Our Easter Celebration Is For You As Well

Allow me to move from Good Friday to Victory of the Risen Lord.

Allow me to move from Good Friday to the Victory of the Risen Lord.

The second chapter of Philippians captures the powerful story of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection:

When the time came, he set aside the privileges of Deity, and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He did not claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life, and died a selfless obedient death – the death of a Crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high, and honored him far beyond anyone, and anything on Earth and in Heaven…”
The Message
Philippians 2: 6-9

When God in Christ took on himself human form, emptying himself of divine privileges, that was a big deal, yet what he did on the cross is the grand miracle of God. From the pain and shame of Crucifixion came the Joy of exaltation. The risen Christ was given a special place in The Kingdom of God, and a final solution to the Human predicament of separation from God, Separation caused by our sin. We now belong to God. In Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, we are sealed as God’s Children.

This grand cosmic miracle has been replaced in our culture by secular celebrations. It is the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ, to lift the Resurrection to the high place it deserves. May we in the days to come declare to our communities and to this world, the Redeeming POWER of Resurrection. And may we as the Redeemed People of God, live our lives as a testament to The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May your Easter Day be Blessed and like none other.

Christus Victor!
Dam G Myers

He is Risen!”
And You say,
“He is Risen Indeed!”

This is the Disneyland A Ticket

Just today I was given the choice of surgery dates. The nurse said, “Dr. Dan you can have Friday, March 25, Good Friday, or Friday April 1, April Fools Day.” I’m going for March 25. -:)

If you have followed my little journey lately you know that I met a whole new set of friends in the medical profession. I’ve been in and out of hospitals thousands of times, but never as a patient. Dr. X was my first new friend, a cardiologist. He’s the fellow that did first the stress test. He came back and said, “you have a little irregularity in the upper part of your heart, let’s do an echo test.” Terrific, it went well but that’s probably because I never heard the results. Dr. X then said, we need to do an angiogram in order to determine exactly where the blockage is and just how severe.”

I’m beginning to think, “Hey, wait a minute, I came in here for a simple little tread-mill exercise and now you’re wanting to stick a wire up my arm with the intention of piercing my heart. How exciting can that be?” Not very! You must remember, this is the doctor that looked like he might be from Iraq. In the beginning I was bold enough to ask, are you from the Middle East? He said, “No, I was born and raised in Texas, but my parents are from Persia.” I smiled and said that would be Iran.” That was just when our sailors were captured on the high seas by Iran. My concern was, this fellow could be a Muslim and everyone in the world knows I have had much to say about the radical Muslims. I wasn’t prepared to enter the surgical den, climb up on the table only to hear him cry ala Akbar from the prep room. I can tell you I would have been off that table with my legs spinning like a squirrel in a cage. But that was not to be. I found peace of mind when I discovered he was a man who loved and served the Lord. Be still my legs, we’ll save them for another day.

He still came back with lousy news’s from his angiogram. He disrespected me when he looked me straight in the eye and said, “If I were his father, he would be giving the same advice, you need a triple by-pass.” I don’t ever remember a seminary course where they even discussed such an event. We talked about how to baptize, marry, bury, dedicate babies and hold people’s hands in the hospitals, but triple bypasses, not on my watch.I never heard of a theological degree in Triple By-passes.

So off I’m farmed to another new friend. I’ll call him Dr. Hacksaw. He’s the surgeon. I’ve looked at all the videos on the web and this guy has a good time slicing and dicing you and you  end up, if your lucky, with this cross-stitch thing on your chest that would make all the ladies in Dorene’s church knitting group envious.

I ask him what would be the most difficult part of the surgery. He said, “That’s probably when we remove the tubes placed around the heart.” He said, “I had one patient who ask for a small towel to put between his teeth so he could bite down at the right moment. But when the moment came, his mouth flew open and he screamed, “Dear God, was it a boy or a girl.” He wanted everyone to know new mothers had nothing on him.”

Anyway, Dr. HS said, “In spite of the blockage, you’re in excellent health and this will be a piece of cake In a matter of weeks you’ll be up and climbing to the Cross each morning as you have for the past five years.

This doctor has an impeccable reputation here in the Coachella Valley. I felt I wanted to know him a bit since we had never met, that is before I loose consciousness. I wanted something more than a professional relationship; you know something a bit personal. So, I ask him if he had a personal of faith, a believer. At first he acted like he didn’t know how to respond. I said, “What I’m asking, are you a Christian, or of the Jewish or Islāmic faith, or maybe something else?” He said, “I’m a Pentecostal believer and did my undergraduate work at Oral Roberts University, a school with one of the finest hospitals and pre-med programs in the country. I helped him understand he can do all of the shouting he wants before the surgery, but in it, a steady hand will do. I’ll do the shouting once he’s finished. He’s a great guy. He strikes me as the sort of fellow you would like to sit down and have a conversation and cup of coffee with.

At the end of the consultation, he asks Dorene and I if we had any other questions he might help us with. I said, “There is just one, have you ever done one of these things before?” He called the nurse to usher us out the door.

Note: you must understand that there is a bit humor in all of this to help Dorene and I prepare for the most physically challenging life event, and that includes flying hang gliders. Humor is left behind as we pray for God’s guidance for the doctor, and grace for the patient. If you pray with us, we will be grateful.

Pastor Dan

600-jesus-484-christ-in-the-operating-room

Confronting a Dangerous End-Time Mentality

 

I hear it all the time, and as quickly as I hear it, I reject it.

I hear it all the time, and as quickly as I hear it, I reject it.

It is a paralyzing, destructive mentality, and it is unbiblical—plain and simple.

I’m talking about the mindset that says, “Jesus told us everything will get worse, so why bother trying to bring about change?”

Can you imagine what church history would like if Paul and Peter felt that way in the first century or if Wesley and Wilberforce felt that way in the 18th and 19th centuries?

Why fight against infanticide in the early church? Jesus said things will only get worse.

Why fight against slavery in Great Britain and America? Jesus said things will only get worse.

Why fight against apartheid in South Africa? Jesus said things will only get worse.

Why even oppose the Nazis? Jesus said things will only get worse.

Do you see how paralyzing this mentality can be?

In response to my video message challenging the Charlotte City Council to vote against an extreme, LGBT activist bill—it was dubbed “the bathroom bill”—someone posted this on my YouTube channel:

“I admire your spirit Dr Brown … but you know this is fighting the Hand of God. Can you possibly win? Can you possibly even HOPE to win? He said that these days will come. So how is it that you, a man who serves that same God, fights against Him? He says it WILL happen, and you try to STOP it. Is that not fighting against God? No. Instead, praise Him because His Word IS Truth, and preach ENDURANCE and LONG SUFFERING and HOPE. Those are better messages. Trying to stop the Word of God, however, … is futile.”

With all respect to the person who posted the comment, this is absolute rubbish.

Fighting the Hand of God? Fighting against God?

Trying to stop the Word of God? Nonsense!

Oh yes, I fully affirm the need to “preach ENDURANCE and LONG SUFFERING and HOPE,” and those themes go hand and hand with our actions in Charlotte.

But the idea that we are fighting against the inevitable collapse of society in our day—even fighting against God—is an idea to be resisted and rejected.

