Friday, December 25, 2015

Sign Of The Times: Christians Finding Hope In Duterte Magic

In school, we were taught that "necessity is the mother of invention". Simply put, it is man's need that drives and motivates him to satisfy that need so that he lives with ease and free from discomfort. All this time, it sounds very much a cliche, but sometimes man's own quest for gratification leads him onto perilous grounds, going as far as doing away society's norms - if it means obtaining the very things that ensure he lives by his own terms.

Strange because we do not talk here of conventional remedies for society's ills to ensure our survival, but we talk of people of every demographic on a national scale, synonymously and loudly calling for long-held moral traditions be stamped out in favor of thuggery-driven leadership so that we as a people are guaranteed survival. Ambiguity aside, this article is not in any way a complete departure from our usual posts as we will be talking about politics in a Philippine setting in a Christian's perspective.

The Rodrigo Duterte phenomenon

In recent weeks, this has become an eye-popping revelation that could turn one's sanity into cerebral paralysis for us not being able to find logical and moral rationale why society descends into this low by favoring violence as an answer to violence. For Christians who happen to be politically savvy, this is worth a topic especially when biblical tenets cross path with one's own secular leanings.

In a battle for mainstream media fodder, Donald Trump surely wins hands down on account of his proposal that Muslims in general, be banned from entering America until its leaders get to figure out what's wrong with their immigration policies. But we won't go further than that as our focus centers on the Philippines' own controversial presidentiable Rodrigo Duterte, who in his own right is as equally as controversial if not the most controversial political figure to have burst into the local political scene in recent memory.

National consensus shows that Duterte is highly favored to win the presidency. Survey results aside, his popularity across all social classes cannot be denied if social media pulse is anything to go by, and we've heard and seen how passionate his supporters are. Social media platforms dominate pro-Duterte conversations as if they're heralding the long-awaited messiah peeking at the door with all the celestial bonanza at his disposal. On the contrary, if you have the audacity to assert your thoughts against popular opinions - before you realize it you already found yourself laboriously pleading for a return to a civilized discourse as his self-declared keyboard warriors have already classified you a lamebrain thus a worthy recipient of all sorts of cussing imaginable.

Rodrigo Duterte and his famed Davao Death Squad

To many frustrated and disgruntled Filipino citizens, Duterte is the "messiah-in-waiting" who they believe would save them from their endless woes. Digong, as he is fondly called has been credited for turning the city of Davao around from one of the most criminal-infested cities in the country into one of the safest cities (allegedly) in the world. His supporters claim that Duterte's reign as mayor of the city for almost three decades has resulted in their city being "crime-free" and corruption in the government is almost non-existent. Most people in Davao city themselves are proud of their city's achievements due to the efficient and iron-fisted leadership of their mayor. As a matter of fact, the city has been a perennial awardee for good governance and efficiency.

On the surface, Davao city should be a model for every local government unit to be emulated anywhere. But the manner by which its reputation was achieved is where human rights advocates have got an issue. It is an open book not only in Davao city but the entire nation as well that there exists a so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) a vigilante group that serves as the implementing arm of  Mayor Duterte's program to purge the city of "criminals" so that the peace-loving majority is ensured of its safety. Revised estimates have it that deaths carried out by this vigilante group range from 1200 to 1700 since the second term of the mayor in 1998. All these cases of summary executions were either unsolved or brought to oblivion as it is widely believed the executioners are either members of the police force or some paid individuals who have received training to carry out the killings. It is also important to note that while the mayor brags about low criminality in his city due to his famed DDS, the majority of those "criminals" whose lives have been snuffed out from them prematurely were either petty criminals some of them out-of-school youth living in the slum areas.

Despite his well-known persona as a rifle-brandishing mayor and a self-confessed murderer, Duterte commands respect and fear from his constituents. He is even well-loved by the majority of them who sincerely vouch that their city is one of the safest on the planet. (But the same could not be coaxed into confessing that even petty criminals are being subjected to summary execution to ensure zero criminality for as long as the city's crime-free reputation is not jeopardized.)

Being foul-mouthed and a philanderer now passed off as charisma and machismo

Mayor Duterte makes no apologies for showering expletives in his interviews. Watching him on television makes you cringe at the frequencies of bleeps that it requires instantaneous brushing up of one's skills set so that you won't lost track of what he is saying. He cusses indiscriminately that he makes no distinction between a political opponent and a pope. His supporters call it unparalleled charisma and brutal honesty very few in the universe can match. Typically, Filipinos love their heroes at face value - no pretenses - one whose kinship to a ghettoish  behavior is believable and not encumbered with hidden baggage associated with most politicians.

If a typical politician is outed to have more than one wife and a beeline of mistresses, that could pretty much spell his doom, but Duterte is dubbed a political genius for nothing, he projects himself as an antithesis to anything morality epitomizes.  Except for the squeamish minority, one can easily digest why the euphoria and loud cheers when he admitted on national television that he's got two wives and maintains two mistresses apart from random women who flirtatiously elbow their way for his attention. It has also become a common sight wherever he goes of women randomly coming up to him and routinely offering their cheeks or lips so that he's not deprived of his self-proclaimed fetish. And so the common people cannot be denied of entertainment and they love him even more.

Filipino's culture and religiosity challenged in the wake of Duterte's magic

It's a known fact that the Filipino culture has its endemicities deeply derived from a great sense of pride and nationalism. Our passion coupled with a combative attitude is something that does not go easily unnoticed in just about every conversation when at stake is the Filipino pride. We are a very sentimental and assertive people that could spontaneously initiate warfare if only to defend our own belief system. In every cause that we believe in, we don't hesitate to banner our bravery just to drive a point.

As a people, our stakes are high to the goody-two-shoes label that the title "the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia" is a patented slap-to-the-face to whichever nation attempts to share or challenge this accolade. We don't hesitate to educate our doubters that we are the bedrock of Christianity, and along with it comes every virtue we think we have the monopoly of. There is no denying, we Filipinos in general, are very spiritual people on the basis of our religiosity. [When you have the rest of the world in utter envy (read disdain) at us for having so many of our own, living and departed, claiming to be the "incarnate son of God" - speaks volumes about our spirituality and our tendencies to incorporate God in our way of life.]

When social media was abuzz with yet another Duterte heroism when he allegedly forced a smoker to swallow a cigarette butt for disobeying a smoking ban, most of us cheered the mayor and demanded we want the same style of discipline enforced in our localities. Every time we see criminals on television such as drug pushers, snatchers, carnappers, kidnappers, and a host of menace in society being dragged into jail, inexplicably the Christian in us wanted them outrightly decimated and banished from the face of the earth. Our disdain for these criminals who wanted a fast-track to a good life at the expense of their hapless victims becomes our convenient excuse to validate a belief that thugs and lowlifes deserve no mercy.

As a nation, we've probably come to the point that we conclude enough is enough. We think our government is corrupt, that our president though a noted graft buster and anti-corrupt - lacks empathy for us ordinary citizens. That despite the country's current tag as an economic miracle a proof of his hard work, we still argue that he failed to deliver the goods. Additionally, we are not impressed with a type of leader who's too prim and proper that we decided he's a total disconnect from the poor. We label that type elitist. Our disdain for him and his inept subordinates forces us to think that they are the reasons for all our woes. Worst, our attitude says that we don't give a damn if our leader is above the law for as long as he sees to it the nation is bereft of criminals so that the over 110 million of us live in peace and security.

Wild fantasies as by-product of false hopes

This early, we started to fantasize that our future as a nation has been sealed under a Duterte presidency. And this is where our fantasies brought us: that each morning we wake up to, we get thrilled to witness a lovely sight - of police having their hands full collecting dead bodies of suspected criminals, thanks to an executive prerogative to double up on ridding the country  of criminals and curbing population at their expense. Because this is what we expected of Duterte there is no doubt in our mind that surely he will deliver the goods. We're so brainwashed to believe that his formula in making Davao a peaceful city is the best remedy for our woe-infested country that we badly want him president. We care less if it's all about annihilating bad people as long as we the "good" people get to live in safety and comfort.

