Friday, February 29, 2008

A Leap of Faith - Feb 29

Couldn't resist posting as Feb. 29th comes only once every four years. Hard to say whether this blog will still be active on February 29th, 2012. Maybe or maybe not. Nevertheless, with this 'leap' idea in mind comes today's devotional:

Jesus Walks on Water

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:25-32)

Here are a couple of thoughts that come to mind:

This Is Likely A Literal Event

Oh, how the intelligientsia and the sophisticates of our day love to discredit the plain wording of the Bible! Seeing as this is a historical event, one that cannot be easily reproduced, we have to take the play-by-play of Matthew at face value. I do believe Christ literally walked on water as did the apostle Peter. Many people (including those in the church) love to take an allegorical approach, a sort of deconstructionism that deprives Jesus of His supernatural authority over nature. Mother Nature can be believed, but Father God cannot.

The Fourth Watch

I think (though don't quote me on this) that the fourth watch was between midnight and 6 a.m.. We can reasonably expect that it was damp, dark and cold. Isn't it interesting that Jesus chooses to make a miraculous entrance at such an unlikely time? 'God will answer this way and in this time', we reason according to our human wisdom and experience. I can absolutely guarantee you those in the boat did not expect Jesus to come at that time and in that manner. When we deal with God we should do the same. So often we put a sovereign God in a box and don't allow Him to work outside of our assumed parameters. We serve a big God. Our faith ought to properly reflect that.

An Untested And Unsure Faith

There is no doubt in my mind that Peter was a man of great faith. Jesus saw that too, but He also saw an immature faith that needed work. The joy in Peter's heart in getting out of the boat to greet Jesus on the water must have been immense! Yet a storm develops, that initial joy turns into fear and Peter immediately begins to sink. Peter failed to anticipate adversity. Many Christians (particularly the new ones) do the exact same thing. We get the false impression that once we give our lives to Christ that it's smooth sailing from here on in. However, Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

Hey, don't you feel 'blessed' after reading that? Please don't fail in anticipating adversity in your relationship with God. God wants you to have a mature faith. You may believe as you wish, but an untested faith is an unsure one.

The Other Disciples In The Boat

So often we fail to notice the third party in this miracle, namely the other disciples in the boat. This is the real tragedy of the story. I'm referring to those Christians who have built a 'comfort zone' around their faith. They may be saved and have eternal life but rarely do they go out on a limb in trusting God's powers. Which is not to say that we should tempt God. Indeed that is a sin! A dull, colorless and stale faith with which we have grown accustomed to causes us to miss out on God's best. I think God wants us to be a Peter. Even if it means we look a bit foolish in the process! A Christian that is concerned about their reputation before Man will never get to 'walk on water'. God wants you to live victoriously in Him. Will you get out of the boat and begin to trust Him today?

Johnny Cash

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Have You Seen This Man? - Feb 27

Nobody knows for sure what Jesus actually looked like. He was Jewish to be sure, and likely had a Mediterranean (meaning dark) complexion. However, that is not the main point of this devotional. The question we really ought to be asking ourselves is 'Has Jesus opened my eyes so that I may see Him?'.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"

He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25)

We must make an important distinction here: This is ONE miracle in two parts, not two miracles, the first one incomplete and the second one completed. Why the 'in-between' stage where the blind man has his sight only partially restored? First of all, Jesus is putting His sovereign power on display. Everything He does is for a reason and in its due time. Secondly, and most important of all, Jesus wishes to show us three basic levels of faith:

Complete Blindness

This is where the majority of people lie. They may be 'good', but have little or no use for the Bible or church. The broad path to destruction has become a comfortable place to stay and they see no reason to change.

'Trees walking around'

These love to compare themselves with themselves (bizarre circular logic if you ask me) or against others. These are those who've found religion but never found the forgiveness that only Christ can bring. They read the Bible, go to church and bore us to death with their list of good deeds. 'Good' indeed! But they've never really had an encounter with the Divine such as the prophet Isaiah:

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5)

Mere religion without genuine repentance still leaves us blind. Those having ears that do not hear and eyes that do not see are a sorry sight to behold.

Full Restoration of Sight

Oh, blessed are those that truly see Him for who He is! Why is it that so many are angry with God? Why is Jesus' name dragged through the mud on a daily basis? I'll tell you why: Ignorance. Their eyes have not been opened by the Holy Spirit. Violence masquerading as love is the epitome of false religion. Yet so many falsely attribute these problems to Jesus' teachings. This I think is where God wants us to be. To have our eyes opened to the Messiah.

Hope you enjoyed my first full-time devotional. I've got some other links I'd like to share:

Check out this cool photo essay of naval gunfire from Be warned it may take time to load. I have a 248 kbps modem and it loads reasonably quickly for me. Just watch the Stratfor logo as it fills up.