If you don’t mind my asking, please tell me where Jesus said that from the year 2016 until His return, things will only get worse. Would you be kind enough to provide the chapter and verse?

You might reply, “In Matthew 24, Jesus predicted mass deception and mass apostasy,” but it appears you still miss the point.

Aside from asking which portions of Matthew 24 referred more directly to the events leading up to 70 A.D.—in other words, to events that took place almost 2,000 years ago—the obvious question is: How do you know that His words apply to today rather than to 100 years from today? Who gave you the insight that we were in the closing years of the era and that all we could expect was gloom and doom?

If Jonathan Edwards had believed this in the 1700s, he never would have called the churches together to pray for awakening.

The same could be said for every revival in history: If the believers in each generation thought that the apostasy and darkness and moral corruption they were witnessing indicated that Jesus was coming any minute and that positive change was impossible, they never would have sought God for revival and the world would be in massively worse shape today.

I came to faith in 1971 when Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth was all the rage, and we knew that any day now, Jesus was coming back. The signs of the times were all there!

I was 16 at that time. Next month, I turn 61. And Jesus still has not returned.

What makes you so sure that you have figured it all out and that we should simply capitulate and cave in? What makes you so sure that it’s time to throw in the towel and let the devil and the world take over? Is this even a remotely biblical mentality?

You might say, “But things have never been as bad as they are today.”

I suggest you study history more carefully before coming to that conclusion, but even if you’re right, that’s what other generations have said about their days as well, and the Lord moved mightily with great outpouring and harvest.

Who’s to say He hasn’t saved the best for last?

The fact is that a truly biblical mentality is a victorious, faith-filled, overcoming mentality, a mentality of hope and triumph and expectation.

Jesus is risen, and Jesus is Lord!

That’s all I need to know.

And Jesus told us that: 1) All authority is heaven and Earth is His; 2) in His name and authority, we are to go and make disciples of the nations; and 3) He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:18-20).

Where, then, is there room for discouragement? Where, then, is there room for a “throw in the towel” mentality?

And if we are successful in making disciples, won’t that mean that positive change will come?

The biblical mentality is expressed by John, who told us that “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

Or in the words of Paul, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us take off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).

That is how we must live, and that is the attitude we must have as we stand for what is right, regardless of how dire things look and regardless of cost or consequence.

And that means that, until our dying day—or until Jesus returns, whichever comes first—the salt must stay salty and the light must stay bright (Matt. 5:13-16).

How else could a disciple possibly live?

(Click here for my four-minute video commentary on this subject.)

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

 

 

 

Did Bill Bennett Really Write this In Support of Donald Trump?

A very dear and respected friend picked up an article allegedly written by the much-threspected Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, which turns out he is not the author. Bloggers and writers are doing today exactly what people did during the first century. They would write letters and then put the name of a well-respected individual in order to give it credibility and to compete with real writers and genuine letters that would one day become our Holy Bible. When the early church councils and fathers determined what books to include in the Bible, this was one of the first things they looked for. Any book not written by the author ascribed was automatically set aside. This letter allegedly written by Bill Bennett is such a post. It is fallacious without credibility.

The following note and attachments I shared with my fiend. She honestly wants to make the right decision and wondered since the pot is being radically stirred, how can one know whom to vote for? This is my response.

“This is not something just hitting the web. It came from an essay in Nov. 14, 2015 and Bill Bennett had nothing to do with it. We have to be very careful what we read on the web and especially when it doesn’t sound like it came from the attributed writer. Having heard Bennett speak about the Trump’s run, I said to myself, “This can’t be from the Bennett I’ve respected and followed most of his career.” So I did what I usually do when I see something like this come across my screen, I check it with the fact checkers, in this case TruthorFiction.com. If you go to https://www.truthorfiction.com/bill-bennett-theyd-kill-trump-before-they-let-him-be-president/ you will get the truth on this phony piece.

In the beginning I was leaning toward Trump, but the more I listen to his litany of non policy statements and absolute melt downs, e.g., the last debate on Thursday, there is no way I could vote for him in the primaries since we have at least four other candidates that understand and practice Christian values and in my mind have a better chance of beating Hillary in the General. If it comes down to Hillary vs. Trump, I will vote for Trump, but that tells you how strongly I feel about the Clintons and where the Democratic party has gone in leaving planet earth. The Republican party may be no better, but they have candidates running with integrity and character.

Let me invite and encourage you read the next two brief post that follows this one.  The first two articles are written by people I respect and who actually wrote the articles. I have many articles written by people we all respect that are falling on their faces to become Trump supporters. They may be impressive to you. But for all of Trumps lack of humility and business accomplishments, some to be admired and some very questionable, let me share with you just one piece written by a very right of the center politician and who happens to be a Christian not because he waves a Bible and then grossly misquotes it, but because like the other four remaining candidates are Christians as evidenced by their lives and behavior. If values mean anything, you will want to read the following, How Much Must We Compromise Our Values?” And then don’t miss the final link below!

I am not suggesting that the litmus test for candidates is that they must be a born-again believer (that would help until someone reminds us of the peanut farmer), but I am suggesting that a person cannot lie in order to be compatible with the circumstances and people he is with at the time. So if I am wrong in my assessment of The Donald, I pray for handwriting on the wall, a bolt of lightening or any other minor event that might be convincing. Until that happens, I pray for God’s will for the sake of our country,”

Dan

P.S. I’m confident you feel you are overloaded now, but if you are dedicated in your search to find the truth about candidates, then the following will be more important than anything above. See Steve Berman’s

Donald Trump: The Vacillator-in-Chief

If there was even the slightest doubt in my mind (and there wasn’t) about The Donald, last night removed himself from any semblance of civil debate. The fact that both parties gravitate toward the least likely presidential candidates for the presidency baffles people who have the ability to think. Yes, I know what I just said. Sanders is delusional, and Clinton and Trump are missing the truth DNA.

In my view our country could not survive for different reasons if any one of the three, Bernie Sanders, Hillary, or The Donald become president. All three would inherit a disaster that would soon cycle into a national tragedy.

Once again I share with you the astute writing and view of Michael Brown. He carefully articulates the reasons why Trump cannot be the Republican flag bearer if we are serious about America becoming truly great again.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks out over the crowd gathered at a rally at the Turtle Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks out over the crowd gathered at a rally at the Turtle Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill

If Donald Trump ends up being our next president, I will pray that he will be the greatest president we have ever had and I will fervently hope that I’m absolutely wrong about all of my concerns. Until then (or at least until we decide on the Republican nominee), I will sound the alarm and raise my voice as loudly and clearly as I can.

Do not be duped by Donald Trump!

The issue is not whether he’s a true Christian.

The issue is whether he can be trusted and whether we even know what his real positions are.

So I ask you, if you are a Trump supporter, with all respect for your zeal and with affirmation of your frustration with status-quo politics, how can you know what Trump really believes or what he will actually do if elected?

He changes his views from one day to the next—sometimes diametrically—and flatly contradicts his previous positions, then insults and mocks those who challenge him, often in the most puerile ways. No other candidate in memory—perhaps in our nation’s history—has vacillated so wildly and dramatically in such a short period of time.

