Friday, February 24, 2006

Kennedy, Chappaquiddick, and Cheney

Sen. Kennedy has been one of the more outspoken critics of the "Texas Quail Hunt Massacre" in that he somehow believes that VP Cheney and/or the White House must have been trying to hide something. After all, when the incident occurred, the hunting party had the gall to call an ambulance before contacting the Washington press corps.

Actually, I don't think Sen. Kennedy believes for one moment that there has been some great cover-up conspiracy. I believe that he wants US to believe it, but I also think he is doing nothing more than continuing to play the same political game he has been playing for years. Why would he change his course of action when he is continually re-elected time and again? He has found what works in his home state, and he trades on a name that is associated with power and affluence.

Let it be known that I have no use for Senator Kennedy. I personally don't care much for his name-calling and orations against Republicans in general, and I have yet to hear him say anything with any real substance.

Having said this, however, I must also say that those who try to play Sen. Kennedy's unfortunate past against him are doing nothing more than sinking (no pun intended) down to his own, sorry level. However, I will also offer this perspective. Senator Kennedy has buried two brothers who were gunned down in the prime of their lives. His big family has had troubles that the average citizen cannot even fathom. And knowing what I know only from what I have read, if I came from a family like that, I would probably be a little angry as well!

There is no connection or similarity between what happened a jillion years ago and what happened last week. It's over, and Mr. Whittington is doing just fine. For his age, I would say his recovery is rather remarkable. But this finger-pointing and name-calling has got to stop.

Did you ever notice that this kind of behavior is happening in the church as well? It's that same, tired, old "liberal" vs "conservative" and accusations of one or the other deliberately trying to destroy "innocent" people or not caring enough. Come to think of it, our behavior in our churches looks a lot like what the political headlines read. We keep screaming that it's all about Jesus, but evidence to the contrary suggests that church life is about anything BUT Jesus.

Who says religion and politics don't mix?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Measure of True Worth

I mentioned in an earlier post about the death of a central Arkansas high school student who was killed in a single-vehicle accident. News came later that this child was very drunk and also had traces of cocaine in her system. I wondered then why the news media would have decided that this news needed to be shared at all. Did this news diminish the worth of this young lady's life in any way? I think not.

This young lady was a very popular student, involved in many extracurricular activities and even did some volunteer work. This life was overflowing with potential! Yet we learn later that she was every bit as human as the rest of us, suffering from the same frailties and temptations that many of us battle every single day. Her drunkenness cannot be excused, but I also cannot help but wonder whether, if she had hit another vehicle and someone other than she had died, the community would be crying for justice to go easy on her because she was who she was?

I ask these questions only because the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote a beautiful op-ed piece about her life and accomplishments. In the obituaries of the same section, however, was the story of a 19-year-old man who had died. The circumstances of his death were not mentioned in his obituary and there was no front-page headline heralding the world's loss of such a fine young man with so much accomplished and much more to look forward to.

Not to detract from this girl's death and her loved ones' anguish, but what does it say about us as a society that somehow her death was "breaking news" worthy of a headline, but this young man was nothing more than a blip in the obituaries? She was very pretty with long blonde hair and a very impressive resume. The young man's photo revealed a healthy and eager smile, a handsome young man who, judging by the obituary, had many loved ones who hurt just as much.

Did I mention that the young man was black?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tag .. I'm It

John at Locusts and Honey has challenged a few to designate songs we love that must also include the following instructions: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

  1. Nella Fantasia - Celtic Woman
  2. Time to Say Goodbye - Sarah Brightman
  3. Havana - Kenny G
  4. Catching the Breeze - Eden's Bridge
  5. Poems, Prayers, and Promises - John Denver
  6. Hymn of Promise - UMH 707
  7. The Nutcracker Suite - Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

I'm not much for contemporary music anymore, and "oldies" stations are getting harder to come by. And by the way, the church where my family and I have alighted during my sabbatical - we are joining a Sunday school class tomorrow, and it's not a "young adults" class. Oh my gosh, I'm OLD!!

