Archive for May 19th, 2006

Re-Post: No fear: Overcoming Bible trauma by Bob Just

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I’ve been a writer for many years, working on all kinds of projects from screenplays to corporate speeches to playwriting to academic essays to journalism and commentary. As a former English teacher, I’ve read all kinds of writing but never anything that comes even close to the Bible. In fact, as I will explain from a writer’s perspective, the Bible is not possible. And yet, ironically, this amazing book is taken for granted.

Most Americans have at least one Bible in their home. Most don’t read it, or don’t read it very much. In all likelihood that means you, or someone you know. Strangely, polls have shown that a huge percentage of Americans believe the Bible is the word of God but don’t have time to read it. No kidding. Either we must think God has nothing to say to us, or something else is going on.

First off, be assured I am not going to ask you to become a Bible scholar. I am not going to ask you to take umpteen Bible study classes, or memorize chapter and verse. All of those are good things – but they’re not for everyone. Most of us need a simpler approach.

The Bible is about relationship. It’s about you (with all your discouraging flaws) – and about God (who seeks to encourage you). We should go to the Bible as we go to an old friend, or to a loving parent. But that’s not reality for most people.

Let’s face it: That “big thick book” intimidates us. We act like it’s a school book and we’re going to be tested on everything we read – as if being “saved” meant being a “scholar.” Our fear of fears is that if we don’t understand the Bible, then there’s something deeply, spiritually wrong with us – maybe even that God doesn’t love us, but saves His love for the learned. Yet, the opposite is true. Jesus thanks His Father for making the Faith for regular people.

Ironically, considering all our fears, this ancient spiritual manuscript called the Bible is not some high-toned, intellectual textbook, but rather a storybook full of very human adventures, full of heroes as well as people who continually make a mess of things – and often the two together! It’s actually fun to read once you get past your Bible trauma. Here’s the key:

Don’t worry if the Bible is hard to understand. What you need for now will be there for you and will be understandable. Don’t expect some big revelation though. It may be only some small insight or oddly interesting bit of history. But on some level, it will feed your desire to relate to God. After all, it is His-story. Eventually, you’ll want to know more. So let me repeat this essential point: Don’t worry about what you don’t understand. If you read 10 verses and understand only one – you win! A little goes a long, long way.

Ultimately, the Bible is amazing because truth is amazing. The Bible is not only adventurous; it’s also touching, meaningful, instructive, ironic, sarcastic, humorous, gentle and stern – and ultimately both spiritual and human at the same time. It is also strangely modern despite its ancient text.

The Bible has been called God’s love letter to us, and yet, the majority of Americans don’t read it. If this is true for you, consider the following. The Bible could become something entirely different for you – something that can change your life in the most wonderful ways.

The impossible Bible

The main thing you really need to know is that the Bible is a “living thing” with an ability to relate to you personally – on the basis of your current needs. Simply put, the Bible is a miracle. I am not exaggerating. Let me prove it to you.

The first question a professional writer asks when given an assignment is, “Who am I talking to?” It is the key to getting started. In fact, you can’t get started if you do not know the answer to that one simple question. Unless you know who your reader is going to be you can hardly know how to approach your assignment.

If an editor tells me to write an article about love, that’s clear enough as far as the general subject, but the assignment changes completely depending on the reader. If I know I am writing to teenagers or if I am writing to middle aged married couples, my writing style changes – and so does my content. The less you know who your audience is, the more difficult the assignment. You can’t even be sure how to choose your words properly. Are you writing to highly educated people or are you writing to someone with an eighth-grade education? Or how about the references you make in writing? Are you writing to city or country folk? Sound difficult? Believe me, it is. Well, let’s make it harder.

Now imagine this editor tells you he wants you to write about love in a way that works not only for Americans but works even when translated for people of other countries. You’re thinking Europe with its Judeo-Christian roots, but your editor is more ambitious. He wants your article to work in all foreign lands, wherever he can sell it. Consider the difficulty of this: Asian cultures, African cultures, Islamic cultures, Buddhist cultures, Hindu cultures – and regional cultures within those cultures must also be considered. You must write for them all – and write effectively!

Impossible you say?

Fine, but your editor is not moved by your objections. He has other demands. Not only should everyone in today’s world understand your book (he’s decided it should be a book), he also wants you to write something that will be relevant a hundred years from now. In fact, he really wants something timeless, but even he knows that’s impossible. Can you even imagine what American culture will be like in 100 years? How about 1,000 years from now? Now imagine writing for people living many thousands of years from now, and it will give you a little idea of why I tell people that from a writer’s perspective the Bible can’t be written in any normal human way. Nor can it be read “normally.”

