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Is Haiti Cursed?

haiti earthquakeIn the aftermath of the devastation in Haiti, Pat Robertson made international headlines by claiming that the country is cursed.  Robertson stated that the troubles in Haiti can be traced back to the time they “swore a pact with the devil” while fighting for their independence from France. World leaders and news outlets immediately denounced Robertson’s comments as inaccurate and insensitive in this time of tragedy.

Knee jerk reactions seem to abound on both sides. Perhaps a more reasoned analysis is needed.

It seems that what Robertson is really saying is that God is passing judgment on Haiti for its commitment to Voodoo. God is judging sin.  The bible clearly states that part of God’s dealing with the political systems of the world is to pass judgment on them. Further, God has and will continue to judge nations and cultures based on His Word and holiness. Finally, there will be a day when He judges all of the world and history. Everyone will stand before Him.

Even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam each have clear messages of final judgment and accountability, the world and its leaders reject the idea that it could ever actually happen. A Christian, however, cannot believe that God is a mere bystander in world events.

From most any viewpoint one must describe the recent earthquake in Haiti as a disaster. Some writers, even secular ones, have described the destruction in ‘biblical proportions.’ One need only review the last 10 years to recognize the truth of that view.

Haiti earthquakeHaiti is a caricature of political corruption and the catalog of natural disasters is mind-numbing.  In the last 10 years Haiti has suffered four tropical storms or hurricanes and four major floods each killing hundreds. A killer combination of geography, deforestation, shoddy building standards, poverty, an ill-prepared government, and heart-wrenching social ills keep this country in a near constant state of emergency.

This is the 15th disaster since 2001 in which the U.S. Agency for International Development has sent money and help to Haiti. Some 3,000 people have been killed and millions of people displaced in the disasters that preceded this week’s earthquake. Since the turn of this century the U.S. has sent more than $16 million in disaster aid to Haiti.

For this to be the deadliest quake on record, the death toll will have to top the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 227,000 and a 1976 earthquake in China that killed 255,000. While early estimates on the death toll topped 500,000, it now seems likely to be much lower.

Helping Haiti

helping HaitiAt times like these people naturally want to help. Recent tales of corruption and mismanagement frighten people. Everyone wants to know their gifts are being used properly. I will be giving money through my local church that will be channeled through the Southern Baptist Convention. Click on the photo to give online.

I found a great post on How to Help Haiti that gives links and details for many worthwhile organizations that you can be confident in your giving. It also has links for Twitter and Facebook feeds giving up-to-the-minute details in Haiti.

The American Red Cross has a simple and unique plan.  Text the word Haiti to 90999  in order to donate $10.

Jesus in the Qur'an

My good friend Dr. Bud Colegrove sent a paper to me this week and we decided to share portions of it for your review. We have split the material into three posts and redacted the original paper to conform to the space limitations of this blog. You can download the entire paper at this link.

A few years ago, while working in Europe, I was assigned to teach a course entitled, “International Business,” in Bonn, Germany. Students enrolled in the course were sons/daughters of ambassadors from a variety of countries, as Bonn, at that time, was the capital of Germany. The class consisted of about 10 students and each was a Muslim. Progressing through the dictates of the syllabus, we eventually spoke of foreign cultures and the need to be sensitive to a client’s differences in manners, customs, and religion. Taking off on the latter, I mentioned in passing that I knew little of Islam, and had never seen a copy of the Qur’an.

We then entered into an informative discussion (at least for me) of Islam, and the elevated position the Qur’an held in Muslim nations. It lasted for much of the class period, and when we finished for the night, I thanked them for their participation and for sharing with me their faith and its teachings. I thought that was the end of it.

When we met the following week, one student, a tall lovely lady from The Sudan, came in carrying a bag. She approached me and stated that she had related the story of our previous class meeting and my admitted ignorance of the Qur’an to her father. In response, he broke out his cherished copy of the Qur’an and asked his daughter to bring it to me to study. I was delighted, took it home, and examined it for our 10 Commandments. When we met again and I attempted to return the precious book she refused – it was a gift from her father.

Fast foreword to 2009: I now have my own copy of the Qur’an written both in Arabic and English. In Bill Blanton’s Sunday School class recently, I was asked what the Qur’an had to say about Jesus. I didn’t know!! So, later at home, I went to my bookshelf, took out the Qur’an, and opened it. I thought you might like to know what I found.

Bud Colegrove, Ph.D.

I hope you will study this material carefully. It should enrich your own faith and knowledge of Jesus as well as equip you to present the truth about Jesus to Muslim friends.

Find the verses regarding Jesus in the Qur’an.

Read what the Bible says about Jesus.

Dr.B

Jesus in the Qur'an – Answering Islam

The Qur’an discusses some relatively superficial incidents in the life of Jesus. However, in spite of the fact that the Qur’an, and some Muslims, holds Jesus in high regard as a Prophet, the Qur’an says virtually nothing about the teachings of Jesus. For that, we must turn to the Bible and the New Testament where those who were witnesses to His life, works, and teachings established a record. Muhammad lived 600 years after Jesus and had a poor understanding of the New Testament and a poorer understanding of the teachings of Jesus.

