“…Communist regimes…turned mass crime into a full-blown system of government”. The estimated death toll totals 94 million, not counting the “excess deaths” (decrease of the population due to lower than-expected birth rates).”
Here is a summary of the carnage from the book:
65 million in the People’s Republic of China
20 million in the Soviet Union
2 million in Cambodia
2 million in North Korea
1.7 million in Africa
1.5 million in Afghanistan
1 million in the Communist states of Eastern Europe
1 million in Vietnam
150,000 in Latin America
10,000 deaths “resulting from actions of the international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power.”
“Courtois claims that Communist regimes are responsible for a greater number of deaths than any other political ideal or movement, including Nazism. The statistics of victims includes executions, intentional destruction of population by starvation, and deaths resulting from deportations, physical confinement, or through forced labor.”
So with the naked facts painting a evil and horrific picture of communism. Why do many today still have dinner conversations like, “Do you think Jesus was a communist?” or ‘I think the early church practiced communism…” Those statements are as naive and uneducated as hearing, “I wonder if Jesus and the early church were mass murderers?” and “I think Jesus would want us to promote a system that grants the State power to coerce and starve it’s citizens.” Why would the Dalai Lama support suggest a horrifying philosophy? Perhaps he’s lost his mind. Perhaps he’s getting old. Perhaps he needs to go to college.
The problem is the “redefining of history” and the redefining of words. Fifty years of progressive education has indoctrinated and brainwashed a generation into thinking the word communism and Marxism are synonymous with “Giving” and “Generosity.” They are not. Was the early church generous? Yes. Were they radically ‘others-focused” with their personal individual possessions? Yes. Did they promote and encourage the State to steal from one group and give to another? Never. Would any of the disciples say, “We were practicing communism?” Not a chance.
Christianity is a thinking religion. A rational mysticism. An empirical, historic event based on the facts of history -most notably the literal, physical, and documented resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s not fall for the perfect murder by dialing “M” for Marxism. Let’s remember the “M” stands for MURDER.
For more information about what the Bible teaches about liberty, prosperity, and generosity, check out www.godonomics.com For a lighter take on Marxism, check out the video below.
Chris Matthews said that Weiner was in trouble because his behavior offends ‘culturally backward’ Christian conservatives. Hmmmmm? If being offended by someone texting their “birthday suit” and undies to women they’re not married to is backward, then I guess I’m one of those people stuck in reverse. I was under the impression that when you are married, you are actually committed to the one you love. I am one of those silly upside-down people who thinks that faithfulness and purity are good things. Yes, silly me. Silly rabbit, morals are for kids. Morals are not for educated and sophisticated politicians and TV hosts. No, no. They know so much more than we do. They are so far “ahead” of us and so far above us that we wouldn’t understand. Apparently the new trend is to identify black as white and light as dark.
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21
The Bible offers us a template for responding to immorality. Whether that immorality is a neighbor, a leader, or a politician, how should we respond to Matthews’s arrogance and Weiner’s immorality?
In the movie, Brewster’s Millions, Richard Prior has the chance to inherit billions of dollars if he spends millions in a short period of time. One of his schemes is running for political office…. Kinda. He runs for mayor with the slogan, “None of the above.” He bluntly trashes both his rival candidates while showing the “dog-and-pony show” that politics have become. He reveals that money drives our political choices, not character and principle.
Why is it that every election we vote and feel like we are choosing between the better of two evils? Is it the back and forth bashing of both candidates by the Donkey and Elephant machine? Is it the fact that the whole political process has become more of a beauty contest than principle exchange?
Why is it that our “leaders” and representatives from both parties are hiding their love children, running off with secret lovers, or texting their private parts to women they “barely know” -with an emphasis on “barely” as they bare it all. What happens in the mind of a rich and famous person to think anyone might want a picture of their tighty whiteys? Who thinks, “I bet a woman I don’t know would love to get a photo of my fruit-of-the-loom’s tonight?
How should we respond -as people of faith- to yet another moral failure by one of our country’s leaders? We could get in our Delirium and flip on the flux capacitor and head back to the 90′s and say, ‘Character doesn’t matter.” We could pretend that a governor with good economic sense can do whatever he wants with his private life in Argentina. We could critique the country for holding these people up as heroes when they are flawed human beings. We could “burn the witch” and condemn Congressman Weiner for his hypocrisy, immorality, and unwise behavior. How should a person of faith respond?
