Left Wing, Right Wing or Jesus?

images-1Did you know the political terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ originated in France? After the French Revolution, the 1789 French National Assembly met to prepare drafts for the new constitution. During debate a deep division surfaced. How much authority should be granted to King Louis XV1? The anti-royalists sat to the left of the presiding officer.

In the 1790s, newspapers began making reference to the progressive ‘left’ and the traditionalist ‘right.’ The terminology spread to English-speaking countries early in the 20th century. Parliamentary seating follows that tradition. In America Democrats and Republicans sit on the opposite side of the House and Senate chambers. the same in Canberra.

Left-wing beliefs are liberal. They believe society is best served with an expanded role for the government. People on the right on the other hand, believe the best outcome for society is achieved when individual rights and civil liberties are paramount and the role — and especially the power — of the government is minimized.

Famous left wingers are Barack Obama, Karl Marx, Warren Buffet, Einstein, Bob Hawke. The right wing list includes Rupert Murdock, Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Malcolm Turnbull.

The two groups have diverse attitudes to social issues, abortion, the death penalty, gay rights and even religion. Most on the right believe standards like the ten commandments should be reflected by government. According to the right the Bible is the guideline for abortion and gay marriage. The left wing believe in secular government applied by the separation of church and state.

Rick Warren

It is very hard to make this analysis hard and fast, as there will be those on either side who defy definitions. Nevertheless the election of US President Trump unleashed unprecedented displays of right wing support and violently expressed protest. The two sides are passionately opposed to one another. In the heat of the moment these Rick Warren words are enlightening. “The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is – you can walk hand in hand without seeing eye-to-eye. And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, poltically, religiously, economically in our nation. ….What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences…in fact, the Bible tells me in 1 Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.” – Rick Warren.

The Christian Left emphasize James chapter 1, verse 27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and keep oneself, unstained from the world.” And James Chapter 2, verses 15,16 “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? “

 The website christianleft.org says this: “Based on the Word, The Christian Left believes it’s obvious that the primary message of Jesus was love — Love for God, and love for our fellow men and women.”

unknownMany analysts have a negative view of the Religious Right, which they closely link with President George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz.

The rebirth of the right in America, they report, was sparked by the Roe v Wade abortion legislation, and the banning of school prayer in Engele v Vitale. Notable Americans on the right include Billy and Franklin Graham, James Dobson, John Hagee, Chuck Norris and Sarah Palin.

Australia?

This internet comment is interesting: “In Australia, the Christian Right dominate in much of northern Queensland, and the infection has also spread into parts of suburban Brisbane as well. It is also rather prevalent in suburban Sydney, New South Wales, particularly in the western parts of Sydney. The Religious Right is also prevalent in South Australia, particularly in suburban Adelaide, as well as parts of Western Australia.” (nationalwiki.org). Note the word ‘infection’?

David wrote: “Look, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133, verse 1) Sadly it reads more like the fanciful words of a poet, rather than a fact.

John said: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father also loves the child fathered by him. By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, because everyone who is fathered by God conquers the world.” (1 John chapter 5, verses 1-4)

I am amazed how easy it is for Christians to disagree. Years ago I sat with a group of leaders to discuss discipline for two teenagers. We talked and even argued for almost two hours. After some heated and passionate exchanges the penny dropped. We realized we were expressing our approach through our ministry gifts – Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher. One wanted repentance, another preferred counseling and the other went for Bible study. We were all correct. We just had to agree with all the Bible, not just our preferred bits.

Prayer Makes The Difference

unknownSmith Wigglesworth was one of the most fruitful and effective preachers ever. But, he was not always a godly, righteous man. He was a ruffian. His Christian wife attended church regularly. Often Wigglesworth locked her out of the house and left her to sleep on the back porch. She committed her husband to prayer and the result, they say, is history. I often confess my salvation came through the persistent prayer and intercession of my wife, Yvonne.

Years ago we were overseas on the mission field when my wife had a dream. She had seen our son John in the surf but caught in a rip. His life was in danger. She woke and prayed for him. Later when we came home to be with the family she learned he had indeed been swept away. He called out to his brother-in-law to say goodbye to the family. As he prepared for the worst a wave picked him up and threw him to safety. When Yvonne and John compared notes his rescue came at the same time she had been praying. Maybe you also have a story of answered prayer.