Trump truly is the vacillator-in-chief.

Let’s remember that we’re talking about who will be the next president of the United States, arguably the most powerful person in the world, so this is not the time for blind loyalty. The stakes are very high.

Please look at the facts honestly, and if you have the courage, look at them through the eyes of a critic or skeptic.

Last week on MSNBC, when pressed by Joe Scarborough, he pledged to stay neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until elected president, not only an ambiguous answer but a weak answer. Less than seven days later, speaking at Regent University, he pledged “100 percent support” for Israel.

Which position, if either is true? What will Trump do if elected? Who knows?

And is it at all curious that on the infamously liberal MSNBC, hardly a pro-Israel bastion, Trump would not openly stand with Israel, while at the famously pro-Israel Regent University, he promised to stand with Israel?

Trump is either lying or vacillating or both, but either way, he’s untrustworthy.

Earlier this month, when asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News if he would nominate Supreme Court justices who supported overturning the Obergefell decision that redefined marriage, Trump said he would “strongly consider” it. Less than one week later, he assured a lesbian reporter that under his administration, there would be great progress for LGBT Americans.

When pressed by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos as to how both of these positions could be true at the same time, he answered (to paraphrase), “Well, it’s a long way off, George, but trust me. We’re going to have great judges and everybody will love them.”

This prompted the gay, PinkNews website to opine, “It’s all very clear: if you’re a lesbian voter he will support your marriage, but if you’re an evangelical voter he’ll oppose lesbian marriage. If you ask on Fox News then he will absolutely consider it, but if you ask on NBC then he hasn’t decided whether he will decide to decide yet.”

Trump also vacillated wildly when asked whether his sister (of pro-partial birth abortion fame) should be nominated as a Supreme Court justice including: yes; no; I was joking; I wasn’t joking; I have no idea what she believes. (This is a partial, very rough summary.) Then add to the mix that, in 2000 he said there should be no abortion litmus test for federal judges.

And the list goes on and on, almost endlessly.

During Thursday night’s debate, Leon Wolf tweeted this quote from Trump: “I have great respect for Justice Scalia,” followed by, “Trump Less than 5 months ago . . . slammed Scalia for not supporting affirmative action.”

Others called him out during the debating for reversing his position on Libya’s Qaddafi, contrasting his remarks in the debate [“(Cruz is) saying I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed that subject. I was in favor of Libya? We would be so much better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now.”] with his 2011 comments that, “Now we should go in, we should stop this guy which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives.”

So, not only did he deny ever discussing the subject—either an outright lie or an example of a terrible memory—but he also reversed his earlier position.

Then there are his contradictory statements on government funded health-care, Planned Parenthood and a host of other important subjects.

As Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (@DunsScottus) tweeted during the debate, “Trump is actually just Sanders in a toupee. ‘I’m gonna give you coverage for pre-existing conditions but no individual mandate.’ Magic!”

Not surprisingly, immediately after the debate, the Cruz campaign released a video from the debate, where, in answer to Cruz’s “true or false” question, Trump said it was “false” that he ever said that the government should pay for everyone’s health care. This was followed by a clip from Trump’s Sept. 27, 2015, 60 Minutes interview in which he stated emphatically that, “The government’s gonna pay for it.”

Speaking of Cruz, let’s not forget Trump’s vacillating comments on him, ranging from: He’s “a little bit of a maniac” to “he has a wonderful temperament, he’s just fine, don’t worry about it,” back to he’s a “Very nasty guy,” a “total hypocrite,” a “liar” and “a very unstable guy” (all in the course of a month).

And we can’t leave out his statements on Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, going from: “I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her” (2012) to: “worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States” (2016).

Shall we also mention Trump’s completely absurd statements, such as his suggestion after the debate that “maybe” he’s being audited because he’s “a strong Christian”?

Or what of Trump’s righteous indignation over former Mexican President Vicente Fox that Mexico is “not going to pay” for that “(expletive) wall?” Trump said to Wolf Blitzer during the debate, “This guy used a filthy, disgusting word on television, and he should be ashamed of himself, and he should apologize, OK?” And he said this with a straight face.

And in a post-debate interview with Chris Cuomo he actually said, “And I could tell you I would not use that word, but if I did use that word, uh, I probably wouldn’t have even been allowed on the stage tonight.”

This prompted Cuomo to laughingly respond, “You do understand there’s a touch of irony in that … .” To say the least!

What’s really sad, though, is the response from his supporters, even when he’s exposed.

I posted this on my Facebook page after the debate: “Come on Trump supporters! Wake up and face reality. You cannot believe what this man says — unless you really believe he’s being audited because he’s a strong Christian. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!”

Trump supporters responded with gems like these:

“Ur a moron and as evil as Obama is” (sic).

“U DONT HAVE A CLUE… TRUMP 100 %… we need a strong man and he is all we have… Christian or not… that is not your call… lol…and who are U…or who do U think U R… an old joke…” (sic).

“Gooo TRUMP!!! Please stop the bashing thank u” (sic).

“And ur a Christian. U prove my point because ur not just a money hog or prob will burn in hell Ur a Christian. Hahaha. Maybe so is Obama Yep same cockroaches” (sic).

“You are a Christian leader on here attacking us on you’re site??? Way uncool?? What other Christian leaders would do this??? Report this site and delete!! U don’t need to be rude!! Not a Christian at all” (sic).

And there was this truly insightful comment: “I spoke to a Trump supporter today and he told me, ‘it’s part of life to flip flop on issues because your learning new things every day.'” Unreal.

One day earlier, I had conducted a poll on Twitter in which the vast majority of those who responded said that, of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Carson, it was Trump who was the least honest. In response to this, the “Trump Revolution” tweeted back, “Bad poll. Trump is the most honest!”

As I said two weeks ago, Trump could say he’s been lying all along and his supporters would commend him for his honesty.

And so, Trump can decisively lose a debate to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz with headlines proclaiming, “Donald Trump Was Badly Exposed,” yet his followers, who apparently dominate Drudge Report, can crown him the overwhelming victor. (When checked at 3:00 AM, EST, the Drudge voters gave Trump 60 percent of the vote with a combined 34 percent going to Cruz and Rubio.)

May I make one more appeal for sober reflection and sanity?

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

Can We Judge the Christianity of Donald Trump?

Another title I might have used for this piece is, “Why I Will Not Be Voting for Trump in the Primaries.”

I find it a little amusing when a person throws up the all world defense by quoting a passage of scripture when it comes to the question about judging, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” After all a person can’t get much better support than the scripture even if it is taken out of context and one’s interpretation contradicts other teaching in that same scripture.

Michael Brown is a man who I have great respect for. Few possess his mastery of both Hebrew and Greek the original languages of scripture. He has also evidenced a lifestyle and ministry that reflects his understanding of that same scripture that is a model for all . In my view he is at the top of my list of those I would want to hear when it comes to that difficult question concerning judging. What he has recently shared in his blog “In The Line of Fire” on Friday, February 19, 2016, you will find below.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets members of the Sun City Republicans after speaking at their gated retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets members of the Sun City Republicans after speaking at their gated retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Donald Trump has challenged the Christianity of Ted Cruz while also raising questions about the nature of Ben Carson’s faith. In the past, he also suggested that President Obama might be a Muslim rather than a Christian. Now, the pope has questioned the Christianity of Trump.