It is truly a miraculous document.

Consider that the Bible was written for all people, of all backgrounds, of all education levels. It was written for all races, colors, creeds and cultures. It was written for people thousands of years ago and for people who will live many years into the future.

But even more!

It is also written for you as you are now, as you were when you were a teenager, and as you’ll be when you are old. It’s written for all the personalities of all the billions of people in all of existence. God wouldn’t leave anyone out, would he?

The Bible is amazing, and all the more so because it was written over the course of about 1,500 years – by many different people. This is not the work of a single human being with a single personality and vision. The Bible has at least 40 different authors, from all different backgrounds and walks of life – and they write in three different languages. There are almost 40 books in the Old Testament and almost 30 in the New Testament. And yet, the result is a singular Holy book, tried and true, tested by millions of readers over thousands of years. This is a book capable of befriending anyone at anytime with just the right wisdom for our needs. As I said, the Bible isn’t possible.

The Bible is written to reach you when you are happy and when you are sad. When life is good and full, and when it’s empty and unbearable. So how should you read the Bible? Go to it as old friend, one who loves you and is patient with your progress.

So don’t worry about what you don’t understand. Read it for what you do understand, and in joyful expectation that more will come in good time – when you need it. If you need it! This is not just a book. This is a Holy Book, a miracle God created for you – capable of covering all your needs in good time.

It is a living document because the God who guides you is a Living God. His Holy Spirit is always with you, if you will only listen. And the Spirit that guides you in reading the Bible is the same Spirit that guided the men who wrote it. No wonder the Bible can speak to us on our terms and in anticipation of our needs.

Hard to believe? Yes, of course! All miracles are hard to believe, even when they happen to you – as this one will. That’s right. The Bible was written for you, to reach you, to revive you, to nourish you and to inspire you to seek its Author. It asks only one thing of you. Treat it as you would a loving parent and not as a homework assignment. Remember, those scholars who sent Jesus to His death knew the Bible cold. The secret isn’t knowledge. The secret is love.

It’s about process not results. Leave the results to God. Just make sure you read the Bible – read little parts, or big parts – read a sentence here, a paragraph there. Just open the Bible and let the adventure begin. Yes, many of us find the Bible intimidating. But that’s not God’s fault. It’s our fault.

The “Good Book” is a handbook on truth. It is a living document, a spiritual thing, meant to minister to your needs over a whole lifetime, no matter who you are – or where you live – or what language you speak. We can all speak the language of truth. God helps us to know it’s His Book by writing it in such an impossible way. Start by believing He wrote it for you – as a matter of faith. Stop thinking that God is a boring, uncaring teacher! In your heart you know that’s not true.

So get that book on your shelf right now. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Start reading anywhere you like. And do it again tomorrow. Don’t give up. You might start with something toward the end of the book. The New Testament is a little easier to grab on to – but decide right now that it won’t matter to you if you don’t understand what you read. Let what you do understand come as a complete surprise – part of the continual fun of picking up that ancient book and seeking the treasures within.

Do this on a regular basis, and your life will never be the same. And remember, there are thousands and thousands of churches – and neighbors and friends who will be glad to give you any help you want. In the end, that’s the real lesson.

You are not alone. You are loved. The Bible is proof of that.

Bob Just is a WorldNetDaily columnist, editor-at-large of Whistleblower magazine, a veteran national radio talk-show host and founder and president of the Oregon-based “Concerned Fathers Against Crime” and “Concerned Mothers Alliance for Children.” His television appearances include “Hannity & Colmes,” “Politically Incorrect” and “Fox & Friends,” he speaks publicly on various topics and can be reached through his website, BobJust.com.

Senate Panel Approves Federal Marriage Amendment

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Are the Republicans finally waking up to the fact that they are the majority?

(CNSNews.com) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The 10-8 vote, along party lines, followed a showdown between committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).
Feingold refused to take part in the session and even walked out after complaining that the public did not have enough access. “If you want to leave, good riddance,” Specter told Feingold. “I’ve enjoyed your lecture too. See you later, Mr. Chairman,” Feingold replied before leaving, according to Reuters.
The amendment now goes to the full Senate, where a vote is expected June 5, to the delight of conservatives, who have been pushing for a traditional definition of marriage – one man and one woman – to be constitutionally mandated.
“This Amendment will permit the American people an opportunity to rein in activist judges who have stripped the right of voters to protect marriage,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a statement. He thanked Specter for scheduling a vote on the amendment.
“The threat to traditional marriage is alive and well. Just this week, a Georgia state court declared void the voice of Georgia voters. Let us also remember the decision by a federal judge declaring unconstitutional Nebraska’s popularly supported state amendment preserving marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Perkins said.
The fact that the amendment was passed by a party line vote “illustrates a stark contrast between those who would allow an activist judiciary to redefine the institution of marriage and those committed to a representative form of government that relies upon the people to determine the great social questions of our day,” he said.
“I call upon the U.S. Senate to approve the Marriage Protection Amendment. As the states move to ratify the marriage amendment, only then will the voice of the American public be heard and preserved,” Perkins concluded. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds approval in the U.S. House and Senate, plus ratification by three quarters of the nation’s state legislatures.

