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2Chronicles7:14-“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

When Others Pray for Your Conversion

Posted by wordforit on March 29, 2008

 By Selwyn Duke

AmericanThinker

What should our reaction be when others pray for our conversion?

There recently was a story about a German Jewish leader, Charlotte Knobloch, who criticized Pope Benedict XVI for allowing a traditional Easter prayer that calls for the conversion of the Jewish people.  Her reaction raises an interesting issue, as praying for conversion isn’t unique to Catholics any more that taking offense to it is unique to Jews.  And to start this topic off, I’d like to pose a question: Who do you think would be more likely to take umbrage at being the object of such a supplication, a person of deep belief or one of the superficial variety?

Well, here is a little anecdote.  I’m a man who takes his faith very seriously; I believe it is the Truth and that God should be at the center of one’s life.  I also know a man who is Jewish and believes just the same.  He is orthodox, praying at the appointed times every day — regardless of the situation — and abiding by every one of the 613 Judaic laws that pertain to his life.  He is a very saintly, gentle man.  And he also has expressed that his faith — not mine, needless to say — is the true one.  Now, if I found out that he had prayed for my conversion to what he considers a superior faith, should I be offended?     
In fact, neither his perspective nor such a desire would bother me a whit.  While this may strike a Richard Dawkins type as strange, understand my position vis-à-vis his attitude: I’d expect nothing less.  And anything else would truly be less, as the only thing a belief in the equality of all faiths would tell me is that his faith was lacking.

Let us examine this logically.  Why would I sacrifice for my faith, tolerate its demands to tame the flesh and govern my life with its teachings if I didn’t believe it was the Truth (with a capital “T”)?  If I subscribed to the fiction of religious equivalence (a relativistic idea) – if I, in other words, believed it was just a matter of taste as with ice cream – why would I choose a cross?  I’d be a hedonist.

Now we move to the next step.  If I believed something was the Truth – that divine quantity that frees souls, dispels falsehoods, thwarts evil designs and brings happiness – why would I not want my fellow man to benefit from it?  Thus, why would it surprise anyone if I prayed for his conversion?

So understand that when others pray for our conversion it is often an outgrowth of love, a function of that common human desire to have others enjoy what we believe is beneficial.  In fact, what should give us pause for thought is when such people would not thus pray.  After all, what do we usually think of those who possess something they consider great and don’t want to share it?    

Such a desire also is not usual.  Imagine you knew of a health regimen that yielded weight loss without hunger pangs, vibrancy and longer life.  Wouldn’t you want to spread the word?  Might you not passionately say, “Hey, you just have to try this; it’ll make you a new man!”?

In reality, whether religious or not, most people seek converts all the time.  Political parties and groups spend time and treasure trying to convert us to their ideology; self-help gurus and instructors of all stripes peddle their techniques, theories or methods; and businesses try to sell us on the superiority of what they offer.  Whatever the case, the message is the same: Believe what we say, follow our prescription, because what we provide is the best and will improve your life.  It is proselytization.

Thus, if people would feel zealous about sharing a health regimen, why would we expect any less with respect to what they believe heals not just the body, but the soul?  Sure, we may demand they not beat us over the head; we may demand they be civil.  But it’s unreasonable to expect that their natural desire to share will be left at the door of the worldly realm.

I, of course, have had experiences with those who tried to convert me.  I’ve sometimes registered a Mona Lisa smile, or thought, “They don’t know me very well,” but I’ve never gotten upset.  Would I be offended if I learned they had prayed for such a change?  Of course not.  Truth be known, unless we’ve raised someone’s ire and he is relishing some fantasy involving our demise, most people don’t pay us much mind at all.  Thus, if I knew someone had actually taken the time to pray that I should receive what he views as the greatest gift in the Universe, I’d be touched that he cared.  That is love.

I would be remiss if I didn’t treat an important related matter.  In our secular age, many have been conditioned to fear talk of religious conversion; it conjures up images of invading hordes or the Islamists’ sword.  In fact, if we believe the Christopher Hitchenses of the world, such religious ambitions are responsible for most of the evil throughout history (of course, what eludes them is that if there is no God, there can be no “evil,” only personal or collective dislikes).  This is nonsense.

Religious belief is not a prerequisite for a desire to force your ways on others, only belief.  Imposition of will doesn’t require that it be God’s, only that it be a will.  Mao Tse-tung, who could not be confused with a prelate, was fond of saying that “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.”  And he and his fellow travelers practiced what they preached, fomenting unrest, launching military campaigns, instituting “re-education camps” to cure “heretics” and, ultimately, murdering 100 million people during the 20th century.  Their devotion to their godless creed was thorough, and they would stop at nothing to make the world thoroughly godless.  If it makes you feel any better, however, they never prayed for anyone’s conversion.  Communist leaders wanted everyone to pray to them.

