The Snake of Islam

Another Chaper in Series on Religious Freedom

The remembrances this week, this weekend, of the persecutions of Sept. 11, 2001, bring troubling thoughts to our minds, and not just lingering memories of the tragedies experienced by those, who died, those who were injured or sickened, and their loved ones, not just an overwhelming gasp, still in our throats, at the suddenness, the shock and horror of it all. Moreso, the troubling thoughts we have concern the question of the impossibility of co-existence of the religion of Islam and religious freedom for Christians.

This week we have heard of the church in Florida planning to burn the Koran and a number of people have asked me as a Christian, what I think about it. Short and sweet, so to speak, such an approach, in our view, does not promote honest soul-searching by Christians world-wide, not just by American Christians, but also does not promote an honest debate about this issue of the world’s co-existence of Islam with Christians.

From time to time, we have spoken on the issue of religious freedom. Why so, when that issue is not directly from Scripture? It is so because, at least here in America, we are privileged to worship and practice our religion, nourish our faith, evangelize to spread our faith among others, because we have religious freedom. It is so basic to our American lives that we take it for granted, and most Americans never really examine what it means and how it operates to protect us, how it provides an umbrella of legitimacy in which our religious freedom, and that of believers of other denominations, other sects, other faiths, can co-exist. The tragedy of 911, as we endure its remembrances in recent days, has served notice upon us all that Islam does not intend for Christians to continue to be able to worship, nourish our faith, and evangelize. The debate over the Manhattan mosque proposal dramatizes, so that we can clearly now see the issue, that Islam will use our principles of religious freedom to wedge its way into post-911 presence and power in America while plotting death to the Americans who are infidel, as the Koran teaches, because of their non-Muslim faiths (whether they be Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, etc.) and death to those Americans who are infidel, as the Koran teaches, because of their lives of unbelief and sin. The Manhattan mosques proposal represents a political test, a constitutional test, in the on-going power struggle between American and Islam, in which the issue is this: “can Islam be permitted to use our rules of live, our principles of religious freedom against us?” Islam is a tool of that serpent, the Devil or Satan, which he is using to deceive the whole world. America is being deceived by Satan, through the artifice and manipulation of our principles of religious freedom. So we have to talk about this deception in the pulpit, because our freedom to be Christians is at stake here, and most of the country does not get the point, and like the church in Florida, if they do get the point, they often do not articulate it clearly or convincingly.

Now, let’s take a look back through history, very generally, for we have gone through some of this before. America was founded by a diverse group of people and through immigration, that diversity has been enlarged. I don’t think there is any mention in the founding documents of, for example, Buddhism. But our national diversity has brought us large numbers of Buddhists. As Christians, we do not believe in the Buddhist faith, but Buddhism does not posit death to us unless we convert to Buddhism, like Islam does.

When we saw the assault of 911, and now see the “make- nice” ploy of the Manhattan mosque proposal, we understand that the debate over religious freedom in America has become forever changed in the last decade, but that the principles of religious freedom necessary to sustain those principles as principles of freedom have never changed, but they have not been articulated clearly and convincingly to the very confused body of Christian worshippers in America and, indeed, around the world.

Here, again, as I have mentioned this before, is the general principle: religious freedom is not unlimited, just as a matter of simple logic: all religious freedom ceases to exist when one (or even more) religions refuse to admit that another faith can be legitimately practiced without the reprehensible repercussions of harassment, persecution and death. If the price of religious freedom is death, then it is not freedom or free!

Now, a couple of examples to demonstrate the point. Let’s say that a cannibalistic tribe or faith establishes itself in America, and among its beliefs is that periodically they must kill and eat someone who is not a member of their tribe or faith. So, as a result, every American, even every illegal immigrant, is at risk of death to feed the religion of the cannibals. Or, what if a group’s beliefs required it to sacrifice, as to Molech of old, infants or a child up to some age, by throwing it into a burning altar.

We would all be aghast at such attempts to exercise religious freedom: we would call it murder and cry out for the authorities to stop it! We wouldn’t stop for a moment and say to ourselves that, because of religious freedom we must put all of us at risk of death so the cannibals and the child-sacrificers can have their religious freedom. And we would say no less if the sacrificed ones came from among their own numbers. We would all still see such beliefs as espousing murder, and such practices as committing murder. The only difference between these sacrifical practices and beliefs and those of Islam is that the Koran does not teach the followers of Allah to eat their victims! Small difference, in fact!

Change always brings challenge. We experienced it in our family again, yesterday, in such a humble way, as we enrolled Lamar, our youngest, in school, away from home, at The Evangelical Institute of Greenville. In that enrollment, that starting of a new phase of his life, there is challenge for him, and there is in that change, challenge for us as his parents, and for his sister, Liza, as well. Change is not necessarily bad, and the challenge of it is usually good for us, as we have the opportunity to be strengthened by the change and the way we react to it.