There are many wonderful materials giving biblical answers to Islam and the Qur’an and I have listed a few links below. In this present post, let us focus on a single point. The Qur’an goes to great length to record the virgin birth. Yet, Muhammad insists that Jesus is no more than a Prophet like Noah and Moses (Sura 5:75). What then is the significance of the virgin birth?

The virgin birth is an essential doctrine of historic Christianity. To be the perfect sacrifice required that Jesus be free of sin. Yet, Christ also had to be fully man. The virgin birth solved both of these requirements: Christ was born of a woman so as to be fully man; yet was born as result of the miraculous intervention of God, by means of the Holy Spirit — the result of which was that Adam’s sin nature was not passed to Jesus.

The virgin birth was prophesied in the Old Testament, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Apostles recognized Isaiah’s sign as applying to Jesus. They affirmed the virgin birth. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ — which means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:22-23).

The virgin birth was announced in the New Testament. “You will be with child and give birth to a son. ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).

Muhammad, and the Qur’an, misses the significance of this historical event. Jesus was born of a virgin because he was not like other prophets. Jesus arrived as the Lamb of God, ready to take away the sins of the world.

Muslim teachers also object to other teachings in the Bible. Here are a few topics and some online resources to reinforce the biblical truth and your Christian faith.

Islam and the Resurrection

Islam and the Deity of Christ and Who is Jesus?

Islam and the Trinity

Islam and the Bible

Islam and Jesus as the Son of God?

Here is the post that started this discussion.

Jesus in the Qur'an – Pt 2

Surah 2:87 For, indeed, We vouchsafed unto Moses the divine writ and caused apostle after apostle to follow him; and We vouchsafed unto Jesus, the son of Mary, all evidence of the truth, and strengthened him with holy inspiration. [Yet] is it not so that every time an apostle came unto you with something that was not to your liking, you gloried in your arrogance, and to some of them you gave the lie, while others you would slay?

Surah 2:136 Say: “We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and, their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.”

Surah 2:253 Some of these apostles have We endowed more highly than others: among them were such as.were spoken to by God [Himself], and some He has raised yet higher.’ And We vouchsafed unto Jesus, the son of Mary, all evidence of the truth, and strengthened him with holy inspiration. And if God had so willed, they who succeeded those [apostles] would not have contended with one another after all evidence of the truth had come to them; but [as it was,] they did take to divergent views, and some of them attained to faith, while some of them came to deny the truth. Yet if God had so willed, they would not have contended with one another: but God does whatever He wills.

Surah 3:42-55 AND LO! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God has elected thee and made thee pure, and raised thee above all the women of the world. O Mary! Remain thou truly devout unto thy Sustainer, and prostrate thyself in worship, and bow down with those who bow down [before Him].” This account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perception We [now] reveal unto thee: for thou wert not with them when they drew lots as to which of them should be Mary’s guardian, and thou wert not with them when they contended [about it] with one another. Lo! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God sends thee the glad tiding, through a word from Him, [of a son] who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honour in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous.” Said she: “O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is: God creates what He wills when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ – and it is. And he will impart unto thy son revelation, and wisdom, and the Torah, and the Gospel, and [will make him] an apostle unto the children of Israel.” “I HAVE COME unto you with a message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of [your] destiny, and then breathe into it, so that it might become [your] destiny by God’s leave; and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God’s leave; and I shall let you know what you may eat and what you should store up in your houses. Behold, in all this there is indeed a message for you, if you are [truly] believers. “And [I have come] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains of the Torah, and to make lawful unto you some of the things which [aforetime] were forbidden to you. And I have come unto you with a message from your Sustainer; remain, then, conscious of God, and pay heed unto me. “Verily, God is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer; so worship Him [alone]: this is a straight way.” And when Jesus became aware of their refusal to acknowledge the truth, he asked: “Who will be my helpers in God’s cause?” The white-garbed ones replied: “We shall be [thy] helpers [in the cause] of God! We believe in God: and bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto Him! O our Sustainer! We believe in what Thou hast bestowed from on high, and we follow this Apostle; make us one, then, with all who bear witness [to the truth]!” And the unbelievers schemed [against Jesus]; but God brought their scheming to nought: for God is above all schemers. Lo! God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me, and cleanse thee of [the presence of] those who are bent on denying the truth; and I shall place those who follow thee [far] above those who are bent on denying the truth, unto the Day of Resurrection. In the end, unto Me you all must return, and I shall judge between you with regard to all on which you were wont to differ.
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Mere Christianity – Reading It Together

I have just joined a group of believers from across the country in reading and discussing Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The moderator of the group is Tim Challies and you can follow the discussion if you would like. My blogging friend, David, is prolific writer on these community reviews and has already started his first installment of his evaluation of the book which I encourage you to take a look at.

Reading classic Christian literature is a wonderful discipline. I hope my journey will assist you in your journey toward the Savior.

You may want to get a copy for yourself and read along. The paperback edition is not expensive and the link below will show you how to get a used copy at Amazon if your budget is especially thin.

You may know C.S. Lewis best for his series, The Chronicles of Narnia.

