individualism." Yeah, right. That's why they do what everyone else is doing, isn't it? And here's what's doubly maddening. Many of today's parents often aren't any better. They just carry more wrinkles between their own studs, electrodes and tattoos. They not only lead by their own bad example, but some give their children carte blanche to do whatever they like. After all, you can't suppress their self-esteem, can you? My words are indeed sharp, even harsh. Sometimes it takes a rap across the skull with a cudgel to get your point across. I've had it happen on more than one occasion that someone would be infuriated with me, only to admit later that I told them the truth, as painful as it was. Indeed, as the Bible says.."the wounds of a friend are faithful."

Given the pagan origins of this kind of thing, it is all the more amazing Christians can engage in these practices without any conscience, especially when the whole counsel of God in Scripture is taken into account. It is getting to the point where Christians of all ages are indistinguishable from the world, and that is NOT legalism. Don't EVEN go there with me.

Some people naming the name of Christ today can out-pagan pagans. Really. They can out-fornicate, out-drink, out-drug, and out-adulterize in quantities copious enough to impress Alistair Crowley or the crowd in a good-sized Roman vomitorium of days gone by. They make Laodicea look like Bob Jones University.

Lord, send us repentance. Please.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Two Matthew 18 Formulas

Some time ago, I posted on the Matthew 18 and Matthew 5 principles of confronting fellow believers. My post was precipitated by protests from Emergent Church types about how their key authors' errors have been dealt with publically. They insist that each author/pastor/teacher should be confronted privately before any public airing of the issue. In my view, this is mistaken. We are not talking about personal offenses, but rather publically desseminated teachings that need to be corrected publically, especially when there has been no response by said individuals to address their errors.

Rev. Kevin S. Johnson, who is president of The Institute for Christian Apologetics and my radio co-host, recently wrote an article related to this issue, and he graciously included some comments by me. I would like to post it here for your perusal as I think it will help clear the air on a subject that has been needlessly muddied.


The Two Matthew 18 Formulas
In Light of the Love Commandments

By Rev. Kevin S. Johnson

Jesus in Matthew 18:
15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between
the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
16* But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every
matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
17* If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses
to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax
18* "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in
heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (NIV)

Matthew 18:15-18 has a proper use and an improper use. Those that use it
properly use it for the purpose of restoring a brother who has caused a perceived
hurt against them personally or who have done an actual harm to them or the
Lord. Those that misuse generally have a manipulative or destructive purpose in

False Approaches

The false way to approach this issue and these Scriptures is to think that
they give you the right to be “thin skinned” and go after others for anything
you deem as an affront to your sensibilities or self. We are supposed to die to
self by picking up our cross daily. If we are encouraged to think that we now
have a duty to be on the alert for personal hurts and grievances then we have
the mechanism for all kinds of strife and evil confrontation.

A despotic leader may wish to keep everyone finding fault with each other in
order to keep them from criticizing the leadership. This was employed in
Communist and fascist (Nazi) countries with people asked to be on a constant search
or spy mission for their neighbor’s faults. This served to keep the people
off balance by being preoccupied with each other’s faults and never able to
organize any opposition to leaders. Satan, who inspired these parties, is not
stupid about human nature and their collective polity when involved in any
combined human endeavor either worldly or ecclesiastical.

Mathew 18 can be wrongly used to shun or “put out of the church” those that
disagree with leadership. The leader can find someone who is a willing
accomplice (if the person is a wealthy “mover and shaker” all the better) to accuse
the leaders’ enemy and then bring them before others who are allied with the
leaders to vote the person out of the church. This is naked aggression and VERY
dishonoring to Christ. The cults have long practiced this shunning business
and there are those in their ranks who tow the line long after they were
convinced the group is a cult simply because they fear being put out of the cult.
This ought not to be EVER done in a true Christian Church!! The only time that
shunning or putting out of the church occurred was the case in 1 Corinthians
and then it was for flagrant sin. The man that was shunned was guilty of having
a sexual relationship with his father’s wife!

The Apostles Paul and James speak to favoritism in the Church in the
following Scriptures:

“And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in
by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they
might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an
hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But from those who
seemed to be something--whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God
shows personal favoritism to no man--for those who seemed to be something added
nothing to me.” —Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:4-6

“ My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with
an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with
a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man
in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the
fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor
man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made
distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? . . But if
you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as
transgressors.” —James 2:1-4,9

The True Use of Matthew 18

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.”

