100 years of Communism in America

Aaron Russo, manager of Bette Midler and producer of Trading Places starring Eddie Murphy, produced America: Freedom to Facism in 2006 a year or so before he died.

The 2 hour 26 minute film is basically an expose of two of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto … the Central Bank in the form of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and a graduated progressive income tax in the form of the Revenue Act of 1916.

Five Pillars of Islam

Shahada: Faith

Shahada is a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God  (Allah) and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. “There is no god but God (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is essential to utter it to become a Muslim and to convert to Islam.

Salat: Prayer

Salat (ṣalāh) is the Islamic prayer.  Salat consists of five daily prayers according to the Sunna; the names are according to the prayer times: dawn, noon, afternoon, evening, and night.  All of these prayers are recited while facing in the direction of the Kaaba  in Mecca and forms an important aspect of the Muslim Ummah. Muslims must wash before prayer; this washing is called “purification”. The prayer is accompanied by a series of set positions including; bowing with hands on knees, standing, prostrating and sitting in a special position (not on the heels, nor on the buttocks). A Muslim may perform their prayer anywhere, such as in offices, universities, and fields. However, the mosque is the more preferable place for prayers because the mosque allows for fellowship.

Zakāt: Charity

Zakat or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth. The word zakāt can be defined as purification and growth because it allows an individual to achieve balance and encourages new growth. The principle of knowing that all things belong to God is essential to purification and growth. Zakāt is obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. It is the personal responsibility of each Muslim to ease the economic hardship of others and to strive towards eliminating inequality.  Zakāt consists of spending a portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, like debtors or travelers. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity, rather than to achieve additional divine reward.

There are five principles that should be followed when giving the zakāt:

  1. The giver must declare to God his intention to give the zakāt.
  2. The zakāt must be paid on the day that it is due.
  3. After the offering, the payer must not exaggerate on spending his money more than usual means.
  4. Payment must be in kind. This means if one is wealthy then he or she needs to pay a portion of their income. If a person does not have much money, then they should compensate for it in different ways, such as good deeds and good behavior toward others.
  5. The zakāt must be distributed in the community from which it was taken.                Read the full article

 

 

Til We Have Built Jerusalem

Oh Jerusalem, city of the ages! Jerusalem, sorrow of the years and hope of the ages.  From Jesus’ cry recorded in Mathew 23 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling”, to John’s vision in Revelation 21; “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”, Jerusalem has captured man’s imagination and heart like no other city.

Abraham was “looking for a City with foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God”, and that city was this City of God we figuratively call New Jerusalem.

God’s people in the Old Testament era anticipated a time when “the law shall go forth from Zion (Jerusalem)”. The hope of the Jews was then and now is that Jerusalem will be a city set upon a hill, and that the wealth of all the nations would stream into it.

Jesus pointed to a greater reality.  Jerusalem would be sacked in 70 AD, and the word would be spread throughout all the world.  The woman at the well in John 4 said to Jesus:

20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

This leads us to Wiliam Blake’s poem Jerusalem. Rarely have words been put to pen that best expresses the Christian vision of Jerusalem, not as localized city in the Middle East but as symbol for a new kind of city, the City of God rather than the city of man’s sorrow.

First printed in 1808, Blake’s poem was set to music and made an anthem.  Upon hearing the orchestral version for the first time, King George V said that he preferred “Jerusalem” over the British national anthem “God Save the King”. “Jerusalem” is considered to be England’s most popular patriotic song; The New York Times said it was “fast becoming an alternative national anthem.” The internationally acclaimed film Chariots of Fire got its title from the third stanza of the poem.

What I find appealing is the very incarnational approach to Jesus in Blake’s words;

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

Blake envisions the incarnate Son of Man walking in England as any man would walk. Then he moves to speak of the Satanic Mills, the ugly world of Industrialism and how Jesus had been eclipsed by the monstrous machine of factory work and conditions.

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

But Blake turns to a fighting spirit to transform things, to as the Apostles were accused of in Acts 17:6, “turn the world upside down”.

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

Finally Blake lets loose upon the English speaking world of the last 200 years his culminating vision, Jerusalem built in England, in Blake’s own land, as it would be in every man’s land throughout the world.

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a leaven, it starts small but in the end leavens the whole lump.  This is Blake’s vision.  May the church recapture this historic vision, and leave behind the hope of that has become too entrenched in the church, the hope of going to heaven when we die and of waiting on earth until Christ comes back in a blaze of glory to change things.  This hope is more mental flight than the “Mental Fight” Blake heralds.

Jesus reigns in His Kingdom

Why is Jesus resurrection so vital to Christians :

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live   (John 11:25 )

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1Corinth 15:14)

and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Roman 1:4)

 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[c] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” (1Corinth 15:23-27)

 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrew 12:2)

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1Corinth 15:58)

 

Blake’s Tyger and the Lion of Judah

William Blake’s The Tyger ( 1794)  is the most popular poem in the English language, anthologized more often than any other poem.