But our reaction to change requires us to process the change, to figure out how to react to it, and whenever we have major change in our lives, we usually have major challenges, and the ways in which we look at things involved with that change, our perspective, if you will, also changes.

And so, post-911, the perspective for the church of Christians in America has been challenged and we are reminded of it by the proposed Manhattan mosque, and the Christian church in America needs to find its voice, and to become educated, thoughtful, and united, in a clear and convincing message to the rest of the country, to the world, and especially to Islam. That message should be that at the core of religious freedom is toleration of the differences of mankind in their religions, their world views, their choices of belief in regards to creation, life, death, and after-life, but that toleration is limited. The limitation is thus: that neither constitutional principle, nor logic, can permit a form of toleration of Islam that is tolerant unto our deaths if we don’t believe with the Islamists. That is what the church of Christians in America, indeed across the globe, is struggling to articulate.

I do not advocate burning copies of the Koran in some public demonstration of disgust or disagreement. But I do advocate a sharpening of the focus of debate to get to the core of religious freedom, so we can understand not only its openness and toleration, but also its inherent limits in order for any freedom at all to survive. The church of Christians can enunciate this sharpened focus of debate, but as freedom is alas, controlled by the government and the courts, it is necessary for the church of Christians to deliver this message to our government officials who are the guardians and protectors of this religious freedom, and in appropriate cases – such as the zoning process for the proposed Manhattan mosque – to the courts, the ultimate interpreters and enforcers of religious freedom in America.

Already the Islamic camel has its nose under the tent of America, and that only in the name of religious freedom. On the premise of religious freedom, the Islamists have already established a nose-hold, nay – a stronghold in America as in Europe. And in Europe, and a couple of small places in America, that stronghold premised on religious freedom has moved through the ballot box to establish political power, which undoubtedly will be used to legitimate Shira law in America, if the Islamists get their way! The time to kill the snake is best before it bites you!

If we are to survive to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord of our lives, if we are to be free to possess, and to share, and to believe the Word of God in Holy Scripture, if we are to be free to prosleytize and evangelize as we are commanded in Matthew 28, then the camel’s nose must be removed from our American tent, and the whole camel must be removed from America. The snake of Islam is under our feet and seeks our death. The call on the church of Christians is to find its voice and articulate and defend the principles of the Dissenters who brought that principle to our shores in the formation of this country, and established it in the First Amendment to our Constitution, and to articulate it so loudly and so precisely, without sensationalism or hate-mongering as with the church in Florida seeking to burn the Koran. We have, as the church of Christians, the largest burden and responsibility in this, as we have the most at stake. What we have at stake is our duty, and our ability to fulfill that duty, under Matthew 28, to share the gospel of Christ with our fellow man. As we so carefully studied last year in this body, in the series on God, Man and Society, we have a stewardship responsibility in the type of government and the content of government laws that we permit to govern us. It is that stewardship responsibility, not just for this generation, but for generations to come, that requires us to step out, spread the word like Paul Revere — for Islam is not just coming, it is here! – and develop a unified voice, a clear and convincing message, that brings order out of the confused and disshelved voices of the church and the government officials and, often, the courts. We will lose battles along the way, but it is time for this issue, in the interest of the church’s survival to carry the message of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The snake of Islam seeks to kill the church of Christians, for we are the message that Islam is not the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are the message that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, yesterday, today and forever; we are the message that Christianity is the true religion of Jehovah God, not its perversion by Mohammed into Islam! We are Royal Ambassadors for Christ, we are Christian Soldiers and it is time for us to man up, to deliver the hard messages to our friends and neighbors, and to our government officials, and to our courts, and, indeed, to Islam: Islam is not legal in America because it is a religion of such extreme intolerance that we as a nation cannot tolerate it.

Now, having said all of this, let me encourage you to include all Muslims in your regular prayers, that God would continually bless them, that He would regularly and unceasingly send His Holy Spirit to guide them in the Way of all Truth, which is Jesus Christ, and that He would convict them of sin, righteousness and judgment, and confront them with the Holy One of Israel, for their good, and their blessing in conversion to belief in Jesus Christ.

And, also, let me encourage you to pray for those under Islamic rule who have converted to Christianity, who have been, and are, so profoundly harassed, persecuted, and according to the news, so routinely killed because of their conversions to Christ. Lift them up to the throne of God, pray strongly for the intercession of Jesus at the right hand of God the Father, to have mercy on those brave souls who have chosen to set aside their families, their cultures, and their fears of death to embrace the freedom of life in Christ, true eternal life.

