Check Yes or No

You don’t have to be a country music fan to love George Strait.  I’m trying to figure out my favorite Strait song but I love them all—including this one.  It’s a song about two small children, a boy and a girl.  The little girl slips the boy a note asking if he loves her and if he does, check yes or no.

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.  The angel Gabriel visited a young Mary, probably a girl of about thirteen years old, a little older than the children in the song mentioned above.  He calls out to her and asks her in a much more eloquent way, Mary, God has chosen you over every woman in the world.  Will you be the mother of His Son?  Check yes or no.

I’m sure Mary was startled.  She asked the angel how she could be pregnant when she’d never had sex with a man.  A logical question for a human, but Mary didn’t hesitate to check yes, in all CAPS.  Mary had free will, but my guess is God knew Mary would agree.

I don’t think this story is all about Mary.  It’s a lesson for us all.  Every day God asks us to check yes or no.  It may not be something monumental as giving birth to Our Lord, but it is He who is asking us to do something.  It may be small, like being kind to a friend or relative.  Call or visit someone who is ill.  Buy the homeless man or woman on the street a cup of coffee.  Help out a co-worker.

You’ve been away from the church for various reasons and He misses you as a father misses one of his children who have strayed.  I’m sorry, God.  I want you back in my life.  But Father, you can’t possibly want me.  I had an abortion when I was young.  I was wild and have lived an impure life.  I left my wife/husband for someone else.  I’m in prison.  I’ve cursed against You.

But He does want you.  He does love you.  He wants you back.

Remember what the father did when the prodigal son returned home?  Did he tell him to get out?  No, he dressed him in the finest clothes and hosted a huge party in his honor.  His child, who he once thought was gone to him forever, returned.

Tell God you’re sorry, but He already knows that.  And next time you hear that small voice in the quiet ask you, “Do you love Me?”

Check YES.

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Bibi, I’ma Want You

Who can forget the cool vibes from the music performed by the 1970’s soft rock band, Bread?  But the song title is Baby I’ma Want You, not Bibi. Yes, except I really mean Bibi.  Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel to be exact.  What does an Israeli politician have to do with me and you, especially as Christians living in the US?

Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and the only representative democracy and developed country in the region.  Israel shares its borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, and Gaza Strip and Egypt on the southwest.  And you think you live in a tough neighborhood?  There are over 8 million people who live in Israel.  Approximately 6 million or 75% of those people are Jewish, 1.7 million or 20.7% are Arabs, and the remaining 4.3% are non-Arab Christians.1 Arabs live in Israel?  Yes, and they possess the same rights as any other Israeli citizen.  Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Arab homosexuals can live without persecution.  77% of Arab Israelis say they would rather live in Israel than anywhere else.2

We Christians share much with our Jewish brothers and sisters.  We both have Jesus—contrary to what some believe—He was a Jew!  The Old Testament is known as the Torah to the Jews.  Both the Old and New Testaments go hand-in-hand.  Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets.  All of the great stories, historical and otherwise, of the Old Testament foreshadowed Jesus. Without knowledge of the Old Testament you can’t have a robust understanding of our faith.  Many of our Christian practices are symbolic of Jewish religious traditions and our holy days are entwined with theirs.  Despite what you’ve heard our country was based on Judeo-Christian beliefs.  In 1654 Jews arrived in New Amsterdam, now lovingly known as New York.  Many Jews were honored patriots during the Revolutionary War.3

Israel has the right to exist.  Their people have the right to live without others threatening to hunt them down and kill them for the crime of being Jewish, regardless if they practice the faith or not—they’re still Jews.  Throughout history Jews have been expelled, forced to convert, had their property confiscated, synagogues burned, they’ve been enslaved, outlawed, burned alive, massacred, forced to wear badges/hats, mass arrests, victims of the Inquisition, imprisoned, hung, drowned, public torture and this persecution is not limited to the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis.  This is throughout time4.

Islamist extremists, whether they are Shia or Sunni, ISIS, or the mullahs of Iran, main objective is to wipe out the Jewish people.  This quote is from one of the Islamic Hadiths:  “You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew hiding himself behind me; kill him.5” I don’t know of any talking rocks but these extreme zealots take the words of the Koran and the Hadiths literally.  To say they are not Islamic is ridiculous.  However, their form of Islam is psychotic.  This group isn’t satisfied to simply return us to 7th Century existence.  What they really want is to hasten the Apocalypse.  Sound crazy?  It is.  But not to them!