If someone steals something from you, or bears false witness against you,
this scripture should be used to confront your brother for either of these are
sins are against God and not just a slight against you. They truly are “sins”
in the theological sense. There are petty slights and insults that we are asked
to bear willingly and without complaint and should not even notice. This goes
against our fallen nature.

This principle is found in the following verses of Scripture: "But I say to
you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek,
turn the other to him also. —Jesus in Matthew 5:39

"Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes
away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.”—
Jesus in Luke 6:29

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses,
with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak,
then I am strong.”—the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10

“Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with
one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” —The
Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 6:7.

I was once told by a Hindu fellow that I had an airtight lawsuit case against
a Christian brother who had caused an injury resulting in 10% of my
cerebellum dying. I informed the Hindu that Christians don’t sue Christians. I saw by
the look on his face that it had a direct impact on him. Christians need to be
able to obey this in light of what Christ gave them on the cross. Christians
should not be quick to confront each other!

This is not to say that if you know yourself to be the one who has offended
your brother (or sister) that you should not proactively go to him and admit
that you have hurt him. This is if your sin was objective and could be heard or
seen by others, in addition to incidents where, under conviction of the Holy
Spirit, you know that you have hurt or offended someone. However, if you have
sinned in your heart against your brother and he knows nothing about it, you
should think twice about telling the person who may be unaware that you harbored
any animosity. This confession of yours may cause him to stumble in holding
animosity toward you if he is immature in the Lord. It may be better that you
confess it to the Lord alone. The following command of the Lord illustrates
this principle in action:

"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there
remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there
before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and
present your offering.” (Matthew 5: 23-24)

The Two or Three Witnesses Principle:
Witnesses Are Needed In A Fallen World!

"A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity
or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a
matter shall be confirmed.” —Deuteronomy 19:15

"But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY

“This is the third time I am coming to you. EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY

“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or
three witnesses.”— 1Timothy 5:19

We are living in a fallen world where even the elect can be guilty of not
being consistent (see Romans chapter 7). It is because of this that the need to
have objective testimony, outside of subjective perceptions, must be employed.
There needs to be at least TWO or THREE witnesses that agree that there has
been a transgression of God’s law by an individual, especially an elder, BEFORE
it can even be received as valid requiring action.

Notice in the Matthew 18 formula you have two or three witnesses going with
you to see what transpires when you meet the person you are going to see. This
should mean that when there is factionalism (where a disagreement has occurred
and there are people on two sides of it) involved, two or three witnesses
from EACH SIDE should be there to bear witness to how the transaction occurs. In
the age of tape recorders it may be advisable to have one of these on in order
to keep everyone honest. This is especially true when there is suspected to
be a political or personal agenda afoot.

Cults have taken over churches when these common sense applications are not
understood by the people involved or are forbidden under some false pietistic
guise such as leaders who ask, “How can you possibly distrust me? This is
dishonoring to me and an insult!” This might be done in order to maintain ‘damage
control” if what is said in the proceedings doesn’t suit those in control.
The idea that some leader is beyond being questioned is biblically wrong as the
Bereans were called more “noble minded” than the Thessalonians because they
held the Apostle Paul’s feet to the fire, searching the Scriptures daily to see
if what PAUL said was true!

Peter addressed the church leaders saying: “Therefore, I exhort the elders
among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a
partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God
among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according
to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as
lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to
the flock.” —1 Peter 5:1-3

Improper Presumptuous Judgment

If Matthew 18 is focused on to the exclusion of other biblical principles, we
may think we are invited to judge a brother or sister’s heart! Is judging
your brother’s motives the first thing we are supposed to be doing? Certainly,
this is not so! The Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 4:5 commands us: “Therefore, do
not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who
will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the
motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.”

“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height
of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees,
for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
—1Samuel 16:7. These Scriptures teach that man is not qualified to judge another
man’s motives that are locked inside the heart.

Judgment as Discernment Is a Commandment!

However, this does NOT mean that all judgment in the church is wrong! Are
people in the church never to use their Biblically informed theological
understanding to surmise if what someone is doing or saying is a correct and true
representation of God’s word? Of course, we must serve the Lord by THINKING in a
discerning way. After all Jesus commanded us in John 7:24: "Do not judge
according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." This is so because the
Bible predicts that there will be those in our midst who will introduce false

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long
beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace
of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

2Pe 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will
also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive
heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon

Because of the phenomenon of false teachers, that these scriptures warn us
about, we must exercise discernment. “But he who is spiritual judges all things,
yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.” —The Apostle Paul in
1Corinthians 2:15.