And also, pray for our church members – here locally, and all across this land – that a great awakening, in Christ and about American religious freedom, would come from the grass roots of the church, and pray that our Christian church leaders – and, as God used Pharoah at the time of the Exodus – the leaders of other non-violent religions – would acquire this same great awakening, and lead the unification of this voice, and that the church of Christians would take a stand that would communicate this clear and convincing message of religious freedom to our governing authorities, to our judges, and to Islamists everywhere.

And pray for our governing authorities, and our judges, that they would join, with true lovers of religious freedom, in the unity of this message, and change the way they govern and judge America and religious freedom herein! It is time for the church of Christians to overcome the deceptive voice of the Snake of Islam, but shouting the truth in the pulpit, in our homes, in our schools and workplaces, in the halls of governmental power and in the courts of justice in America!


Holy Father, may it be so, by the Authority of the Name of Jesus and by the Power of His Blood!

Concluding Prayer: for this Message of Unity in Religious Freedom, for blessings on unverted Muslims, for blessings and protections on Muslims converted to Christ, for receptivity to this message, and the requisite courage and strength to stand, for our governing American authorities and judges. Amen.

Let Freedom Ring

Today, as we remember the birth of this country, and the blood shed to establish the fundamentals of religious freedom, we are thankful for the vision and the courage of those Founding Fathers who lived on the cutting edge of what God was doing in their generation, as God used these men – each imperfect in his own person, and collectively, so often, imperfect – yet used by God to establish a nation which proclaimed God as Creator and as the source of human rights, chief among them, being the rights needed to assure religious freedom.

The United States of America was born on the 4th of July, 1776, by the publication of the Declaration of Independence in which the American colonists, listed their grievances against the rule of King George III of Great Britain and declared themselves, and their land, to be free of the rule of King George III. In so doing, they declared themselves determined to engage in war as a means of self-defense in order to be free. Indeed, at the closing line of the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers took an oath, pledging, to this claim of freedom, their “lives, property

and sacred honor” That is how much they yearned for freedom – they pledged it all and so many of them gave it all. In a war that lasted seven years, but had been going on for more than a decade before, our Founding Fathers led the American colonists to a successful conclusion of the Revolutionary War. It was formally ended by the 1783 Treaty of Paris, but the fight was effectively over in 1781 when British General Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our country 234 years ago, we remember those immortal words from the Declaration of Independence, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Then, in 1787 upon the establishment of the U.S. Constitution and in 1791 with the ratification of its initial ten amendments, called the Bill of Rights, of the Unites States of America, those individual human rights, generally referenced in the Declaration of Independence, were laid out with obvious priority:

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble , and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This Amendment does not require separation of church and state, it only forbids the enactment of a law which establishes a religion, like the Church of England, the Anglican Church, which is the official state religion of England, and has been since its establishment by King Henry VIII, by which he made the King of England the head of the Church of England, so he could control doctrine and policy. Other wise, this First Amendment only declares freedoms – all essential to religious freedom – freedoms of the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, and of peaceable assembly. We have so much to celebrate today: because we still have freedom of speech, although the Government threatens to take away that freedom from the airways, and then we must ask what is its next agenda to freeze dissent to anti-Christian governmental viewpoints and policies. We have much to fear about the direction of religious freedom in America, because it is not just the occasional fringe zealot anymore, but whole towns (as in Michigan), school boards, counties and states, even Canada, are depriving Christians of their free expression of religion, at least of Christian religion. But God is sovereign and we pray His will to be done in our Nation, and through us as the conservators of religious freedom.

And we do have remedies for dealing with the deprivation of our religious and other freedoms. Every available remedy should be preceded by and bathed in prayer, and waiting upon the Lord, and continuing prayer, patience and obedience, with no remedy sought except by God’s direction.

The First Amendment also assures us of the right to petition our Government for redress of our grievances. Surely, we are privileged to know that we have that right, and that is our first process, our first remedy, for dealing with a government that deprives us of our unalienable rights granted by our God, the Creator of the universe, of Nature.

The second process, the second remedy, for dealing with a government that deprives us of our unalienable rights granted by our God, the Creator, is set forth in the Declaration of Independence: “to dissolve the political bands which have connected (us) with another people”. If our Government will not respond to petitions for redress of grievances, then secession of Christians or emigration of ‘Christians is the next way.

The third process, the third remedy, is the one to which our Founding Fathers were forced to resort, and that is the right of self- defense, a right from our Creator, by which we defend and protect the rights, the unalienable rights, to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In my application of these rights to my life, I accord the right of religious freedom as chief among these rights, and chief in the ways in which I find Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This right, in next priority in the Bill of Rights, is set forth in the Second Amendment: “. . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In two major decisions within the past year or so, one arising from Washington, DC and the other from Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed this right of self defense.