When we heard Mayor Duterte has purged Davao City of "bad people" and its residents self-deployed en masse in social media so that we covet the quasi-utopia in their city, our response was a chorus of indignation at our government for its failure to deliver a crime-free and corruption-free society that Davao has long attained. The rage in us even breached celestial limits when  the social paranoia brought about by the "Laglag-Bala" scheme proved to be the last straw to provoke every Filipino into dissent and righteous indignation. We then did not hold back sending the vilest of curses to our president and his subordinates for allowing such barbaric practice to thrive at the expense of us poor OFWs as if it was his brainchild and of his ilks. We tantalizingly came close to labeling the president and his administration the plagues sent from the abyss to torture us day and night that we wanted them banished from the face of the earth.

On Facebook, we were hypnotized by his battle cry saying, "I don't care if I live in hell as long as my people live in paradise". Its message so powerful that we simply melted in utter surrender sending us into orgasmic euphoria that we're so convinced finally, change is coming. The pleasure it gives us causes us to dream on and so we refused to stop dreaming because to us  the  messiah has come - armed with a "double-edged sword" and clad with a "cloak of righteousness" - with his harem in tow and a mouthful of expletives to spew - so that his every speech being blared live doesn't get to our homes in real time to see to it the young ones are spared from the virulent fruits of his tongue.

We are so peeved by our leaders' ineptitude and apathy that we are convinced only a Duterte presidency can restore our hope as a nation, at least according to the seers in us. Imagine no more corruption, no more apathetic pieces of trash in the government, and no more hellish traffic in EDSA. The hope that we have in Duterte forces us to assert that every demand of ours will be handed to us in a silver platter. That sooner the LRT and MRT will be touted as the best in Asia next only to Japan's bullet train system. That remnants of Laglag Bala gang will have bullets for their meals, and we're excited to see that on tv. That there will be no more phone snatchers, rapists, pushers, Akyat-Bahay, and so on and so forth. And no more carnappers, no more cars beating the red light, maybe just a few jaywalkers to apprehend to make it appear prison cells still host undesirables.

Our delusion already got the better of us because we are already sold out to the messianic message Duterte has fed us. That delusion even brought us to our wildest fantasy yet that the Philippines could stake its claim to be the next Singapore if ruled by an iron fist. History tells us discipline and iron-fisted leadership made Singapore what it is today, and we can easily smell the resemblance in a Duterte's presidency. Just there is one problem: last time we checked, Singapore did not implement summary executions of their "bad people".

Duterte candidacy exposes that vaunted "Christianity's" shallow foundation

It's humanly understandable for people who don't know God to fall for false hopes in a leader whose message of change resonates with them. We've seen that very clearly in people's misplaced hope in Barack Obama's "messianic advent", and eight years later they're still stuck in that same quagmire of hopelessness beyond their mend. But for people who profess to be Christians and falling for such a trap by putting their hopes in a man who shows not one bit of traits every Christian should look for in a leader - now that is really alarming.

One benefit of social media is that it helps us to seize up or gauge people's sentiments or views  about almost every subject under the sun, and as a powerful platform it also guides us even into the innermost part of  a person, as the Scripture says, "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). But for Christians especially pastors aggressively campaigning and using their influence over their flocks to endorse a candidate that publicly contradicts every Christian value is beyond stunning.

We don't say that we should completely lose our hope to rise up as a nation but as Christians, we are called to pray for our nation and our leaders and ask for discernment from God as to the best person who He would raise up to lead us. For the Scripture says, "...for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1). All authorities under heaven are ordained by God - they were allowed for a purpose. The beauty of democracy is that we have the unalienable rights to choose our leader, and by exercising that right to our advantage we can vet our choices as to who suits the kind of leader we want to lead us. But as Christians, our choices and actions should be anchored on God's word by which we are called to live by.

Carnality and self-preservation over godly aspiration

The people of  Israel demanded prophet Samuel that God raise up a king to rule over them. God told Samuel to fulfill their request, not because their request was good or right but because God would teach Israel through this. Sometimes when we insist in getting what we want instead of praying for God's will in us, God will allow us to have it and then teach through it. God knew Israel would have a king, but He wanted to give the king in His timing and one who pleases Him. But because Israel demanded a king no matter the condition of his heart, God gave them what they wanted.

It's true, as Christians we also have our share of frustrations at the social perils that we have to put up with on a daily basis, but that does not necessarily allow us to override the purpose of God in our lives by making sure, in our capacity of carnal reasoning - that it's perfectly okay to have a leader who is a self-confessed unremorseful murderer, a proud philanderer, and a foul-mouthed gossip-mongering thug whose notoriety for his indecision rather than being firm is a hallmark of an unstable leader. Just like the people of Israel, they demanded a king instead of waiting for God's will and timing. But God said to Samuel, "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me". God had a purpose in not giving Israel a king up to that point. It was because He did not want them to put an ungodly trust in the king instead of the Lord. In the end, God gave them a king whose heart was overwhelmed with pride, selfishness, and disobedience to the Lord - that would eventually lead to his downfall so that they only had themselves to blame.

Are we not seeing here the similarity? By our actions, we have completely eliminated God in the equation by trusting and putting our hopes in a man, in an ungodly man who publicly exalts himself as a demi-god by declaring "God would cry if he gets elected". We all know what he means by ridding the country of "bad people". He advocates shortcut to peace, a false peace that is. We cheered on him when he proposed Manila Bay be made a dumping ground for the lowlifes to fatten its inhabitants. Yes, our cheers are a token of approval that finally he will make things happen. Our streets will be safe again, no more criminals on the loose because we advocated for their premature demise, and then we can proudly say, "yes, I'm a Christian and I love the Lord". Really? It's just that He is the same Lord who is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

If anything, Rodrigo Duterte is a setup. His popularity cannot be denied and a lot of Christians have fallen for his charisma and message of change. A known pastor in a local community that boasts hundreds of members is tirelessly glorifying Duterte on Facebook and even banners a shoutout that says, "this is my beloved president, please campaign for him for change is coming", to which one of his members commented, "he is my future". (Now that's the biggest myth ever told, and coming from a supposed Christian's point of view.)

And if you're a modern-day Christian and perhaps a pastor for 20 years, or maybe an over-worked elder who's preoccupied with recruiting members into your growing congregation, we think it's about time you acquaint yourselves and your members about the book of Revelation. It's not really helping a lot that your Bible studies and sermons revolve around Jeremiah 29:11(which you love to take out of context) and Matthew 7:7. Sometimes it pays that your congregation is also familiar with the terms like Anti-Christ, son of perdition, false peace, the abomination of desolation, 666, tribulation, Laodicean church and most importantly the Blessed Hope.

Misplaced hope in man borders the sin of idolatry

So many of us Christians think change is coming, genuine peace is achievable  and prosperity is peeking at the horizon because we see it possible and we're confident Duterte will make good on his promises. That is exactly what God had told Samuel about an "ungodly trust on a king" that He did not want His people Israel to have on any man. He wanted us to trust Him because He is God and not man. Psalms 118:8 says, "it's better to trust in God than to have confidence in man." The world does not give us peace, but God gives us peace that surpasses all understanding. "The world passes away and the lust thereof, but he that does the will of God abides forever"(1 John 2:17) Jesus is our only hope and that hope is anchored on His promise when He returns. Man will always fail us but if we seek the Lord and His will He will never fail us.

Have we come across yet the prophecies of Paul he wrote to Timothy that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves and the love of many shall wax cold? (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Don't be stunned! We ourselves are the fulfillment of this prophecy. We are so head-over-heels with ourselves that we want decimated those who pose as threats to our happy existence. And before we know it our love for our fellow human beings have waxed cold, well, except maybe for those whom we deem lovable. The Scripture says when we agree or tolerate sin in our midst we have become partakers of them.

We seem to forget that a godless society will never be devoid of corruption, lying, cheating, killing, bribery and all sorts of moral decay because people operate in the flesh and God is not present in the works of unrighteousness. We have been blinded by our ungodly adoration for a man whose promises are ethereal music to our ears but whose heart hosts the very things that God detests:
These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to  mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 KJV)
The greatest sin in the Bible by far is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is the main reason why God rebuked and judged the nation of Israel. It is when we put something or someone first in our life before the true living God. We may not actually  or knowingly intend to do that but when we put our trust and hope in a man to be our future, that is idolatry. Worse, instead of praying for God's will for our nation that He would raise up a God-fearing leader, we lead our flocks into the pitfall of trusting and putting our hopes in an ungodly man. Remember, God does not take lightly the sin of idolatry and He will in no way be pleased. Remember Israel had wanted a king instead of God to reign over them. God had warned them of the consequences of wanting an unrighteous man to rule over them. In the end, God gave them what they wanted and it was not what they had hoped for. And as the saying goes, "be careful of what you wish for."