Tag - You're it: Jason Hall, Dan McGowan, Wayne Cook, Andy Bryan, John Wilks, Mike Lamson, Randy Graves

Man's Quest for "More"

In today's religion section of a state-wide newspaper were two articles that caught my attention. One was a shorty about the phenomenal growth of so-called "megachurches". Readers may recall that a few of these "megachurches" caught the ire of the general Christian public by choosing to cancel Christmas Day worship services because the holiday itself fell on a Sunday. The article pointed to a study by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based nonprofit consultant on church growth. In simple terms, the attendance and/or membership of these churches has nearly doubled in the last five years. They continue to grow and "draw younger Americans and families through contemporary programming and conservative values."

The other article was a play on man's so-called "mid-life crisis" but with a holy twist. Successful persons are no longer in pursuit of bigger and better toys or paychecks or positions. The successful persons mentioned in the article had achieved as much as they could in man's world. The "more" they were continually in search of was of a more divine nature.

As a United Methodist with Roman Catholic tendencies, non-denominational churches have always held a curious attraction for me yet I've not been curious enough to attend the services even though a very dear friend of mine, actually a former drinking buddy, got his life turned around through the ministry of a "megachurch". Now he is a dedicated disciple who has done quite a bit of missionary work. It's kind of hard to knock a church that can count among its members such a person who was truly on a dark path and made such a remarkable about-face.

At one time I was perfectly content with the larger churches because it was easy to get lost in them. No one really bothered me, and no one ever asked me to participate in anything. Yet as I grew up, it became more important for me to be an ACTIVE member of a congregation which I suppose eventually led me to the pulpit, first as a lay speaker and then as a licensed pastor. In all that time and during all that growth, however, it never occurred to me that I was continually restless. In retrospect, I was never satisfied. I needed more, but I didn't quite know how to go about it or even identify it. I suppose I'm still there, restless and wanting more.

Now that I am only months away from graduation from college, the possibilities of "more" stand before me. I can go to law school if I want to, or I can go to seminary if I want to. More choices, because of education, will be before me than ever before. Yet when I read about highly successful persons who have accomplished "more" and have grown tired of the so-called "rat race", I wonder why it is that I cannot learn through the testimony of others that "more" is not always better.

Megachurches have their own attraction and if the "entertainment value" factor of these churches gets young people to attend and hear the Word of the Lord and have their hearts opened by moving music, then I'm all for it even though it may not be my cup of tea. It seems to me, however, that reaching for more of the world, even if we try to attach a divine element to it, will get us nothing but sore arms and a perpetual thirst that can never be quenched.

The successful people who are trading their places in the board rooms for mission projects have finally figured out how to quench their own thirst - by helping to quench the thirst of others. Is this not the life that Christ calls us all to? Could it be that these "megachurches" had enjoyed such growth because other successful people traded in the stock options for something a bit more eternal? What these persons have found is finally true fulfillment. The sad thing is that too many of us will have to be knocked in the head more than once before we finally get it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Random Thoughts

I was visiting with a "headhunter" the other day who had contacted me at my workplace. This person was not looking for me in particular; she had only called the company and asked for the director of operations. While she was speaking in very general terms, she asked me what my ideal position would be. Of course I knew that she was talking about the transportation business, but I said, "I would like to write."

That's it. If I could do anything in the world that I could choose, I would choose to write full-time. Whether it is about religion or politics or anything else under the sun, I love to write. How ironic it is that at this very moment, I can think of absolutely nothing to write about.

However, it occurred to me while I was thinking about my ideal that I was completely engrossed in only what interested me. There was no thought about how such a position would affect my family or my home, there was no thought about whether this might be what the Lord would want me to do, and there was not even much of a thought about whether I could make a living at it.

Yes, I have tried to sell a few pieces here and there, but one syndicated writer who was kind enough to evaluate my work warned me to expect several rejections. If this is part of the game, then I am well on the road to success! Incidentally, he liked what I sent him but he refused to pay for it. Funny guy.