My prayer is that we never have to petition our government, or dissolve our political bands with it, or engage in self-defense of our inalienable rights, but I speak today to inform you of your rights, in respect to religious freedom, and of your privileges as a citizen of American to exercise your religious freedom as you choose (with one exception I shall address shortly), and to speak freely and publicly about your religious views, and to assemble to share and speak about your, our, religious views.

The one exception to this is set forth in our recent sermon concerning religious freedom, and that is a self-evident limitation on the right of religious freedom: you have the right to evangelize and exercise all aspects of your religion, as long as you respect the right of others to do so, and when your religion, or the way you exercise your religion, prevents me from so exercising my religion, then the law cannot permit, does not legalize, the free exercise of your religion. Right now we see this principle applicable to Islam and secular humanism and socialism and communism, as religions which would prevent us from the free exercise of our religion.

Psalm 119: 41-48 gives us a clear picture, in words, of religious freedom: “Let your mercies come also to me, O Lord – Your salvation according to Your word. So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances. So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts, and I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.” We see here not only the personal, internalized worship and meditation and delight in freely worshipping the Lord, we also see public speech, in assembled areas, as the Psalmist speaks before kings, and we see obedience of God’s ordinances and commands as the Psalmist is obedient in the full walk of his life, as he, Verse 45, says, “And I will walk at liberty . . . .

Freedom does not truly ring anywhere unless there is freedom of religion, the freedom to choose how you will live and spend your life on earth and, in that process, to choose where you will spend eternity, and under what conditions. That’s freedom, real freedom of choice and real freedom of religion – in those choices are set all moral compasses (there is no morality without religion), and therefore all choices of conduct and speech in life.

To attain, and to sustain, freedom, and religious freedom, is an act, and a lifetime of acts, of stewardship of that freedom, and of religious freedom. It requires vigilance, vision and courage. Vigilance, because you have to be aware, you have to beware, of your circumstances and know whether even the government (supposedly the protector of your religious freedom) is depriving you, or planning to deprive you, of your religious freedom. Vision, because you have to know what real religious freedom consists in and what it must be in order to be religious freedom. Courage, as you lean not on your own understanding but Trust only in the Lord, because you must be willing to choose, even at the risk of your personal Life, Liberty and Sacred Honor, to fight for religious freedom, through the three ways accorded to you: petition of the government, dissolution of political bands with the government, and self-defense. But do not forget God is sovereign and to stay focused on Him and not to be distracted by the circumstances of governmental or other threats to you religious freedom. Never forget that, Philippians 1: 21, “. . . to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Please, enjoy this day, this Sabbath which is also the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our country, and its religious freedoms, but take it seriously amidst the recreation, the holiday anniversary, the fireworks, please take it seriously. Keep your Vision, be Vigilant for the day may come whcn a government threatens your Vision, and be Christians of Courage. Let fr eedom ring!

God bless you, and amen+

Religious Freedom for Evangelism

D-Day 66th Anniversary

Today is the 66th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of France, under the direction of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. I want to read you a little history about that, and ask you to contemplate the hand of God in the weather — to deceive the Germans into relaxing, and to give enough hope to the Allies for Gen. Eisenhower to make the decision to launch the offensive, even though conditions were not perfect.

While we can share a nationalistic pride, particularly with Britain and Canada, in the success of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, as having created the conditions to break Hitler’s grasp on France, and the ultimate collapse in defeat of the Third Reich, I encourage you today, to remember the hand of God, not just in the weather, but all through that World War II, and to remember – as we considered last week in our study of religious freedom in the context of Memorial Day – the courageous men and women who committed their lives in defense of liberty and freedom on such foreign soil. America has never conquered a foreign land and retained ownership of it, as was the plan of imperialism of Germany, Russia, and, even in other centuries, of imperialist Greece, Rome, Spain and Great Britain. America has only asked for enough land in those places to bury our men and women who gave their lives there.

So, Lord, we pray, in Jesus’ Name, that we won’t forget the commitment of our forbears to the principles of liberty that assure the right and the practical ability to exercise religious freedom in our land and abroad, that we and others might worship Jesus, and Jehovah God, and live in the Holy Spirit, as we choose, and may we never lose the conviction and the courage to live and die for the right to live our lives as your children, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

Today, we consider the call to evangelism in the exercise of religious freedom, in the call to disciple, in the call to bring others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and we also consider, in the application to evangelism, of the principles and hope of religious freedom. We know (I Timothy 2: 4) that God desires all men to be so saved. We know that we are God’s hands and feet to do that (Matthew 28: 18-20), yet we know that it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction (John 16: 8) in regards to sin, righteousness and Judgment. And we know that it is the Holy Spirit that guides us to Truth (John 16: 13), and that the Truth is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