A Call To Christian Love and Integrity In True Humility and Forgiveness i.e.
—The Other Matthew 18 Formula!

When Matthew 18:15-18 is lauded to be the only panacea for all Christian
relationships then we are forgetting another Scriptural formula for dealing with
hurts inflicted by others. The other less famous Matthew 18 formula is found in
Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall
my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to
him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
If someone committed the same sin against you seventy times you are to forgive
them that many times for the sake of Christ. In context of this teaching and
directly following this passage, Jesus gave the parable of the man who was
forgiven a large sum of money he owed a King and then promptly demanded a pittance
that was owed him from someone else. The King dealt harshly with such a lack
of generosity and compassionate forgiveness.

People are ultimately forgiven on the basis of the fact that we ALL deserve
God’s harshest judgment for what we have done to Him, but that God has
graciously bestowed undeserved forgiveness on us! If He forgives us for offenses that
deserve the punishment of Hell, how much more should we be forgiving of our
brothers who have sinned against us personally. Remember Paul said he was “well
content” with “insults and persecutions.”

King David, it could be argued, “sinned” against many people. He “sinned”
against: Bathsheba by issuing a royal summons for an illicit sexual purpose,
against her extended family, certainly against Uriah in killing him, against
Joab by asking him to be an accomplice to murder, and indeed against the entire
nation of Israel by compromising the nation’s king. Still, when David penned
Psalm 51 he told God, “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned.” This is an
acknowledgement that all sin is ultimately against God.

A Call Away From Pettiness And Subjectivism

Jesus told us to “major in the majors and minor in the minors” when he said
that the Pharisees “strained at gnats and swallowed camels” and that “tithing
mint dill and cumin” was not as weighty as matters of the law and justice.
This means we are not to be petty and self-serving in what we perceive as an
affront tom our persons.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill
and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and
mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without
neglecting the others.” — Matthew 23:23

The Apostle Paul said that we should not allow other people’s conscience to
be our judge

“I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom
judged by another's conscience?” —The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:29

When someone has committed a real sin as opposed to a “perceived sin” it
should be one that can be clearly shown to be a sin according to Scripture. Just
because someone was perceived by you to be rude to you doesn’t automatically
give a you a “hunting permit” to judge him and go after him. It may be that
you misperceived the supposed insult! You may actually be wrong in not being
obedient to Jesus in John 13:34: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love
one” another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” And
the Apostle Peter in 1Peter 4:8: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one
another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1Corinthians 16:14 Let all
that you do be done in love.” Love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way:
“Love does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a
wrong suffered . . . ”

Does not take into account a wrong suffered? WOW! If everyone was obedient to
this commandment to love, what a wonderful world this would be. How many
perceived insults and “putdowns” that torment people and foster grudges and
foment bitterness would be avoided! Self-inflicted hurt that leads to hurting
others would be rare. The children of God should be known as big hearted people not
a small narrow and petty people!

In this area, as in all areas of life, the Bible should be our sole rule of
faith and practice. And rather than cherry-picking verses in a cynical effort
to advance our arguments, we need to follow the WHOLE counsel of God, obeying
the biblical command to “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A View From Inside Iraq

The following is an excerpt from James Taranto's "Best of the Web" feature at Opinion Journal. It's a letter James received from someone in the military on the ground in Iraq. I think the writer makes several serious, salient points as to the current conflict and what is wrong. Before that, a brief side comment.

There is another point to all this that gets overlooked. We look at our performance and the country's attitude now in comparison with previous conflicts, but fail to notice something very important. World War II was the last military conflict in which war was officially declared by Congress - the people's direct representatives. Every action since then including Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War One and Gulf War Two, have been undeclared conflicts ordered by the Executive Branch with or without Congressional support. Mind, I said support..not a declaration of war. There's a difference - the chief one being that the latter is the Constitutional way.

Certainly, the U.S. entries into the First and Second World Wars were not without controversy. But the people's elected representatives backed our war efforts by declaring war as called for by the Constitution. And then, our country went ALL OUT to win decisively. There was unity. We do not have that today.