Part two of a never ending road trip for six GFA missionaries in Andhra Pradesh. Part one can be found here from an earlier post.

A Saudi columnist laments the expulsion of Christians from Arab lands. The more I learn of the ME, the more intrigued I become. It is much more layered and complex than what we think.

Eight evangelists in Jordan have been arrested. May God see them through their ordeal with strength and grace.

Johnny Cash

Monday, February 25, 2008

Devotions - Feb 25

After some degree of reflection I've decided it's time to make some major changes. After two full years of existence the Christian Defender will now be a devotional blog. There are some good reasons for this.

Beating A Dead Horse: Politics and Islam

Why move away from current events? First of all, there are many other sites that do a much better job of delivering the news than I can. Nobody is interested in stale news, much less my interpretation of it. Only in the case of major advances in Bible prophecy will I make the occasional foray.

Secondly, the question of Islam. Again, there are many others such as Jihad Watch that do a much better job than I ever could. I've made my position on Islam crystal clear. Here are six main points to consider:

1) The Islamists are playing for keeps. Political correctness is strangling the much-needed debate on this attack on our cherished freedoms. Until we wake up and realize that we are in the midst of a material, ideological and spiritual war with Islam, the jihad being waged against the West will continue.

2) Our efforts of appeasement have been an abject failure. All of this pandering has not given us even a moment of peace. Worse yet, this has emboldened the enemy's resolve.

3) Israel's fight is our fight. Tiny Israel is at the very forefront of this battle of civilization. The leftist idea that Israel and the Jews can be sacrificed 'for the greater good' is not only profoundly anti-semitic, it's also dangerous.

4) As for America and Europe, unless we stand up for what we believe in we too shall be steamrolled into oblivion. Countries like Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, France and Germany were founded by Christian principles in both its laws and in its institutions. If we lose our Christian heritage, we lose everything.

5) Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, though flawed, are vital. Pulling the plug prematurely sets all of our efforts back at least a generation. Simply put, no army has ever won a war by going backwards.

6) The maltreatment of non-Muslims at the hand of Muslims. And it's not just the Israelis either. Go ask the Serbs or the Egyptian Copts or the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Strangely enough, the reverse is not true. So much for moral relativism! The kind of people that Islam produces is a horror story.

After that there's little more that needs to be said. The links I have on my sidebar pretty much explain where I stand on the issue of jihad and dhimmitude.

What Will You See More Of?

I don't think I'm really cut out to be some kind of news reporter. Journalists strike me as being a little bit high-strung, probably as a result of too much coffee. It's an attribute I don't care to share. In short, here are the things I intend to use a lot more of:

Scripture. And Lots Of It!

For me, my real passion is to share God's word. Makes you think what would Paul and the rest of Jesus' disciples think of the world wide web! The internet poses a glorious opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with the unsaved. As I've stated before, there's a lot of sloppy theology being taught out there, even in the churches! I've been studying the Gospel of Mark at my local church with the pastor and a few others. Through this it has become painfully clear the real need for good prophetic teaching. The deconstruction of the plain teachings of God's Word is a burgeoning industry. One that needs to be confronted with sound Biblical doctrine.

Sports and Popular Culture

Why not? As an avid follower of sports for most of my life it makes sense to comment on all matters athletic. Sports is a big part of Canadian culture, and not just hockey!

As for my rants on pop culture, I do think it is important to have a Biblical outlook on the general silliness that pervades our lives. I live in the world yet I feel like a foreigner in a strange and hostile land. I think that's the attitude God wants us to have. In the world but not of the world. So many Christians miss out on God's best because of their obsession with earthly matters.

Why The Change In Format?

In a word: Flexibility. Not that I've ever suffered for lack of material. I haven't. I just feel that this gives me more latitude and freedom. Seems silly for me to restrict myself on my own blog! As I mentioned above, this will come at a price. Less political punditry and anti-jihad rants and more scripture. I firmly believe truth is both timeless and universal. It is precisely for that reason that this change is essential. Not only will this hopefully increase readership, it will have a much greater personal impact. Giving glory to God is probably the greatest service any man or woman can do for humanity. I've got an internet connection and I intend to use it!

Johnny Cash

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Ones Who Fall Through The Cracks - Feb 19

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

On Sunday we had the pleasure of hosting some people from Teen Challenge Ministries. We heard testimony from two men who have successfully completed the year long program for drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation. These men shared how they were in and out of jail. How they did anything to get their next fix. How they hated themselves for it, and knew they needed help. How they turned to Teen Challenge Ministries in their last moment of desperation and were taken in, counselled and saved, both physically and spiritually. Teen Challenge Ministries has a 70% success rate for their drug and alcohol rehab program. The stats are so high because it is a Christ centered program. These men come out of this experience cleansed and made whole on the most fundemental of levels. They truly are made new in Christ. Praise God!