God shows us, by His Word, His Truth, Jesus, in John 6: 44-45, that “No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. As it is written in the prophets (Isaiah 54: 13) ‘And they shall be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

We have seen in Scripture the evangelism of speaking to large crowds, of ministering one-on-one, of going two-by-two to the towns and households within towns. None of those approaches are inconsistent with the Scriptures we just reviewed, in fact those approaches prove those Scriptures to be correct. That it is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God — the Spirit of Truth, that draws people near to God, and as they choose to draw near to God, He provides a way for them to learn about Him, to learn about Jesus, and to draw even closer in chosen belief and chosen life decisions, quality choices, to follow and obey Jesus and God, and to live in the Holy Spirit.

We find a wonderful example of evangelism at work, in all sorts of supernatural ways, in Acts 8: 26-40, “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship (a Jew), was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ [See, Isaiah 53: 7-8.] So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to ‘Caesarea.

Do you see these common threads of evangelism, in all of its formats, in the history of Philip and the Great Eunuch of Queen Candace of Ethiopia?

These are those common threads:

  1. Verse 26, God set things in motion for this even before Philip knew he was to go see the Eunuch, and before the Eunuch knew he needed help. God told Philip to arise and go along a certain road. Philip did not know where he was to go to, nor why he was going, nor whom, if anyone, he was to see, nor what, if anything, he was to do. Scripture says, and as I see it, obedience in Christ means that one’s life is not his own. This kind of obedience is like that of a good horse: you take it out and put on a saddle and a bridle, mount up, and off you go. The horse does not know where he is going, nor why he is going, nor what he is going to be doing along the way or when he gets to wherever he is going, nor how he is going to get food, water, shelter and rest along the way, nor when or if he is coming back home. In Psalm 32: 9, and in James 3: 3, it is written that we put bits and bridles and harnesses on horses and mules that they may obey us. Of course, you have to have something developed in that horse or mule before you can get the bit on, and that something is meekness or humility. And once you have that in a Christian, meekness and humility before the authority and ownership of God, thenyou have a Christian which the Holy Spirit can direct, because that Christian will obey. And another thing: questions, neither the meek horse nor the humble Christian ask God all those questions before starting to obey, those questions of where am I going, how will I get there, why am I going, how will I eat and drink and find shelter and rest, what am I to do, and when will I return home. Consider these Scriptures for the obedient Christian who does not ask God all those questions, and therefore ready to do God’s work as He directs: I Corinthians 6: 20, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.Romans 1: 1, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which He promised before, through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.Romans 12: 1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
  2. We also find, verses 27-28, 31-32, that the Holy Spirit had prepared the heart of the Eunuch to be eager to learn more about God and His word and His prophecies. The Eunuch had been all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship and was reading from Isaiah on the way back and was, at the precise moment when Philip showed up, confused by the passage in Isaiah 53 containing a prophecy of Christ. And the Eunuch wanted help. We don’t know how all the seeds were planted and watered, but it is obvious that the Holy Spirit was all over this man’s conversion, and it is obvious that when Philip was delivered by God into the company of the Eunuch that the Eunuch was ready to become part of the Holy Harvest, and he was saved that day by His belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  3. We also find here, so obviously, that the Holy Spirit was all over this conversion, this one-man harvest, in verse 26 (Philip heard from an angel of the Lord, with instructions); in verse 29 (at just the right time Philip was instructed by the Holy Spirit to run and overtake the chariot {how many of us can outrun a horse, or a team of horses?}; in verse 35 (Philip was bold to preach the gospel of Christ to the Eunuch, picking up right where he found the Eunuch, in Isaiah 53, and coming forward to the truth of Jesus); in verses 39-40 (as soon as that business was done, the Spirit “caught Philip away, so that the Eunuch saw him no more”, and Philip was transliterated to Azotus; and in verse 40, that Philip went on his merry way preaching in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
  4. Even in those days of Roman occupation and control, and lack of real religious freedom – although the Romans coopted the Jewish leaders to help them control the population — Philip was fearless to exercise his religious freedom, and so was the Eunuch to exercise his religious freedom. In that exercise of religious freedom, a man came voluntarily, after having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and after having received Philip’s preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In that one little historical snapshot of the working of the Holy Spirit, and a sincerely-earnest Eunuch, seeking to understand God’s prophecy, and an obedient, meek and humble Christian, we see why religious freedom is so important to us, and to God’s plan for all men to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thus, we better understand the Godly, and Christian, foundations of our Nation, America, and we better understand the wars for freedom and liberty, freedoms of assembly, belief and thought, and speech, limited only by the principle which the Q’ran does not accept, that everyone should be free to reject someone else’s evangelism without fear of earthly reprisal. Because of the way God works in evangelism, with planting, watering, and reaping a harvest, it takes time. The person who at first rejects the gospel of Christ, for whatever reasons in his/her life at the time, may find, in his journey of life, his road from Jerusalem to Gaza and elsewhere, that the convicting truth of the Holy Spirit gradually brings him to understand that he was bought at a price, that his life is not his own, that he indeed should be a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and that he is ready to commit his live in those beliefs, and to offer his body a living sacrifice, a mere, meek and humble, reasonable service to his Creator and Savior and Lord. If his initial rejection, or non-acceptance, of the evangelism message given him caused his death, as per the Q’ran, then he would never join the harvest! Thank you, Jesus, for our religious freedom, and may it spread all over the world.

