Monday, July 31, 2006

Media Hyperbole?

This photo taken from the inside of an Ozark cave has sort of a double meaning in my mind in relation to the events in Israel and Lebanon. First, it is illustrative of why ground troops will be necessary to twist Hezbollah out of their underground bunkers and holes. Given the tragic civilian deaths in Qana, a Hezbollah stronghold where the terrorist thugs actually fire from civilian areas on purpose, the political pressure on Israel might be too intense. I hope not. As stated earlier, civilian deaths are not something to celebrate, but they cannot be helped in this type of conflict. The way to end such deaths is to get Hezbollah out of these areas permanently.

The photo is also symbolic of the media's rather stilted view of this crisis. While Fox News has done better than most about putting the bulk of the blame on the terrorists, occasionally reporters overreach with their commentary. One in particular compared the destruction in one Lebanese city to Dresden during World War II. Anyone knowing anything about World War II and the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden knows better. It was total destruction. The Israeli military has not done anything near that level in Lebanon, at least not yet.

War is not pretty. The West these days tends to want to sanitize everything from executions to military conflict. Do we rejoice in war and bloodshed as Christians? Of course not. But we also recognize that evil men must be stopped, and sometimes stopping them impacts wider groups of people than the evil men themselves. There are consequences in these issues. Supporting Hezbollah either through direct aid and comfort to rhetorical support has consequences. There will be little sentiment for peace if one side continues to view Israel as the sole responsible party for this conflict.

If you celebrate, aid or abet terrorists, then you stand a good chance of reaping the consequences for such a decision. There will be, nor should there be, any ceasefire until Hezbollah agrees to cease and desist. If they will not, then hostilities must continue until Hezbollah is destroyed. If Lebanon and the rest of the world want an end to the conflict, then they had best see to it that they help Israel stop the attacks.

However, as I have pointed out, much of the world doesn't seem to care about that. For Hezbollah and its acolytes, Israel still exists as a nation and the Jews as a people are still breathing. They will not accept anything less that Israel's destruction. For that reason, there is no other option but to eradicate Hezbollah and other like-minded terrorist groups, despite their Orwellian/Lewis Carrolian attempts to redefine that word and pin it on the U.S. and Israel.

You can't negotiate with people who want you dead. It's just that simple.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel - Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Lord must have had His purposes in my posting difficulties yesterday. I have received some additional information regarding the Israel-Lebanon crisis that I did not have when I made the original post. So, here is a rewritten version of my earlier commentary.

My life's work and ministry requires me to read and watch a lot of news from all kinds of sources. After nearly 30 years in broadcasting and other media, I have also developed quite a list of contacts - both public and private. These contacts provide me with information that the general public doesn't always get from the mainstream media. I say this in an effort to make it clear that I do not generally knee-jerk my reactions to events. The situation with Israel and observing global reaction to it has made me angrier than I have been in a long time. Of course, I knew that the Israelis would be condemned no matter what they did, but it still makes me mad. Righteously, I think.

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it very well, as have several of our government officials. If Fidel Castro were to lob a few missiles into Miami, would the United States act with restraint? I think not.

Did the United States act with restraint when Osama bin Laden's goons knocked down the World Trade Center, killing thousands in the process? Ask the Taliban that question. We hit Afghanistan hard and replaced the regime. When Saddam thumbed his nose at the U.S. one too many times, we replaced his regime (Note that I am not taking an editorial position one way or the other on the Iraq war - this is just an observation).

Look back historically at World War II. Did we act with restraint when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? No, we did not. Hiroshima and Nagasaki can attest to that. Did we act with restraint in Germany? We destroyed the city of Dresden for all intents and purposes. We went all out to crush the enemy and make the price too high for him to hit us again. Other nations have done this as well throughout history.

This is well and good enough for most other nations on the planet, but let Israel respond to an attack on her territory, and the caterwauling begins immediately. She earns rounds of condemnation for "aggression" and endures global calls to show "restraint." It's okay for Hezbollah and Hamas to do what they like to Israel, but Israel is not allowed to defend themselves. How much of this is remnant anti-Semitism on the part of Europe is hard to say. I suspect quite a lot.