But sitting there, listening to this I thought of how these men had gone from sheer darkness and despair to a place where they were surrounded by the perfect love of God. Don't get me wrong, it is amazing how changed they are, but I thought of the people who fall in between the two extremes. People who are caught up in the life of drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality and partying....and loving it. Those are the ones God has put on my heart. They have no idea how much they need God because they haven't hit rock bottom. Some of them never will. They will go on to get married, have children, maybe get divorced, manage to rise in the business world and live a reasonably functional life. These are the ones who slip through the cracks. These are the ones who never think they need help, therefore never reach out, and ultimately are lost. So often in life we forget there are only two sides. If you are not in God's kingdom, then by default you are in Satan's. There is no middle ground. Not believing in Satan doesn't make him any less real. As a matter of fact, the Devil's best cover is to have people not believe in him. If we doubt he exists, then we will not be looking for the ways he tries to destroy us and seperate us from God.

In light of this, I ask you to pray for those people who live their lives in the gray area that is every bit as much Satan's kingdom as that black emptiness. Pray for God to open their eyes to see the truth. There is only one way and one truth and one light. We all need Christ. Those party people who think they are happy, only think this because they have never experienced the true joy that Christ offers. Let's pray that God will give them something to compare their version of 'happy' to.

Faith Girl

Monday, February 18, 2008

Living in Accelerated Times - Feb 18

A word from the prophet Daniel, a servant of God:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4)

What astounds me about Bible prophecy is not just the intricate detail, but the pace at which things are happening. We are not inching forward, we are hurtling by leaps and bounds.

Fun and Games in Toronto

Yesterday, my Dad and I went to the Toronto International Auto Show. There were three things that struck me. First, the move towards 'hybrids', that is the combination of electric power and gas. The idea of using only 4L/100 km without sacrificing power is a trend that will only increase. Second, there is a greater standardization between domestics and imports in terms of ergonomics and driver comfort. Third, options such as navigation systems, tailgating alarms and satellite radio (XM and Sirius) are no longer a clever fad. No other generation can boast of such a technological explosion.

The Time of the End

Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:10,12)

Many Biblical scholars will easily recognize the 22nd chapter of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ as the final chapter of the Bible. So what does this little nugget of scripture tell us? Simply put, when you see things come quickly the time is at hand. I used the car industry as an example. Such advances in car technology were not even on the horizon a decade ago. I can personally attest to this because I've been going to the car show every year! But not just cars. No sir! Here are some other examples that prove my point about things moving quickly.

Mass Media and Roman Roads

It is next to impossible for authoritarian gov'ts to be able to filter out what they don't want their own people to see. If you have a satellite dish or an internet connection the world is at your fingertips. As I've stated before, what Roman roads were in preparation for the First Advent, mass media and the world-wide web will be for His return. The Romans were building their roads for the use of trade and military use lest some of the colonials get a bit uppity. Even the harshest of critics saw the obvious commercial value of Roman labor. Nobody in that day was suggesting 'Let's rip up these roads!'. Not one. Is any one of America's enemies saying that we should get rid of mass media? NO! The longer the rope to hang us with the better! See the modern-day parallel?

As a sort of Arab CNN, Qatari-based al-Jazeera is growing in popularity. With the proliferation of Arab satellite channels, the cat's already out of the proverbial bag. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, attempts are being made to muzzle AJ's efforts. One has to take this with a grain of salt. Does 'free speech' actually mean free speech or is it an enabler of jihadist ideology? I think in this instance it's the former and not the latter. Which is good. Gotta be careful about that.

God Will Be Victorious!

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22: 13-14)

While our fear of the future grows, we can rejoice in the promise of victory that Jesus Christ gave us. The gospel was not given to us to save the world, but to deliver the individual from the world. Despite all the evil and doom and gloom, here are some GFA missionaries making a difference for the coming Kingdom:

Reaching the islands of West Bengal, India

A missionary faces stiff resistance in Madhya Pradesh.

Six young men of God's faithful army in Andhra Pradesh work from dawn to dusk to glorify Him.

A Quick Word

I'd like to thank CottShop of Sacred Scoop for his comment he left on my previous post. You'll notice that SS is now a forum for his art work. Which is cool by me and I still consider him to be a friend. Should his devotionals increase I will reconsider putting his link back on my sidebar. Also, I've been in touch with Faith Girl and she's promised me a post for tomorrow. Yay! May there be many more FG posts to come in 2008.

Johnny Cash

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The X-Def: On To Year Three! - Feb 9

This February the 12th this humble little blog will be celebrating its second anniversary. I'm sort of jumping the gun here but its not every day I get to pat myself on the back. As you may have noticed, there's been a few changes. I've always liked the idea of sticking to 'The Man' and Satan's minions for the glory of God. Hence the new blurb under the title. It's shorter and more mature sounding. That to me is what Christianity is all about.