That is our message on this anniversary of D-Day, just a few short days past Memorial Day. (Now, a Prayer for thanksgiving to God for Jesus Christ, for God’s eternal mercy and love, for our religious freedom claimed by our forefathers and us, and so bravely defended by our men and women in arms, not only on D-Day, but today, all around the world and here at home, against all of our enemies, foreign and domestic.)

God bless you and Amen.

Understanding Religious Freedom

Memorial Day 2010

Memorial Day is a day to honor America’s heroes of war, our soldiers who have died in defense of liberty. After the Civil War, in several communities around the country, people gathered to commemorate and honor those fallen warriers of freedom. (According to Wikipedia, and Professor David Blight of Yale), it is believed that the first such memorial in the country occurred in Charleston, SC at what was then known as Washington Race Course, and is now known as Hampton Park. That gathering was on May 1, 1865, and was organized by formerly enslaved black people on the Washington Race Course, which had been used as a temporary prison camp for captured Union soldiers, and a grave site for those who had died there. At this first celebration, the Charleston newspaper reported that about ten thousand people, mostly black residents of Charleston, attended, including about 2800 children. It was reported that the celebration included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds. The day was not called Memorial Day, but was called Decoration Day. So, I have no qualms in preaching today about Memorial Day.

Memorial Day grew out of such early, post-Civil War remembrances and celebrations, not only in Charleston, but also in Sharpsburg, MD (near Antietam Battlefield); Boalsburg, PA; Carbondale, IL; Columbus, MI; several communities in Vermont; and a couple of dozen other cities and communities around the country. These observances coalesced around days also honoring the Confederate dead and the several Confederate Memorial Days.

The name Memorial Day was first used in Waterloo, NY, for a celebration and memorial observance on May 5, 1866. The first official (really “unofficial”) “Memorial Day Order” was given under date of May 5, 1868, at the request of General John Murray, a prominent citizen of Waterloo, of his friend General John A. Logan. General Logan was commander-in-chief of a veterans’ organization called the Grand Army of the Republic. His order requested a national observance, although he had no governmental or military authority at that point. The order reads as follows:

General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.

“I. The30thdayofMay,1868isdesignatedforthepurpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and commanders will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances permit.

“We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, ‘of preserving and strengthenin those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.’ What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

“If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

“Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence

renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphans.

“II. It is the purpose of the Commander-In-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of commanders in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.”

“III. . . . .
“By order of
“John A. Logan “Commander-in-chief (etc.)

The date of May 30 was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any Civil War battle. Under the sponsorship of the Grand Army of the Republic, the tombs and graves of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in solemn remembrance.

There was, initially, some resistance to this celebration of Union soldiers in the South, with a notable exception being in Columbus, Mississippi, which on April 25, 1866, at its Decoration Day service, commemorated both Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery.

Although the now, so-called Memorial Day Order was given by General Logan on May 5, 1868, the day “Decoration Day” did not give way to the name “Memorial Day” until 1882, and it did not become more common until after WWII, and did not obtain official status until 1967, by enactment into Federal Law. By a further change in Federal Law in 1968 (with effect in 1971), the date was changed to the last Monday in May of each year to accommodate three-day weekends. Within a few years thereafter, all 50 states adopted compliant measures for the celebration of Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.

So, here we are on Memorial Day weekend, 2010, and you ask why am I “preaching”, so to speak, about the Civil War origins of what we now call Memorial Day. I don’t know what they preached, as in Charleston, at those early 1860’s Decoration Day celebrations. But from its origins of celebrating the role of the military in liberating the enslaved, we can see that such liberation was vital in securing freedom of movement about the country, freedom of peaceable assembly, freedom of thought and speech, freedom of self-defense, freedom of person and security of personal property, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom to choose how to live life. In other words, we see, in that liberation from slavery, the same freedoms that our founding forefathers sought and fought to find in the wilderness of America, and its streets, waterways and farmlands, in the War for Independence.