When reading the poem today the dread and awe evoked by Blake’s words in The Tiger, the tiger being one of God’s fiercest creations, seemed to provide a window into God’s creation of another, more terrifying creation.  That is not a creation so much as an incarnation, the Word being made flesh in the Son of Man.

The Western church during the last 100 years at least has been so enamored of the softer side of  the Christ, the lamb of God, the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” of Charles Wesley’s hymn. This picture of Jesus has developed out of the liberal trends since the late 1800s, emphasizing the love of Jesus for man.

In contradistinction to this, since the late 1970s or so there has come a movement, in the conservative, evangelical and Pentecostal churches at least, to lift up the harder side of Christ, the Lion of Judah.  This has been a healthy development, but the focus has relegated this side of Christ to His Second Coming, when he will come in wrath to judge the nations.

But there is an older tradition, running through the church for centuries, of Christ as Lion not just at His Second Coming, but also at his Ascension and Session at the right hand of God, in his subjecting all his enemies under his feet in history, in time and space.

So today let’s look at Blake’s Tyger and explore how we can see the Lion of Judah in its place.

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

We think of the Son of Man, his beauty as a creation of God, his power and glory while on earth and after His resurrection. We focus on Jesus as 100% man, though he is at the same time 100% God.  As man he is a fearful creation, really an incarnation, but a creation in a sense, the pinnacle of all creation, not just man but man in all the wonder that God intended man to be.

“In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?”

God seems distant, but in Jesus the man He came close, “emmanuel” the Lord with us.

“And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?”

It’s as if Jesus was created the babe in the manger, grew up the boy from Nazareth, suffered and died on the cross.  But that was merely prelude.  He then in maturity grew into the man who was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is now subjecting all his enemies under his feet (I Corinthians 15:25).

“What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!”

Psalm 2 illuminates this terrifying side of Jesus.  The most basic religious instinct is of the dread and awe of the wholly and holy Other.

1 Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”

He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

“When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”

We cannot help but think the power of Blake’s words are drawn from the Bible.  The great literary critic Northrup Frye in The Great Code explores the prevalence of Biblical themes throughout English literature. Blake must have drawn his imagery here from the likes of Revelation 5.

Revelation 5 – The Lion Is a Lamb

1-2 I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One Seated on the Throne. It was written on both sides, fastened with seven seals. I also saw a powerful Angel, calling out in a voice like thunder, “Is there anyone who can open the scroll, who can break its seals?”

There was no one—no one in Heaven, no one on earth, no one from the underworld—able to break open the scroll and read it.

4-5 I wept and wept and wept that no one was found able to open the scroll, able to read it. One of the Elders said, “Don’t weep. Look—the Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David’s Tree, has conquered. He can open the scroll, can rip through the seven seals.”

6-10 So I looked, and there, surrounded by Throne, Animals, and Elders, was a Lamb, slaughtered but standing tall. Seven horns he had, and seven eyes, the Seven Spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came to the One Seated on the Throne and took the scroll from his right hand. The moment he took the scroll, the Four Animals and Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Each had a harp and each had a bowl, a gold bowl filled with incense, the prayers of God’s holy people. And they sang a new song:

Worthy! Take the scroll, open its seals.
Slain! Paying in blood, you bought men and women,
Bought them back from all over the earth,
Bought them back for God.
Then you made them a Kingdom, Priests for our God,
Priest-kings to rule over the earth.

11-14 I looked again. I heard a company of Angels around the Throne, the Animals, and the Elders—ten thousand times ten thousand their number, thousand after thousand after thousand in full song:

The slain Lamb is worthy!
Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength!
Take the honor, the glory, the blessing!

Then I heard every creature in Heaven and earth, in underworld and sea, join in, all voices in all places, singing:

To the One on the Throne! To the Lamb!
The blessing, the honor, the glory, the strength,
For age after age after age.

The Four Animals called out, “Oh, Yes!” The Elders fell to their knees and worshiped.

“Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Paul Craig Roberts was the creator of “Reaganomics” and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan.  He was an insider who is now turned outsider.  Upon speaking out against the administration that crossed both Republicans and Democrats, Roberts was blacklisted from the establishment he had turned on.

According to Roberts;

“The corrupt capitalism that rules in America has no interest in life, only in profit. Profit is all that counts. If entire countries are destroyed and left in ruins, all the better for American armaments industries.” The U.S. is involved in a “reckless, insane drive for world hegemony emanating from the crazed, evil criminals in Washington who are driving the world to Armageddon.”

Read full article here

Spurgeon On World Transformation

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is considered the “Prince of Preachers” by many in the last 100 years.  He was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years.  As well known as he is among pastors, many would be surprised at the following quote of him;

“It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of this world never could become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in without own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine. I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished.  The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

A careful reading of this excerpt of his writings indicates that he had an optimistic view of the advance of Christ in this world, and that to think otherwise would be to demean God and the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 11:15 “the kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” meant to Spurgeon apparently that the kingdoms of this world are now, in history, before the second coming of Christ at the end of history, becoming the Kingdom of God.