The Gospel (The main message of the Bible) challenges both extremes. One extreme is postmodernism. This approach is a “let live and let live” approach. We respond to the “underwear” emailer by saying that it’s not a big deal. These kind of archaic morals are outdated. We admit that everyone struggles with lust of some type. Lust for power, control, fantasizing, etc. We compartmentalize this to Weiner’s private life and say, “It’s not a big deal.” We condemn anyone who condemns the behavior as a hypocrite and judgmental. In this view, morals don’t matter. This view makes you proud and arrogant believing you are better than those “moralistic” judgmental religious people who are so conservative.
The other extreme is moralism. This approach is to think “I’d never do that.” This approach is to shake your head and say, “What’s wrong with this country.” This approach says that the real problem in the world is the loss of moral family values. This approach lets you look down on “those” people and “those” politicians who participate in “this kind of thing!” This approach also fills you with pride and arrogance because you feel superior to someone who did such a stupid immoral act.
The Gospel offers us a third way. It allows us to condemn Weiner’s acts as immoral, unwise, and hurtful. It reveals that his actions are far worse than merely “mistakes” that he admitted to in his 40 minute public apology. It says that actions and character matters and are far far more serious than we can imagine because they hurt us, our family, and a nation that looked to us for private and public leadership. BUT, the Gospel also reveals that “I am capable of those same stupid decisions.” Given the right situation…. Given the right pressure on my marriage and career… I too am capable of anything. The human heart’s capacity to lie to itself is unparalleled as the prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is desperately wicked.” My heart is wicked. My heart could do that. This approach allows you to judge without being judgmental. It allows you to condemn while feeling condemned. It allows you to stand with the accused in need of grace while not excusing the behavior. This is grace.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who arespiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
The Bible tells us that when someone is overtaken with temptation… help them to be restored in a spirit of…. GENTLENESS. We will see condemnation from both liberals and conservatives in the news. We will see little gentleness tomorrow. And Galatians tells us to “consider ourselves” lest we are tempted… When we are tempted to think “we’d never do that” or tempted to think “We are better than someone who did that…” The Bible reminds us that we too are capable of “deceiving ourselves.”
So, how would Jesus Respond to Congressman Weiner, the Underwear Model. Three ways.
1) Forgiveness. Jesus would forgive him and offer him mercy when he truly admits the truth of what he did. Having walked with husbands and wives in affairs for years, I can promise you that an initial apology is usually the embarrassment of getting caught. The response that looks like genuine guilt can actually be a self-centered “poor me” complex. BUT when someone genuinely sees what they did as wrong and an affront to God, themselves and others, Jesus offers forgiveness.
2) Reconciliation There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. You can forgive someone who doesn’t ask for forgiveness. You can be free from the poison of bitterness with or without their request. Reconciliation, however, takes two. We can’t make anyone reconcile. A Christian tries to keep the door open for reconciliation, but sets boundaries to reestablish trust. Reconciliation takes time. A Christian can forgive without being ready to reconcile. It takes two to tango.
3) Restoration. There is a difference between restoring trust and offering forgiveness. A public official (Pastor, priest, politician, etc) who voids the public trust should resign. Period. They need to get their private life in order. That is the priority. Then their own family and marriage need to be healed. Donkey or Republican., they need to resign. And maybe… Possibly… After enough time, inner work, grace, and rebuilding of trust, they might re-earn the chance to represent again. But too often Christians confuse forgiveness with restoration. And sometimes, the act of stupidity or immorality is so grievous that there is no chance for reconciliation or restoration. Often the consequences involve prison for the wicked acts of the heart.
I will forgive Weiner when he really asks for it. As a Christian I would have forgiven Clinton had I thought his apology was genuine. I have forgiven Gingrich who was the representative of my district when I lived in Georgia for similar acts. However…. Restoration is another matter. I am not convinced that enough time, trust and repentance have been built to offer the restoration to public office for any of them. Gingrinch has by forgiveness and reconciliation, but lost his ability for political restoration in office. I humbly know that I too am capable of anything, but public sins also come with public responsibility. The same is true in a marriage. You can forgive an offending spouse. You can offer the chance for reconciliation. I have seen dozens of marriages reunited after a horrible trainwreck. Restoration takes time. Rushing from forgiveness to restoration is a sign the repentance is not genuine.
For more information, check out www.godonomics.com. If you like the blog entry, click “like” above or sign up for the RSS feed. If you want to see all six thirty minute sessions on Godonomics, click to the right to order the APPS or the DVD.