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Terrorist, The Clueless, And the Politically Correct: Recipe For Doom

Over a fortnight ago, the mother of all surprises has stunned the world. Needless to say, the global community is still reeling from the shock at the sheer terror that befell the city of Paris in France. Islamic terrorists ISIS have once again sowed terror in the hearts of men showing their might and will -  to reduce the famous, the romantic, and indefatigable city to a complete disarray. Their recent exploits rendered 132 deaths and hundreds of wounded, still others in critical condition.

In light of the brazen assault to the French dignity, lots of questions remain unanswered and everybody seems clueless why such level of brutality still possible in a first world city like Paris? Who would in their right mind feel mandated to murder peace-loving individuals who casually dine in restaurants or are whiling their time away watching a concert? Who would have imagined such a beautiful and magnificent city could go down to its knees in few minutes?

Reports have confirmed that one of the perpetrators had slipped into Europe via a camouflage of migrants that had crossed from Greece disguised as a refugee. By all indications, the 9/11 tragedy, and the 2004 Madrid train bombings were no fluke and Paris being the latest casualty certainly makes a strong case that a determined enemy will have its way no matter what - into the lives of men small and great, if only to bring about destruction.

Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly massive indicators pointing at Islamic terrorists being the culprits, a deafening chorus of silence from pointing out the root cause of such hatred pervades mainstream media offices for fear of  backlash from liberals - who would die to defend the slogan of Islam as the religion of peace. Mainstream media won't say it is Islamic terrorism for fear many would get offended, and Obama won't like it either. 

Questions Rarely Asked

ISIS or Daesh makes good of its vow to bring Western civilization to its knees. They have made their intentions known. Those they deem enemies when captured are subjected to the most painful methods of death no human civilization is ready to comprehend. While wisdom is not hard to come by as to the mystery behind such hatred for "infidels", still very few have mustered strength to tread on dangerous path to demand rationale:

Why an Islamic god supposedly the creator of the universe would call his people to war with the "infidels" because they by chance or destiny happened to be born into another religion and not Islam, thus earning for themselves the name tag "infidel"?

Why the disdain of this god at his own creation namely Jews and Christians that he doesn't want his "own" people (the Muslims) to make friends with them? Did he commit a grave mistake when he accidentally formed "lesser" human beings called Christians and Jews and still remorseful of the blunder?

Why every time a bomb goes off or an "infidel's head rolls in the ground, shouts of "allahuakbar" reverberate in the air? Does this god entity take pleasure in the murder of "lesser" human beings that he is out to annihilate them all including women, children, newborn babies, and the helpless? How did this inexplicable appetite for blood and sufferings of other human beings come about?

Who are the real Muslims?

Some Muslim apologetics, however, would come to the defense of their book saying it should not be interpreted literally because when one does, ISIS ideologies are outrightly validated, thus making so-called moderate Muslims bad Muslims for not heeding the instructions written in their book. So who is the real Muslim? Is he the one who religiously observes literal instructions from their book or the one who nitpicks verses that suits his own likings but disregards those that are fundamental to their identity as Muslims?

If religions will only have their way to unilaterally lay claim to a particular word or slogan that exclusively identifies or describes them and that no other religions are allowed to embrace or at least share a synonymous slogan, then Islam would have the outright monopoly of the word PEACE or PEACEFUL appended to its name. Ask a kindergarten pupil what is the religion of peace, and you will hear a ready answer; even children don't get confused as it is taught especially in American public schools. Still, no matter the indoctrination to get its monopoly over certain words or slogans, words and slogans remain just that - letters - but its fruit is entirely another thing.

ISIS's inspiration

In every battle, there is always an inspiration behind it. Throughout history, wars were fought among nations, kingdom against kingdom, the savages against the civilized, and so on and so forth. Even individuals have battles of their own caused by a myriad of reasons because it is their inspiration that drives them to win. Having said that, ISIS is no different, they too operate behind an inspiration, and this determined and inspired group vows to cease not to advance its cause because a written mandate to savagely subdue and annihilate its enemies is the inspiration behind all its bloody conquest.

Bombings here and there have become a fodder in the daily news, severed heads skewered on fences have replaced traditional adornment at some city parks, sometimes they make a perfect substitute for a football while children gleefully cheered at such unique innovation. Captured suspected enemies get their bodies chopped up and their parts and entrails put on display as if a slaughterhouse just had a bargain sale. Others get burned alive in a cage and others die of drowning in the most despicable manner. Some suspected homosexuals in blindfolds get a free trip to the top of the tallest structure in the city and pushed to their death - and if they're unlucky to survive the fall, the blood-thirsty "morally upright" mob puts on a show as to whose rock gets to hit the final blow that would send the "bad Muslim" to his final doom.

Recently, a Malaysian hostage victim had his head chopped off by his Muslim captors in the Philippines. Bernard Then a 39-year old engineer was just dining out in a restaurant when he was seized along with the restaurant manager and did not do anything to merit such a gruesome death. His family could not meet ransom demands, thus his fate. He was not a Muslim and was targeted and his religion was a giveaway. The Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorist group that operates in the Southwestern islands of the Philippines is notorious for beheading their captives who are mostly non-Muslims, and if by chance a Muslim gets in the mix during a kidnapping frenzy, he or she is often freed right away.

In Kenya this year, 147 got murdered when Islamic terrorists Al Shabab stormed a university and fired at victims who were mostly Christians after separating them from the Muslims. The same pattern follows the siege of a Kenyan mall in 2013 which killed 67 people mostly non-Muslims who obviously cannot recite the Islamic creed and if the target is suspect for falsely claiming to be a Muslim he will be quizzed some passages from the Quran to which his answer determines his fate. The same SOP was carried out by these Islamic terrorists who killed 28 non-Muslim passengers of a bus after failing to recite the Islamic creed. Of course, Muslim passengers have mastered that creed since they were young so they were rewarded mercy by their "brothers".  All and many other cases of a murderous rampage by Islamic terrorists around the world follow the same pattern of discriminately targeting non-Muslims.

Sowing Terror as a Mandate

Simply put, logical reasoning does not apply or irrelevant if one insists on getting to the bottom of it all in a rather skin-deep perspective without giving a chance to dig deep into the source of such "hallowed" resolve to kill.  Even Ivy Leaguers would have varying takes why acts of terrorism are mostly appended to the Muslim religion. Could it be because they wanted to emulate their prophet who was a warlord? Or maybe those joining ISIS had been perennial rejects in the job market that tossing homosexuals from the rooftops and chopping infidel's heads are the next suitable skills to craft a career? All possibilities are boundless if we choose to be continually lamebrain.

If only we pause a bit and have a look at these mound of menacing texts found in their book, then we will not wish to remain in our stupor state:

Quran 2:191 ~ "Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them."
Quran 3:28 ~ "Muslims must not take the infidels as friends."
Quran 3:85 ~ "Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable."
Quran 5:33 ~ "Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam."
Quran 8:12 ~ "Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Quran."
Quran 8:60 ~ "Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels."
Quran 8:65 ~ "The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them."
Quran 9:5 ~ "When the opportunity arises kill the infidels wherever you catch them."
Quran 9:30 ~ "The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them."
Quran 9:123 ~ "Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood."
Quran 22:19 ~ "Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies."
Quran 47:4 ~ "Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them."

Need we say more?

Western governments fear of Islam exposed

Brigitte Gabriel in her reply to the question of a Muslim law student Sabah Ahmed on "how can we fight an ideological war with weapons and how we can end this war" - said that, in specific historic cases of large-scale violence and terror against innocent populations, "the peaceful majority were irrelevant" in terms of preventing atrocities.

In her book "They Must Be Stopped", Gabriel wrote, "We, as infidels in the eyes of our enemy, need to understand the danger we face: A totalitarian ideology - whether its origin is mainstream or marginal - threatens to enslave, dominate, and murder us in order to realize its vision for global conquest."