Then there is the fear expressed by Charlotte Knobloch, that, to put it in general terms, implying that a group’s characteristic beliefs are lacking could provoke persecution.  While it certainly could, a little more philosophical understanding is in order. 

First, again note that this danger isn’t unique to the “religious” realm.  I mentioned the communists’ re-education camps and their penchant for killing dissenters, but they singled out groups on other bases as well.  The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia persecuted people with eyeglasses and Joseph Stalin murdered great numbers of Jews.  Then there is the Nazi Holocaust.  And, on a smaller scale, I recently read a story about a man who killed another during a political argument. 

In light of this, would we say that people shouldn’t proclaim or even imply that one ideology, or even idea, is better than another?  Not only is this impossible, but it would squelch the search for Truth.  You see, this world poses many questions, and many claim to have the answers – thereby imputing superiority to their ideas – and guess what?  Some of them must be correct.  And we will only find out who they are when they can air their beliefs and we can scrutinize them.      

Besides, as age-old ethnic battles prove, an easily identifiable set of beliefs is unnecessary for persecution.  Whether it’s the slaughter of the Tutsis in Ruanda, the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the Armenian genocide or the recent strife in Kenya, man has never needed dogma to justify destruction.  But something else is also true: He does need dogma to forestall it. 

This brings us back to the kind of people who are offended by religious proselytization.  What do you suppose is their nature?  Sure, some are callow religionists whose grasp of faith is superficial and who react like children, but, relatively speaking, that isn’t common in the West.  No, the typical person of this persuasion is very different.  He extols a certain unwritten secular code of decency, one that goes something like this:

“I won’t say my beliefs are superior to yours if you don’t say yours are superior to mine, deal?  After all, if we will just agree with the opinion that Truth doesn’t exist and that truth is opinion — that it’s all relative — we will get along.  We shall just say that all perspectives are equal and live happily ever after.” 

Consequently, while religionists might expect a person of faith to believe that he grasps a Truth they don’t, the secularist in question views such a belief as the most offensive impertinence, a violation of the rules of civilized society.

There is an obvious contradiction here, in that if all ideas are equal, a position of religious equivalence cannot be superior to one of religious chauvinism.  Thus, secularists’ call to the former not only renders them guilty of the very arrogance of belief they accuse religionists of, it is also illogical.  Even more to the point here, it is dangerous.

If people en masse were to answer this call and descend into the confusion of moral relativism, they certainly would have no perceived divine command to do evil.  They also would have no reason not to.  Logically, they could not launch wars, persecute infidels, or root out heretics in the name of God, but they also could not logically say that doing those things is wrong, not for that reason, a different one, or no reason.  Logically, it wouldn’t be wrong to be illogical.  

Of course, there is every reason to fear misconceptions about the Truth.  It poses a grave danger when people believe they have been enjoined to spread their beliefs by the sword, for instance.  Yet, whatever a religionist’s moral compass, it exists.  He may violate his fellow man insofar as he has fallen victim to misconceptions, but he will seldom be as dangerous as one who, at bottom, cannot believe in misconceptions or correct conceptions, but only perception.  As serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer told his parents as a teen, “If there’s no God, why can’t I make up my own rules?”  Dogma isn’t an impediment to peaceful coexistence, but a prerequisite for it.  That is, the correct dogma.

So we have nothing to fear from those who pray for our conversion.  For one thing, I tend to think the people who are praying for you are not those praying against you or who would prey on you.  Second, if they are wrong and you know the Truth, God won’t try to change your heart.  If your conception Truth is flawed, then their prayers are in order.  And if you think them impertinent because you don’t believe in Truth, perhaps you might ponder a pearl of wisdom from G.K. Chesterton:

“They call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma, who is a thinker, and has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.”

Contact Selwyn Duke

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Home of the Brave?

Posted by wordforit on March 12, 2008

Don Davis

Tomorrow’s World

The Star-Spangled Banner calls the United States, “the home of the brave.” Past generations were moved by the bravery and self-sacrifice of American soldiers during World War II.
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Great generals such as Doolittle, Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton have inspired Americans, while their counterparts such as Montgomery and Alexander have inspired America’s British cousins across the sea. Screen heroes like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charlton Heston, Sylvester Stallone and George C. Scott have roused moviegoers with their portrayals of brave warriors. 