Gas prices are averaging over $4 a gallon nation wide. This summer promises to reach over $5 as economic uncertainty, continual federal printing, and economic uncertainty push the value of the dollar down. As the dollar goes down, gas goes up because it take more less valuable dollars to buy the same gas. What should we do? Don’t assume it will magically get better. Prepare for the new reality. As Joseph prepared for seven lean years by stocking away 20 percent of his money into margin and savings, so you and I need to squeeze our budgets and spending really hard to prepare for what’s coming: interest rates will be going up, prices of gas will be going up, and food prices will be going up. If you don’t have a budget, start one now. If you have no savings, better begin work on a $1000 emergency fund. Don’t think that doing the same think you’ve always done will prepare you for challenges ahead.
As you read through the Bible, you find yourself almost screaming at the characters, “Stop disobeying God, remember how it led you to slavery last time. Stop before it’s too late….” You see it as Abraham lies about his wife… Twice. Moses loses his temper -time and time again. Then there is the constant dripping of Israelite complaint, all through the book of Numbers. You see it in Judges, as the nation goes through the same enslaving cycle over… and over… and over again. You see it as you read through the book of Kings: Good king then bad king–good king and then another bad king. Each time God comes out, blows the whistle, and says, “Alright, one more lap around the wilderness boys. Maybe now, you’ll learn your lesson. It’s like most of the Bible is stuck in Bill Murray’s Groundhog’s Day repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again.
They run a lap and then go back to the same old patterns. The whistle blows sharply again, “One more lap around the wilderness.” Again and again they keep doing the same old things, getting the same old results.
As Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
This pattern applies to the alcoholic face down in his own vomit. It applies to the addict who keeps trying to escape reality through a quick fix. It is seen in the daily return to idols of status, performance, or appearance, over God to form our very identity. This pattern is also true when it comes to economics. The big difference is that an entire nation of harmless by-standers can be covered and mired in the folly that is regurgitated out of Keynesian Political leaders.
The economy went out drinking in the late 90′s–on pets.com and tech bubbles. They were out all night thinking that overspending, low interest rates, and borrowing from other nations taste great. But they were in denial, by not realizing that what tastes great today, can be “less filling” tomorrow. As the market attempted to experience the “morning after” in 2000, George Bush and Alan Greenspan decided to help sober up “mainstreet” and Wall Street, by passing out more liquor. Remember those wonderful stimulus checks that didn’t work, or the artificially HISTORIC low interest rates that would balloon in five years. Remember Dick Cheney saying, “We don’t care about deficits.” (If not, search youtube for the video “I.O.U.S.A.” for evidence on how bad the deficit is from David Walker the US accountant).
And then we hit the wall. We had the potential to sober up through the pain of the 2008 call to reality. The stock market sank, the market shook, and the cracks were showing. And what did our national leaders do? What did the change America voted for, look like? It looked like a dog returning to his vomit. Ben Bernanke had taken over for Alan Greenspan, and Obama had taken over for Bush; but they still operated out of the same playbook.
“Let’s see, turn to page 3– Inflate the currency by printing money. Page four– Borrow lots of money from China. Page 5–Use the National Credit Card to pass on deficits to our grandchildren. Page 6– Encourage consumers who have no money to keep spending. Page 7– Bail out companies that need to go out of business because of campaign donations. Page 8– Pray that it works long enough to get through the next election.
This is Short Term Thinking. (Vomit licking, foolish economic policy). God says a wise economy means 1) Sound Money –throughout Proverbs, He calls for honest weights. 2) Spending Less Than You Make, lest you become enslaved. 3) Leaving Freedom and Prosperity to the next generation, rather than a big fat bill from last generation’s trip to the pub.
God says, “The wise man sees danger and takes refuge, but the fool keeps going and suffers for it.”
And here we are. The fools keep going and we are suffering for it. Unemployment remains high. Gold hits historic highs weekly while oil keeps climbing. The S and P downgraded the economic outlook of America to negatice last week. The Economy lost 283,000 jobs last summer. Now, we think the public sector can stimulate the economy, by fabricating another “jobs bill.” Perhaps this time we will be ready to sober up. This time we will take the painful steps to a national 12 step program. It will be hard! It will be painful! It will not be easy! But delaying the pain only inflates the pain bubble that will burst. And God will compassionately and sternly say to us, “One more lap around the wilderness.”
The headline we’ll never see; “Harold Camping was Right! Judgment Day occurred on May 21, 2011″ Many people have focused on Camping’s errors -which is understandable since there are so many to choose from. However, I’d like to focus on what he might have correct. Now looking for where he is right is like finding raisins in a pile of rabbit droppings. There are a few raisins in there, but don’t bite into the wrong one.
While I did look at my hand at 6:00 pm the other night to see if it was fading like Michael J. Fox’s in the Back To The Future photo, I was relieved to see I had not become transparent. Harold Camping’s awkward moment and Beautiful Mind heresies have not diluted the hope of two realities in my heart and mind.
