Monday, March 31, 2008

Minister's Apology

A commenter to my previous post about the local minister who planned to apologize to those who've been condemned by Christians posted the link to the sermon so that I was able to hear it in its entirety.

You can hear it here.

I have to admit some of the things he said were true and needed to be said, such as the fact that the evangelical church has been politicized and is often in bed with the Republican party. You don't have to have read my blog for long to know that that resonates with me.

However, there were many more things that he said which caused me concern. The overarching theme, as I'd suspected earlier, was the love of God to the exclusion of His wrath. For God's love to make any sense at all, however, it must be paired with His wrath and this is sorely lacking in the preaching of today. If we've been born again, understanding God's anger at sin helps us appreciate His love and grace all the more. For the unregenerate, the realization that God is angry at their sin and will judge them for it, apart from their repentance, is often the thing the Holy Spirit uses to convert them. Jonathan Edward's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", possibly the most famous sermon ever preached in America, was used mightily by God during the First Great Awakening to convert many souls. Despite the politically correct messages coming from many churches today, scripture could not be clearer that those who are not Christians are God's enemies and His wrath abides on them (John 3:36, Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:3). Every verse touting God's love can and should be juxtaposed with those which reveal His anger at sin. To do otherwise is to present a half god to people. Real love tells people the truth.

I think, in fact, this is one of the other things that concerned me about Rev. Lee's message, a tendency to misunderstand what love is. Erich Segal said "Love is never having to say you're sorry", Rev. Lee seems to be saying "Love means never doing anything that brings any discomfort or pain into someone's life." Just this past Sunday our pastor pointed out that truly loving someone often means they will experience pain. No one likes to be told they are a sinner and that apart from Christ they will perish. No one in love with their sin (as we all are in our flesh) likes to be told to forsake it. Yet true love requires that those things be said. However, Rev. Lee said to those to whom he was apologizing that he was "sorry for any pain you've experienced. (from those in the church)" ANY pain? We don't covet the highest and best for our children, our friends, for anyone when our goal for them is that they never experience pain. We in fact, do them harm when that is our goal for them.

In a recent article by Jay Adams entitled Stand Firm he talks about what the church needs to be in order to meet the challenges of the future, I'd recommend reading it in its entirety. However, one of the best points it makes is this:

My concern is with the softening of the church. For you to make a future impact for Christ, and to be able to withstand hard times ahead, this trend must be reversed. There is a deplorable softening of doctrine, of attitudes, of courage, and of language. And it is all justified under the rubric of “love.” But there is a vast difference between a loving and a concessive spirit...a church that puts fellowship above truth is a weak church that will be unable to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Just one example that I noticed of this softening of language in particular in Rev. Lee's message was the constant reference to the "unchurched" (a favorite term of the seeker sensitive crowd). The Bible calls people apart from Christ lost. They don't need to be "churched" they need to be saved.

There also seemed to be a tendency to confuse man-made religious standards with God's standards. We certainly do not want to elevate our standards and traditions to the level of scripture, that's text book legalism. On that point I agree with Rev. Lee. However, by the same token we don't want to lower God's standards to the level of simply our own religious traditions. Prohibitions against sex outside of marriage, whether it be homosexual or heterosexual, and the murder of unborn children are not "our" standards they are God's standards and should be treated as such. We have no need to apologize for affirming those standards loudly and clearly and, again, true love requires that we MUST call them sin and call those engaged in them to repentance.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing though in the whole message was his admission that he'd once picketed an abortion clinic and was involved in the "whole pro-life movement" and now wanted to apologize for that. I find that shocking. Of course he reassured his audience that he's decidedly pro-life but apparently he doesn't believe its legitimate or loving to take action of any kind to back up that belief except telling women who've had abortions that he loves them. Abortion is the murder of a baby. Would he stand aside and watch someone murdered in a parking lot out of a desire not to offend the person committing the crime? He talked a lot about compassion in his message and how Jesus exhibited compassion and that we should follow His example. I agree:

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." - Mark 9:42

Jesus had more compassion for children than he did for those who intended them harm and so should we.

In the final analysis, Rev. Lee's concerns are legitimate and I feel he is sincere but misunderstands the root cause of the problems he's concerned with. The real issue is that the church has stopped being the church. It has stopped preaching the true and unchanging Gospel and has instead opted for a feel-good approach that gives people the warm and fuzzies and yet often leaves them unconverted. The Gospel is not "Jesus is really awesome and you'd like Him." If you want to read a Biblical gospel presentation start with Acts chapter 2. Nowhere in scripture are we told to tell people to come to Jesus because they might like Him. We are in fact told that to follow Jesus is to commit to Him totally and that to do so may in fact make our lives worse, not better. To give people the impression that they can take Jesus on retainer to see if they like Him is not truthful and therefore not loving.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. - Mark 8:38

The reason teenagers leave the church after high school, the reason the divorce rate is the same inside the church as out is that the church is full of unconverted people. Top that off with the fact that the church has abandoned the Biblical mandate to engage in church discipline (that might make someone experience pain after all!) and you have a recipe for most of the problems we have in the church today both internally and with our ability to reach those outside the church with the Gospel.