It appears that what goes around, comes around.

Trump’s immediate response was to call Pope Francis’s comments “disgraceful” and to state that, “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

So, Trump can question the faith of others but the Pope cannot question his?

In defense of Trump, Jerry Falwell, Jr., has stated that, “I have no doubts that he is a man of faith, that he’s a Christian.”

Welcome to the 2016 version of the presidential race, representing reality TV at its most unscripted and bizarre.

Two serious questions, though, are begging to be asked.

First, according to the Bible, do we have the right to judge someone’s profession of faith, let alone the mandate to?

Second, if we are called to judge, what are the criteria?

On the one hand, the Bible tells us repeatedly that only God knows the heart and in that sense, only He knows who belongs to Him and who doesn’t. At the same time, the Bible repeatedly calls us to examine what a professing Christian believes and to evaluate how that person lives, to judge the tree by its fruit, as Jesus put it.

Using that criteria, we know, for example, that Richard Dawkins is not a Christian, since he denies the existence of God, the authority of Scripture, and the atoning death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. We also know that Osama bin Laden was not a Christian, since he was a radical Muslim and an unrepentant mass murderer.

In the same way, albeit in a much less extreme fashion, we know that our friendly next-door neighbors are not Christians when they demonstrate no understanding of their own sin, no recognition of their need for forgiveness, and no knowledge of who Jesus really is or why He died on the cross. And we can say this with certainty even if they attend church services every year at Easter and Christmas.

A Christian believes core Christian doctrines and lives a basic Christian lifestyle.

The Christian faith begins with an acknowledgement of our sin and a profession of faith in our Savior and is then evidenced by a godly life – not a perfect life, but a godly life. As Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)

James (Jacob) echoed this saying, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18b).

In other words, talk is cheap. Let’s see how you live.

That’s why Paul could contrast the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:17-23), adding, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).

That’s why Paul could also state plainly that no adulterer or drunkard or practicing homosexual would enter God’s kingdom (among other lifestyles; see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:17-21), also noting, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

How does Donald Trump line up?

We know that in the past he boasted about his numerous adulterous affairs and that he built the first casino in America with its own strip club, actually featuring 36,000 square feet of adult entertainment. Yet he sees no need to ask for forgiveness for these past acts (which are just a small sampling of ungodly behavior) because he is “a very good person.”

This is the opposite of Christianity, which begins with a recognition of guilt and an open confession of our need for forgiveness. As for Donald Trump, at no point in any interview that has ever been conducted with him has he offered the slightest understanding of the heart of the gospel.

That alone would indicate that Trump is a not a real Christian.

As for his conduct, while we have no idea how he lives in private, and while he presumably has many good qualities that are commendable, we do know that his public conduct is often deplorable, with his tweets and comments violating almost every standard of Christian decorum.

This is the standard Paul laid out for followers of Jesus: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29, NIV).

Trump’s vitriolic, nasty, often vulgar, sometimes patently false attacks on others violate this verse from beginning to end, both in spirit and in letter. And remember that it was Jesus who told us that it was out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

Jesus also “told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt [does this sound familiar to you at all?]

‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector [remember that in New Testament times, tax collectors were notoriously corrupt].

‘The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”

‘But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted'” (Luke 18:9-14).

Which one sounds like Donald Trump, the Pharisee or the tax collector? And which is more characteristic of Mr. Trump, the person who exalts himself or the person who humbles himself?

Again, God is the ultimate judge, but He does tell us to judge the tree by its fruit, and that means that Donald Trump could really use our prayers.

You may still plan to vote for him to be president, even though he shows no true signs of being a genuine Christian (although it’s clear he believes he is one). That’s obviously your call entirely.

But let’s not foolishly proclaim him to be a Christian when, until recently, many of his ardent supporters acknowledged that he was not.

And just consider what a world changer Donald Trump could be if he really knew the Lord. Through prayer and God’s mercy, it could happen.

After reading the above insights by Dr. Brown, once again, especially as a minister, I remember the times when those whom I respect have come to me, judged my actions with love and with the support of scripture. Did they have a right to do that? They absolutely did and with the clear instruction of Scripture. Judgment should always be for the purpose of correction giving the person judged the opportunity to seek forgiveness and make things right. It should never be with a critical intent to hu;rt or destroy the person being judged.

Another post that may be of interest i s provided below. Bert M. Farias is the author.

Is This the Biggest Lie the Church Is Swallowing Hook, Line and Sinker?

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The ever increasing popular notion that the church is to have no part in politics is absurd. (Flickr/Creative Commons)
One of the biggest lies the church has swallowed is that politics cannot legislate morality. Yet on the watch of the last two generations, politics has legislated prayer and Bible reading out of our schools, abortion into our clinics and, more recently, same sex marriage into our culture. Why was the church so lame and silent?

Haven’t we learned that when the righteous abandon their responsibilities, the wicked move in?

Yes, the Bible says that we are in the world, but not of it. But Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), and to be salt and light to the world (Matt. 5:13-14). Mind you, this is a direct commandment from the Creator of the universe Himself. So why separate religion or the gospel from politics? Politics is a part of the world.

The ever-increasing popular notion that the church is to have no part in politics is absurd. The notion that presidents don’t need to be morally upright or spiritually minded is delusional.

Why don’t you just vote for the village idiot then? Vote for the adulterer, the thug and the like. I’ve heard it many times already in this election—”we’re not electing a pastor or a priest but a president!” And that lie keeps being repeated by robotic minds who are not thinking for themselves. This train of thought is so contradictory to Scripture and our nation’s history. More on that later.

Would you want your surgeon working on your heart if you knew he had lawsuits against him for malpractice?

Would you want a banker handling your money if you knew he was a thief?

Would you want a baby sitter watching your children who had been charged with pedophilia?

Does character not count?

Then why was God’s nation of Israel, when forming their own government, commanded to elect able men (yes, competence does matter, so don’t accuse me of throwing that out), such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness (Ex. 18:21)? And be mindful that this was not the flow of authority for church government but for Israel’s federal government. We’ve gotten that backward in the church, too. Now we know that God’s practices in the New Testament have changed, but aren’t His principles the same?

It’s not that we’re trying to make our government an entirely Christian government or make every elected official a Christian, but when given a choice, why would a Christian vote for an unrighteous candidate over a righteous one? Why are there still so many in the church who can’t see this and continue to vote for unrighteousness?

This is the very reason we’ve had a horrible spiritual and moral deterioration in our nation for the last eight years. I salute my good friend Dr. Michael Brown for calling out those pathetic pastors for laying hands on Hillary Clinton (“Shame on the Pastors”), and praying blessing over her and declaring how God would anoint her and be a shield of protection for her.

How can these so-called pastors bless a candidate who calls good, evil and evil, good—who is an aggressive pro-abortionist and gay marriage activist, and who lies and cheats and kills? Why? And why do so many so called Christians continue to vote for such candidates of ill repute, election after election?

