Monday, December 28, 2015

Stop Sexual Attacks In 2016; It’s On Us


            In 2013, World Health Organization deemed violence against women as a “significant public health” issue.

            It’s been a year since the White House launched the “It’s On Us” campaign to battle sexual assault in schools, colleges and universities. This initiative, although relevant to USA, should be actively considered by all and sundry because sexual assault is plaguing all countries. UK, USA, India, Sweden and South Africa are among the top countries listing rape crimes.

            Sexual assault trended recently in India because a juvenile convict, who heinously raped and murdered a 23 year old physiotherapy student in a moving bus, was recently released from prison1 and assigned to an NGO. Cause for such horrendous evil is known; Satan imprisons depraved humans to carry out such heinous crimes.

            The statistics on sexual assault is terribly high. “UN Women” research declares that 35% of women have experienced sexual assault by a non-partner and 70% of women have experienced sexual assault from an intimate partner.2 A 2012 study at New Delhi reported that 92% of women experienced sexual assault in public domain and 88% have experienced sexual assaults of the verbal nature.3 The plague of sexual assault is prevalent and will continue to be prevalent if we remain silent or ignorant.

            What’s the impact of sexual assault?

            The impact is severe, for sexual assault adversely impacts both the physical and the mental health of the survivors. Victims of sexual assault are quite likely to have sexually transmitted infections, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, sleeplessness, high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity.4 They could suffer emotionally from depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, and could be suicidal.5

            Therefore, it’s on us to pledge to stop sexual assault.           

            What can we do to stop sexual assaults? The victims of sexual assault could be unknown to us but by no means are we immune to such gory violence.

            “It’s on us” campaign offers useful tips to prevent sexual assaults:  

            “1. Talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault.

            2. Don't just be a bystander -- if you see something, intervene in any way you can.

            3. Trust your gut. If something looks like it might be a bad situation, it probably is.

            4. Be direct. Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they're ok.

            5. Get someone to help you if you see something -- enlist a friend, RA, bartender, or host to help step in.

            6. Keep an eye on someone who has had too much to drink.

            7. If you see someone who is too intoxicated to consent, enlist their friends to help them leave safely.

            8. Recognize the potential danger of someone who talks about planning to target another person at a party.

            9. Be aware if someone is deliberately trying to intoxicate, isolate, or corner someone else.

            10. Get in the way by creating a distraction, drawing attention to the situation, or separating them.

            11. Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it's rape.

            12. Never blame the victim.” 6

            While these tips are pertinent to both Christians and non-Christians, how should the Christian community, especially the churches, respond to sexual assault? In other words, what have the churches done so far to prevent sexual assault?

            The Christian social justice organization, Sojourners, report a disappointing response by the churches, “If you made a short list of the issues the American church doesn’t talk about from the pulpit, you’d probably find sexual and domestic violence topping out the list.” 7

                How often do pastors preach about sexual assault? Is there a dedicated ministry in the local church to prevent sexual assaults and heal the survivors? If your answer is in the negative to both these questions, then your church joins the list of the majority of churches that ignore sexual assault.

            Should the Christian community be concerned about sexual assault? Yes! Active churchgoers are being sexually assaulted.8 Hence, it is a given that the church should actively minister to prevent and heal the survivors of sexual assault.

            Why do majority of local churches not actively minister to prevent and heal the sexually assaulted? The June 2014 IMA World Health Survey “Broken Silence: A Call for Churches to Speak Out” 9 reported that awareness among the church leaders to deal with sexual assault is low. But on a positive note the report declares that the leaders would do more if they possess proper tools and resources.

            What could the local church do to help the survivors of sexual assault? Churches could learn from “Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environment” (GRACE), which engages six damaging entailments from sexual abuse (denial, identity, shame, guilt, anger and despair) to minister to the survivors of sexual assault.10

            The local church should educate its members so to help prevent sexual assaults and to minister to those who have been assaulted sexually. Resources for pastors and leaders interested in preventing and healing the sexually assaulted are available at Sojourners, www.wewillspeakout.us, www.interfaithpartners.org, www.theraveproject.com, www.saiv.org and www.faithtrustinstitute.org.11

            If your church does not have a ministry to help prevent and to minister to the sexually assaulted, probably you could be a catalyst to launch this ministry. It’s on you!  

            Sexual predators are lurking. Innocent people are being victimized. The pain experienced by the survivors is immense. The need is critical.

            It’s on us to help prevent and heal. Yes, it’s on us.