I am not saying for a moment that we aren't doing the right thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the effort is largely doomed unless the country is behind the action. As long as Congress skirts its Constitutional responsibilities and cedes War Powers totally over to the Executive Branch, we will continue to encounter problems as identified by the writer of this column.

With that, here it is.

Best of the Web Today - October 25, 2006

A View From Iraq

Our item yesterday in which we reaffirmed our support for the liberation of Iraq brought some very interesting reader comments. This is from an American there who asks not to be named:

*** QUOTE ***

There's been a lot of discussion back home about the course of the war, the righteousness of our involvement, the clarity of our execution, and what to do about the predicament in which we currently find ourselves. I just wanted to send you my firsthand account of what's happening here.

First, a little bit about me: I'm stationed slightly northwest of Baghdad in a mixed Sunni/Shia area. I'm a sergeant in the U.S. Army on a human intelligence collection team. I interact with Iraqis on a daily basis and I help put together the intel picture for our area of operations. I have contacts with friends, who are also in my job, in every are of operations in the Fourth Infantry Division footprint, and through our crosstalk I'd say I have a pretty damn good idea of what's going on in and around Baghdad on a micro and intermediary level.

I wrote heavily in favor of this war before I enlisted myself, and I still maintain that going into Iraq was not only the necessary thing to do, but the right thing to do as well.

There have been distinct failures of policy in Iraq. The vast majority of them fall under the category "failure to adapt." Basically U.S. policies have been several steps behind the changing conditions ever since we came into the country. I believe this is (in part) due to our plainly obvious desire to extricate ourselves from Iraq. I know President Bush is preaching "stay the course," but we came over here with a goal of handing over our battlespace to the Iraqis by the end of our tour here.

This breakneck pace with which we're trying to push the responsibility for governing and securing Iraq is irresponsible and suicidal. It's like throwing a brick on a house of cards and hoping it holds up. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)--a joint term referring to Iraqi army and Iraqi police--are so rife with corruption, insurgent sympathies and Shia militia members that they have zero effectiveness. Two Iraqi police brigades in Baghdad have been disbanded recently, and the general sentiment in our field is "Why stop there?" I can't tell you how many roadside bombs have been detonated against American forces within sight of ISF checkpoints. Faith in the Iraqi army is only slightly more justified than faith in the police--but even there, the problems of tribal loyalties, desertion, insufficient training, low morale and a failure to properly indoctrinate their soldiers results in a substandard, ineffective military. A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, wh!
ich traditionally doesn't see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks."

In Shia areas, the militias hold the real control of the city. They have infiltrated, co-opted or intimidated into submission the local police. They are expanding their territories, restricting freedom of movement for Sunnis, forcing mass migrations, spiking ethnic tensions, not to mention the murderous checkpoints, all while U.S. forces do . . . nothing.

For the first six months I was in country, sectarian violence was classified as an "Iraqi on Iraqi" crime. Division didn't want to hear about it. And, in a sense I can understand why. Because division realized that which the Iraqi people have come to realize: The American forces cannot protect them. We are too few in number and our mission is "stability and support." The problem is that there's nothing to give stability and support to. We hollowed out the Baathist regime, and we hastily set up this provisional government, thrusting political responsibility on a host of unknowns, each with his own political agenda, most funded by Iran, and we're seeing the results.

In Germany after World War II, we controlled our sector with approximately 500,000 troops, directly administering the area for 10 years while we rebuilt the country and rebuilt the social and political infrastructure needed to run it. In Iraq, we've got one-third that number of troops dealing with three times the population on a much faster timetable, and we're attempting to unify three distinct ethnic groups with no national interest and at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail. And we are.

If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.

We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.

If these three things are done, you can actually start the Iraqi economy again. Once people have a sense of security, they'll be able to leave their houses to go to work. Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news--because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.

James, there's a lot more to this than I've written here. The short of it is, the situation is salvageable, but not with "stay the course" and certainly not with cut and run. However, the commitment required to save it is something I doubt the American public is willing to swallow. I just don't see the current administration with the political capital remaining in order to properly motivate and convince the American public (or the West in general) of the necessity of these actions.

At the same time, failure in Iraq would be worse than a dozen Somalias, and would render us as impotent and emasculated as we were in the days after Vietnam. There is a global cultural-ideological struggle being waged, and abdication from Iraq is tantamount to concession.


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