Opponents of the marriage amendment view it as discrimination.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has launched a postcard campaign urging senators to vote no on the Federal Marriage Amendment. PFLAG characterizes it as “the first step in writing discrimination” into the U.S. Constitution “by denying marriage equality to same-sex individuals.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, said the amendment is a waste of time for the committee, which he said should be focused on more urgent matters. He mentioned the president’s judicial nominations or the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program as examples, Reuters reported.
“I didn’t realize marriages were so threatened. Nor did my wife of 44 years,” Reuters quoted Leahy as saying.

Senate Approves English As ‘National’ Language

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I’m wondering if this is a repercussion from the recent illegal immigrant protest.

(CNSNews.com) – An amendment to the Senate immigration bill would make English the “national language of the United States.” The Senate voted 63-34 to adopt the amendment, which was offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
The measure declares that there is no affirmative right to receive services in languages other than English, except where required by federal law. In other words, the amendment is mostly symbolic — it will not change the way the government prints documents or conducts business.
Also on Thursday — confusing the issue — the Senate also voted 58-39 in favor of a second, weaker amendment, offered by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). The Salazar amendment declared English to be “the common and unifying language of the United States.”
Inhofe’s strong amendment is getting the most attention, however.
Critics, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, called the Inhofe amendment racist, regardless of its intent. Sen. John McCain worried about making English the “official” language. “It gives the idea that any other language is excluded,” he said.
But advocacy groups such as U.S. English and English First hailed passage of the Inhofe amendment.
“Today’s vote heeded the voices of the vast majority of Americans who believe that English is a crucial part of being an American,” said Mauro Mujica, chairman of the board of U.S. English.
He said Thursday’s “historic” vote making English the national language corrects a longstanding oversight.
U.S. English points to a 2005 Zogby International poll showing that 79 percent of Americans support making English the official language of the United States, including more than two-thirds of Democrats and four-fifths of first- and second-generation Americans.
Even President Bush has embraced the importance of immigrants learning to speak English. In his address to the nation Monday night, President Bush said, “The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society and embrace our common identity as Americans.”
Bush called the English language “the key to unlocking the opportunity of America.”
“The debate on the Senate floor today contained many different viewpoints, but the senators were unanimous in their belief that English is the unifying factor and the key to opportunity in the United States,” said Mujica.
He said a diverse country must focus on thing that bring it together: “Without a common language, we are not a nation of immigrants, but instead groups of immigrants living in a nation.”
U.S. English, founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest non- partisan citizens’ action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States.

‘Weathervane senators’
Another advocacy group, English First, called the Inhofe amendment “the only serious approach to the language issue.”
English First criticized the 25 U.S. senators who voted for Inhofe’s amendment – then immediately undercut their votes by also approving Salazar’s amendment.
“These weathervanes may thing they have fooled their constituents back home by voting both for and against the Inhofe amendment. We’ll see,” said Jim Boulet Jr., Executive Director of English First.
Republicans accused of undermining the Inhofe amendment include Brownback (Kan.), Chafee (R.I.), Coleman (Minn.), DeWine (Ohio), Graham (S.C.), Hagel (Neb.), McCain (Ariz.), Murkowski (Alaska), Snowe (Maine), Specter (Penn.), Voinovich (Ohio), and Warner (Va.).
Legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 997) also would make English the official language; that bill now has about 150 co-sponsors.
More than half of the states have passed laws making English the official language. The American Civil Liberties Union has successfully challenged some of those laws on the grounds that they unconstitutionally deny non-English speakers “fair and equal access to their government .”
Official language laws make non-English speakers second-class citizens, the ACLU has argued.

Christian Fraternity’s Suit Moves UNC to Revise Nondiscrimination Policy

Friday, May 19th, 2006

The anti-Christian bias found in the education system these days is remarkable!!