Richard Dawkins A Great Intellect?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Minister to Apologize

The Atlanta Journal is reporting today that a minister at a large Southern Baptist church in Gwinnett County is planning to "apologize" in his sermon this Sunday to those who've been condemned by Christians over the years. Included in his list of those who need an apology are gays (homosexuals), women seeking abortions and couples not married.

The pastor, Rev. Richard Mark Lee is quoted as saying:

Just as the Christian church has done many wonderful things throughout history, it also has done many terrible things, such as targeting, judging and condemning various individuals and groups.

First of all just who is he apologizing for? Is the good reverend planning to apologize for all of Christendom, the entire subset of Christians known as Southern Baptists, just his particular church or just himself personally? In truth, the only ones of these he can legitimately and meaningfully apologize for are the last two.

Secondly, just what specifically is he apologizing for? It's the Bible which calls homosexuality, murder and fornication sins. Is the reverend sorry for what scripture says about these things or just sorry over how some people have dealt with sinners of these kinds? There may be some legitimacy to the latter but again, only if he or his church have been involved in specific ungodly actions towards people in these groups. He can't apologize for the mistreatment someone has received at the hands of others beyond his sphere of influence and have it be meaningful in any way.

Lee goes on to say:

Some churchgoers have condemned gay people, picketed abortion clinics or ignored the poor and homeless. If Jesus were alive today, he would minister to these groups.

Well, yes He would, he would minister to them the way He ministered to the woman taken in adultery. She'd clearly been mistreated by the religious establishment and was being used by them as nothing more than a pawn in an attempt to trap Jesus. However, Christ didn't apologize to her for that, He told her "go and sin no more". There is no reconciliation with God through Christ apart from repentance of sin. However, I get the distinct impression that Reverend Lee is not going there. My guess is his is a theology of God's love absent His wrath and judgment of sin. A theology of let's all hold hands and sing "We are the World", in short, a theology that is foreign to scripture. Besides, what exactly does the good reverend have against picketing abortion mills? Would he have had a problem if the people of Germany had picketed the extermination camps of the Nazis? Perhaps Reverend Lee doesn't believe that an abortion is the murder of a little defenseless baby.

The article concludes with this quote from Reverend Lee:

"Why is the gospel of love dividing America? The unchurched world views us as judgmental and homophobic, I don't think God is going to ask what label we wore. He's going to ask what did we do for Jesus."

The reason the Gospel divides is given to us in the Bible (you know that same judgmental book that calls homosexuality, murder and fornication sins). The Bible says that the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, perishing because they refuse to repent of their sins and come to Christ. The best thing we can do for murderers, homosexuals and fornicators (and all sinners) is to share the Gospel with them, the true Gospel, not the "God loves you no matter what" gospel of the seeker sensitive/church growth movement but the Gospel of the Bible which calls sinners to repentance and to freedom from their sin in Jesus Christ.

As to what God is going to say to us one day, it will either be "Well done good and faithful servant" or "Away from me I never knew you" it will not be "What have you done for me". We don't need to do anything for Christ, He has done it all. Our works are a response to His grace, not a means of obtaining His favor.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Summary of My Last Year on the Computer

Another gem from my father in law. If you've had an e-mail for more than 24 hours you can relate to most of these!


Scrub the top of every can I open.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day

I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with an infected needle.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump.

I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection day, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Painting by Diego Velazquez 1599-1660

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

- Isaiah 53:5

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five Years On

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Some sobering words from Laurence Vance:

As of today, March 20, the debacle that is the war in Iraq has now dragged on for one two three four five years. How many more years will I have to begin an article on this date with those words?

I really don’t know what else can be said about this war. It is immoral, aggressive, unjust, unconstitutional, unscriptural, unnecessary, wasteful, and pointless... read more.

And far from opposing it or even just sitting on her hands doing nothing, the church of Jesus Christ is in many cases actively supporting and promoting this war and those who wage it. It saddens me when I see, with few exceptions, the only "Christian" voices raised in opposition to this war coming from within churches where true Christianity has not existed for years. Only from within Unitarian or theologically liberal mainline churches is one likely to hear any opposition to the war. In evangelical, gospel preaching churches one is more likely to have giant US flags in the auditorium (aka the sanctuary) and military jets whizzing by on the jumbo-tron as the congregation sings "God Bless America" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

There was a time in this country when Christians supported war only reluctantly as a last resort and for defensive purposes only. A time too when they didn't consider it the church's role to give unconditional support to the civil government in its prosecution of war. Consider this excerpt from a Southern Baptist resolution in 1940 on the eve of WWII:

Because war is contrary to the mind and spirit of Christ, we believe that no war should be identified with the will of Christ. Our churches should not be made agents of war propaganda or recruiting stations.

Of course many Southern Baptists served honorably in WWII but when they were at home in their churches, the church was the church, not an arm of the state. By the way, the Southern Baptist convention also passed resolutions during WWII in support of conscientious objectors. Can you imagine that in today's environment when everyone who doesn't support "our president" and "our troops" is branded a Godless liberal?