Endnotes:

Websites referenced were last accessed on 28th December 2015

1 http://mic.com/articles/22727/jyoti-singh-pandey-gang-rape-victim-dying-declaration-to-doom-perpetrators#.BYRNLcGiq

2 http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures

3 Ibid.

4 https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sexual_assault_report_1-21-14.pdf

5 Ibid.

6 https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/09/19/president-obama-launches-its-us-campaign-end-sexual-assault-campus

7 https://sojo.net/articles/broken-silence-poll-shows-lack-conversation-domestic-sexual-violence-churches#sthash.yjUJI72X.dpuf

8 http://www.imaworldhealth.org/images/stories/technical-publications/PastorsSurveyReport_final.pdf

9 Ibid.

10 http://www.netgrace.org/resources/2015/4/9/6-devastating-effects-of-sexual-assaultand-how-the-gospel-answers-them


11 http://www.imaworldhealth.org/images/stories/technical-publications/PastorsSurveyReport_final.pdf

Monday, December 21, 2015

Black, Blacker & Blackest Christmas (Every Christmas Is Black)



            The first Christmas was a black Christmas. Lamentation, weeping and great mourning accompanied Christ’s birth; children aged two years and under were ruthlessly massacred by King Herod.

            Today, Christmas is a joyful celebration. Churches and homes are colorfully decorated, joyful carols are sung and nativity scenes are enacted. Businesses enjoy the fruit of their labor; Christmas season fetches increased revenue. Christmas is all about goodness - good cheer, good food, and good company.

            The darkness that clouded the first Christmas has been successfully erased. Is Christmas trending in the right direction?

            Those asserting that Christmas is trending right would cite Christ as the greatest gift for the salvation of those who believe in HIM. Quite rightly so!

            For if God had not sent Christ into this world to save us, perhaps we would have been doomed to doing good works to earn our salvation. But doing good works can never be an option if God, a perfect being, is involved in the equation.

            Sin, an entailment of freewill, is innate in every human. So doing good works cannot be done to perfection. If good works cannot be done to perfection, salvation would perennially be uncertain.

            A maximally great being is perfect. An imperfect being cannot be maximally great. Completeness is innate in perfection, for perfection cannot be incomplete. In other words, corruption of any magnitude cannot partake in perfection.

            From a salvific perspective, God, the only perfect being, should demand existential perfection from HIS creation for coexistence in eternity. But humans cannot be existentially perfect because of our sinfulness. So our good works can never be perfect to meet God’s perfect standards. Therefore, God ought to make a way to enable sinful humans attain perfection.

            Salvation entails eternal coexistence. Heaven, the eternal abode for God and Christians, is perfect, for God can only exist in a perfect abode. But a perfect being cannot coexist, face to face (so to speak) with imperfect beings in a perfect abode. God can only coexist, face to face, with perfect beings in the perfect heaven.

            Perfection in an imperfect being could only be achieved by an uncaused perfect being, who is, in essence, a wholly perfect being (and there cannot be more than one uncaused wholly perfect being).

            Hence, God sent HIS son, the second person of the blessed Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ to be a perfect one-time sacrifice for the salvation of all mankind. Therefore, Christians, who believe in Christ as God and remain in HIM, will attain perfect glorious bodies after their death. This is a matter of great celebration. No doubts! So celebration during Christmas cannot be invalidated.

            But is Christmas trending in the right direction?

            While celebrating joyfully with our families and friends, are we ignoring the more important aspects of life? Although Christmas celebration cannot be faulted altogether, is our Christmas celebration qualitatively meeting God’s expectations?

            What does God expect of our Christmas celebration? What does the Bible teach us?

            The Bible mandates love. Love is the common denominator between God and man – God loved us while we were sinners to offer us salvation through Christ, and man should love God for who HE is and what HE has done.

            But that’s not it! True love for God is discerned in our love for our neighbors.

            So what would Christ want us to do during Christmas season? Very minimally, preach the gospel and help those in need.

            If our celebrations do not, in greater part, involve those in pain and need, then their Christmas would continue to be a black Christmas. If people around us remain in pain and suffering, then our celebrations would remain duplicitous.

            Christmas 2015 will be a black Christmas for many people around us. Their pain and suffering renders this Christmas black. Can we reduce the intensity of their pain and suffering through our love?

            Unless our neighbor’s suffering is predicated on money, it would be impossible to erase their suffering. God alone can erase suffering predicated on emotional turmoil and illness.