 

Praying for Obama

Madelyn Payne Dunham, Barack Obama’s grandmother, died today, she was was 86 and had been battling cancer. She died peacefully in her sleep.

The prayers of our family are with Mr. Obama and his family.

Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Faith Intersecting Culture

Here are some places that personal faith and public life collide.

A good quote to start the day –

A Christian is not his own master, since all his time belongs to God.

– St. Ignatius of Antioch

  • faith and facts christian culture media politics intersectionTroopergate – Sarah had the authority to fire him but it is an ‘Abuse of Power’ to threaten to fire him. Huh?
  • Joe the Plumber is not a Socialist and Barack Obama sure sounds like a Socialist
  • The ESV Study Bible is a big hit and smart Christian women with smart blogs are wonderful
  • Government health-care in Hawaii hits a snag
  • ACORN is engaged in fraud, fraud and more fraud
  • Bill Dyer examines the Integrity Gap between McCain and Obama
  • If you give a ‘tax cut’ to someone thast does not pay taxes, that is just a handout
  • Media Bias is alive and well
  • Some people need to learn the basics of the financial markets before pontificating bloviating
ESV Study Bible

New ESV Study Bible

Many in the Christian community have been eagerly awaiting the new ESV Study Bible. Demand has already been a bit overwhelming for Crossway. Pre-publication demand exceeded 100,000 copies. This is a true study Bible combining dozens, even hundreds, of resource materials for in-depth examination of the Word of God. Personally, I have enjoyed the ESV translation immensly. My friend David Porter had a review up on his website within 24 hours of receiving his copy.

ESV Study BibleLook what I just received yesterday!  I just received my first copy of the new English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible! I was so excited to receive it, the first thought that came to my mind was to photograph it for my blog. For this first post, on the new ESV Study Bible, I thought I would share with you my first impressions. 1.)  Wow!  This is a huge text!  According to my blue Chinese desk ruler, this text, lying on its back, it is 2 1/8 inches deep!  That depth competes with the copy of Dr. Wayne Grudem's "Systematic Theology" that also sits on my desk. 2.)  2,750+ pages! 3.)  Another reason for my enthusiasm,  is affinity.  Dr. Wayne Grudem was the General Editor of this project.  Wayne is also my Sunday School teacher. There are two other contributors, to this project, that I know from my home church:  Dr.(s) Paul Wegner & John DelHousaye. Further still, there are many contributers who are my mentors from afar.  Examples include, J.I. Packer, Vern Poythress, Darrell Bock, John Piper, and quite a few more.  Additionally, there are many scholars, from all over the world, who I look forward to getting to know.  With the Internet, it is incredibly easy to plug right into their minds! 4.)  Content!  Of course, first and foremost, this is God's sacred text.  But as you all know, this text can be difficult to understand.  With this study Bible you literally have scores of the world's most brilliant minds, holding your hand all along the way.  I noticed also, that this study Bible also touches on some of our culture's most difficult challenges such as abortion, world religions and cults, foundational doctrines, and much, much more. 5.)  On-line ESV Study Bible website.  I haven't perused this additional value as of yet, but I did get, with my new Bible, a secret password that unlocks features that evidently allow me to personalize the site.  For example, evidently I will be able to keep notes, on the web, of my studies.  My mind reels with the possibilities of such an on-line resource and the possible community that could be formed around the study of God's word.

Whatever your translation preference, the ESV Study Bible will be a worthy addition as you grow in your understanding of God's Word.

The Language Of Prayer

My friend David has been writing some wonderful stuff lately. He may be a Boomer in the Pew, but he captures a deep truth about the helplessness of prayer.

Many recognize that there are times of great stress and strain when speech fails us as we seek God’s counsel. Our vocabulary is impotent to frame the words to express our love, faith, doubts, pain, and joy.

In like manner, when the sky is blue and the clouds are wispy white, one does not barge into the presence of the Eternal King. Appearing before the throne of Grace is a privilege purchased by the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. It should leave you speechless on occasions.

There are times when words completely fail me in my attempts to communicate with my heavenly Father.

These may be times of great affection and praise, as God’s Holy Spirit stirs within me, or times where I am feeling completely lost, and long for my Father’s loving presence.

When these deep feelings arise, God instructs us to allow the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf.

Romans 8:26, “…but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Thanks David. This post refreshes my spirit.

A Boomer in the Pew: Prayer and Praise to My Sovereign King.

McCain Talks About Personal Faith

I have read several stories over the years about John McCain’s Christian faith.  He is of a generation of men that were taught to let their actions do the talking. I am pleased he is beginning to verbalize his faith in Jesus Christ and how that faith helped him as a POW.

John McCain has finally begun to talk his walk with Jesus. Until recently, the details about the Republican presidential nominee’s Christian convictions were missing in action. Starting this summer, McCain and some of his closest Vietnam War-era buddies began pulling back the narrative curtain.

These war stories reveal McCain’s stoic, generically Christian spirituality and his honor-driven self-discipline. During his five-plus years as a prisoner in Hanoi, McCain had many defining religious moments.

Talking the Walk | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.