One of my favorite quotes from R.C. Sproul is this:

It is the responsibility of the church to be the conscience of the nation and to call the state to repentance when the state becomes demonized and fails to serve in the cause of righteousness.

I pray that our churches will again begin to see this as their role vis a vis the state rather than fancying themselves its cheerleaders.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hypocrisy in High Places

I've been reading Thomas Watson's "The Doctrine of Repentance" off and on for a while now. As with many Puritan writings, each chapter is broken up into smaller sections, many of which are complete thoughts so one can read the book almost like a devotional, a little along each day. That also makes the book easy to go back to after several days of not having read. This was the case recently as I picked up the book again in the middle of chapter 6 which is called "A Serious Exhortation to Repentance."

This chapter talks about those for whom repentance is necessary (which of course is everyone but Watson takes several different types of people and discusses repentance with regard to their specific situations). The section I read last night discussed the necessity of repentance for hypocrites.

Watson says:

The hypocrite or stage-player has gone a step beyond the moralist and dressed himself in the garb of religion...the hypocrite is like a house with a beautiful facade but every room within is dark. He is a rotten post fairly guilded...He can be as his company is and act both the dove and the vulture...He is a pretender to faith, but he makes use of it rather for a cloak than a shield. He carries a Bible under his arm, but not in his heart. His whole religion is a demure lie.

As providence would have it, just before returning to this book and reading the section containing the above quotes, I had read an article on Slate magazine's site which contained an excerpt from a new book by Jacob Weisberg called The Bush Tragedy. This particular excerpt dealt with what Weisberg calls Bush's evangelical politics.

Speaking of Bush Sr. he says:

Wead recommended that the vice president read the first chapter of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, a book that had become a popular evangelical device for winning converts. "Evangelicals believe that this book is so effective that they will automatically assume that if the Vice President has read it, he will agree with it," Wead wrote. Vice President Bush made sure that religious figures saw a well-worn copy on top of a stack of books in his office when they visited the White House and cited Lewis' condemnation of the sin of pride as one of the reasons "we haven't been inclined to go around proclaiming that we are Christians."

Wead is Doug Wead an evangelical whose job it was to help Bush Sr. win over the evangelical community.

Wead eventually transferred from helping Bush, Sr. with the evangelical vote to helping the current president Bush, becoming somewhat disillusioned in the process:

What Rove would do in helping Bush launch his political career in Texas, and Cheney in helping him define his presidency, Wead did in Bush helping him assert and establish his independent identity as a person of faith. But the experience left Wead troubled about the sincerity of Bush's beliefs. "I'm almost certain that a lot of it was calculated," he says. "If you really believed that there's some accountability to life, wouldn't you have Billy Graham come down and have a magic moment with your daughters? Are you just going to let them go to hell? You have all these religious leaders coming through. If it changed your life, wouldn't you invite them to sit down in the living room and have a talk with your daughters? Or is it all political?"

Wead's disillusionment led him to record some of his conversations with Bush. Weisberg says of these tapes:

The tapes reveal how calculated George W. Bush's projection of faith is. Wead said that during the countless hours the two spent talking about religion over a dozen years, they discussed endlessly the implications of attending services at different congregations, how Bush could position himself in relation to various tricky questions, and how he should handle various ministers and evangelical leaders. But the substance of Bush's own faith never came up. Wead told me he now struggles with the question of how sincere Bush's expressions of devotion ever were. He often goes over their conversations from 1987 and 1988 in his mind, having grown more skeptical about what Bush was doing. "As these memos started flowing to him, he started feeding back to me what his faith was," Wead said. "Now what is interesting for me, and I'm trying to understand, is, was I giving him his story?"

I couldn't help but be struck by the similarities between Watson's description of the religious hypocrite and Wead/Weisberg's description of the religion of George W. Bush (and his father). Its become clear to me over the last couple of years that the Republican Party in general and George W. Bush in particular have seen the Christian community as nothing more than a source of votes. They have cozied up to undiscerning high profile evangelicals who then became their shills in the Christian community; all the while treating these same evangelicals with disdain behind their backs and having no intention of genuinely addressing the concerns of Christians once elected.

For 2008 the cycle is repeating itself with these same evangelicals (with a few exceptions) assuring us that we should 'vote Republican' because the election of a Democrat would mean the end of our country as we know it. I'm certainly not a fan of the Democratic Party but I think the Republicans are destroying our country at just as fast a pace and personally I'm tired of being used by them to do it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gold & The Dollar

There have been many recent news stories reporting that the price of gold has hit $1000 per ounce for the first time. However, every one of those that I've read has gotten the story backwards. Its not that gold has gone up in value but that the dollar has yet again lost value. A proper headline for such stories would read:

"Dollar Drops to 1/1000 of an Ounce of Gold in Value"

You see, its not the value of gold that's changed, its the value of the dollar. When the current president Bush took office the dollar was worth 1/250 of an ounce of gold, a devaluation of some 75%.

Here's a good take on the situation from Paul Craig Roberts

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Acid Test of Being a Christian

One of the best discussions of what it means to be a Christian that I've ever read.

The Acid Test of Being a Christian

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams – visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation – "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory.

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal," Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

"I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

HT: Lew Rockwell