Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Thursday, November 10, 2005

When Other People’s Crisis Bleed into Your Life

Have you ever noticed that your own mess does not bother you nearly as bad as trying to deal with other people’s mess? There are a number of reasons for this and if we are going to deal with these stressors brought on by others effectively, we will need to understand both the nature of, and our response to these crisis situations.

The fact is that the very thing we treasure so highly is the very cause of all of the stress in our lives. What is that precious treasure? It is man’s free will, our freedom to make choices in our lives. Now it is not so bad when the hardship that we are dealing with is brought on by a choice that we can correct and thus head off further destruction, but when that course seems to either be too long lived to do anything about, or in the hands of others that really have no desire to change, or just don’t care that you are going through what you are, it can seem devastating.

Probably some of the most destructive forms of this callousness is seen in alcoholics, drug users and even more blatantly those that would be so uncaring as to spread STD’s in their passion for power. In some sense all of the people involved in these kinds of activities are blind and/or numb to the dominos that they have put in motion. The pain and suffering they cause to all that are around them is real. But the pain and suffering of others does not seem to bother the “escapist,” the “devastated” or the “power hungry”. These are the three categories of people that cause the most destruction in their own, and other people’s lives.

The escapist is the person that just wants to “escape” reality at any cost. These are people that revert to alcohol, chemical and substance abuse. Somehow these folks are just unable to deal with living and they feel their only recourse is to attempt to escape.

The next group is the “devastated.” These folks having been devastated, receive that as an example for living and feel they have to give as much hurt as they receive, just to relieve the tension and the stress from their own life. These people sense the need to get rid of the pressure but just don’t understand healthy ways to work through the harm that was perpetrated on them. While we don’t have space here to go into detail, the very best way to heal the hurt in ones self is to help heal the hurt in others.

Lastly the “power hungry” are folks that have prioritized the acquisition of power over any acquiescence to people. In other words this person hungers for power and it does not matter that he may hurt people in the process. Its just all in a days work. The root of this issue is a self love that overshadows any form of genuine love for others.

Having been raised by an alcoholic and prescription drug addict, I have the credentials to speak to the subject with some authority. Further, as a pastor, I have personally witnessed many lives destroyed and many others left seriously wounded by those only focused on the next “escape” or the next “power fix”. Sometimes these situations are dangerous and people have to respond quickly and appropriately to protect themselves and others. Other times however people in typical knee jerk form move in nothing more than a “reaction” to resolve their immediate problem, without consideration of what the long term results may be. It is important to step back, breath deep and in an effort to remove yourself from that emotion, try to ask yourself how you would advise someone else going through this same circumstance. My advice is always the same: “go to the word of God.”

Most of us have in our possession, the great “Answer Book” and yet we will strike at the wind and do many other equally ridiculous things in an effort to both justify ourselves and get back at the one that has hurt us so deeply. As a result we add to the destruction and compound the problems in ways that we could not have imagined, when we recklessly CHOSE to respond the way that we did.

So here is the bottom line. Some things we can not control and those we must choose to deal with Biblically if we are to avoid the most common pitfalls of man. Others we can control and this is true 100% of the time with regard to how we respond to crisis. If we have brought it on ourselves, we can seek as best we can to set things right. The problem with this is that the longer the event goes on unaddressed, the harder emotionally it is to go back. But when it comes to the question of your pride or your relationships, it really should not even be a question. Sadly, the reality is that pride often wins out!

From the Christian perspective where are we to begin? First understand that Christ is with you always. Now if you really think about that, it is a daunting thought. But it is also a very reassuring reality if you have put your trust in Him for today. We live in an age where self assurance is honored, dependency is dishonored and where a genuine trust of Christ for the next move can result in guys with white coats and nets pursuing us.