            But it is well within our means to erase our neighbor’s need for money. Some of us are charitable in nature and could well be helping those in financial need. But are we giving from our abundance or poverty?!

            In other words, are we giving till it hurts? Do we practice the “grace of giving” (cf. 2 Corinthians 8: 1-7)? While striving to alleviate poverty around us, unless we personally experience the pain of poverty, even to the slightest measure, through our giving, our giving would not meet God’s expectations. Unless our financial giving hurts us or unless we give beyond our ability, may we never be satisfied with our giving.

            This Christmas would be a blacker Christmas for those staggering under emotional turmoil. Many life situations cause emotional turmoil e.g. death of a loved one, conflict, failure etc.

            What could be done to alleviate their pain? Genuine and godly words and deeds of comfort and encouragement would offer our brothers and sisters much needed satisfaction that there are people who genuinely care for them.

            The blackest of black Christmas is reserved to those staggering under the effects of evil, pain and suffering in their lives but convinced with the intellectual answer to the question “Where is God when it hurts?” However, no amount of intellectual knowledge or consent to reasonable answers heals the deep wounds caused by evil; such is evil’s gory.

            Healing would only occur when evil in its crushing glory is eliminated from life and blessings are outpoured. Job’s life was a good example.

            But what if there is no healing in this life?

            So isn’t there a merry Christmas at all?                     

            Every Christmas is black
            Evil and suffering do not lack
            God mysteriously comes along
            Shows us HIS nail pierced hands which should have been ours all along
            I AM Immanuel, I AM with you, HE says
            Patience, strength and wisdom HE gives us to slay
            The darkness in Christmas
            When we pray HE floods us
            With peace amid pain, this Christmas
            For HE is Immanuel, God with us. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

How To Live By Absolute Faith In Christ?


            Romans 1:17 says that the righteous will live by faith. If we are in Christ, we would be righteous in HIS presence. Righteousness entails a life lived by faith in Christ. But what does it mean to live by faith and how do we live by faith?

            First, what does it mean to live by faith?

            To live by faith is to be utterly dependent upon Christ. A life utterly dependent upon Christ trusts Christ be it in good times or bad. Life in faith is to constantly carry the cross of Christ. Even if everything were to go south - wrong and ugly - in our lives, our faith in Christ cannot deteriorate. Therefore, to live by faith is not to expect only happiness and wellness in life.

            To live by faith is to boast about our weakness, for when we are weak we are strong. A life utterly dependent upon Christ enables us to be strong in Christ even in our weakness.

            Easier said than done! How do we live by faith?

            As a case in point, consider tentmaking 1 and fulltime 2 ministry in Christendom. The dichotomy of tentmaker and a fulltime worker is based on the premise that the time available to these workers to disseminate the gospel of Christ is largely different.

            The fulltime worker has more available time to serve Christ than the tentmaker. The tentmaker ought to spend a considerable portion of his time towards his tentmaking vocation, which deprives him of time in comparison with the fulltime worker.

            Before proceeding further, certain misconceptions about fulltime workers and tentmakers ought to be resolved. So permit me to digress. There are two naïve misconceptions about tentmaking ministry.

            The first argues that only some Christians are called to serve Christ and that the other Christians serving in the secular domain are not called to serve Christ. The second misconception argues that those called to serve Christ fulltime ought to be a tentmaker i.e. he earns his own livelihood without depending on any Christian entity for his livelihood.

            First, fulltime workers do not serve a “higher calling” in comparison to Christians serving in secular field (e.g. factory workers, teachers, doctors, engineers etc.). Every Christian is called to be a disciple and to make disciples of all nations. Every Christian, in whatever capacity he works, is called to serve the Lord from his/her workplace. The workplace is a means to sharing the gospel of Christ.

            The second misconception argues that every Christian who serves the Lord fulltime ought to be a tentmaker. Here the term “tentmaker” assumes the notion that the fulltime worker should be employed either in a Christian organization or secular.

            Now think this through, how does a Christian mission organization (or church) meet its expenses? Christian organizations depend on fellow Christians to fund its operations. The finances received are then apportioned to its employees as salary.

            Although the fulltime Christian worker earns his salary as a tentmaker from the Christian organization that he serves, his organization depends on fellow Christians for its finances. It is then evident that the tentmaking Christian is indirectly dependant on finances from Christians.

            Therefore, fulltime workers without a tentmaking jobs are an existential reality in Christendom. Examples for this category include pastors who serve independent churches or evangelists who serve the Lord independently using their spiritual gifts.