Other random thoughts:

  • How much information do I really need? A high school senior, apparently very popular, outgoing, and accomplished, was recently killed in a single-car crash. Her school and almost the entire state mourned her passing. She was young and beautiful. It was later discovered that she was drunk with traces of cocaine in her system. Did the entire state really need to know this?
  • Why is power so intoxicating? This nation's Congress is as divided as this nation's churches. It is not enough to simply disagree and try to prove the other wrong. It seems we would rather destroy the offending party for ... what? Control. Power. We want - no - we NEED to be right. But even more than this, we NEED the opposition to be wrong. Only then can complete dominance be achieved.
  • How badly was FEMA managed during Katrina? Think about it. New Orleans knew for DAYS that a massive hurricane was coming. As I understand it, the Feds cannot come in without permission from the state. Folks are still displaced, audits are discovering that huge amounts of money have been virtually given away without really checking things out, there are 10,000 mobile homes parked in Arkansas that were originally destined for the gulf region to be used as homes that now cannot be used down there. But was all this mismanagement or political knee-jerk reactions without any real thought process?
  • Was it really that big of a deal? The vice president was involved in a hunting accident. So was Billy-Bubba and a host of others, some of whose victims did not live to tell about it. Why was the vice president's mishap of such national importance?
  • The government cannot be all things to all people. My congressman sits on the House Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs committees. Both committees are exploring how to provide the best care for veterans, and I am sure they are focused on the current war on terror. However, should non-combat veterans be entitled to the same benefits as our counter-parts who have endured the horrors of war? I was a peace time Marine and was proud to serve. However, I just don't feel "entitled". Does this make sense? The government, contrary to popular opinion, has limited resources. If choices have to be made to cut anything in order to provide what is really needed, shouldn't the non-combat vets be willing to stand aside? After all, our service was "self-less", wasn't it?

Is this a great country or what??

Thursday, February 16, 2006

One More Word

Freedom. The principles of this nation are founded upon the concept of freedom. We are free to come and go as we please. We are free to have families as we please. We are free to be successful, or to fail, as we please. Within the reasonable boundaries of law, we are free to do virtually anything we please - as long as we do not harm others.

This situation over the caricatures of Muhammad has gotten out of hand not only by those who would answer this "offense" with violence but also by those who would thumb their noses at decorum and cultural sensitivity in the name of the very freedom that would not only allow such carelessness but would also grant to us the freedom to refrain from that which could ultimately do more harm than good. Just because we have a right to do something does not necessarily mean that we should.

More newspaper columnists are decrying the American newspapers who are choosing to refrain from publishing the cartoons as "caving", but then again these "watchdogs of freedom" must surely be relatively certain that they will not be held financially liable if such "in your face" journalism should cause physical property damage. Ain't freedom grand??

It would appear to me that the American brand of "freedom" is not completely compatible with the kind of freedom spoken of in the Bible. There is a whole different concept that allows that just as surely as we are free to DO, we are also free to refrain - especially when we know or even think that someone may be genuinely offended in any way.

I think it is as simple as defining "moral" behavior. It is not enough to refrain from doing evil but rather, true moral behavior would be more inclined toward actively good behavior. WWII and the Holocaust should be enough for Americans to know that remaining silent and doing nothing is not only not conducive to moral conduct but may in fact actually be immoral.

Never mind the nasty comments such as, "In your face, raghead", and other such derogatory remarks. They achieve nothing. We are indeed at war but we are not at war with Islam; we are at war with a world-wide band of mauraders, thugs, and murderers who happen to align themselves with Islam. There is a major difference, and those who are true and faithful to their calling deserve at least our respect. This will be the only way we can ever hope to earn any respect.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Where is the Love?

Typically there are the so-called liberals who take issue with so-called conservatives over the homosexual deal. Especially in theological discussions about the "right" or the "wrong" of it, the liberals insist that Jesus preached "love". "Love your neighbor", "Love God with your whole heart". Then of course, there is the ever-present "Judge not ..."

Reading today's editorial section in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, my head was spinning! With all the "hateful "letters to the editor virtually burning President Bush in effigy, I had to wonder where all the venom was coming from.

I learned my lesson the hard way. Years ago when President Clinton was in office, some friends and I were sitting around the table discussing politics. You should know that I was no fan of President Clinton, and I am sure that I was not quiet or discreet about my disdain for this man and his policies. My then 10-year-old daughter chimed in on the conversation and said, "I HATE Bill Clinton!"

