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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Good Afternoon, My Friends

Good afternoon, my good Christian friends!

I truly hope you are well. Thank-you once again for reading these pages.

Today I thought I would alert you to an article I wrote at the Examiner on evangelist Billy Graham and the fact that he has, unfortunately, become a target of the controversial Westboro "Baptist" "Church," which in my view is neither Baptist nor a church.

This is a hate cult. And now they have targeted 93-year-old Billy Graham for their hate-spewing message.

Read all about it here at The Examiner.

Part of the task of a conscientious Christian is to "discern the spirits." Discernment comes not only through maturity and wisdom but through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, according to Christ. Many claim to know Christ but engage in activity that belies their words.

I say these things not to condemn anyone--"for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"--but to remind you that as Christians we are called upon to exercise discernment concerning various and sundry groups and individual who come at us claiming to be God's messengers.

As Corrie Ten Boom's father put it during the awful days of the Holocaust as even some within the Christian church helped the Nazis capture Jews, "Just because a mouse gets into the cookie jar doesn't make him a cookie."

The Ten Booms, as Christians, helped Jews escape the Nazi scourge and could not fathom why some who claimed the name of Christ would help perpetuate the great evil inherent in the Nazi regime.

So, beware my friends. "He who hath ears to hear, let him hear!"

Monday, June 4, 2012

On 'Bearing False Witness'

Not long ago I received a rather angry correspondence from a reader who took me to task for what he believed was my "bearing false witness" in an article I wrote at the Examiner.

The subject of the article was the renewed effort of the Obama reelection campaign to monitor social networking sites for anything they consider to be negative against the President. Any criticism of Obama is to be considered an "attack' which must be corrected by the campaign.

Two teams are now employed by the Obama campaign to accomplish this, one called "AttackWatch" and the other "TruthTeam."

The reader had a big problem with my understanding of the nature of this initiative, and thus accused me of "bearing false witness." I assume he meant that I had lied about the Obama reelection campaign, although he did not show any evidence proving that I had done so.

I got to thinking later on, well, maybe the reader actually believes I lied. And even if if he believes it with all his heart, does that automatically make me a "liar?"

The term "bearing false witness" is a Biblical term indicating the telling of untruths against other persons. Let's say, for example, that I start a rumor about my neighbor that she is a meth addict although there is no truth to it whatsoever. That is the meaning of "bearing false witness." It is an intentional act of lying, telling something that I know to be untrue, and the result is potential great harm to my neighbor's reputation.

There is no doubt whatsoever that such a thing is wrong, terribly wrong. It is immoral, hurtful, and a sin against God.

But what if, on the other hand, I tell something about a political campaign that I believe with all my heart to be true but it turns out to be false? Does that qualify as "bearing false witness?"

Actually, no. It simply means I have my facts wrong. But if I believe my information is true at the time I report it, then I have not told a "lie" because there was no intent to deceive.

The terms "lie" and "bear false witness" assume an intent to deliberately deceive.

Thus, if I find that I have reported something that turns out to be untrue, although I believed at the time it was factual, then I am obligated to go back and correct myself. But if I am still convinced that what I said is true, then I have clearly not lied or engaged in bearing false witness.

Several years ago a lady at church told someone in the congregation that I had done some things that I never did, not "bad" things, mind you, but just "things." Although what she said was not particularly hurtful, it was not true.

Now, did that woman "lie" about me? Did she "bear false witness?"

I have known that woman all my life. And I knew that she would never do anything like that deliberately. I knew that she merely got her facts wrong. And I never said anything to her about it because I did not want to cause her distress. She is elderly now, and if I told her that she stated something about me that was not true, she would be most troubled about it, and the whole thing was not important enough to cause such a ruckus anyway. So, I let it drop.

Despite our best intentions we sometimes get our facts wrong on a number of issues. That does not mean we have lied.

In politics in particular it is very easy for people to believe that we have blatantly told an untruth, deliberately. That is the way it sometimes appears to others who may not share our point of view. But in politics so much is determined by perceptions that are based on fact but not necessarily totally factual.

I may perceive that Joe Biden, for example, is a barefaced liar. It may appear that way to me. Thus, if I state that Biden is a liar, I am not bearing false witness. I am merely reporting an impression, a perception. But the thing is, Biden may not be that at all. He may simply get his facts wrong, which, by the way, he is prone to do on a regular basis, not due to any malevolent intent but due to his tendency to make numerous gaffes when speaking in public off the cuff.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I have never told a lie. I have. But I would like to think that most of the time my intent is not to deceive. I try to be truthful and honest. There are times that I fail miserably.

But I can tell you that when writing a news article on politics, I try my best to be factual, although I admit that my bias is in favor of conservatives. Thus, my perception of the facts is going to be filtered through the lens of that bias. This does not make me a liar. Neither does it mean that someone with a different point of view is a liar.

The man who wrote me the angry letter may be 100% truthful when he says he does not believe the Obama reelection campaign monitors speech for negative statements about the President. I may think he is terribly misinformed but if he believes that what he is saying is true, then he is not a liar. He merely has his facts wrong.

So you see it all boils down to intent, motive.

In the spiritual life, it is important to consider these matters. In an era in which it appears that lying is a way of life for the majority of the population, it is even more vital that Christians make their word their bond. Honesty really is the best policy, and if honesty is unnecessarily hurtful, then it is best to merely keep quiet.

There is nothing wrong with having nothing to say....

Greetings after a long hiatus

Greetings to you my friends after a rather lengthy hiatus here at Martin Christian Ministries.

My sincere apologies for disappearing since Easter, but there have been circumstances.

Since mid-January I have struggled with a severe case of asthma, which turned into a lung infection involving significant congestion. Around mid-March I underwent an outpatient procedure during which the congestion is removed via bronchoscopy.

The procedure helped significantly. The after-treatment involves the regular, daily use of two inhalers that prevent the infection from recurring.

A side effect of the illness and its treatment, unfortunately, has been its impact on the voice. I have only been able to sing at two events since January, and to be frank I am still not feeling good enough about my voice to sing publicly except occasionally at my church.

Thus, the singing aspect of this ministry had to be placed on hiatus indefinitely. In other words, I am off the road and not presently accepting invitations to sing.

My voice has been adequate, however, for the speaking ministry, and I am slated to begin a new radio venture in July about which I am very excited. I should be able to handle that with no problem, Lord willing.

Needless to say, my difficulties since early in the year have put a significant dent in this ministry, and at times I have contemplated hanging it up altogether. The music has always been a central feature of what this ministry is about.

But, it never takes me long to remember that the music does not represent the entirety of this ministry. I write, I speak, I do Bible studies, I preach at churches, and the like, and there is nothing preventing me from fulfilling those functions.

I have been a Christian minister for the entirety of my adult life, and I will always be a minister. When one is called, that calling is never removed although the type of ministry in which one engages may change as time progresses.

My primary profession is that of music coordinator for a church and a political writer for a conservative online publication. But the way I see it, both of these are ministries if one approaches them from a Christian point of view.

And, I am gratified by the fact that this endeavor here at Martin Christian Ministries has reached an audience all over the world. Though that audience is not large, it's reach is vast, stretching all the way from the U.S. to Europe, to Russia, to the Philippines, to Brazil, and many other places in between.

So, I will continue writing here, as you will see in the days ahead.

I felt I owed it to you to give you an explanation for my absence of late and assure you that I will do all in my power to provide thought-provoking material here that will help you in your spiritual journey.

So stay tuned. God bless!