Thursday, September 21, 2006

Choosing Your God Wisely (Reprise)

President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressed the UN yesterday and ended his speech with the following:

"The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.
"He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship? "I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.
"O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause. “

This was a prayer in front of the general assembly by a man who doesn’t believe the holocaust happened, but would be quite happy to duplicate it. Ahmadinejad is also a strong believer in the 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi, who was the 12th Shi’ite leader and who disappeared in 941. He is supposed to return at the end of time to bring in a time of Islamic justice. Apparently he is also heralding the end of the world. The disturbing thing about Ahmadinejad is that he firmly believes that since the Mahdi is to bring order out of chaos, and since his job is to pave the way for the Mahdi’s return, that bringing as much chaos along as possible will encourage the Mahdi to return.

Jesus said that in the last days that many would come claiming to be him and that when people said, “he’s out in the desert” to not run out to see. When He returns, Jesus said, everyone would know at the same time.

Truth, lies, truth, lies. Listening to the news will certainly not bring the hearer the answer. Ahmadinejad is praying for the return of his Imam, his hoped-for savior of his world. We too wait for a Savior. The One who didn’t just disappear, but who left the Holy Spirit so that Jesus Himself is always available to us; we are not abandoned. Uhlike the Jesus mentioned in Ahmadinejad prayer, the real Jesus is not just another admirable prophet in a long line, no, He is the Son of God, fully God and fully man. There is no one else like Him anywhere at any time. He is unique. He came because "God so loved the world that He gave His Son."

Jesus also said that the last dayswould be evil before He returned – He compared them to the days of Noah; he said that if the days were not shortened no flesh would be saved; He asked, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?, and most sobering to me, He said, “because of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” I find that last sobering, because sometimes I, because of the constant evil in the world, get tired of caring about whether or not people end up in heaven or hell. Jesus doesn't ask us to bring chaos so He will come, He asks us to share the good news of the gospel before the end finally arrives, to "seek the lost."

Ahmadinejad and I are not looking for the same Messiah. It is easy to read the words of his closing prayer and think that, the 12th Imam is just another representation of the Jewish Messiah, of the Christian Jesus. But it’s not the same. The 12th Imam is a completely different thing, a belief in someone, but not in Jesus Christ. They can not both be true. On the other hand, Jesus and the Jewish Messiah can be the same; He only needs to be recognized.

In the meantime, I need to constantly be on guard to not have my love for the lost “grow cold” and need to have a heart of compassion (although not acceptance) for Ahmadinejad and all like him who believe in a god and a messenger of that god,who is not the Truth.

We are being brought to a place in our world where we have to evaluate and decide. What religion is the truth? What God are we going to follow? It matters.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Good Neighbors

Three years ago we moved here to our little culdesac and thought that we were just getting a little nicer house (3 bathrooms instead of 1 - yes!) in a little quieter neighborhood. But what we got was dramatically more than that. In our fast-paced, hectic world, we found a great little neighborhood with neighbors that get together for family nights, barbeques, Saturday morning coffee and a helping hand.

I am always thankful for our welcoming little corner of the world. Lots of excitement over the short years. We encourage each other on our deck, floor, carpet remodel projects, watched with great interest the furious speed at which two families redecorated with TLC Trading Spaces.
This summer we spent a week camping together in a mini-culdesac out in the San Juan Islands.

What more does a person need more than the care of God, a loving family, a steaming cup of coffee, a good book, a hot bath and the best set of neighbors in the world. Love Ya L, M, T and J!