Beginning with those who came over on the Mayflower, dissenters seeking religious freedom, from the constraints of Catholicism in Europe and the Church of England, and elsewhere, beginning with the creation of the Mayflower Compact, and going into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, and its annexed Bill of Rights, those principles of government which secure religious freedom have been the same principles that underlay freedom from slavery: freedom of movement about the country, freedom of peaceable assembly, freedom of thought and speech, freedom of self-defense, freedom of person and security of personal property, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom to choose how to live life. So, what is so valuable to know and to remember as we celebrate each Memorial Day, is not just freedom for slaves, secured in the 1860’s, but also freedom for Christians, and other believers of other faiths, secured by the founding principles of our great country, America — the United States of America.

But what we all need to see and understand is a hard, cold reality of life: Our freedoms in America, our religious freedoms, still exist because the American military is dedicated to the security of those freedoms and the maintenance of those freedoms, through force and death as needed. For that, today, and everyday of our lives, we must be grateful to them and to our God who inspired the creation of such a country as this, and inspired, and inspires, such men and women to defend, protect and secure these freedoms: our freedom to travel here today; our freedom to assemble here today to worship Jesus Christ, Jehovah God, and the Holy Spirit; our freedom to study the Word of God, the Holy Bible; and to speak freely about who the Trinity is, about what God’s Word commands, and about the reality of His Truth. Yes, without the principles of American government on which we were founded, and without the commitment, by the American military, and the dedication of each American household to align itself and to prepare itself and to participate when and if needed with the American military in such endeavors, to secure these freedoms, then darkness will cover our land and its people, and the light of Christ will dim away, even in our country.

In my life time, we have ended the war with Hitler and His Axis powers of Japan and Italy; we have ended the Korean Conflict (but if Kim Jong Il has his way that Conflict may be renewed); we have ended the Vietnam War; we have engaged in Grenada, in Panama, and in countless other places in the world. The Cold War has been ended, once, and the Wall in Berlin is down. Now, our focus is necessarily, but not or our making, on the middle east – the two wars in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, etc.

But, in this context of Memorial Day, what I want to talk to you about today, what I want you to pray about, is a war for the soul of America, indeed a war for the soul of the World. The aggressor in that War is named Islam. You can mince words about peaceful Islam or militant Islam, but I am not going to do that, and I decline to do that. I am going to give all Islamists the benefit of believing, myself, that they believe what is in their Qu’ran: the simple belief that it is their human, Allah-ordained duty to kill all humans who do not convert from whatever their beliefs are to a stated and practicing belief in Islam and his prophet Mohammed. In other words, I simply do not believe that Islamists/Muslims are dishonest enough to pick and choose which parts of the Qu’ran to believe and which to disbelieve or ignore (Indeed, if they do, their more zealous faith-companions have a “duty” according to the Qu’ran to kill them.) I take them at their word that they are honest people, fully committed to the Word of Allah given them by his prophet Mohammed. Thus, I believe that they believe that it is their duty to kill you, my wife, my children, me, and every other person in the world who refuses to convert to Islam and stay thus converted.

Now, this is a problem for me, and for every honest Christian, and for every American. The problem may be explained this way: American freedoms work, indeed the essential freedoms which God, the Creator, has endowed in all men, as rights, as inalienable rights, work only if we are allowed to practice those rights, and live in those rights.

As Christians, we proselytize, we evangelize, indeed we are commanded to do so (Matthew 28: 19-20), to go all over the world, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Gospel that no man cometh unto the Father, Father God, but by and through Jesus and his Blood spilled in atonement for man’s sin; the Gospel that there is no forgiveness of sins, no resurrection into eternal life with God except by Grace and repentance.

But Jesus explained (Parable of the Sower, and other parables in Matthew 13) that some plant the seeds, some water the seeds, and some seeds are successfully germinated and bear fruit, but not all seeds do. In I Corinthians 3: 6-9, Paul taught, and explained: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” Between the rocky places, the tares and weeds, the lack of watering, etc., not everyone comes to the saving knowledge of the truth which is Jesus Christ, so not everyone we evangelize actually converts to Christianity.

That is not God’s desire, (I Tim 2: 1-6) for He desires all men to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but God gave us free will, free choice and that right is deeply embodied in American law and our Constitution and Bill of Rights – that right of free will, of free choice, is a right to a freedom from slavery of body and mind and Spirit. The Civil War is credited with freeing the American slaves in their bodies from the control of their owners, and bestowing upon the former slaves all the American rights and freedoms given each person, as inalienable rights, by God Himself.

What confronts us now, in Islam, is the threat of death if we do not convert to Islam, not merely the threat of slavery of our bodies. It is a far greater threat than mere slavery of our bodies. Murder is worse than slavery. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 should bear heavily into mind for each of us this Memorial Day 2010, and forever. Especially as we note the planned, and approved development of a mosque next to the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, scheduled to open on Sept. 11, 2011, the Tenth Anniversary of the attacks on America with hijacked airplanes.