Prayer

In ancient times prayer was not exclusive to the Israelites. Prayers to Yahweh, the God of Israel, were very different from those offered to the surrounding foreign deities. In Egypt Amon was acknowledged as the creator and giver of life. An ancient hymn Amon-Re described Amon as the god “who made mankind and created the beasts, lord of what is, who created the fruit tree, made herbage, and gave life to cattle.” (Hymn Amon-Re 1: 5) Amon was declared to be healer and magician.

Egyptians also praised Aton as ‘the beginning of life’ who ‘didst create the world….All men, cattle, and wild beasts, whatever is on earth.” (The Hymn of Aton). There was also a ‘Hymn to Ishtar’ which declared ‘life is in her mouth.’

“Akkadian Prayer to the Gods of the Night depicts the great gods of Old Babylon – Shamash, Sin, Adad and Ishtar – asleep in their chambers, indifferent to the concerns of their devotees.” (Prayer- The Lexham Bible Dictionary).

Through Old Testament study we learn Yahweh was the God who listens and responds to prayer. He gave attention to His people. An intimacy between Yahweh and His people was special. Foreign gods were distant and aloof needing to be cajoled. Prayer to them was often pleading, even grovelling.

Abba

As prayer in the Israelite family developed some structured formula also came. As usual Jesus broke through the religious approach and in His prayers displayed a close intimate relationship with the One He called Father. He spoke to His Father with humility and submission and He was always sensitive and relaxed with His language. The Apostle Paul emphasized the ‘Abba’ Father in prayer. He reminded believers they were now children of the Father. (Romans chapter 8 verse 15 and Galatians chapter 4 verse 6).

Is that your relationship with Him? Is He your Father or more like a distant Sovereign?

As our Father we know He is constantly watching and observing us and caring for our eternal well-being. He delights to give His children ‘good things.’

Prayers in the New Testament flowed from their ancient Jewish roots. We learned from what has been called The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 to 13. It is more correctly the Disciples Prayer. Jesus taught the disciples how to pray with this basic formula. (Also Luke chapter 11, verses 2 to 4).

images-1Christianity brought a major innovation into the power of prayer. We learned to pray in Jesus name. Throughout history the names of individuals were linked with their names. The name Abram means ‘great father.’ He became Abraham meaning ‘father of multitudes.’ Jesus was named Yehoshua which means ‘Yahweh is salvation’ or ‘Yahweh saves.’ He was Yahweh in the Book of Exodus and described as ‘God who is loving and compassionate but does not leave sin unpunished.” (Exodus chapter 34, verses 6 to 7) The name Jesus (Yehoshua) came from His Old Testament identity.

Before Jesus departed to be with His Father He made a significant promise. “And whatever you ask in my name I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John chapter 14, verses 13 to 14) Jesus was about to leave His disciples but His message was clear. Even though He will be physically absent He will be with them, always.

Life as a believing community is to continue with Jesus still effective and powerful as the Lord and Saviour. Bad things happened and Jesus knew about it. He knew what Judas was about to do even as He shared Passover with His disciples. He did not avoid the situation but with the love and support of the Father He moved forward and accomplished the salvation plan.

Pray

There are events in our world that signal all manner of events may unfold. The importance for all of us is to avoid fellowship with fear and take hold of the trust and assurance that has stood against adversity over and over again. This week analysts have warned of a possible world war, some have said Australia may be drawn into a war with China. Every day we hear of ‘wars and rumours of wars.’ If world events or your personal circumstances lead to stress or anxiety, your answer is found in prayer.

Try these words from knowingjesus.com -“Protect my mind I pray from the clamour and intrigue of this world system, that so often fills our hearts with fears and deflects our thoughts away from You – so that I may rest in Your arms of love and be filled with Your perfect peace that passes understanding. Help me to take every thought captive and when the difficulties of this complex world seek to manipulate my attention away from You, may I fix my mind on Jesus knowing that He is the Author and Finisher of my faith – and my Prince of Peace, in Whose name I pray.”

 Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

 

Beware False Doctrine

imagesThroughout history there have been devastating consequences to false doctrine. In the 1930’s there was a ‘Nazi form of Christianity.’ Church schools were closed and an ‘anti-Semitic attitude’ imposed. Heroes like Dietrich Bonhoeffer emerged. His courage is honored to this day.