How many times must you vote for money over morals, competence over character, and party over principle?

I can hear the critics and their robotic babble now holding up their thou-shalt-not-judge card. Who are you to judge? In fact, I’ve been ordained by God to be a judge. Not just because I am a minister, but all God’s saints have this honor (1 Cor. 6:2).

God Himself has set up judges. There’s even an Old Testament book called the book of Judges where He did just that. How much more are we called to judge spiritual matters under the New Testament? This is another one of those lies that unlearned Christians pick up from the world.

Matthew 7:1 is the verse that these people always quote. When Jesus condemned judging, he wasn’t implying we should never make judgments about anyone. After all, a few verses later, Jesus Himself calls certain people “pigs” and “dogs” (Matt 7:6) and “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (7:15). Is He telling us not to do something He Himself did? No. What Jesus condemns is a critical and judgmental spirit, an unholy sense of superiority coming from those who are guilty of the same sin or offense.

Back to my theme on politics and morality and voting for righteousness.

Our earliest presidents and politicians were godly moral men. Our earliest pastors were involved and engaged in politics. There was an overlap of church and state, government and spirituality.

For example, did you know that 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were seminary graduates, and a large majority of the rest of them were committed Christian leaders who spoke boldly about their faith?

The progressives and our humanistic government officials would like us to believe that the framers of the Declaration of Independence were a bunch of secularists and so-called Deists, but it is such a distortion of history. The hijacking of our nation has resulted in many of these elements being removed from our history books.

Here are some quotes from early American presidents:

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”—George Washington

“The Bible is the sheet anchor of our liberties. Write its principles upon your heart and practice them in your lives.”—Ulysses S. Grant

“All the food from the Savior of the world is communicated through this book. All the things desirable to man are contained in it.”—Abraham Lincoln

Fellow Christians, please don’t make the same mistake that many professing Christians made in the last election. Hear me now and hear me well: It was not the lost sinners who determined this president we now have, but it was the church that elected him and they are held accountable. And it shall be the same in this election.

God has taken note of those in the church who have stood in favor of abortion and gay marriage and they are responsible for the apostasy that continues to spread across this nation. They voted for the voice of the deceiver whose smooth words fooled them. Don’t be fooled again. You see, when the church votes for those who favor these abominations, they are guilty of those abominations themselves.

God has been patient and merciful. Make sure you vote for righteousness this time around. As it was with the last election, so it is with this one. God has handed this upcoming election into the hands of the church.

And finally, whatever happens, our trust must be in God and in His kingdom. But as long as we can make an impact for righteousness in this world, we should and are called to do so.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books including The Real Gospel, The Real Salvation, The Real Spirit of Revival, as well as the highly acclaimed My Son, My Son — a beautiful father-son memoir co-written with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation.

Thanks to ‘Transgender Equality’ Laws, Boys Are Now Sharing Girls’ Locker Rooms

Flickr-Gender-Neutral-Restroom

We knew this was coming, and we told you this was coming, yet many people still refuse to believe us.

Even as I write these words, different cities in America are considering dangerous and irrational laws that impose unfair and potentially dangerous burdens on the vast majority of citizens, all in name of helping a tiny number of deeply confused individuals. When will we learn?

To put it simply, you are guaranteeing trouble when you effectively make public bathrooms and locker rooms gender neutral. It is an experiment in social madness, and it is completely without justification, no matter how much we care about men and women who struggle with gender identity issues.

Many of us in the pro-family movement have warned for years that so-called anti-discrimination laws that include “gender identity” and “gender expression” as categories open the door to a host of potential problems and abuses.

First, these laws do not consider the needs of a multitude of women and children who will feel quite uncomfortable when a biological male comes walking into their bathroom or locker room, understandably so. (Note to LGBT activists: The fact that a biological male dresses like a female does not make women and children feel any more comfortable.)

Second, there is no way to keep heterosexual predators out of the ladies’ rooms, since a heterosexual male could simply pose as a woman to satisfy his voyeuristic (or worse) desires.

Yesterday, in Seattle, “A man undressed in a women’s locker room, citing a new state rule that allows people to choose a bathroom based on gender identity.”

As reported by krem.

“A man undressed in a women’s locker room, citing a new state rule that allows people to choose a bathroom based on gender identity.”

As reported by krem.com, “It was a busy time at Evans Pool around 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. The pool was open for lap swim. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, a man wearing board shorts entered the women’s locker room and took off his shirt. Women alerted staff, who told the man to leave, but he said ‘the law has changed and I have a right to be here.'”

Was he transgender? Heterosexual? Something else? Does it matter? If he feels he should be able to use the women’s locker room, he can, and no one can stop him.

In the words of pool regular Aldan Shank, “Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable.”

When I posted this report on my Facebook page, a woman named Kati commented, “This is VERY real. This new policy that was recently adopted by our local YMCA in WA allows for people to use whatever locker room they self-identify with. Just two weeks ago a boy around the age of 13 walked right into the girls side of the women’s locker room. All he did was sit down and scroll through his phone. Little girls where surprised when they came in from showering with their towels wrapped around them to see him sitting there. My daughter was one of those girls. This policy opens the door to those who have malicious intent.”

What kind of lunacy is this?

Last year, at a Planet Fitness gym in Midland, Michigan, Yvette Cormier was in the ladies’ locker room when a man, dressed as a woman, entered the locker room. According to local ABC News, “Cormier, who had been a Planet Fitness member for two months, said she went to the front desk immediately. The man at the desk told her that Planet Fitness policy is ‘whatever gender you feel you are, that’s the locker room you’re allowed to go in,'” she said.

When Cormier warned other members about the Planet Fitness policy, her own membership was revoked.

Even more alarming, in 2012, in Olympia, Washington, female high school students sharing a college campus swimming pool were shocked to see a naked, 45-year-old male student who identifies as “Colleen” sitting in their sauna. (The police report stated that “she” was exposing “her male genitalia.”)

The girls were traumatized and the parents outraged, but college officials said they could not do anything because of state policies against gender-identity discrimination: “‘The college has to follow state law,’ Evergreen spokesman Jason Wettstein told ABC News affiliate KOMO. ‘The college cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state.'”

Adding to the insanity is the fact that it was subsequently discovered online that Colleen also identifies as a lesbian and is strongly attracted to women, in other words, just like most heterosexual males. Yet it is perfectly legal for Colleen to sit in a sauna with naked teenage girls.

Who can possibly justify abuses like this?

Last October, The HuffPost reported, “The University of Toronto (U of T) is temporarily changing its policy on gender-neutral bathrooms after two reports of voyeurism in a student residence.

“Two women showering in Whitney Hall, a residence at U of T’s University College, reported they saw a cellphone reach over the shower-stall dividers in an attempt to record them, in two different incidents, police Const. Victor Kwong told The Toronto Star.”

But of course. Is anyone surprised?

Recently, before speaking at a chapel service for a Christian middle school and high school, I stopped in the restroom, which, I discovered, was in the elementary school wing of the building.

As I walked out, three little boys walked in, perhaps 6 years old.

I thought to myself, “How could any adult possibly think that it is fair to these little boys to have a confused little girl use their bathroom, or a confused little boy use the girls’ room? And how could any adult possibly think that it was fine for a confused (or opportunistic) teenage boy to share a locker room with teenage girls?”