You should also know that there was only one source from which my daughter could have gleaned such an attitude. I was a little surprised at her outburst but as I thought about it, I realized that I had taken what was at once an innocent child and had inadvertently offered her fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Without realizing it, I had violated the innocence of a child and had taught her how to speak not according to what she knew or what she believed but rather, from an emotion to emulate someone she looked up to and respected.

Needless to say, it took me a long time to undo the damage I had done. And this is the task that is before us. We have allowed the politicians too much power for far too long and as a result, we have allowed ourselves to get caught up in the "mob mentality" frenzy of calling names and spewing the most vile words we can possibly come up with. And oddly, we do this in the name of "justice" for the poor, the disenfranchised, the elderly .... the Christ.

Have we so digressed to a level in which we find that we have more need to hate than to love? Have we become such a "mob" of people who have some inate desire - if need - to hate? Or are we nothing more than a bunch of cowards who take some perverted delight in trashing another human being with the relative certainty that nothing will come of it, certainly no consequences.

We can do better. And for the sake of the next generation, we must.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It's the Little Things

In 2 Kings 5 is the story of a great leader, a general named Naaman, who is afflicted with leprosy. His wife's servant, a girl from Israel, encouraged Naaman to go to Israel to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.

Long story short, he goes but what he encounters is not what he had come to expect. This general was a great military leader and was accustomed to doing great things. He was also accustomed to people coming to him, so it was probably an exceeding insult that Elisha did not come directly to Naaman but instead, sent a messenger. And the message was simply: go dip in the Jordan River seven times and be healed.

Naaman was insulted on several levels, not the least of which is that Elisha did not come offer enough respect to show his face. And then to go and wash in a river in a land that Naaman likely considered to be inferior to his own homeland. It was only when his own servants reminded him that if something great had been asked of him, he would not have hesitated to do it for the sake of being healed. So Naaman dipped himself in the river as Elisha had instructed, and he came out completely healed.

Some of us get too filled with the big jobs we dream of one day having, such as a pastorate in a very large church or conducting revivals on the scale of a Billy Graham crusade or having thousands of dollars to give toward what we would consider to be a worthy cause. We rarely consider that it is the "little things" that give the greatest and most profound blessings. In the end, we touch more lives with the little things we are capable of managing than we will in wishing for something (coveting??) that is beyond our grasp.

Such is the life of a blogger. Or a preacher at a small, rural church. Or a server on the soup line. Or a stock person at a Salvation Army Thrift Store. Or the greeter who stands at the door of any church and makes everyone feel right at home. This list of the little things is only the beginning of the small, yet powerful, ways each of us can impact a life.

We are not Jesus. We cannot reasonably expect to be able to do the things He did. Then again, there can only be one Christ as there is only one God. Doing the things that we can do, however great or small, will make the difference in another's life and give them a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth that will go a lot further than our dreams of accomplishing "great" things, even if our intent is to do great things in the name of the Lord. The really great things are the "lost coin" or the "lost sheep". Just one small thing at a time.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Is It Really Idolatry?

So the Arabic world of Islam is offended by the caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in some European newspapers, one of which was a depiction of the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban. I specify "Arabic" world because it appears that at least American Muslims, though seemingly genuinely offended by these caricatures, are not burning, looting, and pillaging their neighborhoods.

It is hard to feel pity for those who seem intent on such destruction. Americans are still reeling from 9/11 and are still sending loved ones overseas to fight in an increasingly unpopular war. And as we read the daily papers and listen on the TV and radio, there seems rarely a day when Americans don't suffer casualties. And then we see these same people whom we believe we are fighting to protect virtually dancing in the streets whenever the US suffers casualties.

And yet as the caricature story continues to unfold - and yes, I believe Arabic Islamic "leaders" are stoking the fires - I cannot help but to at least wonder if the West can ever get off its "high horse" and realize that we are talking about an entirely different culture and mindset.

The Islamic prohibition against such caricatures and images is part of not just a religion which may be a 'part' of one's life but a religion that for many IS life in its entirety. Should Christians be so intimately tied to our religion? I think so but judging by a typical response to the "offense", it would appear that Christians may tend to be as "in your face" as the careless Europeans who insisted on reprinting these cartoons just to prove a point about freedom and liberty without acknowledging the enormous responsibility that comes with it.