Gabriel portrays Islam as a religion thoroughly bent on destruction and domination and is totally incompatible with values that exist in any democratic society. Having been born and lived in an environment where Islamic terrorism became integral parts of their daily existence, she could not have grasped it any better as far as its sinister agenda of global conquest is concerned.

Many prominent figures from all social spectrums such as political, religious, the military and the academia have already validated these claims based on their own testimonies yet mainstream media remains adamant to juxtapose these acts of terrorism with the commands explicitly written in the Quran by which every devout Muslim is avowed to fulfill. In their show of defiance and disgust at those who attempt to educate and inform the politically correct, mainstream media and government banded together to label them bigot Islamophobe hence "unwanted and dangerous to society".

Speaking of dangerous, two prominent personalities have been labeled as such by the UK government and are not even allowed entry into the country because their presence is deemed "not conducive to public good".  Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, two US bloggers who have in-depth knowledge of Islam and are keen on educating people on what Islam stands for - have both been banned from entering the UK for fear their message would provoke Muslims into rioting, again. Okay, we've seen videos of very scared police in their dozens being chased down by hundreds upon hundreds of Muslims in London itself, so we understand where the UK government is coming from, and so they resolve never ever dare offend a single Muslim's feeling again.

As long as we deliberately choose to ignore the truth wiggling under our noses, there would be similar or even worse tragedies than what we have witnessed coming tantalizingly close to our doorsteps. Devout Islamist groups like ISIS that follow the Quran in its literal context - have issued serious warnings that they are out to conquer and defeat Western societies. They vowed to wreak havoc on places no human imagination deems possible. They have warned New York and Washington, D.C. would come next. And quoting Brigitte Gabriel, the silent "peaceful majority" remains silent and in fact, is secretly cheering on the exploits of their radical brethren - hence complicit to their collective world agenda, that is, world domination.

The Coming Delusion

It's mind-boggling that despite the glaring dissimilarities between biblical and quranic texts pertaining to the treatment of one's enemy, still Christianity is being viewed unfavorably and Christians are generally at the receiving end of persecution because of their faith. Okay, we've heard it countless times, and even atheists are familiar with Jesus commands to "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44), do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you (Luke 6: 27,28). Of course, loving your enemies and praying for them that persecute you is a general command that covers everyone else including Muslims because Jesus also died for them. Yet Christians are called to be vigilant and discerning of those that are blinded by hate for them.

In America, the public school system has already begun outlawing Christian prayers within its premises but encourages students to recite the quranic prayer saying "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet" while penalizing students or grading them zero if they don't recite the quranic creed. If parents complain, teachers would insist it is part of their subject to study world religion but Christianity surprisingly is not one of them. Under the pretext of teaching world religion to students, some schools even make it mandatory for students to attend a field trip to the mosque and let their female students experience wearing a burqa.

The double standard could not get even more glaring with one school having to suspend one of their teachers for gifting his student a Bible because he had asked for it. Meanwhile, a Christian athlete who placed third in a marathon was stripped of his medal by school officials because he wore a headband with a Bible verse written in it, but no rules had been violated. It is ironic however that the authors and implementors of this double standard would, in the long run, be unwilling to submit themselves under Shariah law if the time comes that Islam overtakes the land of the free and they have succeeded in marginalizing Christianity.

What American woman would wish to wrap her shapely body in black and turning herself into a ninja because Shariah demands a woman needs to cover so as not to tempt any man into committing adultery? What about long queues for women everywhere waiting in shackles for their turn to be stoned for adultery or fornication? Forget about limbs and fingers strewn around Walmart parking areas, at least shoplifters are still given a chance to live another day. And what about homosexuals and lesbians, will they be storming Shariah courts to demand their gay pride parade be reinstated? Or what about a queue of homosexuals on top of Chrysler or One World Trade Center for them to receive their free gift of bungee jumping experience sans the rope?

Would Islam's primary supporter Obama even allow his daughters to cover in black with eyes popping up like ghosts in the Oval Office? Forget about Bo, Shariah law hates dogs, so no presidential dog of any kind will be allowed on the lawns of the White House. And Michelle? It would be a sad day for the first lady when she stops flaunting her bulging biceps if her stylist gets the ax in favor of tons of ready-made black abayas imported from Syria.

Practically speaking, no one in their right mind except those whose only mission all their lives is to annihilate infidels - is willing to live in subjugation under Shariah and their freedom afforded by the Western civilization be curtailed at best if not totally snuffed out from them. Notwithstanding the danger it poses on account of its incompatibility with a democracy or any civilized society for that matter, Islam remains a darling of the political left and the increasingly politically-correct West sees to it, it thrives and is well-protected. Guess what, the same cannot be said of Christianity. And if it's not insanity to label Christians as potential terrorists due to its vocal opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, then what is it? If this twisted rationale is anything to go by, this world predictably is going nowhere but the road to perdition.

Hope in a hopeless world

Scriptures had already predicted thousands of years ago that in the last days people will have a warped view of what is good and evil. What has been shunned as evil barely two decades ago is now considered good, and what has been called good for as long as humanity can remember is now called evil. If we want banner models let's not look further: Obama has been aggressively working on deporting Christian asylum seekers while being doubly aggressive on importing unscreened Muslims who can be potential terrorists. Of course a White House invitation for every clock boy who screams Islamophobia would always be considered a presidential mandate under his administration.

It's only a matter of time and we'll get to see this madness exacerbates to the point of global chaos. But while social paranoia overtakes those that have their hopes pinned in this world, true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ will only have their hopes firmly pinned on their coming redemption. This world is going nowhere but to damnation because it will be what it has chosen to be. People will scramble to hide from terror but terror will they find in places they least expect it. They will buy their way to find peace, but peace will shun them because they refuse to acknowledge the only source of peace, instead, in their disdain for the Prince of Peace, they choose to scoff at him, reduce him to an object of mockery, but it will be too late. After all, they have been adequately warned.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween For Dummies, Christians Included

You don't bombard your Facebook with all-too-familiar verses and "Jesus is coming" quotes and at the same time getting too excited with your planned activities on Halloween, it's just not quite the way a Christian should find himself doing.

"So, what's wrong with getting excited over Halloween? The experience is priceless, and a solitary night of fun doesn't necessarily diminish one's relationship with God! I see to it that only the Lord Jesus Christ is worshiped even on Halloween!" I choose to have fun with it and won't allow anyone to deprive my kids to participate in it!" 

You probably have had a lot of these along the way: Christians who would aggressively defend their Halloween tradition being fun and innocuously innocent one. But if you are a Christian (not to mention your record of uninterrupted church attendance for two decades or so) and still see no problem participating in Halloween tradition, these bits of knowledge sourced from an article by Kerby Anderson may be of help to you:

Ten Things Christians Need To Know About Halloween

Many in our secular society believe Halloween is nothing more than a harmless festival that allows kids to collect candy. But is it? Its origins lie deeply rooted in the occult, and Christians should stay away. Here are ten reasons why:
  • October 31st has long been known as "The Festival of the Dead." The Celtic tribes and their priests the Druids celebrated this day as a marker for the change from life to death.
  • Halloween today is performed usually by adherents of witchcraft who use the night for their rituals. Witches celebrate Halloween as the "Feast of Samhain", the first feast of the witchcraft year. Being a festival of the dead, Halloween is a time when witches attempt to communicate with the dead through various forms of divination.
  • Christians should not be involved with the occultic practice or divination. Note God's command against divination in Deuteronomy 18.
  • Occultists believe Halloween is a time of transition between life and death. Some occult practitioners practiced divination and believed you could learn the secrets of life and wisdom by lying on a grave and listening to the messages from the long-departed.
  • Occultists also taught that spirits and ghosts left the grave during this night and would seek out warmth in their previous homes. Villagers, fearful of the responsibility of being visited by the ghosts of past occupants, would dress up in costumes to scare the spirits on their way. They would also leave food and other treats at their door to appease the spirits so they would not destroy their homes or crops but instead move on down the road. That is the real reason why kids dress up in costumes today and go door-to-door seeking treats.
  • Occultists also would try to scare away the spirits by carving a scary face into a pumpkin. This horrible visage would hopefully move the spirit on to another home or village and spare that home from destruction. Sometimes the villagers would light a candle and place it within the pumpkin and use it as a lantern (hence the name Jack-o-Lantern). This is the origin of carving pumpkins at Halloween.
  • In some witchcraft covens, the closing ritual includes eating an apple or engaging in fertility rites. In the Bible (Genesis 3), eating a piece of fruit brought sin and death into the world. In witchcraft, eating an apple is symbolic of  bringing life. The practice of bobbing for apples brings together two pagan traditions: divination and the fertility ritual.
  • Schools are removing any religious significance from Christmas (often called winter break) and Easter (spring break). Isn't it ironic that most public schools still celebrate Halloween even though it has occultic origins?
  • Participating in Halloween gives sanction to a holiday that promotes witches, divination, haunted houses, and other occultic practices.
  • Christians should avoid Halloween and totally disconnect themselves from almost about anything that glorifies death, divination or witchcraft, among other things ascribed to the works of darkness.
Still, quite a number of Christians insist that if they totally forgo such a "fun and harmless activity" which to them tilts toward a cultural rather than spiritual celebration then they are completely missing out on life. There are even pastors who spearhead in promoting activities on Halloween with their trick-or-treat baskets conspicuously placed inside their church, and members who are not willing to give it up just yet  find themselves rabid defenders of this demonic celebration.