I am encouraged by President Bush's resolve to stand with Israel in the face of this most recent unprovoked attack. I also like what former House majority whip Tom DeLay said yesterday. "There are two places for a cell or in a cemetery." That is a lesson that this country (and the world) had better learn and learn quickly. In terms of their goals, there is no difference between the Third Reich and fanatic Islam. Both are out for world domination and to kill as many of their enemies as possible. There is no negotiating with such people. They must be completely crushed. Instead of giving Israel "time" before a cease fire, we ought to have a force in southern Lebanon WITH the Israelis going house to house rounding these thugs up or shooting them dead. The price must be made too high for Hezbollah's actions. If they insist on being martyrs for Allah, we should help as many of them accomplish that goal as possible. The less terrorists there are who are allowed to breathe, the more chance we'll have at some peace and quiet for a while. We had best be prepared to deal with them here at home, too.

I know there will be some out there who question the "Christianity" of all this. Christianity is not pacifistic. We believe governments have the duty to protect their citizens, and that citizens have the right to protect themselves and their families. As the Apostle Paul pointed out in Romans 13, the state is to be a terror to evildoers. It bears the sword for a purpose.

If an individual Christian or a church proclaims the Gospel to a Muslim and the Muslim trusts in Christ, great. I hope and pray that takes place often, because a changed heart will lead to a changed life, and terrorism will be left behind. However, a government cannot wait for this to take place. If a group of radicals is getting ready to blow up a restaurant in New York, I want the police or military there to round them up. That is not the right time for a missionary endeavor.

The long and short of it is that we are in for a war whether or not it is officially declared by Congress. A long war. The enemy we are facing hates us and our values with a passion and will not rest until they kill us or are killed themselves. The Muslim hoardes overran Europe including half of France until they were stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. Reconquest of their lost territory and conquest of the rest of the world is the goal of today's radical matter how long it takes. The world had better wake up.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

I seldom write things of a devotional nature, although I am often greatly blessed by the devotional ministries of others. My usual writing ranges from the apologetic, to the polemic, to the analytic, to the journalistic, and to the teachic (That's obviously not a word. I just made it up to keep the rhythm going. I must be watching Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson too much).

Having said all that, I would like to offer a brief think-piece/devotional thought at the outset of the weekend - a thought framed by a sunrise shot taken from the balcony of the Cliff House Inn near Jasper, Arkansas. The photo really captures the idea of what I want to say.

The news from Israel is deeply troubling to those of us praying for the peace of Jerusalem. To see the bulk of world opinion sympathizing with terrorists and condemning Israel's self-defense boggles the mind. But God isn't taken by surprise and all of this is working out exactly as He purposed. This region of the world will be history's denouement, and these are just the birth pangs. It won't be pretty in the short term, but I've read the back of the book. God is sovereign and His purpose will be established no matter what governments decide or how many terrorist thugs throw missile and Semtex parties.

The news from Indonesia where another tsunami killed hundreds and laid 100 miles of shoreline waste is horribly tragic. But in the midst of the death and destruction, the people of God are on the scene showing Christ's love by their actions - actions largely unheralded by the news media. They don't need a government's permission or provision to do it, either. The darkest tragedies often lead to the greatest opportunities for hope, love and healing.

Here in America where things are comparitively calm, we have enough crises to dominate the news each night. A killer goes to the electric chair in Virginia . . . a multi-million dollar drainage control project gets held up by a federal judge worried about a woodpecker that might be extinct . . . churches are being split across the nation due to false doctrine being promulgated . . . the political mood gets more and more venomous . . . some think an economic crash looms on the horizon . . . gasoline prices cause a domino effect of problems from travel costs down to the cost of a loaf of bread at the grocery store...death..murders...drug abuse...alcoholism....depression....suicide....the litany never ends. If that was all there was, it is easy to see why one could despair of hope and even life.

But that's not all there is. With every dark cloud, there is also a beam of light peering through. With every tragedy, there is also a joy. If we can just learn to see it. We don't have to make it up, either. Here's how God's Word puts it:

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)

This isn't being Pollyanna. It's the best psychology I've ever read or known in my life, and believe me, I've been exposed to plenty of it. I recognize and see the bad, but know that the good overcomes. Always.

Take that thought with you this weekend, and be encouraged. He has overcome the world, and so can we.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

David Dolan's Middle East Report

I received this today from David Dolan, a former CBS correspondent, author and lecturer. He has been a guest numerous times on my radio program. I post it here for your perusal and ongoing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem.