            The pastor of an independent church is dependent on the offerings from his church for his living. The evangelist depends on financial contributions from gracious Christians.

            There could be a situation wherein pastors of independent churches (or evangelists) do not receive adequate funds. What do they do? Should they take up a secular job to care for their family and be tentmakers with reduced time to serve in Christ’s kingdom? If they work in a secular job, would not their calling to fulltime ministry be compromised and their time to serve Christ reduced?

            Alternatively, fulltime pastors and evangelists should trust God for their living, for Christ taught that God would provide their needs, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:30-34a, NIV).

            Imagine the life of a fulltime worker, who has been called into fulltime work by God. If the fulltime worker depends only on God and not on his friends for his living needs, then is he not living a life in faith?

            Such a fulltime worker surely lives a life in faith. He trusts God for his living needs. While trusting God, he remains faithful to God to the best of his abilities. He diligently carries out his duty in serving Christ and in caring for his family. Because God’s words are living and active, God who promised to take care of those who trust in HIM, would never fail or forsake those who trust in HIM.

            How could a tentmaker NOT live a life of absolute faith? The tentmaker’s job pays him every month. When the tentmaker trusts his abilities and his job for his living needs (more than he trusts God), his life would expose reduced faith in God.

            God enables our abilities so that we work well. God is the source of an organization’s sustenance. Every moment lived out successfully in our workplace is a testimony to God’s goodness and grace.

            A chief obstacle to trusting in God is to trust in self or to trust in other men. The obstacle of trusting ourselves or trusting fellow humans should be absolutely broken if we are to absolutely trust in God. The first and the greatest commandment is to love God. If we truly love God the most, then we would trust HIM the most – more than we trust our neighbors.

            This is not to say that we should intentionally distrust ourselves and our neighbors. No! If we are to live in peace with our neighbors, then we should trust them. Moreover, if we do not trust in our own abilities, we will suffer from low self-esteem.

            Therefore, a life that absolutely or utterly trusts Christ…

            …will not expect only health, wealth and happiness in life.

            …will trust Christ be it in good times or bad.

            …will not trust self or the neighbors to the point where our trust in humans overshadows our trust in God.

            We will grow into trusting Christ absolutely when we diligently offer ourselves to Christ through the studying of HIS Word (i.e. Bible study) and through constant communication with HIM (prayer).

            May God enable us to live a life that absolutely trusts HIM and HIM alone.

Endnotes:

1 Tentmakers are committed to serve the Lord in various ways by performing other jobs to provide for their living.

Tentmaking ministry is relevant in Christian evangelism, where missionaries have little or no dependence upon any Christian entities for their living expenses while preaching the gospel of Christ. Apostle Paul is the most widely cited source for tentmaking ministry (Acts 18:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8; Acts 20:31-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 9:6).

Apostle Paul was a tentmaker because of his three missionary journeys. During these missionary journeys, Paul worked to support himself in Galatia, Corinth, Thessalonica, and Ephesus.


2 Evangelists, missionaries, pastors, itinerant speakers and the likes are fulltime workers.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Church of Satan Proves Atheism Is Evil


            Atheism is a dangerous worldview. Obviously, atheists will vehemently deny this claim. No sane human will agree that their worldview is evil. But a proponent of atheism reveals atheism as an evil worldview. 

            To say that atheism has an innate propensity to perpetrate evil is not to assert that religion is a peaceful worldview. Killers do represent religion. There are rank evil people professing to some religion or the other.

            Reality also reveals many morally upright atheists. What makes an atheist a good person?

            Christians claim that atheists could be good because God’s law is written in their hearts (Romans 2: 15). Contrarily, atheists believe that the rules of sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology enable their good behavior [1].

            A Christian will be a good person if he loves and obeys the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ did not teach us to hate each other rather love each other.  

            What makes a religionist an evil person?

            From within a Christian perspective, if a Christian remains a namesake Christian without any love for the Lord and the knowledge of God’s Word – the Bible, then he would most likely be an evil person. Such a Christian would have succumbed to the deception of the Satan.

            Evil Christians are not Christians to begin with. Those who have succumbed to Satan’s deceptions to perpetrate evil are Satan’s disciples, not Christ’s disciples.

            Other than denying God, what is innately wrong with the atheistic worldview that it motivates atheists to be evil? (Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot are famous atheists who ruthlessly murdered millions of people.)