Yet in schools across the nation, this is hardly a theoretical question. In fact, in an extraordinary example of government overreach, last November a headline announced: “Department of Education orders school to allow boys to use girls’ locker rooms, showers.”

It’s time we say, “Enough!”

I urge every man or woman of conscience and decency to stand against these laws while, at the same time, working to help those who are gender-confused get to the root of their struggles.

This social madness must stop.

If you live in or near Charlotte, North Carolina, please take a minute to go to DontDoItCharlotte.com and sign the petition immediately. The City Council, backed by aggressive and well-funded gay activist organizations, is poised to vote this into law on Feb. 22.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

Iraqi Journalist Dispels Myth that ISIS Has No Ties to Islam

Bridgett Gabriel founder of Act For America has explained, the common thread of Islāmic terror groups is that they “drink their Islam straight,” a concept so critical to understanding the mindset of jihadists that I devote an entire chapter to it, in my New York Times Best Seller, “They Must Be Stopped”.

In the IPT article below, Iraqi journalist Fadel Boula addresses this very issue, challenging the claim by many (including President Obama) that jihadi organizations like the Islāmic State (ISIS) have no relationship to Islam. The jihadist of today is literally following the teachings of the Koran — emulating both the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi journalist Fadel Boula challenged the claim that the Islāmic State (ISIS) and other jihadi organizations have no relationship to Islam, in an article featured in Iraq’s Al-Akhbar newspaper and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Boula argued that these terrorist organizations follow a radical Salafi ideology and believe their objectives coincide with Allah’s will and the core tenets of Islam.

“Since its inception, this movement of terror has espoused a Salafi ideology that champions religious extremism, and brainwashed people of all ages have rallied around its flag, [people who were] trained to kill themselves and kill others in order to attain martyrdom,” Boula wrote in the November article, “Does Terror Truly Have No Religion?”

Scholars and observers in the West frequently discount the role of religion when analyzing Islamist terrorist organizations, claiming that religion is simply evoked to galvanize supporters as a means for political ends. That overlooks the firm belief in radical interpretations of Islam shared by the leaders and the rank-and-file within these terrorist movements. They often use political means to achieve religious objectives.

“The terror that is shaking the world today is not a natural disaster like a tornado, a thunderstorm or an earthquake, and it is not perpetrated by savage tribes,” Boula wrote. “It is perpetrated by people who enlist [because they are] inspired by a religious ideology. [These people] advocate enforcing and spreading [this ideology as a set of] dogmatic principles that must be imposed by the force of the sword, and which [mandate] killing, expulsion and destruction wherever they go.”

He described how early ISIS expansion throughout Syria and Iraq emulated pre-modern Islamic conquests.

“The invaders attacked the populace of Mosul and eastern Syria, arrested them by the hundreds, and took a sword to their necks, and later singled out the Christians among them and offered them two options: either convert to Islam or pay the poll tax, as happened to their forefathers when the Arabs attacked their lands in the days of the Caliph ‘Umar Al-Khattab [583-644 AD]. When [the Christians] rejected this humiliation, [ISIS] seized their property, expelled them from their historic home, the province of Ninveh, and sent them to wander destitute under the skies, seeking rescue and safety.”

Some Western leaders, including President Obama and his administration, continue to pretend that ISIS is “not Islamic.” However, a basic understanding of ISIS’ Salafi origins and inspirations confirms that the terrorist organization and its affiliates maintain religious and political objectives that are rooted in extremist interpretations of Islam.

Pro-Abortion Radicals Have Lost Their Hearts and Minds

Since the agenda of Planned Parenthood and one of our political parties are joined at the hip, and since the abortion issue is of major concern in this presidential election, it could be both helpful and instructive to listen and embrace the thinking of Dr. Michael Brown. I offer his article below.

Two tweets in the last week, one from Cosmopolitan and one from NARAL, reveal the depravity of these radical pro-abortionists.

Two tweets in the last week, one from Cosmopolitan and one from NARAL, reveal the depravity of these radical pro-abortionists.

Although the tweet has now been removed, Cosmopolitan sent out this message on Feb. 4: “Texas women are having more babies since Planned Parenthood was defunded,” followed by a sad face. This was linked to a picture featuring the graphic #StandwithPP.

Oh, the tragedy!

Texas women are having more babies.

More children are being spared the horrors of abortion—being sliced up, burned up and sucked into pieces in the womb—and are seeing the light of day.

More mothers and fathers are holding precious little human beings in their arms, crying with joy at the new life they have produced.

What could be more terrible?

But it gets worse and, if possible, even more absurd.

NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, took strong exception to a silly Doritos commercial during the Super Bowl. (Yes, the same Doritos that produced the rainbow-colored, gay-honoring Doritos last year.)

As summarized by Dave Urbanski on The Blaze, “The humorous clip showed a pregnant woman getting an ultrasound of her ‘beautiful baby’—while Dad munched on Doritos chips.

“‘Really? You’re eating Doritos?’ the now-annoyed mother said to him.

“Soon the unborn child on the ultrasound screen was sensing when the chuckling father waved a Doritos chip near Mom’s belly—and the baby instinctively reached for it in the womb.”

And then?

“Bad idea.

“The child had only one place to go, presumably setting a birth in motion (as everyone in the room started to scream).”

Now, before I share what NARAL tweeted, let’s think about this like rational human beings.

What could be so offensive about this comical ad? read more!

Two tweets in the last week, one from Cosmopolitan and one from NARAL, reveal the depravity of these radical pro-abortionists.

Although the tweet has now been removed, Cosmopolitan sent out this message on Feb. 4: “Texas women are having more babies since Planned Parenthood was defunded,” followed by a sad face. This was linked to a picture featuring the graphic #StandwithPP.

image01

Oh, the tragedy!

Texas women are having more babies.

More children are being spared the horrors of abortion—being sliced up, burned up and sucked into pieces in the womb—and are seeing the light of day.

More mothers and fathers are holding precious little human beings in their arms, crying with joy at the new life they have produced.

What could be more terrible?

But it gets worse and, if possible, even more absurd.

NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, took strong exception to a silly Doritos commercial during the Super Bowl. (Yes, the same Doritos that produced the rainbow-colored, gay-honoring Doritos last year.)

As summarized by Dave Urbanski on The Blaze, “The humorous clip showed a pregnant woman getting an ultrasound of her ‘beautiful baby’—while Dad munched on Doritos chips.

“‘Really? You’re eating Doritos?’ the now-annoyed mother said to him.

“Soon the unborn child on the ultrasound screen was sensing when the chuckling father waved a Doritos chip near Mom’s belly—and the baby instinctively reached for it in the womb.”

And then?

“Bad idea.

“The child had only one place to go, presumably setting a birth in motion (as everyone in the room started to scream).”

Now, before I share what NARAL tweeted, let’s think about this like rational human beings.

What could be so offensive about this comical ad?

Nothing graphic or distasteful appears on the screen; the commercial is clearly meant in fun; it shows a normal ultrasound; the big surprise is apparently a baby being born ahead of schedule.