Numerous cult leaders conned their followers. Jim Jones, November 18, 1978 led more than 900 men, women and children to their deaths in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre. The clear warning came when Jones proclaimed himself to be the messiah of the Peoples Temple.

Years ago, Dr. J. I Packer wrote a short article “The Gospel – Its Content and Communication.” He said: “Sooner or later, the biblical Gospel, in which God the Creator appears in judgment and mercy reconciling the world to Himself, will itself be relativized and thereby distorted through being assimilated to man’s prior interests. The world will write the agenda rather than God’s.’ (Serving the People of God, J. I Packer, Paternoster Press).

Years ago Youth With a Mission leader Floyd McClung wrote: “There is no perfect church. People can look at our church and find as many faults as we can find in theirs.” And that is so true. But every church needs a squad of diligent members who know the Bible and endorse right and wrong doctrine. It is a tragedy when ignorance of biblical truth allows false theology to pass without question.

Islam

During the recent holiday season Giulo Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglia offered a provocative question: Why are so many Christian leaders silent as obvious distortions to the faith are taking place? (See “Christian Clergy Welcomes Islam in Churc, Then Bows to It,’ Giulo Meotti, gatestoneinstitute.org – Jan 4, 2017)

Admittedly most of the illustrations he offered came from Roman Catholic sources but they were to say the least, disturbing and demand loud resounding protest.

Consider these illustrations.

  • In July last year a verse from the Koran was read from the altar. (That in itself should set alarm bells ringing!)
  • “A priest in the south of Italy enraged parishioners by dressing the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa for his church’s Christmas Nativity scene.”

images-1Meotti pointed out Pope Francis initiated the embrace of Islamic theology when he was ‘the first to allow the reading of Islamic prayers and Koran readings from the Vatican.’

The ‘luke-warming’ of genuine Christian theology goes further and the Italian writer shocks when he reports: “Church of England Bishop Harries suggested that Prince Charles’s coronation service should be opened with a Koran reading. In the US, more than 50 churches, including the Washington National Cathedral, hold Koran readings.”

These facts are stunning. I am astounded we have not heard of congregations calling for biblical honesty. Church members should be up in arms!

Doctrine

I can understand recent developments in China. The Communist Party is pushing the Church to promote socialism. That attack is to be expected. However when the error comes from within, hackles rise. No preacher or church leader should be threatened when asked to explain the word they preach. We are all accountable before the Lord and when teaching, we are accountable to each other.

I like what the Dictionary of Bible Themes says about ‘Doctrine’ describing it as: “The body of teachings of the Christian faith concerning its central beliefs. Doctrine is grounded in Scripture and aims to maintain the integrity of Christianity by distinguishing it from non-Christian beliefs.” And there is the vital, inevitable key. Bible teaching is not compatible with the ways of the world. It confronts.

There is a stern warning for those who seek to influence biblical truth. “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a greater judgment.” (James chapter 3, verse 1) I am not sure we have all embraced that promise with ‘fear and trembling.’

The Apostle Paul wrote to his friend Timothy: “For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers, because they have an insatiable curiosity and they will turn away from the hearing of the truth, but will turn to myths.” (2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 3 and 4) Paul warned the time would come when people preferred to have their ears tickled rather than embrace biblical truth.

There are numerous challenges facing Christians today. Same-sex marriage and abortion are high on the list. We are instructed to love everyone without question. We also have a call to lead them into a vibrant faith in Jesus. To witness for Christ we must show them His difference. Social responsibility is a huge issue. How do we reach out to refugees and yet apply the appropriate wisdom to curtail terrorism?

Certainly Jesus is the answer but airy fairy solutions could put many innocents in danger. As Christians we are called to walk in wisdom but showing His love to ‘widows and orphans’ is a priority.

There is an excellent quote attributed to Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins: “We were given the Scriptures to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.”

St. Paul warns, “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (Colossians chapter 2, verse 8).

I have always needed close Christian friends who I trust and consult on doctrine and biblical interpretation. Of course the Holy Spirit is our ever-present guide and the source of truth and wisdom.

False preaching and false doctrine will always replace Jesus with something as the essential focus and that right there, is the clear stop sign.

 

Donald and Goliath

imagesIs there a hidden ingredient behind the momentum of US President-elect Donald J. Trump? Could it be a divine hand has chosen him?