Sergeant York in World War I, and Audie Murphy 30 years later in World War II swelled America’s pride at the heroism shown by its native sons, not just the well-known names but also the millions of young Americans and Britons who fought side-by-side in wars during a century bloodier than any previously known to mankind. 

The American and British peoples have inherited a history of giants on the battlefields of war and diplomacy. Richard the Lionhearted, Francis Drake, Admiral Nelson, Winston Churchill, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt stirred the imagination and fortified the courage of their peoples in the face of national danger. But who today is rising to the standard of leadership these powerful men set in the past? 

Just what is real bravery? Webster’s Dictionary defines “brave” as “courageous, noble, fearless.” We sometimes hear of a brave soldier who advanced toward the enemy, in the face of withering fire, fearlessly braving shot and shell in a heroic effort to rescue a fallen comrade. We may hear of a firefighter or police officer risking life and limb to save a child in danger. 

Often the brave are anonymous ordinary citizens who, without thought of their personal safety, may put themselves in harm’s way to rescue an injured motorist or a drowning swimmer. Few of us could rise to such levels of bravery, so we honor those who risk all to serve others unselfishly.

However, there is a bravery born of vanity. Think of the boy who takes a schoolyard beating from a bully rather than be thought a coward by his classmates. Bravery may stem from love of family, love of country and loyalty to ideals and duty-or it may spring from stupidity and ignorance. As the saying goes, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Even so, we recognize as special the sacrifice involved when one brave individual dies so that another might live. 

But next to all these acts of individual bravery, one act of self-sacrifice stands as supreme. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). 

Mankind’s Satan-inspired legacy of dirty, destructive and bloody wars is not glorious; that’s just the stuff of history-book novels and movies. Yet we can see honor in the attitudes of those who died to preserve the lives of others. 

Jesus Christ will be able to use that human proclivity during the soon-coming Millennium, when human beings will learn the truth of God. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14). Under Christ’s command, the time is soon coming when the bravest Man of all will reign over a world where moral bravery is the rule, not the exception. 

To learn more about Jesus Christ’s prophesied return, and why we know it is coming soon, please read our informative free booklet, Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return. Bravery will be needed to face world events, in the years just ahead of us.

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Are you having fun?

Posted by wordforit on February 3, 2008

By Davy Crockett 

A cousin of mine has been very successful in several business ventures. He has worked hard over many years and has accumulated wealth and property. He has the accoutrements of wealth that one might expect in the form of homes, cars, boats, an airplane, and a farm in the country.

This cousin has traveled extensively pursuing his interests and passions. Along the way, his family fell apart and he has experienced a lot of heartache and pain. His “success” has not really brought him the peace of mind and satisfaction that he thought it would.

When I see my relative, now infrequently, he always asks me the same question. After our initial greeting, he says, “Hey, what are you doing for fun?” You see, after a lifetime of toil, he doesn’t find much pleasure or joy in his pursuits. He is still looking for that elusive something to fill the void in his life. He is not alone.

A headline this week shouted that the video game industry will top 17 billion dollars in sales this year. The movie industry is burgeoning with more releases of films every year which generate huge profits for the movie makers, as people fill the theaters to be entertained and to lose themselves for a little while in a make-believe world.

Certainly it is not wrong to enjoy playing a game or to enjoy a good movie, as long as it is done in balance and does not become a distraction from doing the basic things that bring a happy life. King Solomon of Israel, who was given a special gift of wisdom by God, wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).

As human beings, we should find time to play, to enjoy something that brings us joy and pleasure, always in moderation and not at the expense of others. An important concept is that if some thing or activity breaks one of the Ten Commandments or ridicules Godly principles, it simply is not funny. If the activity is beneficial, such as physical exercise, or if it challenges you intellectually, increasing your knowledge on something worthwhile, then it is uplifting and beneficial. For human beings there is a gnawing emptiness within us that cannot be filled with physical things or activities, though many people try to assuage the feeling with work, or “stuff,” or leisure activities.

Play is important for the young and the old alike, in developing the balanced life our Creator would want us to have. So, whether it is a board game or a video game, a play, a symphony concert or a movie, an athletic game or a walk in the park, such activities help us maintain a wholesome balance in our lives. But, make no mistake, these activities satisfy only temporarily and are no substitute for a close relationship with God, a relationship that can only be developed over time as we seek His Kingdom first, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.

Hopefully, my relative will someday find what is missing in his life, and then his work and his play will finally bring him what he truly wants, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”(Philippians 4:7).

What are you doing for fun? It’s a great question. If you want to find the balance in your life, request our free booklet The Ten Commandments at

http://tomorrowsworld.org/orderfree.shtml or you can download it at http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/media/booklets/ten.pdf

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