Monday, September 17, 2007

Muslims are captives

I had a revelation last night about Muslims. It was, simply, that Muslims are captives.

In the lands of Islam they are held captive by political, social and physical systems. Many would become followers of Jesus if they were allowed religious freedom. Just as in the USA, others would become secular given the freedom to do so.

But in the lands of Islam, religious conviction is enforced. Conversion to other religions is punished at the least by social ostracism, and at the most by physical torture or death.

In the lands that Islam seeks to bring under submission, including our own, there may be statutory religious freedom, but for those in Muslim families, rigid social and family ties make conversion difficult.

As I have spoken to Christians who have worked in Islamic countries, it has been very clear in each case that many Muslims would convert if they could do so without losing their family or their lives.

I think that we in the West do not clearly understand these control systems. We see the world through the lens of our freedoms to observe whatever religion we choose....or no religion. While there are certainly social control systems at work in the west, they are weak by comparison.

The effect of this revelation for me has been two-fold. First, I have prayed for a love of Muslims that overpowers my anger over the acts of a few of them. This revelation has helped me quite a bit toward that love. Second, I see more clearly than ever that we must quit treating Muslims as a monolithic block. It is only a few that seek to impose Islam by the sword. Against them we must be implacable foes, but for the majority, love and respect should be the attitude of our hearts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Slowing and Reversing Global Warming

I have stood at a distance from the man-is-making-the-earth-warm debate because I am still unconvinced one way or another. Just because "most scientists" believe it to be the case doesn't impress me. We humans engage in group-think all the time. The pressure to be PC (right or left) on this issue is immense.

What I am convinced about is that we have been massively extracting carbon compounds from the earth's crust and converting them to gases that are now in the air and oceans and that IS causing demonstrably negative chemical changes in ocean fauna and flora.

According to a Compass article in today's Anchorage Daily News Alaska's US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens are co-sponsoring the Low Carbon Economy Act designed to approach the problem of reducing carbon emissions in another way. Here is how the act would work:
"The Act creates a cap-and-trade program for U.S. GHG emissions that is modeled on the successful Acid Rain Program. By setting an annual target and allowing firms to buy, sell, and trade credits to achieve the target, the program is designed to elicit the most cost-effective reductions across the economy. The target is set to avoid harm to the economy and promote a gradual but decisive transition to new, lower-carbon technologies."
I haven't studied this in any detail, so I cannot offer any reasonable opinion on it. However, it seems significant that these two conservative Alaska leaders are not only supporting the act, but co-sponsoring it.

Murkowski and Stevens in their Compass article admit that it's going to cost us:
"Alaska's Institute for Social and Economic Research estimates the measure will cost a typical Anchorage household about $173 more for energy in 2030. This is a significant sum for Alaskans, who already pay the highest energy costs in the nation. But it pales in comparison to the potential costs of climate change. A recent ISER study pegs those at more than $6 billion by 2030 -- nearly $9,000 per resident -- just for government infrastructure in Alaska. When it comes to climate change, an ounce of prevention may be worth far more than a pound of cure."
Taxes are probably not a very palatable approach, as demonstrated in the reaction to that suggestion in this forum. The effect of the proposed legislation will be the same in that it would cost us all something, but this upstream approach may be an easier pill to swallow than taxes.

However we do it, we must begin taking some action to put that carbon back in the crust. If we don't our children will pay the price.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Testimony Signed in Blood

It has become fashionable in the West to deny the deity of Jesus. Many say that Jesus was "a good man", but draw the line at saying that He was the Son of God.

The first disciples of Jesus, on the other hand, attested to His deity with their lives. All but one were martyred confessing faith that Jesus is the Son of God. One was crucified upside down, another on an X, another dragged by horses through Alexandria, another stabbed. Others were beaten to death, stoned, shot with arrows or beheaded. Only one died peacefully.

Men do not give their lives for something they known to be untrue. The disciples knew it to be true, and they "signed their testimony in blood," as Alvin Schmidt put it.

Surely there was a time when His disciples must have wondered. When He was arrested and crucified, the remaining 11 must have been terrified. The New Testament records that "everyone deserted him and fled" and that the disciples locked their doors when they met "for fear of the Jews."

What had happened to the miracles and the Kingdom that Jesus was proclaiming, they must have wondered. But something happened to change their terror into faith that sustained them even to the point of death.

That something was that they met the resurrected Christ.

It is possible even today to meet this same Jesus that the disciples believed in so strongly that they were willing to die for. If we repent of our sins, and ask Him into our lives, He will come. He will speak to us, comfort us, heal us, lead us.

He has for me, and He will for you.