1. Jesus is returning.
Since Camping has become famous and apparently quite rich distorting what the Bible teaches, I’d like to clarify the actual teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to earth in the same way he came.
Acts 1: 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Notice the Angel says, “He will come in like manner.” Christ will return in a literal, physical, viewable way for all to see -when he returns. The Bible teaches that Jesus died, rose, and had a REAL, actual body. Not Casper the friendly ghost body. Not a spirit type body. A real body that can and did eat -after he was raised. This is why Christianity has such hope. It is the teaching that after you die… You are still… Well, YOU! Your energies are not scattered into flowers, other people, or a cosmic amoeba. Everyone lives forever somewhere. We are unique, eternal beings. This teaching is not based on fantasy, wishful thinking, or naive folktales. This teaching is rooted in history. The facts are the lynch pins of faith. If the facts are wrong, our faith is worthless. Not my words, they come from the Apostle Paul.
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
This account in Corinthians and Acts are written by eye witness scholars. Dr Luke was a medical professional and ancient historian who has been praised by modern historians for his accuracy and reliability. His account of the actual events was based on multiple eye witness testimony. I have a friend who was a CSI investigator for the Cincinnati police. He told me that the evidence and eye witness testimony for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most substantiated claim in history. I say all this to help you understand that your faith is only as good as the facts it is placed in. All of Christianity hinges on ONE fact: Jesus’s death and physical resurrection. If this didn’t happen, Christ’s return and defeat of death is worthless. If it is true, however, -which I believe because the facts support the claim- there is confident hope. If we place our faith in Christ’s ability to defeat death, He will raise all of us who place our trust in Him to live eternally with God.
2. There is a final judgment.
Rob Bell is wrong. In his attempt to make God a nicer guy, he has done the opposite. Everyone I know really, really wants God to judge -at least based on their own criteria. When a skeptic says, “Why doesn’t God do something about evil..,” he is really saying, “Why won’t God judge evil.” When you see cruelty, injustice, and pain, something within every believer and skeptic wants justice. Justice is what makes us jump up from our seats at the end of the movie. When the bad guys are punished and the good guys win, something within all of us rejoices. Justice and accountability are woven into the fabric of the universe and our hearts. The idea that good is rewarded and evil is punished is the hunger of every heart. Rob Bell is right, “Love wins,” but in the words of Princess Bride, “I do not think that means what you think it means.” When God rightly, justly, and fairly punishes evil, that is an example of “love winning.” A God who lets Hitler off the hook or looks past the rapist’s crimes is not a loving God at all. So what does it mean that there is a final judgment. Romans 2 makes it clear that all of us stand before God and get a fair, impartial trial. We will be evaluated based on our own standard of right and wrong. Did we do unto others the way we wanted them to do unto us. We got mad when others gossiped, but did we gossip? We wanted others to be honest, but were we always honest? We don’t want anyone lusting after our wife, husband or daughter, so did we lust after anyone else’s spouse or child? Hmmmm… Are you seeing the problem? At the end of our life, God gives us a fair trial. The problem is obvious. A fair trial means our whole life is evaluated. When our conscience and secrets act as a prosecuting attorney, we will all fall short of our own standards -let alone God’s. So a fair trial means that we are all in trouble.
I had a conversation with a Muslim scholar, Atheist, and Rabbi on stage a few years ago. They all hoped that “If there is an afterlife” their good works would outweigh their bad works. Jesus says, “Stop fooling yourself. Your good deeds are nearly as good as you think. Your bad deeds are far worse than you can imagine.” The Bible teaches that at the end of your life, you can have fairness or forgiveness. I, for one, do not want a fair trial. As a pastor, you might think I’d be hoping for the fair trial since I have my resume “full” of good deeds. Don’t kid yourself, my heart is unkind, unloving, unwise, compaining, lustful, and on and on… When I stand before God for my trial, the LAST thing I’d ever say is “Look what I’ve done.” Instead I will throw myself at the mercy of God and say, “Thank you for what YOU have done. You died for my mistakes. You rescued me from my bad deeds. You also delivered me from my deceitful good deeds.” Christ’s death gives us the confidence that at the final judgment, we can spend eternity with God in heaven based on the assurance of His work, not our works. Grace changes everything. It keeps you incredibly humble while elevating you to the highest confidence -both at the same time.
John Welsey: The Capitalist and Fan of Godonomics John Welsey: The Capitalist and Fan of Godonomics (who would be sadly disappointed in the Methodist church today).
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