(AgapePress) – A Christian legal alliance says a federal lawsuit has prompted the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to drop its ban on a religious fraternity. UNC officials have reversed course after initially denying recognition to Alpha Iota Omega because the fraternal organization required that its members be Christians.
The university originally refused to recognize Alpha Iota Omega because the administration said the Christian fraternity’s religious requirement violated UNC’s nondiscrimination policy. But after the student group filed a lawsuit against the university, UNC revised its policy to allow political and religious groups to exclude members on the basis of beliefs.
David French is an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the legal group that represented Alpha Iota Omega in court. He says religious student organizations obviously should have the right to make faith-based decisions, just as other groups make decisions based on their beliefs and values or philosophies.
“What the university is doing,” French says, “is like saying to the College Democrats, ‘You can’t discriminate on the basis of political beliefs,’ or saying to an environmentalist group, ‘You can’t discriminate on the basis of feelings about the environment.’ It’s just absurd.”
But the university persisted in its unreasonable stance, the attorney contends, in part because the University of North Carolina has an extensive record of trying to eject Christian groups from campus. “This is a school with a long history of violating the rights of students and a long history of trying to single out and target Christians,” he says.
A judge recently tossed out Alpha Iota Omega’s lawsuit, declaring there was no need to proceed since the fraternity has been reinstated and the school had already changed its nondiscrimination policy. However, French feels UNC needs to be continually monitored, despite its apparent compliance with the fraternity’s wishes.
“We’re going to be watching North Carolina very closely to make sure that they’re respecting the rights of their students,” the ADF-affiliated lawyer notes. The school officials are respecting the rights of Alpha Iota Omega right now, he adds, “but if that changes at all we will once again, I’m sure, head back into court against UNC Chapel Hill.”
French says ADF is pleased that the Christian fraternity’s lawsuit has caused UNC-Chapel Hill to revise its policy and change its treatment of religious student organizations on campus. The new anti-discrimination policy is “far from perfect,” the attorney admits; however, he says its interpretation by the university is “a vast improvement” over the previous policy that denied religious student groups their constitutional rights.

Pro-Family Critics Blast Overturn of Georgia Marriage Amendment

Friday, May 19th, 2006

More nonsense from activist judges.

(AgapePress) – Pro-family and conservative leaders are criticizing a state trial court judge’s decision to throw out an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Nevertheless, many traditional supporters believe that, despite the court’s ruling, traditional marriage in Georgia will ultimately be protected.
Attorneys with the pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) say Judge Constance Russell, the trial court judge who declared the Georgia’s “Amendment One” unconstitutional, misused a technicality known as the “single subject rule” that says amendments may not deal with multiple issues and must address one subject only. However, ADF senior legal counsel Mike Johnson believes the judge’s contravention of the will of Georgia’s voters, who approved the marriage amendment in November 2004, cannot stand for long.
“Georgia’s Amendment One has one purpose: to protect marriage from attack,” Johnson asserts. “The 76 percent of voters in Georgia who voted ‘yes’ to the single subject of protecting marriage from all contemporary threats deserve to have their vote respected and not dismissed by radical judges,” he says.
The ADF spokesman points out that a situation similar to this judicial reversal in Georgia happened in another state not long ago, when a district court struck down the Louisiana Defense of Marriage Amendment on the same grounds as were used to strike down the Georgia amendment. In both cases, he notes, the trial judges ruled that the amendments were invalid because they addressed two topics — marriage and civil unions.
Johnson helped defend Louisiana’s marriage amendment from that attack. In the case known as Forum for Equality PAC v. McKeithen, the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously overturned the state district court judge’s decision and reinstated the marriage amendment, and the ADF senior counsel is convinced that a similar scenario will eventually play out in Georgia.
“This ruling will be appealed,” the pro-family litigator contends, “and the Georgia Supreme Court will understand, just as Louisiana’s high court did, that the sole objective of these amendments is to protect marriage and that the language of the amendment is crucial in achieving that single goal.”
The state trial court judge who threw out Georgia’s Amendment One may try to claim that civil unions and same-sex “marriage” are different subjects, Johnson adds; “but the people of Georgia,” he insists, “know better. They understand that protecting marriage means protecting it from all imitations.”