El Dia de Todos Los Santos Catholic-style

It is interesting to note that in the West, Halloween which falls on the eve of October 31 is purely marked by revelries such as costume parties, trick or treating, among other things, but hardly a commemoration of the departed loved ones. Yet the celebration still carries elements of fear, death and evil, and its glorification thereof.  Meanwhile in many Catholic countries in Asia and Latin America, the celebration carries a distinct flavor associated with culture and religious tradition.

Just like in the Philippines, millions upon millions of Filipinos flock to cemeteries on the first day of November to visit the grave of their departed. Although it has been a centuries-old tradition mostly observed in Catholic countries, it is a widely-held belief by most Filipino Catholics that the souls of their dead are being released from purgatory to reconnect with the living and get to binge another time of their favorite foods, thus the long table in every home filled with various menus as offerings for the souls who are believed to be sulking back in Purgatory if they didn't find their favorite foods on the table.

However, some Catholic legalists and the politically correct do not approve of the November 1 celebration (of honoring the dead) as they claim the first day of November should be dedicated in honor of the saints, thus it is called the All Saints day. Honoring the dead they claim should fall on the 2nd day - the reason why the Gregorian calendar assigns it as All Souls Day. All climactic events such as parties at the cemetery, vigils, food binge, and all other frenzied activities of festive proportion typically happen on the first day - all to commemorate the dead, so one can completely understand the rage of the "saints" who are perennially relegated to the sidelines by virtue of a confused and mixed-up tradition which Catholics simply cannot get right.

Roman Catholicism teaches that every person who had died did not live to be perfect thus falling short of the requirements by God to be perfect. So, in His mercy He assigned a place for the souls called Purgatory wherein they will undergo a process of purging from their imperfections so that when the process is completed they can be readily promoted into heaven. But Catholics are also clueless as to what the souls are exactly doing in the Purgatory to obtain complete forgiveness; maybe they get to carry huge stones or drag boulders or stab their gluteal region and self-inflict as much pain as possible so that they qualify for graduation from the purgatory - nobody knows! So, in essence, Catholics believe that God will not throw anyone in hell for it is too severe a punishment for anyone who commits "little sins".

What the Scriptures Say

The Bible, also known as the word of God is all truth, its infallibility never challenged; its integrity beyond question, and its purity perfect. But what really the Bible says in light of this long-held belief that a person who dies goes to purgatory to undergo a required  process of purging so that he qualifies entry to heaven?

Scripture says, "For it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment" ~ Hebrews 9:27

Despite its gem of truth, it's become a cliche that God is love, and everyone knows that and because He is love He will not send anyone somersaulting to hell. That is just a big fat lie coming from the pits of hell. The Bible has never made mention  of   a place called purgatory - it just does not exist in its 66 books. But we know how innovatively inventive Catholics have developed into, in fact, the brutalization of the Ten Commandments tops the list of their accomplishments.

With all these talks of a loving God, other God's attributes that Catholics and other humanists go ballistic about when brought up is that God is also holy, righteous and just. Obviously, they struggle a lot to reconcile the idea of an angry God who punishes anyone in hell for eternity in the context of a loving God. To them, it simply is an improbable concept that just does not seem real.

But Scripture says, "For the wages of sin is death, but God's gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ." ~ Romans 6:23

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." ~ Romans 3:23

Sin is a violation of God's law, it is the opposite of holiness. Without holiness, no one can see God (Hebrews 12:14), and everyone has sinned. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"(John 3:16).

God's forgiveness can only be obtained through faith in His Son Jesus and by completely turning back from sin. Hell is reserved for the wicked who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as the only way, the truth, and the life. Catholics pray to other "saints" and deify Mary as their mediatrix and queen of heavens which the Bible calls idolatry - an abomination to God. And there is more bad news, the Bible is crystal clear about only two places after death:  heaven and hell.

Every Catholic has a Bible in their homes, but seeking the truth is hardly their strong virtue. Religion and tradition make up a strong shackle that continually keeps people in bondage so that they don't see the truth. But here's the good news: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish,  but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). 

Indeed, God is loving and merciful, He will keep His promise of not wanting anyone to perish that's why He gives us ample time to seek Him and know the truth. We cannot stand before a holy God with our own reasoning because at some point in our lives we have heard His truth. Death is inevitable, it is certain, that's why God sees to it that we are being adequately warned. Yes, God is love, but He is also holy, righteous and just.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Creflo Dollar Tweets Jesus' Death A Stamp To Prosperity

Imagine the rage written all over Creflo Dollar's face. As he found out, Twitter certainly has its downside especially when you are a superstar in the business with half a million followers and counting. On Twitter, not all of your followers are ready to blindly agree on just about everything you post especially when your post is a direct assault to human intelligence more so if it bastardizes scriptures.

His tweet on October 7 goes:
"Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity."  #ProsperityinChrist #WealthyLiving #AbundantLife
The nerve.

His tweet remained even after 24 hours before Team Dollar decided it's just one of those days in the Dollar empire where discernment from other believers can surely wreak havoc to the "credibility" of their boss, and so the tweet disappeared, but not without a trace.

Of course, not everyone though has the penchant to double-check scriptures as long as the sensation gives them goosebumps, thus the thousands of likes and favorites it amassed.

Imagine Jesus Christ the Son of God bled and died so that we can be prosperous, healthy and wealthy! Oh, what a eureka moment! Has anyone realized this yet? Has it not sunk in yet how "blessed" Christians truly are and highly favored by God? But why has Pastor Saeed Abedini failed to apply this "biblical principle"? He could have been spared of his now awful state in an Iranian prison and his family spared from constant bouts with depression had he realized this earlier in his ministry. Or perhaps Team Dollar has just cornered the monopoly for such biblical secret that others failed to dissect?

When prodded by commenters to cite a verse that would explicitly prove Jesus bled and died so that we can lay claim to financial prosperity, Team Dollar seemed to have responded by hibernating for the next 24 hours as if an avalanche of financial blessings suddenly hid them in a bunker.

This is where it gets even more interesting, and here's hoping Creflo summons all his intellectual aptitude and moral reasoning to defend his claim. That would be a real test of his authenticity that would either way dispel or validate accusations of him being a false teacher and ravenous wolf who shamelessly peddles the word of God for profit.

The good news for his followers: Creflo's Twitter message arrived just in time, delivered to appease and comfort, daintily packaged for his bunch of hopeful faithful, but there's a catch: let there be an unhindered flow of tithes and offerings into his bottomless coffers and all will be well.

And the bad: to those who got excited over his tweet and didn't blink to hit like and retweeted it, the bad news is your favorite Creflo Dollar is proven to be a false teacher and a ravenous wolf in sheep's clothing. If you share his belief that the only begotten Son of God became a man, bled and died on the cross so that you can live a life of financial prosperity and if you don't repent, you are on your way somersaulting to hell with this man.