In the movie, "Bruce Almighty", the main character makes a direct challenge to the Almighty since his own meager, yet adequate, life is not quite to his own satisfaction. The Lord decides then to directly confront "Bruce" and endow him with Divine Powers. The problem with having been granted this Power is that Bruce did not have the Wisdom that would have necessarily been required to properly exercise such power.

So we in the West thumb our noses at the Islamic prohibition against images as "idolatrous" because we don't see it their way. But when we also choose to thumb our noses at respect and decorum, what is it that we choose instead to worship?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Act of Worship

It is my first Sunday morning after having resigned my pulpit, and I do not know what to do with myself! I used to have my Sunday mornings lined out in such a way that I would rise early, have coffee with the morning paper for a brief time, then prepare for church. Often this would involve a last-minute review of the sermon and Bible texts and then a dash out the door for the 1/2 hour drive to the little church I served. Not a stressful morning, but at least a morning with purpose and time constraints.

The church we are about to visit is pretty close to a 1,000-member church with three Sunday morning worship services. Now you might suggest that three services to accomodate this kind of crowd would be required, and it probably is. What I'm having trouble with, however, is choosing which "kind" of service I will attend.

A few weeks ago my family and I attended this church's "praise" service. This service is very casual and is held not in the sanctuary but in the church's fellowship hall. There are no pews but, rather, tables and chairs. I was a little taken aback when some young people came in with doughnuts and sodas; there were others having coffee. Then it occurred to me that I should be grateful that these young people were bothering to come to church at all. As time passed, however, I had to wonder if such an accomodation has become necessary just to get folks in the door.

We should not begrudge any church that uses whatever reasonable means at its disposal to attract folks to church. Any exposure to the Word and a good sermon with lots of good music is a step in the right direction. As a somewhat conservative person, I have to constantly stay on my guard to try to see the positives that can come from such an environment. My concern, however, is in where our hearts are when we plan such a service. Are we trying to please the Lord God by doing whatever is necessary to get folks to church, or are we offering "consumers" an opportunity to be entertained with hopes that the Spirit may speak to them? Or are we doing whatever is necessary to keep the doors open?

Back when I served as lay leader to a local congregation, part of my duties was to offer a word before a collection was taken up. My word to the congregation, which got the attention of the finance people, was to simply hold back that portion of their gifts that were being given grudgingly. In other words, if you cannot give the gift and be glad about it, just keep it.

Now this admonishment is very biblical, but the finance manager and even the pastor were more than a little concerned that I was giving some an "out", an excuse for not giving. And, after all, don't we have bills to pay??

Like the gifts we offer, worship has to be offered in the very same vein. We must be on guard that we are not offering something that we hope will be pleasing to man long before we even concern ourselves with whether the Lord God will be pleased. After all, why are we there at all?

I should be grateful on so many levels for the opportunity that is before me that a) I am free to worship, b) I have such choices before me. So why am I so anxious? Why can I not look forward to this time of worship? I've been serving as a pastor for the past six years. Maybe it is that a time of adjustment will be required. This seems to be a given. In my time as a pastor, however, it never really occurred to me that different or additional services might be required in order to get people in the door. What if I simply pray with a sincere heart for guidance?

Then it occurred to me. Those who have designed these worship services may very likely have already prayed to the Lord God for guidance, and these varied services are where He led them. I remind myself that the condition of another's heart is not my concern. My business, my concern, is that I offer to those around me the best portrait of Christ I can offer. This is my worship, Sunday or any other day of the week. This is my opportunity whether I am behind the pulpit or in front of it.

Go worship with a glad heart. And if you are suffering the same anxieties that I am enduring, give yourself permission to "be still" and know who is God.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ancient Thought, Modern Process

"Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people." Deuteronomy 17:6-7

In what Moses is said to have written to the people of Israel, the text suggests to the people that the only way someone can be convicted of a capital crime is if there are genuine witnesses, presumably eye witnesses who can attest - with the same story - that they actually saw the crime take place. Then and only then can the guilty be put to death. This is not unlike so much we have seen in TV lawyer shows when attorneys suddenly rise on the testimony of a witness and shout, "Objection, your honor! Hearsay!"