In Mark 6: 10-12, as Jesus was instructing His Twelve, as He sent them out two by two to evangelize, He did not admonish them to kill those who did not convert to The Way of Jesus. Instead he said this: “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there until you depart from that place (village or town). And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

In Europe, Islam is taking over. I will post on the church website a copy of a speech by a European government official, recently given in New York, explaining how by sheer population growth, even without physical war, those of Islamic beliefs will soon control the democratic process in most European countries. Even England already recognizes the right of Muslims to govern by Shira Law, not English Law. Put another way, in part, English law, the antecedent of American Law, does not exist anymore. That is the fulcrum of the threat to American Law, as the Muslims gain population control, and voting majorities, they will change the law and the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and we as Americans will lose our rights to be Christians, to live as free people in a free land.

My father used to tell me when I was a sometimes bragadocious young teenager, saying what I was going to do to someone whose actions I disapproved of, “Son, your rights stop where someone’s nose begins.” Islam really helps me understand this principle of basic human – and American – rights: that my rights have limitations, and so do everyone else’s rights.

The integrity and existence of religious freedom depends on the ability, not just the right, of a person to deny evangelism from another religion without suffering death as a consequence. What Islam poses is the threat that if one does not convert to Islam, the followers of Mohammed and Allah have not just a right, in their view, but a divinely-ordained duty to kill the one who has so disrespected their faith as not to convert to it. That is it in a nutshell. As the British, even the world, learned from the walkup to WWII, there are some forces with which appeasement will never work. Yes, you might, as a nation, negotiate with the snake, and delay the problem and as we say, “kick the can down the road, to deal with later, perhaps”. But even as Islam allows a delay, it is building populations with much higher birth rates than in so-called modern countries utilizing not just birth control but abortion, it is building military forces, it is building nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction to use against those who resist conversion to Islam, individually and nationally.

Our God says for us, as evangelists, merely to shake the dust from our feet as a testimony against those who reject Jesus. From Ephesians 6, the Armor of God, what do we understand to be our feet? It is the gospel of peace, the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ! The Islamic god says that the followers of Islam must kill us if we reject Allah and Mohammed. Our God says for us to stamp the dust from our feet covered in shoes of peace, not war, because our God says “vengeance is Mine” (Romans 12:19). Yet, their God puts a duty of vengeance upon their followers.

We cannot allow in America any religion to have free exercise, even to exist , which does not honor the right of others freely to exercise their own religion. The right to religious freedom ends wherever it denies the right of religious freedom to exist in others. In other words, religious freedoms are limited by the “noses” of others, as my father would have said. Islam cannot be heard, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as a religion of peace, to be welcome in America. Islam must be recognized for what it is, the enemy of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit, of all Christians everywhere, and indeed the enemy of America. To be an American, you have to live by American law, to play by the rules so to speak, and in its heart Islam is only scamming us by appeasement and an appeal to support their religious freedom in America, because Islam, in its religious suppression, does not support our religious freedom and therefore, Islam does not qualify to participate in the freedoms of America. You, individually, must grasp this concept, believe it and share it, if you are ever going to understand religious freedom and its significance in your life.

Thus, I see that we are in a season of national and international crisis. This Memorial Day 2010 puts it into focus, so sharply. In the Civil War, at least after the Emancipation Proclamation (which only applied in the so-called rebelling states, but did not apply in the Northern slave states) in 1863, two and a half years after the States Rights War actually started in April 1861, the War came to be said to be a war for the liberation of enslaved men’s bodies so they could exercise, as American citizens, all American Freedoms. We can talk about the history in another context, but the reality is that during and after the Civil War, slavery did disappear from America, and that is a good thing, though at the price of over 500,000 lives of young men, who, if they had reproduced would give us an even larger population buffer against Islam, today and in the future.

Today, the crisis is both the threat of overt attack by a belligerent Iran, and its supporters, because American and Israel are seen by them as affronts to Islam, but also the insidious threat of allowing Islam to exist, populate, spread and flourish, over time, in America as Islam, and I say so intentionally, is hell-bent, now, on doing in Europe.

The followers of Islam, at least at their leadership levels, are not stupid and they are out to get us.

Today, as we commemorate Memorial Day, I ask you to honor not just who fought to liberate American blacks from physical slavery, and then in other wars and conflicts to defend and protect the rights of freedom around the world, but now those who are fighting to protect religious freedom here and abroad. God bless them all, and those to come in wearing the uniform of our military, and those, with the military, defending from their own and their neighbors’ doorsteps, windows and backyards, and God bless you+