The real prosperous are those who suffered the most

True born again believers of the Lord Jesus Christ have no business listening to these false teachers who perennially prostitute  and bastardize the word of God for their selfish gains. The apostle Paul has this to say of them:
"For we are not like so many others, who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as men sent from God." ~ 2 Corinthians 2:17
If Jesus' death signaled an era of financial revolution as what Creflo Dollar shamelessly claims, then Peter who seemed to be the most charismatic and assertive of all the apostles should have regretted his gruesome death by crucifixion upside down when he can outrightly demand his Lord a vacation grande or a cruise in Mediterranean as reward for putting up with Him for three years of lack and poverty.

James, son of Zebedee could have demanded full respite from fishing all his life, if not a complete upgrade to probably a CEO job, but no he didn't complain when he was the very first among all the apostles to die by the sword. Zebedee could have petitioned Jesus to at least let John his younger son enjoy the perks and rewards due to his older son James but John himself endured the most difficult life in exile till his death in the island of Patmos.

What about Paul and Silas' frequent brushes with authorities that almost regularly landed them in prison? the whippings, constant beatings, and muggings that they endured as soon as people laid their eyes on them? It's hardly prosperity! Not an iota of wealthy living and abundant life!

False teachers like Creflo Dollar and many others that easily come to mind are masters of deceit and flattery. They are superstars in their chosen craft. They feed off the gullible that have pinned their hopes in this life - them that crave everything this carnal world offers to satisfy their carnal desires. They don't desire the Savior who is able to give them life eternal but what they can get from the Savior in this life temporal.

Why Creflo is a pampered wolf amid willing preys

Pastor Mike Abendroth on his youtube video points out that the reason why people give their money to Creflo Dollar is the very reason why people buy lottery tickets. They think giving to God's ministry is a wise investment that guarantees exponential returns. They were made to believe God fixes His eyes on the tenth of their income so that He releases unthinkable favors if it reaches church coffers so that His favorite pastors get to drive Ferraris and fly in Gulfstream jets. These false teachers' propensity to misuse and abuse Malachi 3:10 for financial gain is evil to the core.

As long as people's frenzied desire for material and financial abundance does not wane so shall there be no slowing down the career of prosperity preachers anytime soon. The time has come when people don't bother any more about the kind of doctrines that creeps into the church even if they're doctrines of demons masking as feel-good gospel. No matter what they get to eat even if it is poison disguised as sweets as long as it tastes good then they have no problem ingesting them as a panacea for their carnality.

Tips for the gullible and how not to remain one 
  • Those who love to flaunt their badges as "Christians" need not just to have a Twitter or Facebook account so that they could lustfully follow their favorite prosperity preachers - surely it's inadequate parameter to be called one. 
  • They should have a firm belief that the Bible is the Word of God, it is infallible, and the final authority under the sun by which humanity is called to live by, and that biblical truths override the aesthetically lovely tweets by their "idols".
  • Let there be no doubt that Jesus was serious when he told those who want to follow Him to "deny himself, and take up his cross daily" (Luke 9:23). So what's with he hashtags #ProsperityinChrist #WealthyLiving #AbundantLife got to do with self-denial and carrying one's cross? 
  • If you really want to convince yourself that you are on the same road as Jesus, let this be a warning: Jesus might not be the role model you want to emulate, His life exemplified utter humility, being born on a manger when as an infant He already suffered rejection (Luke 2:7), went hungry (Mark 11:12), got tired and exhausted while doing God's work (John 4:6), and had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). Hardly the things you dream about, are they?
  • Jesus was assuredly clear in his command to "store up riches in heaven and not on earth" (Matthew 6: 19,20), and verse 21 warns the danger: "for where your treasure is, there you heart will also be".
  • Jesus says, "if you love me obey my commandments". Let's break it down: Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind as the greatest commandment and loving one's neighbor as oneself being the second greatest (Matthew 22: 36-38) -- is by no means a command to enrich oneself and wallow in abundance in the midst of Christian beheadings for not renouncing Christ! Has God been playing favorites for "Christians" in their Ferraris and palatial mansions? 
  • You followers of Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Joyce Myer, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Rick Warren and all other prosperity preachers a.k.a wolves in sheep's clothing, let this be known to you once and for all, that JESUS, yes the Jesus of the Bible (not the type of Jesus that you get to hear about on Sundays in your flashy 20-thousand or more seater megachurches) -- became a man, suffered and died on the cross to pay our debts, but was raised to life again so that you and me filthy sinners may obtain forgiveness and receive eternal life  if we repent and believe. Yes, that's the real reason Christ died a humiliating and gruesomely painful death, not for you to obtain material and financial wealth just like your favorite Creflo Dollar wants you to believe.
  • Lastly, read your Bible diligently, ask wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit because God is faithful, He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Put on the full armor of God, part of which is your belt of truth so that when deception comes you are safely standing on solid ground.

Blasphemy of the highest order

It's safe to assume that Creflo Dollar might still be reeling from a trauma for an intentional blunder on Twitter that left him battered with strong rebukes and calls for repentance. If he indeed is a man of God he would have apologized to his followers right away without any reservation for his wayward theology. He must have also repented publicly for his sheer arrogance of assigning the death of the Lord Jesus Christ a brand new purpose, that is to for us to obtain financial prosperity. But he won't have any of that.

Cheapening the blood of Jesus by equating it to a barter commodity for financial gain is blasphemy of the highest order. If anything, no amount of rebuke will ever diminish Creflo's determination to keep his empire flourishing; after all that is what he believes the purpose why Jesus bled and died. Sadly, only few will get to see the fangs peeking out beneath the wolves' nostrils all along feigned as sheeps. And these are the kind that Paul had warned about:
"Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." ~ 1 Timothy 4:1,2
Real prosperity according to Scriptures

For the record, Jesus never promised mansions on earth for His disciples but was assured on heavenly mansions reserved for them. He even told the young man who wished to follow Him to sell his possessions and give to the poor but he was aggrieved for his heart belongs to where his treasures are (Matthew 19: 21-24) Is it not a big irony that these prosperity preachers teach their followers that Jesus' death is a stamp to prosperous living while Jesus expressly laments that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for the rich to enter heaven?

As for those champions of faith who truly understood what real prosperity meant this is what the writer of Hebrews wrote:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." ~ Hebrew 11:13

"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourging, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy), they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." ~ Hebrews 11: 36-38

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." ~ Hebrews 11: 39,40

Throughout history, many have died a gruesome death while defending their faith. Historical and biblical accounts can vouch to the martyrdom of those who had willingly embraced death for the sake of Christ knowing that their reward is kept secured in heaven for eternity. Today's true disciples of Jesus have also their share of suffering and persecution, but they continue to stand their ground. Christians in Iran  are threatened with hangings when they get caught; in ISIS enclave, Christians get raped, beheaded or crucified on a daily basis for not renouncing Christ; and in Indonesia churches get razed and pastors beaten; in Nigeria congregants get massacred, their women and girls raped, their men and boys hacked to death, and I could go on and on. Hardly the prosperity Creflo and all other wolves so aggressively endorse and advocate. So be warned: a blind cannot lead another blind for they both will fall into the ditch.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Those Familiar Wolves At The Harlot's Table

Pope Francis' recent visit to the US was by no means just another state visit of a head of state from another country. It was regarded as a milestone event being the pontiff's official first visit to the US. Many pundits from both the secular media and religious groups have been abuzz with their synonymous take that the pope's visit would usher the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

As to which biblical prophecies have been fulfilled that remains debatable, but one thing is clear and beyond argument, and after all dust has settled, God has revealed those who consistently prostitute his truth in the name of false love, false peace, and false unity. And there you have it, people won't be reeling from shock as everyone's usual suspects spontaneously come out united in revealing who they really are: wolves in sheep's clothing.

If there was anything "true and sincere" (albeit a great abomination to God) that the world has witnessed, it was the multitude's show of devotion and adoration to the pope that had the sovereign God of heavens seemingly shoved off His throne. 

Don't get me wrong, as Christians we should love the pope as someone whom Jesus died for and whose soul needs salvation. He needs to repent of his sins and acknowledge the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ through the redemptive power of His blood. We also need to pray for every Catholic who puts their faith in the Catholic church for their salvation. But we cannot be one with them  and approving of and thereby sharing their sins.