It is fundamental to our system of justice that if one did not actually see a crime take place or was not party to a particular conversation, then one cannot accurately testify to the legitimacy of the claim. Whether something actually happened or was actually said must come from first-hand knowledge, not second-hand information.

There have been several in the last few years who have been released from prison or given a reprieve from death row because DNA evidence proved their innocence or at least cast enough doubt to give the condemned person the benefit. But while this DNA evidence is getting some released from prison, DNA evidence is also serving as a reliable witness to get others put away. I cannot cite a particular case in which DNA was used to condemn someone to death, but I am certain it may come to that if it has not already.

The Lord God established a system of justice centuries ago as a means by which we could govern ourselves with divine guidance. The idea of such a system of justice would leave little to chance in demanding that eye witnesses be part of the process. DNA may very well be a reliable witness in and of itself, but this DNA has to be processed by man. There is always a risk of evidence, DNA or otherwise, being tainted by the fallible nature of man even if the best of intentions are in place. So when the Day of the Lord is upon us and He asks about those we put to death in this country, do you think He will accept DNA evidence as part of the process?

I have to say that I have never been very comfortable with the death penalty. There are too many variables involved in the judicial process - including human emotion - and now, by the time a person accused of a capital crime is brought to trial, the entire state knows what this person looks like and has pretty much settled the case long before a judge has heard the first word. And depending on the nature of the crime, it may be that our hearts are so hardened that we would not be willing to accept a district attorney's decision to drop the matter due to lack of hard evidence because our minds will have already been made up.

Those I once considered as "bleeding hearts" have finally made a little inroad into my thought process. The truth is that our system of justice works best and most often in favor of those who can afford the more expensive and experienced attorneys. Those who because of economic circumstances are forced to depend on a government lawyer to defend them are genuinely gambling with their lives for no reason other than that they cannot afford an attorney.

While it may be "just" that a person be put to death for taking the life of another, judging by the responses of far too many citizens, "justice" is the furthest thing from our minds once we are able to attach a name and a face to a crime. I suppose by that point, the accused may as well be put to death because in reality, their life is all but over anyway, convicted by the court of public opinion with "hearsay" and put to death by the hardness of unforgiving hearts blinded by grief and emotion, never minding facts to the contrary.

Is it just possible that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, was not only giving us a standard by which to govern but was also giving us a system by which we would be protected - from ourselves?

Respecting the Differences

So the Muslim world is up in arms because of some caricatures of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban on his head and because the Muslims protested the first distribution in Denmark, other European papers chose to run this caricature not because there was necessarily a political statement to be made but because the papers intended to make a point about "liberty" and the press's freedom of expression.

What saddens me is not that these papers chose an "in your face" approach to defend their liberties but that the Christian Church as a whole has been thus far silent with the exception of Pope Benedict calling it an "unnecessary incitement". It seems to me that there was much lamentation, during WWII when it was well-known what the Nazis were up to against the Jews, that the Catholic Church took quite a beating about its own silence during that era, a silence which the late John Paul II chose to apologize for.

Say what you will about Islam and Muslims in general but if Christians do not come to the defense of those who are genuinely offended by these caricatures, then we are no better than the ones who are throwing this "liberty" in the face of any who oppose. To defend against that which is wrong, however, is not to respond in like manner but to respond as the apostle Paul would have - in fact, did - admonish the Romans, "If your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died." Romans 14:15 NKJV

Of course we are not talking about food, but the offense is just as real. And while we may not consider Muslims to be our "brothers" simply because they are not Christian, we must surely realize that Christ died for them just as surely as He died for any one of us. That is, of course, if He truly is the Savior of the WORLD. Accepting or rejecting this Gift does not change the course of history. So if Christ died for one, He surely died for all and our liberty has not been granted to us for our own use but for the glory of God alone.

Christians must be the voice of reason. In speaking up on behalf of Islam in the face of this unnecessary provocation, there is an opportunity availing itself to us at this time that we have yet to fully appreciate. What an opportunity to show Muslims what we really believe and what we truly stand for! And during this "window of opportunity", they just might be willing to listen.