Let’s look at Iran’s recent history.  Persia, as it was known until 1935 when the Iranian ambassador to Germany persuaded the Shah to rename Persia, Iran or “land of Aryans”.  The definition of Aryan in Nazi terminology was a Caucasian, blue-eyed, blond haired race.  Why would German Nazis court Iran? Simple, it possessed lots of oil and they both hated the Jews.  A Hitler envoy also promised a pan-Islamic state stretching from Morocco to Iran, something the Arabs of the Middle East longed for since losing the Ottoman Empire after World War I, and being lied to by the English and French with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, further breaking the region up into the countries that exist today.  Fast forward to November 4, 1979 when Muslim students stormed the US Embassy and held 52 hostages, not releasing them until January 20, 1981.  Iran has been a theocracy ever since and has sponsored countless acts of terror not only against the US but around the globe, and are working with Hezbollah against Israel.

Why would Iran, a country so rich in oil, need nuclear power?  They don’t.  They want a nuclear weapon.  They want to destroy Israel, the “little Satan” and call for death to America, the “great Satan”.  Many administrations have attempted to thwart their nuclear ambition.  The Saudis, Egyptians, and Jordanians are against it as well, but they have let the US do the heavy lifting.  The tough economic sanctions imposed on them, which would be lifted if this deal is signed, have practically destroyed their economy.  This has brought dissension on the streets of Iran in hopes that the people would rise up and over through the mullahs and their oppressive government.  While this has slowed them down, Iran never stopped working on acquiring nuclear power.  Now, they are closer than ever.  And what does the US do?  Negotiate a bad deal while Iran conducts military exercises, blowing up a mock US carrier just last week and denying access to UN inspectors.  These are the same people who danced in the streets and passed out candy after 9/11.  What could possibly go wrong?

While our politicians are naïve at best, Israel and Netanyahu who live in this environment are not.  Netanyahu has information that we, the American people and our Congress need to know before signing an agreement that could bring death and destruction to Israel first—and then to us.  The President says John Boehner dissed him by inviting Netanyahu to address Congress without his permission.  I beg to differ.  We have 3 equal branches of government—emphasis on equal.  We do not have a king.  Boehner, as the head of the legislative branch, has every right to invite who he pleases to address Congress—especially when it means life or death.  Unfortunately, several Democratic congressmen and women decided to blindly obey and boycott Netanyahu’s address.  I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on—their duty is to serve and protect us whether they like what they hear or not.  This is not a democrat/republican issue.  This is an American issue.  This is an end to civilization as we know it issue.  This is a life or death issue.  This is a moral issue. If it offends our enemies—so be it.

Netanyahu said in his address, the days of Jews suffering silently are over.  They will stand.  As Christians we must stand with them.  What would Jesus do? Netanyahu is facing an election in his country within the next 2 weeks and has a lot at stake.  I don’t believe he addressed Congress to win the election back home.  Contrary, he’s losing ground in an election that was his for the taking.  Why?  Because he’s putting the lives of Israeli citizens first.  He’s putting Israel before politics.  What good is winning an election if within a short period of time, Iran will nuke Israel off the face of the earth?  That’s what a leader does.  He tells the hard truth and doesn’t sell candy-coated lies.  He confronts issues and calls evil by its name.  He tackles issues that are not popular.  We have no right to offer Israel as a sacrifice to lunatics in the hope that they will leave us in peace. Who would you rather have as your leader?  Neville Chamberlain or Winston Churchill?  And if you don’t know who either of those two men were, shame on you.

Do you as a Christian want to be on the right or wrong side of history?  Will you stand as Corrie ten Boom and her family stood?  But even more so, do we as Christians want to be on the right or wrong side of God?  In Genesis 12:3 God tells Abraham, referring to the Jews, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you.”  I know which side I want to be on and that’s why I sing, Bibi, I’ma want you.

1The Jerusalem Post, 12/30/2014

2 Arab Israeli Conflict, 10 Facts About The Arab-Israeli Conflict, www.arabisraeliconflict.info

3 Touro Synagogue, America’s Oldest Synagogue, Jews In America From Inquisition to Freedom.

4 Simple to Remember, Judaism Online, Jewish Persecution, Timeline of Judaism, History of AntiSemitism www.simpletoremember.com

5 Hadith Collection Sahih Muslim Book 041, Hadith Number 6981