Shalom from Jerusalem,

Armed clashes continue along the Israel-Lebanon border today, with reports that several more Israeli soldiers have been wounded in the exchanges after two were killed yesterday. That comes after the Iranian-proxy militia force audaciously tried to infiltrate the upper Galilee Israeli town of Metulla late yesterday, lobbing rockets into the town, followed by an attempt to cut the border security fence. The apparent goal was to take Israeli residents of Metulla hostage into Lebanon. Along with the heavy border fighting yesterday and today, the attack shows that the extremist Shiite militia is still very active right along the border even after a week of intensive Israeli air force bombings and tank and artillery fire. This comes after Israel dropped some 23 tons of bombs overnight onto a building in southeast Beirut believed to be covering a bunker containing Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Although the group claimed no Hizbullah leaders were killed in the strike, we have so far had no word from Nasrallah some 18 hours later, which some believe is a sign he was indeed killed or wounded in the massive strike.

Israeli officials are beginning to concede that the Lebanese Shiite militia force—funded and trained by Iran and commanded by an estimated 200 Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed with them—is proving harder to neutralize than many had anticipated. Thus, a substantial Israeli ground operation is becoming more likely every day. This was basically confirmed today in remarks made by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Armed Forces Chief Dan Halutz. While visiting portions of northern Israel hit hard by some 1,600 Iranian and Syrian produced rockets over the past week, Peretz told reporters that, "Hizbullah must not think that we would recoil from using all kinds of military measures against it.” He added that while Israel does not intend to reoccupy portions of Lebanon, it would “not retreat from any military measures that might be needed to finish the job.” This came after the army announced last night that all Lebanese civilians should immediately leave their homes in the southern border region with Israel, up to the Litani River. This is estimated to be tens of thousands of people, including residents of the biblical town of Tyre.

Even more telling, Chief of Staff Halutz issued his first official missive to his troops during the current conflict today, declaring that the fighting may last for “an extended period of time.” Here is a portion of his written comments: "The State of Israel is in the midst of fighting an extremist Islamic terrorist organization that denies our right to exist, and is operating under the auspices of Iran and Syria, which aim to threaten Israel's sovereignty. The fighting was aggravated after provocations by Hizbullah and Hamas, which carried out terrorist attacks in Israeli territory, in which a number of IDF fighters were killed and Corporal Gilad Shalit and reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted. We are responsible for defending our country's independence and sovereignty, and for the security of its citizens.”

"The fighting in the north was tagged on to the fighting in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and may continue for an extended period of time. This is a test for us. Our moral and ideological strength will reflect on the country's citizens and will aid their ability to face the threat on the home front. The society's strength and the trust has in the IDF strengthens us and will continue to do so. We will do whatever it takes to maintain the state's security. The terrorist groups misread the map and misinterpreted the resolve of Israeli society and the IDF. The army is operating on the Lebanese front to destroy terrorist infrastructure and terrorist-supporting infrastructure. We hit and will hit Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon, as well as the organization's rockets, while also hitting Palestinian terror.”


I just completed an interivew for a radio network program based in Ohio, and was asked if there is anything that western television news viewers are not being shown in the current conflict. I mentioned two things. Having viewed dozens of reports over the past 48 hours via CNN International, the BBC World Service, the British Sky network and its sister American Fox News Channel (all carried on Israel’s two main cable-satellite systems), I noticed that while all are naturally focusing on foreigners and Lebanese citizens fleeing the fighting in Lebanon, not one that I saw mentioned that around a quarter of a million Israelis have also fled their homes in the north in recent days to escape Hizbullah’s rockets that have already killed over a dozen civilians and wounded hundreds. This large exodus helps explain why the Israeli death toll has not been higher.

The flight for safety was personally illustrated to me last night when a close Israeli friend, who heads a youth ministry here in Jerusalem, told me that he and his wife and two children are hosting his wife’s aunt and her family who had fled their home north of the coastal town of Nahariya, which has been hit hard by rocket fire in recent days. He noted that other relatives wanted to join them, but there was simply no more room for them. Indeed, he told me his wife’s aunt was shocked to hear that a rocket had landed just outside her abandoned home yesterday. This refugee situation is being duplicated in tens of thousands of Israeli homes in the center and south of the country (most of them typical smallish apartments that don’t really have room for visiting families), but no one in the international media seems to be taking any notice of this aspect of the story.