That’s how good Doritos are.

End of subject.

But not for NARAL, which tweeted through the Super Bowl, calling out ads it identified as “sexist” or “transphobic.”

For NARAL, the Doritos’ commercial crossed a line: “#NotBuyingIt – that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight. #SB50https://abs.twimg.com/hashflags/SB50Football/SB50.png”

You might be saying to yourself, “Someone obviously made this up. No one in their right mind thinks like this, not even NARAL.”

I do agree that no one in their right mind thinks like this, but NARAL, sad to say, is not its right mind.

We’ll ignore the ridiculous attack on “sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight,” as if it is “sexist” to have fun with the image of a dad who is not quite used to being in the doctor’s office with his wife during an ultrasound and with a mom who might be just the tiniest bit “uptight” during the process. Oh, the rank sexism of it all!

But what NARAL said about the “antichoice” (= pro-life) “tactic of humanizing fetuses” reminds us that, even more tragically, NARAL does not have a heart.

There’s a reason that the vast majority of women who see their ultrasound choose not to abort their babies.

There’s a reason that expectant moms send out pictures of that ultrasound with the exciting news, “It’s a boy!” (or, “It’s a girl!”), pointing out the little hands and feet and nose and ears.

There’s a reason the wife grabs her husband’s hand and puts it on her stomach as the baby jumps inside so he can experience a little of what she’s feeling as that bundle of new life moves around.

There’s a reason many parents pick a name for their child as soon as they hear whether they’re having a boy or girl, even though there are a few months to go before the little one makes its appearance.

There’s a reason some women will mourn for years over a miscarriage, even if took place in the early months of a pregnancy.

And there’s a reason that pro-abortionists fight so strenuously against laws requiring abortion clinics to show the mother an ultrasound before going ahead with the murderous act.

It’s because that fetus is a human being, carefully formed and made, full of life and potential, the unique creation of God and that mother and father.

And “humanizing fetuses” is no more an “antichoice tactic” than wanting to humanize Jews during the Holocaust in Germany or wanting to humanize Africans during the slave trade in America.

But there is a silver lining to the moral depravity evidenced in these two tweets.

It reminds us of how deeply the pro-abortionists need an encounter with the Lord and how deeply this battle is spiritual more than anything.

The reality is that the heartlessness and mindlessness and anger and depravity of their position comes not only from many rebellious hearts. It also comes from many broken hearts, from the hearts of women masking their deep wounds and pain.

And so, as we expose their lies and work to save the lives of the unborn, let’s also pray for a wave of repentance and salvation to sweep through the people of NARAL and Cosmopolitan and Planned Parenthood and their supporters, both female and male.

Jesus died for their redemption too.

The saving of their lives could result in the saving of many more lives in the womb.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

Explaining the Islamic State Phenomenon

2016-02-02 | Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Part One: Explaining the Islamic State Phenomenon

  • isis_coptsThe Islamic State is a terrorist state with almost all governing elements. Over the last four years, it has developed from an extremist fringe and marginal faction to become the strongest, most ferocious, best funded and armed militia in the religious and ethnic war that is waged today in Syria and Iraq.
  • ISIS rules today over a swath of land bigger than the United Kingdom, with a population of almost 10 million. ISIS changed its name to the Islamic State to illustrate that its goals are not limited to Iraq and the countries of the Fertile Crescent.
  • Since the fall of Muslim empires and supremacy, Muslim scholars and philosophers have tried to understand the reasons behind its collapse. The conclusion of most was that Muslim civilization had drifted away from the teachings of the Koran and adopted foreign and heretical inputs that had destroyed its fabric. The remedy they proposed was to return to “pure Islam” and reconstruct Muslim society.
  • After the U.S. occupational authority in Baghdad disbanded the Iraqi army in May 2003, thousands of well-trained Sunni officers were robbed of their livelihood with the stroke of a pen, creating some of America’s most bitter and intelligent enemies. In addition, many Islamic State terrorists spent years in detention centers in Iraq after 2003.
  • Never in the modern history of the Muslim world has a conflict drawn so many jihadists, who seek to participate in the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate to rule the world after the defeat in battle of the Western powers and their local Arab allies.
  • For many, life in the Islamic State is better than in their country of origin. This is particularly the case for Chechen fighters who flock to the IS because the conditions of combat in Iraq and Syria are less harsh than against the Russians.

Much has been written about the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (the Levant) — ISIS. Most of the analysts have looked at ISIS as another terrorist organization, an al-Qaeda off-shoot, waging a guerrilla war with cohorts of unorganized thugs. The Afghani-style gear, the pickup trucks, the all black or army fatigue uniforms that most ISIS fighters wear, the unshaven beards, the turbans, hoods and head “bandanas” with Arabic inscriptions have added to the confusion.

In fact, ISIS is much more than a terrorist organization; it is a terrorist state with almost all governing elements. Over the last four years, since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, the Islamic State developed from an extremist fringe and marginal faction participating in the civil war to become the strongest, most ferocious, best funded and armed militia in the religious and ethnic war that is waged today in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS rules today over 300,000 square kilometers, a swath of land roughly bigger than the United Kingdom with a population of almost 10 million citizens. In the course of its first year of expansion, ISIS has changed its name to the Islamic State, a choice made to illustrate that its goals are not limited to Iraq and the countries of the Fertile Crescent. Moreover, the IS caliphate now has 10 branches, following pledges of allegiance in the past few months from new fronts including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and, most recently, the Caucasian Emirates.

Factors behind the Establishment of the Islamic State

To understand the IS phenomenon, it is crucial to examine the factors that contributed to its emergence.

Since the fall of Muslim empires and supremacy, Muslim scholars and philosophers have tried to understand the reasons behind its collapse, its domination by Western Powers, its colonization and its incapacity to reproduce the genius that so much characterized the Muslim civilization following the conquests that stretched the Muslim lands from Spain to India, West Asia, and China. Most, if not all the scholars tried to analyze the characteristics behind the “Golden Age” of Islam and why at a certain point, the Muslim world stopped producing innovations in science, medicine, algebra, mathematics, military warfare machines and graphic arts. The conclusion of most was that Muslim civilization had drifted away from the teachings of the Koran and adopted foreign and heretical inputs that had destroyed its fabric. The remedy they proposed was to return to the “pure Islam” which would heal the wounds and respond to the West by first reconstructing the Muslim society according to their raw interpretation of the Koran and organizing to defeat Western power.

Indeed, since the fall of Muslim Spain in the fifteenth century and especially since the beginning of western colonization of Muslim territories, the Muslim world has witnessed the rise and fall of successive radical movements whose prime aim was to combat the West while regenerating the original Muslim society of Prophet Mohammad which was thought to be the cure for all ailments. Muslim thinkers like Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (late 19th century), Muhammad ‘Abduh (19th century), Sayyed Qutub (20th century), Muhammad Iqbal (early 20th century), and the Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi in Sudan (19th century) are only a few examples of Muslim radicals who inspired upheavals against Western powers. ISIS is but another refined product of the radicalization of the Sunnis in West and Central Asia.