For eight years the Obama administration has been at least aloof towards Israel. The relationship between President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu has been mean and bitter.

Obama supporters like to point to the $38 billion military aid deal US granted Israel last year. It was the largest deal of its kind in American history but it also gave a huge subsidy to the weapons industry in the USA.

Recent action taken by the US Obama administration at the UN against Israel, rocked the world and sparks our Donald Trump thoughts.

“I think Obama will join Jimmy Carter as somebody who will always stand against Israel, but who will be tossed into the dustbin of history when it comes to the Middle East, and this will harm his legacy tremendously,” said esteemed legal scholar Professor Alan Dershowitz.

 Brutus.

“Today’s passage of an ill-conceived resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in the bizarre anti-Israel history of the United Nations,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement. “The abstention of the United States has made us complicit in this outrageous attack, and marks a troubling departure from our nation’s long, bipartisan history of defending our ally Israel in the United Nations.”

Yes America the so-called stalwart of Israel became Brutus. Even Democrats issued scathing statements aimed at the Obama tactic. Incoming Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said the decision was ‘extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding.’

“Whatever one’s views are on settlements, the UN is the wrong forum to settle these issues,” Schumer said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called the US’s abstention from the vote “unconscionable.” “A two-state solution must be negotiated directly between the Israelis and Palestinians, and this resolution flies in the face of this necessity,” Blumenthal said.

images-1The Democrats were soundly demolished during recent US elections. Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton, and Republicans won both houses. Whether or not the anti-Israel move was a Barrack Obama dummy spit or not. His decision placed the USA on precarious turf.

 Zechariah

Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared, “Sometimes, we need to be reminded from above, that we can count on no one but our Father who art in heaven.” He declared to his followers that the USA has forsaken Israel and now the Jewish state can now place its trust in God.

Among the authors in the Bible there is Zechariah, a man who is called ‘the prophet of hope.’ His writing covers the centuries of the pagan empire and moves on to the age of Messiah.

He wrote these very interesting words: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered around her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock to all nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” (Zechariah chapter 12, verse 3)

Theologian Matthew Henry wrote about this. “The enemies of God and of His kingdom bear a great deal of malice and ill-will toward Jerusalem and form designs for its destruction, but it will prove at last, that they are but preparing ruin for themselves.”

Picture the scene at the UN. The nations of the world led by the USA are gathered around the tiny state of Israel determined to do harm. It is amazing to me that New Zealand, a small nation itself, could be part of this agenda. (Thankfully our Australian leaders would have none of it!)

On his blog Stan Goodenough cut loose: “There is no Palestinian territory. There never has been. You can call it that until you are blue in the face but it has never been – and it is not – Palestinian territory. Weeks ago you let UNESCO cut the Jews off from their holiest site, the Temple Mount, the Mountain of the Lord.

You’re going to learn this soon. You will eventually get it: The Land belongs to the LORD God of Israel. Jerusalem is the City of David. The Temple Mount is the Mountain of the LORD – the throne room of the Great King.”

Remember what Rabbi Yosef said. He declared the USA had forsaken Israel and now Israel must trust God. If Obama has been concerned for his legacy, he sealed it at the UN. He will forever be Brutus.

But now the divine implications (or are they?) From January 20, Obama will be replaced, by President Donald Trump, a declared champion of Israel.

When he chose to run for office, the US media went into frenzy. They found and exposed every possible flaw in his character and openly championed Hilary Clinton to win. But the Trump train rumbled on, all the way to the White House.

President Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu plan to meet in February. There are strong indications a much stronger US-Israel relationship will be achieved.

Remember the Obama big deal with Iran? That could well face serious challenge. Trump called it ‘the worst deal ever negotiated.’ I imagine Bibi and The Donald will enjoy their time together.

Before then, comes the Trump Inauguration on January 20. The US media has thrilled to announce every singer, actor or stooge who prefers not to appear. At school they were the types who ‘don’t want to play with you anymore.’ Life will go on and Trump will be President.

Among the faith leaders who will be there is Rev Franklin Graham, who has been a staunch Trump supporter all along. The media describes Graham as anti-gay and anti-Islam, a petulant press playing childish games! On the other hand Franklin Graham has credited God for Trump’s win in the election.

Some Christians were put off by the flaws in the Trump character but then they missed the murder and adultery of David and the Christian killer lust of the Apostle Paul.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html