Wait a minute, we almost feel this topic about the pope as being recurringly redundant. And along comes the burning question, why can't some Christians seemingly don't get it when all the pope desires, is for all the world to come together in unity amid all the troubles of this world? Why the fierce criticism when all T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen yearn for is to giggle at the presence of the pope and express their admiration for him for his being so cool and humble?

Here it goes: The Scripture in itself is the word of God, its nature infallible and immutable, it is the final authority and the moral compass which all humankind is called to live by. The Scripture reveals to man God's grand design of redemption from sin through His son Jesus Christ who took the form of a man, was sinless, and gave His life as a ransom for all our sins.The Scripture also speaks of Jesus as being the only Way, the Truth, and the Life, so that no one comes to the Father but by Him. So in essence, Jesus has the sole authority to forgive sinners if they repent and turn their backs from sin and follow Him. All other religious figures in history such as Mohammed, Buddha, and many others have all died and will never return again while Jesus has spoken of his return to judge the living and the dead. Basic kindergarten lesson we have here.

So what has the pope anything to do with this? As a matter of tradition, the pope so believes that Jesus died on the cross, unlike the Muslims who believe in their Quran that says Jesus did not die but that their god Allah deceived the Jews into believing such lie. Quran 3:54 even corroborates that their god Allah is the greatest deceiver of all. There you have it! In principle, the contradiction in belief is poles apart, yet the pope allows Quranic prayer be recited in the Vatican and he himself even offered prayer inside a mosque in Turkey.

Here are some of the obvious reasons why true born-again believers should not associate themselves with almost about anything the pope promotes:

The Catholic church endorses Marian worship and countless other idols

The Catholic church for centuries has been unequivocal in affirming the deity of Mary in its doctrines and bestowed her a litany of titles such as "the queen of heavens", "mother of God",  "the mediatrix", etc. Obviously, nowhere in Scripture has Mary been crowned as queen of heavens as though there existed a vacant throne that needed occupancy. Catholic dogma even claims that Mary was taken up to heaven both her soul and body on the third day after her death.

In fairness to Mary, when she was called blessed among women she exclaimed, "my spirit rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:47). She herself acknowledged that she needed a saviour because she was no god. Well, Catholics have the propensity to analogize that if Jesus is God so are his mother and Father. And no chance on earth they'd lose this argument. I vividly recall my sister-in-law who strongly brushed off biblical truth saying, "I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic".

The Bible explicitly says that the God of the universe is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 6:14,15) who is not willing to give His glory to anyone and His praises to graven images (Isaiah 42:8). In essence, God hates the worship of idols that cannot see, speak, hear or feel and cannot even defend themselves. His disdain for idol worshippers is such that He calls them fools and shameless (Isaiah 44:9-20). And who would dare challenge a holy and righteous God? You share this truth lovingly and compassionately to a hardened Catholic if not you're shown the door in rage or get blocked on facebook.

As for Mary's mediatrix title, it doesn't get more blasphemous than that to claim Mary possesses a greater level of intercessory powers than any other saint because Jesus can in no way turn His back on the woman who gave Him life. You pray to Mary being the mother of God and narrate your petitions, the moment she brings your cause to her son no matter how unlikely your petitions will be granted by Jesus, His heart can only melt away at the sight of His mother in tears, and voila your petition is granted. This is why Catholics have a special fondness for their idol, the "Mother of Perpetual Help".

But what the Scripture has to say with respect to such belief is beyond confounding to those who refuse to open their eyes and refuse to read and be guided by the truth of Scripture. Does God really listen to the prayers of unrepentant and idolatrous people? And who is the true mediator who brings our petitions to God?

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." ~ Psalm 66:18

"Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does His will, him he hears." ~ John 9:31

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Timothy 2:5

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." ~ Hebrews 4: 14,15

The Pope believes Allah the god of Islam and Yahweh the God of the Bible are one

We've been hearing it a gazillion of times over, people would conveniently blurt out: "oh yeah, of course, I believe there is only one God and our only disagreement stems from how we address him by name."

Don't be deceived, the god of the Quran doesn't have a son, as opposed to Yahweh the Father who has a begotten Son named Jesus who took a human form, ministered to the sick and needy, offered His life, was buried and raised from the dead, and He will return to judge both the living and the dead. While the Quran explicitly narrates that Allah hid his prophet Issa from the Jews, deceived them into believing that he died (but never crucified), and Allah took him up to heaven.

Let us check the following verses:

"In fact. the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of the blood there is no forgiveness." ~ Hebrews 9:22

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." ~ Matthew 26:28

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." ~ Colossians 1:14

Clearly, it is only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that can wash away mankind's sin and forgiveness can only be obtained through His blood, that's why Jesus died by crucifixion, was buried and was raised from the dead. But the Quran belies these facts by claiming that not one of these had ever happened. To them, the Bible is a lie and corrupt and the Quran is the real deal. Perhaps Pope Francis is so enamored with the Quran that he invited an Imam to recite a quranic prayer inside the Vatican. He even offered prayer (facing Makkah) alongside a mufti at a mosque in Turkey.

The Pope believes atheists can get to heaven

Previously, Pope Francis made a bold declaration that atheists can get to heaven if they do good, effectively invalidating the power of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Such brazen rebellion against the truth of God won him over adoring fans worldwide and media accolades despite his obvious disdain for the truth of God's word. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  We could only assume that in all his years as a Catholic let alone his being a pontiff, he has not come across this verse yet. But we all know that is not the case.

This pope certainly has a way to draw controversies, and they are by no means negligible. His words and actions impact billions of souls and his influence limitless, after all he is the "vicar" of Christ on earth, and when he speaks it is as if God speaks through him. Yet it can't get as blasphemous as this saying, "Jesus failed on the cross". Scripture says before Jesus breathed His last on the cross, he uttered, "it is finished".  He had won the victory on the cross! Yet, wonder of wonders the pope believes otherwise! In his homily on his recent trip to America, Pope Francis said, "Jesus failed on the cross"!

The cross was a fundamental part of Jesus' life. It's why he was born and was a fulfillment of why he came. To call it a failure is about as high a blasphemy as could be spoken by a false prophet, striking at the very foundation of Christianity.

Since Pope Francis assumed the papacy there has never been a dearth in controversies appended to him. His initiatives to bring all religions together in the name of peace and  unity is about as good a fulfillment in the book of Revelation that speaks of a harlot who committed adultery with the inhabitants of the earth. But what mortal can resist his charm? Notwithstanding, God warns us to come out of her and be not partakers of her sin (Revelation 18:4).

Wolves in sheep's clothing share table with the harlot

It is no secret Joel Osteen is one of the biggest fans of the pope. When he profusely heaps praises on him, his face glows like all the hopes of this world is pinned on that one man. That if he can only convince skeptics to pay attention to the message of this man, then the world will be a better place. This same Joel Osteen who seldom mentions the name Jesus, if none at all in his sermons and in his books. He is the same Joel Osteen who fondly describes the pope as "very cool and humble" yet steers clear of mentioning Jesus as the perfect example of humility, being born in a manger, and "had no place to lay his head" during His earthly ministry. If anything, these pictures are perfect contradiction to "your best life now" that Joel Osteen endorses: a life filled with financial and material blessings, health and wealth bonanza, and even going to places you've never been.

Proof that Pope Francis has no shortage of fans even in the evangelical community is the no-nonsense endorsement of his agenda by well-known mega pastors such as Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, and Rick Warren, among others. Jakes and Warren were even among the VIPs and dignitaries who had a front-row seat at the White House papal reception. It is no surprise seeing Rick Warren joining in spiritual oneness with the pope whose agenda is in sync with the former's Chrislam advocacy. And what about T.D. Jakes? Well, he's got no problem with homosexuality in the church just as the pope wants  homosexuals and lesbians to fill the pews but refuses to rebuke them of their lifestyles. After all, "who am I to judge?"

The Kim Davis Fiasco

She would have been doing well, at least after she emerged from prison. She was touted by fellow Christians around the world as a champion of faith circa pre-tribulation. She stood her ground even to the point of going to prison, still she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses as it violates her conscience and religious belief. Imagine a deluge of articles and Christians blogs dedicated to her exploits and heroism; multitudes of Christians got fired up to fight for their faith. Even some Republican presidentiables had their rating shot up for siding with her. In the end, good triumphed over evil.