Since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, foreign military intervention in the latter part of the 20th century, be it Soviet or American , was greatly responsible for the awakening of Sunni radicalism in West and Central Asia and to its expression today as a Holy War against the West, its allies and Israel. The perception that the West led by the United States are the new Crusaders trying to subdue Islam has nurtured extremists ideologies and created many militant organizations whose mission is to fight “the infidels.” This perception should be considered to be at the root of the creation of Al-Qaeda whose raison d’être is to fight the West and to strive to re-create a Muslim ( Sunni ) caliphate in the areas extending from North Africa to “Ma wara al Nahr,” meaning Central and Eastern Asia, the historical boundaries of the once Islamic empire.

The civil war in Syria transformed very quickly into a radical Sunni armed insurrection against the Alawite Iranian-backed Assad regime. The Muslim Brotherhood, which led the battle against the regime at the beginning of the conflict, was soon joined by radical organizations financed not only by Saudi Arabia and Qatar but also by other actors such as the United States, UK, France and Turkey. Qatar alone is said to have poured into the conflict more than $500 million. The Syrian scene provided all the ingredients for the radicalization of Sunni organizations. The Syrian civil war is an “all-in-one” situation in which all the previous factors are involved: foreign presence, Sunnis against Shiites, Iran and Hizbullah, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the United States, France and Turkey and an international coalition led by the United States fighting Islamic militants in the lands of Islam.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund Islamic organizations all over the world, nurturing mainly the Salafi-Wahhabi schools at the expense of traditional and moderate Islam. Most of the Muslim states have been exposed for a long time to Wahhabi proselytism that is by essence opposed to the “moderate” Sufi Islam practiced in North Africa. No wonder after the revolution in Libya and the takeover of Mali by Islamic fundamentalists, the Muslim militants destroyed all religious shrines, an exact copy of the reality in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, it appears now that Saudi Arabia is apprehensive of what seems to be the result of its actions: One of the biggest contingents fighting in Syria and Iraq is Saudi (almost 2,500). As a consequence of the assessment that these Jihadist organizations could harm the monarchy, Saudi Arabia and all Gulf states have adopted a sort of “Patriot Act” and designated all those volunteers as terrorists.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has also played a major catalyst role in contributing to the polarization of the Muslim world into two rival camps, Shiites and Sunnites. Since the beginning of the Khomeini takeover in 1979, Iran has been preaching a pan-Islamist ideology while sealing alliances with Islamic movements in the Arab world, Africa, and Asia. Iran concealed its Shiite philosophy and succeeded in creating the illusion that it was transcending its origins and its identity as a Shiite entity. It was not until the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring” that the Arab nations realized the Iranian scheme. The war in Syria and Iran’s open alliance with the Assad regime and the Shiite regime in Baghdad, Iran’s subversive activity in Lebanon through Hizbullah and the Houthis in Yemen, unveiled the implications of the Iranian contribution: the transformation of local conflicts in West Asia into a Shiite-Sunni open conflict over hegemony. Moreover, the Arab perception that the U.S. administration was looking to mend the fences with Iran at the expense of it historical clients in the Middle East accelerated the crisis between the Arab world and Iran and justified in the eyes of many the armed struggle waged by the Islamists against Iran and its allies in the region.

Another factor in the rise of the Islamic State is the so-called “Arab Spring” which was the expression of the failure of the Arab nation-states. The events in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen were exploited by Islamic militant movements which found the right opportunity to rise from their clandestine activities after years of oppression and persecution by the different Arab regimes to the forefront of the political struggle for power. Years of military rule did not eradicate the Islamic political forces that had remained in the shadow and camouflaged themselves under the cover of charitable organizations, social assistance and non-profit entities. However, after a first round in which the Islamists seemingly won in Tunisia and Egypt, the secular forces backed by the military succeeded in overcoming the Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood was dealt a heavy blow both in Syria and Egypt. However, the different regimes were unsuccessful in eradicating the plethora of militant terrorist Islamic organizations that are still conducting their deadly attacks against the different regimes. Some regimes survived – even though deeply shaken and destabilized – like Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco – while others like Libya deteriorated into failed states, and others are struggling for their survival such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

The second American war in Iraq in 2003 dealt a death blow to the Sunni minority that had ruled Iraq since its separation from the Ottoman Empire by British colonialism. The Americans, striving to establish a new world order with democratic regimes as a copy of the West, established an unprecedented Shiite regime which in turn discriminated against the Sunnites who found themselves out of jobs, positions, army command, and Baath party offices. Paul Bremer, then head of the U.S. occupational authority in Baghdad, disbanded the Iraqi army in May 2003. Thousands of well-trained Sunni officers were robbed of their livelihood with the stroke of a pen. In doing so, America created its most bitter and intelligent enemies. This was the fertile ground that welcomed Al-Qaeda and allowed the symbiosis between the Sunnite opposition to the Shiite regime and the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Until the schism with ISIS in 2013, Al-Qaeda was, in fact, the sole quasi-military opposition to the U.S.-led coalition campaign:

Amazingly, the Islamic State terrorists who have emerged in Iraq and Syria are not new to the U.S. and Western security agencies. Many of them spent years in detention centers in Iraq after 2003. “There were 26,000 detainees at the height of the war,” the New York Times reported, “and over 100,000 individuals passed through the gates of Camps Bucca, Cropper, and Taji.” The leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was incarcerated in Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. “A majority of the other top Islamic State leaders were also former prisoners, including Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, Abu Louay, Abu Kassem, Abu Jurnas, Abu Shema and Abu Suja,” the Times detailed. “Before their detention, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and others were violent radicals. Their time in prison deepened their extremism and gave them opportunities to broaden their following.”

Unfortunately, the phenomenon went unnoticed for most American decision makers. “The prisons became virtual terrorist universities,” the Times reporters Andrew Thompson and Jeremi Suri wrote. “Policies changed in 2007… Where possible, the military tried to separate hardline terrorists from moderates.” But after the American withdrawal these prisoners were placed in Iraqi custody. The Islamic State freed these extremists as they swept across parts of Iraq. “With a new lease on life,” the New York Times reported, “these former prisoners are now some of the Islamic States’ most dedicated fighters.”

Never in the modern history of the Muslim world has a conflict drawn so many jihadists as is the case with the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars, surpassing wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Since the outburst of the conflict in Syria in 2011 and the 2014 takeover of Mosul by the IS (the Islamic State), Syria and Iraq have become the epicenter of the global Jihad. Thousands of jihadists originating from more than 90 different nationalities have flocked to Syria and Iraq to be part of the battle against the Assad regime and the Shiite regime in Iraq. The latter two are reinforced by Hizbullah and Iran.

The jihadists seek to participate in the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate to rule the world after the defeat in battle of the Western powers and their local Arab allies. The attraction the Islamic State is exercising on Sunni Muslims around the globe and jihadists in the Arab and Muslim world is tremendous. The Islamic State has become the beacon to rally thousands of militants in Iraq, Syria and around the globe.

The attraction is not limited in space or time. The movement is in Europe, the United States, Australia, Xinyang and also in the Arab world and Africa. As a matter of fact, most of North Africa’s jihadist groups were hesitant to associate themselves with the Islamic State until the United States commenced its military intervention in Iraq and Syria in August 2014.