            If atheists believe that rules of sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology enable their good behavior, then it’s reasonable to deduce that corruption in sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology would entail evil. (How would an atheist explain the corruption that enters sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology to motivate evil from its adherents? What is the nature and source of that corruption? Let’s not enter that metaphysical domain now!)

            Say hello to the Church of Satan!

            Do not be surprised by the rules of existence of the “Church of Satan,” which is published in their website, “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.” “If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy (Emphases Mine) [2].

            “If he does not stop, destroy him” ????

            “… treat him cruelly and without mercy” ????

            How does the Church of Satan justify destroying people? This is their justification, “Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!” [3]. The Church of Satan does not believe in the biblical version of Satan i.e. Satan is a living spiritual being.

            Satanists or the members of Church of Satan are self-centered atheists, Satanists are atheists. We see the universe as being indifferent to us, and so all morals and values are subjective human constructions.

            Our position is to be self-centered, with ourselves being the most important person (the “God”) of our subjective universe, so we are sometimes said to worship ourselves. Our current High Priest Gilmore calls this the step moving from being an atheist to being an “I-Theist.”

            Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. We do not believe in Satan as a being or person” (Emphasis Mine) [4]. The fundamental belief of the Church of Satan exposes atheism in all its glory.

            When atheists deny God, they affirm man. (They do not have another option!)

            When atheists deny [the sovereignty of] God, they affirm the sovereignty of man. The Church of Satan blatantly declares that man is sovereign, “Our position is to be self-centered, with ourselves being the most important person (the “God”) of our subjective universe, so we are sometimes said to worship ourselves” [5].

            When sovereignty of man is affirmed, then as an entailment, subjectivity invades their domain. The Church of Satan affirms subjectivity, “We see the universe as being indifferent to us, and so all morals and values are subjective human constructions[6].  

            By affirming and subscribing to subjectivity, the Church of Satan offers itself absolute freedom to determine its own rules and policies. In fact, the Church of Satan plays God by offering itself absolute freedom via its justification of man’s sovereignty.

            If man declares himself as sovereign, he gives himself the powers to kill and to destroy. This is the source of ruthless dictatorship or ruthless man. Atheism is capable of gross ruthlessness.

            Lack of a common belief system, an entailment of negating objective truth, is another reason why atheism could be a dangerous killer, “The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints”[7].

            When atheism negates objectivity and upholds man’s sovereignty, subjectivity or relativism is a natural entailment. “Every man for himself” is their motto.

            Thanks to Richard Dawkins, every man is free to dance to the music of his DNA. Every man is free to hypothesize and establish the rules of his sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology. Sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology become prisoners of atheists.

            Within the atheistic worldview, what seems evil to one atheist could be conceived as the greater good of another atheist. On what grounds would you argue with those who perpetrate evil under the assumption that their contentious act is essentially not an evil act?

            Consider child sex abuse as a case in point.

            Thankfully the Church of Satan believes in not harming children, “Do not harm little children” [8]. The American Psychological Association (APA) also considers sexual abuse of children as a harmful practice, “sexual relations between children and adults are abusive, exploitive, reprehensible and properly punishable by law” [9].

            But NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) believes that consensual sexual relationship between a man and a boy is beneficial to the boy [10]! Significantly, the American Psychological Association does not refer to consensual sex between man and a boy as being beneficial to the boy. Whether consensual or not, sexual relations between boy and a man is an abuse and a disorder – an evil deed.

            But this is my point; what’s evil to APA is not evil to NAMBLA. How would you resolve this situation under an atheistic worldview that subscribes to man’s sovereignty and subjective moral laws? At best, these organizations could debate this matter endlessly. Even if one deems the other as evil, the other could find justification from within the atheistic worldview to justify the evil.

            The scope for evil’s rule is much greater if atheism prevails. If Christianity as a religion perpetrates evil, then it is a gross misrepresentation of Christianity. Evil is not inherent in Christianity. But evil is a natural entailment of atheism.

            Christianity cannot, by any means, justify evil. But atheism, through the portrayed instances of the Church of Satan and NAMBLA, can justify evil.

Endnotes:

[1] http://atheists.org/activism/resources/ethics

[2] http://www.churchofsatan.com/eleven-rules-of-earth.php

[3] http://www.churchofsatan.com/nine-satanic-statements.php

[4] http://www.churchofsatan.com/faq-fundamental-beliefs.php

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://atheists.org/activism/resources/what-is-atheism

[8] http://www.churchofsatan.com/eleven-rules-of-earth.php

[9] http://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-abuse.aspx


[10] http://nambla.org/data.html