The X-Def Sidebar

I thought the Canadian flag was an addition that was long overdue. The title over Johnny Cash's picture and the Religion of Peace is gone too. I've deleted 'Fun Stuff' and re-distributed my 'Rogues and Scallywags'. The IRIS Seismic Monitor has been bumped around and so I finally gave it its own header in 'Mother Nature, Father God' along with three others. I've also changed the order around somewhat. I would recommend to those who visit this blog regularly is to check the sidebar frequently for new additions. I'm always looking to improve the X-Def both in terms of quantity and quality.

An Angel of Light

I would like to thank Faith Girl for her input as well. I curse the fact that she has a slow internet connection and is unable to post more frequently (no post as of yet in 2008). I always enjoy her insight. Thank you Faith Girl for your friendship.

My Friend the Anti-Semite

Sadly I wish I could say the same about dizzyfatplonka, my English friend with whom I had a falling out. When you start a relationship with someone and they don't turn out to be the person you thought they were there's a definite sense of betrayal. No person who hates the Jews and the land of Israel will have a place in God's kingdom. I don't hate the man, on the contrary I care very much about his eternal state. So I pray that DFP will one day find the true light of salvation in Jesus Christ and fall in love with God's people. Until then I have no use for him.

Let's get to some local news that's been burning a hole in my pocket.

Canada's Slide Into Oblivion

Under the Canadian flag on the sidebar I've written 'God keep our land glorious and free', a line from our national anthem. It's funny but in the bilingual version that line is curiously omitted. Don't want to offend French and secularist sensibilities! While God will always be God regardless of what we do, we still have an obligation to ourselves to keep vigilant. Call it 'death by a thousand cuts' if you will. However, the end result is still the same.

Here's one story that caught my eye. In Ontario, Muslim women in polygamous marriages are now receiving welfare benefits. What the....? This is unacceptable. This shows how far we've slid into a moral abyss. If there's one thing us good socialist Canadians care about is our commitment to a secular-progressive, godless nanny state. Onwards comrades! So if marriage is no longer a union of one man and one woman for life, then what is it? Thanks to gay rights, marriage is now a union of two people, any two will do. But why stop there? Why not three people? Why not four, five or six? Why stop at adult human beings? Bestiality as a 'right'? Why not? Just find a lawyer and a sympathetic judge to hear your case and away you go! If pedophiles simply cannot help themselves I suppose we have to recognize their rights as well. Anarchy in the streets and in the courts becomes the natural result. The assault on decency continues.

Let's be perfectly clear: Canada will always have enemies, be they foreign or domestic. We need to stop apologizing for being free. Once you abandon the Biblical standard of truth anything goes. Unfortunately for us, it's the elites that decide the truth for us and we'd better like it. Is this the kind of world you want to live in? Cause that's exactly where we're headed. Truth offends so let's get rid of it. Sacrificing truth upon the altar of expediency for the sake of some kind of illusory harmony is but sheer nonsense.

Johnny Cash

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pakistan Rocks. Who Knew? - Feb 5

This band's name is Aaroh and the song is 'Raag Neela'. Sounds like a really good bar band you'd hear on Queen St. W in Toronto. I don't think Geddy, Alex and Neil have anything to worry about in terms of musical talent. However, what Aaroh lacks in virtuousity they make up for in energy. Thanks to MEMRI for the link.

Johnny Cash

Monday, February 04, 2008

18 Wins, One Giant Upset - Feb 4

What a tremendous game! Even though the first three quarters produced all of ten points between the two teams, I found myself in suspense. The fourth quarter was pure magic. Hollywood would've rejected the script saying it wasn't realistic. Hah! That's never stopped them before! Let's face facts: Tom Brady and company got a good old-fashioned back alley ass kicking New York style. Not pretty but effective. Here's the story from TSN and a cool picture gallery.

The Thrill of Victory

End of game celebrations. From left to right are former Pittsburgh Steeler QB Terry Bradshaw, New York Giants QB Eli Manning and NYG head coach Tom Coughlin.

Hands Off! It's Mine!

David Tyree traps the ball with his helmet over Patriots safety Rodney Harrison's objections. A turning point of the game. An act of sheer desperation that will make the NFL highlight reels for years.

Don't Drop the Baby!

That act of desperation leads to this game-clinching TD catch by Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left. Plaxico was likely suffering from some kind of ankle strain. The pain that these guys have to endure to play this game is incredible.

The Agony of Defeat

Veteran LB Junior Seau of the Patriots lies face down after the loss. Chin up, buttercup! Something tells me the Patriots aren't finished racking up Super Bowl wins just yet.

Johnny Cash