Another thing I mentioned is that hundreds of thousands of Syrians moved into Lebanon during the 27 years that Syrian forces occupied two-thirds of the country, mostly for employment purposes, especially in recent years when the economy substantially expanded. Although some followed Syrian troops back into Syria last summer, many others did not, and therefore it is only reasonable to assume that at least a fair portion of the thousands of “Lebanese refugees” crossing the border into Syria in recent days—in a highly televised movement—are actually Syrians returning home to avoid the fighting. This is not at all to minimize the real suffering that the Lebanese population is going through at present, but just to illustrate that the story is often more complicated than the international media portrays.

Another thing I could have mentioned, but did not, is that I have not seen one international media report interviewing friends or relatives of the two young Arab Israeli brothers, aged just 3 and 7, who were brutally slaughtered when a Hizbullah rocket slammed into the alley where they were playing soccer last evening in the biblical town of Nazareth. As a journalist, I would have thought that this was a natural story to cover more intensively, but as far as I have seen it has not been the case, at least on the international outlets mentioned above. The two boys were from a Sunni Muslim family, and it would have been interesting to hear how such Israeli Muslims feel about a Shiite paramilitary force from a neighboring country lobbing rockets into their mostly Arab town—the largest Arab population center inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders. By the way, as a result of the deadly strike, Israel television has stepped up home front command announcements in Arabic instructing the country’s million-plus Arab citizens how to better protect themselves during the current conflict.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

There and Back Again..and Some Good News

I hope J.R.R. Tolkien forgives me for borrowing his original title to "The Hobbit." I couldn't resist.

Yes, I am back from my little jaunt to the Ozarks, rested and happy. As you can see from these two photos (I have plenty more), the scenery was wonderful, the weather was hot, and the Buffalo National River was refreshingly wonderful. Although you can't really see it from the photo, the water is so clear you can stand neck deep in it and see your feet.

The other photograph was taken at Whittaker Point, otherwise known as Hawksbill Crag. In this particular shot, you can't see why it's called Hawksbill Crag, but from a distance it looks just like the profile of a hawk. It's also very steep and dangerous to get up there. One slip and you're dead. I am rather proud of myself from this jaunt. I have been in rather uncertain health for the past few years, and for me to hike two trails (one five miles and the "Crag" trail three miles) in near 100-degree weather and 98 percent humidity is no small accomplishment. The terrain is steep and rough, but by God's grace, I was determined to accomplish it.

The Buffalo River country in Arkansas is some of the most breathtakingly beautiful land you can imagine. I wish I could have spent more time there, but I can't be away from home for more than a week these days.

I came home to some good news. Recent tests I had on my liver came back within normal range at last. It had been compromised because of all the medication I've been on for other problems. The regimen I have been on is working, and I trust a healthy dollop of God's mercy and grace.

For those who read The Seventh Sola for theological debate and commentary, that will resume in due course. For now, let me bask for a while in the afterglow of a wonderful trip. Reality will set in soon enough. Trust me on that one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Seventh Sola Takes Some R&R

As you can see from the photo I posted from a past trip, I am feeling the need to get away for a while. I didn't get to take my normal spring fishing trip due to various reasons, and it looks doubtful I will get to take the fall one either. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "so it goes."

While I won't be going fishing, I hope to be able to take a few days and relax in the quiet that can be found deep in a forest. I will enjoy the scenery that God's artistry provides, spend time communing with Him in prayer (no "centering" or labyrinths needed, thank you), and simply rest this tired body and mind. The Seventh Sola shall return, Lord willing, next week.

Until then, take care and God bless.

Joel (Solameanie)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Beloved Hymn

I love all kinds of music, and am one of the few remaining (it seems) who loves old church hymns. I have two favorites. For testimony purposes, it would be "The Solid Rock." However, for personal devotion and worship, it is "In the Hour of Trial." The music is minor key and deeply moving, as are the words. I post them below for your contemplation. I hope they bless you as much as they bless me, and may they remind us all of what our Savior suffered.


In The Hour of Trial

In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me,
Lest by base denial I depart from Thee.
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.

With forbidden pleasures would this vain world charm,
Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane,
Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.

Should Thy mercy send me sorrow, toil and woe,
Or should pain attend me on my path below,
Grant that I may never fail Thy hand to see;
Grant that I may ever cast my care on Thee.