Oh, it is true that if you are trusting Christ in the good time that others will applaud your great faith. But when crisis hits and all seems out of control the world will belittle and chide that faith as a failure if your health fails, your money gives out or your friends desert you. But hang on. Matthew 5:11 says “Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…”. Keep the faith. Know that God can deliver you if that is what is genuinely best for you, and that He will keep you in and through all things in the palm of His most powerful hand.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Truth, Justice and the Islamic Way

With all the talk between Prince Charles of England and President Bush concerning our response to Muslims, Christians need to once again survey the facts and not get caught up in the politics of the issue. Since 911 Christians have been indicted by our politically correct sense of “fairness and Christian ethic” concerning any bias or prejudice that we are perceived to have against Muslims. We are told that the Christian response to Muslims should be one of tolerance and acceptance of their beliefs and the traditions of their religion. The problem with this position is that it is neither Christian nor properly tolerant and further it in no way reflects the agape love that we as Christians are commanded to manifest as part of our lives and commission (Matt. 28:18 & 19) – assuming that we really believe what we say we believe.

The unwritten bible on political correctness, it seems has taken precedence over the Word of God and even our common sense. While the dumbing down of the Christian faith and our own ignorance of Islam are further complications in our understanding of the real issues, there is still no excuse of our allowing ourselves to be guilted into the passivity of sterility.

The Koran in Sura 9 (and a host of other places) calls on all Muslims to kill Christians and Jews. This is not a veiled or secret message buried in the text, but a direct instruction to all Muslims with regard to how they are to respond to all Christians and all Jews (those they see as the enemy of Islam). It seems self evident that the “acceptance” and “tolerance” of this doctrine by Christians is both absurd and suicidal. It should also be noted that this is a doctrine of the holy book of Islam and that as such it is not the radical Muslims that are involved in this practice, but rather the faithful, orthodox, and true believers in Islam. It is thus those that practice something other than these murdering acts, that are “bad” Muslims – though they may be genuinely good people.

While President Bush, who I often find myself in agreement with, says that those who killed us in the 911 attacks were not practicing the tenants of true Islam, that statement may be politically expedient, but it does not correspond to what Mohammad actually wrote and taught. The fact is that those that planned and executed the horrible acts perpetrated on us in New York City were carrying out the purest modern form of the teachings of the Koran.

Salvation in Islam can in fact only be sure IF the person seeking salvation dies in the act of killing Christians and/or Jews. Contrast this with the Christian faith that points to the historical and sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for all, that we may LIVE eternally. One is a religion of hate and death, and the other a relationship with the one that concurred death for ALL who would choose Him, and offers Himself as “the Life”.

Since Islam does not hold to the resurrection of Jesus and in fact teaches that He was only a lesser prophet to Mohammad, we must ask if we even worship the same God. How could a consistent, holy, righteous god give us conflicting exclusive truth claims concerning something as crucial as the path to eternal life. Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except by Him. This exclusivity specifically eliminates any possibility of the God of the Bible being the God of Islam. It, in fact presents gods of opposite nature, characters and intents for all mankind. Because we share a common heritage in Abraham, does not necessarily equate to the worship of the same God.

There is however a truth professed by Muslims that we as Christians must face which, if we are honest, can right our understanding of tolerance and our ministry to Muslims who we are commanded to love and reach with the love of Christ. That truth is that we have allowed ourselves in many cases to be as deceived as we claim they are. We have been deceived into believing that our mission as Christians is to passively allow the truth to go unspoken even when it means these we are commanded to love, are destroying themselves in the vain hope that their destruction and the destruction of others will gain their entry to heaven. If this deception is not revealed and righted with truth, many more Muslims, Christians and Jews will die in the vain hope of one’s salvation by destruction.

Christians must “speak the truth in love,” love those that have chosen to be their enemies, and share the truth of that love in the face of those seeking to destroy them. Culture is not the issue. Skin color is not the issue and oil is not the issue. Truth is the issue. Truth, when spoken in love, does in the long run defeat hatred and in this case is the only answer to the destructive deceptions of orthodox Islam, which led to 911, 311 and the ongoing attacks around the world. There simply are no shortcuts. Anything less than the truth is perceived to be a weakness to be capitalized on. Speaking with political correctness at a time like this may be popular, but it is not ultimately productive in a way that in the end will provide a platform for genuine healing. Bandaids don’t deter bombs. We must love the people, and heal ALL the deceptions on both sides by addressing the real issues, and that only happens in the blatant light of the truth.