Not until, the man of the hour Pope Francis set foot on American soil that a certain Kim Davis, a renowned champion of faith had her bout with starstruck syndrome induced by the presence of the man from Vatican. It was reported she had a private audience with the pope in Washington, she even asked an aide to the pope "if I could hug the holy father". Her request was granted and he hugged her back. He asked her to pray for him and she reciprocated the request. He thanked her for her courage and told her to "stay strong".  At the culmination of that private audience, the pope gave her and her husband rosaries which in turn she would later give to her parents. And here's the mother of ironies: prior to her meeting with the pope, the day before, two homosexuals who are partners for 19 years had a real audience with the pope; turns out one of them is a long- time friend of the pope back home in Argentina.

Kim Davis was in awe of the pope: in her own words she could not believe a man of great stature would want to see her. He thanked her for her courage, presumably the courage of standing her ground. Then we can only assume that the day before, he lovingly admonished his homosexual friend and his partner that their lifestyle is something God does not approve of, but as reports would have it, everyone came out from that rendezvous wearing a big smile.

And as for the rosaries as gift of the pope to her and her husband, it is not expected of her to win her parents back to Catholicism if her intentions were anything to go by. She should be evangelizing them for the Lord and not to encourage them to pray the rosary.

Deception as the preeminent sign of Jesus' return

In Matthew 24, when Jesus went out and departed from the temple, his disciples marveled at the buildings of the temple, but Jesus said there shall be no stone left upon another that shall not be thrown down. And His disciples asked what shall be the signs of His coming and the end of the world. And Jesus answered, "take heed that no man deceive you". The Gospel chapters of Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse where Jesus spoke of the signs of His return and the end of days contain repeated warnings of deception that shall abound. Jesus has put emphasis on many that shall be deceived, even the elect if possible.

Truth be told, today's Christians suffer from spiritual famine: the lack of discernment, lack of knowledge and indifference towards biblical truth in favor of the  doctrines of demons that constitute a surefire way to damnation. Christians are called to put on the full armour of God, with the belt of truth buckled around the waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place. But once your belt of truth is compromised and it falls, so is your righteousness.

The Laodicean Warning

The state of Christianity today can be likened to that of the church in Laodicea but God is faithful, those He loves He chastens, and calls them to repent so that they won't be caught off-guard when He comes like a thief.

"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel youn to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that ou may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint you eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches." ~ Revelation 3: 15-22

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Truth About Soaking Prayer

Recently, I chanced upon a facebook page of a local church where I used to attend, and there was that announcement posted about the schedule of their so-called "Soaking in the Spirit". It says there that the usual service has been canceled to give way for Soaking instead, which to me is unusually long for an 8 AM till 5 PM session. The term "soaking" is new to me, I never heard of it before, and this prompted me to do my research on it.

I decided to contact some of my Christian friends from Facebook through private messages to ask them if they could help me on the subject. Some of them are pastors and teachers of the Word who are known to be biblically sound and have discernment ministries of their own. They sent me lots of links about Soaking which were taken from very doctrinally-sound and reliable sources like Lighthouse Trails Research Project which specializes on exposing New Age Spirituality and Eastern Mysticism in the church.

What is Soaking in the Spirit?

Soaking in the Spirit and Soaking Prayer, are terms which we often hear and being popularized by Emergent churches. Soaking was developed by the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (now Catch the Fire Toronto) which is also known for the "Toronto Blessing" and other unbiblical practices like holy laughter, drunk in the spirit and making animal sounds. This now very popular practice is a modern form of contemplative prayer where a person experiences and absorbs God's presence through stillness and by quieting or emptying one's mind, focusing on Jesus and opening up to the Holy Spirit as he or she lies down and/or in a sitting position while listening to a quiet worship music, although some choose to do this in total silence. Like contemplative prayer, Soaking focuses on having a mystical experience with God.

Just like all false doctrines, this can not stand without twisting the Scripture and taking them out of context. Those who practice soaking always use twisted verses to justify that it is biblical. They often use Psalm 46:10 which says "Be still, and know that I am God...", or Matthew 6:6, "But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly." and Psalm 37: 7, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him...". 
"Soaking prayer is a modern form of contemplative prayer ... People put themselves in an attitude of stillness, focusing on Jesus and opening to the Holy Spirit but with no requests or agenda. The aim is to be still in God’s presence, "waste time with Jesus". The Toronto church sees soaking prayer as one of the main ways in which they encourage people to be open to the Holy Spirit." -  "Soaking Prayer", Roger Harper
(For more on Contemplative prayer and other links on the subject go to Lighthouse Trail)

Here's a video I found on You Tube of a woman who promotes and teaches Soaking in the Spirit. She explains what Soaking is, its benefits and how to do it. She said that God spoke one day to her husband and told him to buy a tent, set it up in the house, spend time in it and wait for the Lord there. She even compares Soaking to sunbathing and calls it spiritual sunbathing. (Notice how she twists Colossians 3:1, 2)

Soaking music

The music used for Soaking are usually quiet worship songs, but sometimes they also use soothing, relaxing instrumental worship music and believe me, when you hear this type of music, you will not be able to distinguish it from New Age music, in fact, if you would look for it in the music store most of them are categorized under the New Age section. This music often has a melancholic feel to it which triggers a particular emotion or feeling, no wonder most people who do Soaking prayer often can't stop themselves from crying. One of the followers of our blog says that she used to listen to this kind of music which she thought Christian. She used to spend quite a lot of money for it until God took her out of it. God bless her.

(Here's a very "New Age" soaking music with the sound of  a stream in the background)

Dangers and Physical Symptoms

As with contemplative prayers, transcendental meditation (TM), reiki, and yoga, soaking requires that you empty your mind leading it to an altered state of consciousness (ASC) or trance. Those who practice soaking believe that they are inviting the presence of God or the Holy Spirit but in reality what they are inviting is a different spirit. This is very dangerous because this gives familiar spirits an open invite for demonic attacks or worse, demonic possessions of the unsaved.
"Physical symptoms, which can include things like a tingling sensation, that occur during Soaking Prayer are similar to those experienced during the Kundalini experience, and both are dangerous and can take the practitioner into a demonic realm."
"Some of these phenomena are obvious: weeping, cries, exuberant and prolonged expressions of praise, shaking, trembling, calmness, bodily writhing and distortions, falling over (sometimes referred to as 'being slain in the Spirit'), laughter and jumping. Other phenomena are more subtle: slight trembling, fluttering of the eyelids, faint perspiring, a sheen on the face, ripples on the skin, deep breathing..." Wimber also said that people sometimes experience a sense of heaviness or tiredness, weeping or drunkenness." - "Soaking Prayer", Roger Harper
"Some leaders get tingling in their hands, some have their hands get warm when healing is about to occur, some feel "power surges" going through their bodies. Some claim that they see a person's "aura" when soaking a person in prayer. Soaking means pouring out lots of prayer over a person, often with laying on of hands and/or passing the hands over a person. It is reminiscent of what is called "Therapeutic Touch" [Reiki] practiced by new age and alternative medicine enthusiasts. People who believe in soaking prayer get the sense that power is passing through their bodies and actually helping to bring healing, comfort and love. And those who are soaking someone testify that they feel waves coming from the person or going toward the person being prayed for. Certainly something may be felt or experienced, however, is it the Holy Spirit?" - "Toronto Blessing: Christian Based Magic?", Kent Philpott
(For more on Kundalini, read "Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality" by Ray Yungen)
"There is nothing in the Bible about soaking or saturating in the Holy Spirit. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24), which means that the teaching in the Church must bring worship to the Lord by upholding the timeless truths of the written Word." - "How to be Unsaturated", Sandy Simpson
Soaking prayer, listening prayer, theophostics, or any other prayer that seeks the presents of God through mystical exercises is simply not biblical. In this it is similar to "contemplative prayer" and contemplative spirituality, which are equally unbiblical. Biblical prayer is talking to God with His will in mind (1 John5:14). A bibically praying believer already understands that God's presence is always with him (Psalm 139:7; Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:14). - "WND Promotes Soaking Prayer Tutorials", Amy Spreeman (Stand Up for the Truth)

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