When my last hour cometh, fraught with strife and pain,
When my dust returneth to the dust again,
On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
Jesus, take me, dying, to eternal life.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Regarding Blog Comments

It has always been my intention to allow open comment on The Seventh Sola. By and large I will continue to do so. However, I have removed the comments section in the post on Anne Lamott because some of the comments there got out of hand and became personal.

It is always regrettable when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree so intensely that tempers get out of hand. The biblical pattern for such things is to forgive each other and move on. I do forgive any offense toward me wholeheartedly. And I apologize where offense was given. None was intended.

However, I make no apologies for my view on the ISSUES that post was intended to address. My writing style at times is rankling to some because I do not mince words when important issues are at stake. I am direct, blunt, at times sarcastic, and forceful in articulating my position. I am hopeful and prayerful that my position on all issues will always be biblical.

I pray for God's grace to be gentle when gentleness is called for, but not to shrink back from a sharp rebuke when that is needed. I also pray for the humility to accept correction if I stray doctrinally, or engage in unbiblical behavior. I have no desire to offend anyone just for the sake of offending them. I am not talking about those who are what I call the "professionally offended," or those who use being offended as a defense mechanism. I am talking about offending someone either through a sinful attitude or action, with malice, or some other evil attitude of the heart.

So, there you have it. I have not yet engaged "comment moderation" as I don't think I should have to proofread comments before I allow them. To date, I have only deleted unsolicited advertisements and one vulgar post that I can remember. All others have been allowed until today's exchanges. I hope that I don't have to mass delete again, because good comments get zapped in the process. And "good comments" include those who disagree with me on a biblical or doctrinal basis. But when it begins getting personal, I reserve the right to delete.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day

The Seventh Sola would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone (here in America) a happy Independence Day. May all of us take today to remember the blessings that God has bestowed on our country since that day in 1776. More than that, may we remember again our founding principles centered in "one nation under God," and that we have been "bestowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights." As the late President John Adams said, our nation was founded for a religious and moral people. Our system won't work otherwise.

Our love and prayers also go out today to our armed forces serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. We are proud of you!

Monday, July 03, 2006

USA To-gay

No, that isn't a typo. It's an editorial comment about the apparent, ongoing attempt by USA Today to mainstream the so-called "gay" lifestyle. I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of it. (Add in there much of the other media also shilling for the decadent.

Today's particular story was in the "Life" section. It was the cover story and quite long. A lot of text there considering that most of the American populace has the attention span of a gnat if you believe media consultants. The paper must really consider it important to rival War and Peace in the fluff section. The subject was elderly homosexuals and their happiness in finding a retirement community in gay-friendly Santa Fe, New Mexico, that caters to retired men and women engaged in the lifestyle. One can hear the weepy violins playing as the text is read.

A couple of lines in the copy struck me rather forcefully. One quote was from Terry Kaelbaer, an activist. He mentioned how things have changed in society, as once such things were considered "immoral," but now it's ollie ollie oxen free. The next was from the person who runs the place. She said "if they have golf communities, why not..."

That was rich, and you have to wonder if she thought about the implications of what she just said. You can choose to play golf or not to play golf, can't you? Think about it a moment. She just compared something one is supposedly born with and unable to help with something one is NOT born doing and is optional. She'd probably die before she'd admit it, but she's fairly close to the truth there. No matter what the psychobabble crowd says.

As to the prior remark about immorality, earth to whoever. Regardless of what the media or the wine and brie crowd out in Santa Fe think, it's STILL immoral. And it is sad that a mainstream newspaper with national circulation feels the need to celebrate immorality and try to further get the toehold into culture through sympathetic reporting. Actually, that wasn't reporting. That was advocacy journalism much better suited to an activist journal or editorial rather than masquerading as news.

USA Today and others who push the "agenda" will be held accountable in eternity by God Himself, as His Word makes abundantly clear:

. . . although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:32)

. . . Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9).

The Emergent Church tribe loves to ignore Scriptures such as this, but they're not going away no matter how much they try to deconstruct, redefine, unpack, impugn or whine. Is there hope for people engaged in sinful lifestyles? Of course there is. Jesus can change anyone's life. But there is not salvation without those engaged in sin first recognizing that they are indeed sinners. You can't keep one sin and call God a liar by saying it isn't sin. Jesus said that if you love Him, you obey His commandments. Not engaging in immorality is one of them. Game, set and match.