Bauer: State Controversy Proves Federal Amendment Needed
Conservative activist Gary Bauer of the group American Values agrees that Russell’s ruling was a seriously flawed piece of jurisprudence. But while the judge’s conclusion was based on “a contorted view” of Georgia’s single subject law, Bauer observes, the state’s political leaders appear to be united in their defense of traditional marriage.
The American Values spokesman notes that even the Democratic Attorney General of Georgia, Thurbert Baker, is calling the trial court judge’s ruling “wrongfully decided.” Meanwhile, the state’s Republican governor, Sonny Perdue, has vowed to appeal the decision. He says he will call a special session of the state legislature to consider putting another marriage amendment on this year’s ballot if the Georgia Supreme Court does rule on the issue by August 7.
Judge Russell’s action striking down the Georgia marriage amendment is “just one more example,” Bauer asserts, “of why we desperately need a federal marriage protection amendment.” The United States Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” he contends, “and our public servants in Congress should act now by sending a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification so the people, not unelected judges, can decide the meaning of marriage in America.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee took a meaningful first step today (May 18) toward that end when it voted to approve a constitutional amendment that would outlaw homosexual “marriage.” The vote fell along party lines, with ten Republicans voting in favor of protecting traditional marriage and eight Democrats voting against the measure. The approval clears the way for the full Senate to vote on the matter, which is expected the week of June 5.

Alabama Christians Urge Support for State Marriage Amendment
In the meantime, the battle over marriage continues in other areas around the nation. Even now, the Christian Coalition of Alabama is encouraging pro-family voters across that state to turn out in strong numbers next month for a vote on a state marriage amendment.
Senate Bill 109, also known as the Sanctity of Marriage Act, would preserve the definition of traditional marriage as being only between one man and one woman through a constitutional amendment. State law already prohibits same-sex marriage in Alabama, but many conservatives feel the amendment is needed to prevent activist courts from striking state marriage law.
John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, says a big turnout would help the cause tremendously. “When pro-family groups go to lobby the legislature for and against legislation,” he notes, “it pretty well lets legislators know who’s back home.”
By coming out en masse to support biblical marriage, church members can demonstrate to lawmakers just what a “good Christian, conservative audience we have that are part of the voting electorate,” Giles points out. With sheer numbers believers can show that they want marriage protected, he says, “and it certainly helps our job in passing good legislation and stopping bad legislation.”
The Christian Coalition of Alabama spokesman notes that with courts all across the U.S. issuing conflicting decisions about the definition of marriage, it is important for a state to have its own laws clearly established. When states like Alabama and Mississippi enshrine the definition of traditional marriage in a constitution as being between one man and one woman, those states can more easily refuse to recognize unions from other jurisdictions that do not fit the traditional definition of marriage.
Also, Giles adds, having marriage protected in a state constitution “makes it stronger in the court cases as well.” He says Alabama’s marriage amendment vote takes place June 6, and pro-family supporters are praying that the proposal will get at least 85 percent of the vote.

Christian Attorney Predicts Attempt to Block Graduation Prayer Will Succeed

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Every year we have to go through this. It’s funny that those who demand tolerance are the most intolerant of all. Maybe if the student doesn’t want to sit through a prayer, then he/she need to leave. Even with the injunction, the school, court and everyone else is powerless to deny a speaker the right to say what they want. So if a speaker just decided to pray as part of their speech, but didn’t ask anyone to join, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

(AgapePress) – A constitutional attorney fears the American Civil Liberties Union may succeed in it attempt to get prayer banned at a high school graduation in Kentucky on Friday.
The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit to stop officials at Russell County High School from saying a prayer during tomorrow’s graduation ceremony. The organization filed the suit on behalf of an unidentified student who, according to an ACLU attorney, “doesn’t feel he should be forced to sit through prayer.” According to an Associated Press report, the principal of the school refused to guarantee that nobody would pray at Friday’s ceremony.
Steve Crampton is chief counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy (CLP). He says it is unfortunate that the ACLU often has the upper hand in such cases.
“Of course the Constitution doesn’t say anything about offering up a 30-second prayer at a high school graduation,” says the constitutional attorney, “but we have this history of crazy court decisions that have kind of created an illusory wall separating students and folks who are voluntarily attending these events from any kind of recognition or acknowledgement of God. It’s really just an absurd state of affairs.”
Those court decisions, he says, have erected a “horrific double-standard” in the law by frequently protecting a single atheist who objects to school prayer. He explains that observation.
“Put the shoe on the other foot for a minute,” says Crampton. “Consider what deeply religious Christian students are forced to endure in the classroom setting itself: countless hours, in most cases, of pro-homosexual propaganda; graphic teachings on sex; untold numbers of anti-Christian diatribes — all offered in the name of tolerance or educational necessity.
“Very rarely are [those students] given an opportunity to opt out,” he notes.
The AFA attorney says although the overwhelming majority of Russell County residents support prayer at graduation, he believes Judge Joseph McKinley is likely to grant the ACLU a preliminary injunction to stop the prayer.